Opinion |

It's Time to Mandate the COVID Vaccine

B. Michael
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A nurse holding a Moderna vaccine at a clinic in Jerusalem.
A nurse holding a Moderna vaccine at a clinic in Jerusalem.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
B. Michael

Sometimes you just run out of patience. It happens mainly when confronted with a major overload of stupidity, cowardice and selfishness. Or, in two words – vaccine refusers.

It’s easy to knock down the straw man arguments with which the refusers try to conceal their stupidity, cowardice and selfishness. And although there isn’t the slightest chance that refuting their nonsense will change their position, it’s still worth a try: for the sake of those who are on the fence, if any such people exist.

The refusers rest their refusal on two pillars: on “individual rights” and “transparency.” Let’s start with the more impertinent of these – transparency. The refusers are proud to declare that they want to read the protocols, understand the circumstances, examine all the considerations, investigate the different interests at work.

Bravo. The Messiah must have arrived: For the first time in their history, Israelis are demanding transparency from their leaders. When have they ever asked to read protocols, examine circumstances or investigate interests?

Before they’re drafted into the army? Before going to war? Before the decisions on why and whether to build nuclear bombs? Before it was decided where to store them? Before every “targeted assassination”? Before selling arms to tyrants? Before building settlements on top of their neighbors? Before it was decided to mix religion and state? The list goes on and on. The Israeli sheep have never asked their shepherds “why?” Only now, all of a sudden, do they demand “transparency.” Before they’ll get vaccinated. Cowardice? Stupidity? Selfishness? Definitely. And bullshit.

Now let’s talk about “rights.” Let it be said immediately that the vaccine refusers have the full and absolute right to suffocate. But they do not have the right to choke others. None of the basic human right gives them this right. Not the right to “freedom of occupation,” not “freedom of movement,” not “freedom of conscience,” not “freedom of religion,” not the “privacy,” not “equality.”

Not even the “right to free speech,” which they use to spread their rubbish. Because the right of free speech (like all fundamental rights) is not absolute. It has limits. As we all know, it doesn’t give you the right to yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater. But it equally does not give one the right to yell “There’s no fire!” in a country where an epidemiological inferno is raging. Actually, spreading the wacky dogma of great sages of science, medicine and religion on the order of Rabbi Amnon Yitzhak should also be considered beyond the bounds of freedom of speech.

“Individual rights,” by name and definition, affect the individual. Only the individual. These are juxtaposed with the rights of the collective. The collective has rights, too, and as it happens, the group’s rights sometimes outweigh those of the individual. Particularly when the individual insists, while brandishing his rights, on endangering the collective and its health. So says the law, common sense and human decency.

The only way to deal with these vaccine refusers is by coercion. By laws. By fines. By restrictions on movement. And in stubborn cases, also by strictly enforced quarantine. Against their will? Yes, against their will. Sometimes Jewish religious law actually has something to teach us. Regarding a man who refuses to give his wife a divorce, halakha says: “Compel him until he says, ‘I am willing.’” Compel. If this is the solution for the abuse of one woman, then how much more so does it apply when the entire public is in danger?

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