War Industry Resisters Network presents:
How does Israel get away with it? with Jeff Halper
3-4 pm CT
War Industry Resisters Network presents:
How does Israel get away with it? with Jeff Halper
3-4 pm CT
– As one of America’s closest allies, Israel has remained heavily dependent on the US —politically, economically, and militarily—since its creation in 1948.
US arms supplies, mostly provided gratis, are channeled via US Foreign Military Financing (FMF), Military Assistance Program (MAP) and Excess Defense Articles (EDA).
According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the US has provided more foreign assistance to Israel since World War II than to any other country.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) documented that the United States supplied 79 percent of all weapons transferred to Israel from 2018-2022.
No one else was even close – the next closest suppliers were Germany with 20 percent and Italy with just 0.2 percent.
A Fact Sheet released October 2023, by the US State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, provides a detailed official breakdown on the unrestrained American security assistance to Israel.
Steadfast support for Israel’s security has been a cornerstone of American foreign policy for every U.S. Administration since the presidency of Harry S. Truman.
Since Israel’s founding in 1948, the State Department said, the United States has provided Israel with over $130 billion in bilateral assistance focused on addressing new and complex security threats, bridging Israel’s capability gaps through security assistance and cooperation, increasing interoperability through joint exercises, and helping Israel maintain its Qualitative Military Edge (QME).
This assistance, says the State Department, has helped transform the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) into “one of the world’s most capable, effective militaries and turned the Israeli military industry and technology sector into one of the largest exporters of military capabilities worldwide.”
In the current war, Israel’s overwhelming fire power has resulted in the killings of thousands of Palestinian civilians in Gaza and the destruction of entire cities—mostly with US supplied weapons.
Dr. Natalie J. Goldring, a Visiting Professor of the Practice in the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, told IPS the October 7 Hamas attacks were horrendous acts and should be condemned as such.
“Even so, the Israeli responses to those attacks have been indiscriminate – intentionally so,” she said.
Two days after the Hamas attacks, Israeli defense minister Yoav Gallant declared that Israel would carry out a “complete siege” of Gaza, including blocking the supply of water, food, and fuel, while also stopping the supply of electricity. And Israeli forces have done so, she pointed out.
“The US government bears a special responsibility for the continuing Israeli attacks. It has supplied Israel with massive quantities of military aid and weaponry, and Israel has ignored US restrictions on the use of those weapons”.
This supply of weapons and ammunition allows the Israeli military to continue its indiscriminate attacks in Gaza,” said Dr Goldring, who also represents the Acronym Institute at the United Nations, on conventional weapons and arms trade issues.
“A key first step in reducing the human cost of this war is for the US government to call for an immediate ceasefire. The US government should also halt supplies of weapons and ammunition to Israel, whether from the US itself or from prepositioned stocks elsewhere.”
Since 1983, the United States and Israel have met regularly via the Joint Political-Military Group (JPMG) to promote shared policies, address common threats and concerns, and identify new areas for security cooperation.
According to the State Department, Israel is the leading global recipient of Title 22 U.S. security assistance under the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program. This has been formalized by a 10-year (2019-2028) Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
Consistent with the MOU, the United States annually provides $3.3 billion in FMF and $500 million for cooperative programs for missile defense. Since FY 2009, the United States has provided Israel with $3.4 billion in funding for missile defense, including $1.3 billion for Iron Dome support starting in FY 2011.
Through FMF, the United States provides Israel with access to some of the most advanced military equipment in the world, including the F-35 Stealth fighter aircraft.
Israel is eligible for Cash Flow Financing and is authorized to use its annual FMF allocation to procure defense articles, services, and training through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) system, Direct Commercial Contract agreements – which are FMF-funded Direct Commercial Sales procurements – and through Off Shore Procurement (OSP).
Via OSP the current MOU allows Israel to spend a portion of its FMF on Israeli-origin rather than U.S.-origin defense articles. This was 25 percent in FY 2019 but is set to phase-out and decrease to zero in FY 2028.
Elaborating further Dr Goldring said: “Unfortunately, the situation in Gaza bears similarities to the documented uses of US weapons by the Saudi-led coalition in attacks on civilians in Yemen”
She said: “Our response should be the same in both cases. These countries have failed to honor the conditions of US weapons transfers, and should be ineligible for further transfers until they are in compliance.”
“US arms transfer decision-making gives too much weight to the judgment of government officials and politicians who frequently fail to consider the full human costs of these transfers,” she argued.
“Earlier this year, the Biden Administration released a new Conventional Arms Transfer policy. They claimed that arms transfers would not be approved when their analysis concluded that “it is more likely than not” that the arms transferred would be used to commit or facilitate the commission of serious violations of international humanitarian or human rights law.”
The actions of the Israeli and Saudi militaries are examples of ways in which this standard is not being met, declared Dr Goldring.
As of October 2023, the United States has 599 active Foreign Military Sales (FMS) cases, valued at $23.8 billion, with Israel. FMS cases notified to Congress are listed here; priority initiatives include: F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Aircraft; CH-53K Heavy Lift Helicopters; KC-46A Aerial Refueling Tankers; and precision-guided munitions.
From FY 2018 through FY 2022, the U.S. has also authorized the permanent export of over $5.7billion in defense articles to Israel via the Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) process.
The top categories of DCS to Israel were XIX-Toxicological Agents, including Chemical Agents, Biological Agents, and Associated Equipment (this includes detection equipment ((f)), vaccines ((g)-(h)) and modeling software ((i)); IV- Launch Vehicles, Guided Missiles, Ballistic Missiles, Rockets, Torpedoes, Bombs, and Mines; and VII- Aircraft.
Since 1992, the United States has provided Israel with $6.6 billion worth of equipment under the Excess Defense Articles program, including weapons, spare parts, weapons, and simulators.
U.S. European Command also maintains in Israel the U.S. War Reserve Stockpile, which can be used to boost Israeli defenses in the case of a significant military emergency.
In addition to security assistance and arms sales, the United States participates in a variety of exchanges with Israel, including military exercises like Juniper Oak and Juniper Falcon, as well as joint research, and weapons development.
The United States and Israel have signed multiple bilateral defense cooperation agreements, to include: a Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement (1952); a General Security of Information Agreement (1982); a Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (1991); and a Status of Forces Agreement (1994), according to the State Department.
Since 2011, the United States has also invested more than $8 million in Conventional Weapons Destruction programs in the West Bank to improve regional and human security through the survey and clearance of undisputed minefields.
Following years of negotiations with the Palestinians and Israelis, humanitarian mine action activities began in April 2014 – this represents the first humanitarian clearance of landmine contamination in nearly five decades.
Israel has also been designated as a U.S. Major Non-NATO Ally under U.S. law. This status provides foreign partners with certain benefits in the areas of defense trade and security cooperation and is a powerful symbol of their close relationship with the United States.
Thalif Deen was a former Senior Defense Analyst at Forecast International, Military Editor Middle East/Africa at Jane’s Information Group and Director, Foreign Military Markets at Defense Marketing Services.
IPS UN Bureau Report
In the incessant calls to keep bombing Gaza, it was a celebration not just of war but of war crimes.
WASHINGTON, D.C.—“Final estimated headcount at the pro-Israel rally in DC: 290,000 people. Makes this the largest Jewish gathering in history since Mount Sinai.” So chortled Trump’s former ambassador to Israel David Friedman about the March for Israel gathering held Tuesday on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Although Friedman’s numbers appear to be inflated, I saw a massive turnout. It was a political event like nothing I’ve seen in two decades of covering rallies in this town. In the incessant calls to keep bombing Gaza, it was a celebration not just of war but of war crimes. Friedman’s joy over such a showing is not surprising. What turned the stomach was watching the leadership of the Democratic Party—Chuck Schumer, Hakeem Jeffries—join in the revelry just hours before Israel Defense Forces captured Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital, and it came amid another round of killing civilians and targeting journalists trying to show these horrors to the world.
When it comes to supporting the Israeli government, it’s not a shock to see Democratic Party leaders in lockstep with Trumpists like Friedman and Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, whose hand they held on stage in honor of Israel. It’s not just that the Democratic leaders said nothing about the evangelical Christian speakers with histories so anti-Semitic that they would give Donald Trump pause. (Make no mistake: People in the anti-Jewish Christian Zionist community made up a significant portion of the crowd.) Or that they failed to remark on the racist handmade signs attendees created for the occasion. It’s that their presence was a slap in the face to the 80 percent of Democratic voters who want a cease-fire. It’s that they are openly hostile to the generation of youth whose support they need to stay in office—a generation that inconveniently believes that Palestinian lives matter. It’s that they are contemptuous of Jews like me who say to Israel that their genocidal attacks must not be pursued in our name. It’s that they are in the process of handing the next election to a fascist anti-Semite who, in the words of The Washington Post, is echoing Hitler by calling their opponents “vermin.”
Schumer and Jeffries would rather stand with a pro-war mob that shouted down an over-his-head Van Jones calling for peace. Speaker after speaker slammed the idea of a cease-fire and slandered the cease-fire protests as “pro Hamas.” C-list celebrities like Debra Messing and Michael Rapaport backed a message whose only logic is bigotry and bombings. But the coup de grâce was when they cheered a video speech by Israeli President Isaac Herzog who has said that civilians in Gaza are legitimate targets, that “it is an entire nation out there that is responsible.” This was not just a rally supporting a war. This was a rally supporting a war crime.
The defenders of yesterday’s shanda will say that it was a mass gathering “against anti-Semitism.” But what kind of rally against “anti-Semitism” features John Hagee, the Christian Zionist evangelical leader who has said Hitler was brought by God on a divine mission to “create” the state of Israel? You bring Hagee out of his crypt only to send a message that this is not about making sure that Jews are safe. It’s about showing solidarity with Israel, no matter the allies.
What kind of rally against anti-Semitism includes racist signs calling for more war, more bombings, and the end of not just Hamas but Palestine itself? Or as one sign held by a masked protester read, “From the river to the sea, Israel is all you will see.”
This is not to say that every single person in attendance was there to celebrate war. The reports of increasing anti-Semitism have many people understandably concerned. But the messaging was far less about anti-Semitism than about “finishing the job” in Gaza.
The march was also not a call to “free the hostages.” Instead, it elevated bigots, trolls, and an Israeli president who has made an open call for genocide. At one point, on Herzog’s urging, the crowd stopped chanting against a cease-fire and instead shouted “never again.” This was a vandalizing of those sacred words. “Never again”—as I was raised—is supposed to mean that never again would Jews remain quiet when anyone on this planet faced genocide. But for Herzog, it means that for the horrid crime of October 7, Israel must declare a total war against the people of Gaza. For Herzog, there are no innocents in Gaza. To chant “never again” in the comfort of sunny D.C. while a trapped ghetto is bombed half a world away in our name shames this rally. Friedman may be thrilled, but Democrats sacrificing their party’s presidential hopes on the altar of a war crime deserve nothing but contempt. If young people don’t turn out to vote, remember this rally, and remember how Schumer and Jeffries locked arms with Johnson, looked at 80 percent of their voters, and spit in their faces.
The U.S. is supplying the weapons and munitions for Israel’s pounding of Gaza, despite its new directive banning arms transfers to human rights violators.
Eight months before the Biden administration approved a massive arms deal for Israel amid its war in Gaza, President Joe Biden signed a directive prohibiting such deals for countries likely to use the weapons to attack civilian targets or direct violence against children.
Last week, multiple news organizations reported that the Biden administration approveda $320 million deal for precision-guided bomb equipment for Israel as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government continues to bombard civilian targets in Gaza. The Israeli military’s siege has reportedly killed more than 10,000 Palestinians, including more than 4,000 children.
The Biden administration’s arms transfer decision — and its concurrent push for billions of dollars of additional arms sales to Israel — came less than a year after Biden issued a formal order to federal agencies forbidding weapons transfers to countries where it is “more likely than not” that the weapons will be used to engage in “attacks intentionally directed against civilian objects or civilians” or used to commit “serious acts of violence against children.”
The Secretary of State is the first department head listed on the Biden directive restricting arms transfers — and yet, the State Department approved the multimillion-dollar weapons deal, which was first reported by The New York Times.
“Given the death and destruction documented in Gaza, and the well-documented abuses in the West Bank, it is increasingly hard to see how the Biden administration can continue providing arms without violating its own conventional arms transfer policy,” Seth Binder, director of advocacy for the Project on Middle East Democracy, told The Lever.
We’re building a reader-supported investigative news outlet that holds accountable the people and corporations manipulating the levers of power. Join our fight by becoming a free subscriber today.
