Trump, Biden urged to show balance in Palestine-Israel policies

Code Pink co-director Ariel Gold. (Arab News photo)
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Updated 23 June 2020

Trump, Biden urged to show balance in Palestine-Israel policies

  • More than 100 social-activist groups sign open letter to US president and his presumptive presidential challenger
  • Initiative is led by Code Pink, an international, female-led grassroots non-governmental organization

CHICAGO: More than 100 Arab, Muslim and American social-activist groups on Monday co-signed an open letter urging US President Donald Trump and presidential challenger Joe Biden to “support equality for Palestinians.”

The initiative is spearheaded by Code Pink, an international, female-led grassroots non-governmental organization. The letter states that current US policy is “enabling” Israeli violations of international law, and that a more balanced approach is needed.

As pro-Israel groups and activists step up their efforts to push for total Israeli control over the West Bank, and the segregation of non-Jewish residents of the occupied territories, Code Pink’s campaign calls for a fair and balanced approach to the rights of both Palestinians and Israelis.

While highly critical of Trump’s biased, pro-Israel policies, the letter also calls out Biden for his own “hawkish” and “one-sided” stance in support of Israel, including his questioning of the right of Americans and others to boycott a foreign country over policies that violate the international rule of law.

“Rather than reflecting the growth of support for Palestinian human rights within the Democratic Party, Biden seems to be trying to show that he can be almost as hawkish and one-sided as Trump when it comes to the issue of Israel and Palestinian rights,” said Code Pink co-director Ariel Gold.

“Despite paying mild lip service to the dangers of Israel annexing parts of the West Bank, Biden’s positions are to the right of where the Obama administration was.

“Palestinians have been campaigning for more than 70 years for their basic rights and freedoms. It is far past time for the US to stop carrying water for the Israeli government and instead support justice and equality for all people.”

The signatories to the letter include American Muslims for Palestine; the Council on American-Islamic Relations; If Not Now; Jewish Voice for Peace Action; Kairos USA; and the Presbyterian Church, USA, Israel Palestine Mission Network.

When announcing the publication of the letter, Code Pink highlighted two incidents that suggest Biden might be out of touch with wider Democratic opinion if he fails to adopt a more balanced approach to the rights of both Israel and Palestine.

In March 2019, a number of the Democratic presidential candidates did not attend the policy conference of pro-Israel lobby group the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. And at the pro-Israel, pro-peace J Street conference in Oct. 2019, the audience applauded Bernie Sanders when he suggested leveraging the $3.8 billion a year military aid the US gives to Israel to apply pressure on the Israeli authorities to respect Palestinian human rights.

Gold said Biden has so far failed to adopt Sanders’ position in support of the Palestinians, but that he hopes the letter, signed by so many diverse organizations, might persuade him to change his stance.

Osama Abuirshaid, the national executive director of American Muslims for Palestine, said the letter could play an important part in altering the US approach to the Palestine-Israel issue.

“As Americans, we cannot talk about ending the institutional and systemic racism in this country while we enable a system of apartheid in the occupied Palestinian territories,” he said.

“We cannot demand an end to police brutality in our streets without demanding that our government stop financing Israeli brutality with our tax dollars.”

Visit to read the full text of the letter.

WHO acknowledges ‘evidence emerging’ of airborne spread of COVID-19

Updated 39 min 58 sec ago

WHO acknowledges ‘evidence emerging’ of airborne spread of COVID-19

  • WHO previously said the virus spreads through droplets expelled from the nose and mouth that quickly sink to the ground
  • New evidence shows floating virus particles can infect people who breathe them in

GENEVA: The World Health Organization on Tuesday acknowledged “evidence emerging” of the airborne spread of the novel coronavirus, after a group of scientists urged the global body to update its guidance on how the respiratory disease passes between people.
“We have been talking about the possibility of airborne transmission and aerosol transmission as one of the modes of transmission of COVID-19,” Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead on the COVID-19 pandemic at the WHO, told a news briefing.
The WHO has previously said the virus that causes the COVID-19 respiratory disease spreads primarily through small droplets expelled from the nose and mouth of an infected person that quickly sink to the ground.
But in an open letter to the Geneva-based agency, published on Monday in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal, 239 scientists in 32 countries outlined evidence that they say shows floating virus particles can infect people who breathe them in.
Because those smaller exhaled particles can linger in the air, the scientists are urging WHO to update its guidance.
Speaking at Tuesday’s briefing in Geneva, Benedetta Allegranzi, the WHO’s technical lead for infection prevention and control, said there was evidence emerging of airborne transmission of the coronavirus, but that it was not definitive.
.”..The possibility of airborne transmission in public settings — especially in very specific conditions, crowded, closed, poorly ventilated settings that have been described, cannot be ruled out,” she said.
“However, the evidence needs to be gathered and interpreted, and we continue to support this.”
Any change in the WHO’s assessment of risk of transmission could affect its current advice on keeping 1-meter (3.3 feet) of physical distancing. Governments, which rely on the agency for guidance policy, may also have to adjust public health measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.
Van Kerkhove said the WHO would publish a scientific brief summarising the state of knowledge on modes of transmission of the virus in the coming days.
“A comprehensive package of interventions is required to be able to stop transmission,” she said.
“This includes not only physical distancing, it includes the use of masks where appropriate in certain settings, specifically where you can’t do physical distancing and especially for health care workers.”