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U.S. Rep. Tlaib: “Israel Is a Racist State That Would Deny Palestinians Like My Grandmother a Vaccine”

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Israel has been hailed as having the world’s most vaccinated population, but Palestinians are not included. Human Rights Watch and others have called on Israeli authorities to provide COVID-19 vaccines to the more than 4.5 million Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. “Israel is a racist state,” responds Congressmember Rashida Talib of Michigan, who is Palestinian American and one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress and says her Palestinian grandmother was denied access to a vaccine. “I hope my colleagues, I hope our country, sees what the Palestinians have been trying to tell us for a very long time. … You can see it with the distribution of the vaccine.”

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Congressmember Tlaib, you’re a Palestinian American, and you’ve made history as one of two, the first Muslim American women in Congress, along with Ilhan Omar. I wanted to get your reaction to — well, Israel has vaccinated more of its population, something like 20% of its citizens, including Jewish settlers on the West Bank. And it’s been hailed around the world, the most vaccinated population. And yet Palestinians have not been vaccinated. You have family in the West Bank. Human Rights Watch, among many others, including so many Palestinians, have demanded that COVID-19 vaccines be provided to the more than four-and-a-half million Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza. Can you discuss this?

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB: I mean, I think it’s really important to understand Israel is a racist state and that they would deny Palestinians, like my grandmother, access to a vaccine, that they don’t believe that she’s an equal human being that deserves to live, deserves to be able to be protected by this global pandemic. And it’s really hard to watch as this apartheid state continues to deny their own neighbors, the people that breathe the same air they breathe, that live in the same communities. You could put a settlement wherever you want, but on the other side of that wall is a farm community, a village, where my grandmother lives, and many of our, you know, various family members and others that I know are trying, again, to live a good life, a free life, free from these oppressive policies, these racist policies, that deny them access to public health, deny them access to freedom of travel, deny them access to economic opportunities.

It is so critically important that we call it out. Our country continues to enable that country and enable Netanyahu, who continues to spew anti-Arab rhetoric that allows violence towards Palestinians to continue in a way that is so inhumane and doesn’t follow international human rights. And so, I think it’s very important. If anything, I hope my colleagues, I hope our country, sees what the Palestinians have been trying to tell us for a very long time, that Israel has no intention of ever being caring or allow equality or freedom for them as their neighbors.

And you can see it with the distribution of vaccine. You also saw it with the testing and tracing. My family told me they didn’t have access to testing. They would get some side effects, and they would use the small little house that they had and quarantine the family member. They had no access at all for any preventive measures, any medication. And again, that continues on. And we allow, again, enabling Israel to continue to do that. They have the power to distribute that vaccine to the Palestinian people, their own neighbors, again, feet away from where they live, many of which, again, could expose them and their family. And it doesn’t — if anything, it just reiterates what the Palestinian people and even human rights groups have been telling us, is that this is an apartheid state.

AMY GOODMAN: Rashida Tlaib, I want to thank you so much for being with us, Democratic congressmember to Michigan’s 13th Congressional District.

Oh, and there’s not a lot to talk about of joy during these pandemic and insurrection times, but congratulations on your new little puppy, Tayta. Maybe one day my new little puppy Zazu will get to meet yours.

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB: She truly is a blessing.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! When we come back, we’ll look at the increasing radicalization of police officers across the country. Stay with us.

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