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Following Adalah legal action, ‘Israel’ expands eligibility for emergency COVID-19 food stamps program

COVID-19 News
Following Adalah legal action, Israel expands eligibility for emergency COVID-19 food stamps program

Interior Ministry revises policy that excluded at-risk populations – notably Bedouin citizens from unrecognized Naqab (Negev) villages – from receiving COVID-19 food security grants.

Israel’s Interior Ministry responded to urgent requests made by Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel to change its policy of conditioning eligibility for food security aid on payment of municipal property tax (arnona).

Adalah sent letters to Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri on 8 October and 15 November 2020 demanding that he revise a policy that excludes at-risk populations – notably Bedouin citizens of Israel living in unrecognized villages in the Naqab (Negev) – from receiving COVID-19 food security grants.

On 22 October 2020, the Interior Ministry released a NIS 700 million (approximately US$208 million) tender for a food distribution system, part of a special government aid program instituted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The aforementioned policy made qualification for the food stamps conditional on an individual’s receipt of a 70 percent rebate in municipal property tax, regardless of their actual level of poverty or food insecurity. According to the policy, only “households entitled to a tax deduction” are eligible to receive emergency COVID-19 food security assistance.

Adalah stressed that the criteria were not sufficient to accurately determine a family’s socio-economic status, never mind its food security situation.

The policy therefore did not result in the fair and equal distribution of food assistance and, in fact, excluded at-risk populations most vulnerable to food insecurity, including the residents of unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Naqab.  

An estimated 90,000 people live in these villages. They are among the poorest citizens in the country, and have been significantly impacted by COVID-19.

Since these villages are not affiliated with any municipal authority – as a a result of Israel’s refusal to recognize them – their residents were previously left ineligible to receive emergency food stamps.

Adalah therefore demanded that the Interior Ministry replace this condition with other criteria based on the principle of equality.

In early December 2020, Adalah was informed by the Interior Ministry that it would revise criteria for receiving the food stamps. The revised criteria, which were published on 24 December 2020, are broader and include the overall income of the family. They also no longer exclude people who are not affiliated with any local authority, who may now submit an application for food stamps directly to the Interior Ministry.

The food stamps are supposed to be distributed in three rounds, the first round from 28 January 2021. Adalah will closely monitor the distribution process.

In addition, on 28 December 2020, Adalah demanded that public information about the distribution of food stamps should be made available in Arabic, alongside Hebrew, to make it more accessible to needy Arab citizens of Israel. Israel’s Interior Ministry complied with this demand shortly afterwards, making its website accessible also in Arabic.

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‘Israeli’ Public Security Minister Ohana’s refusal to vaccinate Palestinian prisoners

5 human rights groups petition against Israeli Public Security Minister Ohana’s refusal to vaccinate prisoners

According to professional sources, prisoners are an at-risk population and action must be taken to vaccinate them in parallel with the at-risk populations at large.

The battle over the COVID-19 vaccine in the Israel Prison Services is moving on to Israel’s Supreme Court: five human rights organizations petitioned the Supreme Court on Sunday morning, 10 January 2021, against Israeli Public Security Minister Amir Ohana’s decision not to vaccinate prisoners, contrary to the Ministry of Health’s directive. The petition was filed on behalf of Physicians for Human Rights Israel, ACRI, Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual, and Rabbis for Human Rights by ACRI Attorney Anne Suciu and PHR Attorney Tamir Blank.

In the petition, the organizations demand that the Israel Prison Service (IPS) vaccinate the entire prisoner population according to the vaccination priority set by the Ministry of Health, with an emphasis on prisoners aged 60 and over, and those in high-risk groups. Moreover, the petition demands that the IPS prevent prioritizing the vaccination of prison staff over the prisoners.

The petition was filed after Ohana relayed to Israeli Deputy Attorney General Amit Marari that he did not intend to withdraw his directive refusing to vaccinate prisoners at this stage, and to solely vaccinate IPS staff. With this, Ohana rejected the deputy attorney general’s directive informing Ohana on Friday that his decision not to vaccinate prisoners “was given without authority, and thus cannot stand.”

The petition was accompanied by a medical opinion from the Association of Public Health Physicians from the Israeli Medical Association, which stated that “prisoners must be treated as a captive population. In the context of COVID-19, this is considered an at-risk population, both due to preexisting health issues and to the overcrowded conditions that increase the risk of infection and mortality.” According to the statement, “the State of Israel has an ethical obligation to offer the vaccines to the prisoner population.”

“According to professional sources, prisoners are an at-risk population and action must be taken to vaccinate them in parallel with the at-risk populations at large,” the petition states. According to the petitioners, despite these professional opinions, despite the clear instruction given by Israel’s Ministry of Health and authorities, and despite the availability of the vaccines and despite the legal and moral duty to protect prisoners, the IPS has yet to start vaccinating prisoners.

CLICK HERE to read the petition [Hebrew]

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‘Israel’s’ obscene mismanagement of the Covid-19 vaccine


Israel’s obscene mismanagement of the Covid-19 vaccine

Israel and Covid: Palestinians aren’t at the bottom of the list – they’re not on the list at all. (Pictured: a Palestinian family in Nuseirat refugee camp, Gaza. The family had originally been from Ibdis, before Zionist forces forced them off their ancestral land in 1948 to establish the self-identified ‘Jewish state.’)

