EJC vice president plans vaccine charter flights to Israel

Ariel Muzicant,has explored options for flying Viennese Jews to Ben Gurion airport for the jab


A senior figure in European Jewry has confirmed to the JC that he is exploring organising charter flights to Israel for members of Vienna’s Jewish community to get a coronavirus vaccine.

The Swiss Jewish magazine Tachles reported that Ariel Muzicant, vice-president of the European Jewish Congress (EJC) and former president of Vienna’s Jewish community, has been working with Israeli authorities on his own vaccine initiative.

His programme would see Vienna’s Jews take charter flights to Israel where they would receive the coronavirus vaccine at Ben Gurion International Airport without entering the country, before flying home.

Three weeks later, participants would undertake the same round trip in order to get their second jab.

The package would cost each participant €800 (£692), though it is unclear whether that includes the price of the vaccine.

Ben Gurion airport is currently closed.

Mr Muzicant told the JC that, since November, he has worked on various initiatives to accelerate the inoculation process in Europe’s Jewish communities—including his Israeli plan.

The idea behind it “was that every vaccinated person means one sick or infected person fewer and one fewer to vaccinate in Europe where we still have a shortage of vaccines”, Mr Muzicant said.

His efforts come at a time when Austria has given out fewer than 500,000 doses of any coronavirus vaccine, while Israel has been able to administer more than 7 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

70,000 people in Vienna have received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine to date. That includes residents of the Jewish community’s nursing home, as well as 400 Holocaust survivors and community members over the age of 85 who received the vaccine on January 27.

A spokesperson for Vienna’s health secretary, Peter Hacker, told the JC that the city’s health authorities have not been informed of Mr Muzicant’s initiative and that “it would neither be welcomed nor supported by us”

A spokesperson for the European Jewish Congress told the JC that all its vaccine-related efforts are intended “to assist with enabling the most vulnerable members of our community to gain access to vaccinations, and to be able to meet with their families in full accordance with medical authorities and in keeping with national government priorities”.

At the same time as Mr Muzicant was at work on his flight plan, Charlotte Knobloch, president of Munich’s Jewish community, the IKG München und Oberbayern, sounded out members to see if they would be interested in a similar initiative, Tachles also reported.

Ms Knobloch reportedly asked members in the community’s newsletter to let the IKG München know by phone or email if they would potentially be interested in taking part.

A spokesperson for the IKG München told the JC that there is “currently no activity on our part” regarding possible vaccination flights to Israel.





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