Tens of thousands of Arab citizens of Israel serve as doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health-care professionals. Arab Israelis comprise 17 percent of the country’s physicians, and account for an estimated 65 percent of doctors on the coronavirus ward at the renowned Rambam Hospital in Haifa.
Remarkably, the coronavirus pandemic marks the first time Israel’s Arab and Jewish citizens have fought on the same side in a war—and judging by Israel’s relatively low infection and mortality rate across all ethnicities, they seem to be winning.
Palestinian Arabs in Judea and Samaria, and in the Gaza Strip, on the other hand, are rejecting partnership with Israeli medical expertise in their fight with the pandemic. Indeed, instead of embracing Israel’s offers of help, the Palestinians and other Israel-haters persist in their bitter war against the Jewish state, fueled by anti-Semitic slander.
Israel has supplied the Palestinians with thousands of coronavirus testing kits, and to Palestinians in Gaza—whose rulers are dedicated to Israel’s destruction—more than 200 tons of medical supplies, 50 tons of building materials and a dozen tons of food. Israel has set up video conferences to share its pandemic-busting techniques with Palestinian medical professionals.
While Israel doesn’t seek thanks, it surely deserves better than the defamatory lies hurled at it by Palestinian letters and speeches at the United Nations. For example, outrageously, the Palestinian Authority accused Israel of smuggling Palestinian workers back into Palestinian-controlled territory through wastewater tunnels to avoid testing checkpoints, in the hope of spreading the infection. Equally bizarre, the P.A. has also claimed Israeli soldiers mounted a campaign of spitting on Palestinian car door handles to spread the virus to the Arab population.
Such accusations serve to partially cover up the profligate corruption of both the Palestinian Authority and its Hamas counterpart in Gaza, which together have squandered billions of dollars in international aid provided to them to help their people develop strong economies and health-care systems. Instead, the Palestinians have used these funds to line their own pockets and wage incessant diplomatic and outright war against Israel.
It’s no wonder that the Palestinians are looking to blame someone else for their substandard health-care systems. But it’s not just the Palestinian Arabs who are using COVID-19 to ramp up anti-Semitic calumnies.
Linda Sarsour, Arab American former co-chair of the Women’s March and prominent supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders, recently claimed that Gaza’s coronavirus disaster is a potential “death sentence for over 2 million people. … That blood will be on the hands of the American people … and Israel.”
Anti-Israel writer Ben Norton asserted that Israel has “bombed to pieces” Gaza’s health-care system, and that “every Palestinian death caused by COVID-19 is blood on Israel’s hands.” Norton failed to mention the Israel medical supplies flowing into Gaza or Hamas’s habit of using medical facilities to store and launch missiles at Israeli civilians.
Iran has also accused the United States and Israel of purposefully spreading the virus in order to decimate its enemies.
Even efforts by Israel’s thriving, highly creative biomedical industry to find a vaccine have been twisted into an accusation that Israel released the virus, in order to profit from its cure. This, even as Israelis are dying daily and the Israeli economy has been brought to a standstill by the pandemic.
As absurd as such claims sound to rational people, when they fall on the fertile, fetid ground of anti-Semitic minds they are seized on, amplified, spread in social media and used even by American politicians like Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib to delegitimize the world’s only Jewish state.
In fact, this form of anti-Semitism—demonization of Israel and Zionists generally—is not merely hate for hate’s sake, any more than Hitler’s brand was simply an excuse to complain about Jewish culture. Rather, characterizing Israel as an ally and perpetrator of the plague has a simple, nefarious goal—to justify ridding the world of Jewish people and of Israel, the Jewish homeland.
While the American and European left continues to support Palestinian aspirations for sovereignty—often at the expense of Israel’s security—one has to question support for an alleged underdog whose primary distinguishing social and political feature is anti-Semitism.
Israel’s fight against COVID-19 is obviously strengthened by the heartwarming cooperation between Jewish and Arab Israeli medical professionals. Israel is also to be praised for its generous humanitarian efforts to help its Palestinian neighbors prevent illness and loss of life from the coronavirus, despite their persistent racist slander against the Jewish state.
James Sinkinson is President of Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME), which publishes educational messages to correct lies and misperceptions about Israel and its relationship to the United States.
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