Over at Counterpunch Ramzy Baroud brings an account of Israeli settlers and military deliberately attempting to infect Palestinians with coronavirus. [stderr]
Whenever I remember how American colonists used smallpox-infected blankets to infect the indigenous peoples, as part of their campaign of genocide, I am ashamed. I wonder how long it will be before Israelis confront their actions. It will happen, eventually, if only as a consequence of numbers and time.
Now that we know that the deadly coronavirus can be transmitted through saliva droplets, Israeli soldiers and illegal Jewish settlers are working extra hard to spit at as many Palestinians, their cars, doorknobs, and so on, as possible.
If this sounds to you too surreal and repugnant, then you might not be as familiar with the particular breed of Israeli colonialism as you may think you are.
In all fairness, Israelis have been spitting at Palestinians well before the World Health Organization (WHO) lectured us on the elusive nature of the COVID-19 disease and on the critical need to apply ‘social distancing.’
Of course, it’s just a few bad apples in the military and a few bad apples in the (already) “illegal Jewish settler” community. That’s why every effort is being made by the authorities to stop the behavior.
First, that acts of spitting at Palestinians and their properties, by both occupation soldiers and settlers, have been widely reported in many parts of occupied Palestine.
This means that, within a matter of days, the Israeli army and settlers’ cultures so swiftly adapted their pre-existing racism to employ a deadly virus as the latest tool in subjugating and harming Palestinians, whether physically or symbolically.
I’ve heard various rumbles about weaponizing the coronavirus in other contexts – “liberals” saying maybe someone sick should attend a Trump rally, and protofascists gathering to swap virus that they can then take out into the broader world. No matter how you slice it, it’s reprehensible.
This pandemic is a good example of why bioweapons are a bad idea. They are much too hard to control and it’s too easy to turn them around once they have been deployed. There are various government labs that have messed with the stuff, including the US’ own USAMRIID in Frederick, MD and Russia’s Vector lab in Novosibirisk. [forbes]. The one act of genocide that humans have committed that was good was when humans mostly eradicated smallpox. Except for the government labs that kept it, because, you know, you never know when it’s time to re-release the monster from the liquid nitrogen tank, right? Arguably, it was good and necessary to keep smallpox on ice so that scientists could examine it, but at this point maybe they could sequence its genome and throw the samples in the incinerator. It’s a ridiculous risk keeping that stuff around because humans can’t trust their own good intentions.
The fact that Vector is one of only two places in the world that stockpiles Smallpox – the other being the CDC facility in Atlanta – tells you everything you need to know. Local firefighter and rescue teams responded to the explosion before someone realized the implications and, as reported by Russian media, “the situation was quickly upgraded from an ordinary emergency to a major incident.”
It’s interesting that Forbes only says CDC has it; they forgot American Tissue Culture Collection and USAMRIID. I suspect they were just trying to make America look great again by only mentioning CDC, which is generally seen as “the good guys” and not our biowar agency. Because (cough) defensive biowar something something. I wouldn’t be surprised if, now that the Trumpies have withdrawn from the nuclear mid-range treaty, they’re not heating up torture rooms and bioweapons labs, too. I worry when the US starts floating a conspiracy theory, because it seems often to me that it’s projection – they think the Chinese or whoever are doing the same thing that they’d be doing if they were the Chinese (or whoever). When I started seeing the Trumpies talking about some bioweapons lab maybe cooking up coronavirus, my response was not to think, “do they know something?” but rather “what have they been up to?”
By the way, the folks at This Week In Virology (TWIV) podcast [twiv] have discussed the question of whether coronavirus was manufactured and all the senior virologists involved – some of whom are sequencing and decoding the damn thing – scientists have a damn good idea what the evolutionary pathway was that created this particular strain of virus and everything is consistent with evolving normally in some non-human host and jumping over to humans, just like SARS and Ebola. What’s really going on, it seems to me, is that the governments of the world are embarrassed, as they should be, for standing down efforts to understand zoonotic viruses and develop faster ways of making vaccines against them – SARS was a “wake up call” and the governments didn’t just roll over and hit “snooze” they disassembled the clock and gave the pieces to the Department of Defense saying “sell these and maybe you can buy a wing nut for your F-35.” Would having spent the time and money on such efforts have paid off? We’ll never know, but trillions are being thrown at dealing with the problem now that it’s thoroughly too late.
Did I mention that I really love the TWIV podcast? It’s a firehose of information and I’ll probably stop following it, simply because it eats a huge amount of time, but it’s a bunch of virologists who really know their stuff, and they make a strong effort to not dumb things down but rather to define their terms and make it mostly comprehensible for a layperson. I think they’re a bit forgiving and over-kind to the political jackasses who are interfering with the experts’ response to the crisis, but doctors are used to having to deconflict when they provide information. I think it’s a professional risk of being placed in the position of moderator too often.