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Palestinian residents of West Bank being driven out by Jewish settlers


NBC News, Dec. 26, 2023

In the village of At-Tuwani in the West Bank, residents say Jewish settlers have become far more aggressive since Hamas’ October 7 terror attacks in their long campaign to drive Palestinians from this land. NBC News’ Richard Engel visited the area and reports on the high tensions among the two groups.

Who Is Funding Canary Mission?

Inside the Doxxing Operation Targeting Anti-Zionist Students and Professors

Americans who give money to Canary Mission are potentially committing a serious crime by acting as agents of a foreign power.

JAMES BAMFORD, THE NATION, DECEMBER 22, 2023
A pro-Palestinian protest of Harvard students and their supporters, ends on the lawn behind Klarman Hall, at Harvard Business School, after starting in the Old Yard by Massachusetts Hall. (Pat Greenhouse / The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

It was a scene reminiscent of the Red Scare days, of grainy black-and-white television images of political witch hunts by the old House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). But rather than hunting for disloyal communist sympathizers, committee members at early December’s hearing before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce were instead hunting for university presidents disloyal to Israel. “Are you now, or have you ever been, an anti-Zionist?” quipped New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg. “You can see the trap.”

What is missing from Congress are hearings into the decades of illegal anti-Palestinian espionage, covert action, and blacklisting of Americans within the United States by the Israeli government and its domestic collaborators—actions far more serious and damaging than campus semantics. As noted in my earlier articles for The Nation, they range from dispatching a secret agent to interfere in a presidential election on behalf of Donald Trump; to launching a covert operation within the US targeting academics and others who support a boycott of Israel; to conducting a massive operation to spy on and “crush” pro-Palestinian students throughout the country; to establishing a secret Israeli-run troll farm across the US to harass anyone critical of Israel; to hiring Americans to secretly spy on American students and report back to Israeli intelligence. And then there is Canary Mission, a massive blacklisting and doxxing operation directed from Israel that targets students and professors critical of Israeli policies, and then launches slanderous charges against them—charges designed to embarrass and humiliate them and damage their future employability. All secretly fundedby wealthy Jewish Americans and Jewish American foundations.

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Following the October 7 Hamas attack and the launch of Israel’s war in Gaza, members of Harvard’s Palestine Solidarity Committee (HPSC) sponsored a letter addressing the conflict. “Today’s events did not occur in a vacuum,” it said. “For the last two decades, millions of Palestinians in Gaza have been forced to live in an open-air prison. Israeli officials promise to ‘open the gates of hell,’ and the massacres in Gaza have already commenced.” The letter was cosigned by 33 other student organizations and published in The Harvard Crimson, the campus newspaper. Almost immediately, Canary Mission created online profiles for members of the Crimson’s editorial board (though a few likely already had one from when the Crimson endorsed divestment), along with profiles of the leaders of the HPSC and other campus clubs that cosigned the letter. The goal of the blacklist was to dox those named, encourage their harassment, and limit their future employment prospects.

“The Mission didn’t stop at creating profiles for student leaders,” notes Owen Ray in the Massachusetts Daily Collegian.

They doxxed anybody even remotely involved in the publication of the letter. One listed student was a member of the Pakistani Students Association, a club which had co-signed the PSC statement. They were indirectly involved at best, but their membership with a cultural club was enough for the Mission to brand them as hateful antisemites.

Another student was a member of the South Asian Law Students Association (SALSA), which also co-signed the controversial letter. They were placed on the website for no reason besides their SALSA membership.

And once on the blacklist, it is nearly impossible to get off. “They’re publishing personal information and holding it over people’s heads,” writes Ray. “It’s political extortion, it’s dystopian and it discourages political discourse.”

Not content with online slander and blacklisting, Canary Mission agents have also been involved in physical intimidation. At George Washington University in 2018, on the eve of a vote on a student-government resolution calling on the university to divest from companies profiting from Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights, two powerful men in yellow canary outfits suddenly turned up in the lobby of the building in which the vote was to take place. They then engaged in a strange and frightening dance. Their purpose was to dramatically reinforce Canary Mission flyers that had been posted around campus advising students to vote against the resolution and attacking the student activists. “THERE ARE NO SECRETS. WE WILL KNOW YOUR VOTE AND WILL ACT ACCORDINGLY,” said one threatening Canary Mission message. Abby Brook, a Jewish student at the school who was active in pro-Palestinian groups on campus, found the event “pretty unbelievably terrifying.… These two fully grown, muscular men in these bird costumes, strutting.” On the walk home that night, she said, she was careful to watch her back. In‑your-face intimidation of students is the objective.

Like its campus spy operation, Israel on Campus Coalition, Canary Mission acts as a key intelligence asset for the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, a highly secretive intelligence organization that is largely focused on the United States, and the Shin Bet security service. Not only is it intended to silence anti-Israel dissent; its list of names is also used to prevent those individuals from entering Israel and attempting to visit family, including both Jews and Palestinians, and professors as well as students. Among them was Lara Alqasem, a 22-year-old Palestinian American student who was planning to study in a master’s program at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Although she had a valid visa, she was dragged in for interrogation shortly after landing at Tel Aviv’s airport.

     

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During the process, the Ministry of Strategic Affairs sent over a document marked “Sensitive.” It contained a profile from Canary Mission that listed her crime: She had served as a local chapter president of Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Florida. Even worse, her chapter had called for a boycott of some Israeli hummus. Afterward, she was placed in detention for weeks pending deportation procedures. But following a protest letter signed by over 300 professors and other academics from the US and around the world “who reject all forms of racial profiling,” an Israeli court granted her appeal to enter the country.

Another victim was Columbia University Law School professor Katherine Franke, who at one time sat on the academic advisory council steering committee for Jewish Voice for Peace. Upon her landing in Tel Aviv, an official at the airport showed her what appeared to be her Canary Mission profile. After being kept in detention for 14 hours, she was deported and informed that she would be permanently banned from the country.

Like all of Israel’s espionage and covert operations in the United States, Canary Mission’s links to Israeli intelligence—and the Mission’s American financiers—are well hidden. But as a result of a slipup on a tax form a few years ago, those links began to be revealed. And in the process was exposed the role played by one of the wealthiest families in California, headed by publicity-shy billionaire Sanford Diller, a major Trump backer who had donated $6 million to a pro-Trump political committee. Diller was also a pro-Israel extremist, supporting a long list of right-wing Islamophobic organizations. They included the American Freedom Law Center, founded by a man who even the Anti-Defamation League said has a “record of anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-black bigotry,” and Stop Islamization of America, which “has sought to rouse public fears about a vast Islamic conspiracy to destroy American values,” according to the ADL.

For donations to a variety of causes, the Diller family maintains the Helen Diller Family Foundation. But in order to get a tax break, they turn the funds over to a much larger trust, the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, which then channels the Diller family donations. According to The Forward (formerly The Jewish Daily Forward), in 2016 the Diller Foundation donated $100,000 through the Jewish Community Federation to an obscure Israeli nonprofit called Megamot Shalom. Untraceable, off the grid, unheard of, Megamot Shalom was actually the front for Canary Mission.

