Palestinians have cause for optimism: Expert

A picture taken on June 3, 2020, shows a view of the Palestinian neighbourhood of Wadi al-Joz (R) in east Jerusalem, and the Dome of the Rock Mosque (L) in Jerusalem's old city. (AFP)
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Updated 09 June 2020

Palestinians have cause for optimism: Expert

  • Black Lives Matter movement, Israel’s alienation may present unique opportunity for injustices against Palestinians to be addressed 

LONDON: The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and Israeli alienation from the West present reasons for Palestinians to be optimistic, Dr. Rashid Khalidi, director of the Middle East Institute at Columbia University, said during an online briefing on Tuesday.
A number of factors have converged to create a situation that may bring to an end the “war on Palestinians,” he added.
“In spite of the current situation in Palestine, there are reasons to be optimistic for Palestinians,” he said at the briefing, organized by the Council for Arab-British Understanding.
The BLM movement for justice and civil rights presents a unique opportunity to address the inequities of the Israeli occupation, he added.
“The present moment, where the US is confronting its own structural racism and its own historical inequities like it never has before, may also be an opportune moment to address the
injustice in Palestine,” Khalidi said.
Beyond BLM and its parallels to the Palestinian cause, Israel’s own actions, he added, may be contributing to its alienation.
“As Israel makes clear its intentions, and as the Zionist project is pursued through Israeli law and practices, the incompatibility of what they’re doing with liberal democracy and ideas of
justice and fairness becomes clear,” he said.
Increasingly, Khalidi believes, liberal democracies will find themselves at odds with the Israeli state and its actions.
This, he said, is particularly relevant when it comes to the US-Israel relationship as Americans’ views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict evolve.
In particular, on college campuses across the US and within the Democratic Party’s base, the stance on Palestine has changed drastically and is increasingly sympathetic, he added. “This… is an ongoing process that’s taking place as the US becomes more diverse,” he said.
Nonetheless, Khalidi warned that the “war on Palestinians” could continue for many years. If dangerous myths are not dispelled, the systemic injustices that perpetuate the conflict will
never be addressed, he said.
One of the most important of these myths, Khalidi added, is that the Palestinians have always been rejectionist and have blocked the peace process.

This argument, he said, “requires a great deal of ignorance or self-deception to make. One only has to look at the plans being offered to understand why the Palestinians were unable to
accept them.”
He added: “The plans that have been offered never came anywhere near justice, meeting the requirements of international law or the desire of the Palestinian people to live as a sovereign
people in their own home.
“One can go through each and every peace plan and ask: Why would the Palestinians ever accept this?” The latest plan proposed by the US is no different, Khalidi said.


Having flu doubles risk of coronavirus death: Study

Updated 22 September 2020

Having flu doubles risk of coronavirus death: Study

  • Heightened danger particularly acute among over-65s
  • WHO identifies flu season as acute threat given COVID-19 spikes

LONDON: Infection with flu and coronavirus at the same time more than doubles a person’s risk of dying than if he or she only had COVID-19, according to research released by England’s highest public health body.

Research conducted by Public Health England (PHE) found that those with flu and COVID-19 were 2.27 times more likely to die than those who just had COVID-19, and 5.92 times more likely to die than those who had neither.

Researchers found that those aged 65 and over were at greatest risk. Most cases of co-infection were in older people, and more than half of them died.

The paper describes the possible impact of COVID-19 alongside seasonal flu as a “major concern.”

Yvonne Doyle, medical director of PHE, said: “If you get both you’re in some serious trouble, and the people who are most likely to get both of these infections may be the very people who can least afford to in terms of their own immune system, or their risk for serious outcomes.”

The paper found that people with flu were less likely to test positive for COVID-19, but Doyle said this should not be taken as a reassurance.

Some countries in Asia have pre-emptively rolled out early and more aggressive flu vaccination programs this year to prevent complications caused by co-infection.

But others, such as Poland, have been struggling to secure flu vaccines due to shortages caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The upcoming flu season has been identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a particularly acute threat, given that many parts of the world are already experiencing a spike in COVID-19 infections.

“We’re starting to see worrying trends in some countries,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical lead for COVID-19. “We’re seeing increases in hospitalizations, in intensive care units … That’s worrying because we haven’t seen the flu season yet.”