Saturday, December 30, 2023

Idiot of 2023

As the year winds down, it's obvious we've seen a lot of stupidity.  

Some of you may go immediately to Donald Trump.  And, no question, he's an idiot.  But I ruled him out.  Not out of sympathy for his stink being revealed -- see Marcia's "That smell" and Ann's "Marcia, we have an answer" -- nor out of the rumor going around that too much peggy has resulted in a gaping hole and that's where Trump's primary stink is coming from.  

No, what it came down to was the fact that he's insane.  He's stupid, for sure.  But he's actually more crazy.  Clinically and criminally insane also ruled out hate merchants like Riley Gaines, Moms For Bigotry, Mayim Bialk, etc.  

The clear winner?  The winner probably nailed it in the swimsuit competition with a smooth, no bulge, speedo appearance.  That's right Doo-Doo DeSantis.  

What an idiot.  He started  out the year as the self-proclaimed king of the GOP and he ended the year as Mike Johnson's plus one. 

A tiny man who tried to fuel a campaign on hate saw all the enthusiasm and support leak out of his campaign month after month yet wasn't able to grasp that he was running voters off.

Flash forward ten years and Doo-Doo DeSantis is living in obscurity, an unemployed dad raising his three gay children now that Casey has left him and moved to China to marry Zhong Shanshan

A prayer: Dear God, please let 2023 be the last time this nation -- or any nation -- has to endure Doo-Doo DeSantis.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, December 29, 2023.  Gaza remains under assault, two more journalists have been killed, the Israeli government thinks you can just lisp 'sowwy' and get away with War Crimes, Katie Halper and Chelsea Handler Tweets, and much more.

I get pulled into things I don't want to based on e-mails.  Chelsea Handler Tweeted some nonsense.  Katie Halper felt the need to Tweet back.  I have no dog in this fight between two dogs.  If you're not clear on why . . .  

For Chelsea, See Ava and my piece on Chelsea's 2010 NETFLIX special "TV: Biden and Handler privilege:"

She does have yet another 'special.'  It's a 'documentary.'  Like all the 'documentaries' she's done for NETFLIX, it's really another look at Chelsea.  Does vanity ever end for her?   The new 'special' is 64 minutes and entitled HELLO PRIVILEGE, IT'S ME, CHELSEA --  which makes it six minutes shorter than her 2016 CHELSEA DOES RACISM 'documentary.'

Like the earlier one, this isn't a look at racism.  It's a look at Chelsea.  She talks to some of her friends who are comedians.  She tries to appear woke.  She insists that the conversation on racism needs to be led by White people, she --

Yeah, let's go back to that one.  Chelsea's an expert on racism because she's . . . White.  And she should lead the conversation because she's . . . White.  At last, all the never-shut-ups who were forced to take a back seat to actual victims of racism can, yet again, push their way to the front and dominate the conversation.

For about forty minutes, the special offers nothing of depth and, even on a superficial level, fails to deliver.

At one point, Chelsea prattles on about how "I got caught with dime bags on me with my boyfriend Tyshawn and every time he was arrested and I was let go.  It never occurred to me that it was a racial thing."

Was it really a 'racial thing'?

Chelsea was a 16-year-old girl in a car with an adult male.  The 'dime bags' weren't pot, they were heroin.  The boyfriend was doing heroin and he was dealing heroin.  The 16-year-old next to him was not doing heroin.  But the main reason she wasn't arrested was because, as she herself admits at one point (only at one point), when pulled over by the cops, she immediately ratted him out, she narced on him to the police.  At another point in the special, she will insist, "I thought the cops let me go because I had a good personality."  They let her go because she was a snitch.

That's why they let her go.

Now her White privilege probably helped her be a convincing narc but let's not pretend that there wasn't more going on and let's also get real that Chelsea's narcing on her boyfriend should have been at the forefront of a 'documentary' entitled HELLO PRIVILEGE, IT'S ME, CHELSEA and not reduced to a brief aside that a casual viewer may miss.

A viewer may miss a great deal.

At one point, she insists, "I came from nothing."


Most people who come from nothing don't make declarations like: "I'll never be done with Martha's Vineyard.  That's where I grew up."  Yes, as a child, Chelsea summered on Martha's Vineyard -- and not in a rental but in a home her family owned.

"I came from nothing"?

Why do she have to lie?

Who knows but she lies repeatedly -- for example, when she declares, "I'm really eager to have a conversation" but then reduces everyone to embarrassing soundbytes.  Or when she insists, "I don't want to keep talking" -- and then continues to talk on and on.

Short story: She's a Karen.  To save her own ass, she ratted out her African-American boyfriend and he got arrested and put in prison.  It's a detail she buried in her 'special.'  She can be funny and I'll applaud her for it every time.  Like in the clip below which made one of THE DAILY SHOW's most viral clips of the year.


Marjorie Taylor Greene: I have people come up to me and say crazy things to me out of the blue in public places that they believe because they read it on the internet.