Confident that their dark donations would never be revealed, other donors around the country poured cash into Megamot Shalom via similar charities, among them the Jewish Community Foundation (JCF) of Los Angeles. There, a contributor, whose name remains legally hidden by the foundation’s rules, donated another quarter of a milliondollars to Canary Mission’s front. The JCF of Los Angeles manages assets of more than $1.3 billion and, like San Francisco’s Jewish Federation, has distributed millions to right-wing pro-occupation groups. Yet at the same time, it turns down donations to human rights groups opposed to the occupation, as foundation board member Lisa Greer discovered. When she attempted to donate $5,000 to IfNotNow, a Jewish group against the occupation, the foundation rejected her contribution. “I’d never heard of this happening before,” she said. “I was beyond shocked. I really did start shaking.”

There was a key reason for so much secrecy. Those Americans who were financially supporting Canary Mission were potentially committing a serious crime, acting as agents of a foreign power. They were financing a clandestine foreign organization with ties to Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, an Israeli intelligence agency—which was using Canary Mission to identify, detain and deport Americans entering the country, like Lara Alqasem and Professor Katherine Franke.

Not content to secretly fund Canary Mission to carry out its spying and intimidation on American college campuses, many of the wealthy donors also wanted generous federal tax breaks for their donations. The problem was that tax breaks are not allowed for donations to foreign charities, just those in the United States, and Megamot Shalom’s being in Israel would rule out the deduction. To solve the problem, years ago a family living in Israel’s illegal settlements came to the United States and set up shop in New York City as a nonprofit “charity,” calling itself the Central Fund of Israel. Therefore, the Diller family, through San Francisco’s Jewish Community Federation, actually “donated” their money to the Central Fund in New York, and in return received a substantial tax rebate. And then the Central Fund simply transferred the money to Megamot Shalom’s bank account in Israel. Under the scheme, billionaires and their foundations got richer while American taxpayers subsidized the blacklisting and terrorizing of their own children in college.

In addition to Canary Mission, the Central Fund also directs millions of donations to a wide range of racist and extremist settler groups. Among them is Lehava, a far-right Jewish supremacist group based in Israel that has staged marches chanting “Death to Arabs.” Last year, a group of 19 rabbis signed a letter to one of the Central Fund’s key supporters, the New York–based Jewish Communal Fund, with assets of more than $2.4 billion, protesting the donations. “Incitement and violence are not legitimate political positions,” they wrote, and requested a meeting. But officials from the Jewish Communal Fund simply rebuffed the rabbis and declined to meet with them.

Nearly invisible, the Central Fund for Israel was hidden in the back room of a fabric company in midtown Manhattan. It has since moved into a back room of J. Mark Interiors on Central Avenue in Cedarhurst, Long Island. The family business is run by Jay Marcus, a gray-haired settler with a kippah on his head and a second home in Efrat, an illegal settlement in the occupied West Bank. From the textile company, the Diller family’s $100,000 was wired to the Israeli bank account of Canary Mission’s front organization, Megamot Shalom. Unsurprisingly, the actual physical address for Megamot Shalom appeared to be a run-down abandoned building in Beit Shemesh, a city west of Jerusalem. Near a few broken chairs and a scattering of pigeon droppings—or perhaps those of a canary—was a heavily scuffed powder-blue door from which hung a rusty padlock.

Hidden deep in the shadows, the man behind both Megamot Shalom and Canary Mission was a smiling, pleasant-looking, middle-aged rabbi with receding dark brown hair beneath a black felt fedora, Jonathan Jack Ian Bash. Although he has denied involvement, Bash signed the 2016 financial reports for Megamot Shalom, and two people separately confirmed to The Forward that he was in charge of Canary Mission. Megamot Shalom is what is known in Israel as a “public benefit corporation,” and documents seem to clearly describe its work: to “ensure the national image and strength of the state of Israel via the use of information disseminated by technological means.”

While Bash has long run Canary Mission’s operations, the man with the money pulling the strings appears to be multimillionaire Adam Milstein, a convicted felon and close associate of the late multibillionaire Israel supporter Sheldon Adelson. In 2016, during an investigation by Al Jazeera television, Tony Kleinfeld, an undercover investigator, discussed Milstein with his then “boss,” Eric Gallagher, fundraising director for the Israel Project, a Washington-based pro-Israel media organization. At the time, Gallagher believed that Kleinfeld was a like-minded pro-Israel advocate. Asked about Canary Mission on Kleinfeld’s hidden camera, Gallagher said, “It’s him, it’s him,” to which Kleinfeld asked, “Adam Milstein?” Gallagher replied, “Yeah, I don’t know who he hired to oversee it. Adam Milstein’s the guy who funds it.” Milstein has denied funding the organization, and Gallagher reportedly told Milstein that Al Jazeera had selectively edited his quote to make it appear that he was saying Milstein backed the operation.

But it should not be up to a foreign television program to investigate secret Israeli intelligence and covert operations in the US, along with their clandestine American funders. That is what the FBI is paid to do. And rather than drag university presidents up to Capitol Hill for a replay of the Red Scare/HUAC hearings, it’s time for the White House and Congress to at last rip the cover off Israel’s vast network of spies, collaborators, and funders in this country. Even if it means giving up millions in donations and political support from AIPAC—the key reason Israel remains immune from any investigation.


James Bamford

James Bamford is a best-selling author, Emmy-nominated filmmaker, and winner of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. His most recent book is Spyfail: Foreign Spies, Moles, Saboteurs, and the Collapse of America’s Counterintelligence, from which much of the material in this article has been adapted.

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South Africa seeks International Court of Justice genocide order against Israel

Court application the latest move by South Africa, a vociferous critic of Israel’s war, to ratchet up pressure on Netanyahu’s government

Smoke from Israeli bombardment covers the skyline of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday. Photograph: AFP via Getty Images

South Africa asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Friday for an urgent order declaring that Israel was in breach of its obligations under the Genocide Convention in its ongoing crackdown against Hamas in Gaza.

In the latest development in Israel’s war against Hamas, tens of thousands of newly displaced Gazans sought refuge in the centre of the Palestinian enclave on Friday after fleeing an Israeli tank offensive, while warplanes attacking the south flattened homes and buried families as they slept.

The court application is the latest move by South Africa, a vociferous critic of Israel’s war, to ratchet up pressure after its lawmakers last month voted in favour of closing down the Israeli embassy in Pretoria and suspending all diplomatic relations until a ceasefire was agreed in Israel’s war with Palestinian Islamist group Hamas in Gaza.

In a statement from South Africa’s department of international relations and co-operation, the government said the application against Israel had been filed.

At a megachurch Christmas Eve service outside Atlanta, a call for a ceasefire

On Christmas Eve, congregants gathered at the New Birth Missionary Baptist church for a service unlike any other: the church choir wore keffiyehs, Palestinians shared stories of the Nakba, and the pastor’s call was clear: a ceasefire in Gaza.

