Yisrael Beytenu denies being COVID-denial party

The charges came after party leader Avigdor Liberman and other Yisrael Beytenu MKs spoke out against forced vaccinations for the coronavirus.

Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman on November 20, 2019. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman on November 20, 2019.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Sources in Yisrael Beytenu denied charges from their political rivals on Sunday that the party has become an “anti-vaccination, anti-mask-wearing COVID-19 denial party.”
The charges came after party leader Avigdor Liberman and other Yisrael Beytenu MKs spoke out against forced vaccinations for the coronavirus.
“We don’t know anything at all about the vaccines,” Liberman told KAN’s Everything is Political Saturday night. “We don’t know how long they last. But there is no better alternative at the moment, so people should go get vaccinated.”
“Maybe Liberman doesn’t know a lot about vaccines, but science does,” former coronavirus czar Ronni Gamzu responded on the same program.
Yisrael Beytenu MK Eli Avidar, when asked by an interviewer at a cultural event sponsored by Democrat TV on Saturday why he has chosen not to get vaccinated, said: “For me it’s not appropriate. I don’t oppose vaccination. I recommend vaccination. My family did.
“For me, it’s a personal thing. I am the only one in the Knesset whose mouth and heart are the same. I am not a coronavirus denier. It’s my freedom. In 2021, everyone has a right to decide about their bodies. I strongly oppose coercion.”
Avidar has denied reports that he purposely attended an anti-vaccine rally and did not wear a mask. He said he went to the park across from the Knesset to speak at a different protest, and while he was there, the anti-vaccine group asked him to speak, so he took off his mask to use the megaphone.
Yisrael Beytenu MK Yulia Malinovsky on Saturday night said she opposed forced vaccinations.
“Forcing citizens to do things is unacceptable, no matter in what field,” she wrote on Facebook. “I got vaccinated, but it was my personal decision. Coercion simply doesn’t work. The public must be addressed at eye level and not as a herd. Their many questions require answers and alleviate their concerns. Coercion is not the right path in any way. It only divides and causes antagonism.”
Health Minister Yuli Edelstein (Likud) has lashed out at Liberman, accusing him and his party of spreading fake news and encouraging people not to get vaccinated.
“In recent days, there have been cases of the spreading of fake news and calls not to get vaccinated by Yisrael Beytenu MKs,” Edelstein wrote on Twitter and Facebook. “I would like to understand from the chairman of the party, Avigdor Liberman, if this is the official position of the party. And, if not, then I ask you to join the efforts to encourage citizens to vaccinate so we can beat this pandemic.”
Yisrael Beytenu’s behavior has been harmful since even before Liberman called on the public to disregard coronavirus regulations in September, Deputy Health Minister Yoav Kisch (Likud) told The Jerusalem Post.
“At a time when the State of Israel is leading in the world’s race for vaccinations, Liberman and his MKs in Yisrael Beytenu are distributing fake news on the effectiveness of the vaccines, and some are boasting that they chose not to get vaccinated,” he said. “The behavior of Yisrael Beytenu throughout the coronavirus crisis has been dangerous, irresponsible and populist.”