Israel’s hailed COVID–19 vaccination campaign continues to exclude Palestinians
- While the Israeli government has received significant praise for having vaccinated nearly a quarter of citizens, millions of Palestinians have been excluded from its vaccination campaign.
- Israeli and Palestinian officials have pointed to different international agreements that render one or the other responsible for public health, but regardless of responsibility, the starkly unequal global distribution of vaccines has significantly inhibited Palestinian authorities’ access to vaccine doses (as Israel is significantly richer and more influential).
- The Palestinian Authority is expected to receive vaccines in the coming months through COVAX, a WHO-coordinated humanitarian program.
“At UN, PA slams Israel for not giving COVID-19 vaccines to Palestinians” (The Times of Israel | January 2021)
“‘Vaccination apartheid’: Gaza struggling with Covid-19 infections while Israel rolls out jab” (Middle East Eye | January 2021)
“‘Vaccine apartheid’: Palestinians left behind as Israel sprints ahead with COVID vaccinations” (euronews | January 2021)
“Vaccination rates highlight stark differences between Israelis and Palestinians — amid row over responsibility” (CNN | January 2021)
Israeli forces demolish homes of Palestinian Bedouin community in one of the largest operations in years
- Israeli military forces demolished most of Humsa Al Bqai’a, a Palestinian Bedouin village in the occupied West Bank.
- As international attention focused on the U.S. presidential election, the Israeli operation rendered more than 70 (including 41 children) homeless.
- Despite being in violation of international law, nearly 700 Palestinian structures have been destroyed to date in 2020, resulting in homelessness for 869 Palestinians.
West Bank witnesses largest demolition in years (UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs | November 2020)
“Israel razes most of Palestinian Bedouin village in West Bank on U.S. election day” (Reuters | November 2020)
“Israel Demolishes Tents, Shacks Housing 74 Palestinians, Drawing International Rebuke” (Haaretz | November 2020)
“Israel makes 41 Palestinian children homeless as world watches US election” (Middle East Eye | November 2020)
Israel denies Palestinians with cancer access to treatment as medication dwindles
- The Israeli government has indicated that six Gazan women suffering from cancer can travel to the West Bank (despite its lack of treatment capability) or abroad for treatment.
- The women had previously been denied exit from the Gaza Strip because they are related to members of Hamas—a common punishment disproportionately burdening women—and continue to be denied permit to travel to East Jerusalem, where Palestinian hospitals are located.
- The Gaza Health Ministry also announced the termination of its chemotherapy treatments in Gaza hospitals due to depletion of medical supplies, which cannot be replenished due to the recent tightening of the Israeli military blockade.
“Israel Proposes Gaza Cancer Patients Be Treated in West Bank, Where Treatment Is Unavailable” (Haaretz | August 2018)
“Roundup: Gaza suffers escalating medicine, humanitarian goods shortage by Israeli blockade” (Xinhua News Agency | August 2018)
“Many Gazan Women Are No Longer Able to Enter Israel for Cancer Treatment” (The New Yorker | June 2018)
African migrant workers violently attacked, one deported in Lebanon
- A crowd of people beat and dragged two migrant workers in Bourj Hammoud, a suburb of Beirut.
- The police arrested the two women along with two of the attackers, and one of the women was reportedly deported back to Kenya on an alleged visa violation.
- Progressive advocates condemned the treatment of the women by both the mob and the justice system, arguing it reflects broader abuse of the some 200,000 migrant workers in Lebanon including wage withholding and limited access to justice.
“Lebanese activists angry after assaulted Kenyan is deported” (The Guardian | July 2018)
“Kenyan woman beaten in viral video deported” (The Daily Star | July 2018)
“Assaulted, imprisoned, deported: Shamila’s story – an all-too-familiar violent narrative facing migrant women in Lebanon” (The Anti-Racism Movement, commentary | July 2018)
Israeli parliament passes law formally establishing country as Jewish nation-state
- The new basic law codifies a number of ultranationalist principles, including Hebrew as the sole national language, the expansion of Jewish settlement as a national priority, Jewish symbols as national symbols, and a unified Jerusalem as the nation’s capital.
- Previously, Israel existed formally as a multiethnic democratic state, with Arabic as the second national language and the concerns of Arab Israelis—who comprise a fifth of the population—at least nominally afforded equal weight in matters of national identity and self-determination.
- While some observers have dismissed the law as largely symbolic, Arab lawmakers and progressive advocates argue it provides the legal ground for segregation and discrimination and reduces ethnic and religious minorities to a second-class citizenship.