Editor’s Note: The following story first appeared in 285 South, a news publication centering the stories and perspectives of immigrant and refugee communities in metro Atlanta – the heart of the New South. Learn more and subscribe here.

On Christmas Eve morning, hundreds of congregants gathered at the New Birth Missionary Baptist church, which has been described as the largest land-owning Black church in America. 

The 10,000-member megachurch in Stonecrest, GA, about 20 miles due east of Atlanta, was lit with brightly colored spotlights, huge screens broadcasting the service, and booming music filled the space. 

Yesterday’s service though, was unlike any other. Images of the Palestinian flag were on the stage and on the screens. Church choir members wore keffiyehs. And the call from the pastor was clear: a ceasefire in Gaza. 

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“We cannot ignore that up to this moment, 20,000 lives have been senselessly killed in Palestine,” said senior pastor Jamal Bryant, opening up the service. “If Jesus were born today he would have been found under rubble…because of bombs that this nation paid for and provided.” 

Bryant said he had had conversations about “Christmas being canceled,” because of the war. 

He ended up taking New Birth on another route. “Today we are calling for  America, we are calling for the world to insist that a ceasefire take place immediately. That’s what we want for Christmas.”

His call echoes hundreds of black spiritual leaders across the country. 

Father George Makhoul, a Palestinian Christian, reads a passage from the Bible in Arabic. (Photo: Sophia Qureshi/285 South)
FATHER GEORGE MAKHOUL, A PALESTINIAN CHRISTIAN, READS A PASSAGE FROM THE BIBLE IN ARABIC. (PHOTO: SOPHIA QURESHI/285 SOUTH)

Among the attendees were a number of Palestinians, seated together. Bryant welcomed them, and congregants raised their hands in prayer. 

“I have family still in Gaza…I come from a long line of Christians in Gaza,” said Lydia El-Sayegh, to the crowd of congregants from the stage.

Father George Makhoul read scripture from the Bible in Arabic. Later, Reverend Fahed Abu-Akel gave congregants historical context of the conflict. “American television tells us that everything started October 7,” Abu-Akel said as he spoke about his memories of him and his family being expelled from their home in Palestine in 1948, when he was four years old. “When I see the kids in Gaza, I see myself, leaving my home.”

He was inspired, he said, by Martin Luther King as a child, from 10,000 miles away. “We want American Christians to know that Palestinian Christians are in existence in Gaza and all over Palestine.”

“Embarrasingly there has been a silence from the church. The Christian church has really not echoed and amplified its voice to this genocide that is happening in broad daylight,” said Bryant. But on this Christmas at this sprawling megachurch in Dekalb County, Georgia there was anything but silence.

Congregants at New Birth raise their hands in prayer at the Christmas Eve service. (Photo: Sophia Qureshi/285 South)
A dance performance at the Christmas Eve service at New Birth. (Photo: Sophia Qureshi/285 South)

Sophia Qureshi
Sophia Qureshi is the founder and editor of 285 South, the first news publication dedicated solely to reporting on Metro Atlanta’s fast growing and diverse communities. Before launching 285 South, she worked for over 15 years in media and communications, including at Al Jazeera Media Network, The Center for Public Integrity, the United Nations Development Programme, CNN, and South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT).


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Meet Aida Touma-Sliman, Palestinian Knesset Member

Suspended for Criticizing War on Gaza

  DECEMBER 28, 2023

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GUESTS
  • Aida Touma-Sliman
    Palestinian member of the Knesset suspended last month for criticizing the Israeli military assault on Gaza.

As Israel threatens to continue its assault on Gaza for “many months,” we look at growing Israeli civil opposition to the war. This week, 18-year-old Israeli Tal Mitnick became the first conscientious objector since October 7. We speak with Aida Touma-Sliman, an Palestinian Arab member of the left-wing party Hadash who was suspended from the Knesset last month for criticizing Israel’s assault. She was punished for a social media post she made condemning Israel’s attack on al-Shifa Hospital, and decries the “extreme right-wing government” and its suppression of critical voices in Israel.

Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: As Israel is threatening to continue its assault on Gaza for “many months,” we begin today’s show looking at resistance to the war inside Israel. On Tuesday, an 18-year-old Israeli teenager named Tal Mitnick was sentenced to 30 days in prison after he refused to enlist in the Israeli army. He spoke out against Israel’s assault on Gaza before his sentencing on Tuesday.

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TAL MITNICK: [translated] I am standing today in Tel HaShomer base, and I am refusing to enlist. I believe that slaughter cannot solve slaughter. The criminal attack on Gaza won’t solve the atrocious slaughter that Hamas executed. Violence won’t solve violence. And that is why I refuse.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Last week, Tal Mitnick spoke to Novara Media about why he decided to become a conscientious objector.

TAL MITNICK: What led me was the realization that it’s not just a couple soldiers that are bad soldiers or that enact a violent occupation on Palestinians, but it’s actually a whole system, system of violence, of pulling people into the army and making them work for the occupation and for oppressing Palestinians. …

A lot of my friends are serving and right now are in military service. And when I tell them my opinions, because I am their friend, they see the humanity in my positions, and they see that my only — I only want further to be good in this place. I want security, and I want peace for everyone. And when people get to know me, when people hear this opinion, they — this opinion is very humanistic and very normal.

So this is what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to make more teens, make more young people hear this position that there is an alternative to the massacre that is happening right now in Gaza and to the massacre that Hamas committed on October 7th. There is an alternative in peace, of peace and nonviolence.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Tal Mitnick speaking to Ash Sarkar, the British journalist. He has now been sentenced to 30 days in prison for refusing to enlist. Israel is facing growing criticism for stifling antiwar voices.

We’re joined by Aida Touma-Sliman. She’s a Palestinian member of the Knesset from the progressive Democratic Front for Peace and Equality, known as the Hadash party. She was suspended from the Knesset last month for criticizing the Israeli military assault on Gaza. She is joining us now from Akko in northern Israel, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Aida Touma-Sliman. If you can start off by talking about the significance of Tal’s resistance, but then go on to talk about the situation in Gaza today and why you were suspended? I mean, you’re an elected leader of the Knesset. Who gets to suspend you?

AIDA TOUMASLIMAN: Well, hi. Thank you for hosting me.

Actually, those who suspended me are the same people who are putting Tal now in prison because he has refused to enlist himself to the army. Those are those who are ruling Israel, this government, very extreme right-wing government, who is refusing to hear any voice, antiwar voice, anybody who is opposing this bloody war. There are massive pressure used by the government in order to silence the voices who refuse to believe that military actions and wars and killing innocent people might get us anywhere or can be a way to solve the problem.

I think it has been already a month since I was suspended by the so-called ethics committee, parliamentarian ethics committee, who punished me for quoting testimonies from physicians from al-Shifa Hospital, which were published in the international media. And for that, I’ve been punished and not allowed to speak out in the Knesset or to participate in the committees for two months — one has passed already.