Chelsea Handler:  Well if that's not the pot calling the kettle QAnon.  This woman thought 9/11 was a hoax, that the Clintons killed JFK Jr. and that Jews are in charge of space lasers.  But please, don't come at her with some crazy ideas -- she might believe them. 

Very funny.  Especially the QAnon line.  But, no, I don't look to her for much of anything besides a laugh.  And we've gone over those reasons.   


It's hilarious what the beef is over.  LGBTQ+ rights.  You know, the thing Katie refused to cover on her show.  But, hey, let's all pretend you're  the queen of protecting the LGBTQ+ community and not a pathetic,  middle-aged woman who runs around with homophobes and transphobes -- like Aaron Matte and Max Blumenthal and Max's ugly, ugly wife and let's not forget Matt Taibbi.  That is, please remember, one of the main reasons we broke with Katie.  The other was her platforming registered sex offender Scott Horton who got busted three times for trying to have sex with underage females.  The third time, he finally had to go to trial and got convicted and sent to prison.  And you better believe that he lied to get paroled.  And waited until parole ended to pull his nonsense of "I am innocent!  Why even the prison warden knew I was innocent!"  See, convicts like that stay behind bars and don't get early releases.  Scott Ritter cried in court when he was convicted.  He talks big now but you better believe when he was up for parole -- and I know this for a fact -- he cried and insisted he was so very sorry and had so much remorse for his actions.  Again, that's how he got paroled. But let's go back to the trial for a minute because I love this detail from  Matt Bai's "Scott Ritter's Other War" (THE NEW YORK TIMES):


When prosecutors were successful in moving to unseal his New York files and presented evidence from those arrests too, Ritter steadfastly maintained that he was aware, in both instances­, that he was talking to undercover cops. He knew his online activities needed to be stopped, Ritter said, so he arranged to meet the officers involved, playing along with the notion that they were teenage girls, so that he could get himself arrested and be forced to face his demons. This would have been a more persuasive defense, perhaps, had one of the arresting detectives not testified that Ritter, upon seeing the police lying in wait for him, tried to evade capture by slamming down the gas pedal and jumping a curb, T.J. Hooker-style.

I love the attempt to escape "T.J. Hooker-style."  But note what a liar he always is.  He should be confronted with his legal claim, put forward in court by his legal team, that he wanted to get caught so he would "be forced to face his demons."  He's such a liar.  And they present him as a truth-teller and they get in bed with a convicted and registered sex offender.  And then they don't understand why people don't want to watch their shows or support their issues.

So supporting Scott Ritter and spending 2022 and 2023 refusing to say a word as the LGBTQ+ community was targeted and scapegoated were the reasons we walked away from Katie and her cohorts.  

And now, Katie's beef with Chelsea?  Katie calls her out for "pinkwashing:"

And I guess your friend Noa Tishby forgot to tell you that same-sex marriage is illegal in Israel. But keep pinkwashing because supporting the killing of LGBTQ Palestinians is great allyship.

Isn't it cute how Katie suddenly, all this time later, can mention an LGBTQ+ issue?  And pretend to care?  Has a daily show and didn't do a damn thing to take on Moms For Bigotry or to call out all the bills being proposed to strip LGBTQ+ people of their rights or to call out the murders of African-American trans women.  But she wants a beef with Chelsea so suddenly Katie's restyling herself as though she's the 21st century Rita Mae Brown.

As Aretha says, "You will remember my name.  I'm the one who beat you at your game."  Who's pinkwashing who, Katie?

So Katie's Christopher Columbus moment where she suddenly 'discovers' LGBTQ+ issues leads something called Ethan Fine to Tweet at her:

Same sex marriage is recognized in Israel, same sex couples can also adopt in Israel, unlike in Gaza & the West Bank, where gay people are thrown off of buildings & killed.


As Janet sings, "Who's right, who's wrong?"

I would argue Katie was right.

Is same sex marriage recognized in Israel?  Yes,

But it's illegal in Israel as well.

There is no same-sex marriage ceremony taking place in Israel.  They will, however, recognize a same sex couple as married if they were married in a country other than Israel because, again it's illegal for a same-sex couple to get married in Israel.

As Vanessa says, "Get the picture?  Nuff said."

Now let's note this:

"The IDF regrets the injury to those not involved, and is working to learn lessons from the incident," the army said.

They killed and wounded refugees and created outrage with their attack on the refugee camp.  Now they want to pretend it was a mistake and, worse, act like they're sorry.  Those bombs fell intentionally.  Gaza is not a newly created area.  Everyone knew what was being targeted before the first bomb fell.  There is no regret on the part of the Israeli government other than that the world is outraged at their actions.  ALJAZEERA reports:

Since the war began, at least 308 people sheltering in UNRWA shelters have been killed, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees has said on X. Another 1,095 people have been injured.

“Initial reports indicate on 25 December, 2 people sheltering in UNRWA Maghazi Prep School were killed & 1 injured, result of a direct strike,” it said.

“Nowhere in Gaza is safe.”

