More US Lawmakers Urged to Speak Out Against ‘Vaccine Apartheid’ for Palestinians

The progressive Jewish organization IfNotNow questions why more Democrats aren’t decrying Israel’s exclusion of  millions of people in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, on left, with the first vaccinator in Phase B of the Israeli Vaccine, Jan. 5, 2021. (Amos Ben Gershom , Government Press Office, Wikimedia Commons)

By Andrea Germanos
Common Dreams

Progressive Jewish organization IfNotNow asked Monday why more Democrats have not yet voiced criticism of Israel’s exclusion of millions of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza for its Covid-19 vaccine rollout.

The U.S.-based group’s tweet was in response to reporting by The Times of Israel highlighting remarks concerning the vaccination disparity made in recent days by freshman Reps. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) and Marie Newman (D-Ill.), as well as Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), and as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asserts that his country is “ahead of the whole world in vaccines.”

Bowman, for example, wrote in a Sunday tweet: “Netanyahu must ensure that both Israelis and Palestinians have access to the Covid vaccine. This cruelty is another reminder of why the occupation must end.”

Earlier this month, Newman weighed in broadly about the global need for equitable vaccine distribution and specifically called out Israel.

“The Netanyahu administration has a moral and humanitarian obligation to ensure that both Israelis and Palestinians have access to vaccines,” she wrote.

Speaking to Democracy Now! earlier this month, Tlaib, a Palestinian-American, said she hoped her colleagues would see Israel’s treatment of Palestinians with regard to coronavirus tracing, testing, and vaccine rollout as evidence of “what the Palestinians have been trying to tell us for a very long time.”

Israel has “the power to distribute that vaccine to the Palestinian people, their own neighbors… feet away from where they live, many of which, again, could expose them and their family. And it doesn’t,” said Tlaib. “It just reiterates what the Palestinian people and even human rights groups have been telling us, is that this is an apartheid state.”

The lawmakers’ comments came as Israel’s health minister doubled down on his country’s decision to exclude Palestinians in the occupied territories from vaccines.

Speaking Sunday on the BBC‘s “Andrew Marr Show,” Yuli Edelstein rejected the idea that his country has obligations under international law to provide adequate care for those living under Israeli military occupation.

“As far as vaccination is concerned, I think it is Israel’s obligation first and foremost to its citizens, to provide jabs,” he said. “If it is the responsibility of the Israeli Health Minister to take care of the Palestinians what exactly is the responsibility of the Palestinian Health Minister? To take care of the dolphins in the Mediterranean?”

United Nations special rapporteurs have rejected such an assessment, stating that the “denial of an equal access to healthcare, such as on the basis of ethnicity or race, is discriminatory and unlawful.”

Human rights organization Amnesty International has also condemned Israel’s exclusion of the nearly 5 million Palestinians who live in the West Bank and Gaza Strip from vaccines.

“Israel’s Covid-19 vaccine program highlights the institutionalized discrimination that defines the Israeli government’s policy towards Palestinians. While Israel celebrates a record-setting vaccination drive, millions of Palestinians living under Israeli control in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip will receive no vaccine or have to wait much longer — there could hardly be a better illustration of how Israeli lives are valued above Palestinian ones,” Saleh Higazi, the group’s deputy regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement.

“Israeli authorities must ensure that vaccines are equally provided to the Palestinians living under their control, in order to meet their obligations under international law,” said Higazi. “They must also ensure smooth entry of vaccines and other medical equipment to the OPT, including making any necessary logistical arrangements to ensure the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines.”

IfNotNow, meanwhile, is urging its supporters to express their concern to the Israeli government.

Signing the petition, the group states, will “demonstrate that American Jews will not tolerate medical apartheid.”

This article is from Common Dreams.

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6 comments for “More US Lawmakers Urged to Speak Out Against ‘Vaccine Apartheid’ for Palestinians

  1. John Earls
    January 27, 2021 at 14:26

    I suppose Israel is just taking advantage of the coronavirus to redress its “demographic problem” with the Palestineans.

    • Bob Martin
      January 28, 2021 at 02:20

      Exactly. Despicable but true.

  2. Vera Gottlieb
    January 27, 2021 at 12:13

    It is totally shameful and despicable.

  3. Cadogan Parry
    January 26, 2021 at 17:28

    “Frequently we speak of […] merely the physical manifestation of Israeli colonialism and apartheid. In Israel, apartheid runs much deeper as it reaches almost every facet of society where Israeli Jews, including settlers, are treated as superior, while Palestinian Arabs, whether Christian or Muslims, are denied their most basic rights, including those guaranteed under international law.

    “While Israel’s behavior is not entirely surprising, it being consistent with the sordid reality of military occupation and institutional racism, it is also self-defeating […] the coronavirus does not respect Israel’s matrix of control in Palestine”

    – Ramzy Baroud, MintPress News (13th-January-2021)

  4. Jonny James
    January 26, 2021 at 15:34

    The Bipartisan Consensus: The US will protect Israel from international law, no matter how heinous Israel’s crimes. After all, the US and its vassal the UK, can steal billions from Venezuela and deny them from buying vaccine. Israel can block health care to Palestinians, murder Palestinians with impunity, steal their land etc. and nothing can be done about it. The US does not have to follow the law, and neither does Israel.

    Genocide, and ethnic cleansing are part of the US/Israel white settler colonial project. Also, the US extends its imperial power into the ME with the aid of nuclear-armed Israel to intimidate its neighbors. The US and Israel appear to be something of a suicide death cult.

    • robert e williamson jr
      January 26, 2021 at 20:59

      Could it be you have let the secret out? Your statement is about the only thing I’ve ever read that in in opposition to what I think the relationship is, that being blackmail. Nuclear blackmail of the US by extreme right wing Israelis. SEE Roger J Mattson’s recent release on the Israeli nuclear bomb. You will not believe his true story.

      The new president is a dyed in the wool Zionist from what I gather. He needs to get real and stay real if he expects to protect the best interests of Americans and this country because Israel has proven time and again it is only interested in what is best for it.;

      But the arguments here about who gets the vaccine are way off the point. Unless the Israelis can figure a benefit from giving it to the Palestinians that is better than letting them die, they will not give it to them. Hell they shoot them about every day.

      We have let our countries leaders drag us down the road to perdition by allowing Israeli leaders to gradually strip
      shreds of U.S. sovereignty from it’s citizens.

      Read it and weep.

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