Of course, this is not democratic. But when you see that the same government, the same Knesset is supporting a war that is killing more than 21,000 people, 70% of them children and women in Gaza, you understand that it’s ridiculous to speak about democracy in such situation, because launching such a war was as if a reaction to Hamas’s attack on the 7th of October, which also we don’t — I don’t see it as in any way legitimized to kidnap civilians, including children, but it, of course, do not legitimize also this crazy war that has been going on in the last more than two months. It’s already 80 — more than 80 days.

So, you can understand that when Tal refused to enlist himself, he is a unique voice in the Israeli society, for a young man to stand up against all the mainstream — and not only mainstream, but kind of consensus. Today the situation in Israel is almost 90% of the society is in consensus of supporting the war. To stand up and to say that he will not take part in this war, he is not willing to be part of this military forces that are attacking, bombing in Gaza, it’s a very brave position to take. It is not easy. I’m sure he will not be embraced or tolerated inside the military prison. But we have to also remember that he is the first one to do it during this war. We hopefully think that there are — might be some young women and men who are finding other ways to avoid enlisting themselves, but at least they are not going publicly about it or turning it to a political issue. But he’s still a unique voice and not the majority voice, for my regret.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: So, MK Aida, if you could also talk about — you’ve mentioned the fact that, you know, 90% of Israeli society is supporting the war, but there is a minority that is opposed to it. And you’ve mentioned that this number, the number that is critical of the war, has increased in recent weeks. If you could explain where that resistance is most prominent and what you think has led to an increase in this opposition?

AIDA TOUMASLIMAN: Well, from day one, we understood that the forces that — democratic forces, the antiwar, anti-occupation forces that existed before the 7th of October will — with no regard to the shock that happened on the 7th of October, will still continue to believe in peace, will still continue to believe that occupation should be ended and the war should be ended. In the beginning, there were, as I mentioned to you also, a lot of anger and fear of people that avoided having clear activities against this war. Most of the activities were to put pressure to release the kidnapped Israelis in Hamas — at Hamas in Gaza.

But more and more people started to understand that, first of all, even this war, if they thought the war — the Israeli government had persuaded them in the beginning that this war is needed also to release the kidnapped Israelis. Today they understand, especially with the testimonies of the released hostages telling how dangerous it was to stay under the shelling and the bombardment of Israel. So, they understand that this war, first of all, is risking the security of the hostages who are still — 109 people are still in Gaza. And second, they started to understand that what really released part of the hostages was the negotiation and the contacts and the diplomatic path, and not the military path. So, more and more people are understanding that this war is not bringing them anywhere. Of course, 20% of the population in Israel, which is the Palestinian Arab minority in Israel, are against this war. But we need more from the Jewish side also to be against the war.

Lately, we managed to put together a big demonstration in Tel Aviv, which was the first demonstration against the war that was challenging the silencing policy that was led against especially the Palestinian citizens of Israel. You know, we were under a crackdown on — not only on the citizens, the Arab citizens, but also the leadership. If me silenced in the Knesset, there were also former MKs and the head of the High Follow-Up Committee who were arrested just because they were on their way to have a small protest against the war. Many students were dismissed from school, from university. And people were dismissed from their jobs, only because they published something that expressed sympathy to what’s happening to the people in Gaza, to our people in Gaza.

But today, for example, we challenged this silencing policy again, and we had a protest in Nazareth. Despite the warnings of the police and the fact that they wanted to avoid this protest, we insisted, and we had this protest. Tomorrow we will have a big meeting of different groups and organizations, anti-occupation, antiwar. And we are going to establish a big coalition against this war. We are not intending to bend for this silencing policy and terrorizing people who are against the war. We understand very clearly that crimes are committed and civilians are killed and that the amount of destruction is huge. And if the international community choose to be silent, that’s their problem. We are not going to be silent, and we want to stand up against this war.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: So, MK Aida, there are places where you still see in Israel criticism of the war, including Haaretz and +972 Magazine, journalists who have also appeared from there on our show. In addition, of course, to the concern about the hostages in Israel, now over 150 Israeli soldiers have been killed in Gaza. If you could talk about the impact of that, as people in Israel see the costs to Israeli lives as this war goes on? Is there a sense within Israel of what it is that is being fought for?

AIDA TOUMASLIMAN: Yeah. Well, as I mentioned before, gradually more and more people are understanding that the war is not going to bring any security or any peace for both sides, including and mainly the Israeli side. More and more people understand that they cannot continue forever with this war, because there are implications of that war not only in the meaning of losing lives. There are also injured soldiers. More than 5,000 soldiers have been injured. Some of them will stay handicapped for all of their lives. Families are seeing how their sons, the soldiers, are coming back from war traumatized and need psychological treatment. There are implications on the economy. We are going to face — there’s a raise — just yesterday, there was the poverty report that shows there is a raise in the percentages of people who are dropping down of the poverty line. And we are expecting a very difficult economic year to come because of this war. And people are starting to ask the hard questions: why we need to continue this war if we are going to pay such a high price and still not reach any security?

You have to understand also that people in the north of Israel, near my house, and in the south of Israel are not living in their homes because of this war. Still, we are not saying that this is the most difficult situation. Of course the war is horrific in what’s happening in Gaza. But to make the Israeli society stand up against the war only because of the suffering of the Palestinians, as much as it is moral, I’m afraid it’s not enough to make the people in Israel, especially after the 7th October — it’s not going to make them stand up against the war. But what is happening in the Israeli society, the fact that more than 150 soldiers have been killed, the fact that the families are receiving their sons, their soldiers injured and handicapped, it might be more — sorry — sufficient in convincing the people to go out against the war.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask specifically about the power of the voices of the hostages or their loved ones who are speaking out for them. This is Sharon Kalderon speaking last week, sister-in-law of Ofer Kalderon, who’s being held hostage in Gaza.

SHARON KALDERON: We just want them to sit, all the cabinet, will sit and will find a way to negotiate and to bring our people home. We want them home, but no one is doing nothing right now except fighting. And fighting is not the answer right now. We want our people here, back home with us. And if we fight, we cannot bring them alive. And we don’t want to get bags. We want to get them alive. So this is why we’re here, every day, until we hear from the government that they are sitting, talking.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, this is a powerful voice, the families of the hostages. You have, on Monday, them screaming, shouting in the Knesset as Netanyahu was addressing the Israeli parliament, ”Achshav! Achshav!” — “Now! Now!” — demanding that the hostages be released. Already it’s clear that a number of them, not just the three men who were killed by Israeli soldiers, the young hostages, but a number of others were killed in the Israeli bombing in Gaza. The significance of this voice, and if it’s being amplified by others? Did you expect the hostages to play this kind of role — the hostage families?

AIDA TOUMASLIMAN: Well, of course. I mean, no one can imagine the suffering of people who don’t know what is happening with their family members. If I was in their place, I will also be not quiet, and I will do whatever I can in order to change and to bring them back. So, yes, I think it is expected, although they are showing very high, really, effect — they are very effective in how they organize themselves and how they are very vocal and speaking out and demanding to bring their families.

