The Guardian Lies Again About Israel, the Vaccine Rollout, and the Palestinians


by Hugh Fitzgerald

Enemies of Israel have used the Jewish state’s amazingly swift vaccination of its population against the coronavirus as a weapon against the Jewish state. Instead of praising Israel for its remarkable feat of ensuring that 17% of the Israeli population has already been vaccinated – more than ten times the percentage of Americans now vaccinated — many media accounts criticized Israel for not having vaccinated the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.

Sara Ha’etzni-Cohen examines how the anti-Israel British paper The Guardian reported on Israel’s vaccine rollout here: “Sometimes, the Palestinians are just an excuse,” by Sara Ha’etzni-Cohen, Israel Hayom, January 7, 2021:

The Guardian newspaper published nothing less than a crude blood libel that went under our noses last week. Under the headline “Palestinians excluded from Israeli Covid vaccine rollout as jabs go to settlers,” the UK newspaper’s learned journalist Oliver Holmes, reporting from Jerusalem, presented his indictment of Israel, an indictment that is biased, false, and without any basis. It is only after he makes his accusations that Holmes reveals that the Palestinian Authority “has not officially asked for help from Israel.” Not only that, but as he himself notes, “coordination between the two sides halted last year after the Palestinian [Authority] President [Mahmoud] Abbas cut off security ties for several months.”

Oliver Holmes leaves his readers with the distinct impression – beginning with the mendacious title of his report (“Palestinians excluded…as jabs go to settlers”) — that Israel has ignored the desperate pleas of the Palestinians that they, too, be vaccinated by Israel. It turns out there were no such pleas from Palestinians, no such request from the PA, which fact is buried deep in the story, in a single sentence. Even then the admission is half-hearted: The PA “has not officially asked for help from Israel” makes readers wonder: “but were there unofficial pleas from desperate Palestinians” that Israel ought to have heeded? Holmes notes, but again gives insufficient emphasis to, the fact that it was the PA that months ago had halted all coordination with the Jewish state, including that which covered medical care. Had the PA not rejected such coordination, it is possible that Israel could have helped the PA with its own purchase of a coronavirus vaccine.

Both of these facts are buried deep within a hodgepodge of theories on how a wealthy, privileged, irresponsible Israel that prides itself on vaccinating over 100,000 Israelis is neglecting the poor Palestinians.

Unfortunately, though, there’s such a thing as the truth, and the truth is that the body responsible for public health both in routine times and in times of crisis in the Palestinian Authority is the PA itself. Throughout the coronavirus outbreak, Israel has assisted the PA, for humanitarian reasons but also our own interests, providing coronavirus tests, medical equipment, as well as training medical staff. Of course, none of this is mentioned in the article. Nor is there any mention of the fact that the PA prided itself on having ordered millions of vaccines from China and Russia. Nor is there any mention that the PA, which claims to be financially strapped, consistently pays salaries to murders, prioritizing them over the sick. This year, it went even further and paid them three months in advance. Nor is there any mention of the Israeli government’s efforts to encourage vaccination among Arab Israelis. Indeed anything that might put a hole in the theory is left out. The article, by the way, is accompanied by an image of a Haredi man being inoculated in Ashdod. If you’re promoting an anti-Semitic blood libel, you might as well take it all the way.

Why does Israel have a duty to vaccinate the Palestinians in Gaza and the PA-ruled parts of the West Bank? The answer is: It doesn’t. The Oslo Accords make clear the PA will be responsible for the health care of the Palestinians. Israel of course scrupulously vaccinates all of its citizens Jews and Arabs. Jerualem has made special efforts to persuade its Arab population to be vaccinated.. But why should Israel have a duty toward the Palestinians, who are not citizens of the state? Is it because the PA is a neighbor of Israel? Does the American government have a duty to vaccinate the citizens of Mexico? Does France have a duty to vaccinate the Algerians? Does Russia have a duty to vaccinate the Tadjiks or Kazakhs? It’s an absurdity.

