Dr. Anthony Fauci just received a prestigious public health award for his work during the coronavirus crisis and “speaking truth to power.” Just one problem: it was given to him by Israel — the country that is number one in coronavirus vaccinations worldwide, but is denying those lifesaving vaccines to more than 4.5 million Palestinians. In other words, medical apartheid. Israel has even been preventing the Palestinian Authority from sending Russian donated vaccines into Gaza. Only yesterday did Israel allow a meager 1,000 doses to enter.
We are happy Dr. Fauci is being recognized for his tireless work. Now, we ask him to speak truth to power by publicly demanding Israel meet its legal, moral, and humanitarian obligations to share the COVID-19 vaccine with the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. We are sending an open letter to Dr. Fauci asking him to condemn Israeli medical apartheid. Add your name!
Dr. Fauci was awarded the Dan David Award, including $1 million in prize money, on February 15 for "courageously defending science in the face of uninformed opposition during the challenging Covid crisis." Fauci even recently praised Israel's vaccine program: "Israel is way up there with 78 doses per 100 people, compared to the United States, which is 16.7 doses per 100 people," he said during a press briefing. We certainly agree Dr. Fauci deserves recognition for leading the country’s coronavirus response, especially under the Trump administration. But, we also have no intention of allowing Israel to use the award to distract from their medical, and other forms of, apartheid.
It wasn’t until February 1, 2021, that Israel finally delivered 5,000 COVID-19 vaccines for front-line Palestinian medical staff in the West Bank. And until February 17, Palestinians in Gaza did not have any access at all to COVID vaccines. Now they have 1,000 doses for two million people. By comparison, Israel has vaccinated 33.4 percent of those inside the green line. The situation is particularly dire in Gaza, given the air, land, and sea blockade, shortages of medicine and medical equipment, and severe poverty.
According to the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian Authority is solely responsible for the health care of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. However, those deals were supposed to be part of a more complete peace agreement to be signed within five years. Almost three decades later, this larger peace agreement still hasn’t happened and Israel has entrenched its settlement enterprise occupation while flouting international law, which says clearly that an occupying power is obligated to meet the humanitarian needs of the people it is occupying.
Apartheid is always reprehensible and under the pandemic, it is deadly. Dr. Fauci has tremendous respect and influence around the world. He should use this opportunity to call on Israel to share the vaccine with Palestinians! Sign our letter to Fauci asking that he speak out for Palestinians’ equal right to the COVID-19 vaccine.