The tension between Biden’s February directive and his administration’s new arms transfers comes as the White House now asks lawmakers for legislation authorizing the administration to sell Israel up to $3.5 billion worth of military arms and services without Congress’ approval.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment for this story. But last month, the Biden administration insisted that any arms transfers to Israel would not violate the president’s directive.
“All of our arms transfers, including arms transfers to Israel, are rooted in the basic proposition that they will be used consistent with law of armed conflict,” said Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan on October 20. “There is no exception here and no difference here from any of our other arms transfers. And the president’s expectations in this regard are entirely clear, and he has stated them repeatedly, including stating them directly in his public remarks as well as privately to counterparts in the Israeli government.”
The war between Israel and Hamas represents the first major test of the new policy directive, dubbed the “Conventional Arms Transfer Policy.”
In February, the White House said it would not authorize weapons transfers to countries where it is “more likely than not” that the weapons will be used to commit or “aggravate the risks” that the recipient will commit “genocide; crimes against humanity… including attacks intentionally directed against civilian objects or civilians protected as such; or other serious violations of international humanitarian or human rights law, including… serious acts of violence against children.”
The Biden directive was lauded by foreign policy leaders in Washington as a humanitarian initiative. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said it “represents a meaningful step forward in ensuring the United States does not contribute to human rights abuses through its arms exports.”
Biden’s own State Department touted the new directive as proof that the administration “will exercise restraint and pursue a truly holistic approach to conventional arms transfers,” and better ensure that such transfers are “in the national interest, including the value we place on human rights, international humanitarian law, and security sector governance.”
Less than a year later, Biden’s administration is delivering weapons to an Israeli government that has reportedly killed nearly 11,000 Gazans, including thousands of civilians under the age of 18.
Josh Paul, a former State Department official who resigned over the administration’s “provision of lethal arms to Israel,” recently said that the Biden administration is “certainly not acting within the conventional arms transfer policy.”
While Biden publicly questioned the number of Palestinian deaths late last month, a senior Biden official told a House panel on Thursday that the Palestinian death toll is likely “higher than is being cited.”
Israel has defended its military offensive in Gaza by asserting that it has a right to self-defense after Hamas terrorists murdered 1,400 Israelis and took more than 200 Israelis hostage. But critics have argued that it has gone beyond justifiable self-defense and committed war crimes.
Oxfam, the global anti-poverty organization, has called for the U.S. to stop selling Israel 155mm artillery shells, which are unguided and burst into thousands of fragments upon impact.
“Israel, like all countries, has legitimate defense needs. However, these particular shells do not serve them,” Oxfam said in a press release. “Instead, 155mm shells are a weapon of choice in Israel’s ground operation in Gaza, which will cause untold harm to civilians as it intensifies further. Israel’s use of this munition in past conflicts demonstrates that its use would be virtually assured to be indiscriminate, unlawful, and devastating to civilians in Gaza.”
The White House announced Thursday that Israel has agreed to four-hour daily pauses to allow civilians to flee the warzone, but a total ceasefire remains unlikely.
When Biden was asked Thursday about the possibility of Israel agreeing to a ceasefire, he responded: “None. No possibility.”
Israel’s military and government have a long and well-documented history of making false and misleading statements to cover up and deflect responsibility for war crimes they commit against Palestinians. The following document provides some of the most egregious examples in recent years.
Lying about use of white phosphorus in violation of international law – October 2023
Unsubstantiated claims about beheading of children – October 2023
Unsubstantiated claims of rape – October 2023
Lying about deadly airstrike on civilian convoy seeking safety in Gaza – October 2023
Lying about the murder of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh – May 2022
Lying about bombing of media offices in Gaza – May 2021
Lying about the killing of Ahmad Erekat at West Bank military checkpoint – June 2020
Doctoring video to falsely claim medic murdered by Israeli sniper was human shield – June 2018
Lying about the murder of two Palestinian teenagers during West Bank protest – May 2014
But while other writers, artists, scholars and academics have criticized media coverage of the conflict, the latest letter — which includes signatories from Reuters, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe and The Washington Post — is notable for exposing divisions and frustrations within newsrooms.
For some of the journalists, signing the letter was a daring or even risky move. Reporters have been fired from some newsrooms for espousing public political stances that could open them to accusations of bias.
But those who organized the newest letter argue that it is a call to recommit to fairness, not abandon it.
“My hope for this letter is to push back on the culture of fear around this issue,” said Abdallah Fayyad, a 2022 Pulitzer Prize finalist and former editorial board member at the Boston Globe, who signed the letter, “and to make decision-makers and reporters and editors think twice about the language that they use.”
“What it comes down to is just asking journalists to do their jobs,” said Suhauna Hussain, a labor reporter at the Los Angeles Times who signed the letter. “To hold power to account.”
Most strikingly, the letter argues that journalists should use words like “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing” and “genocide” to describe Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.
While the letter-signers maintain these are “precise terms that are well-defined by international human rights organizations,” there have historically been debates among diplomats, aid groups and participants over when a particular incident or conflict fits the definition of those terms.
Fayyad said he wasn’t calling on newsrooms to adopt those terms for their own descriptions, “but it is a relevant fact to say that leading human rights groups have called Israel an apartheid regime,” he said, just as many news stories note that the U.S. has designated Hamas as a terrorist organization. “That’s the kind of double standard I hope this letter will call out.”
Much of the text focuses on the journalists who have been killed in the month-long conflict that erupted after Hamas militants crossed the Israeli border on Oct. 7, killing more than 1,400 people and taking about 240 hostage.
So far, 39 media workers have been killed, mostly in retaliatory strikes by Israel, according to the latest tally from the Committee to Protect Journalists.
An investigation by Reporters Without Borders determined that Israel targeted journalists in an Oct. 13 airstrike that killed Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah and wounded six others. (Israeli officials have denied that they target journalists and said they are reviewing the incident.) In late October, Israeli military officials advised Reuters and Agence France-Presse that it could not guarantee the safety of their employees operating in the Gaza Strip.
Joe Rivano Barros, an editor at San Francisco nonprofit Mission Local who signed the letter, maintained that there has not been “widespread condemnations of [the killings of journalists] from Western newsrooms.”
“This particular conflict seems to bring in a lot of prevarication in a way that other conflicts don’t,” Rivano Barros said.
The journalists’ letter follows several other open letters in recent weeks, most expressing solidarity with Palestinians. The New York Review of Books published one signed by well-known writers including Ta-Nehisi Coates calling on the “international community to commit to ending the catastrophe unfolding in Gaza.” A letter signed by hundreds of Jewish writers that was published in N+1 magazine said, “we are horrified to see the fight against antisemitism weaponized as a pretext for war crimes with stated genocidal intent.”
A letter published by Artforum and signed by thousands of artists and academics, though, led to the firing of its editor. The magazine’s publishers said in a statement that the letter was “not consistent with Artforum’s editorial process” and had been “widely misinterpreted as a statement from the magazine about highly sensitive and complex geopolitical circumstances.”
And a widely circulated letter titled “Writers Against the War on Gaza,” which has been signed by more than 8,000 writers, condemned “the silencing of dissent and … racist and revisionist media cycles.” New York Times writers, Jazmine Hughes and Jamie Lauren Keiles, signed the letter. Days later, Hughes quit under pressure from management and Keiles left the paper, writing on social media that his was “a personal decision about what kind of work I want to be able to do.”
Open letters have a long history in civil protest, playing a strategic role, said T.V. Reed, professor of English and American studies at Washington State University who has studied protest movements and wrote the book “The Art of Protest.”
“The power [of open letters] is in offering readers names they know and respect to identify with. And/or professions they respect and identify with,” he said. “In this era of social media, where individual commentary is often excessive and harsh, a collective letter thoughtfully conceived can be more powerful.”
The journalist-signed letter raised concerns for journalism scholars and veteran news editors.
Bill Grueskin, a Columbia University journalism professor, said reporters may have more latitude to weigh in on media-related matters like the killing of journalists. But he warned that journalists who sign open letters on political topics risk damaging their outlets and their own ability to gather information.
“I think it’s worth having a real honest discussion in terms of the reputation of the institution they work for,” said Grueskin, a former deputy managing editor of the Wall Street Journal.
Rivano Barros argued that journalists “can and do criticize governments when they are infringing on press freedoms,” such as the Saudi government for the murder of writer Jamal Khashoggi’s murder and the Russian government for detaining Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich.
“Gazan journalists are facing an unprecedented and rising death toll, Western newsrooms are directly benefiting from their work on-the-ground, and if we cannot call for their protection — that is perverse,” he said.
Steve Coll, a former managing editor at The Post and former dean of the Columbia journalism school, said that journalists who sign open letters could face backlash from management, especially if those newsrooms have rules against activism.
He noted a recent generational split in some newsrooms, where younger employees feel empowered to speak out on political issues — putting them in conflict sometimes with the mores of older journalists, who prefer to stay quiet. “It’s a problem that has to be resolved one way or another,” he said.
This is an appalling act of censorship and intimidation by the administration. The University is spuriously claiming that these groups violated university policy when calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, where over 11,000 civilians have lost their lives, including at least 4,500 children.
The students in these groups are acting with moral clarity. They are protesting war and trying to save lives by calling for a ceasefire. By suspending Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine, Columbia has made a statement that Palestinians, students who support Palestinian rights, and Jewish students who reject the state of Israel’s actions in their name, are unwelcome on campus.
Instead of supporting students’ rights to speak and to mobilize on campus, Columbia has chosen to prioritize suppressing speech on Israel and organizing to end the ongoing genocide and worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
As the largest progressive anti-Zionist Jewish organization in the world, counting hundreds of thousands of members and supporters, including Columbia and Barnard students, staff and faculty, JVP condemns the Columbia administration’s unjust suppression of speech and advocacy for Palestinian liberation.
SJP is the central mobilizing space and political home for many Palestinian students on campus. For many Jewish students, JVP has become a Jewish home after being unable to express their full selves as Jews who care about human rights for Palestinians within the narrow boundaries of legacy Jewish organizations on and off campus.
SJP and JVP student organizers, at Columbia and around the country, are facing increased silencing and intimidation campaigns. The Columbia administration is falsely claiming that these groups’ call for a ceasefire and principled organizing include “threatening rhetoric and intimidation.” This is a thinly veiled effort to silence these students amidst an overwhelming campaign to shut down progressive student organizing.
The University’s censorship of political speech and action is particularly concerning when countless American academics, religious leaders, and activists have supported the call for a ceasefire, including tens of thousands of Jews.
We are guided by Jewish values that promote aiding, supporting, and fighting for the rights and dignity of all peoples.
WASHINGTON—Pushing through the measure in response to recent nationwide opinion polls, the U.S. House of Representatives voted Thursday to censure 66% of Americans for their antisemitic support of a ceasefire in Gaza.
“Today, this censure sends a clear message that our Congress will not tolerate the dangerous calls for peace perpetrated by 80% of Democrats, 57% of independents, and 56% of Republicans,” said House Speaker Mike Johnson, who further added that elected officials could not continue to turn a blind eye to the roughly 225 million out of 340 million Americans who expressed the bigoted view that Israel’s attacks on Palestinian civilians should end.
“In a clear vote of 234-188, Democrats and Republicans stand united in our belief that the vast majority of Americans cannot continue to spread hate by acknowledging that a war that has claimed the lives of over 10,000 Gazans, most of them women and children, might be bad. While we believe in free speech, this time, an overwhelming number of U.S. voters have taken it too far.”
At press time, Johnson could be heard admonishing Americans and warning that if they continued their antisemitic calls for ceasefire they would all be expelled from the country forever.
The Truth About American Politics
By Chris Hedges / The Real News Network
Israel’s ongoing massacre in Gaza has stirred worldwide calls for a ceasefire to stop the genocide unfolding. The United States has been no exception, which countless demonstrators taking to the streets in recent weeks. That hasn’t stopped the US government from backing Israel’s horrific campaign in Gaza to the hilt. The White House has refused to heed calls for a ceasefire and even deployed two aircraft carriers to the Mediterranean—not to defend Palestinians, but to dissuade regional powers from joining the fray to defend Palestine. As the possibility of a regional war looms with the entry of Yemen into the conflict, many wonder how the US might respond to such a scenario. Former US Congressperson Dennis Kucinich joins The Chris Hedges Report for a discussion on the US war machine—what it is, how it works, and how it might respond should the war in Palestine spiral into a wider conflagration.