This is also happening, I think, as a counter to the fact that this government, the Israeli government, is not giving this issue much attention, if you compare it to the other targets or goals that Netanyahu put for this war. And that’s why they’ve felt neglected. That’s why they’ve felt that they don’t have enough backup from the government, and they needed to organize themselves and to be so vocal about the issue.

AMY GOODMAN: Aida Touma-Sliman, we only have less than a minute, but you are a Palestinian journalist, as well as an MK, a member of the parliament. I wanted to get your response to — it’s believed over a hundred journalists and media workers have been killed in Gaza. The headlines today, TV journalist Mohammad Khair al-Din and Ahmed Khair al-Din, the journalist and cameraman, also died in a bombing in Gaza. Your response to the demand, for example, by Al Jazeera for the International Criminal Court to take on the issue of the targeting of journalists?

AIDA TOUMASLIMAN: Well, there are 105 journalists who has been killed since the beginning of this war. If you remember, it started also by other journalists before who were killed, including Shireen Abu Akleh, who was targeted and killed, from Al Jazeera. We have the feeling that the journalists are targeted in order to silence the voices who are coming out from Gaza and exposing the reality of what is happening.

AMY GOODMAN: Because Western journalists are not allowed in by Israel.

AIDA TOUMASLIMAN: Of course, I think that there should be an investigation. Of course, there should be an investigation, and it should be a clear out that there is no possibility to continue to be quiet about this targeting.

AMY GOODMAN: Aida Touma-Sliman, we want to thank you so much for being with us, a member —

AIDA TOUMASLIMAN: Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: — of the Israeli Knesset, a MK — that’s a member of the Knesset — Palestinian member, suspended last month for criticizing the Israeli military assault on Gaza, joining us from Akko in northern Israel.


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War on Gaza: Why is Israel losing the public relations war?

As Israel faces numerous military setbacks in Gaza, it is also struggling to inspire global support for its indiscriminate bombardment of Palestinians

Mohamad Elmasry, Middle East Eye, 27 December 2023

Supporters of Palestinians in Gaza protest outside the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony at the US Capitol in Washington, DC on 28 November 2023 (Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters)
Supporters of Palestinians in Gaza protest outside the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony at the US Capitol in Washington on 28 November 2023 (Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters)

In its current war on Gaza, Israel has been unable to make significant progress on its primary military objective: to eliminate Hamas.

After more than 80 days of fighting, Hamas remains largely intact, continuing to launch rockets into Israel and inflict heavy casualties on Israeli military personnel inside Gaza.

Israel has further failed to make good on its secondary military objective: to free all Israeli hostages taken by Hamas as part of its 7 October attack.

Judged purely against its own stated objectives, things aren’t going as well as planned for the Israeli army. While the outcome of Israel’s military campaign remains to be seen, there is little doubt that Israel is decisively losing the public relations war.

Israel’s PR losses are being acknowledged even by Israeli analysts writing in the Jerusalem Post and the Times of Israel, as well as by Israeli sympathisers at the Washington Post and White House, among others.

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And it isn’t just people in the Arab and Muslim worlds, or more broadly in the Global South, who are turning on Israel. Increasingly, citizens in western societies, especially younger people, are becoming more critical of Israel.

Live-streaming genocide

Public opinion polling from Western Europe is illuminating. Polls have found that only 35 percent of Germans support their government’s pro-Israel stance, people in Spain are more likely to support Palestine than Israel, and an overwhelming majority of the Irish oppose Israel’s military operation in Gaza.

In the West, mainstream media, which have historically supported Israel, no longer have a monopoly on information dissemination

Britons are effectively divided on Israel-Palestine, a reality that represents a departure from prior, overwhelming British public support for Israel.

Polling data from the United States tell a similar story. For example, a recent Harvard-Harris poll showed that Americans in the 18 to 24 age bracket are split evenly between supporting Hamas and supporting Israel.

More tellingly, perhaps, about 60 percent of American youth aged 18 to 24 feel Hamas’s 7 October attack on Israel was justified, with nearly half of those in the 25 to 34 age bracket and 40 percent of those aged 35 to 44 feeling the same way.

There is likely a correlation between media consumption and public opinion. In the West, mainstream media, which have historically overwhelmingly supported Israel, no longer have a monopoly on information.

Hundreds of millions of westerners, and especially western youth, are plugged into social media sites such as TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, and X (formerly Twitter). These social media users have seen, often in graphic detail, the carnage inflicted by Israel on innocent civilians in both Gaza and the West Bank.

This kind of social media imagery has become so widespread and is so damning of Israel that the Israeli government complained to TikTok and Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, asking for thousands of posts to be removed.

Israeli censorship efforts have apparently borne fruit, with systematic censorshipof pro-Palestinian content now becoming pervasive.

    Netanyahu wanted to ‘collapse’ Hamas. This war could collapse Israel

    Read More »

For at least two reasons, however, censorship efforts will be of little avail, at least in the short term.

First, the proverbial damage has already been done – graphic posts shared millions of times can be removed, but not unseen. Second, and more importantly, pro-Israel censorship is likely to trigger even more anti-Israel anger among precisely the demographics that Israel wants to win over.

Why is Israel losing the PR war?

There are at least three primary causes of Israel’s PR troubles. First, there are basic difficulties associated with doing PR for an occupying apartheid state actively carrying out genocide. Second, some Israelis have gone rogue and delivered messaging harmful to their country’s PR efforts. Third, official Israeli PR efforts have suffered from basic incompetence. I’ll discuss each of these causes in turn.

Cause 1: PR can’t work miracles

Organisations, including governments, have damage control plans in place but hope to never have to use them. One useful PR guideline advises the avoidance of negative behaviours that will necessitate damage control.

For more than 80 days, Israel has indiscriminately bombed densely populated civilian areas and killed more than 21,000 people, 70 percent of them children and women.

In many instances, Israel has directly targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, shelters, schools, homes and so-called “safe routes”.

More than 100 United Nations workers have been killed, the most of any conflict in UN history, in addition to nearly 70 journalists killed in what the Committee to Protect Journalists described as the “deadliest period for journalists” since the watchdog began gathering data in 1992.

What makes PR matters worse for Israel is that its military bombardment was preceded by numerous statements by top officials suggesting genocidal intent.

For example, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said he ordered a “full siege” of Gaza, blocking all food, water, and fuel from reaching the Strip; Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared his intent to turn Gaza into a “deserted island”; and President Isaac Herzog indicated Israel made no distinction between Palestinian civilians and Hamas fighters.

Gallant also said Israel would “eliminate everything”, while military spokesman Daniel Hagari said Israel’s military emphasis would be on “damage and not on accuracy”.

Israel has also prevented medicine from entering Gaza, and the very few medical facilities left operational have been forced to carry out surgical procedures, including amputations, without anaesthesia.

A recent World Food Programme report says Gazans are now suffering from “catastrophic hunger”.

