Chinese ambassador to Israel compares coronavirus travel bans to Holocaust
China’s acting ambassador to Israel is under fire for comparing coronavirus-related travel bans to the Jewish people being denied international refuge during the Holocaust.
Dai Yuming said Sunday at a press conference that “errors to limit or even ban entries of Chinese citizens” were not unlike “the old days, the old stories that happened in World War Two, the Holocaust, the darkest days in human history.
“Millions of Jewish were killed, and many, many Jewish were refused when they tried to seek assistance from other countries. Only very, very few countries opened their door, and among them is China,” said Dai, referring to Jews who sought refuge as the Nazis swept over Europe.
Dai’s remarks come after Israel announced that border control agents were authorized to deny entry to non-Israelis who have visited China in the past two weeks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
The country also halted direct flights to China, and Israeli citizens who returned from the Asian nation have been instructed to remain under quarantine at home for two weeks to contain the virus.
The ambassador’s comments were met with swift criticism on social media.
“No Dai Yuming, banning travel from China because of the Corona Virus is in no way like the rejection of Jewish refugees & the Holocaust,” activist Ben Freeman tweeted. “Once again the non-Jewish world uses Jews to define their own perceived victimhood.”
The Chinese Embassy in Israel later issued a statement apologizing for the remarks, saying “there was no intention whatsoever to compare the dark days of the Holocaust with the current situation and the efforts taken by the Israeli government to protect its citizens.
“We would like to apologize if someone understood our message the wrong way,” the embassy said.
There have been no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Israel. But the virus has spread from China to 23 other countries, infecting more than 17,300 people across the globe, according to the World Health Organization.
WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday that travel bans were unnecessary in trying to prevent the spread of the virus that has killed more than 360 people in China.
“We call on all countries to implement decisions that are evidence-based and consistent,” Tedros said.
With Post wires
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