“No country has done what we are able to do,” said Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu. He is so right – but not in the way he thinks he is.

by Kathryn Shihadah

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu (who is up for re-election this spring) boasts, “We are vaccinating at 10 times the pace of the United States. No country has done what we are able to do.” He’s right.

Israel is so far ahead in the Covid vaccine game that the Israeli Health Ministry is making it available to all Israelis over 35 years of age – not just essential workers, healthcare providers, and high-risk individuals.

But most Palestinians under Israeli rule, regardless of age or risk, don’t qualify.

Compared to the US vaccination rate of about 6.2%, Israel has distributed initial doses of the vaccine to roughly 29% of its population, and second doses to nearly half (Israeli Palestinians – Muslim and Christian – appear to be receiving proportionately fewer vaccines than Israeli Jews). For a short time, Israel enjoyed celebrity status for having the “fastest rollout in the world.”

It wasn’t long before word got out that for the occupied Palestinian territories under Israeli control, the celebrated vaccine response was just another example of Israeli apartheid. Journalists and politicians chided Israel for its discriminatory policies – which in turn led to a wave of rebuttals against those who would dare to tarnish the good name of Israel. 

The facts speak for themselves.

A Jewish man receives a coronavirus shot in Jerusalem, Jan. 4. (Oded Balilty / Associated Press)

Not willing to share

As the Financial Times reports, Israel has already received “planeloads” of vaccines, and more are due soon. By March, the state will have a surplus.

Next door, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has arranged with Russian suppliers and the World Health Organization (WHO) to get vaccines, but they are not expected to arrive anytime soon.

With a shortage of PPE, nearly 8,000 Palestinian medics have already been infected with Covid, hampering efforts to respond aggressively to the pandemic.

The PA requested from Israel just 10,000 doses to protect Palestinian frontline workers for now. Israel has refused, although the Fourth Geneva Convention requires the occupier to provide medical services to the occupied population, including “measures necessary to combat the spread of contagious diseases and epidemics.”

Israel has tried to hide behind a technicality, claiming that Palestine is not “occupied” territory, but “disputed,” and Geneva does not apply. (The International Committee of the Red Cross – ICRC – explains that occupation requires “some degree of control by hostile troops over a foreign territory.” This describes Israel’s position vis-a-vis the Palestinian territories. Read more on the definition of occupation and how it applies to the Palestinian territories here.)

Those Palestinians living in Israel and East Jerusalem have access to vaccines; those living in Gaza do not. In the West Bank – Palestinian territory – only the Jewish settlers living on land stolen from Palestinians are receiving vaccinations from Israel.

Israeli Health Minister Yuli Edelstein explained on a BBC interview, 

As far as the vaccination is concerned, I think that it’s an Israeli obligation first and foremost to its citizens. They pay taxes for that, don’t they? 

But having said that, I do remember that it’s our interest – not our legal obligation – that it’s our interest to make sure that the Palestinians get the vaccine and they won’t have the Covid-19 spreading [to Israelis]…

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?

But as one resident of Gaza pointed out,

We are always obliged to get Israel’s permission to travel for medical treatment or to get medical supplies into the Strip. Why is it only now that we have to be responsible for our own health?

[Read more about Israel’s absolute control over medical travel here and here, and about the medical supply blockade here and here.]

israel demolished covid testing center in hebron
Palestinian engineer Raed Maswade inspects the rubble of a Covid testing centre after it was demolished by Israeli authorities in Hebron, July. (AFP)

Making matters worse

Israel has certainly not made it easy for Palestinians to take care of their own pandemic-related needs. 

Israel controls imports and exports, and has allowed insufficient numbers of WHO-donated Covid testing kits, masks, and other necessities into the occupied Territories. 

Israel has also demolished or dismantled a string of clinics and makeshift Covid testing facilities since the beginning of the pandemic, arrested volunteers as they worked to disinfect schools, and even stolen food meant for needy Palestinians.

(Demolition of residential and non-residential structures – and even entire villages – has been a regular occurrence since 2006.)

At the beginning of the pandemic, Israel vowed to stop home demolitions for the duration; however no such thing happened. 2020 saw, in fact, one of the highest demolition rates in recent years. According to OCHA, at least 847 housing units and non-residential structures were demolished, leaving over 1,000 people homeless – half of them children.

Bartering with Gaza 

As for Gaza, where the 14-year, ongoing blockade has tapped out the medical sector, some Israelis have suggested using vaccines as a bargaining chip. 

Gaza’s ruling party, Hamas, holds two Israeli civilians as prisoners (as well as remains of two soldiers) since 2014. Alan Baker, a former Israeli ambassador, suggests a swap – essentially the lives of 2 million Gazans for the return of 4 Israelis.

Beyond its implicit cheapening of Palestinian life, Baker’s suggestion ignores the fact that Israel holds over 5,000 Palestinian prisoners and the remains of hundreds more.

