"The narrative will collapse"CAMILLA HILDEBRANDT, 30. November 2021, 0 Kommentare, PDF
Note: This interview ist also available in German.
Multipolar: Efrat Fenigson, officially, 62% of the population in Israel, or about six million out of a total of 9 million Israelis, have been vaccinated twice. Israel celebrates the vaccination policy as a great success. You are networked with a great many activists, journalists, scientists. What do you think the numbers say?
Fenigson: Of these nearly six million twice vaccinated, only four million have received the third dose. That says quite a bit. Because the campaign has been going since August now. We also see that there are still infections after the booster vaccination. People who have received the third dose are still getting sick with Covid-19, but the propaganda is obviously showing that unvaccinated are pushing this and unvaccinated are the ones driving the infections. The numbers are being manipulated by the Ministry of Health. One day, certain numbers are posted on the public dashboard, and a few days later, those very numbers have changed. People track every day what is published by the official agencies, compare it, and point out discrepancies. Even from the data that I mention here, I don't know if it is validated, if it is really true.
We also see that every time they want to push the next step of the campaign, for example, vaccination for children, that there then happens to be always an increase in cases in that age group. So now all of a sudden the media is emphasizing that children are getting Covid, whith ridiculous proof points, very small numbers. The media keeps reporting on the long-term effects of Covid in children and other phenomena that can occur when children are not vaccinated. Needless to say, they present the kids as a danger to the elders.
Multipolar: Many people in Israel follow the government's narrative that vaccination is the almost sole means to combat Covid-19, you say.
Fenigson: Yes, many have no idea, believe everything the media and health authorities say without questioning or criticizing. But currently more and more are waking up, especially now with child´s vaccination, and finding that no real questions are being asked. There is no real criticism of the government's decisions, apart from groups of brave citizens. I think the public is becoming more critical as we go forward. At the last big demonstration in Tel Aviv, we saw hundreds of new faces who had come only because they themselves have been vaccinated two or even three times, but are not ready to accept the vaccination of their children and the compulsion to vaccinate. We see more and more people joining in, asking questions and challenging the data on the so-called facts that are being presented.
Multipolar: Your criticism is that the government, as well as the media, report almost exclusively on the positive effects of the Covid vaccine. The negative effects are left out.
Fenigson: The only thing the authorities show is success, how many people have gotten vaccinated, how great that is, that we're the first, or that we're leading, that the world is looking up to us, or whatever they want to propagate, which really isn't relevant. They completely ignore that there are people who have severe side effects. There are tens of thousands of reports that show that people, relatives, families, and friends got hurt or have died.
Multipolar: How can this be measured?
Fenigson: Through two sources. One is a public committee that was formed last year. The people report adverse effects from vaccination there because the Department of Health didn't provide an accessible way for the public to report until about three or four weeks ago, when it started getting criticized. The Ministry of Health-reporting is one sided. You fill in a form but the data is not reflected back to the public, it’s like a black hole. That's the first source.
The second source is the people themselves on social media. Whenever the Department of Health posts something about the success of the vaccine and how great it is, people themselves post comments on the Department of Health's posts. They write: I have the following effects, my son was hurt, my brother, my mother, my father passed away, people themselves write it with full names. At the end of September, there was the case that the Ministry of Health posted on Facebook how great the vaccine was. As a result, 25,000 citizens commented, they called the MoH liars. There are adverse effects. You're just saying it's great, but it's not correct. It's not the reality. And what happened was that the Ministry of Health deleted 5000 comments during the night. Then the mainstream media picked up on that because citizens had reported it, and they published some articles about it saying that the Ministry of Health is trying to hide this from the public.
And there is also another source providing testimonies: The testimonies project.
Multipolar: You say most mainstream media report only what is the government's opinion. The Haaretz newspaper, for example, was considered a left-leaning newspaper, with balanced reporting. Has anything changed since Corona?
Fenigson: Haaretz currently likes to publish articles with propaganda against the unvaccinated, who are a “danger to society”, and explains why they are a danger. Me and my friends, we used to read Haaretz, and some reporters fought side by side with us last year when we took to the streets against Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption. It's heart-breaking to see how the media betrays people, no matter where you are on the spectrum, left, right, religious, secular, Jewish, Arab, Ethiopian, whatever. Right now, there's a new divide: it's about health choices over the body. That's the new divide. In my opinion what people fail to see, is that the whole vaccination discussion is a classic tactic of divide and conquer. By the governments succeeding in separating us and perpetuating the divide, they keep us distracted from the real point which is the loss and hurt of our basic human rights.
Multipolar: On Twitter, you describe it as a kind of witch hunt against the unvaccinated.
Fenigson: You either follow the rules and do what you're told, or you're the new enemy. So you can see how left-wing and right-wing media are ganging up against this new enemy. This includes Haaretz and many other media in Israel. This is very disappointing. Many people feel that there is no real journalism right now. I can count on one hand those who are brave enough and have an opinion different from the official ones. Like Orly and Guy, two independent journalists, the only ones who dare to present both sides. They used to work in the mainstream media. Or Dr. Yaffa Shirraz, who was recently fired for her critical opinion, and now is the editor of this new independent publication. But what we see is that citizens are taking matters into their own hands and starting to report themselves. They're doing live sessions on Facebook and Twitter. They're producing podcasts, writing columns. There's a new newspaper that's now going to be started by some of the people who live here. So there will be a lot of new forms of media because very few report on the other side, on the other opinions. Where there’s a void, it will be filled.