“Israel Passes Controversial Jewish Nation-state Bill After Stormy Debate” (Haaretz | July 2018)
“Israeli Law Declares the Country the ‘Nation-State of the Jewish People’” (The New York Times | July 2018)
“Israel passes controversial ‘Jewish nation-state’ law” (Al Jazeera | July 2018)
Israeli troops kill dozens, injure more than 2,000 Palestinians as U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem opens
- More than 50 Palestinian protesters—most unarmed and including children—have been killed and more than 2,200 injured by Israeli forces after tens of thousands of Palestinians arrived at the fence between Gaza and Israel to protest.
- Multiple nations and international organizations condemned Israel’s use of lethal force as a violation of international law.
- Nearly 100 have died since the Great March of Return began in late March, when Palestinians initiated demonstrations demanding the right to return to their homeland ahead of the 70th anniversary of their expulsion.
“Israel Kills Dozens at Gaza Border as U.S. Embassy Opens in Jerusalem” (The New York Times | May 2018)
“Israeli forces kill dozens in Gaza as U.S. Embassy opens in Jerusalem” (Reuters | May 2018)
“Gaza clashes: 52 Palestinians killed on deadliest day since 2014” (BBC News | May 2018)
Israel announces deportation plan for tens of thousands of African asylum-seekers
- Some 40,000 African asylum-seekers—many activists and other dissidents from Sudan and Eritrea—are facing expulsion or imprisonment in Israel, with fewer than 1% of applicants having been granted refugee status.
- The Israeli government announced that asylum-seekers will have 90 days to accept $3,500 and a plane ticket to a classified third country (speculated to be Rwanda or Uganda) or face incarceration.
- In response, a network of more than a hundred rabbis called the Anne Frank Home Sanctuary Movement has formed and pledged to protect asylum-seekers from deportation.
“Israel to tell African migrants: leave or face indefinite imprisonment” (The Guardian | January 2018)
“Mass expulsion under way as Israel begins deporting 40,000 Africans” (Middle East Eye | January 2018)
“Inspired by Anne Frank, Rabbis in Israel Plan to Hide African Asylum Seekers Facing Deportation” (Haaretz | January 2018)
“Inside Israel’s Secret Program to Get Rid of African Refugees” (Foreign Policy | June 2017)
The Hotline for Refugees and Migrants
The Global Effort to Rescue Persecuted Atheists
Source: Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science/YouTube (September 2016)
With more than a dozen countries criminalizing atheistic expression and anti-atheist sentiment widespread even in purportedly secular countries, organizations have popped up around the globe to rescue persecuted atheists, lobby for civil rights, and promote community and security for atheists, agnostics, and other freethinkers. Secular Rescue was launched by the Center for Inquiry in 2016 in response to the recent spate of murders of secularist Bangladeshi writers and intellectuals, and its efforts have drawn attention to the plight of freethinkers living in the Global South in need of asylum. The Atlantic recently profiled the organization as well as the conditions contributing to the greater visibility of atheists in regions conventionally assumed to be inhospitable to the growth of secularism and freethought.
“The ‘Underground Railroad’ To Save Atheists” (The Atlantic | January 2018)
“Center for Inquiry Launches ‘Secular Rescue’ to Save Lives of Threatened Activists” (The Center for Inquiry | September 2016)
Atheist Asylum Program
The Administrative Precarity of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon
Syrians who have fled to Lebanon to escape the violence that has embroiled their home nation have begun putting down new roots while waiting for the conflict to end. However, cultural and administrative differences have left many Syrians in limbo as practices surrounding institutions like marriage remain unrecognized in their new, if temporary, home. Lebanon’s complex and financially taxing requirements of civil registration (including residency, marriage, and births) has disenfranchised many Syrians, leaving them in legally precarious situations even as the government works to lessen the burdens.
Undocumented children are denied access to IDs and passports, and parents and other couples lacking official work permits find themselves trapped in exploitative labor conditions to support their families. The financial vulnerability of Syrian families is driving intergenerational insecurity, particularly as it has led to an increase in child marriage rates in the country. Reuters examines the complex bureaucratic and cultural conditions shaping the marginalization of Syrian families in Lebanon.
“As Syrian couples say ‘I do,’ Lebanon says ‘No, not quite’” (Reuters | December 2017)
“For Syrian refugees, child marriage robs a generation of its future” (The Globe and Mail | March 2017)
Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli facilities win increased visitation rights following hunger strike
- Incarcerated Palestinians were granted a second visitation day per month following a 41-day hunger strike in the lead up to Ramadan and the 50th anniversary of Israel’s seizure of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
- Nearly 1,000 protesters took part in the strike, which ended following a deal struck by Israeli prison officials, the Palestinian Authority, and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
- More than 6,000 Palestinians are incarcerated in Israeli prisons for offenses ranging from throwing stones to murder.