Numerous international humanitarian law experts have said Israel’s destruction of Gaza, combined with official statements showing genocidal intent, suggests Israel is carrying out a genocide according to international law. Raz Segal, an Israeli associate professor of holocaust and genocide studies, has said Israel is carrying out a “textbook case of genocide”.

Even the best PR professionals would find it difficult to polish a genocide. As the old adage says: “You can put lipstick on a pig; it’s still a pig.”

Cause 2: Rogue communication

Immediately after the 7 October attack, a journalist for Israel’s i24 News channel reported that Hamas militants had beheaded Israeli babies. In her report, she sourced an Israeli commander.

The story was picked up widely by mainstream western news outlets and was even mentioned multiple times by US President Joe Biden, who said he had “seen” the images himself. Both the Israeli government and the White House were forced to walk back this claim, which was demonstrably false.

    ‘40 beheaded babies’: How media amplified an unconfirmed story

    Read More »

In November, a video purporting to show a Palestinian nurse denouncing Hamas went viral. Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs retweeted the video.

The Israeli government was later forced to delete the video, however, because it was found to be staged by an Israeli actress pretending to be a Palestinian.

Throughout the war on Gaza, Israeli soldiers have filmed and circulated videos of themselves committing grotesque human rights violations against Palestinians. These videos, as well as similar videos posted by Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank, have further damaged Israel’s image.

Human rights activists have posted the videos as evidence of Israeli atrocities. In recent days, the videos have also generated critical media coverage.

Cause 3: Incompetence

At least some of Israel’s PR woes can be blamed on sheer incompetence. Two weeks ago, the Israeli military staged an alleged mass arrest of Hamas fighters, who had been stripped down to their underwear, blindfolded, and video-recorded surrendering themselves to Israel.

Israel lost further PR points when investigations concluded that Hamas was not using al-Shifa as a command centre or for any other military purpose

The event was seemingly intended to show the Israeli public that the military was making progress in apprehending “terrorists”.

Investigations quickly revealed two important details, however. First, the men were ordinary Palestinians, not fighters. Second, the event was staged, with Israeli soldiers ordering the Palestinian captives to perform multiple takes of an apparent weapon surrender. Due to widespread outrage, Israel was ultimately forced to distance itself from the video.

In another incident, the Israeli military provided a video-guided tour of Gaza’s al-Shifa Hospital, which it had attacked and ransacked. Military spokesman Daniel Hagari starred in the video, intending to show evidence that Hamas had been using the hospital as a “command and control centre”.

At one point, Hagari pointed to an Arabic calendar, claiming it showed a terrorist shift schedule. Pointing to the calendar, Hagari said: “This is a guardians’ list, where every terrorist writes his name and every terrorist has his own shift.” As Arabic viewers quickly noted, the calendar was a simple wall calendar containing only the days of the week. The video went viral on social media, with thousands of posts and memes mocking the failed PR stunt.

Israel lost further PR points when investigations, including one by the Washington Post, concluded that Hamas was not using al-Shifa as a command centre or for any other military purpose.

Does failed PR matter?

Israel realises it is losing ground in the battle for public opinion, especially among young people. This is likely why the Israeli government is flooding social media with paid advertisements and is going heavy on TikTok, Instagram and other social media sites.

    No, Piers Morgan is not impartial on Israel-Palestine
    Mohamad Elmasry

    Read More »

If Israel were a corporation, celebrity, or a country not allied with the US, there would be serious consequences for such miserable image management.

Over the long term, there is a real risk that Israel will lose whatever standing it has left, something that could impact on-the-ground political realities.

In the short term, though, Israel can be reassured that it is convincing the only people that matter – US officials. As long as the US continues to use its weight to shield Israel and promote its narrative, Israel can afford to fumble its image.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Mohamad Elmasry is Professor of Media Studies at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies.

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.

Israel is not targeting “terrorists” hiding behind “human shields.”

On the contrary, it’s targeting the “human shields” themselves.

 

Media performer Sam Harris recently appeared on Piers Morgan’s program. Effecting a flat affect—cool, rational—he used this platform to weigh in on irrational, fanatical Muslims. A clip was first shown of a Muslim (he is identified as the offspring of a Hamas leader) who expostulates that all Muslims are evil. This apparently deranged (or highly remunerated) fellow is a throwback to the days when Peter Lorre, eyes screwed up, was a stand-in for the wily, sinister Other. Mr. Harris seizes on this Archetypal Muslim as proof positive that “It should be obvious to everyone that we have a vast number of people in the Muslim community worldwide … who are powerfully deranged.” His evidence for this sweepingly “obvious” fact? Except for the hapless (or, if he’s generously compensated, very happy) Muslim exhibited on the program, and the fact that Mr. Harris is introduced as “one of the world’s great thinkers” (he’s Jewish, so the praise is redundant), the only proof adduced by Mr. Harris is that the Muslim world produces a prodigious number of suicide bombers—not least, children whose parents have been “rigging them to explode.” He cites no numbers or statistics. Indeed, he cites nothing. There is, of course, by now a vast scholarly corpus on suicide bombers—their origins, motivations, the support they garner. But Mr. Harris doesn’t engage it. Instead: here’s a clip of an apparently deranged Muslim saying Muslims are deranged; Mr. Harris is a genius (he’s Jewish, isn’t he?); ergo it’s “obvious” that he’s right.

To be sure, it’s clearly possible that a large swath of a population can be unhinged; at any rate, temporarily. Witness Germany and Japan from the peak to denouement of World War 2. Or, to consider an example closer at hand: Israel. The Jewish state has launched a war of annihilation against the people of Gaza. The number of genocidal statements uttered by prominent Israelis at every level of the state and civil society since October 7 can by now fill a hefty chunk of cyberspace. But Mr. Harris is not in the least perturbed. Why is that?

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First, as a pop secular prophet, indiscriminate mass killing only outrages Mr. Harris’s moral sensibility if it springs from religion. But the protagonists on all sides in the unprecedented bloodlettings of WW1 and WW2—and for that matter the Vietnam War, presided over by “the best and the brightest”—were secular or in thrall to secular ideologies. Was that really better? Indeed, it’s gone over Mr. Harris’s bigoted skull that the most lethal ideologies in the modern epoch have sprung not from religious but secular fanaticism. Hitler, Stalin, Kissinger: they can rightly be accused of many things but pathological religiosity is not one of them. In any event, the animating ideology in Israel is a heady brew of terrestrial calculation and super-terrestrial frenzy. Just a “tiny minority of Jews in Israel,” Harris caveats, “are motivated by their religious fanaticism.” Even were that so (which is most doubtful), it’s hard to figure why maniacal laicism isn’t also odious. Prime Minister Netanyahu has repeatedly gestured to the Old Testament as he avows that Israel is waging a war against “Amalek”—i.e., every man, woman, and child in Gaza—“a war between the children of light and the children of darkness.” Does it really matter whether the register of this genocidal invocation is secular or theocratic?

