Fauci champions Israeli medical apartheid

Anthony Fauci punted when asked about Israel’s refusal to provide vaccines to Palestinians living under its military rule.

Al Drago UPI

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the immunologist and chief medical adviser to the US president, has given his implicit endorsement of Israeli medical apartheid.

In an interview with The Times of Israel, Fauci lauded Israel’s COVID-19 vaccination program as a “model for the rest of the world,” crediting the socialized healthcare system in the country.

Israel has been lionized for its supposedly comprehensive vaccine rollout, with outlets like The New York Times saying it points to a way out of the pandemic.

The only trouble is that Israel is refusing to distribute vaccines to millions of people living under its single system of unequal rule.

If anything, Israel exemplifies the deeply inequitable global allocation of vaccines that will only allow COVID-19 to thrive.

The reality of Israel’s discriminatory vaccine rollout is hardly worthy of praise.

Fauci’s adulations are a major propaganda gift to Israel, which seeks to be viewed as a bastion of technical innovation rather than a brutal occupier.

The Times of Israel asked Fauci whether the country should “help vaccinate neighboring Palestinians.”

The publication notes that “Fauci responded carefully” to the question.

“You’re asking me a political question, and I don’t want to go there. That only gets me into trouble,” he replied.

Obligation not benevolence

The very framing of the question as to whether Israel should “help” its “neighbors” is fundamentally flawed, whitewashing the reality that five million Palestinians live under its military rule.

Providing vaccinations is not simply a matter of Israel acting benevolently to a neighbor. It’s a matter of Israel fulfilling its obligations under international law.

As the occupying power, Israel is responsible for the public health of the people living in the territory it occupies.

Article 56 of the Fourth Geneva Convention makes “particular reference to the adoption and application of the prophylactic and preventive measures necessary to combat the spread of contagious diseases and epidemics.”

Providing vaccinations to Palestinians is not a matter of politics or plain morality but of rights and responsibilities. Israel has utterly failed to uphold its obligations at the expense of Palestinian public health.

But even if it were a matter of Israeli generosity and benevolence towards a “neighbor,” it’s telling that Fauci couldn’t just give a straightforward “yes” for an answer.

Fauci has explicitly called for vaccine “solidarity between countries” as critical to ending the pandemic.

Why are Palestinians excluded from this basic concern for humanity?

Medical apartheid

Israelis living in West Bank settlements, built in violation of international law, are able to receive inoculations but not Palestinians living in the same territory under the same state authority.

There’s a word for this kind of state-sanctioned separate and unequal treatment.

Earlier this week, Israel delayed the transfer of vaccine doses acquired by the Palestinian Authority for frontline medical workers in the Gaza Strip. Some Israeli lawmakers sought to condition the transfer of vaccines on political concessions from Hamas.

Under a severely tightened Israeli blockade since 2007, the Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated places on the planet. Israel’s siege has “pushed Gaza’s healthcare system to the brink of collapse,” Palestinian human rights groups have warned.

All aspects of Palestinian life, including the right to health, are harmed by Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonization and apartheid.

Decades of “de-development and economic subordination” have prevented Palestinians from access to vaccines, as the corporate watchdog Who Profits notes.

Meanwhile, Israel refuses to vaccinate the vulnerable Palestinian workers who serve as its captive and disposable labor force.

And while undocumented persons and status-less non-Palestinian refugees and migrant workers in Israel are eligible to receive vaccinations, Palestinians from the West Bank living in the country are being turned away.

The Times of Israel interviewed Fauci on the occasion of his winning the $1 million Dan David Prize awarded by a foundation based at Tel Aviv University.

That university is deeply complicit in Israel’s system of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid against Palestinians.

A prize that big may make it tempting to turn away from the reality of Israeli medical apartheid. But that doesn’t make it right.

By treating Palestinian rights as a “political question,” Fauci is undermining the work of groups who are calling on Israel to fulfill its obligations under international law.

That is a political act, and a very shameful one to be sure.

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Fauci knows that all questions about the vaccines are political: I am ashamed that he refuses to remind the world that Israel is responsible for Palestinians, just the way the world was responsible for Jews when the Nazis were killing them. Is that the Israeli model?

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I would like to excuse this nice old guy as a scientist and not a politician but even as head of NIAID he could opine on distribution to Palestine and putting the law and politics of apartheid aside, as chief advisor to Biden on the virus he should already have advised him to intervene on purely medical grounds. Allowing the Palestinian Territories to turn into a breeding ground for the virus isn't even a good idea for Israel. As Biden might and should say; "Come on man!".

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There is no excuse for Fauci. He is the Chief Medical Advisor to Biden (and Trump before him) and as such has responsibility to give out sensible and accurate information in relation to Covid 19. He is not just some amiable old scientist guy.