“Mass Palestinian hunger strike in Israeli jails ends after visitation deal” (The Guardian | May 2017)
“Palestinian Prisoners End Hunger Strike in Israel After 40 Days” (The New York Times | May 2017)
“Palestinian prisoners end hunger strike, Israel says it met none of their demands” (The Times of Israel | May 2017)
(Image Credit: Mohamad Torokman/Reuters, via The New York Times)
Christmas for the Vulnerable Christians of the World
Source: Al Jazeera YouTube
One of the most important days in the Christian holiday canon, Christmas is celebrated by the devout, the lapsed, and the unbelieving alike as a time of gift-giving, decorating, and shared cheer. However, many of the worlds Christians, minorities in their communities, continue to face persecution as religious-extremist, nationalist, and other reactionary forces gain footholds around the world. From Indonesia to Egypt, religiously diverse societies have experienced increased sectarian tensions as parallel forces—anti-Christian sentiment and Islamophobia—have disrupted what was once stable co-existence. This roundup takes a look at recent developments in the plight faced by some of the most vulnerable Christians around the world. Continue reading Global Event | Christmas
Appointment of man as Lebanon’s first women’s affairs minister sparks outrage
- The appointment of Jean Ogasapian to the new post in Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri’s newly formed government drew widespread condemnation from women’s rights leaders and organizations, a further injury on top of the appointment of only one woman to the 30-member government.
- The stakes are high as advocates work to combat high levels of domestic violence and discriminatory citizenship laws that deny women the power to pass citizenship on to their children upon marrying non-citizens.
- Social media derision has given way to calls for protests against an appointment viewed as illegitimate and in line with the establishment of a cabinet built through nepotism and loyalism rather than competence.
“Lebanon protests urged after man picked as first women’s affairs minister” (The Guardian)
“Lebanon appoints man as first ever women’s affairs minister” (The Independent)
“Lebanon’s first minister for women is a man” (The Washington Post)
(Image Credit: Handout/Reuters, via The Guardian)
Saudi transman speaks out at conference as Saudi Arabia reportedly mulls ban on trans pilgrims
- Salman Al-Dukheil spoke at Trust Women, a London-based international conference on women’s rights and human trafficking, about his experience as a Saudi transman whose life has been split between Saudi Arabia and the U.S.
- Conflicting media reports have indicated that the Saudi government may be considering a ban on transgender pilgrims for Umrah, a pilgrimage to Mecca that, unlike the Hajj, can be undertaken at any time during the year.
- While there is no official law against transgender identity, police have arrested people for cross-dressing and, for men, effeminate behavior.
“Saudi plan to bar transgender persons from performing Umrah is un-Islamic: Ghamidi” (The Express Tribune)
“Transgender Saudi man speaks out publicly for first time to help others” (The Thomson Reuters Foundation)
Trust Women: Salman Al-Dukheil
Mosul conflict displaces more than 68,000 in Iraq
- The battle between the Islamic State and a coalition of Western, Arab-Iraqi, and Kurdish-Iraqi forces over one of Iraq’s largest cities has further fueled the migration crisis in the Middle East, with more than half of the displaced from Mosul children.
- While Syria has borne the brunt of media myopia regarding migration coverage, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees have poured into the migration flows between the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe.
- Regardless of the outcome, analysts anticipate the fight for Mosul will create a migration surge that European countries will have to prepare for, either in accepting disaffected IS-affiliated citizens or refugees escaping the turmoil of the violence.
“UN Reports Steady Increase in Mosul Displaced” (Voice of America)
“The Latest: UN says over 68,000 displaced by Mosul operation” (The Washington Post)
“How Mosul’s Liberation Could Send Shockwaves Across Europe” (TIME)
The Enduring Civil Inequality of Lebanese Women
Lebanon’s complex civil status laws have given broad leeway for religious courts to adjudicate civil matters according to theological law, leaving a tangled relationship between church (or mosque) and state in disputes like divorce and child custody. Fatima Ali Hamzeh’s fight to retain custody of her three-year-old son after her husband married another woman while refusing to divorce her has revealed how the intertwined legal systems intersect to create significant disadvantages for women in what is considered to be one of the Middle East’s most progressive states. Global Voices highlights Hamzeh’s story and the women’s rights movement that has rallied around her to combat gender-based legal inequality in Lebanon.
“A Mother’s Fight for Her Son Exposes Lebanon’s Institutionalized Sexism” (Global Voices)
“Hamzeh custody case draws Berri’s attention” (The Daily Star)
(Image Credit: via The Daily Star)