Israel’s Curious Approach To Vaccinated Tourism

Israel’s Curious Approach To Vaccinated Tourism

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Since Israel has more or less been leading the world when it comes to per-capita vaccination (other than Bhutan, which popped out of nowhere), I’ve been curious to see what approach the country would take to reopening to tourists.

After all, the country’s borders have been closed for well over a year, more than 60% of the population has received at least one vaccine shot, and both cases and deaths are way down. Well, Israel’s plan isn’t exactly what I was expecting…

Israel plans to cautiously reopen in May

Haaretz reports that Israel’s Tourism Minister and Health Minister have tentatively agreed on a reopening plan for tourism. Specifically, Israel plans to reopen to vaccinated tourists as of May 23, 2021. However, don’t pack your bags just yet. As of now the plan is as follows:

  • Initially only visitors traveling in tour groups will be allowed, since they’re easier to monitor, and so that the number of visitors can be capped
  • Within 72 hours of travel to Israel, tourists will be required to undergo a coronavirus test and an antibody test to prove that they were vaccinated or have immunity (I’m curious about how realistic the turnaround times are for these specific kinds of antibody tests abroad)
  • Travelers will be tested for coronavirus again upon arrival

Israel plans to monitor new cases after taking this approach to reopening, and then hopefully the country will open up on a more widespread basis after that. So while Israel reopening may have sounded exciting, it sounds significantly less fun when you’re limited to groups and at least need to get double tested.

Israel could start welcoming vaccinated tourists in May

This isn’t what I was expecting

I have no skin in the game here, but I’m a bit surprised by the approach that Israel is taking. In March Iceland opened to vaccinated travelers from around the world with few requirements. Iceland’s Chief Epidemiologist explained that there is “very little risk of infection stemming from individuals who have acquired immunity against the disease, either by vaccination or by prior infection.”

In theory Israel has a further advantage over Iceland, which is that a larger percent of its population is vaccinated. It’s impressive to see just how coronavirus cases and deaths in Israel have fallen:

  • The country has gone from a peak of 8,000+ cases per day, to 200+ cases per day
  • The country has gone from 80+ deaths per day, to under 10 deaths per day

Israel’s coronavirus cases have fallen drastically

Admittedly we’re all learning as time progresses, and ultimately a country’s leaders can choose to reopen however they’d like. This is a good reminder that even if a country has vaccinated most of its residents, it won’t necessarily open to all vaccinated visitors, let alone without restrictions. And that’s perhaps an especially good reminder for those who those think they’re going to their pick of European Union countries in the coming weeks post-vaccination.

Israel is taking a very conservative approach to reopening

Bottom line

Israel is leading the world when it comes to vaccinations, and plans to open to vaccinated visitors in several weeks. Even so, the country is taking a very conservative approach, initially only allowing travelers in tour groups, and requiring two coronavirus tests and an antibody test, among other restrictions.

Are you surprised by Israel’s approach to reopening to tourists?

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  1. Corina

    Hi
    Have you heard of how they will deal with children under age 12 traveling to Israel?

  2. Deborah

    Ran and D.T.,

    Israel or any other country that is occupying a people, their land and resources, are responsible for vaccinating that occupied people. According to the Geneva Conventions, whatever "arrangements" the occupying power makes with any representatives of the occupied people; they are legally mute. The Oslo Accords, what Netanyahu, Abbas, Joe Biden, or any politician says, do not exceed the Geneva Conventions.

    From a legal viewpoint, the argument that Israel is not...

    Ran and D.T.,

    Israel or any other country that is occupying a people, their land and resources, are responsible for vaccinating that occupied people. According to the Geneva Conventions, whatever "arrangements" the occupying power makes with any representatives of the occupied people; they are legally mute. The Oslo Accords, what Netanyahu, Abbas, Joe Biden, or any politician says, do not exceed the Geneva Conventions.

    From a legal viewpoint, the argument that Israel is not occupying East Jerusalem, the West Bank, or the Gaza Strip, is laughable and not worth responding to.

  3. gerg

    Antibody tests may work for now but they will only show antibodies for a few months after the vaccine. After that you will have t-cells ready to create antibodies but there won't be any antibodies present in your system for a test to detect unless you're exposed to the virus. I wonder how they plan to handle things then.

    Also, incidentally, no being present illegally is not a felony or even a misdemeanour. Nobody is...

    Antibody tests may work for now but they will only show antibodies for a few months after the vaccine. After that you will have t-cells ready to create antibodies but there won't be any antibodies present in your system for a test to detect unless you're exposed to the virus. I wonder how they plan to handle things then.

    Also, incidentally, no being present illegally is not a felony or even a misdemeanour. Nobody is a criminal just because they're present in the US. That's not a thing. That's people determined to not be present legally get deported not prosecuted.

