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January 25, 2021

Israel’s Discriminatory Policies on Covid 19 Vaccination

by Anne Paddock

Israel clearly values some lives more than other lives and its no more apparent than in the distribution and rollout of the Cover-19 vaccine in Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip.

Five days after Hanukkah (the 8-day festival of lights that commemorates the Jews rising up against their oppressors), Israel began vaccinating its citizens, which includes Israeli settlers living inside the West Bank and Palestinian residents of Jerusalem.

Excluded are the nearly 5 million Palestinians (including doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers) who live in the West Bank (under Israeli military occupation) and the Gaza Strip (which is considered by most people to also be occupied by the Israeli military), according to Amnesty International.  How is it that a country who just celebrated rising up against its oppressors exclude Palestinian doctors, nurses, and the elderly in the West Bank (a territory that is not a part of Israel) and the Gaza Strip? 

Accused of systemic discrimination, Israeli may defend their position by asserting the Gaza Strip is a self governing Palestinian territory that is currently under the control of Hamas (a Palestinian Sunni-Islamic fundamentalist group) as opposed to the Palestinian Authority. But, the West Bank, bordered by Israel, Jordan, and the Dead Sea, is under partial Palestinian Authority while being under total Israeli military occupation. How is that Israel militarily occupies a territory, vaccinates its citizens living in settlements on land that is not their own but refuses to vaccinate non-Israelis living on non-Israeli land?

At a minimum, Israeli authorities need to provide vaccinations equally to Palestinians (including doctors, nurses, healthcare workers, and the elderly) living under their military control in land that is not Israel’s to claim. People can argue that under international laws and UN recommendations, Israel needs to discontinue their systematic discrimination (they clearly do), but Israel doesn’t seem to care. Could you imagine the world outcry if the Palestinian military occupied Israeli territory and then refused to vaccinate the Israelis who are living under their control?  I’m guessing the Israelis and most Jews would be screaming anti-semitism.

What’s the solution? Disregard religion and political affiliation. Vaccinate all human beings equally and fairly that fall into the categories including the elderly in group homes, healthcare workers, those over 65, followed by frontline workers, essential workers,  the vulnerable, etc.  It’s really that simple. When we take religion and politics out of the equation, its remarkable how much fairness enters the picture.

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