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?