Studio Production: David Hebden, Adam Coley
Post-Production: Adam Coley
Chris Hedges: As a member of the US Congress for 16 years, Dennis Kucinich gave over 500 speeches warning about the consequences of US wars against Afghanistan, the Balkans, Iraq, Iran, Libya, and Syria. He also spoke out for the imperative of peace in the Middle East on behalf of Israelis and Palestinians. He met with leaders of many countries who were grappling to keep their nations out of conflicts and came to understand the role some in the US government have played to intentionally catalyze war, fueling arms sales globally without regard for the consequences. Dennis warns that we, in his words, are “cartwheeling towards a massive East versus West war with religious and ethnic overtones. This seemingly inexorable march of nuclear folly may,” he writes, “pit the US militarily against China, Russia, and their allies.”
Joining me to discuss how, as he writes, the polarization of US politics, the cognitively impaired and failing executive branch, the instability of the congressional leadership, the pure blind partisanship, and the ideologically click-bait driven media has produced, a mad bloodlust for war against Iran and perhaps China and Russia, is Dennis Kucinich. You have fought the war industry with probably more consistency and courage than any US. politician. You’ve paid the price for it. But let’s lay out globally the reach of the war industry, how it functions, and why it seems to be beyond the control of either political party.
Dennis Kucinich: Thank you very much, Chris, for that introduction, and thank you for the opportunity to be on your show. We are in a moment of peril and the subtext of it, or maybe the context of it, begins with the fact that the US has over 800 bases around the globe. This has been part and parcel of an attempt by America to use its military power to be able to control not only the politics of a country but the economics of a country and to stop the rise of any counterforce in the world. Of course, we know that was vainglorious. The efforts have failed, and notwithstanding the fact that we have this archipelago of bases around the world, we have slipped from a position of unipolar leadership moving to a multipolar world in which the US has less and less influence, with the exception of certain economic moves that can be made to try to hamstring the economies of various countries through sanctions.
Now, where this all begins is in the appropriations process. The military-industrial complex that Eisenhower so famously warned us about in January of 1961 has… Every district of the US, every congressional district has programs and projects in it that require funding and are put into an appropriations bill. Lobbyists confront members of Congress from their own community, saying we need this for the jobs in our community. Together you have a defense production establishment that is nationwide and it has enormous influence on individual members. Beyond that, you have when members of Congress come in and they take an oath to defend the Constitution, unfortunately, for many members of Congress, that means signing on to any military action that the administration recommends. So there’s very little deep thinking that goes on, especially where the money’s going to come from. Because the 31 trillion-plus national debt, which the US has a substantial part of, comes from the country putting wars on a credit card.
Ingrained into our system is the funding of wars and a perpetuation of conflict because if you’re making all these arms materiel, you’ve got to use them. The more that you use, the more you make. There’s a continuous loop here of money that pours in. Right now we’re close to $1 trillion in this particular fiscal year of 2023 for the Pentagon plus the various intelligence services. That then is a substantial part of discretionary spending of the US. Depending on who you’re talking to and what math, it’s anywhere from about 40%-45%. We’re spending our national treasure on war. We’re a war machine as a nation. We prefer war over healthcare. We prefer war over housing. We prefer war over education. We prefer war over the economic welfare of our own citizens. This is something that more and more people are catching onto. Unfortunately, the last ones to catch on appear to be members of the US Congress.
Chris Hedges: How are decisions about war made? We see the public shills for war, the same people, whether it’s Iraq or Libya or Syria or Afghanistan, these neocons who are well-known who brought us the war, 20 years of warfare in the Middle East. But they are spokespeople for obviously the war industry. If we look back at the last two decades, it’s fiasco after fiasco. Nobody can describe any of these wars as a success. Who’s making these decisions, and why is it bipartisan?
Dennis Kucinich: The decisions to go to war ostensibly would be made at the administration level. However, there is a broad network of public policy groups masquerading as independent voices, think tanks, academic organizations, and people in the media who feed into any narrative that would prompt the country to start to rattle the sabers or determine, well, we need to go here in order to defend our national interest. Once that appropriation process starts, let’s keep in mind, that they have close to $1 trillion in all accounts. They’re on their own. That money’s fungible. That money’s there, which enables the US at this very moment to send two aircraft carrier units out into the area near Israel. Now you have to wonder, what’s that all about? What it’s all about is that the US right now has the money to be able to send troops anywhere they want in the world or to pay for the ones that are already stationed, and they put the country at the threshold of a war the minute they do that.
When I say “of a war,” I mean of actual combat interactions. The people who are pushing for this and we have to keep in mind that one of the things that drags us into war is an ideological mindset. Today in the US, it’s sponsored by a group famously known as neoconservatives, who see America as a force fighting against evil all over the world. The Manichaen struggle that they invite is one that is generally of their own making, the desire to be able to create wars and to cash in. There are earnings reports coming out lately where some of the war contractors or those who hold them in a portfolio, are citing what a great thing it is for the profits that are going to come as a result of what’s happening in the Middle East right now. It’s unconscionable but we’re in this cycle where we have a war-dependent economy and the more that we spend on war materiel, the more likely we are to go to war. The more people we have at forward bases around the world, the more likely we are to go to war.
When an international crisis develops, such as has developed after, most famously signed on October 7, 2023, we then see things go into motion that will support and justify the reason why we are there, to begin with. Then from there, you go on to additional appropriations. One of the things that I want to point out, is the over $14 billion which Congress will vote on perhaps at the beginning of November, once Congress votes on that, forget declarations of war, Article One, Section Eight, the role of Congress in balancing off the executive’s desire to go to war. Forget all that. Once the money is there, we’re there. We’re stuck. It’s like gamblers, in for a dime, in for a dollar. Once we put that money down, we are at war, whether it’s declared or not.
This is the danger of the moment that we’re in right now, because the American people, unless they can convince their members of Congress, for whatever reason – Whether it’s as one member of Congress, Tom Massey from Kentucky says, we can’t afford it. That’s one way. Another way is to say don’t fuel the fire. Another way is to say, stop killing the Gazans – There are so many different reasons to avoid it but the American people have to be heard from. Immediately call their members of Congress to say don’t fund the war. If they’re so intent on spending money, spend it for diplomacy, spend it for humanitarian purposes, spend it for food, shelter, clothing, electricity, water; anything to try to relieve people from the veil of tears they’re in right now and the fears for their life.
But right now, our country, we are ready for war. It’s not about funding an effort against the people of Gaza but it’s about getting ready for war against Iran which would be catastrophic for the US and for Israel. We’re really at a crossroads right here, Chris and the piece that I wrote in Substack outlines the contours of it because this war has both. It’s not just geographical; it is ethnic and it is religious.
Chris Hedges: You have a situation where once the money comes in, it’s not a congressional decision, it’s a unilateral decision by the White House, for instance, to send these carriers. No, Biden didn’t consult anybody except maybe Jake Sullivan who probably made the decision for Biden. But all that power, that potential to essentially trigger a war is in the hands of the presidency. Congress isn’t even part of the decision.
Dennis Kucinich: Once the money is there… This is what I’d like your viewers to understand. You have the Constitution, Article One, Section Eight, in which the Founders clearly put the power to make war in the hands of the House because they didn’t want an executive roaming the world, looking for enemies to slay, as Adams was famously warned about. But if Congress approves an appropriation that the president then wants to take to create a war, courts have held pretty consistently that Congress’s ultimate power is the power of the purse. If Congress wants to stop a war, don’t fund it. If Congress wants to start a war, fund it, but Congress cannot go back after it funds a war and say, oh, we didn’t mean that. We didn’t mean for him to escalate. Hey, once they have the money, the administration, the president as commander-in-chief under the Constitution, is able to use that war material in any way that he or in the future she would please.
Chris Hedges: And yet we see no pushback. The last budget Congress gave the Pentagon $40 billion more than they even requested. In many ways, the Democratic Party is worse.
Dennis Kucinich: Yeah, it’s become reflexive. The inability to ask questions about why. Only after the fact will you see the Inspector General’s reports come back and say, well, you misspent billions or billions there. After a while, it adds up. You go back to Major General Smedley Butler who won two medals of honor for his service to the country at the beginning of the 20th century. He concluded famously, “War is a racket.” And this is a racket. The members of Congress go along. Let’s face it, once Citizens United became the law of the land, and money equaled free speech from the corporate standpoint, this entire defense establishment was emboldened to pour money into congressional races. And they do. They do it openly through $5,000 contributions or whatever they’re allowed right now and in addition to that, Super PACs, which can make a difference in a congressional or Senate race.
We have almost a closed-loop system that guarantees that we will continue to go to war. There is no counterbalance for diplomacy or peace. That doesn’t exist. The Department of State is there to rattle the saber, as the current Secretary of State Blinken has proven. The National Security Advisor Sullivan, is there to keep fulminating. Of course, we know about the gentle lady who is a deputy secretary who has famously kept her neoconservative credentials alive since the beginning of her service to the US as somebody who promotes war. We have an entire phalanx of people at the administrative level who are promoting it every day. They’re supported by the think tanks, academics, and the media. People don’t question and so we get pulled into this maw of war. Then people wonder why.
Watch American troops, when their lives are put on the line – They’re already being out there as bait, as far as I’m concerned. Our troops are in that region as bait – If and when the troops start to die and you get reports, maybe some have already, but if and when that starts to happen in large numbers, the American people are going to be horrified. The money could go out this week unless people call and object strongly. That’s the way you stop a war. Stop funding it.
Chris Hedges: What they’re playing with, as you’ve written, is a very dangerous global conflagration. It’s like throwing and tossing lit matches toward pools of gasoline, not only in Ukraine and not only in the Middle East, but also in China. The consequences are potentially catastrophic. In the case of China and Russia, we’re dealing of course with nuclear powers. Then of course Israel has nuclear weapons. There’s nothing to stop Israel from using a tactical nuclear weapon on Iran. Talk a little bit about how this could all go bad.
Dennis Kucinich: When we have these discussions about the danger that we can sense lies ahead, we have to look at things not out of fear, but out of a cold strategic analysis. The US and Israel are seen as simultaneous in the actions in Gaza right now. That has created a furor, particularly in the Arab and the Muslim world. The head of Turkey, Erdogan, yesterday gave a speech to about a million people whom he warned about, he invoked the image of the Crescent versus the Cross. We’re talking Crusades here, folks. The idea that if the US and Israel are aimed at trying to wipe out people who are Arabs and most of whom are Muslims, what does that say to the rest of the Muslim world? Nine million people in Israel, maybe a million and a half of them Palestinians, in the larger Arab world surrounding Israel, hundreds of millions of Muslims and Arabs are watching people in Gaza being slaughtered.
The emotional turmoil that comes from that then is informed by a very deep religious sentiment that is being provoked by the first week of October, Ultranationalists marching from Temple Mount into Al-Aqsa and rearranging the furniture, shall we say politely. It could be, depending on who you talk to, that what we experienced on October 7, notwithstanding the apparently very thorough planning that went on, that we had an Al-Aqsa intifada as a flash point because the destruction or the desecration of anything at Al-Aqsa is going to be responded to. There are those in the Ultranationalists who are all ready to try to push the Palestinians out of Gaza, push them, kill them, and then the Palestinians in the West Bank and to fulfill a dream that for them has biblical authorization for the fulfillment of the land of Israel.
Then to rebuild the third temple which of course would annihilate Al-Aqsa. When we start to get into religious sentiments and beliefs that go back thousands of years and we have people motivated by prophecy, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. It can lead right to the Bible which talks about Armageddon, the apocalypse. That’s why we have to take this seriously. We can’t pretend that’ll never happen. Actually, it’s moving in that direction right now. The leader of Turkey pronounced Crescent versus Cross, raising the issue. Are we coming to that? I often talk about Barbara Tuchman’s book, The March of Folly, where she writes as a historian, that it’s nothing new under humanity for leaders to prepare a course of action and execute it that is totally antithetical to the interests of their country. This is what Mr. Netanyahu is doing with support from the right wing in Israel in enacting this biblical phraseology that he’s quoting lately.
There’s a game being played here that is so dangerous that could pull us all into not only a regional war but a world war. So those are some of the antecedents that we have to consider when we’re looking at an analysis of what we could be facing.
Chris Hedges: Why isn’t the Biden administration offering any restraint? Canceling or vetoing the ceasefire resolution at the UN, giving more military aid. It’s not that they’re passive but they’re actively involved. Why?
Dennis Kucinich: Well, first of all, you have to look at President Biden himself. He has never really been anyone who has said, whoa, wait a minute. Let’s not do this. He’s generally been congenial to voting for the war as a senator and voting for certain defense or Pentagon appropriations. That’s where it’s at. Then who surrounds him? The neocons are his closest advisors. They’re spoiling for a war against Iran. This has been going on since Bush was president. There’s no question. I gave about 150 speeches on Iran alone, where I saw the Bush Administration was actually talking about a strike on a nuclear research lab at Bashir.