  4. Abraham

    I am a. Israeli citizen leaving in New York - got to Israel two weeks ago - I assume that the following will apply to anyone coming to Israel
    before going to Israel we filled an online form committing to quarantine upon arrival (until released from quarantine by the Israeli health authorities) in addition I took a PCR test less then 72 hours prior to the trip - most labs produce results in 24-48...

    I am a. Israeli citizen leaving in New York - got to Israel two weeks ago - I assume that the following will apply to anyone coming to Israel
    before going to Israel we filled an online form committing to quarantine upon arrival (until released from quarantine by the Israeli health authorities) in addition I took a PCR test less then 72 hours prior to the trip - most labs produce results in 24-48 hours but fir a few (generally $250 not covered by insurance ) you can get immediate results or within 4 hours
    Upon check in in the Us before boarding you need to show the quarantine form and the PCR test - otherwise you cannot board the airplane
    Upon landing in Israel you gar a PCR test at the airport - it cost 44 Israeli shekels ( $14 ) - you need to register (you can do it at the airport at check2fly.co.il this is the site that you can monitor the test results - results are given within 4 hours - and you are notified by text to your phone - I also took a. Antibody test an hour after arrival in Jerusalem - there are many places to do this and cost is about 250 shekels ($75) - results are within 12-36.hours - after 4 hours when I got my PCR results I got a text message firm the health Ministery that I don’t have to quarantine - my wife git her text message after the results from the antibody test
    Going back to to the us you need to show the airline at the Tel Aviv airport the results of a PCR test taken less than 72 hours of the flight the test can be taken at the airport- results are provided within 4 hours - cost 134 shekels ($40) - appointment can be setup online at check2fly.co.Il

  5. Marriott Marty

    @Kendor,

    Let’s agree to disagree. Israel is a democracy with about 20% Arab molsem (and 2% Druze) and they all have equal access to vaccines. History teaches that might does make right. I live in Los Angeles aka occupants Mexico. It has been less than 175 years. In Israel it has been more than 50 years. Transylvania is Hungarian speaking but is in Romania, the border will not be chancing anytime soon. The wall on...

    @Kendor,

    Let’s agree to disagree. Israel is a democracy with about 20% Arab molsem (and 2% Druze) and they all have equal access to vaccines. History teaches that might does make right. I live in Los Angeles aka occupants Mexico. It has been less than 175 years. In Israel it has been more than 50 years. Transylvania is Hungarian speaking but is in Romania, the border will not be chancing anytime soon. The wall on the West Bank is there beciase the second intifada and 1000 dead Israelis in homocide bombs. Arafat and the PLO rejected 97% of the West Bank land swaps (and a connecting. Passage to Gaza). The PLO came to peace talks (Madrid conference in 1993) because the PLO backed Saddam Hussein in the First Gulf war and were at a political, economic low. Historically the best way to peace talks is to lower Palestinian expectations and situation, which is what Trump’s foreign policy did (whether or not it was actually Trumps thinking.) the PA is an apartied state as an apartied state has laws that discriminate. In the PA it is illegal to sell land to a Jew punishable by death. Woman’s rights have problems as well. I don’t accept that criticism of Israel is unbiased unless you at least equally criticize Saudi Arabia and all other far worse countries who discriminate grossly agains half (the female half) of their population. Israel is a democracy and has a free press unlike their neighbors. Talk about tribalism? Look no further than the Arab world... this is a travel forum in any event. If you are going to be a leftist (hemoliberal) then apply the logic equally

  6. Ran

    @Vaccine for some only, yes, we already had one. Look what Hamas teaches its children.
    That goes to some other Islamic countries.

    Oh and @Kendor, I've had a really good night sleep thanks.
    I had a dream that the US is giving back to Mexico all the land that was stolen back: Texas, California, NM...
    Also i had a dream that Australia, Canada and Pakistan killed all the natives before building their country.

    But i guess it didn't happen, it was just a dream :D

  7. Morgan

    Its safe @Ben, do you want the population to die?

  8. AnthonyW

    Trying to move the discussion on from a political one here. @Lucky, I think the Ministry has moved on from just tour groups; people who have a first-degree relative living in Israel can also visit now, together with his/her partner and children if under 18, subject to proof of the relationship (notarising of common birth/marriage certificates) and meeting the various vaccination/quarantine requirements you describe.

  9. Vaccine for some only.

    @Kendor,
    Thank you for being an Honest Jewish person. The world would be a much better place with more people like you.
    @ Ben; Thank you for allowing Different views when it comes to Israel, not too many in US media do that.
    @Ran : Thank you for finally bringing the holocaust into the conversation, I was wondering when you are going to do that. I do not get enough of that in the History Channel and Quora

  10. Kendor

    Thank you for your good wishes, @Ran. Have a nice sleep! Here is your lullaby:

    Hi-nei ra-ke-vet she-mis-to-ve-vet
    Al gal-ga-lim, al gal-ga-lim, al gal-ga-lim, Toot! Toot!