The TOI article does quote him as saying 'But unless the entire world essentially has access to and gets vaccinated, there is always the threat that a variant is going to come in and evade the protection of the vaccines.' This the message he should have diplomatically repeated, and repeated again if necessary.

We are dealing with a corona virus and it will mutate; the more virus the greater the odds of mutation, each of which may be more or less infectious and/or dangerous. Right now we still are not sure how long each vaccine will provide protection or if the vaccinated will be able to transmit the virus although the reasonable expectation is that they will not. But these things are not yet definitively known.

These are the messages that, if he took his job seriously, he would be making again and again.

Israel may choose to vanish the Palestinian people as 'neighbours' rather than people under occupation, many of whom will enter Israel Proper for employment; it may well choose to make a distinction between Israel citizens and stateless Palestinians, but the virus will not. Even on self-interest grounds, Israel should be including Palestinians in their vaccination programme. Was it really beyond Fauci to make this point? Is it really beyond Israelis to understand that a corona virus differs from them in that it does not discriminate between Israeli Jew and stateless Palestinian? Apparently it is.

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I had great respect to Dr Fauci dealing with covid in The USA but I am disappointed by his disregard for human rights of the Palestinian people under apartheid Israeli rule and occupation. At least he should have been professional and not political.

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I have seen reports in jewish and pro zionist publications in USA that some vaccine was made available to both citizens of Israel(Arab citizens) and residents of Jerusalem and occupied territories. The information further claimed that most of the people offered refused the vaccine. Comment? Validity?

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Given Israel's treatment of the Palestinians, I can understand why they might be leery of receiving a shot in the arm from the same folks who keep shooting them in the head.

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I have respected Dr. Fauci for 4 years as a humanitarian but that Israeli $1,000,000 shows where his true caring scientific mind really lies and it is not with Humanity, he has shown his price to become just another pseudo Israeli and do their Apartheid bidding for them whilst the Palestinians languish in the densest open air Prison on Earth.

Israel controls everything in a Palestinians life from birth to death, illegally I might add and Dr. Fauci is well aware of this, hypocrite !!!

You have lost a supporter Dr. Fauci and I thought you just may be different but I was wrong.

May you spend your Israeli Money well but I will not listen to you ever again.

Steve Gregory, Australia.

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I see the point here, and yet think this analysis mis-identifies the problem. Israel not sharing its vaccines with Palestinians in not the issue here. The analysis most fundamentally overlooks the nature of the relationship of the colonizer and colonized, one built on the systemic and INTENTIONAL demise, NOT health, of the colonized.

Why would ANY Palestinian even be expected to entrust ANYTHING from their colonizer that WOULD be injected into their bodies, those bodies which are routinely used as human testing grounds? The outrage over Israel not 'sharing' its vaccines with Palestinians is a gross and convenient evasion of reality, that the Israel's 'democracy' rests on the everyday debasement of Palestinian life, with impunity.

Covid news coverage is eroding the most basic elements of these realities, and much of media is consuming and perpetuating this mis-identification of the real problem.

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I am more than disappointed that Dr. Fauci did not call out Israeli apartheid, including medical apartheid. He seems to take the position that he is a scientist, and doesn't like to get embroiled in politics. However he is a senior person in the US government, and if he does not take an explicit position, he cannot avoid taking an implicit one. He just implicitly endorsed apartheid. Shame!

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A political question? Should the British help the Irish with vaccination if they can? Should the French held the Algerians? What's political about the fact that if people don't get the vaccine the virus will transmit? The scientific answer was a simple yes. Everybody should be vaccinated. As a scientist the answer should be: if you have vaccines and can get them to people who haven't been vaccinated, whoever they are, wherever they are, do it. Fauci's pusillanimity is a measure of how far the US Establishment is in thrall to Israeli propaganda. As a doctor, Fauci could have rebutted the question with science. No need to dabble in politics at all. Vaccinate whoever you can and don't let borders, religion, political creeds, ethnicity get in your way. What the virus needs is human DNA, it doesn't care about a person's nationality, religion, skin colour. This is Israel manipulating a leading scientist who lacks the wit to circumvent a loaded question. Truly sick-making that the question could be put. Gauci needed some irreverence. He should have said: "Don't try to drag me into your miserable political shenanigans; stick to the facts. If people haven't got the vaccine and you can get it to them, what's the problem?" But when you're dealing with Israel you're dealing with ingrained dishonesty and manipulation.

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Maureen Clare Murphy

Maureen Clare Murphy's picture

Maureen Clare Murphy is an associate editor of The Electronic Intifada and lives in Chicago.