Much to its credit, Israel has developed an app that allows fully vaccinated Israelis to enjoy unrestricted access to a variety of public places — shops, malls, movie theatres, gyms, restaurants, cafes and so on — even as the coronavirus pandemic still rages.
Thanks to these “green passports,” Israel can gradually return to a semblance of normalcy. Israeli officials hope that this ground-breaking app will encourage skeptics to book appointments for vaccinations as well, bringing Israel one step closer to eradicating this deadly plague, which has killed 6,100 Israelis to date.
Fortunately, countries other than Israel are seriously considering this public health measure. The European Union, consisting of 27 nations, has thrown its weight behind digital green certificates. The United States is working to introduce the same kind of system.
The sooner, they start, the better.
Critics contend that this system will create two classes of citizens and cause further inequality in societies. There is something to be said for this argument, but it essentially misses the point. In the face of such a calamitous, once-in-a-century pandemic, the first priority of governments is to ensure their citizens’ health and welfare.
Despite this imperative, voices are being heard that, incredibly enough, compare “green passports” to Nazi Germany’s persecution of Jews. These contrarians tend to be conservatives opposed to lockdowns, which have proven to be quite effective in lowering the incidence of new infections.
Disappointingly enough, Richard Grenell — a member of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council and the former American ambassador to Germany — is one of these misinformed activists.
Comparing European Jews who went into hiding during the Holocaust to Americans who refuse to be inoculated with an anti-COVID-19 vaccine, he tweeted a meme in which a Gestapo officer in Quentin Tarantino’s movie Inglorious Basterds says,”You’re hiding unvaccinated people under your floorboards, aren’t you?”
Grenell then wrote, “Speak up now. #slipperyslope.”
In the same vein, Madison Cawthorn, a newly-elected Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from North Carolina, railed against “green passports.”
“Proposals like these smack of 1940s Nazi Germany,” he told Fox News. “We must make every effort from becoming a ‘show your papers society.’ The constitution and our founding principles decry this type of totalitarianism.”
Likening “green passports” to the dreaded yellow star Jews in Nazi Germany were forced to wear after 1940, and condemning them as “a complete and total violation of human liberty,” the Libertarian Party of Kentucky tweeted, “Are the vaccine passports going to be yellow, shaped like a star, and sown on our clothes?”
Perhaps taking his cue from the libertarians, the British conservative pundit James Delingpole tweeted, “Wouldn’t it be better just to cut to the chase and give unvaccinated people yellow stars to sew prominently onto their clothes?”
These are patently false analogies, to put it mildly.
The attempt to link anti-COVID-19 measures with the Holocaust is historically inaccurate and morally indefensible. Opponents of “green passports” are entitled to their misaligned and insidious views. But when they invoke the Holocaust to back up their argument, they venture into dangerous territory.
At a time when the battle against COVID-19 is still being waged, discordant voices such as these can only cause irretrievable damage.