I pointed out in the speech in Congress that if we go ahead and do that we’re going to be creating a radioactive fallout around a good part of the globe. Is that something we’re thinking about? Is there an intention to take us right to the precipice here of a war? Absolutely. They can’t say they’re stumbling into this. No, these people are not stupid. I might question the rationale, and I do behind Biden’s decisions, but they’re ideologically driven. Some have said let’s use this to go after Iran. Like the pronouncement was made after 9/11, let’s use this to go after Iraq. It’s the declensions of war, Iraq, Iran, I run to hell.
Chris Hedges: Why Iran? You have oil in Iran, you have more oil in Iraq. What is it? Do they think that… Is it this vision that they’re going to remake the Middle East into their own image? What do you think is driving this animus towards Iran? Of course, we have to be clear, Bibi Netanyahu has been pushing for a strike on Iran for a long time. And it’s my understanding that the Pentagon has essentially been very wary about carrying out strikes against Iran.
Dennis Kucinich: I had a chance to talk to Mr. Netanyahu as a member of Congress on a committee that he testified to. At this committee – Chris, this could have been 25 years ago – He said, well the US should go after Iraq, Iran, and Syria. After the hearing, I met him in the hall, and I said, Mr. Netanyahu, why don’t you do it? He said, oh, no, no, no, no, you should do it. Leaders go to war for all reasons; Some reasons are that they may be in political trouble and they think war is going to save them. That can be part of Netanyahu’s calculus. It could also be part of Joe Biden’s calculus. A wartime president, don’t change horse in the middle of the stream, on and on and on.
Iran, in its nuclear research, represented a threat to Israel that people who were otherwise condign on the issue of Iran said, hey, wait a minute. We’ve got to look at this. We don’t really see eye to eye. They could try to strike us. In the dialectic of conflict that goes into the calculus of a nuclear exchange, if you think the other guy’s going to hit you, you might hit him first. That’s one thing. Iran has risen as a technological power. It’s not an Arab country, it is Persian. It has developed a society that is advanced. It’s not well understood by the US that the people of Iran, they’re not afraid of America. They don’t expect to be attacked, but if they’re attacked, they will respond and they’ll be ready. They’ve developed some very accurate missiles that can travel thousands of miles.
The thing that I’m concerned about is that in this dialectic of conflict that we’re seeing move along in an escalatory fashion, this could mean the end of Israel. I don’t know why that isn’t … I’m sure people in Israel are living with this and are starting to get concerned. Where’s this headed? But we cannot create a war with Iran without expecting a retaliatory strike with everything that Iran has on Israel itself. It’s like, back off, stop it. Stop this forward momentum towards a cataclysm.
Chris Hedges: To what extent do you think these neocons who have orchestrated these debacles in the Middle East essentially are using Iran as a scapegoat? They made the mess but are they trying to offload it onto Iran, and once we get rid of Iran, our utopian vision of the Middle East will appear?
Dennis Kucinich: That’s part of it. No question about it. I’ve got a library here, a lot of the books recently in the last 20 years are about Iraq. It’s very interesting how you can see the parallels between what we’re doing with respect to Iran right now. Now, the CIA reports that I saw did not say that Iran was directly linked to what happened on October 7 but there are those who want to create that connection now, in order to blame Iran for that as we falsely blamed Iraq for 9/11. Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. According to our own intelligence agencies, Iran was not connected to October 7. It really goes back to the Project for a New American Century. We’re talking about, just as there are plans in Iraq that are driven by history and ideology and politics, so too in the US there are plans that are driven by similar metrics. It puts us in a position where we’re moving towards a war against Iran and we’re not really thinking about where’s this going to take us?
All of the ships, the carriers, and the planes that we’ve already sent over ostensibly to protect Israel, they’re really in a forward, ready position to be able to deploy for an attack on Iran. We’re not fooling anyone, least of all Iran on this. Iran’s been preparing for this for some time. Then one has to ask, as war planners sometimes do, where does this lead? China’s already standing with Iran. We are already opposed to Russia and the games that were played with respect to Ukraine. Where do we go? We are looking at a conflict that inevitably will take us against two other nuclear powers: China and Russia.
Isn’t anybody aware of how dangerous this situation is with respect to standing guard for Israel while they go ahead and the government levels Gaza and kills hundreds of thousands of people perhaps? Somebody has to say, look, we’re playing in the flash of World War III here, and we ought to stop. It’s beyond a ceasefire. There has to be a stand-down and stop it so that Israel can be secured from destruction so that the Gazans can be protected from destruction, so that those in the West Bank can be protected from destruction, so that our nation and the nations of the world can be protected from destruction.
One need only go back to the poetry of William Yeats when he famously wrote The Second Coming, “Turning and turning in the widening gyre the falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; The center cannot hold.” What we’re seeing here is the center of gravity that holds the world together right now is starting to fracture. Once that happens, the potential for a very wide war is introduced. Once it starts, it plays itself out as wars always do, depending on what weapons are used.
Chris Hedges: Those carrier groups are not deployed in the Mediterranean. They’re deployed in the Persian Gulf off the coast of Iran.
Dennis Kucinich: Right, thank you. You’re right about that.
Chris Hedges: So it’s a very clear threat to Iran.
Dennis Kucinich: That’s why they’re there in the Persian Gulf. Iran, Persian.
Chris Hedges: Yeah. Great. We can find you at denniskucinich.substack.com. Is that correct?
Dennis Kucinich: Yes. That’s my Substack address.
Chris Hedges: Right. Okay. I’m a subscriber. Everyone else should subscribe. That was –
Dennis Kucinich: Thank you. Anybody who wants to subscribe, your subscriptions are gratefully received.
Chris Hedges: – That was Dennis Kucinich. I want to thank The Real News Network and its production team; Cameron Granadino, Adam Coley, David Hebden, and Kayla Rivara. You can find me at chrishedges.substack.com.
Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of show The Chris Hedges Report.
He was a member of the team that won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for The New York Times coverage of global terrorism, and he received the 2002 Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism. Hedges, who holds a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School, is the author of the bestsellers American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle and was a National Book Critics Circle finalist for his book War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning. He writes an online column for the website ScheerPost. He has taught at Columbia University, New York University, Princeton University and the University of Toronto.
NOV 6, 2023
After seeing Senator Sanders’ appearance on CNN from the morning of November 5, Norman Finkelstein decided it was necessary to publish an open video reply to the Senator. The clip in question is shown in the video, followed by Norman’s response, which was recorded last night, the evening of November 5 2023.
(There is a brief echo during the first ten seconds of Norman’s section, which we hope viewers will disregard.)
alternate link for download/viewing (4K + volume normalized a bit)
My name is Norm Finkelstein. I heard Bernie Sanders’ statement this evening opposing the ceasefire. I had planned to spend this evening reading, as I’ve fallen dreadfully behind in my reading and unless I keep reading, I can’t bring anything fresh and important to what’s happening now. I was so furious at that remark of Bernie’s, when he said he opposed the ceasefire and my innards started to writhe and I decided I had to respond. Now this is wholly unrehearsed. There are no special effects — make my remarks more effective. I’m just speaking it, as my words go from my brain out into the cyberspace. Now, Bernie said in this interview that he opposed the ceasefire. And his grounds for opposing the ceasefire were that Hamas wanted to destroy Israel, and therefore Hamas has to be destroyed. So let’s look at the facts. I’m not going to go all the way back into history. I’m going to just start with 2006.
In 2006 there was an election in the West Bank in Gaza, parliamentary elections. Those elections were urged on the Palestinian people by the US administration was that now forgotten moment in the Bush administration called “democracy promotion.” And part of this package called “democracy promotion” was the Palestinians were supposed to participate in those wonderful democratic experiences. And Hamas was urged to participate in those elections, and it reversed itself. Hitherto, it opposed participating in any elections in the occupied territories, because those elections were a consequence of the Oslo Accord. And since Hamas opposed the Oslo Accord, it opposed participating in the elections. But it reversed itself. It ran in a civilian political party. And, much to the surprise of Hamas and everybody else, it won the election. Those were, according to former US President Jimmy Carter, “completely fair and honest elections,” and Hamas won. What did the US and Israel do? It immediately imposed a brutal blockade on Gaza, which brought economic life in Gaza to a standstill. Now that’s not all it did, but we’ll get back to that in a moment.
First of all, remind listeners, what is Gaza? It’s 25 miles long, it’s five miles wide, it’s a tiny parcel of land. It’s among the most densely populated places on God’s earth. Half of the population of Gaza consists of children, to which I’ll return. 70% of Gaza consists of refugees from the 1948 war, that is, Palestinians who were expelled from the area that became Israel and ended up in Gaza and have remained refugees for 75 years henceforth, living in refugee camps like Jabalia camp, which I’ll also return in a moment. For about 20 years — two years shy of 20 years. Nobody can go in, nobody can go out. Unemployment in Gaza is about 50% among the population in general, 60% among the youth. It reportedly has the highest rate of unemployment of any area in the world. It suffers from what humanitarian organizations call “extreme food insecurity.” Nobody can go in, nobody can go out. What is Gaza? Well, one of Israel’s senior officials, or in layperson’s terms, certified lunatics, named Giora Eiland, E-I-L-A-N-D for those who want to look it up. In 2006, Giaora Eiland, who still is, incidentally, in the inner circle of Benjamin Netanyahu right now as I speak. He described Gaza as, quote, not my words, as “a huge concentration camp.” That’s Gaza.
Euphemistically, even Bernie who’s ever so politically correct, will acknowledge that, well maybe, he says, it can be described as an open-air prison. Open-air prison, the euphemism, or Giora Eiland “a huge concentration camp.” Or maybe Baruch Kimmerling, the former senior sociologist at Hebrew University, quote, “the largest concentration camp ever to exist.”
Now, as a matter of law. Richard Goldstone, who authored the famous or infamous, whichever you prefer, Goldstone Report after Operation Cast Lead in 2008-9, he said that the blockade of Gaza likely likely qualifies or rises to a crime against humanity. That’s a crime against humanity that’s endured for two decades. Not a momentary crime against humanity, say dropping a bomb on a hospital or dropping a 2,000-pound bomb on a densely populated refugee camp. Not a momentary crime against humanity, but a crime against humanity that’s endured for nearly two decades.
But bear in mind, it’s Hamas that must be defeated because it wants to destroy Israel, not Israel that must be destroyed, because it wants to incarcerate an entire population, half of whom are children, in a concentration camp, which constitutes a crime against humanity. No, Israel doesn’t have to be destroyed – only Hamas has to be destroyed.
Well, first of all, is it true? I’m asking you, Bernie, I don’t know if you know the facts, and I will grant you that, focused as you are on domestic issues, I will grant, you probably don’t know the facts and you’re entitled not to know them. You know, Build Back Better, better than me. And that was your priority. That’s always been your priority. And I have to respect that. I saw your speech with the United Auto Workers during the strike, and as much as I’ve soured on you, I have to acknowledge it was a great speech. I talked to Dr. Cornel West shortly after that speech, and I said it was really a brilliant speech. And he said to me, well, Bernie was in his element. Workers’ strikes, workers’ rights, unions, it’s Bernie’s element.
Fine, and I’ll grant that in your element, you’re good — actually you’re as good as they get. But, and here I’m going to quote Clare Daly from the European Union, when Ursula von der Leyen, when she decided, without any mandate, to go over and embrace Israel and say, “we all stand by Israel,” Clare Daly, the Irish representative in the European Union, she said, quote, — referring to von der Leyen — she said, quote, “if you have nothing constructive to say, shut up.”
So, here are the facts. When Hamas was elected, it repeatedly sent out peace feelers to try and resolve the conflict with Israel. It presented on its own, or as speaking for itself, the terms of the international consensus for resolving a conflict, namely two states on the June 1967 border. Now it’s true, because I have no quarrel with facts. I’ve always been of the opinion that there’s no contradiction between truth and the struggle for justice. And if there were a contradiction between the two, it would probably cause me a moral crisis, but at the end of the day, I would come out on the side of truth.
Hamas, yes, it’s true. There were areas such as its demand for the full implementation of the right of the return of Palestinian refugees to the homes from which they were expelled in 1948. I’m saying, even though that is the law, that is the law, I recognize that as part of a settlement that particular aspect of international law would probably have to be negotiated. I’m rendering a, as it were, third-party judgment from afar. But there is no question that Hamas was attempting to reach some sort of settlement with Israel. The record is ample in that regard. The documentation irrefutable and impeachable.