    Repeat as necessary. It gets better after your kids sing the verse for the 50th time.

  11. Ran

    Oh Kendor, you just helped me get sleepy before bedtime with your absolute nonsense!

    Again, Syria will be a better country for you to live.

    Enjoy ;)

  12. Kendor

    "Self-hating Jew", that's some hilarious stuff, @Ran. What is this, Zaydeh, 1967? It's the last and weakest defense of overconfident know-nothing alte kakers fearful of anyone else possessing a politics and a point of view any different from their own. Either that, or you're method acting for your bit part in the movie adaptation of _Portnoy's Complaint_: rest assured you're sure to win the role.

    Guessing you aren't an officer in any military anywhere....

    "Self-hating Jew", that's some hilarious stuff, @Ran. What is this, Zaydeh, 1967? It's the last and weakest defense of overconfident know-nothing alte kakers fearful of anyone else possessing a politics and a point of view any different from their own. Either that, or you're method acting for your bit part in the movie adaptation of _Portnoy's Complaint_: rest assured you're sure to win the role.

    Guessing you aren't an officer in any military anywhere. Far from wishing the destruction of Israel, many people critical of self-destructive policy want and expect to see Israel thrive. In a far-off land inhabited by grown-ups, people and places prosper with the help of feedback, criticism, and alternate points of view.

  13. Ran

    Only a self hating Jew would want to see the only Jewish country in the world (that is also the only free country in the Middle East in terms of human rights) destroyed.

  14. Kendor

    Melech Hafalafel V'hashwarma FTW!

    The best falafel I found was actually in Haifa but Ben Yehuda street is always a sentimental favorite.

    I'd like to get back to the Golan for some hiking, maybe Spring 2022.

  15. JP in Chicago

    Exhausting comment section but this reads to me like they’re just trying to make sure Birthright groups can get back this summer.

    Birthright is a huge economic driver each summer and also a critical program when it comes to maintaining an attachment between young diaspora Jews and Israel. I know all parties are eager to see it gear up again.

    I’m surprised to see the entry requirements as strict as they are, but...

    Exhausting comment section but this reads to me like they’re just trying to make sure Birthright groups can get back this summer.

    Birthright is a huge economic driver each summer and also a critical program when it comes to maintaining an attachment between young diaspora Jews and Israel. I know all parties are eager to see it gear up again.

    I’m surprised to see the entry requirements as strict as they are, but hopefully they’ll relax them as we move through the summer. I could use some Abu Hassan hummus and a run on the Tel Aviv boardwalk myself...

  16. Kendor

    @Ran wannabe Likudniks with small-man syndrome lecture the rest of the world about how they're keepin' it real with Realpolitik in a tough neighborhood. I've seen it before by people a lot smarter and more articulate, so you're not making much of an impression. Some of us want more than to see tribal fistfights over sheets of radioactive green glass amid the ruins of the Great Wall of Israel in coming decades.

    Rule by...

    @Ran wannabe Likudniks with small-man syndrome lecture the rest of the world about how they're keepin' it real with Realpolitik in a tough neighborhood. I've seen it before by people a lot smarter and more articulate, so you're not making much of an impression. Some of us want more than to see tribal fistfights over sheets of radioactive green glass amid the ruins of the Great Wall of Israel in coming decades.

    Rule by technology and pure might isn't a sustainable long-term: ask Rome. Or Israel circa 1973 with another wonderous and impenetrable barrier they built along the Suez. Surprise: the Egyptians breached that in hours. Technology means you're one invention away from having your ass handed to you. True security requires more than pride and might.

  17. Arie

    In regards to the openning for tourism, just wait a few days. Israeli politicians are famous for their ability to come up with revisions to plans so those plans will be different in a few days and weeks. This is a good thing in this case.

    Having a vibrant economy means israel isnt dependent on tourism. But, tourism does make up a good sized portion of the economy and even a shift of a few...

    In regards to the openning for tourism, just wait a few days. Israeli politicians are famous for their ability to come up with revisions to plans so those plans will be different in a few days and weeks. This is a good thing in this case.

    Having a vibrant economy means israel isnt dependent on tourism. But, tourism does make up a good sized portion of the economy and even a shift of a few percentage points in employment makes a huge overall difference to the economy.

    In regards to all the other 'stuff' let's all agree its complicated and nuanced.

  18. Ran

    "Not everyone is thrilled at the US vaccinating noncitizens over citizens. Israel certainly has the right to go a different route, as many, many countries are doing".

    Thank you DT...

    The problem is that we have people like Kendor who think other countries should act like USA.
    Not all the countries are the same.
    It's not Israel's fault there are terrorists around it who wants to destroy and kill. One Holocaust was enough.

    "Not everyone is thrilled at the US vaccinating noncitizens over citizens. Israel certainly has the right to go a different route, as many, many countries are doing".