Multipolar: As you can read in social media, there are many demonstrations in Israel, loud and essentially peaceful. In Germany, larger demos are mostly banned because of the risk of infection. Previously, tens of thousands of participants were discredited by the media and politicians as right-wing extremists.
Fenigson: I think these demonstrations are great because they bring together people from very different groups. In Israel, they are not described as right-wing or left-wing because they know they can't do that. There are religious, right and left, Arabs, many people from different groups are in contact with each other. Every Saturday night there is a protest, every Thursday night there are two protests in Jerusalem. Haifa and many other big cities in Israel also participate with their own activities. Citizens organize picnics in front of cafes, for people who can't go to cafes. Even small, wake-up call protests by 2-3 people directly in front of official's houses, early in the morning, by brave protesters, with a megaphone and a friend who’s doing the Facebook live.
There are many initiatives, and all these actions are disseminated. So there is an information and synchronization network between the different groups of resistance. We are starting to build a kind of parallel world. We rely on trustworthy people who report from the field, and try to ignore what is happening outside. Because it's hard to bear the levels of incitement, hate and violent speech. It’s hard to bear what's happening right now.
Multipolar: You said in the preliminary interview that sooner or later the narrative will collapse. The narrative that vaccination is the only way to fight the virus. That unvaccinated people are dangerous to society. In addition, in Germany there is the narrative that critics are right-wing. How is that in Israel?
Fenigson: I think in the beginning it was very successful, that unvaccinated people are a danger to society, people bought it. Now it's pointing to the children. They have to protect us, because if we don't vaccinate the children, everyone is at risk. They're not very successful with that narrative. And that's exactly why they’re trying to spin off the attention, by reporting now that the Ministry of Health officials are being threatened. It was already proven that there were no real life-threatening threats.
Doctors are being targeted as another risk to society, courageous doctors who are willing to help people and speak out not necessarily in line with the accepted narrative. So there are diversionary tactics that are used to try to avoid talking about the fact that children who don't get vaccinated are recovering. Some scientists, such as Dr. Geert Vanden Bossche, independent virologist and vaccine expert, formerly employed at GAVI and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, explains that children who don't get vaccinated are our last front line of protection. He mentions that if we vaccinate the entire population, which Israel is trying to do, we put the entire society at risk of not being able to cope with the next mutations of the virus. We will have to keep developing new vaccines to counter the next mutation. So the children are very important for our protection. But the government is trying to convince everybody that they are a dangerous right now.
But back to the question of the narrative, I have no doubt that the narrative will collapse. The only question is when. Because there are some truths that cannot be hidden. People get hurt. You can't hide that for long. Maybe people try to cover it up. Maybe people don't report it, doctors don't report it. And maybe it’s too tough to admit so people try pretend it’s not happening. But at some point, the truth is too powerful to hide.
Multipolar: On the tenth of November, Israel decided to recommend BioNTech/Pfizer's vaccine for children five years and older. A vaccination campaign has started. However, an October 2021 study by Israeli health insurer Meuchedet said that about 48 percent of parents surveyed would have their children vaccinated.
Fenigson: I don't think the majority of the public is really buying this narrative. By the way, I'm not saying the vaccines are bad. I think most people who got vaccinated are fine. But some people have been harmed, and we have to take that into account. And we cannot hurt the children. We're already seeing teenagers having severe side effects such as myocarditis and others. That's mostly being swept under the rug. Yet, many parents are now waking up and saying, okay, I've taken care of myself, I'm protected because I've been vaccinated, but I'm not going to put my child at risk. I put myself at risk, I took responsibility for my body, but I know I'm an adult and I can handle it, but I'm not going to run the experiment on my child.
Multipolar: What do you think will happen with the vaccination campaign for children?
Fenigson: The more aggressive the campaign for vaccinating children is – I've heard similar things from friends in England – the more society enforces restrictions. If there are infections at school, children are allowed to go to school but are quarantined later at home. A modern prison. This is a new regulation in Israel for ten days. During those ten days, they have to take an antigen test every day and a PCR test on the last one. They are made to feel that they are dangerous, that we have to protect ourselves from them. They are afraid that they could harm somebody. And when they go to school or meet with friends, they bring all this fear with them. They start to bully each other.
The mental state of many children and teenagers is not very good. There are a lot of calls to mental health professionals, psychologists, psychiatrists, as well as school principles reporting on violence at schools, and we now see the media even starting to report it, which means it’s too “loud” to hide. My concern is that there will be increase in suicide cases, like in Australia. That's very frightening. We have to remember that these children and young people are our future. If we don't take care of them now, don't give them the feeling of security, help them to find their way during this challenging time, the feeling of being loved, and that they don't endanger anyone, we will have many problems in the future.