An Israeli prison guard keeps watch from a tower at Ayalon prison in Ramle near Tel Aviv, 2013. (Reuters)

Prison conditions

In recent weeks, as Israel’s discriminative Covid policies have become more widely known, human rights organizations around the world have been calling for equality, starting with the most vulnerable Palestinian population of all: prisoners in Israel’s infamously overcrowded, dilapidated jails (where only Israeli guards have been vaccinated).

Israel holds roughly 4,400 Palestinians as political prisoners, 440 administrative detainees, and 160 children in facilities where torture is routinemedical neglect is prevalent, and Covid rates have been spiking.

Israeli Prison Services (IPS) has removed many hygiene and cleaning supplies from the commissaries; has limited access to blankets and winter clothing for detainees; and per an Israeli High Court ruling last summer, the facilities are under no obligation to provide means for inmates to practice social distancing.

The president of Israel (a largely symbolic office) reminded the Health Ministry that withholding Covid vaccines from prisoners is “inconsistent with our values, the values ​​of the state, Judaism, and democracy.” 

Either the president’s comments were compelling, or the global pressure from human rights organizations worked: the Health Ministry announced a start date of January 18 or 19. 

israeli prison wall depicting covid virus
Palestinian artists exhibit solidarity with Palestinian prisoners who have contracted Covid inside Israeli prisons, April 2020 (AFP / Mohammed Abed)

We subsidize this abomination 

American taxpayers keep Israel in business to the tune of $10 million a day in military aid alone, plus additional funding in many shapes and forms. 

(Israel receives more of the US foreign aid budget than any other country – in fact, the US has given more money to Israel with its population of 9 million than to the billion plus people in all of sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean combined.)

As American money flows, human rights organizations regularly report on Israel’s violations of international law (for a few examples, read thisthis, and this), the International Criminal Court is investigating possible war crimes by Israel, and the word “apartheid” is being used commonly to describe the situation.

Human Rights Watch’s Israel and Palestine director Omar Shakir described the situation succinctly:

“[P]eople on one side of the street are receiving vaccines, while those on the other do not, based on whether they’re Jewish or Palestinian.

As much coverage as Israel’s deplorable pandemic policies have received worldwide, US politicians and mainstream media have paid little attention. President Biden has rarely criticized Israel; Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer likewise has been silent (not surprising, since Schumer calls himself a “guardian of Israel” – see video).

Only a handful of Congress members have called out Israel on the Covid issue, including Reps. Marie Newman (D-IL-3), Jamaal Bowman (D-NY-16), Joaquin Castro (D-TX-20), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI-13), and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA).

Pariah state 

But even as human rights organizations and the odd politician rail against Israel’s inhuman practices toward Palestinians and call on the Jewish State to exercise benevolence during a pandemic, the fact is, Israel will not comply. 

International law requires Israel to provide healthcare to its occupied population – but for decades nothing has happened. Why would it start now?

International law demands that Israel allow the return of the indigenous Palestinians that fled wars in 1948 and 1967 – but Israel has prevented them, leaving a population that now numbers in the millions to suffer in refugee camps, brooding on the injustice.

International law has called for an end to Israel’s occupation, now in its 6th decade, and to Israel’s brutal blockade of Gaza, now in its 14th year – but Israel has refused.

This is not the conduct of an enlightened nation. This is not the conduct of a democracy.

The global community needs to insist on justice now, before Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine is complete.

Inaccurate Israeli claims

US media often carry inaccurate Israeli claims about the situation. For example, Israel and Israel apologists in the US allege that the Palestinian territories are supposedly governed by the Oslo Accords. However, that claim rests on an incomplete rendering of the facts; read about it here.

Similarly, Israel and its advocates often point to Israel’s 2005 “disengagement” from Gaza and claim that the enclave is no longer occupied, and thus not Israel’s responsibility. That also is incorrect, as the UN, international human rights groups like the Red Cross and Amnesty International, and numerous legal experts (eg this and this) have stated that Israel exercises near total control of Gaza, therefore keeping Gaza under “de facto occupation” and therefore responsible for its inhabitants.


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ICC Finally Approves Investigation into War Crimes in Occupied Palestine


ICC Finally Approves Investigation into War Crimes in Occupied Palestine

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. (Photo: ICC Website)

In essence, the latest decision opens the door to a full investigation into war crimes in Palestine without further internal legal discussions within the ICC itself, as the Court’s Prosecutor and Pre-Trial Chamber are now in agreement.

By Palestine Chronicle Staff

The last hurdle in the way of an international investigation into war crimes committed in occupied Palestine has been removed, as the International Criminal Court in the Hague has finally approved the Prosecutor’s request to open legal proceedings regarding war crimes in the occupied Palestinian territories, including Gaza.

In December 2019, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda had concluded that the Court’s initial findings are a sufficient basis for an investigation into war crimes committed by Israeli officials and Palestinian groups in the occupied territories and that the Court does have jurisdiction to look into the matter.

The decision, then, has angered Israel and its Western allies, who insisted that the ICC has no jurisdiction since Palestine, they alleged, is not an independent state. Consequently, Bensouda referred the matter to the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber, requesting a “ruling on the scope of the Court’s territorial jurisdiction in the Situation in the State of Palestine”.

“Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court .. decided, by majority, that the Court’s territorial jurisdiction in the Situation in Palestine, a State party to the ICC Rome Statute, extends to the territories occupied by Israel since 1967, namely Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem,” the ICC said in a press release that was made available to international media, including The Palestine Chronicle.

“The Chamber found that, regardless of its status under general international law, Palestine’s accession to the Statute followed the correct and ordinary procedure and that the Chamber has no authority to challenge and review the outcome of the accession procedure conducted by the Assembly of States Parties. Palestine has thus agreed to subject itself to the terms of the ICC Rome Statute and has the right to be treated as any other State Party for the matters related to the implementation of the Statute.”

The State of Palestine became a signatory of the Rome Statute in January 2015.

In essence, the latest decision opens the door to a full investigation into war crimes in Palestine without further internal legal discussions within the ICC itself, as the Court’s Prosecutor and Pre-Trial Chamber are now in agreement.

In recent months, The Palestine Chronicle has conducted a series of interviews with international experts regarding this matter, including one with Professor Richard Falk, Former UN Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, and Dr. Triestino Mariniello, member of the legal team for Gaza victims at the ICC.

Both specialists agreed that the ICC does, in fact, have jurisdiction, and that, despite the intense political pressure and US sanctions on the ICC, the war crimes investigation is likely to move forward.


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Vaccines and Trust: Shortages


In the continuing story of coronavirus, this week brings two stories about limitations. The first is that production of both Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines in Europe is faltering, and from Monday supplies will be reduced for the next few weeks. There have been production problems, of the sort which happen in all manufacturing. It should get better later, but it means that some vaccination centres will lie idle for a while. This is a public health problem, since the gains which have been made in vaccinating, and which will have reduced the population at risk, may be overwhelmed by new cases in the unvaccinated, particularly as numbers increase, thus increasing the probability of new variants.

Nonetheless, by the time you read this, 6 million will have been given the first jab, and half a million the second jab. Not bad, given the cold chain requirements of the front-running Pfizer vaccine. Pragmatically, the AstraZeneca vaccine will now take over the main burden, and the rates of vaccination will probably increase considerably in a fortnights time.

For most people, getting the jab as soon as possible is the main aim. Vaccinations offered for later next week come with an associated second appointment on 8th April, so 70 days, or 10 weeks later. The UK has taken the reasonable view that giving as many people as possible the first dose should take priority, and that the second dose can be given up to 12 weeks later. Only 8% have had the second jab by this week, but that will increase considerably, so long as supplies last.

The British Medical Association (doctor’s union) has said that a 12 week delay is fine for the AstraZeneca jab, but for Pfizer there is no evidence it will be OK after 42 days. It is a bit hard to see how the immune system would forget a vaccination so soon. Prof Anthony Harnden, deputy chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation feels the data support the view that one jab confers acceptable protection. The Moderna data (using an mRNA approach like Pfizer) shows 90% immunity two months after the first jab. Prof Adam Finn, University of Bristol, a paediatrician with an interest in infection, immunity and vaccinations, says that within a week or two, unpublished data under analysis will be likely to show that there will be increasing protection in the 12 week period after the first vaccination. I think this was also suggested by Steve Sailer, having eyeballed the data some time ago.

However, vaccination is not universally popular. The media have been tentatively discussing the fact that some populations, in some parts of the country, are turning down vaccination not at the white rate of 8% but at the rate of 50%. As usual, the discussion of this phenomenon is somewhat coy. First of all, they call it “vaccine hesitancy”. Secondly, they talk about cultural and historical factors, and the importance of Faith leaders. Finally, later down the newspaper column, religion and race come into the picture.

A recent survey of 12,000 participants looking into “vaccine hesitancy” found that 72% of black respondents said they were unlikely to have the coronavirus. This was sky high compared to other groups.

So, intended vaccination rejection by ethnicity is: Black 70%, Pakistani/Bangladeshi 30%, Indian 16%, White 14%. A summary is that black citizens are disproportionately likely to reject being vaccinated. By a country mile, as they say in the country.

Just as a reality check, the same data show that elderly citizens are most at risk, and accordingly the least hesitant. The young don’t need a vaccination themselves (though it may well reduce the probability of passing it on to others) and so don’t see a need for it. It is a simple linear age effect.

In the real world, in Asian and African-Caribbean parts of Birmingham the refusal rate (offer of vaccination turned down immediately) is up to 50%. In Ealing, London, black residents refuse at 10-15% compared to all other groups at 5%. In Stoke on Trent there is a 20 to 30% non-attendance rate among black and ethnic minorities, compared to 2-3% in other groups. What ever the reason, a 20 to 30% non-attendance rate shows a sublime disregard for the needs of others, who will have had their chance of vaccination unnecessarily postponed.

What is going on?

A former Equality and Human Rights commissioner and frequent commentator, Trevor Phillips, said it was due to “a sincere rejection on religious or cultural grounds and quite probably a deep suspicion of anything proposed by white authorities. That doesn’t make it right, but it means we have to tackle he sceptics with seriousness. The underlying suggestion that we are all just a bit backward or don’t understand the arguments for the jab is just belittling people of colour”.