    Thank you DT...

    The problem is that we have people like Kendor who think other countries should act like USA.
    Not all the countries are the same.
    It's not Israel's fault there are terrorists around it who wants to destroy and kill. One Holocaust was enough.
    Maybe you should shift your focus to Syria where Assad has killed OVER 100,000 Palestinians?

    China, Russia, Venezuela, Suadi Arabia... So many other horrible countries.
    Yet you focus on Israel like like the left-liberals are. Your obsession is pathetic.
    And you call yourself a Jew, yeah right!

  19. Ran

    @Fritz the cat, Israel is not a world country.
    Have you been to Hertzilya? Savion? Kisyria?

    Maybe you should educate yourself.
    And the majority of Israelis are very friendly.
    Sorry someone didn't find you attractive...

  20. Ran

    @Kendor, Go spread your lies somewhere else.
    This is a travel blog and you're the one who brings politics into it.

    There is only one way to shut up people like you unfortunately since you don't know other way.

    And LOL, applying USA rules in the middle east, you fail, just like Obama did.
    So the USA gives the vaccines to anyone (not all states thought), So what?
    Does it mean that...

    @Kendor, Go spread your lies somewhere else.
    This is a travel blog and you're the one who brings politics into it.

    There is only one way to shut up people like you unfortunately since you don't know other way.

    And LOL, applying USA rules in the middle east, you fail, just like Obama did.
    So the USA gives the vaccines to anyone (not all states thought), So what?
    Does it mean that Israel should do too?
    And why should the Israeli tax payer pay to vaccinated the people who want to kill and destroy Israel?
    This is the middle east, Not New Zealand. Only the strong survives.
    Ask yourself why Israel has put a wall. Why does it have all the tight security between it and the Pal?

  21. Philip Elliott

    I'd like to back up Sharon in suggesting that the Israeli economy is growing through technology.

    At this end of the world, there have been a good number of Australian Israeli start up companies listing on our stock exchange. Medical, agricultural, technology.

    Perhaps the government there (and elsewhere ) is reimagining the place of international tourism in the economic future.

    It would be interesting to see results of vox pop surveys of how people...

    I'd like to back up Sharon in suggesting that the Israeli economy is growing through technology.

    At this end of the world, there have been a good number of Australian Israeli start up companies listing on our stock exchange. Medical, agricultural, technology.

    Perhaps the government there (and elsewhere ) is reimagining the place of international tourism in the economic future.

    It would be interesting to see results of vox pop surveys of how people there feel about opening to international tourism. I just saw one such survey from NZ. Half of the respondents don't want tourism as before, quarter want tourism reopening, quarter don't care.

    In this website, naturally there would be a lot of people who want tourism as before covid in order to get miles. Only yesterday Ben was looking at going to Croatia because it is open. Some see that as a great reason to go, others would say "why".

    Some would see covid testing before and during a vacation as a necessary challenge and wonder if a credit card payment would get points, others would say "why would I want to put myself through that?"

    We might be seeing a tourism rethink in some countries. Israel might be such a country.

  22. Kendor

    @CRAIG You win the internet today with this comment: "My sister lived in Jerusalem for 3 1/2 years. No visit to Jerusalem is complete without seeing the millions of cats they have."

    Ha, decades ago my wife studied at Jerusalem U for a year. All of the cats, numerous as the stars in heaven, left an impression. While her enmity for cats has abated somewhat in the intervening years, she still has PTSD from listening...

    @CRAIG You win the internet today with this comment: "My sister lived in Jerusalem for 3 1/2 years. No visit to Jerusalem is complete without seeing the millions of cats they have."

    Ha, decades ago my wife studied at Jerusalem U for a year. All of the cats, numerous as the stars in heaven, left an impression. While her enmity for cats has abated somewhat in the intervening years, she still has PTSD from listening to the alley cats going at it all night long.

    Istanbul, Athens, and Jerusalem should become sister cities with an alley cat as their emblem, they have so much in common in terms of wildlife. :D

  23. Kendor

    @DT We may agree to disagree. I find the idea that the righteous might of Israel can somehow wall itself off from the needs, aspirations, and disease processes of its neighbors to be quite fanciful. As is the notion that pluck, intelligence, excellent logistics, and force will assure prosperity or even survival for anyone in the region over the long term. Tribalism is a loser's game.

    The issue of what to do with excess...

    @DT We may agree to disagree. I find the idea that the righteous might of Israel can somehow wall itself off from the needs, aspirations, and disease processes of its neighbors to be quite fanciful. As is the notion that pluck, intelligence, excellent logistics, and force will assure prosperity or even survival for anyone in the region over the long term. Tribalism is a loser's game.