Multipolar: In Germany we now have the 2G (vaccinated and recovered) and also in some universities the 1G rule (vaccinated), open discrimination against the unvaccinated. In Israel, there is the Green Pass.
Fenigson: If you are not vaccinated, recovered or being tested – and the Israeli Green Pass is only valid for six months – you can't go to concerts, restaurants, cafes, movies. You can't participate in social life. And the worst thing is that many people lose their jobs if they don't want to get vaccinated. What's on the table now is that in a few days the government is expected to pass another extension of the law that allows the state of emergency to last until the end of 2022. [Editor's note: That has happened now. The Emergency Law was extended on 29 November in the presence of 19 MPs (out of 120 members). Meanwhile, a demonstration took place in front of the Knesset.] Under this extension, the Green Pass measures of discrimination and coercion can continue to exist, and new measures are suggested to be added, such as PCR testing to be made mandatory. If you refuse, you can be fined and put in jail. And the second thing is, we already have the bill that police officers can come into your home without a warrant. So we're looking at that kind of future. Which goes to show that the whole “left and right” is again the same divide tactic. In reality we see that politicians who were “lefties” and supposed to protect human rights, like “Meretz” or “Labour” parties, are both supporting and leading anti-human rights restrictions and laws.
Multipolar: Why isn't there a universal vaccination requirement?
Fenigson: First of all, there may be. And if there will be, I think it will be a big mistake in terms of image and perception of the country, because of this risk:
The explanation, I think, is that countries like Israel, Germany and others have to continue to pretend that they are democracies. And when they say that vaccines are a mandated law and you have to take them because if you don't, you'll be prosecuted, they're showing the world and their own citizens that they're not democracies anymore. I think they don’t want to break their democratic image. Why? Because their whole narrative is based on the notion of “we’re doing this to keep you safe. The compromise in human rights and freedoms is for your own good”. And many people buy this story. If they become more aggressive than they are today, the ones who are buying the story may wake up and understand that the government may not be on their side, because it’s using coercive, forceful measures, unlike a “democracy”. And the government cannot risk ALL public losing trust in it, so they are being careful.
Multipolar: Why do you think so few people are standing up?
Fenigson: People want to live the way they are used to. It's very hard to decide: Okay, you're going to forbid me to do that? No problem, I will continue my life without these things. – I understand that. I just know that there is a new world waiting for us where we can decide what we want to do with our lives and bodies. Once we stand in our sovereignty, once we stand in our truth and we accept the change in reality, we accept the change in our conditions, we kind of surrender to it and we just create new realities. We create alternatives. I can tell you about Israel: There are new communities around culture, festivals that are going on, cinemas, outdoors. There are cafes that people are doing in neighbourhoods. There are social gatherings, parties that are happening, all of that for people who are not participating in the experiment.
So we can build an alternative society, an alternative culture to what is happening. It's just that it's a lot of work and we are afraid of change, so naturally we resist it. So I truly respect each person and what they're doing. I'm not against vaccines in general. I'm against the coercion of it. It just looks like it's the minority because they're relatively quiet. But there are many good people around us. One thing I know for sure is that nothing, no threat of a job, no take away of luxury, no prevention of culture life will come on the expense of my sovereignty and my freedom. I just know that and that's what guides me.
Multipolar: Though you've been attacked for it.
Fenigson: There are digital surveillance groups looking for people with influence or doctors, taking screenshots of what they do, and demonizing them, whether on social media or on mainstream media. I'm not going to shut up because someone doesn't like my opinion. So I think freedom of speech is one of the last things that we still have left. And if we let go of that, what do we have left?
Multipolar: But one side is convinced no-vaccinators are putting people at risk.
Fenigson: It's about the standpoint of human rights, basic personal rights versus collective rights. And if you put the collective over the individual, then you diminish the fundamental rights of the individual. It's like in a socialist regime, that the government comes first, the country comes first, the collective comes first before the individual. I thought that since the post World War II Nuremberg Code we had learned a few things that said there is bodily autonomy, there is free will, there is free choice. We have basic rights in Israel. We have 30 basic human rights that are being overridden all the time. We are one collective humanity that is going through this horrible experiment together. And if we fall to that divide, it's the end of us. We must find a way to unite and to respect each other, on top of all the differences.
About the interviewee: Efrat Fenigson, born in 1980, is an Australian-Israeli citizen. After studying computer science in Australia, she worked first as a programmer and later in marketing positions for various companies, mainly in the tech industry, ranging from large enterprises as well as startups. She is a single mum and lives in Tel Aviv, Israel. Via her social media channels she reports on the protests against the Corona policy in Israel. T-Online, one of the most read German mainstream media outlets wrote about her in October 2021: "Efrat Fenigson has a substantial following on Twitter, works as a marketing director for a co-working space in Tel Aviv and was recently named one of the most promising marketers of the year by an organisation for start-up founders and investors. That she is now using her skills to fight vaccination policy can be interpreted as a sign that opposition to government strategy is no longer limited to a small group of ideological opponents of vaccination."