What was the Israeli reaction? Well, time won’t allow me to go through the entire record. But I will briefly go through it. I have to go through it, because my innards writhe at the despicable thing you said in the interview today – whether it was moral idiocy, whether it was exemplary of being a moral monster, or whether it was cynical opportunism because you’re too much of a coward to break ranks with President Biden. I don’t know which it is, but here’s the record. The record can be summarized in a phrase that became very popular in the Israeli administration. It’s called “mowing the lawn.” It happens that this “lawn” called Gaza, 1,100,000 blades of grass in that lawn are children.
So, whenever that satanic government, and I choose my words carefully, and with premeditation, refers to mowing the lawn, we should bear in mind that 1,100,000 blades of grass in that lawn are children. But, Bernie Sanders the senator from Vermont he says, Israel must destroy Hamas because Hamas wants to destroy Israel. Yes, Bernie, you’re so right. You are so right, Bernie. Until October 7th, Israel didn’t want to destroy Gaza. It just wanted to mow the law. You’re so right, Bernie. I am so appreciative of your moral niceties and nuances. Hamas must be destroyed because it wants to destroy Israel. But Israel, does it have to be destroyed? No, because Israel doesn’t want to destroy Gaza, or at least until October 7th. It just wants to mow the lawn. That’s your moral calculus, Bernie. Your sick, ill, morbid moral calculus. So, Hamas, that terrible, evil organization, it wants to destroy Israel, and that’s why Hamas has to be destroyed.
So in June 2008 there was a ceasefire arranged between Israel and Hamas. That evil Hamas, oh my goodness gracious, as Cornel Dr. West would say, my goodness gracious, that evil perfidious Hamas, it negotiated a ceasefire. And then what happened? The ceasefire held, it held in June, it held in July, it held in August, it held in September, it held in October, and it held the first four days in November. And then November 4th came along. When those people whose memories are short, that was election day. when everybody’s attention was riveted on the presidential election and the first black president being elected in our country’s history. And Israel used that moment — when all the cameras were diverted from it — it used that moment to attack Hamas in Gaza and broke the ceasefire. Not evil, perfidious Hamas, but beautiful, wonderful Israel.
Now that’s not my word. Go back and read what Amnesty International said. In fact, even the official Israeli publications which I cite in my book, state the ceasefire held until Israel broke it. And then Israel proceeded to do what it does best. It proceeded to commit a high-tech massacre in Gaza, killed about 1,400 people. Of those 1,400, 350 were children. It systematically devastated the infrastructure of Gaza, and it was guilty of, according to the Goldstone Report, multiple war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity.
Now, here’s a point for you, Bernie – I barely can say that name anymore without being filled with contempt and disgust. I worked very hard in that 2016 campaign and I worked very hard on that 2020 campaign and I was by a wide margin among the oldest people who was going in advance out of state to canvas for you. And now it’s a bitter memory when I hear your statements. So here’s a fact for you Bernie: As I mentioned to you, about 1,400 people were killed in Gaza. The estimates are four-fifths were civilians, one-fifth or 20% were combatants. If you look at what happened on October 7th, the numbers are roughly the same. About 1,400 civilians were killed after the prison breakout or concentration camp breakout in Gaza. The numbers I’ve seen are about 400 were combatants among the Israelis killed. killed, but roughly speaking, the numbers balance out.
So here’s my question to you, Bernie, and I’m dead serious. This ain’t a joke. I’m not talking about scoring debating points. It’s about people, to quote the Warsaw Ghetto Resistance song. It’s really the partisan song, but the Warsaw Ghetto Resistance song. And one lyric goes, “‘T’was a people amidst the crashing fires of hell.” That’s the people of Gaza now, Bernie. T’was a people, or now ‘tis a people, amidst the crashing fires of hell. And Bernie Sanders is on record saying it should continue.
So here’s the question, Bernie. You say that because of what Hamas did on October 7th, they proved that they can’t be lived with and they have to be destroyed. Now, if that be the case, and if I’ve accurately rendered the historical record, as I’m very confident that I have, then, if the numbers are roughly the same, and it’s undisputed that Israel broke the ceasefire, why don’t you conclude on the basis of just Operation Cast Lead, just in that one operation, that one “mowing of the lawn,” why don’t you conclude that Israel must be destroyed? You came to the realization after October 7th that Hamas had to be destroyed. So, logically, if roughly the same numbers of people were killed, then Israel has to be destroyed.
But you’re going to say, no, no, no, no, you’re going to shake your head. I already know every one of your facial gestures. I listened to you in 2016 and 2020 every night, every debate listen to you again and again. You gonna say no, no, no, you’re gonna shake your head, it’s different Because Hamas wants to destroy Israel Israel doesn’t want to destroy God no, you’re right Bernie up until October 7th You were right. Israel didn’t want to destroy Gaza, it just wanted to leave the 2.3 million people, half of whom are children, immured in the concentration camp to languish and die. You’re right Bernie, it’s different. Hamas wants to destroy Israel. But all Israel wants to do, I mean, it’s not really a big deal. Let’s be for real. All Israel wanted to do was immure 2,300,000 people in a concentration camp and leave them there to die. So that’s, you know, there’s Bernie’s moral subtlety. You know how philosophers love nuance. They love complexity. They love nicety. Evil Hamas, it wants to destroy Israel, whereas Israel, all it wants to do is lock 2.3 million people in a concentration camp for life.
If you go to Operation Pillar of Defense, it happened, and I don’t have time to go through the details now, it happened that after Operation Cast Lead, there was a slight relaxing of the brutal blockade of Gaza. And it enabled, it was probably just a temporary blip, that’s what Sara Roy has written, the Harvard economist. And of course I defer to her judgment. She’s the world’s leading authority in Gaza’s economy. She said it was probably just a temporary blip, but the fact is the Gaza economy did show some signs of recovery. And there was also money starting to pour in from Qatar. The head of state of Turkey, Erdoğan, was planning on a visit to Gaza. And this annoyed the heck out of Israel because Gaza was not supposed to prosper, again, relatively speaking when I speak of prosperity. It wasn’t supposed to prosper.
So what did it do? The record is clear. It assassinated a senior Hamas official. It happened that this senior Hamas official named Jabari, he was the main contact with the Israeli government. He was the one responsible for negotiating the ceasefires with Israel. And at the moment he was assassinated he was in the midst of negotiating a longterm ceasefire. You hear that Bernie? Those evil, perfidious, devilish, Hamas leaders. They were so perfidious that they were planning to negotiate a longterm ceasefire with Israel. So what did Israel do? They killed him, and then began Operation Pillar of Defense.
And then in 2014, it’s time to “mow the lawn” again. Without going into the details, by the end, Israel killed — not 1,400 Palestinians as Israelis were killed on October 7th — they killed 2,200 Palestinians, of whom 550 were children. They demolished 18,000 homes. Peter Moore, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, whose job is to tour war zones. That’s his resume, his CV, to tour war zones. After he toured Gaza, he said never in his professional life had he seen destruction of the magnitude that he witnessed in Gaza.
But it’s Hamas that has to be destroyed because it doesn’t, it wants to destroy Israel. It doesn’t recognize Israel. Hamas is the problem. Hamas. Let’s not talk about destroying the State of Israel. That’s sacrosanct. That’s not even a conceivable concept. But destroying Hamas, because they’re evil, they’re evil incarnate, they’re so evil that they negotiate ceasefires, they stand by ceasefires, they attempt to restore the devastated economy in Gaza, that’s pristine, distilled, evil incarnate.
And then comes October 7th. I’ve spoken about it at length to the point of tedium, so I’m not going to repeat myself in this response to you, Bernie. But I have to say, with all due respect, the things you’ve been saying since October 7th, you’re positively ill. Now I know you’re thinking, well, I’ve heard some of the things you said, and I think they’re ill. Fair enough.
However, we can disagree on that, and we can disagree forcefully on that, but when you say you oppose a ceasefire, you’ve crossed a red line. You’ve become a moral monster. I’m going to say that again. You’ve become a moral monster. I read yesterday your tweet. Now you’ll forgive me for not getting it verbatim correctly, but you said, not me, you said Israel is indiscriminately bombing hospitals, bombing schools, killing civilians. You said that, and I’ll ask the people who are recording this video to post it, right as I recite these remarks, which I acknowledge are a paraphrase of what you said yesterday.
Now, when you oppose a ceasefire at this point, you are in effect, And in fact — you are in effect, and in fact, giving Israel carte blanche to continue to indiscriminately target the civilian infrastructure and the civilian population of Gaza, 1 million of whom, or 1,100,000 of whom, are children. You have become a moral monster. And don’t say, of course I oppose that. Of course you oppose that. And you think Israel will stop doing that because Bernie Sanders tells them to? You think all of a sudden now they’re going to cease targeting, hospitals with the plural, hospitals, do you think they’re going to cease targeting ambulances? Do you think they’re going to cease targeting civilian dwellings? The housing, the homes of these people, 70% of whom and their descendants already lost their homes in 1948 and now lost them again. The 50% who are children no longer have a roof over their head. The little toys that they had, the family pictures that they kept, everything now in rubble. And buried beneath the rubble, there are still thousands of children, and you just gave the green light to continue the destruction of Gaza. T’was a people amidst the crashing fires of hell, and now ‘tis a people amidst the crashing fires of hell with the stamp of approval from Bernie Sanders. What a pitiful shame.
Contact Bernie Sanders:
202-224-5141 (Senate Office)
Contact Form: https://www.sanders.senate.gov/contact/contact-form/
A Statement by Norman Finkelstein: I am determined not to monetize my social media. However, I am dependent on a three-person technical crew. Your contributions to support their vital work will be greatly appreciated. All proceeds will go to the technical crew.
In his press briefing on 27 October, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu cited a biblical reference to “Amalek” in the context of the “destruction of Hamas” and to “eradicate this evil from the world.”
This pseudo-religious spin may have confused all but his ultra-right religious followers, both Jewish and Christian Zionists. Netanyahu continued: “We remember, and we are fighting…..our soldiers are part of a legacy of Jewish warriors that goes back 3,000 years.”
What appeared bizarre to many was a highly intentional religious justification for Israel´s ethnic cleansing of Gaza’s Palestinian men, women, and children.
The “annihilate Amalek” theme invokes support from the divine in this modern crusade to exterminate the Amalekites, interpreted today as every Palestinian. Netanyahu´s base of political support among militant settlers finds inspiration from these violent biblical texts.
Another base of Netanyahu´s support is the international Christian Zionist movement, rising in the Global South, southeast Asia, and North America. Netanyahu can count on these ¨friends¨ to provide political, economic and media support despite a dramatic decline in his popularity at home and abroad.
Shortly after the 7 October attacks, a letter of support for Israel’s war on Gaza was issued by 60 conservative evangelical leaders in the United States, including two former presidents of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission – Russell Moore, now editor of Christianity Today, and Richard Land.
Several pastors from the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest evangelical Christian denomination in the United States, signed the letter. Many of the supporters, but not all, embrace the “annihilate Amalek” war mentality, while others draw on just war theory.
The letter was delivered to the White House and every Congressional office on Capitol Hill, lending support for the Israeli aggression on Gaza.
What is the source of the eternal enmity between the Amalekites and the Jewish people?
The first biblical reference to enmity between the Hebrew tribes and the Amalekites, which may be more mythical than historical, is found in the book of Exodus (17:8-16). The passage refers to a clash between the Amalekite tribe and the Hebrew tribes who were leaving the Sinai peninsula and entering Canaan.
Moses told his chief of staff Joshua to lead the battle while Moses stood on a hill lifting up his arms as he did when the waters parted and his people crossed the Red Sea on dry land.
When Moses became tired and lowered his arms, the Amalekites prevailed, clearly a reenactment of the Exodus narrative. When he lifted his arms, the Hebrew tribes prevailed.
The passage ends with this: “the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”
A second incident is recorded in 1 Samuel 15:1-35, where the prophet Samuel told Israel´s new king Saul to attack the Amalekites as a test of his loyalty. In this gruesome narrative, Samuel´s instructions are: “Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.”
However, King Saul did not complete the massacre of every Amalekite. Instead, he spared their king and took some sheep and cattle for himself.
The passage concludes with the Prophet Samuel rejecting Saul because he spared the king and some livestock.
From that moment the divine blessing fell from King Saul. The passage ends with the Prophet Samuel hacking the Amalekite king to death.
It is highly unlikely these primitive, mythic stories are grounded in history. They should be dismissed for their perpetuation of the cycles of violence and what the biblical scholar Walter Wink calls “the myth of redemptive violence.”
While the Zionist movement and its Christian Zionist supporters have utilized the narratives of redemptive violence since Zionism emerged at the end of the 19th century, they are not alone in their embrace of the “annihilate Amalek” tradition.