    The issue of what to do with excess vaccine in Israel has been quite contentious among Israeli citizens, some of whom see a moral and practical imperative to vaccinating Palestine and Gaza before sending excess vaccine abroad. It caused a political rift within Israel if news stories are to believed. From the (biased? anti-Israel?) NBC News: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/israel-suspends-plan-give-covid-vaccines-allies-abroad-most-palestinians-n1258933

  24. Nick In Chicago

    @Kendor, agreed 100%.
    People can make all these claims of declarations, mandates, etc. If you really believe the PA is independent you're just delusional. When you are surrounded on all sides by a wall or military with only the IDF dictating what flows in and out..yeah.... you're not in a position to make any decisions whatsoever, lol. So please.....

  25. DT

    @Kendor

    Israel's border isn't as porous as you think. Due to many, er, "incidents", over the years, Israel has hardened its border considerably. No one is making it in from Gaza, and the West Bank is famously walled off (mostly by fence, but tall concrete barriers in populated areas). Thermal cameras, drones, and armed patrols thoroughly cover that border. As for settlements within the West Bank, again, not to get political, but those are highly...

    @Kendor

    Israel's border isn't as porous as you think. Due to many, er, "incidents", over the years, Israel has hardened its border considerably. No one is making it in from Gaza, and the West Bank is famously walled off (mostly by fence, but tall concrete barriers in populated areas). Thermal cameras, drones, and armed patrols thoroughly cover that border. As for settlements within the West Bank, again, not to get political, but those are highly fortified as well, and it wouldn't end well for any Palestinian who wasn't authorized to be within one.

    Day-to-day contact between Israelis and Palestinians is pretty much limited to those with work permits (who are vaccinated) and government agencies and security apparatuses (also vaccinated).

    Anyhow, after Israel is finished with its own vaccination drive, it will likely donate excess dose to the PA and other countries. But citizens go first. Not everyone is thrilled at the US vaccinating noncitizens over citizens. Israel certainly has the right to go a different route, as many, many countries are doing.

  26. CRAIG

    I wonder how much the current lack of long term government stability is playing into vaccine behavior. There hasn't been a budget in 2 years and the current cobbled together government is essentially acting in a caretaking capacity. They just went through elections 2 weeks ago that did not shed any more light at the end of the tunnel than before.

    While tourism as an overall segment of the economy is relatively low, the types...

    I wonder how much the current lack of long term government stability is playing into vaccine behavior. There hasn't been a budget in 2 years and the current cobbled together government is essentially acting in a caretaking capacity. They just went through elections 2 weeks ago that did not shed any more light at the end of the tunnel than before.

    While tourism as an overall segment of the economy is relatively low, the types of tourists heavily revolve around religious and culture interests. That I am sure plays a part in the decision making.

    My sister lived in Jerusalem for 3 1/2 years. No visit to Jerusalem is complete without seeing the millions of cats they have.

    One MAJOR advantage in executing this kind of control over tourists is like 95% of air arrivals are through Tel Aviv so you can catch everyone. Given the capacity reductions they probably have to space at Ben Gurion Airport to run the necessary queues. Everyone boarding an aircraft with a destination of Tel Aviv would be intercepted prior to boarding.

  27. Kendor

    @MM You can do a little better than that. You've clearly stated your belief that the BBC is rubbish and for nebulous reasons cannot be trusted on its reportage of Israel. The article I linked nonetheless published specific figures about the number of infections and the number of vaccinations in Israel, in the West Bank, and among some non-citizens who work in Israel. Do you believe these figures to be wrong? What facts do you...

    @MM You can do a little better than that. You've clearly stated your belief that the BBC is rubbish and for nebulous reasons cannot be trusted on its reportage of Israel. The article I linked nonetheless published specific figures about the number of infections and the number of vaccinations in Israel, in the West Bank, and among some non-citizens who work in Israel. Do you believe these figures to be wrong? What facts do you take issue with? Can you point us to alternative facts that you prefer? Or did you run with "the BBC is rubbish" line without even reading the specifics in the article?

    I don't have an emotional attachment to the BBC. If you believe the BBC article misstated facts and you have alternative facts to present, please share them here, it would be a service to everyone.

  28. Kendor

    @Miamiorbust Indeed I have been to the West Bank at the permission and with the help of the State of Israel, both to cities that are now nominally under PA control, and also to spend the day at one of the "settlements" deep in the West Bank high on a hilltop and surrounded by Palestinian villages. I got to meet with the extremely religious mayor of the place, an affable and somewhat frightening guy who...

    @Miamiorbust Indeed I have been to the West Bank at the permission and with the help of the State of Israel, both to cities that are now nominally under PA control, and also to spend the day at one of the "settlements" deep in the West Bank high on a hilltop and surrounded by Palestinian villages. I got to meet with the extremely religious mayor of the place, an affable and somewhat frightening guy who had a vision of his settlement spreading to hilltops as far as the eye could see. And I saw lots of Arab folks who did not look much like ultra-orthodox Jews studying Torah doing assorted bits of manual labor. In the event of COVID, I'm sure G-D would have commanded that the infection skip over these very helpful people thus ensuring the daily studies of the righteous. If the West Bank were all frontiers and guard towers, you would be on point, but it isn't and Israel and its neighbors have a messier problem to solve, together.