Short of wiping out the entire population in one fell swoop—not easy with the social media at high alert—Israel’s repeatedly stated next-best objective has been to make Gaza uninhabitable. “Whoever returns here, if they return here after, will find scorched earth,” a senior Israeli official in Gaza projected. “No houses, no agriculture, no nothing. They have no future.” Israel implemented a total blockade of Gaza barring entry of any food, water, fuel or electricity; in other words, it’s relying not on prayers exhorting the Almighty’s wrath but on a resolutely secular recipe for genocide that passes Mr. Harris’s taste-test. Unsurprisingly, mass starvation and the spread of lethal diseases have ensued. Israel simultaneously unleashed a biblically indiscriminate (but also targeted) campaign of death and destruction that, by every metric—intensity of bombing and payload size; pace and level of devastation; total civilian casualties as well as women and children versus men killed—puts the hecatomb Israel has inflicted on Gaza in a category all its own in the 21st century; and, by some measures, it occupies a unique category going as far back as World War 2 (if compared, e.g., to the Allied terror bombing of German cities). “Gaza is one of the most intense civilian punishment campaigns in history,” a U.S. military historian observes.

The U.N. relief chief describes the humanitarian situation in Gaza as the “worst ever” in his long career, while the European Union foreign affairs chief calls the situation “catastrophic, apocalyptic.” Israel has killed at least 20,000 Gazans, seventy percent of them women and children. The proportion of men, women and children killed roughly approximates the distribution of men, women, and children in Gaza’s total population—which shouldn’t surprise if the massive bombing and artillery fire is largely indiscriminate. On average, Israel has killed 160 children per day in Gaza; the next highest number among conflict zones in the world is seven (in Syria), while as many children have already been killed in Gaza as in all conflict zones for the three years 2020, 2021, 2022 combined. In order to make Gaza uninhabitable, Israel has reduced to rubble Gaza’s civilian infrastructure. The Financial Times reports that Israel has already achieved half its objective: “Israel’s incursion has left northern Gaza virtually uninhabitable.” Its methodical targeting of Gaza’s hospitals has breached, in the annals of modern warfare, a negative threshold of barbarism.

Notwithstanding this ghastly record, nearly 60 percent of Israeli Jews believed a month into the assault that Israel had deployed too little force in Gaza, while less than two percent believed that Israel used too much force. Israel has a citizen army. Its combatants executing singly and en masse this genocide are broadly representative of Israeli Jewish society. In other words, overwhelmingly, Israeli Jews are either by their actions or vicariously war criminals. But there’s more. Consider the Jewish diaspora. As the genocide proceeds apace, fully 81 percent of American Jews oppose and just 12 percent support a ceasefire. (I would be remiss if I didn’t pay tribute to the deeply inspiring Jewish youth who have stood in the forefront of the resistance to Israel’s genocide.) Based on these salient data points, it would appear “obvious that a vast number of people in the Jewish community worldwide … are powerfully deranged.” Mr. Harris kvells that “There are 15 million Jews on Earth, most of them are impressively secular.” It happens that they are also in the grip of an impressively genocidal rage. “Most of them,” he reassures, “believe very little that would motivate them to die for their religious identity.” But they manifestly do believe enough to kill with abandon the people of Gaza on account of their religious (or is it secular—for the love of Yahweh, what difference does it make?!) identity.

It has been purported in extenuation of ordinary Germans that the Nazis installed a totalitarian state that repressed all dissent and concealed the genocide in the fog of war. Of course, ordinary Germans who wanted to know did know that if not exactly a genocide then still something monstrous was unfolding on the Eastern front. But later on, Germans could still cling to the alibi—in varying degrees disingenuous—that they didn’t know (or fell victim to ubiquitous Nazi propaganda about a “Judeo-Bolshevik conspiracy”), and wouldn’t have approved if they did know (or couldn’t but obey coercive orders). Israeli (as well as diasporan) Jews don’t have these excuses. Israel was no doubt traumatized by October 7. But the facts remain that they democratically elected the government and overwhelmingly support the government’s prosecution of a genocide; that they have ready access to information about the genocide in a free and open media both inside and via the Web outside Israel. The genocide in Gaza is unfolding in real time in broad daylight before the eyes of Israeli (and diasporan) Jews and 60 percent literally can’t get enough of it.

But, lo!, we mustn’t miss the forest from the trees. Not the Jews, counsels our cool, rational Jewish genius (redundancy duly noted) but, on the contrary, it’s the Muslims who “it is obvious … are powerfully deranged.”

*

Second, if there are “so many casualties” in Gaza, Mr. Harris explains—parroting with consummate insipidness every other apologist—that’s because Israel

is fighting a terrorist organization … that is using its own population as human shields. It has strategically embedded itself among civilians…. It put its headquarters under a hospital. It prevents civilians from leaving to safer areas…. This is the issue: we are dealing with a suicidal death cult.

But stepping outside this secular jihadi’s tent, isn’t it—dare I say—obvious that, if Israel has inflicted unprecedented death and destruction on Gaza, that’s because that’s its objective? It is not “fighting a terrorist organization,” it is fighting the people—the existence—of Gaza. The media reflexively declare that this is an “Israel-Hamas War.” But that is already swallowing the Big Lie of Israeli propaganda. Israel is not targeting “terrorists” supposedly hiding behind “human shields.” On the contrary, it’s targeting the “human shields” themselves.

Of course, Israel wants to liquidate Hamas, but it rightly apprehends that another, more deadly Hamas will emerge in its place. If Hamas were eliminated, it would still be a Pyrrhic victory. Gaza itself must be destroyed. Indeed, that speck of land has always been a thorn at Israel’s side as Gazans stubbornly resisted Israeli repression. Israel eventually alit on the objective of subjugating Gaza by reducing it—in the words of Amira Hass—to a “giant concentration camp.” In large part it succeeded. Head of Israel’s National Security Council Giora Eiland in 2004 himself pronounced Gaza a “huge concentration camp.” But when Hamas won democratic elections in 2006 and consolidated its hold over Gaza, Israel confronted a new dilemma. Hamas was feeling its way towards a comprehensive settlement with Israel on the consensus basis of international law and U.N. resolutions. In other words, Hamas was engaging in another of those dastardly “peace offensives” that have always filled Israeli leaders with holy terror. They will only accept a victor’s peace; not one among equals under the law. So Israel imposed a suffocating economic blockade on Gaza and periodically “mowed the lawn” in order to rupture the spine of any resistance to its rule.

But on October 7, the reality lit up that Israel’s strategy had failed. The people of Gaza refused to languish and die in a concentration camp. The slaves had gone into revolt. And like our own homegrown Nat Turner revolt, they (in part) struck out indiscriminately at their oppressors. It created a crisis for Israeli society but also—to recycle the old cliché—presented an opportunity. To once and for all rid Israel of the Gaza thorn. To free itself not just of this generation of “terrorists” but as well the more than one million children in Gaza representing the next “terrorist” generation. Israel initially set its sights on dumping Gaza’s inhabitants in the Sinai desert but Egypt nixed the ethnic cleansing. Israel next proceeded to repurpose Gaza concentration camp as a death camp. (The Nazis turned to genocide when the advent of world war preempted the deportation of Jews.) It did scrape against the limits imposed by the formally genocide-intolerant international community. But that factor, critical as it was, bore on the genocide’s efficiency quotient (Israel couldn’t outright nuke Gaza), not on the genocidal intent. And Israel could always count on useful idiots abroad to disguise and defend its genocide by endlessly reciting the incantation: “Israel is fighting a terrorist organization … that is using its own population as human shields.”