The first governor of the Puritans in the so-called “new world” used the Amalek theme and applied it to the native Americans who endured a genocidal war of settler colonialism for the next 300 years.
The Tutsis invoked the Amalek mythology in their genocide of the Hutus in Rwanda. And today we find fundamentalist Christians, Jewish Zionists and moderate Democrats embracing various narratives of the myth of redemptive violence when applied to the Palestinian people.
Benjamin Netanyahu may be the longest serving prime minister in Israel’s history but his future is fragile and his reign could end as soon as hostilities end.
Prior to 7 October, Netanyahu was already facing massive demonstrations against his leadership in the wake of his move to weaken the Israeli high court. Israel´s image as the only democracy in the Middle East vanished as more moderate Israelis and the Jewish diaspora in the West expressed their opposition.
And while large demonstrations against his takeover of the Israeli judiciary were dissipating, Netanyahu’s popularity continued to decline after the 7 October attacks.
Israel’s security lapses were exposed and Netanyahu’s concern for the captives seemed weak to nonexistent. Political analysts have continued to wonder if Netanyahu had an end game in the Gaza hostilities.
Reports surfaced in late October pointing to a possible end game that was just beginning to see the light after a few weeks of the assault on Gaza. There is nothing new in these reports as the ideas have been discussed for several decades, but the timing is a matter of serious concern.
Israel’s Ministry of Intelligence, an official government institution though not in direct charge of any intelligence agency, produced a report suggesting an end game that could be under discussion with the Netanyahu government and US officials. According to the document, leaked to the online Israeli + 972 Magazine, the current hostilities provide the perfect political cover for the expulsion of Gaza´s Palestinians into the Sinai desert.
The report has credence in as much as the intelligence ministry is headed by Gila Gamaliel, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud Party. It also suggests some Palestinians can be settled in Canada, Spain, North Africa and Greece.
A report from the Israeli think tank, the Misgav Institute, headed by Amir Weitzmann, a close associate of Netanyahu, had already emerged. The subtitle of the report made its intentions clear: “There is at the moment a unique and rare opportunity to evacuate the whole Gaza Strip in coordination with the Egyptian government.”
The expulsion plan proposes to send the Palestinians of Gaza to new buildings in Egypt for which the Israeli government will pay the Egyptian government. The report estimates the cost of this to be in the billions of dollars, offering an “innovative, cheap and viable solution.”
This comes as the Biden administration is requesting the US Congress for $106 billion to be largely divided between Ukraine and Israel. It includes $9.15 billion for Israeli, Palestinian, and Ukrainian civilians impacted by recent hostilities.
A portion of this package could be used to resettle Palestinians in the Sinai. Various Arab governments will no doubt be solicited to pay for the balance.
The intelligence ministry report has been verified by independent Israeli sources. It recommends three phases to the Gaza campaign, two of which match the war cabinet’s declared strategies – intense bombing and destruction of northern Gaza; an intensive ground war in the north while driving the remaining Palestinians from the north to southern Gaza.
These phases should be understood as ethnic cleansing operations. They constitute genocide and war crimes.
The final stage, which could be the exit strategy for Netanyahu and the Biden administration, is emptying Gaza of all Palestinians and declaring they will never return. The suggested rationale for the horrific genocide is its necessity.
As the report states, an “ immediate, realistic and sustainable plan for the resettlement and humanitarian rehabilitation of the entire Arab population in the Gaza Strip is required which aligns well with the economic and geopolitical interests of Israel, Egypt, the USA and Saudi Arabia.”
While not discussed in this document, one can assume a plan already exists for the violent expulsion of Palestinians from East Jerusalem and elsewhere in the West Bank into Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria as evidenced by the settler violence against Palestinians that has been ongoing and intensifying for months.
The above strategy may appear to be highly speculative and conspiratorial but we need to be reminded that this scenario happened just 75 years ago in the Nakba, the 1947-9 ethnic cleansing of Palestine. When the lessons of history are not learned, history will repeat itself.
Israel seems to have the unqualified military, political, and economic support of the Biden administration and the US Congress, which stand ready to support whatever Netanyahu proposes.
Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail in the United States, the European Union, and Israel, but, with a few minor exceptions, we have seen no evidence of this. A regional war involving Hizballah and other militias from Syria, Iraq and Yemen could delay the expulsion of the Gaza Palestinians or it could elevate the plan, depending on how the war plays out.
There is some hope on the horizon, but it may take too long for it to make a difference. I refer to the rising resistance from the grassroots, spreading across cities from New York to London, Paris, Ramallah, Amman, and even to southeast Asia.
The power of mass protests, civil disobedience, and citizens demanding a ceasefire and end to the ethnic cleansing of Palestine has put the Palestine case at center stage, much to the chagrin of Netanyahu, Biden, and the “moderate” Arab regimes. Palestine is once again front and center in the public eye where it belongs.
Will mass protests impact decision makers in Washington and Israel? We are at the crossroads for a response to that question.
If the mobilization of civil society takes more aggressive strategies demanding Israel (and the US) pay a political and financial price for this genocidal war, we may see changes in US policy regarding Palestinian justice. However, it took the movement against the Vietnam War at least seven years to have an impact and the anti-apartheid movement even longer to end the white supremacist South African regime.
In each case, the United States was the last country to change position.
If there is renewed demand for sanctions on Israel, including countries withdrawing financial aid and isolating Israel, then we may see political change begin in the United States. If the emerging coalition of Jewish, Muslim, Christian, secular, Black and brown justice movements increases its demands and impact, including cutting US military aid to Israel, only then will there be meaningful change on the ground in Palestine.
Massive demonstrations must lead to civil disobedience and various forms of nonviolent direct action, including disruption of the supply chains of weapons, tanks, fighter jets and other delivery systems.
Another important political strategy in the United States is to organize Arab and Muslim voters, alongside progressive Jewish and Christian voters, to withhold their vote for Joe Biden and moderate Democrats in 2024, until they (we) see significant policy changes in relation to US military and economic support for Israel.
This too will be a long journey and an increasingly urgent one if the Israeli and US endgame is the genocidal forced expulsion of the Palestinians. If the “annihilate Amalek” vengeance continues to be the guiding vision for the present leadership in Israel and the United States, the world will witness another genocide as it unfolds day by day in the Gaza Strip.
The Palestine case can be a turning point for justice in the Middle East or a lost opportunity for everyone.
A wise sage once said: “Where there is no vision, the people will perish” (Proverbs 29:18).
How long will we put up with leaders who offer no vision while the people of Gaza perish before our very eyes?
Rev. Dr. Don Wagner is a retired member of the Presbyterian clergy, professor and a human rights activist. He is the author of the memoir Glory to God in the Lowest: Journeys to an Unholy Land (Interlink, 2022).
Mazin Qumsiyeh is a Palestinian scientist, author, and founder and director of the Palestine Museum of Natural History and the Palestine Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability at Bethlehem University, where he teaches. He has been active in Palestinian rights since the early 2000s.
Frequently asked questions, answers, and documentation on Gaza
An evolving document compiled by young Palestinian media activists
Israel was built on top of Palestine through the ethnic cleansing of the native Palestinians, a long-standing Zionist policy that resulted in 8 million Palestinians becoming refugees or displaced people and the rest enclosed in ghettos/bantustans (1) based on a set of myths and distortions of reality to justify colonization.(2)
• Zionism at 100: The Myth of Palestine as “A Land Without People”
• The Myth of the U.N. Creation of Israel
• Books by Shlomo Sand on the myths that allowed ethnic cleansing
• Ben-Hur, the LA Times & a place called Palestine
• Greenberg, Gary. 101 Myths of the Bible: How Ancient Scribes Invented Biblical History. Sourcebooks, 2002
• Whitelam, Keith W. The invention of Ancient Israel: The Silencing of Palestinian History. New York, Routledge. 1997
• Nur Masalha. Palestine: A four thousand year history. Bloomsbury Publishing. 2023
• Raed, Basem. Hidden Histories: Palestine and The Eastern Mediterranean. Pluto Press. 2010
Gaza is a sliver of land along the Mediterranean Coast. Per the 1947 UN Resolution 181 Gaza’s area was many times more than what it is now, but during 1948 Israel removed 247 villages and towns, including Asqalan (now Israeli Ashkelon) and Najd (now Sderot). Refugees (including by boats from Jaffa) were squeezed into the open-air prison called the Gaza ‘Strip’. Thus 2/3rd of the current Gaza population (2.3 million, 60% of which are below 18) are refugees, a concentration area of “surplus people”. After Israel’s occupation of the Strip in 1967, Israel conducted numerous attacks on the area including in 1974, 1981, 1987-1991, 1997, 2000, 2008, 2014, 2018/2019, and 2021. In 2012 the United Nations reported that Gaza would be unlivable by 2020, and that was before two more wars on the people of Gaza. The nonviolent 2018-2019 March of Return by unarmed civilians was met by Israeli forces’ systematic targeting, massacring these civilians. The violence against people living in crowded Gaza has been ongoing for decades — see other questions and answers below. The events of 7 October 2023 that took Israel by surprise and caused pain and suffering is precisely what Palestinians faced manyfold in the past 75 years (33 massacres in 1948 alone and hundreds more since then, including the latetst series of massacres committed in Gaza in October 2023).(3)
The West Bank (including Jerusalem) and Gaza have been under a brutal Israeli military occupation since 1967. This occupation is illegal per international law (illegality of acquisition of territory by war, see below). Israeli settlers built, and continue to build colonial residential and industrial setlements in these occupied areas. Since the PLO signed an agreement which recognized Israel in 1993, it was hoped that after an interim period of 5 years of negotiations, a Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank would be formed with currently Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem as its capital (the Oslo accords). Instead, the last 30 years saw an increase in the number of illegal Israeli colonial settlers squatting on Palestinian lands in the West Bank (now 970,000 settlers). Palestinians were removed from their lands and homes and squeezed into Bantustans/ghettos in the West Bank and this process is ongoing (in just the past two years, 22 communities in the WB were removed). Before this latest escalation on 7 October, Israel has killeds 300 Palestinians in the West Bank including 38 children and two American citizens. Ben Gvir was unleashed by Netanyahu to arm settlers and gave the green light to them and to the apartheid terrorist army to shoot to kill and commit now well documented pogroms such as at Huwwara and Turmusayya. This only intensified when on 7 October Israeli forces sealed off all our ghettos so that people are trapped (for example Bethlehem people cannot get to Ramallah or Jericho). 106 Palestinians were thus killed in the West Bank since 7 October alone (18 days). Since the occupation in 1967, the Palestinian economy has been devastated, natural resources are stolen and given to colonial settlers, and there are almost daily incursions into Palestinian cities and holy sites like Al-Aqsa mosque but all of this intensified under the extremely right wing government led by Netanyahu (4). Now there is discussion and revolt in Israeli society charging that the colossal failure of the Israeli government on 7 October 2023 and collapse of the Gaza front was directly related to diverting the army for land grabs and settler protection in the West Bank. The latest attack on Nur Alshams refugee camp left 13 young Palestinians killed and Israel even bombed a mosque in Jenin on 21 October 2023. Further, Palestinian political prisoners (nearly 10,000) in Israeli jails are now denied water and food by order of Ben Gvir (paralleling the denial of water and food of the larger Gaza prison). But even remaining Palestinians within the state of Israel did not escape continuing ethnic cleansing and are subject to APARTHEID laws with intensified racism and racist attacks increasing during the conflict in Gaza (5).