Gaza remains under assault.  Binoy Kampmark (DISSIDENT VOICE) points out, "Bloodletting as form; murder as fashion.  The ongoing campaign in Gaza by Israel’s Defence Forces continues without stalling and restriction.  But the burgeoning number of corpses is starting to become a challenge for the propaganda outlets:  How to justify it?  Fortunately for Israel, the United States, its unqualified defender, is happy to provide cover for murder covered in the sheath of self-defence."   CNN has explained, "The Gaza Strip is 'the most dangerous place' in the world to be a child, according to the executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund."  ABC NEWS quotes UNICEF's December 9th statement, ""The Gaza Strip is the most dangerous place in the world to be a child. Scores of children are reportedly being killed and injured on a daily basis. Entire neighborhoods, where children used to play and go to school have been turned into stacks of rubble, with no life in them."  NBC NEWS notes, "Strong majorities of all voters in the U.S. disapprove of President Joe Biden’s handling of foreign policy and the Israel-Hamas war, according to the latest national NBC News poll. The erosion is most pronounced among Democrats, a majority of whom believe Israel has gone too far in its military action in Gaza."  The slaughter continues.  It has displaced over 1 million people per the US Congressional Research Service.  Jessica Corbett (COMMON DREAMS) points out, "Academics and legal experts around the world, including Holocaust scholars, have condemned the six-week Israeli assault of Gaza as genocide."   The death toll of Palestinians in Gaza is now well over  20,000. NBC NEWS notes, "The vast majority of its 2.2 million people are displaced, and an estimated half face starvation amid an unfolding humanitarian crisis."  ABC NEWS notes, "In the Gaza Strip, at least 20,915 people have been killed and more than 54,900 others have been wounded by Israeli forces since Oct. 7, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry and the Government Media Office."  Actually, that figure has already been updated.  This morning THE GUARDIAN notes, "Israeli military action has killed 21,110 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip since Israel began its campaign against Hamas on 7 October, according to figures released on Wednesday by the Hamas-controlled health ministry in the territory. The ministry reported that 55,243 people had been wounded. It said 195 people were killed and 325 injured in the last 24 hours."  In addition to the dead and the injured, there are the missing.  AP notes, "About 4,000 people are reported missing."  And the area itself?  Isabele Debre (AP) reveals, "Israel’s military offensive has turned much of northern Gaza into an uninhabitable moonscape. Whole neighborhoods have been erased. Homes, schools and hospitals have been blasted by airstrikes and scorched by tank fire. Some buildings are still standing, but most are battered shells."  Kieron Monks (I NEWS) reports, "More than 40 per cent of the buildings in northern Gaza have been damaged or destroyed, according to a new study of satellite imagery by US researchers Jamon Van Den Hoek from Oregon State University and Corey Scher at the City University of New York. The UN gave a figure of 45 per cent of housing destroyed or damaged across the strip in less than six weeks. The rate of destruction is among the highest of any conflict since the Second World War."  Max Butterworth (NBC NEWS) adds, "Satellite images captured by Maxar Technologies on Sunday reveal three of the main hospitals in Gaza from above, surrounded by the rubble of destroyed buildings after weeks of intense bombing in the region by Israeli forces."

Yesterday, Amy Goodman (DEMOCRACY NOW!) reported, "The World Health Organization warns tens of thousands of Palestinians are fleeing Israeli attacks on central and southern Gaza as devastating airstrikes continue to kill civilians. Palestinian health officials say the latest assaults have killed at least 50 people in areas including Beit Lahia, Khan Younis and Maghazi. Among those killed are two more media workers. TV journalist Mohammad Khair al-Din and his camera operator Ahmed Khair al-Din were killed when Israel’s military attacked a residential square in Beit Lahia. Gaza’s Government Media Office says they are the 104th and 105th journalists killed in the Gaza Strip since October."

People who believe getting aid into Gaza is easy should "think again," according to Martin Griffiths, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.

In a post on X today, Griffiths listed the hurdles aid agencies had to clear before aid could enter the enclave.

He said that aid trucks required three layers of inspections, there was a growing list of rejected items and vehicles had been blocked or tried to enter at points designed for pedestrians. 


The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees said Friday an aid convoy came under fire by the Israeli military in the Gaza Strip, without causing any casualties.

"Israeli soldiers fired at an aid convoy as it returned from northern Gaza along a route designated by the Israeli army -- our international convoy leader and his team were not injured but one vehicle sustained damage," UNRWA's director in Gaza, Tom White, wrote on X.

THE GUARDIAN notes, "The Palestine Red Crescent Society has also issued a video interview with a paramedic at their ambulance centre in the Jabaliya refugee camp. In the video he describes ambulance staff being made to undress and being beaten and interrogated by Israeli forces operating inside Gaza."  At THE WASHINGTON POST, Victoria Bisset reports:

Dozens of children have been killed and hundreds injured in the West Bank since Oct. 7, the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF said, as conflict-related violence reached “unprecedented levels.”

Eighty-three children have been killed in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in the past three months — double the number for the whole of 2022, the agency’s regional director Adele Khodr said in a statement Thursday. More than 576 have been wounded, she added.

