Why Israeli Bedouin Are Starting to Get Vaccinated—Despite Initial Reluctance

March 9 2021

While Israel leads the world in coronavirus vaccinations per capita, vaccination rates remain very low among the country’s Bedouin, many of whom are suspicious of the vaccine. In one instance, a village received 1,000 doses, but only twenty residents agreed to receive a shot, and the remaining doses had to be discarded. Mohammed al-Nabari—a physician and the former mayor of a Bedouin village—heads a nonprofit dedicated to helping his fellow Bedouin. He describes its efforts to rectify the situation:

The low vaccination rates in the Bedouin community reflected the low amounts of trust between the community and the government. Yet we were able to change that, thanks to strong pre-existing relationships among community leaders, the government, and those in the private sector with access to resources and expertise. Those relationships were built long before the pandemic, and could only be activated effectively in a crisis because of years of building the infrastructure of trust.

Nabari takes as an example the village of Sa’wa, whose residents were reluctant to be vaccinated before Hassan, the local imam:

In [the Bedouin] community, the imam’s word carries more weight than any scientist or government official could ever muster. Vaccinating the people of Sa’wa depended on Hassan, and he was eager to lead by example. But at forty-six, he was too young to be eligible for a vaccine during this early stage of the rollout, and waiting to vaccinate the imam meant further excruciating delays in vaccinating vulnerable residents throughout Sa’wa.

[A]fter calling upon relationships we had developed over the years with various ministries and medical insurance agencies, Hassan’s cell phone pinged with a text confirming his appointment later that day. Word spread rapidly that the imam had received the vaccine, even more so after he spoke about his vaccination at Friday prayers and encouraged others to make appointments. Over the following days, we saw a steady increase as more and more residents signed up.

In my hometown of Hura, we received unprecedented support from the Israeli Home Front Command; a Muslim cleric rode through the town with a bullhorn atop an Israeli military vehicle, shouting vaccine information to passersby. We still have much work to do, but early data of our efforts shows promise. Just three days after initiating our strategy, the number of people vaccinated in Hura surged from just 8 percent to 25.4 percent.

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Read more at Newsweek

More about: Bedouin, Coronavirus, IDF, Islam, Israeli Arabs

Is the Attempt on Salman Rushdie’s Life Part of a Broader Iranian Strategy?

Aug. 18 2022

While there is not yet any definitive evidence that Hadi Matar, the man who repeatedly stabbed the novelist Salman Rushdie at a public talk last week, was acting on direct orders from Iranian authorities, he has made clear that he was inspired by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s call for Rushdie’s murder, and his social-media accounts express admiration for the Islamic Republic. The attack also follows on the heels of other Iranian attempts on the lives of Americans, including the dissident activist Masih Alinejad, the former national security advisor John Bolton, and the former secretary of state Mike Pompeo. Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who was held hostage by the mullahs for over two years, sees a deliberate effort at play:

It is no coincidence this flurry of Iranian activity comes at a crucial moment for the hitherto-moribund [nuclear] negotiations. Iranian hardliners have long opposed reviving the 2015 deal, and the Iranians have made a series of unrealistic and seemingly ever-shifting demands which has led many to conclude that they are not negotiating in good faith. Among these is requiring the U.S. to delist the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in its entirety from the State Department’s list of terror organizations.

The Biden administration and its European partners’ willingness to make concessions are viewed in Tehran as signals of weakness. The lack of a firm response in the shocking attack on Salman Rushdie will similarly indicate to Tehran that there is little to be lost and much to be gained in pursuing dissidents like Alinejad or so-called blasphemers like Sir Salman on U.S. soil.

If we don’t stand up for our values when under attack we can hardly blame our adversaries for assuming that we have none. Likewise, if we don’t erect and maintain firm red lines in negotiations our adversaries will perhaps also assume that we have none.

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Read more at iNews

More about: Iran, Terrorism, U.S. Foreign policy