The idea that a rejection is “sincere” because it is thought to derive from religion or culture is certainly open to question. Cultures and religions can be wrong about immunology. Equally, “deep suspicion of white authorities” is bizarre, since those minorities are willingly and freely living in a white majority country, which provides education, health, social services, and welfare payments when required. Indeed, not only bizarre, but apparently totally wrong. Government surveys show that Black citizens have a strong sense of belonging in Britain, in actual fact fractionally more so than White citizens, which makes for an interesting talking point about the effects of mass immigration.

Finally, the suggestion that rejection of vaccination is based on not understanding the arguments can be tested by looking for any racial differences in the understanding of science, or racial differences in scholastic attainment in total.

Let us look at the GCSE results (age 16) by ethnicity for2019, the last year of uninterrupted schooling, and rank them by their Top 8 scores.

Chinese 64.3%
Indian 57.3%
Bangladeshi 50.6%
Black African 47.3%
Pakistani 46.2%
White British 46.2%
Black Caribbean 39.4%

Examiners tend to prefer average scores, not wanting to stand out and have their marks questioned, and mark up or down from that average only when the student performance calls for it. These group averages would show, by a very wide margin, that Black Caribbeans could be said to have had difficulty understanding things. However, it does not match well with Indian subcontinent results, so it seems to be a part of the story, but not all of it.

As regards science, in 2007 it was found that:

(At 16) Pupils with a Chinese, Indian, White and Asian or any other Asian background showed a preference for the separate sciences (biology, chemistry and physics), while pupils with Black backgrounds were less likely to take any of these subjects and showed a preference for the single award in science.

(At 18) Uptake figures for A-level subjects in the area of Science/Mathematics for pupils with a Black background (other than African) were low when compared with figures for other ethnic groups. However, figures for subjects in the Arts field were slightly higher.
It seems black students are more likely to avoid the separate sciences and mathematics.

Here is the summary of recent A level (age 18) results

1. Main facts and figures
• in the 2018 to 2019 school year, the average point score for all students taking level 3 qualifications (including A levels) was 33.42
• students from the Chinese ethnic group had the highest overall average point score out of all ethnic groups (37.98), and the highest score in every type of level 3 qualification
• out of the 6 aggregated ethnic groups, Black A level students had the lowest average point score (28.91)

It would seem that the most educated people in each racial group differ in average ability, so likely to be coming to different judgments about health risks, and influencing others in their ethnic groups in different ways. Since judgments about vaccination involve some knowledge of biology and medicine, and some familiarity with relative and absolute risk, there is a clear a priori reason based on education for different ethnicities to have different understandings of the benefits of vaccination.

There is another way of looking at far-out views, of the sort associated with seeing vaccination as an attack on personal health and integrity, which is to look at the extreme case: mental disorder so severe as to require detention. This follows the assumption that mental disorder is the far end of a dimension of beliefs, attitudes, and states of mind.

1. Main facts and figures

• in the year to March 2019, Black people were more than 4 times as likely as White people to be detained under the Mental Health Act – 306.8 detentions per 100,000 people, compared with 72.9 per 100,000 people

• out of the 16 specific ethnic groups, Black Caribbean people had the highest rate of detention out of all ethnic groups (excluding groups labelled ‘Other’)

• the highest rate of detention was for people in the Black Other ethnic group, followed by those in the Mixed Other ethnic group – however, these rates are considered to be overestimates because ‘Other’ categories may have been used for people whose specific ethnicity wasn’t known

• the actual rates of detention for people in the ethnic groups not labelled as ‘Other’ may be underestimated, particularly those within the Black ethnic groups

It is not that all people are mad, but that the far extreme for each group will predict that group’s average beliefs, and the probability of distorted thinking.

NHS doctors of ethnic origin have said that unwillingness to be vaccinated is due to “poorer health outcomes in people of colour alongside a number of controversial medical trials on ethnic minorities that still haunt recent memory”.

Of course, poorer health outcomes can be due to many factors, including obesity. Once again intensive care staff are noting the obesity of patients being brought in for treatment. This all too evident factor is always mentioned in media reports, but not usually in the headlines. The health of a group may be largely influenced by their own behaviour. UK estimates are that much ill health is due to poor behavioural choices in the general population.

As regards controversial medical trials, are they talking about Tuskegee? The way that story is told is that either black people were given syphilis, or more probably denied treatment despite their having syphilis, just so that the natural progression of the illness could be followed into incapacity and death, all this out of morbid fascination with the disease and a total disregard for black lives. If so, this horror would certainly linger in public consciousness, and could account for an unwillingness to go to hospitals, visit doctors, volunteer for studies and, possibly also, to accept vaccinations. Some allowance might have be made for this, if true, having happened in 1932, and steps having been taken to prevent a re-occurrence of this perversion of medicine.

Another possibility is that the date of 1932 is important, because at that time there were few treatments for syphilis that patients were willing to undergo and persist with. It could also be assumed that, as regards vaccinations, there may have been improvements in the intervening 90 years.

Here is a recent re-examination of the Tuskegee project.

All this may come to nothing. Most people may eventually get vaccinated. If they could show up for the appointments they have accepted, that would be great.