“As the world watches on in horror at the situation in the Gaza Strip, children in the West Bank are experiencing a nightmare of their own,” Khodr said.

“Children living in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, have been experiencing grinding violence for many years, yet the intensity of that violence has dramatically increased since the horrific attacks of 7 October.”

In total, 124 Palestinian children and six Israeli children have been killed there this year, the agency said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AIDA TOUMA-SLIMAN: Well, hi. Thank you for hosting me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

The following sites updated:

Friday, December 29, 2023

Doh-Doh Fetterman and Doo-Doo DeSantis

Quick because I'm tired.  Rachel Dobkin (NEWSWEEK) reports:

Senator John Fetterman has dismissed Americans concerned about rising prices such as $16 McDonald's meals and said President Joe Biden is "very effective."

In an interview with Politico posted on Wednesday, the Democrat said the 2024 presidential election is a fight between "good and evil" and that voters should focus less on issues like inflation and more on who they want to see in the Oval Office.

However, recent polling suggests inflation is the top priority for most Americans and that the issue could sway the election result.

Fetterman may need to check back into that hospital because he seems very out of touch with the world he's supposed to be living in.  He better watch it before he turns into another Doo-Doo DeSantis.  On Little Doo-Doo, Travis Gettys reports:

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis made a risky bet on his Republican presidential campaign, and now he's throwing his allies under the bus and it blows up in his face, according to a report.

The GOP governor's campaign turned over substantial funds and many established responsibilities to the outside group Never Back Down, but that political action committee appears to be on the brink of imploding with the resignation of its chief architect Jeff Roe, reported Real Clear Politics.

“I don’t have control over it, and that’s the problem with how this is set up," DeSantis said. "If I controlled it, I would own it, and I would obviously have run it in a good way."
Never Back Down last week canceled all of its advertising in Iowa and New Hampshire for next year, and will instead focus on field operations, and DeSantis appeared to be trying to distance himself from it.

They cut their losses because he was a sinkhole for donations and now he's ticked.  Probably also trying to distance himself since he most likely broke the law regarding coordinating with a superpac.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, December 28, 2023.  As the assault on Gaza continues, efforts continue to silence those who speak out but the Samantha Powers of the world willingly silence themselves.

Think the horrors in Gaza can't get worse?  Brett Wilkins (COMMON DREAMS) reports:

Israeli troops on Wednesday allegedly stabbed and assaulted wounded Palestinian victims of an Israel Defense Forces drone strike that killed six people in a refugee camp near Tulkarem in the illegally occupied West Bank.

Dr. Radwan Blaibla, head of Tulkarem Medical Syndicate, toldAndalou Agency that Israeli troops forcibly stopped and boarded ambulances rushing Palestinians injured in the airstrike on Nur Shams refugee camp to a hospital in Tulkarem.

"One injured was stabbed in his neck by a soldier while in the ambulance, posing danger to his life," Blaibla said. "Two others were forcibly taken out from an ambulance and were subject to kicking and beating by the rifles' buttstocks on their injuries." 

  The Israeli soldiers allegedly told their victims: "We don't want you to reach the hospital. We will kill you before you get there."

Blaibla called the incident "a flagrant violation of humanitarian law" and urged the international community to hold Israel accountable.

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society told Al Jazeera that occupation forces blocked ambulances from transporting airstrike victims to a hospital for at least an hour-and-a-half, during which time multiple people died of their injuries. 

War Crimes before the world's eyes.  Where are the cries of "not on our watch"?  No where to be found because they were always hollow.  A bunch of hawks posing as doves who just uttered those words to call for the US to go to war on a country.  And now these hawks, these Samantha Powers are silent because it was never about humanity.

A State Department official resigned on October 14, writing in a letter that the U.S. support for Israel’s assault on Gaza “will only lead to more and deeper suffering for both the Israeli and Palestinian people.” The director of the New York office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights resigned on October 31, stating that “once again we are seeing a genocide unfolding before our eyes and the organization we serve appears powerless to stop it.”

With over 20,000 now dead in Gaza, there’s one government official who you’d assume — at least if you take her own words seriously — would join them. That is Samantha Power, current head of the U.S. Agency for International Development. Before that, she was the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. during the Obama administration.

But Power first rose to prominence with her 2002 book “‘A Problem From Hell’: America and the Age of Genocide.” It won the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction, with the citationOpens in a new tab reading, “Samantha Power poses a question that haunts our nation’s past: Why do American leaders who vow ‘never again’ repeatedly fail to marshal the will and the might to stop genocide?”

In the book’s introduction, Power makes this observation: “This country’s consistent policy of nonintervention in the face of genocide offers sad testimony not to a broken American political system but to one that is ruthlessly effective. The system, as it stands now, is working.

There is no sign of Power taking a principled stand on Gaza, however. Rather, she is spending her time proudly tweeting about all the good the U.S. is doing in the world, such as the arrival in Egypt of 147,000 pounds of humanitarian aid. This is approximately one ounce per person in Gaza. 

[. . .]