    OK, I answered your question, so tell me: have you been to the West Bank? (annexed and occupied areas contiguous with Jerusalem do not count.) No matter what your politics, it's quite illuminating, and if you haven't seen it first hand, your perspective is about as complete as the American do-gooder who opines on this and that without ever having visited Israel.

  29. snic

    Since you mentioned Bhutan and its successful vaccination program: any information from their government on when they'll allow tourism again?

  30. Uri

    Israel's economy isn't very much dependent on tourism. So the economic pressure to reopen is weak.

    Opening increases the risk of new virus stands bring introduced, which might be vaccine resistant. Some countries are desperate for tourists and will open regardless of risk. Israel isn't.

    P.S. I know you avoid deleting comments, but here some semi-relevant comments about vaccinating Palestinians deteriorated to an irrelevant brawl.

  31. Miamiorbust

    @Kendor, have you been to the west bank? Not a lot of intermingling from those guard towers. So you are mostly wrong on public health side of the argument. Not going to get into moral arguments. Those will outlast all of us.

  32. MM

    @ Kendor,

    I'm also Jewish, have been to Israel many times and am happy to criticize the Israeli government when warranted. However, please don't site anything the BBC publishes about Israel. They are incredibly biased and full of rubish.

  33. Kendor

    @DT Ignoring moral and ethical considerations for a moment, let's just think about practical concerns. You've pointed out that Israel [has just started] vaccinating some Palestinians who work in Israel, typically doing low-wage manual labor and the like. It's similar to America's relationship with laborers coming from Mexico. The obvious question: As with America, do you think that the universe of people taking low-wage work in Israel is limited to people who have received the...

    @DT Ignoring moral and ethical considerations for a moment, let's just think about practical concerns. You've pointed out that Israel [has just started] vaccinating some Palestinians who work in Israel, typically doing low-wage manual labor and the like. It's similar to America's relationship with laborers coming from Mexico. The obvious question: As with America, do you think that the universe of people taking low-wage work in Israel is limited to people who have received the proper authorization, and people you know about? There's plenty of ways to enter and work a country illegally, and plenty of boring desert that can be crossed into the Holy Land. People with COVID are gonna cross it and get with your homies.

    And ignoring Palestinian behavior for a moment, let's think about what Israeli citizens might do. Israeli citizens enjoy the right to move freely between colonial settlements deep in the West Bank and Israel's UN-designated territory. If they are surrounded by millions of non-vaccinated folk, as they are, they will potentially bring COVID back with them. That is a problem for Israel worth solving.

  34. DT

    @Fritz

    You seem to have a chip on your shoulder. According the UN, Israel is considered a "developed nation" - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Developed_country ("third-world country" isn't a formal designation). As a matter of fact, it's the only one in the region.

    As for being expensive, well, yes, many countries are. Ever been to Scandinavia or Iceland?

    As for infrastructure, they have a very well developed highway and rail system (with continuing expansion of both), and even...

    @Fritz

    You seem to have a chip on your shoulder. According the UN, Israel is considered a "developed nation" - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Developed_country ("third-world country" isn't a formal designation). As a matter of fact, it's the only one in the region.

    As for being expensive, well, yes, many countries are. Ever been to Scandinavia or Iceland?

    As for infrastructure, they have a very well developed highway and rail system (with continuing expansion of both), and even have a high-speed rail line between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, stopping at the airport.

    @Kendor

    Israel is vaccinating Palestinians who work in Israel. The rest mostly do not interact with the Israeli populace and aren't "among" them so are highly unlikely to infect any Israelis. And Israel has donated many vaccine doses to the PA. Israel has a responsibility to take care of its own citizens first.

  35. Kendor

    @DT If millions of people in the Palestinian Authority are running around infected with COVID, yeah, it's Israel's problem whether you love or hate the Palestianian Authority or Palestinian people. The fact is that the PA is a young and failed state and an outgrowth of Israel's decades-long military occupation of the place. You can make legalistic arguments for why Israel is not responsible, but morally and practically I believe it would serve Israel to...

    @DT If millions of people in the Palestinian Authority are running around infected with COVID, yeah, it's Israel's problem whether you love or hate the Palestianian Authority or Palestinian people. The fact is that the PA is a young and failed state and an outgrowth of Israel's decades-long military occupation of the place. You can make legalistic arguments for why Israel is not responsible, but morally and practically I believe it would serve Israel to fix this.

    I gave the example of America's willingness to vaccinate all residing in the USA, regardless of their citizenship or immigration status. Some of those residents are felons by their mere presence, yet we vaccinate. We don't sit up coming up with the laundry list of why this is someone else's responsibility and problem. It is a practical approach.