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Foremost expert on anti-Semitism warns against adoption of IHRA

Protest against the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism in London, UK on 4 September 2018 [Jack Taylor/Getty Images]Protest against the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism in London, UK on 4 September 2018 [Jack Taylor/Getty Images]December 3, 2020 at 2:32 pm

One of the foremost experts on anti-Semitism in the world has warned the British government against the imposition of the controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism on universities.

Writing in the Guardian, Professor David Feldman, who is the director of the Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism at Birkbeck, University of London, said that the so called IHRA working definition “is confusing and divisive” and warned that “forcing its adoption will not help protect Jewish students and staff.”

“We all know how the path to hell is paved,” began Feldman in his stark message to the Tory government over the dangers of adopting the IHRA, referring to a popular saying that good intentions often lead to disastrous outcomes. The definition, and specifically seven of the 11 illustrative examples conflate racism towards Jews with criticism of the state of Israel. It has been severely criticised by a range of bodies, including the Institute of Race Relations; eminent lawyers; civil rights organisation Liberty; leading academic experts on anti-Semitism; 40 global Jewish social justice organisations; and more than 80 UK-based BAME groups.

Kenneth Stern, one of the drafters of the working definition, has also expressed deep concern over its misuse and warned of its “chilling effect” on free speech. According to Stern the code he drafted 15 years ago as the American Jewish Committee’s anti-Semitism expert, is being used for a completely different purpose to the one he intended.

Feldman’s intervention was sparked by UK Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson’s recent warning to universities that if they did not adopt the IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism they risked having their funding cut. More than 100 centres of learning are said to be “defying” the government’s effort to impose the definition due to concerns over its stifling of free-speech. Williamson was criticised for using threat and coercion to force universities’ hands having failed to make a case for the IHRA.

READ: The definition of anti-Semitism has been weaponised for Israel’s benefit

The same concerns over the suppression of free speech were raised by Feldman who also maintained that the IHRA “was never intended to be a campus hate-speech code”. Commenting on Williamson’s pressure he said that “intervention not only threatens to provoke strife and confusion – it also places academic freedom and free speech on campus at risk.”

Feldman, suggesting that the IHRA would lead to a hierarchy of racism, warned that imposing the working definition would “privilege one group over others by giving them additional protections” and that this would “divide minorities against each other”.

Williamson’s tactic for tackling anti-Jewish racism was based on “mistaken assumptions”, said Feldman, pointing out that the government’s view that universities that fail to adopt the IHRA definition were willing to tolerate anti-Semitism was untrue. He argued that there were sufficient safeguards already in place to protect minorities and moreover that Jewish students did not require added protection.

Feldman further warned that the IHRA had acquired a symbolic status, a kind of litmus test of whether or not an individual or an organisation really opposes anti-Semitism because of the row within the Labour Party. However he insisted that such symbolism “are no substitute for carefully constructed measures to combat antisemitism and other racisms”.

Feldman concluded his lengthy opposition to the IHRA arguing that Williamson’s intervention will divide Jews from other minorities and that in doing so, “he helps neither but instead risks splitting the struggle against antisemitism from the liberal values that have provided its most secure home. Let us hope he will think again.”

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Palestinian rights must be respected to defeat anti-Semitism, says US CongressmanBy:

By: Middle East Monitor

US Congressman Andy Levin in Capitol Hill, US on 6 February 2020 in Washington, DC [Samuel Corum/Getty Images]US Congressman Andy Levin in Capitol Hill, US on 6 February 2020 [Samuel Corum/Getty Images]February 4, 2021 at 2:15 pm

US Congressman Andy Levin has warned that anti-Semitism cannot be properly defeated without addressing Israel’s human rights abuses against Palestinians. Speaking earlier this week during an online discussion hosted by the progressive Jewish movement IfNotNow on how the Biden administration can combat anti-Jewish racism, the Michigan Democrat lawmaker mentioned his long track record of urging the US to oppose Israel’s occupation.

“Over 30 years ago, I was part of a little group of Jews and Christians and Muslims who organised an interfaith delegation to Israel and Palestine from Metro Detroit,” explained Levin. “We went to Gaza, we went to the West Bank, and I wrote a piece in the Detroit Jewish News saying ‘There’s no time left’,” He added that he “took a lot of c**p in my community. “And now it is 30 years later and we have to change things right now. We have to find the language to talk about this in a grounded way.”

He drew a comparison to the recent coup in Myanmar. “The Burmese military just conducted a coup and ended Burma’s fragile, 10-year experiment with democratic self-governance. During those 10 years, the rights of the Rohingya and the Karen and other minority peoples of Burma were never recognised at all.” The suggestion seemed to be that Myanmar could not be considered a democracy even while it held elections because of its failure to respect the rights of its minorities.

READ: Israel is ‘apartheid’ state, concludes major human rights group

“And there was even a genocide of the Rohingya and more broadly the rights of minority peoples there were oppressed… We cannot accept a situation where we consider Burma to be a democracy when the rights of its minority peoples were never even established. Of course, it’s highly imperfect, but an injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere. Unless Palestinian human rights are respected, we cannot fight anti-Semitism.”

Levin was optimistic about the diversification of Congress which he said could be a springboard to combating racism. “I came in with a class with the first two Native American women ever in Congress and the first two Muslim women ever, including the first Palestinian, my sister from Michigan, Rashida Tlaib.”