At the end of the book, Power considers the past century and asks some cogent questions: “How many of us do not believe that the presidents, senators, bureaucrats, journalists, and ordinary citizens who did nothing, choosing to look away rather than to face hard choices and wrenching moral dilemmas, were wrong? And how can something so clear in retrospect become so muddled at the time by rationalizations, institutional constraints, and a lack of imagination? How can it be that those who fight on behalf of these principles are the ones deemed unreasonable?”

How indeed. For now, however, Power shows no signs of asking herself any such questions about the present and her role in it. If she did, she might see herself in these lines from a poem by Joseph Brodsky that she tweeted outOpens in a new tab four years ago:

Time, whose sharp blood-thirsty quill
Parts the killed from those who kill,
Will pronounce the latter tribe
As your type.

Thanks, Sammy.  I've called your lying out for years and you just prove my point every day.  You always were a hawk and you always were a fake ass.  I remember you whining about "the Sammy Power between the knees" fiction piece we did a decade ago.  Nothing we could ever write about you could ever capture how truly craven and uncaring you are.  

It's the Sammy Powers that do nothing to stop genocide.  

An 18-year-old Israeli teenager who refused to enlist in the Israeli army has been sentenced to 30 days in prison. Tal Mitnick spoke out against Israel’s assault on Gaza before his sentencing on Tuesday.

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

Look at that, Samantha Power, that's actual bravery.  You wouldn't know it because you've never done a brave thing in your life, but that's actual bravery.

Gaza remains under assault.  Binoy Kampmark (DISSIDENT VOICE) points out, "Bloodletting as form; murder as fashion.  The ongoing campaign in Gaza by Israel’s Defence Forces continues without stalling and restriction.  But the burgeoning number of corpses is starting to become a challenge for the propaganda outlets:  How to justify it?  Fortunately for Israel, the United States, its unqualified defender, is happy to provide cover for murder covered in the sheath of self-defence."   CNN has explained, "The Gaza Strip is 'the most dangerous place' in the world to be a child, according to the executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund."  ABC NEWS quotes UNICEF's December 9th statement, ""The Gaza Strip is the most dangerous place in the world to be a child. Scores of children are reportedly being killed and injured on a daily basis. Entire neighborhoods, where children used to play and go to school have been turned into stacks of rubble, with no life in them."  NBC NEWS notes, "Strong majorities of all voters in the U.S. disapprove of President Joe Biden’s handling of foreign policy and the Israel-Hamas war, according to the latest national NBC News poll. The erosion is most pronounced among Democrats, a majority of whom believe Israel has gone too far in its military action in Gaza."  The slaughter continues.  It has displaced over 1 million people per the US Congressional Research Service.  Jessica Corbett (COMMON DREAMS) points out, "Academics and legal experts around the world, including Holocaust scholars, have condemned the six-week Israeli assault of Gaza as genocide."   The death toll of Palestinians in Gaza is now well over  20,000. NBC NEWS notes, "The vast majority of its 2.2 million people are displaced, and an estimated half face starvation amid an unfolding humanitarian crisis."  ABC NEWS notes, "In the Gaza Strip, at least 20,915 people have been killed and more than 54,900 others have been wounded by Israeli forces since Oct. 7, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry and the Government Media Office."  Actually, that figure has already been updated.  This morning THE GUARDIAN notes, "Israeli military action has killed 21,110 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip since Israel began its campaign against Hamas on 7 October, according to figures released on Wednesday by the Hamas-controlled health ministry in the territory. The ministry reported that 55,243 people had been wounded. It said 195 people were killed and 325 injured in the last 24 hours."  In addition to the dead and the injured, there are the missing.  AP notes, "About 4,000 people are reported missing."  And the area itself?  Isabele Debre (AP) reveals, "Israel’s military offensive has turned much of northern Gaza into an uninhabitable moonscape. Whole neighborhoods have been erased. Homes, schools and hospitals have been blasted by airstrikes and scorched by tank fire. Some buildings are still standing, but most are battered shells."  Kieron Monks (I NEWS) reports, "More than 40 per cent of the buildings in northern Gaza have been damaged or destroyed, according to a new study of satellite imagery by US researchers Jamon Van Den Hoek from Oregon State University and Corey Scher at the City University of New York. The UN gave a figure of 45 per cent of housing destroyed or damaged across the strip in less than six weeks. The rate of destruction is among the highest of any conflict since the Second World War."  Max Butterworth (NBC NEWS) adds, "Satellite images captured by Maxar Technologies on Sunday reveal three of the main hospitals in Gaza from above, surrounded by the rubble of destroyed buildings after weeks of intense bombing in the region by Israeli forces."

US President Joe Biden is assisting in War Crimes.  Harry Davies and Manisha Ganguly (GUARDIAN) reported this week:

 Their precise location is classified, but somewhere in Israel there are multiple closely guarded warehouses that contain billions of dollars’ worth of weapons owned by the US government.

Long shrouded in secrecy, the warehouses are part of an extensive but previously little-known stockpile now facing scrutiny as pressure mounts on the Biden administration over its support for Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.