    If the Chinese failed to vaccinate the Xinjiang people or if America refused to vaccinate immigrants I would be the first to criticize either instance for moral and practical concerns. Strange how people get so bent out of shape when you nick their sacred cows.

  36. Joe Chivas

    The land of milk and honey should be renamed the land of bus tours and PCR tests.

  37. Fritz the cat

    Israel is a third world country.
    The infrastructure is not revelant because they dont have.
    Very expensive country without service and hospitality and friendless.

  38. Kendor

    @Ran Calm down. Israelis certainly manage their own absundant self-criticism without starting to foam at the mouth, as you are.

    Like a lot of Americans expressing opinions about Israel and Israeli policy you speak with a ton of certainty. Your sexy confidence, your willingness to call other people liars, and your ability to shout doesn't mean you're right.

    Whether Israel has a "responsibility" to its neighbors, or to the people whose space it...

    @Ran Calm down. Israelis certainly manage their own absundant self-criticism without starting to foam at the mouth, as you are.

    Like a lot of Americans expressing opinions about Israel and Israeli policy you speak with a ton of certainty. Your sexy confidence, your willingness to call other people liars, and your ability to shout doesn't mean you're right.

    Whether Israel has a "responsibility" to its neighbors, or to the people whose space it shares and/or occupies isn't the entire point in this case. It's a question of public health. So Israel has overwhelmingly vaccinating people it deigns to be citizens or taxpayers, that's great. That fact doesn't really help you from a public health perspective if there are still millions of unvaccinated people in your midst. Last I checked, coronavirus doesn't check passport and citizenship before infecting its host.

    Consider America's response to the crisis. The federal government is providing vaccine to everyone who lives in the USA regardless of residency or immigration status. Even though we don't have a "responsibility" to these people who may be committing a federal crime by being here. Practical public health considerations and moral considerations take precedence.

    How would it look and how would it work if we provided vaccine only to American citizens, leaving legal residents and people residing illegally in the USA to find their own vaccine? IN that case, would it be correct for bloggers and journalists to write about the USA's per-capita vaccination rate while ignoring the millions of non-vaccinated non-citizens? Coronavirus ain't gonna care about what flag you fly.

  39. Fritz the cat

    The Bottom Line is, DONT go and travel to this Country.

  40. David

    Iceland is not actually reopening in that fashion and the bloggers are not actually reading the fine print. For vaccinated U.S. visitors, a COVID test is still required upon arrival and the visitor is obliged to quarantine 4-6 hours until the test comes back negative. I was thinking of visiting Iceland this July but this is just too silly -- no thank you!

    Icelandair website says:
    "If you hold an appropriate certificate showing vaccination...

    Iceland is not actually reopening in that fashion and the bloggers are not actually reading the fine print. For vaccinated U.S. visitors, a COVID test is still required upon arrival and the visitor is obliged to quarantine 4-6 hours until the test comes back negative. I was thinking of visiting Iceland this July but this is just too silly -- no thank you!

    Icelandair website says:
    "If you hold an appropriate certificate showing vaccination or previous infection, you are required to undergo one COVID-19 test upon arrival. The test is free of charge. You must wait for the result of this test (usually received within 5-6 hours but may take up to 24 hours) at your accommodation. You do not need to quarantine for 5-6 days and take a second test."

  41. DT

    @Kendor

    Under the Oslo Accords, the PA is fully responsible for the healthcare of Palestinians in areas under their control, which includes the majority of the West Bank and the entirety of Gaza. Israeli Arabs have been getting vaccinated at rates similar to Jewish Israelis (there is a slight lag likely due to hesitancy on the part of that particular demographic segment, as in certain Jewish sectors [such as Haredim]).

    The PA is free...

    @Kendor

    Under the Oslo Accords, the PA is fully responsible for the healthcare of Palestinians in areas under their control, which includes the majority of the West Bank and the entirety of Gaza. Israeli Arabs have been getting vaccinated at rates similar to Jewish Israelis (there is a slight lag likely due to hesitancy on the part of that particular demographic segment, as in certain Jewish sectors [such as Haredim]).

    The PA is free to make deals with vaccine manufacturers and import it at will. That they choose not to is not Israel's fault or problem.

    Tibet/China is not an analogous situation as Israel has not annexed the West Bank or Gaza as China has done with Tibet. Arabs in the Israel-annexed Golan Heights are considered full Israeli citizens and have full access to the Israeli healthcare system and vaccinations.

  42. Ran

    Kendor, What are you talking about?

    STOP SPREADING LIES. And you claim that you're Jewish just to give your opinion a more valid way to convince people with your lies. BBC LOL!!!!

    What occupied territories? Israel's land is being occupied by unwelcome guests aka "Palestinians".

    And if you want more a serious viewpoint - Israel doesn't owe any country or any territory anything.
    The Palestinians have their government (failed one) to provide them with...