Following his visit to the occupied West Bank in 2019, Levin condemned the Israeli government for denying local residents’ access to water. “Yesterday,” he said at the time, “I travelled to the southern West Bank, including the Palestinian village of Susya, which the Israeli government has destroyed twice and currently denies access to water.”

Watching how Jewish settlers nearby were granted government-supplied amenities, and yet the Palestinians remained “resilient”, Levin said: “It was simply incredible. As angry as the situation made me, the resilience of the Palestinian villagers left an even stronger impression.”

Levin also led 106 Democrats in condemnation of the Trump administration’s policy shift on Israeli settlements. “The State Department’s unilateral reversal on the status of settlements, without any clear legal justification, therefore has offered a tacit endorsement of settlements, their expansion, and associated demolitions of Palestinian homes,” the lawmakers said in a letter to former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging him to reverse the policy.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, USA, ZIO-NAZI, Human Rights0 Comments

The Impact of COVID, Lock Downs, and Social Unrest in America

Bob Zadek

By Michael J.R. Schindler 

The Impact of COVID and the Storming of the Capital

The economic impact of the 2008-2009 recession was estimated to cost nearly $22 trillion dollars. The emotional devastation to families from lost jobs, foreclosed homes, small business closures, shrinking investments, and overwhelming stress was harder to measure, with some studies suggesting there was an increase in suicides while other studies suggested that prior work did not account for seasonal patterning and unique trends by age and gender.

Bottom line: The Great Recession was, for many, thought to be a once in a lifetime event.

And then 2020 hit.

The economic and emotional impact caused by federal, state, and local government response to COVID is yet to be fully calculated. But what is evident is that the impact will be greater than that of The Great Recession. The past year already saw an increase in business closures, social unrest, and suicides. And it is hard for some to understand what a post-COVID-19 America will look like.

So, I had Bob Zadek on The Military Wire to discuss what enemies we as Americans face ahead of us.

One day after the “storming of the Capital” occurred, Bob Zadek, host of The Bob Zadek Show, a Libertarian talk show broadcast live on AM stations in SF, Seattle, Sacramento, Portland, Denver, and other markets was a guest on The Military Wire to discuss a post-COVID America from a Libertarian viewpoint. For those who don’t know what it means to be a Libertarian, essentially, they believe in small government, less taxes, and personal freedom. All of which appear to be MIA in America. The goal, originally, was to discuss COVID and the impact – both from a health perspective and an economic perspective, and we did; but that conversation quickly evolved into discussing the storming of the Capital since it occurred the day before this interview.

Bob is truly engaging – and he does not hold back. It’s not often that I get called a “Big Phony” on my own show – but that’s exactly what Bob called me when I presented my solution to the storming of the Capital and social unrest in America. Of course, Bob is also a lawyer, so I really wanted his “call-out” to be about semantics…but it wasn’t. He raised a good point – and you’ll just have to listen to discover why I agreed with his point.

But I still believe the solution to unrest is exactly what I suggested – with a slight modification.

Posted in USA, Human Rights0 Comments

Rochester police attack and pepper spray 9-year old girl, body cam shows

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Hannah Dickinson and Rob Maclean

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Police officers in Rochester, New York terrorized, handcuffed, and pepper-sprayed a 9-year-old girl on January 27. The body camera video, released by the Rochester Police Department the following Sunday, shows officers surrounding the child, restraining her, putting her in handcuffs, and attempting to force her inside the back of a police cruiser. The young Black girl is terrified, screaming, “I want my dad,” repeatedly throughout the over seven-minute encounter with the police. As police struggle to force the girl inside the car, they continue to threaten and cajole her. One officer can be heard saying, “You’re acting like a child.” “I am a child,” the traumatized girl responds. 

Minutes into the encounter, the video shows a female RPD officer threatening the girl:  “This is your last chance, otherwise pepper spray’s going in your eyeballs.” Soon after, the girl screams, “You said you were going to pepper spray me! No, please, no! Stop! I’ve got a bad arm!” Another officer orders, “Just spray her at this point.” The child continues to scream as a male officer sprays her directly in the face with pepper-spray. The police justified the vicious attack by claiming that the girl had expressed an intention to hurt herself and her mother.

Sholanda Jones, a member of Rochester’s Community Justice Initiative, says the targeting and criminalization of Black children in Rochester is not new. In May 2020, RPD officers handcuffed Na’ilah, a 10-year-old girl, during a traffic stop, refused to release her to her mother, and left her in the back of a police car for two hours before finally releasing her to her family. 

“We need change in Rochester,” Jones says. “We saw how the police treated Na’ilah and now we have a 9-year-old-girl treated even worse. Our children are being traumatized, treated like they are not human. I watched the body camera footage [from Jan. 27th]. The first thing that officer did was grab the little girl. That’s not how you approach a child. It was clear the officer didn’t think of her as a child, didn’t ask any questions, just jumped into the situation with violence. They treated her like an adult because of their ignorance.” 

Jones, along with Community Justice Initiative, Free the People ROC, and other organizations are demanding: 1) The firing of all officers involved in the January 27 incident; 2)The passage of Na’ilah’s Law, which would prohibit police from using handcuffs on children; 3) The abolition of “qualified immunity” for officers; 4) Changes to the City’s contract with the police union; and 5) Defunding the police and funding efforts for the community to police itself. 