The stockpile was first established in the 1980s to rapidly supply US forces for any future Middle East conflicts. However, over time, Israel has been permitted in certain situations to draw from its extensive supplies.

Israel now appears to be receiving munitions from the stockpile in significant quantities for use in its war on Gaza, yet there has been little transparency about transfers from the arsenal.

In interviews with the Guardian, multiple former US officials familiar with American security assistance to Israel have described how the stockpile enables expedited arms transfers to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). It can also shield movements of US weapons from public and congressional oversight, they said.

“Officially it’s US equipment for US use,” a former senior Pentagon official said, “but on the other hand, in an emergency, who’s to say we’re not going to give them the keys to the warehouses?”

Since the emergency of the Hamas massacre on 7 October, Israel has dropped tens of thousands of bombs in Gaza, and it has been open about its demand for large amounts of US-supplied munitions.

There are widely held concerns that Israel’s bombing of Gaza has been indiscriminate. And with close to 20,000 people dead in Gaza, according to local authorities, the US is facing questions about the quantities and categories of bombs it is providing to Israel and the proportion being made available through the secretive pre-positioned stockpile.

For more on the US government's efforts to stir up chaos, let's note this from yesterday's DEMOCRACY NOW!

AMY GOODMAN: We had hoped we’d begin today’s show in Gaza, where the Health Ministry says the overall death toll now tops 21,000, including over 8,000 children, but communications in Gaza are now down for the umpteenth time, and neither we nor our colleagues with the Associated Press can reach our guest in Rafah in southern Gaza.

As we reported in headlines, the Pentagon is saying it intercepted and shot down 12 drone attacks, three anti-ship ballistic missiles and two land attack cruise missiles launched by Houthi forces in the Red Sea during a 10-hour period on Tuesday, as concerns grow over a wider regional war in the Middle East. The Yemen-based Houthis have vowed to keep carrying out attacks on ships in the Red Sea to show solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza.

This comes as the Pentagon said it carried out three strikes on Iraqi territory Monday at President Biden’s direction in response to a drone attack on an air base in Erbil, Iraq, that wounded three U.S. service members, one of them critically. Iraq’s government said the U.S. attacks killed one member of the Iraqi security forces and wounded 18 people, including civilians. It condemned the Pentagon’s, quote, “unacceptable attack on Iraqi sovereignty.”

Meanwhile, Turkey’s military launched airstrikes in northern Iraq and Syria over the weekend, targeting bases, shelters and oil facilities operated by the Kurdish PKK militia. The attacks came after the Turkish Defense Ministry said 12 of its soldiers were killed in northern Iraq in battles with PKK fighters.

Elsewhere, an Israeli airstrike on northern Syria on Monday killed Sayyed Razi Mousavi, a senior adviser in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps responsible for coordinating Iran’s military alliance with Syria. Iran’s Foreign Ministry condemned the attack, saying, quote, “Iran reserves the right to take necessary measures to respond to this action at the appropriate time and place.”

For more on all of this, we’re joined in Boston by Rami Khouri, Palestinian American journalist, senior public policy fellow at the American University of Beirut. His new piece for Al Jazeera is headlined “Watching the watchdogs: Why the West misinterprets Middle East power shifts.”

Well, why don’t you tell us why the West misinterprets these power shifts, Rami Khouri? And do you see what’s happening in Gaza and the West Bank as leading to a wider Middle East war?

RAMI KHOURI: Thank you for having me, and thanks for the great work you do every morning.

The second part of your question, I can pretty surely say that I don’t expect the wider war. But wider wars don’t usually happen by planning. They often happen by accident. So it could happen. But I don’t think so, because, first of all, a wider war isn’t going to solve anything; second of all, people, generally, on all sides, don’t want to fight a wider war, and certainly civilian populations are against it.

Your first question, the short answer of why the mainstream media in the U.S. and most of the Western world doesn’t follow, analyze, acknowledge what I think are the biggest geostrategic changes taking place in this Middle East region in the last maybe 30, 40 years — the short answer is that the U.S. and Israel are joined in a kind of settler colonial assault on Palestinian rights. They have been for half a century. The British and the Zionists started this in the 1910s, and then Israel was created. And after '67, the U.S. became the main supporter of Israel. So this is a centurylong conflict that has pitted Israel, Zionism and Western supporters against Palestinian rights. Other Arabs got involved, but it's essentially a Palestinian-Israeli, Palestinian-Zionist struggle.

And the U.S. doesn’t want to acknowledge anything — the U.S. mainstream media, broadly, doesn’t want to acknowledge anything that doesn’t fit the script that the United States has a righteous policy, that the Israelis have a moral army, that what they’re doing is legitimate defense, and that all the other people in the region who challenge them or fight them are either terrorists or just, you know, violence-loving Muslims and Arabs beyond any help that anybody can give them — they just love to kill Jews and Americans. So, this is the kind of nonsense that permeates so much of the mainstream media.

