Biden move to ban cruise-ship trips to Israel derided as ‘unfounded fear’

Health experts have questioned the effectiveness of the decision by former US vice-president Joe Biden to ban cruise-ship passengers from Israel and say that their role in public health is minimal.

The decision by the Biden Foundation, which raises money for health projects aimed at disadvantaged communities, will affect 90,000 people who book one of the 73 ships that sail to the country every year and covers passengers who book flights.

The foundation stressed the ban did not apply to military personnel. It cited fears of the spread of infectious diseases, terrorism, hate crimes and harassment.

Israeli leaders were quick to dismiss the move, accusing Biden of anti-semitism and saying the ban did not fly with the many who travel to the Jewish state without incident.

Commentators in the US suggested the decision reflected Joe Biden’s support for the leftwing Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders and opposition to US president Donald Trump, adding to a long list of critics of the president.

“For over 10 years, the foundation has worked closely with leaders in the American Jewish community, including one of our trustees, Marc Freedman, on Israel and local communities in the US,” Peter Diamandis, one of the foundation’s co-founders, said in a statement.

“We also have a longstanding relationship with veterans and a dedicated team of disease fighters in partnership with leading public health experts across the US. The number of trips the foundation has visited, made or supported has helped support dozens of patient-focused health education and prevention programs in communities around the country.

“But unfortunately, our 40-year work in cancer screening and education is perhaps not unique to US policies. In Europe and Israel, vaccination is controversial and some countries are going backward. Travel can help support patient-focused programs and projects that support essential health services. But at the same time, it is important that public health decisions aren’t driven by narrow interests or political agendas.”

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