Mike Mazzeo, President of the Locust Club, Rochester’s notorious fraternal order of police, said the officers who terrorized the 9-year-old girl were following policy, but community members are outraged to see a child in clear distress criminalized and terrorized. At a community speakout held over Zoom on Jan. 3, Breyana Clark of Free the People ROC said: “We have to remember that the Rochester Police Department, any police department, is an institution. And Mike Mazzeo did exactly what he was trained to do to protect this institution, and that was to demonize a child and immediately tried to discredit the feelings of the community members that he is charged with ‘protecting and serving.’” 

Throughout the speakout, community members referenced last year’s horrific murder of Daniel Prude at the hands of RPD, pointing to its pattern of excessive force, especially in response to mental health crises. “The entire family needed help and RPD failed again, along with our elected officials,” said Ashley Gantt of FTP-ROC, “I am so tired of our Black and Brown children being in positions before they are even adults to be on the receiving end of the brutality of police officers.” 

On Feb. 1, FTP ROC, Community Justice Initiative and other organizations held a march to a Rochester police station to demand the firing of all officers involved in the brutal and inhumane incident. Protests continued into the night.

After the march, Mayor Lovely Warren announced that three of the officers involved had been removed from duty. None had been fired – one was suspended, and two were placed on administrative leave.

This incident has prompted a response by state legislators in Albany. Rochester state Senator Samra Brouk introduced a bill in the state Senate that would ban the police statewide from using chemicals, including pepper spray, on minors. Such rapid responses show that the state fears a growing uprising from the resistance to police terror.

Throughout the summer and fall the people of Rochester engaged in nightly protests demanding justice for Daniel Prude and all victims of racist police terror. Protesters faced regular, violent repression from the RPD, but the movement shows no sign of slowing down. These violent, racist police cannot keep collecting paychecks while they brutalize working people. The anti-racist movement will continue to demand that these officers be fired, and that laws protect people, not cops!

Posted in USA, Human Rights0 Comments

Ensure equal COVID-19 vaccine access to Palestinians – UN Independent experts

UNRWA/Louise WateridgeA health worker provides COVID-19 information to a patient visiting the Jerusalem Health Center.    14 January 2021Health

Israel’s “impressive” vaccination programme against the COVID-19 pandemic must include Palestinians under occupation, UN independent human rights experts stressed on Wednesday. 

“In this early stage of the worldwide inoculation programme, Israel has delivered the vaccines to a higher percentage of its citizens than any other country”, said Special Rapporteurs Michael Lynk and Tlaleng Mofokeng. 

While noting that Israel has offered Palestinians with resident status in occupied East Jerusalem the vaccines, they noted however, that it has not ensured that those under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza will have any near-future access to the vaccine.  

Rising COVID-19 cases 

As coronavirus infections and deaths continue to rise steadily, the IUN World Health Organization (WHO) noted that since March, more than 160,000 Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT) had tested positive and over 1,700 had succumbed to COVID-19

And as the coronavirus continues to ravage the West Bank and Gaza – fracturing an already badly under-resourced Palestinian health care system – the UN experts drew specific attention to the deteriorating health situation in Gaza, which is already facing a 13-year-old blockade, serious water and electricity shortages, and endemic poverty and unemployment. 

‘Morally and legally’ unacceptable 

The Special Rapporteurs indicated that COVID-19 vaccines ordered separately by the Palestinian Authority may not be delivered to the West Bank and Gaza en masse for many weeks. 

This means that more than 4.5 million Palestinians will remain unprotected and exposed to COVID-19, while Israeli citizens living near and among them – including the Israeli settler population will be vaccinated.  

“Morally and legally, this differential access to necessary health care in the midst of the worst global health crisis in a century is unacceptable.” 

Under obligation 

 Israel is required under the Fourth Geneva Convention to maintain health services in the occupied territory, the rights experts said. 

“The right to health is also a fundamental human rights issue,” they stated, quoting international human rights law that stipulates the entitlement of everyone to “the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health”.  

“The denial of an equal access to health care, such as on the basis of ethnicity or race, is discriminatory and unlawful”, stressed the UN experts. 

Vaccinate everyone  

The Special Rapporteurs also called on the Palestinian Authority and de facto administration in Gaza to cooperate with Israel in implementing a comprehensive OPT vaccination programme. 

The denial of an equal access to health care…is discriminatory and unlawful — UN experts

“It will only be through the sustained effort by all the governing authorities with the common goal of a comprehensive vaccination programme…on the basis of equality and best-practices that the prospect for the defeat of the pandemic will be possible”, they spelled out. 

Also noting that the Israeli Public Security Ministry instructed the Israeli Prison Service to not vaccinate Palestinian security prisoners, the experts recalled that due to the high risk of inmate infections, Israeli health authorities had previously given instructions for all prisoners in Israeli custody to be prioritized for vaccinations. 

Further information 

Special Rapporteur Lynk covers the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967 and Ms. Mofokeng safeguards the right to health.  

Special Rapporteurs are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific country situation. The experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work. 

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Health, Human Rights0 Comments

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