And this is why I mentioned in this column that this tremendously important sign that we had just last week really needs to be appreciated. And that sign was that the Yemeni Ansar Allah group, but people call them the Houthis — you know, one sign of good reporting is to use the people’s proper name. So, Hezbollah, Hamas, Ansar Allah, that makes a difference. And so, these three groups, Hezbollah, Hamas, Ansar Allah, are part of a regional network of groups, Arab groups, nationally anchored, one in — Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Palestine, Ansar Allah in Yemen, who coordinate very closely with each other and coordinate and get assistance from Iran, just as Israel coordinates closely and gets huge amounts of assistance from the U.S. This is how, you know, the world works. But the difference is that Hezbollah and Hamas have already shown that they can develop technical, military and other capabilities that can check the Israeli-American assault on Palestinian rights.

The U.S. and Israel can wipe out the entire Middle East if they want, the entire Arab region, with their nuclear weapons and — sorry — other facilities. But this wouldn’t solve anything. But the U.S. and Israel at some point need to acknowledge that the Palestinian people have rights that are equal to the Israeli people, and the two should live side by side, or if they want to live in one state, that’s up to them, but probably two adjacent states.

The Hezbollah-Hamas-Ansar Allah combination brought us last week to a situation where at one moment — and it’s kind of still going on — the U.S. and/or Israel were exchanging military fire with Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza, some other Palestinian groups in the West Bank, Ansar Allah in Yemen, the Popular Mobilization Forces, Iranian-backed militant groups, in Iraq, and the Syrian government, which is supported by Iran. So the U.S. and Israel were actively engaged, small levels, low levels, but actively engaged in military action against six opponents on six different fronts. But those opponents were all coordinating together.

And the more important point is that — not just that they coordinate together, but we’ve seen in Hezbollah and Hamas now and others that they are increasing their technical capabilities steadily and significantly. The Israeli government, with its massive attack against Palestine, using over 500 2,000-pound bombs — was reported yesterday — and other, you know, massive ethnic cleansing, everything they’ve done, they haven’t made any significant gains on their three strategic goals, which is to eliminate Hamas, release the hostages and to bring about a new political situation in Gaza. So this is quite extraordinary. When you get two of the most powerful militaries in the world, Israel and the United States, with a lot of other militaries supporting them, unable to achieve basic goals after two-and-a-half months of barbaric attacks, that’s pretty significant.

And the last point I make here is that one of the reasons they’re not able to make significant gains is that these other groups, who are these Arab groups who are close to Iran, they work together in something called the “axis of resistance.” And this axis of resistance is starting to become much more effective in deterring or checking the Israeli-American military assaults and/or the political demands that they want. And we’ll see this now in the negotiations that will happen. What are happening now, they’re negotiating another exchange of prisoners and hostages and other things. And if there’s a peace negotiation that might happen later, you will see the power of this resistance axis manifesting itself politically rather than just militarily. This is a huge, huge development.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Rami Khouri, I wanted to ask you — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had an op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal in the past few days, and one of the points that he raised there in terms of the goals of Israel in the assault on Gaza is, to me, a completely new point that he’s raised here. He said that not only do they want to destroy Hamas and demilitarize Gaza, but that they want to deradicalize the Palestinians. In essence, that sounds to me, is to stamp out all potential opposition to Israel in the future. Nothing about a long-term settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. I’m wondering your — how you reacted to that opinion piece.

RAMI KHOURI: I don’t take it very seriously. I don’t take anything Benjamin Netanyahu says these days very seriously. This is a guy on the run. He is running from the law, his own law in Israel. And the only way that he can stay out of jail is to keep fighting, make himself indispensable by being a tough guy. And all it’s doing is killing more Israelis, killing more hostages. The death level among Israeli soldiers in the fighting in Gaza is getting higher and higher. Ten, 15 die on some days now. So, I don’t take anything he says very seriously. Neither should anybody else. He is the prime minister of Israel, and he does head this barbaric coalition of right-wing fascists that’s been let loose now in the West Bank and in Gaza and other places.

But I would also make the more important point that when he says that he wants to deradicalize Palestine, this is in keeping with a century of Zionist lies and propaganda and PR and spin, which the Israelis now do through their government — they have a ministry for international propaganda. And one of their key propaganda techniques, nonstop since the 1920s or '30s, has been to associate any of their foes in the region, whether it's Palestinians or Iranians or it’s Gamal Abdel Nasser or Saddam Hussein or al-Qaeda or anybody who they might not like in the region, they link them with the most awful person or group that is most awful for people in the West. So, with the Palestinians, Netanyahu has compared them to ISIS, to al-Qaeda, to Hitler, to, you know, any — he didn’t compare them to the Khmer Rouge, but he probably will if you give him time — to any group that does terrible things around the world. He says that’s what the Palestinians are like. And the reality is, if you go to any place in Palestine, including Gaza, and you sit with ordinary people, you see that this is a bunch of nonsense. But this is their strategy.

One of the critical things that’s happening now — and I’m working on a long article on this that will come out soon — is that along with the ability of the resistance axis and other — and popular support, by the way, that they have a lot of popular support in the region, as polling shows us, including 90% of people in Saudi Arabia don’t want to make peace with Israel until the Israelis make peace with the Palestinians. And Hamas’s popularity has risen.