If Human Rights Watch reports that Israel is systematically targeting hospitals without military justification, that’s because Israel is “fighting a terrorist organization … using its own population as human shields.” (Memo to Mr. Harris: a detailed investigation by the Washington Post has debunked the agitprop that Hamas “put its headquarters” under al-Shifa hospital.) If the U.N. reports that the number of its staff killed by Israel in Gaza is unprecedented in the organization’s history, that’s because Israel is “fighting a terrorist organization … using its own population as human shields.” If the Committee to Protect Journalists reports that Israel not only killed more journalists in Gaza during the first 10 weeks than have ever been killed in a single country over an entire year, but that it has also targeted the families of journalists, that’s because Israel is “fighting a terrorist organization … using its own population as human shields.” If Israel has killed more healthcare workers in Gaza than the total number killed across all conflict zones every year in recent memory, that’s because it is “fighting a terrorist organization … using its own population as human shields.” If Israel murders in broad daylight bare-chested civilians hoisting a white flag, that’s because it is “fighting a terrorist organization … using its own population as human shields.” If Israeli snipers assassinate Christian women seeking refuge in a church, that’s because Israel is “fighting a terrorist organization … using its own population as human shields.” If CNN reports that “Israeli soldiers raiding a hospital … desecrated the bodies of dead patients with bulldozers, let a military dog maul a man in a wheelchair, and shot multiple doctors even after vetting them for terror links,” that’s because Israel is “fighting a terrorist organization … using its own population as human shields.” If Human Rights Watch reports that Israel is “using starvation of civilians as a method of warfare,” that’s because it is fighting “a terrorist organization … using its own population as human shields.” If the New York Times reports that Israel dropped 2,000-pound bombs on areas that Israel itself designated safe havens, that’s because it is “fighting a terrorist organization … using its own population as human shields.” (Memo to Mr. Harris: There are no “safer areas” in Gaza.) And on and on. However incongruous, however absurd, however ludicrous, however preposterous—however utterly divorced from and irrelevant to unfolding reality the recitation of this mantra has become, it still doesn’t faze these crazed cult members as they keep repeating it day in and day out. Om. Hari Krishna. Hara Kiri….

But Mr. Harris doesn’t just extenuate the genocide. He implicitly endows it with a positive content. Every Muslim—including every Muslim child—he enlightens listeners, is an actual or potential suicide bomber imperiling Western civilization. Isn’t it only a flea’s hop to infer that Israel is doing the (secular) Lord’s work in Gaza as it wages a civilizational war against “deranged” Muslim culture and even if one million children—pardon me: children who have been “rigged to explode”—might die? Mr. Harris somehow construes that it takes enormous moral courage to expose this Muslim peril on Piers Morgan’s program. Indeed, it takes as much courage as the German professor in the midst of the Nazi holocaust who sounded the alarm that “parasitic” Jewish culture was imperiling Aryan civilization.

Mr Harris proclaims that “This is the issue: we are dealing with a suicidal death cult.” I’m afraid, however, that the real issue is this: We are dealing with a Ziontology murder cult; and Mr. Harris is one of its gurus.


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December 25, 2023
Virtual Event on Christmas Day

I am writing to invite you to a special virtual event on Christmas Day at 12 noon ET, 7 pm Palestine to reflect on what Jesus do for Palestine. 

RSVP NOW

We are in the Christmas season when bells are ringing and Christians around the world celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. 

But not in Palestine, the birthplace of Jesus. 

The Israeli onslaught against Gaza has killed upwards of 20,000 including 8,000 children. At least 300, including 72 children, have been killed by Israeli troops in the West Bank since October 7. 

Palestinian Christians are united in their condemnation of Israeli atrocities. In Bethlehem, the town of Jesus’ birth, a scene representing “Christ in the Rubble” lies inside the Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Pastor Munther Isaac explains, “It is impossible to celebrate when there is a massacre, a genocide, taking place in Gaza to our people. The idea was to send a message to the world that this is what Christmas looks in Palestine… Children being pulled from under the rubble, their homes destroyed while the world is celebrating.”

Join us on Christmas Day at 12 noon ET/7 pm Palestine to keep Palestine in our hearts during the Christmas season, hear from Palestinian Christians and US clergy about what they believe Jesus would do for Palestine, and learn how to keep taking action for a ceasefire during the holidays.

With sorrow and determination,

Sandra Tamari
Executive Director, Adalah Justice Project

December 23, 2023
Update: Christmas is Cancelled – Sing for Palestine!

Madison and Milwaukee

Madison Sings Out for Palestine, December 23, 2023 / Photo: Wisconsin Bail Out The People Movement

2023-12-23 Madison Sing for Palestine!







Madison: Plaza Corner at Monroe Street and West Lawn Avenue, 12:30 P.M.
Free hot cocoa, coloring sheets for children, and caroling for Gaza.
CAROLS THAT WILL BE SUNG

Milwaukee: Bayshore Mall by Trader Joe’s Entrance, 1 P.M. (N Port Washington Rd. and E Silver Spring Drive)

Free hot coca, Coloring sheets for children and Caroling.

Art Builds for these Events will be on 12/22/23 from 6-8 P.M. (Milwaukee at Zao MKE Church) (Madison at Piney Branch Library)
Wisconsin Coalition for Justice in Palestine
wiscoforpali@gmail.com

Wisconsin All Out for Palestine December 9, 2023 in Madison. / Photo: Wisconsin Bail Out The People Movement

Project Immigration Justice for Palestinians (Project IJP)

In response to the devastating and horrific humanitarian crisis and genocide in Gaza, the Arab Resource & Organizing Center (AROC) — in collaboration with organizations and attorneys across the country — has launched Project Immigration Justice for Palestinians (Project IJP). Project IJP seeks to provide humanitarian immigration support and assistance to Palestinians here and abroad. 

A few weeks ago, Project IJP hosted a virtual community forum where over 160 community members attended to learn more about the humanitarian immigration options available to community members. 

Project IJP has already matched over 50 Palestinian families with volunteer immigration attorneys and continues to receive case inquiries from community members on a daily basis.  While Project IJP endeavors to match all of our Palestinian community members to an attorney to receive free immigration services, we need your support. 

To achieve some of our humanitarian immigration objectives, our Palestinian community members may be required to pay fees to USCIS and other agencies.  We ask that you please help us support the humanitarian immigration needs of our Palestinian community members by donating to ease the burden of fee payments and other legal expenses incurred.  Please visit bit.ly/projectijp to learn more and donate to support our Palestinian community.