And why did Oliver Holmes leave out of his scandalously biased report entirely that Israel, though it had no duty to do so, nonetheless provided the PA with coronavirus tests, medical equipment including respirators and ventilators, and training of medical staff. Of course, we know why. It makes Israel look good, and for The Guardian, that will never do. As we know, Israel sought out, and bought, as many doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines as it could, even before either vaccine was on the market. Israel was willing to pay top dollar — in some cases, almost twice what the Americans and Europeans paid for the same vaccine — to ensure a large supply. When it has finished vaccinating its entire population, it will — though it has no duty, contractual or moral, to do so – undoubtedly provide the PA with any surplus vaccine it has..

Why did Holmes not mention the most important point of all — that according to the 1993 Oslo Accords Israel has no duty to provide for the health needs of the Palestinians, that their health is the PA’s responsibility? Did he not think that worth mentioning? It is, in fact, absolutely crucial to understanding why Israel has not been vaccinating the Palestinians.

Nor does Holmes mention the fact that the Palestinians understood perfectly that it was their responsibility, not Israel’s, to obtain a supply of vaccines. They even boasted that they had bought four million doses of the Russian (Sputnik V) and an undisclosed amount of the two Chinese vaccines so far approved by Beijing. If they failed to obtain the number of doses needed, because they lacked sufficient resources, that is their fault. The PA has continued throughout this pandemic to pay almost $400 million dollars to the families of dead terrorists or to imprisoned terrorists, as part of their Pay-For-Slay program. That sum would have more than paid for enough vaccine to inoculate every Palestinian in the West Bank and Gaza. The Palestinians chose to spend a great deal of money on the Pay-For-Slay program. Should Israel be blamed? There was not a word in The Guardian’s report about how the Palestinians chose to spend money not on enough vaccines but, rather, on rewarding terrorists. Why do you think that was?

Sara Ha’etzni-Cohen continues:

This phenomenon is nothing new. It is part of an effort to prove the moral decay of the Jewish state, and it sometimes seems that the Palestinians are just an excuse for the slander. The article in question does not provide a comparative overview or describe the levels of the outbreaks in either the PA or the Gaza Strip, both of which are far from catastrophic levels. In fact, the situation in the Palestinian territories is much better than in the UK, where The Guardian is published, and even Israel, which is now experiencing the third wave of the outbreak. No, the author does not seem to care much about the Palestinians, much less the truth. There is only one objective: to vilify Israel.

The ritual goes something like this: “Human rights” organizations that are usually funded by European governments publish lies about Israel. A journalist reports these lies without challenging them at all, and the lie goes on to defame. The article in question is still on The Guardian’s website and has already gained traction among those who celebrate Israel’s defamation. The far-left Jewish group J Street, which claims to be pro-Israel, rushed to echo the sentiments of the piece but was later forced to take them down following criticism of the move. The Israeli public needs to be more aware of these lies, even when they are made in English, and not accept them as a mandate from heaven. This happens all the time, and it is our obligation to speak up and protest when we are trampled on.

The Western media too often uses Israel’s success at vaccinating its population with such rapidity not as cause for celebration and admiration, but, rather, as a a club with which to beat the Jewish state. Israel is presented as having a duty to inoculate the poor Palestinians in Gaza and the PA-ruled territories in the West Bank. None of these reports explain that there is no such duty. According to the 1993 Oslo Accords, the PA – not Israel – has the sole responsibility for the health care of the Palestinians. Though Israel has no duty to do so, it has this year provided test kits, protective gowns, and medical equipment to the PA and provided medical training, as well, for Palestinian hospital personnel. Not a word of this in Holmes’ report, or in a great many others, about these matters..

Israel planned early, set aside sufficient funds, and bought millions of doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, paying twice as much as other countries in order to ensure delivery. Meanwhile, the Palestinians have bought four million doses of Russian and Chinese vaccines. But had the PA chosen to spend the $400 million dollars that it now spends annually on its Pay-For-Slay program on vaccines instead, it would have at least three times the amount of vaccine needed to inoculate its entire population. The Palestinian Authority made its choice: rewarding terrorists rather than preventing the spread of the coronavirus. Shouldn’t our journalists, including especially the wretched reporter Oliver Holmes, be making that clear?

First published in Jihad Watch.

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