    Kendor, What are you talking about?

    STOP SPREADING LIES. And you claim that you're Jewish just to give your opinion a more valid way to convince people with your lies. BBC LOL!!!!

    What occupied territories? Israel's land is being occupied by unwelcome guests aka "Palestinians".

    And if you want more a serious viewpoint - Israel doesn't owe any country or any territory anything.
    The Palestinians have their government (failed one) to provide them with the vaccines.
    Oslo peace agreement clearly says that each side is responsible to its own people when it comes to health and medicine.

    Israel actually vaccinated 100,000 Palestinians who come to work inside the country.

    Israel doesn't have any responsibility to the Palestinians and it doesn't even occupies "their land" which belongs to Israel (see San Remo convention in Italy in 1920).

    Just yesterday Israel helped a little boy from Gaza with a very expensive operation that was done inside Israel.

    https://www.ynet.co.il/health/article/r1cnCY118u

  43. neil

    The governor of your home state has declared that businesses cannot require proof of vaccination -- that would include cruise lines operating in FL. It seems that foreign countries are going to require proof of vaccination for travel. I'd love to see your governor declare that they can't require that of FL residents:-)

  44. Alpha Golf

    Suspect the tour groups won't be visiting UN outposts. :D

  45. Kendor

    Israel is not leading the world in vaccinations if you consider the people in the occupied territories and/or non-citizens in many areas that Israel has annexed or wants to annex. That's land that Israel "was granted by god", "captured", "controls", "exercises de-facto control over" or "doesn't have any business being in" depending on your viewpoint and politics. An imperfect analogy would be if China did not vaccinate people in Xinjiang or Tibet, which technically are...

    Israel is not leading the world in vaccinations if you consider the people in the occupied territories and/or non-citizens in many areas that Israel has annexed or wants to annex. That's land that Israel "was granted by god", "captured", "controls", "exercises de-facto control over" or "doesn't have any business being in" depending on your viewpoint and politics. An imperfect analogy would be if China did not vaccinate people in Xinjiang or Tibet, which technically are "autonomous provinces" of the PRC with their own legislative powers and local government.

    This article does a good job outlining what Israel has and hasn't done with people under occupation and annexation in terms of vaccine: https://www.bbc.com/news/55800921 .

    disclosures: Jewish, visited Israel three times on extended trips. My own view is that if you break it, you buy it. Israel has a moral responsibility to these people's care: you can't occupy an area militarily for decades and then just wash your hands of the matter.

  46. NB

    Israel needs to consider two things when reopening to vaccinated visitors. First, has it reached herd immunity, and is comfortably past that spot? It’s unmeasurable so, although it’s probably there, it would be foolish to open too soon. And second, a virus evading variant could be introduced which would be disastrous to a herd immuity strategy (which is the unspoken strategy of all nations our pursuing vaccination) - which means that testing remains essential.

  47. Al

    @lucky in this case, organized groups trips probably means they'll start with birthright trips (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birthright_Israel), test it out and then if things go well open it up more broadly.

  48. Sharon

    Israel has a robust economy and is growing with tech leading the way.

    Microsoft, Nvida, and Apple are all expanding in Israel.

    I can’t wait to visit soon. An amazing experience

  49. Riad

    Hi Ben,
    After vaccination (2nd dose), you can check if you have covid antibodies by taking a “neutralising antibody” blood test in a good lab. We took it and it was interesting to see how much and how quickly the antibody count rose.

  50. MrChu

    Antibody testing will tell you if you are vaccinated or not. The catch is that the correct test has to be used to detect the spike protein antibodies that are produced by the vaccine.

    My assumption is that Israel is smart and will be using the correct antibody test!

    Your linked article has this in there.

    This is the best way to know if someone is vaccinated rather than those easily copied CDC paper cards!

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Corina

Hi Have you heard of how they will deal with children under age 12 traveling to Israel?

Deborah

Ran and D.T., Israel or any other country that is occupying a people, their land and resources, are responsible for vaccinating that occupied people. According to the Geneva Conventions, whatever "arrangements" the occupying power makes with any representatives of the occupied people; they are legally mute. The Oslo Accords, what Netanyahu, Abbas, Joe Biden, or any politician says, do not exceed the Geneva Conventions. From a legal viewpoint, the argument that Israel is not occupying East Jerusalem, the West Bank, or the Gaza Strip, is laughable and not worth responding to.

gerg

Antibody tests may work for now but they will only show antibodies for a few months after the vaccine. After that you will have t-cells ready to create antibodies but there won't be any antibodies present in your system for a test to detect unless you're exposed to the virus. I wonder how they plan to handle things then. Also, incidentally, no being present illegally is not a felony or even a misdemeanour. Nobody is a criminal just because they're present in the US. That's not a thing. That's people determined to not be present legally get deported not prosecuted.

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