First the premise that a colonizer is acting in self-defense is itself a linguistic error. Colonizers use violence to achieve ethnic cleansing. This happened in all other colonial situations in over 170 countries. As an occupier/colonizer that engaged in ethnic cleansing of the local people, beginning in 1948 and continuing today, the Israeli regime is an illegitimate colonization project (itself based on violence). The claim that Hamas’s presence as a guerrilla force among the Palestinians in Gaza is also not an excuse for violating the basic laws of warfare and targeting civilians. After all, Israeli military facilities are also inside Israeli cities but this does not justify targeting civilians. Further, Israeli authorities themselves openly declared that they are punishing the population of Gaza (not fighters from Gaza) by bombing them without warning and starving them. See Questions 6. and 7. below.(6)
Do millions of Palestinians, disenfranchized, impoversihed, and brutalized for 75 years have a right to defend themselves? Yes, international law does stipulate that local people have a right and obligation to resist oppression of course consistent with International law.(7) Israel’s 75 years of oppression and subjugation of millions of people cannot be ignored to demand quiescent victims.(8) The struggle for freedom in South Africa and Algeria or other colonial situations was not delegetimized when (a minority) of natives as individuals or groups targeted colonial settlers. Ending colonization is always the only way to end both the resistance and the much larger violence of the colonizers. But we also recognize that most resistance in the past 100 years by Palestinians has been popular (non-violent) resistance. Certainly less violent than most other colnial-anti-colonial struggles.(9)
• Mary Elizabeth King. A Quiet Revolution: The First Palestinian Intifada and Nonviolent Resistance. Bold Type Books. 2007
• Mazin Qumsiyeh. Popular Resistance in Palestine: A history of Hope and Empowerment. Pluto Press. 2014
• Marwan Darwish and Andrew Rigby. Popular Protest in Palestine: The Uncertain Future of Unarmed Resistance. Pluto Press. 2015
From its inception, Israel ethnically cleansed Palestinians (a breach of international law, including the Geneva Conventions). Israel was admitted to the UN only when it agreed to implement UN resolutions, including UNGA 181 and 194, but Israel refused to implement them. Subsequently Israel has violated over 70 UN Security Council Resolutions and hundreds of UNGA resolutions. In the most recent October 2023 conflict in Gaza and as a matter of policy even when there is no conflict, Israel engaged in collective punishment, many cases of which are verifiable war crimes and crimes against humanity. All human rights organizations (AI, HRW, PHR, B’Tselem) and global organizations (UN, WHO, etc) denounced collective punishment, including carpet bombing of residential buildings, denial of basics of life (water, food, medicines, fuel), and use of white phosphorous on civilian areas.(10) If we take just the UN Declaration on Human Rights, which ironically Israel and the US signed, we find Israel breaching just about every article. Israel intentionally targets Palestinian civilians and commits human righst abuses on large scale amounting to crimes against humanity and war crimes including including via collective punishment and outright genocide now well documented.(11)
• Amnesty International: Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories 2022
• Youtube: Kids Used as Human Shields
• Use of Palestinians as human shields
• Amnesty International: Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians
• Israel hits center of Red Cross
• Statistics on number of people killed
• Israeli who revealed “medieval-style” torture of Palestinians faces virulent backlash
• US State Dept 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
Center for Constitutional Rights on Israel’s unfolding Crime of Genocide in Gaza (Very well documented now)
• Jewish Currents: A text book case of genocide by Raz Segal
• Let them eat cement: Israel is not only decimating Gaza with airstrikes but employing the oldest and cruelest weapon of war — starvation. Israel’s message, on the eve of a ground invasion, is clear. Leave Gaza or Die.
• Al Jazeera: The mask is off: Gaza has exposed the hypocrisy of international law
• Targeting other hospitals
The criminality of Israeli leaders are reflected in their racist statements about indigenous people.(12) Israeli leaders have always chosen to use their military might to achieve their objectives of colonization. Yitzhaq Rabin, who came the closest to recognizing some need to compromise and allow some margin of freedom for some Palestinians, was assassinated by a right wing Zionist. Since then, Israeli leadership has shifted to become even more racist and fascist (e.g. having settlers like Smotrich and Ben Gvir in the cabinet).
No other country violates the rights of children or kills them in such large numbers as Israel. Defense of Children International documented countless cases of child abductions, detentions, severe interrogation amounting to torture, and outright killing. Just in the period of 7 October – 15 October 2023 Israel killed 720 children and injured about 2500.(13)
Yes, daily. This is more blatant in Gaza but has been going for 75 years. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz (7/15/01) reported that: “… giving his audience (Likud leaders) a bit of advice on how to deal with foreign interviewers (Benjamin Netanyahu said): ‘Always, irrespective of whether you’re right or not, you must always present your side as right'”. Indeed from its inception, the Israeli government and its agents abroad have lied. There were false flag operations like the Lavon Affair, or the bombing of Jewish community centers in Iraq to blame it on locals and scare Iraqi Jews to leave their country.(14) Hasbara (propaganda) is a very common Zionist tactic to advance their project of colonization. During the October 2023 incidents Israeli leaders lied about Hamas killing and beheading babies, about Israeli soldiers killing Israeli citizens, or even about wanting peace and set the stage for ongoing genocide.(15)
• Israel’s history of lies
• Israel lies to manufacture a case for genocide
• Just three lies on Gaza
• Netanyahu in a video worth watching very carefully
• On the Ahli Hospital bombing
• taking responsibility and then lying
• Israeli forces shot at their own civilians also look up Hannibal doctrine.
• Israeli helicopters killed Israeli women and child
• What happerned in Al-Ahli hospital targeting (471 killed)
• Al-Ahli Arab hospital: piecing together what happened
• Digital investigation of Al-Ahli hospital attack
• Israel caught out in further lie about hospital strike after doctored image exposed
• Israeli history of attacking medical facilities
• Hospital warned two and four days before it was targeted https://www.anglicannews.org/news/2023/10/anglican-run-al-ahli-arab-hospital-in-gaza-damaged-by-israeli-rocket-fire-as-conflict-continues.aspx
• Evidence is now emerging that up to half the Israelis killed 7 October were combatants and many killed by Israeli forces; that Israeli forces were responsible for some of their own civilian deaths; and that Tel Aviv disseminated false ‘Hamas atrocities’ stories to justify its devastating https://new.thecradle.co/articles/what-really-happened-on-7th-october see also Why is Israel trying to HIDE this hostage interview? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HugMS0k0kB4
• UN says Israel intentionally and recklessly killed Journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh (a US Ctizen)
• Killing Aljazeera Correspondent’s Family Days After Blinken Demands the Channel’s Coverage be ‘Toned Down’
• The self-declared “I am zionist” US president Biden questioned the number of people killed in Gaza as documented by the Ministry of Heath, so in response the ministry released the data with names, ages, and ID card numbers. The list released did not include the names of the reported missing (over 1670 including over 950 children) who are likely dead under the rubble.
• You can find the list of names here but this grows daily by hundreds https://tinyurl.com/2y7fkrac
As the late professor Edward Said articulated clearly, Palestinian voices are methodically suppressed. This only intensified as the Zionist movement increased its grip on Western media, which then silenced Palestinian voices. In the US for example, distorted, misleading and outright false coverage as a result of the strong Zionist lobbies.(16) Free speech must be protected in all countries: in Palestine Israeli forces shoot you for demonstrating, meanwhile Germany, France and Belgium are trying to outlaw free speech or demonstrations addressing human rights/international law/Palestine and even balanced reporters harassed or fired.(17)
• See Paul Findley, “They Dare to Speak Out” https://www.aljazeera.com/program/the-listening-post/2021/5/22/incite-and-inflame-israels-manipulation-of-the-media
• Demonstrations in the West ignored by Western media
• Misinformation about the Israel-Hamas war is flooding social media. Here are the facts: https://apnews.com/ap-fact-check
• See also https://www.nplusonemag.com/online-only/online-only/no-human-being-can-exist/
Yes, and the deliberate destruction of infrastructure is illegal per International law.(18)
Israel is a Jewish state built on the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and the setting up of an apartheid state that ruled over the remaining Palestinians in 1948. At least 65 Israeli laws exist that discriminate against non-Jewish citizens within the Greenline (1948 Palestine). After Israel illegally expanded to occupy the rest of the area (the West Bank and Gaza) in 19687, the belligerant occupiers set up hundreds of laws/military orders that made life under occupation horrific for the indigineous people while facilitating foreign Jewish settlers to live on stolen Palestinian lands. In this “greater Israel” there is thyus the privilaged 7.1 million Israeli Jews (most immigrants) and 7.3 million disenfranchized Palestinians. Human rights organizations (AI, HRW, PHR, etc.), including local ones like B’Tselem, have called the dual legal system apartheid.(19)
Absolutely not. While the Zionists have used Judaism as an excuse and weaponized it in their attacks on the native people, the colonial and apartheid system does not discriminate in its victimization of native Christians, Muslims, Druze, Bahai, or Atheists. All non-Jews were targeted for ethnic cleansing, with the exception of the self-proclaimed Christian Zionists.(21) Palestinian and non-Palestinian Christians have been outspoken for human rights. Jews have also been the most outspoken (21). But Israel’s use of religion to try to justify its colonization does lead to targeting and harming the religious sites and sensibilities of other religions. This is part of the reason why the state facilitates settler attacks on Al-Aqsa mosque (3rd holiest site in Islam), which has influenced uprisings like the last one.(22)
All wars historically have been initiated based on geoplotics related to greed (money and theft of natural resources and land). Religion and ethnicity are used to rally people around a cause that ultimately is profitable to some small segment of the population. The Zionists decided to take a country from its ownewrs and ended up stealing all its natural resources (even a fully developed airport renamed from Lydda Airport to BenGurion airport), posrts, farms, water resources etc. Regarding Gaza, Netanyahu regime had eyes to dissolve the Palestine question and create an alternative to China’s Belt and Road initiative that connects East to West via “Israel” (including Gaza) and Israeli dominated gulf states ncluding Saudi Arabia. This is what he called the new Middle East. Netanyahu showed this plan in maps at his speech to the UN General Assembly months ago. Thre are even plans for an alternative canal from Eilat to Gaza to rival the Suez canal. It is not a coincidence that the discovery of huge Gas fields off the Gaza coast preceded blockade on Gaza in 2006. Israel covets those fields and wants them to be the main source of Gazz to Europe to replace Russian gas (conveniently pipelines connecting Russia to Europe were bombed). Dozens of companies profit tremendously from war. Stocks of Raytheon and General Dynamics went up 15-20% in the first three weeks of genocide in Gaza. Also, Gaza has been a testing laboratory for Israeli arms manufacturers and is critical for flowing funds to the military and industrial complex in Israel. Israeli weapons and security related sales bring in billions to Israeli elites and even compete with traditional exporters of such destruction like the USA. Israeli importers and the government (via tax) profited handsomely even from the humanitarian aid to Gaza and the WB that comes through Israel.(23)
Israel gets nearly $4 billion in military aid annually from the US and gets protection from prosecution under international law by use of the US veto power at the UN. This collusion with apartheid is carried out even against US law.(24) Part of it has to do with the history of those countries themselves being colonial and imperial powers who have killed millions of natives and “understand” what it takes for colonization.(25) Furthermore, the US military industrial complex benefits from this funding to Israel, as a large portion of the funding can only be spent purchasing weapons directly from US arm dealers.(26) Another part of it is the strong Zionist lobbies in Western countries.(27) For some Arab dictatorships, it is because they are dependent on the US and some other Western countries to stay in power against the wishes of the people, or because they believe the US hegemony will last forever. This complicity and normalization are what has encouraged Israel to violate human rights and increased chances of the kind of resistance we have seen in October 2023.(28) But among people of the world, there is great sympathy and support for Palestine.(29)
• Here is a journalist doing his job showing US Hypocrisy in supporting crimes against humanity
(29) Millions were out in the streets in October 2023 depite governments threats and intimidation. Examples:
Let us be very clear: Palestinains will keep fights for freedom and justice (supported by decent people around teh world including Jews) despite over 200 massacres, 8 million refugees, bantustans/concentration camps in which remaining Palestinians live, and an ongoing genocide in Gaza. Amnesty International has said, “The root causes of these repeated cycles of violence must be addressed as a matter of urgency. This requires upholding international law and ending Israel’s 16-year-long illegal blockade on Gaza, and all other aspects of Israel’s system of apartheid imposed on all Palestinians.”(30) Implementing International law, human rights, and justice are essential to stopping these cycles of violence. Justice means the return of Palestinian refugees, the abolition of apartheid laws, and full equality regardless of religion. Palestinians have put together two proposals: in 1968 they proposed a democratic secular state for all its people and in 1988 a twpo state solution with the rights of refugees to return to their homes and lands. Zionism rejected both solutions. If some in the western world still believes in a “two state solution” as a step towards peace, then they must insist on full withdrawal (i.e. all illegal settlements evacuated) from the 1967 occupied territories (West Bank, including East Jerusalem; Gaza; and the Golan Heights) and allow Palestine to be a state with full sovereignty (including natural resources, borders, etc). In either case, apartheid laws should be ended and refugees should be allowed to return or compensated per UNGA resolution 194.(31) The global community is with Palestine (the people are) while many western governments and corporate media eroded their own democracies to support the genocidal apargrtheid Israeli regime because of the lobbies and suppress voices of reason and human rights. In Belgium, france, and Germany governments forcefully limited free speech. In other countries such as the UK/USA, governments go against the wishes of their people.(32)
• Beinart on this issue
• Another Jew speaking openly about what must be done
• Ali Kazak https://arena.org.au/the-only-path-to-peace-in-the-middle-east/
• See writings by Ilan Pappe, Edward Said, Mazin Qumsiyeh, Ali Abunimah and others.
