MKs Spar Over Who Is Responsible for Measles Outbreak

(Miriam Alster/Flash90)

In a sharp debate at a meeting of the Knesset Health Committee Monday, MK Shuli Muallem (Jewish Home) accused Yisrael Beytenu MK Yulia Milnovsky of anti-Semitism – after the latter accused the chareidi community of being responsible for an uptick in the number of measles cases in Israel.

Deputy Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman has aggressively campaigned for inoculations against flu and other childhood diseases, including measles – but measles shots are in very short supply, according to representatives of Kupat Cholim (HMO) organizations who testified at the committee Monday. According to Doron Netzer of Clalit Health Services, “we have enough stock to last through Friday,” but that was disputed by officials of the Ministry, who said that enough inoculations had been purchased, and if certain groups were not getting those inoculations, it was because of the inefficiency of the health groups.

The “groups,” according to Milnovsky, are chareidim, and added that many chareidi parents refused to inoculate their children. That Rabbi Litzman, himself a member of the chareidi community and a member of United Torah Judaism, is seeking to remove from schools children who do not get childhood inoculations – and even seeks to impose sanctions on their parents – did not seem to impress her. Muallem, attempting to shout her down, called her diatribe “anti-Semitic. If once the anti-Semites accused Jews of spreading the bubonic plague, today they accused chareidim of spreading measles. It’s a shame that such an important issue is being used as a springboard to attack a group.”

In response, Milnovsky’s office cited a report on Hadashot News Sunday that half of the cases of measles reported in recent weeks were in the chareidi community. “This is a scientific fact, I did not make it up. I am not looking to place blame, but my stance is clear – anyone who refuses to inoculate their child is endangering the entire population.”

According to Health Ministry figures cited at the meeting, the inoculation rate for measles in Israel ranges between 90 percent and 95 percent, depending on the community.

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