Opinion: The finance minister’s comparison between Omicron and the flu is reckless and dangerous, but worse than that is his motive — a fiscal worldview that doesn’t consider solidarity a part of a state’s commitment to its citizens

Who needs COVID-deniers when the coalition’s own pseudo-medical expert — Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman — takes it upon himself to declare to a worried nation that “you don’t die” from the Omicron variant.

In fact, Omicron is “no worse than the flu”, said Liberman, the renowned scientist, adding it is entirely possible to lead a normal life alongside the pathogen.

אביגדור ליברמן
Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman (Photo: Avigail Uzi)


Had Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton (Mrs. “vaccinating children during school hours is a crime”) made similar remarks, she would have been tarred and feathered.

But Liberman, for whatever reason, gets a pass.

While he was met with some hesitant criticism over that statement, we did not even hear so much as a whimper when he revealed that the real reason behind his remarks was his unwillingness to pay out compensations in case of restrictions.

But this is hardly a “cat out of the bag” moment. Liberman spoke about his financial world view — which doesn’t consider solidarity a part of a state’s commitment to its citizens — time and time over without a smidgen of shame.

He even sent thousands of professional and dedicated tour guides to retool themselves for a different occupation since “there won’t be a tourism industry by 2025.” But how, for Pete’s sake, does this bleak prophecy go together with “Omicron is like the flu?” What does it matter if you can have it both ways.

אנשים מחפשים אוכל בפחים בצל משבר הקורונה
A woman sifts through trash in search of food at Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic (Photo: Nadav Eves)


Either way, the worldview behind these outrageous remarks stays the same.

“Not anyone who raises their hand would get money,” he nonchalantly explained his cruel indifference to the suffering of tour guides. Even the apology he made after his words were met with astonishment was cut from the same cloth.

“The statement was not worded right,” he said, “but the facts are sound.”

What facts exactly? That there won’t be a tourism industry left in a couple of years? So why shouldn’t we also close all hotels across the country while we’re at it?

Maybe it’s because the hospitality industry, much like the country’s mall lobby, is much more powerful and well-connected than tour guides, and in Liberman’s Darwinist world, the weak lag behind and perish while the strongest keeps charging onwards.

אנשים מחפשים אוכל בפחים בצל משבר הקורונה
(Photo: Nadav Eves)


Time and time again, he presents an outdated and visionless economic worldview, devoid of any social responsibility, that all of the world’s economies, either from left or right, have abandoned as part of the lessons learned from the pandemic and adopted a more comprehensive fiscal policy.

The realization that only the government can save its citizens in times of pandemic and strife was the obvious moral and economic conclusion.

Examples are plenty: Only this week, Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced a £1 billion ($1.3 billion) compensation package aimed at revivifying the country’s leisure and hospitality industries.

Sunak did not simply send people to go find a different job despite being a fiscally conservative lawmaker.

On Wednesday, Liberman, who finally understood the gravity of his mistake, released an announcement stating that he decided to continue giving double benefits to those in need well into next year, “due to the continued spread of coronavirus.”

ויקטור ואלה אורחי
Two Holocaust survivors living in poverty (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)


Well, thank God for small mercies. This legislation was already enacted in the early days of the pandemic by the previous government, and it merely allows not to rob the unemployed who are either disabled or receive income support from their unemployment benefits.

Even the previous finance minister, Israel Katz, is now looking like the epitome of responsibility and compassion.

A “government for change”. Yeah right.

Another “change” like this would be the end of us all.

As reported by Ynetnews