Here are some relevant links:
Educate yourself (resources above plus books, videos like Occupation 101, Born in Gaza)
Use the right language (colonialism, apartheid, collective punishment) not “conflict” etc if you have to use war it is war on the people of Gaza not Hamas-Israel war
Write to media (letters to editor or op-eds)
Join groups like the International Solidarity Movement
Create or join local groups of joint struggle (like PSM)
Join political parties and lobby all politicians
Use social media with hashtags for Palestine (facebook, X/Twitter, Instagram, Telegram, TikTock, Youtube)
Join or organize protests (5 people or 50,000 people)
Organize street theatres, flash mobs, tabling, or flyering
Engage in civil dsiobedience
Contact local faith centers (Churches, Mosques, Synagogues, Temples)
Volunteer in Palestine
West Bank situation: We must spotlight that oppression in the West Bank continues. We hsould set-up or expand civilian defense groups to face the Zionist settlers who have been armed and given a green light to commit pogroms, like happened recently in Turmusayya, Beita and Huwwara. As we are in the Oliver harvest season, settlers and soldiers have shot at farmers trying to get totheir fields.
Arab governments should be challenged on their complicity and hypocrisy. The show concern for Gaza civilains but aid and abet the governments that perpetuate crime against humanity in places like Gaza. تعرب عن قلقها أو استيائها ألخ
Western governments should be challenged and we must demand they stop funding, arming, and protecting Israel from international law.
Israeli political and military leaders should be brought to trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity, including violating the conventions on crimes of genocide and apartheid/racial discrimination.
Western media must be challenged for their lies and distortions, and for bias in use of language which results in their complicity in crimes. Their support of genocide is also eroding the public’s trust in them. As one person wrote “The UK media’s coverage is shameful and our leaders are self-serving liars.”
Social media issues: Activists and all people of conscience must use Facebook, Instagram, Tik-tok, X (Twitter), Telegram and other websites for sharing photos and videos.
Let them eat cement: Israel is not only decimating Gaza with airstrikes but employing the oldest and cruelest weapon of war — starvation. Israel’s message, on the eve of a ground invasion, is clear. Leave Gaza or Die.
Hundreds of thousands in London
One of the first things to understand about the reportage, analysis and commentary that has poured out since the Hamas attacks of 7 October is that no-one has the full story. Not only is it, as ever, hard to penetrate the fog of war to work out what is happening on the battlefield. The new shape of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians has not yet emerged.
Events are still moving fast. Fears that the war could spread are very real. New realities in the Middle East are out there somewhere, but their shape and the way that they will work depend on the way this war goes for the rest of the year, and probably beyond.
Here are a few things that we know, and a few that we do not. The list is not exhaustive. Some people mocked Donald Rumsfeld, US defence secretary at the time of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, when he talked of “unknown unknowns”. But in this part of the world as much as any other, they exist – and when they emerge, they can make a big difference.
One certainty is that Israelis support the military campaign to break the power in Gaza of Hamas and its junior partner, Islamic Jihad. Their anger is driven by the shock of the Hamas attacks, the killing of more than 1,400 people and the fact that around 240 hostages are still being held in Gaza.
I met Noam Tibon, a retired general in the Israeli army, to hear about how he drove down with his wife to Nahal Oz, a kibbutz on the border with Gaza, after Hamas attacked on 7 October. His mission, which was successful, was to rescue his son, his daughter in law and their two young daughters who were in their safe room, hearing Hamas gunmen roaming around outside.
Tibon may be retired but he is a very fit-looking 62-year-old. He ended up armed with an assault rifle and a helmet he had taken from a dead Israeli soldier, leading a group of soldiers he had assembled in the chaos of that day, clearing the kibbutz and saving the lives of his family and many others.
The general was an old-school, straight-talking Israeli officer.
“Gaza is going to suffer… no nation will agree that your neighbour will slaughter babies, women or people. Just like you (Britons) crushed your enemy during World War Two. This is what we need to do in Gaza. No mercy.”
What, I asked, about innocent Palestinian civilians who are getting killed?
“Unfortunately, it’s happening. We live in a tough neighbourhood, and we need to survive… we have to be tough. We have no choice.”
A lot of Israelis are echoing his sentiment that Palestinian civilian deaths are unfortunate, but they are being killed because of the actions of Hamas.
It is also clear that Israel’s assault on Hamas is causing terrible bloodshed. The latest figure for Palestinian deaths from Gaza’s health ministry, run by Hamas, has exceeded 9,000 – of whom around 65% are children and women.
It is not clear how many of the men who have been killed were civilians or fighting for Hamas or Islamic Jihad. US President Joe Biden and the Israelis do not trust the ministry figures. But in past conflicts, Palestinian casualty statistics have been considered accurate by international organisations.
One grim milestone is fast approaching. The United Nations (UN) says around 9,700 civilians have been killed in Ukraine since the full-scale Russian invasion 21 months ago.
Some of the Palestinian dead would have been part of Hamas. But even if that proportion is as high as 10%, which is unlikely, it means that Israel is on course to have killed as many Palestinian civilians in just over a month as Russia has killed in Ukraine since February 2022. (The UN says its data for Ukraine is incomplete and the true number of civilians killed is likely higher, while in Gaza the number of dead is also likely to be higher as many Palestinians are believed to be buried under rubble).
The UN human rights office has said that so many civilians have been killed and wounded in Israeli air strikes that it has serious concerns that the attacks are disproportionate and could be war crimes.
From the first days after the Hamas attacks, President Biden has supported Israel’s decision to use military force to remove Hamas from power. But he has also added the qualification that it needed to be done “the right way”. He meant that Israel should observe the laws of war that protect civilians.
The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has arrived in Tel Aviv. Before he took off, he said: “When I see a Palestinian child – a boy, a girl – pulled from the rubble of a collapsed building, that hits me in the gut as much as seeing a child from Israel or anywhere else.”
I have reported on all of Israel’s wars in the last 30 years. I do not remember a US administration stating so publicly that Israel needs to observe the laws of war. Blinken’s visit suggests that he believes Israel is not following Biden’s advice.
Something else we know for certain is that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under great pressure.
Unlike Israel’s security and military chiefs, he has not accepted any personal responsibility for the catastrophic series of failures that left Israeli border communities virtually undefended on 7 October.
Last Sunday, 29 October, he caused uproar when he sent out a tweet blaming the intelligence agencies. Mr Netanyahu deleted the message and apologised.
Three Israelis, a former peace negotiator, the ex-head of the Shin Bet (Israel’s internal intelligence agency) and a tech entrepreneur, wrote an article in the journal Foreign Affairs saying that Mr Netanyahu should not have any part of the war and whatever follows. The Israeli PM has loyal supporters, but he has lost the confidence of prominent figures in Israel’s military and security establishment.
Noam Tibon, the retired general who fought his way into kibbutz Nahal Oz to rescue his family, compares Mr Netanyahu to Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister who was forced to resign in 1940, and replaced by Winston Churchill.
Tibon told me: “This is the biggest failure in the history of the state of Israel. It was a military failure. It was an intelligence failure. And it was the failure of the government… the one really in charge – and all the blame is on him – is the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu… He is in charge of the biggest failure in the history of Israel.”
It is also clear that the old status quo has been smashed. It was unpleasant and dangerous, but it seemed to have a certain grimly-familiar stability. Since the end of the last Palestinian uprising around 2005 a pattern has emerged that Mr Netanyahu believed could be sustained indefinitely. That was a dangerous illusion, for all concerned – Palestinians as well as Israelis.
The argument went that the Palestinians were no longer a threat to Israel. Instead, they were a problem to be managed. The tools available include sticks, carrots and the ancient tactic of “divide and rule”.
Mr Netanyahu, who has been prime minister for most of the time since 2009 – after an earlier spell between 1996 and 1999 – has argued consistently that Israel does not have a partner for peace.
Potentially, it did. The Palestinian Authority (PA), which is the main rival to Hamas, is a deeply flawed organisation, and many who support it believe its aged President Mahmoud Abbas needs to step aside. But it accepted the idea of establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel back in the 1990s.
“Divide and rule” for Mr Netanyahu meant allowing Hamas to build its power in Gaza at the expense of the PA.
While Israel’s longest-serving prime minister is always careful about what he says in public, his actions over many years show that he does not want to allow the Palestinians to have an independent state. That would involve giving up land in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, which the Israeli right wing believes belongs to the Jews.
From time to time, Mr Netanyahu’s pronouncements would leak. In 2019, a number of Israeli sources say that he told a group of his Likud members of parliament that if they opposed a Palestinian state they should support schemes to pump money – mostly provided by Qatar – into Gaza. He told them that deepening the division between Hamas in Gaza and the PA in the West Bank would make it impossible to establish a state.
It is also clear that Israel, backed by the Americans, will not tolerate a deal that allows Hamas to stay in power. That guarantees a lot more bloodshed. It also raises big questions about what or who replaces them, which so far have not been answered.
The conflict between Arabs and Jews for control of the land between the river Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea has lasted for more than 100 years. One lesson of its long and bloody history is that there will never be a military solution.
In the 1990s, the Oslo peace process was established to try to end the conflict by establishing a Palestinian state with a capital in East Jerusalem alongside Israel. The last attempt to revive it, after years of on-off negotiations, happened during the Obama administration. It failed a decade ago, and since then the conflict has been allowed to fester.
As President Biden and many others have said, the only possible chance for avoiding more wars is to establish a Palestinian state alongside Israel. That will not be possible with the current leaders on either side. Extremists, both Israeli and Palestinian, would do all they could to scupper the idea, as they have done since the 1990s. Some of them believe they are following the will of God, which makes it impossible to persuade them to accept a secular compromise.
But if this war does not deliver enough of a shock to break deeply-held prejudices and to make the idea of two states viable, nothing will. And without a mutually-acceptable way of ending the conflict, more generations of Palestinians and Israelis will be sentenced to more wars.
In the video, which begins with apparent footage of bombings and bloody scenes from the conflict, Tlaib says, “Mr. President, the American people are not with you on this one. … We will remember in 2024.”
“Joe Biden supported the genocide of the Palestinian people,” text at the end of the video states. “The American people won’t forget. … Biden, support a cease-fire now … or don’t count on us in 2024.”
The Genocide Convention of 1948 codified genocide as an international crime, defining it as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” Those acts include killings, inflicting serious harm on a group, making its living conditions impossible, preventing births within the group or forcibly transferring children to another group.
As the war rages, thousands of Gazans have been killed and the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees estimates that about 1.4 million people in Gaza are now internally displaced.
Biden, who has said the United States will stand with Israel in its fight against Hamas, last week stressed that Israel must minimize civilian casualties regardless of whether it poses a “burden.” He’s also called for a humanitarian “pause” in the war.
A spokesperson for the National Security Council reiterated that stance on Saturday morning.
“As you’ve heard us say, we support humanitarian pauses in the fighting in order to get life-saving humanitarian aid in and distributed to those in need in Gaza, and to get hostages out. What we do not support are calls for Israel to stop defending itself from Hamas terrorists, which is what a permanent ceasefire would be,” the spokesperson said.
Tlaib’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment Friday evening. Tlaib on Friday also posted to social media her defense of the phrase “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” which has often been interpreted as a call for the eradication of Israel.
“From the river to the sea is an aspirational call for freedom, human rights, and peaceful coexistence, not death, destruction, or hate,” Tlaib wrote in the post. “My work and advocacy is always centered in justice and dignity for all people no matter faith or ethnicity.”
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who told CNN Friday night that he agreed with Biden on the need for a humanitarian pause of Israeli bombing in Gaza, said Tlaib’s claim of genocide was “shocking.”
“I don’t agree with that at all,” Merkley said.
Polls show that Americans are not in broad agreement over America’s role in the Israel-Gaza war or Biden’s handling of the conflict.
A poll by the Economist and YouGov found this week that 22 percent of Democrats want to increase military aid to Israel, compared with 48 percent of Republicans. In contrast, 45 percent of Democrats want to increase humanitarian aid to Palestinians, compared with 8 percent of Republicans. Biden has proposed more than $14 billion in emergency aid to Israel, a move that is broadly supported within the House Democratic caucus.
A separate national poll by Quinnipiac University found that 26 percent of Democrats disapprove of Biden’s response to the war between Israel and Hamas, slightly higher than the 17 percent of Democrats who disapprove of his job performance overall. Among all voters, 42 percent approve of Biden’s response to the conflict and 46 percent disapprove.
Tlaib’s social media posts come days after the House voted to table an effort to censure her over her comments and actions related to the Israel-Gaza war. More than 20 House Republicans voted to table the measure along with every Democratic lawmaker present in the chamber.
Andrea Salcedo, Michael Scherer and Claire Parker contributed to this report.