Charlie Angus (Charles Joseph Angus) is a federal Member of Parliament for the riding of Timmins—James Bay since winning the 2004 election. He is the NDP (New Democratic Party) critic for Indigenous and Northern Affairs (Youth), Official Languages, Ethics, and Income Inequality and Affordability and ran as a candidate for leadership of the federal NDP in 2017.
On January 3, 2020 MP Angus shared on twitter an article by The Guardian titled: “Palestinians excluded from Israeli Covid vaccine rollout as jabs go to settlers.” Its subtitle reads: “Human rights groups accuse Israel of dodging obligations to millions in occupied territories who may wait months for vaccination.” MP Angus commented:
“This is appalling. #apartheidstate”
Sharing the same article NDP MP Leah Gazan (Winnipeg Centre) tweeted:
“Life is valuable. All our blood runs red at the end of the day. We must speak out against excluding people from being vaccinated based on discriminatory decisions and a clear violation of #HumanRights.”
B’nai Brith Canada, Canadian Jewish advocacy group, issued the following statement:
It’s shameful that Canadian NDP MPs @CharlieAngusNDP & @LeahGazan are tweeting inaccurate information demonizing Israel re: #COVID19vaccinations. As elected officials, you have a duty to inform yourselves to avoid disseminating disinformation to the public on social media. /1 In the article that you both linked to, it was made clear that the Palestinian Authority never requested vaccines from Israel. It has been reported that they are set to receive Sputnik V and AstraZeneca vaccines in February. /2
In response to B’nai Brith Canada’s statement MP Angus posted on Facebook:
CHARLIE ANGUS STATEMENT ON B’NAI BRITH ACCUSATIONS
On Sunday January 3rd I retweeted an article from the respected British publication the Guardian regarding growing human rights concerns over Palestinians not having access to the roll out of vaccines. The article was entitled “Palestinians Excluded from COVID Vaccines and Jabs Go to Settlers.”
Since then B’nai Brith Canada has reached out. They have accused me of promoting “anti-Semitic conspiracy theories” by releasing this tweet. As a parliamentarian involved at the international stage on addressing the crisis of online conspiracy theories I was shocked by the accusation. I reject this accusation. If B’Nai Brith objects to the tone or the facts presented in the Guardian article the appropriate channel is to contact the editor of the Guardian.
My interest in this issues stems from a trip I took to Jerusalem in late January 2020 to participate at the incredibly moving Holocaust memorial at the Yad Vashem Centre. While in Jerusalem I asked as many officials as I could about the situation in the Palestinian territories. I was told that getting into Gaza was virtually impossible as the Israeli government carefully controls who gets in and what is allowed into the Palestinian territory.
One official said to me that the situation for Palestinian families in Gaza was stable and then he added, “Stable that is for a people who are living up to their necks in water. As long as nothing happens things are stable.”
A month later COVID hit. I have thought many times about that conversation and am hopeful that the state of Israel will use their enormous resources to ensure that people who are denied political independence are given the full protection they deserve.
Every day on my twitter feed I take the time to post a story from the Auschwitz Centre. It stems from my profound belief that we must remind people about the need to remember and speak up about the crimes suffered by the Jewish people. I will continue to be an ally in the fight against anti-semitism. I will also continue to advocate to improve conditions for the Palestinian people. This includes the occasional reminder to Israel of their international human rights obligations particularly in the unprecedented crisis of this pandemic.
Here are excerpts from reports by WAFA, the official news agency of the Palestinian Authority (Palestine), about the purchase of coronavirus vaccines by the Palestinian Authority for the Palestinian people:
November 21, 2020 (WAFA) – The Minister of Health, Mai Alkaila, said last night that the COVAX Facility National Committee discussed procedures to purchase the coronavirus vaccine. Participants in the virtual meeting included representatives of the general secretariat of the Palestinian cabinet, the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Information, and the Epidemiological Committee. Alkaila said the meeting discussed the required logistical and financial measures to buy the coronavirus vaccine approved by WHO, and it will submit the necessary documents to the World Health Organization and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) to ensure that Palestine is provided with adequate coronavirus vaccines. The Minister of Health yesterday participated in another virtual meeting for the COVAX AMC engagement group, which is an arm of the World Health Organization for the coronavirus vaccine, to discuss the latest developments of the coronavirus vaccine in terms of manufacturing, distribution, cold chain, transportation and also financing.
December 10, 2020 (WAFA) – Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya said today that her country will prioritize Palestine concerning the provision of the COVID-19 vaccines, as part of the Spanish Government’s solidarity campaign against the coronavirus. Speaking at a press conference with Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Riyad al-Malki in Ramallah, González said Palestine will be on top of the countries that will receive the Spanish-manufactured COVID-19 vaccine following its development, given the grave humanitarian situation the country is going through.
December 12, 2020 (WAFA) – Four million doses of the Russian COVID-19 vaccine are expected in Palestine in the near future, today said Osama Najjar, an official with the Palestinian Ministry of Health. He told Voice of Palestine radio that around four million doses of the Russian vaccine, Sputnik V, are expected in Palestine by the end of this year and the beginning of next year and that once they arrive, they will be given to the Palestinian people. Speaking on Palestine TV this morning, Minister of Health Mai Alkaila confirmed that the vaccine should arrive in Palestine by early next year and said that Palestine is in touch with Russia, Moderna and AstraZeneca companies regarding the purchase of the vaccine, but not Pfizer since this company’s vaccine requires the presence of refrigerators that store the vaccine at below 80 degrees Celsius. But since Palestine has only one such refrigerator, but not the means to transport the vaccine to the various parts of the country, it has decided not to contact Pfizer regarding the purchase of its vaccine. Alkaila also said the COVEX Facility, which helps poorer countries with vaccines, will cover costs of the vaccine for only 20 percent of the Palestinian population while the government will finance enough for 50 percent of the people of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
December 14, 2020 (WAFA) – The coronavirus vaccine, which Palestine expects to start arriving early next year, will not be compulsory, and priority will be given to medical staff and the elderly, today said Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh. Speaking at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting held in Ramallah, Shtayyeh said his government will adopt the World Health Organization standard in the vaccination. “All Palestinians are a priority to us. But there are people who are more vulnerable to infection than others, be it medical personnel, ill people, the elderly, etc. All of this will be based on a sound and clear basis,” he said.
December 27, 2020 (WAFA) – Minister of Health Mai Alkaila said today that the current wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Palestine will reach its peak towards the end of upcoming February. Alkaila told official Voice of Palestine radio that the Ministry has developed plans to open new wards at hospitals and expand existing intensive care units to be able to cope with any health developments relating to the pandemic. The Health Minister added that a partial lockdown imposed by the Palestinian government during the past three weeks allowed for flattening the epidemic curve in many of the West Bank governorates. In the meantime, Alkaila said that a national committee in charge of purchasing the coronavirus vaccines will convene today to find ways to accelerate the purchase of the vaccines from the relevant international pharmaceutical companies, as recommended by the World Health Organization.