Connect with us

General

Netanyahu’s Covid plan is even more racist than Trump’s


While Americans tune in to watch the unusually engaging impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump for inciting violent mobs, across the Atlantic, another world leader faces ongoing criminal allegations.

The same glaring inequality is playing out with another group of marginalized people: Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

After being indicted on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in 2019, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is now facing corruption charges, this time against the backdrop of his staggering mishandling of a pandemic.

Sound familiar? Well, there’s more.

In the U.S., members of the Philadelphia City Council expressed their concerns last week after new data showed that white residents in the City of Brotherly Love are receiving the Covid-19 vaccination at a rate of three times that of Black residents. Similar reports issued from state and city boards of health around the country indicate that nationwide, the norm is that Black people are being vaccinated at “dramatically lower rates” than white people. Like the virus itself, the coronavirus vaccination rollout highlights a stark racial disparity.

The same glaring inequality is playing out with another group of marginalized people: Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

In the West Bank, Palestinians like my relatives have their freedom of movement — and therefore their freedom to even dream of having a better life — dependent upon Netanyahu and his administration. In Gaza, the Netanyahu administration controls what is allowed in and out of “the world’s largest open-air prison” for the 2 million Palestinians living there. This includes Covid-19 vaccines.

Palestinians have been hit hard by the coronavirus. As United Nation’s human rights experts recently explained, “The Covid-19 pandemic has been ravaging the West Bank and Gaza in recent months, and has fractured an already badly under-resourced Palestinian health care system.” The latest data from the World Health Organization indicates that in the Palestinian territories there have seen more than 180,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases and a fatality rate of 1.1 percent. That’s far higher than the 0.7 percent fatality rate reported in Israel.

The Covid-19 crisis is simply a reminder for us of the violence of the racial disparities that have always existed in our nation.

It’s hard not to see the parallels to the United States, where Black and brown lives are clearly not valued as much as white ones. The Covid-19 crisis is simply a reminder for us of the violence of the racial disparities that have always existed in our nation.

The New York Times recently reported that while Israel — unlike the U.S. in this aspect — has emerged a world leader in vaccinating its population, “almost all” of the Palestinian residents in the West Bank and Gaza are still awaiting their first doses.

The Netanyahu administration has provided vaccinations to a large number of Israeli settlers who live in the West Bank in violation of international law but has not provided them to the native Palestinians there. The Israeli government has also made vaccinations available for Palestinians living in Israel who are citizens, as well as Palestinians who qualify as permanent residents in east Jerusalem. But Israeli health officials deny any responsibility to assist Palestinians living in the occupied territories.

As Saleh Higazi of Amnesty International summed it up, “There could hardly be a better illustration of how Israeli lives are valued above Palestinian ones.” This hits on a personal level for me. It means the settlers who stole my grandmother’s land after Israel took control of the West Bank in 1967 likely have been vaccinated while my family, who live within walking distance of that settlement outside of Bethlehem, are still waiting for their shots.

Omar Shakir, director of Human Rights Watch in Israel and Palestine, said, “Nothing can justify today’s reality in parts of the West Bank, where people on one side of the street are receiving vaccines, while those on the other do not.”

That sentiment was echoed by the U.N. human rights experts, noting this “differential access to necessary health care in the midst of the worst global health crisis in a century” is both “morally and legally” unacceptable.

That sentiment of course resonates in the U.S., where we’re witnessing the morally unacceptable reality that the privileged are being immunized at far higher rates than the marginalized.

In the U.S., the hope is that the more this glaring inequity is cast in the spotlight, the quicker it will be addressed. If history is any indication, the spotlight doesn’t wield that same potential power in Israel.

History also tells us that, barring the Biden administration taking an unlikely risk and prioritizing Palestinian sovereignty, another generation of Palestinians will live and die under Israeli occupation, this time with the added deadly threat of a global pandemic.

Of course, if Palestinians were granted self-determination and their own sovereign nation in a two-state solution that President Joe Biden “strongly supports,” then the Israeli government would have no legal obligations to provide medical care — and my Palestinian relatives would finally have the freedoms we often take for granted.

Copyright © 2020 AMSNBC News