But along with this major development which I mentioned, the second one, which I think is absolutely critical and explains a lot of the stuff that’s happening not just in the region but here in the United States, where Palestinians are, you know, thrown out of their jobs because of a tweet they did two years ago or for wearing a scarf that is part of their identity or for calling for a ceasefire, people are — Palestinians are punished for this. This is because this centurylong legacy of Zionist and then Israeli government public relations spin, diversion, lies, exaggerations, distortions, it’s still going on, but it doesn’t work as well. They don’t fool the world like they used to, because everything they do is out in the open. And you go to your social media, and you see everything that the Israelis are doing. It’s all now being documented. Files are being prepared for the International Criminal Court.

So, this is why the Israelis become extremely more violent and more outrageous in their political statements. And it also explains why I believe that they’ve focused heavily on the antisemitism accusations, which, of course, antisemitism and the Holocaust are seen as like the worst human crimes in modern history, even though antisemitism goes way back. So, they’re focusing a lot on antisemitism, they accuse people of being antisemitic or terrorists, because most of their other arguments don’t work anymore.

So this is a really important moment. That’s why it’s so important now for a credible group of people — not the United States government, which is not credible in this, but a credible group of people that includes the U.S., but not run by the U.S. — put together some kind of serious proposal to stop the fighting, get the prisoners and hostages exchanged and released, and start a serious political negotiation that can move the Palestinians and the Israelis and the whole region towards a negotiated permanent peace agreement. It’s very hard to do with the existing governments.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to ask you — you mentioned Saudi Arabia and the 90% support for the axis of resistance within the country. Could you comment on Saudi Arabia’s role right now, for instance, declining to join the coalition that the United States is trying to set up to protect shipping in the Red Sea? What do you make of Saudi Arabia’s stance right now?

RAMI KHOURI: Well, Saudi Arabia waged war against Yemen for five years with American and British technical support, refueling and intelligence and all this stuff. And they lost. They were driven out. The Saudis had to get out of Yemen. The Emiratis got out before, because they’re even less efficient at warfare. And the Emiratis are hunkered down in south Yemen trying to set up some kind of new country or something there. We don’t know what they’re doing. The Saudis got out. So, they understand the capabilities of Ansar Allah and the Yemeni people. Over time, the Yemenis have defeated almost every single person who has tried to come into their country and dominate them or occupy them or order them around. So, that’s one fact.

The second fact is the United States is radioactive politically in the Middle East and in most of the Global South. I would say about 80% of the population of the entire world wants nothing to do with Joe Biden or his amateur, you know, State Department and Defense Department leaders. And even the Defense Department of the U.S. is hesitant to get into any kind of military interaction in Yemen, because they understand how difficult it is. So, the Saudis understand this, as well. They don’t want to be sucked into some cockamamie American plan drawn up in some underground bunker in Iowa or Kansas — I don’t know where these things are — where they come up with these incredible ideas.

I’m old enough to remember the 1960s and '70s, when I was in college, and until today. The U.S. has tried four or five times over the last 60 years that I've been a journalist to come up with coalitions of Israelis, Americans and Arabs against some bad guy in the region. It could be Iraq. It could be Iran. It could be al-Qaeda, could be Nasser, could be the communists. It changes over time. Every time they’ve tried to do this, it doesn’t work, because the people running American foreign policy do not have the fundamental decency or strategic knowledge to understand that you can’t go into an Arab country, where 90% of the people support the Palestinians and want the Palestinians to live peacefully with an Israeli state. We are not against an Israeli Jewish-majority state, but it has to live with Palestinians peacefully. Ninety percent of people across most of the region want Palestinian rights to be resolved, and they don’t want 25 American bases all around the region, which is one reason people in Iraq are shooting at American bases in Iraq and Syria. And you can’t get Arab governments to just run roughshod over their people and say, “The hell with you. We’re going to make an alliance with Israel. We’re going to make an alliance with the U.S.”

They’ve learned the hard way that the populations in the Arab countries are not perpetually docile. We’ve had 10 years of uprising, from 2010 to 2020, and there are still things happening in many Arab countries. But there is no realistic way that you can get serious Arab governments to go into an alliance with the U.S. and Israel, whether it’s to protect shipping or to do anything else. The way you protect shipping in the Red Sea is you stop the assault on Gaza. That’s what the Yemenis have made clear. They’re only doing this, they’re only firing at Israeli-linked ships, because of what Israel is doing in Gaza. They said, “Stop the assault, the genocide on Gaza. We will stop shooting.” It’s in Yemen’s interest to have the ships come and go.

So, these are fundamental, commonsense elements of foreign policy, which, for some odd reason, do not pertain in Washington. Washington doesn’t know how — broadly speaking, doesn’t know how to engage in foreign policy. They use their warfare capabilities. They use sanctions. They veto stuff at the U.N. They make threats. They try to come up with these grandiose coalitions. And most of these have failed, since Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen today. They don’t work. And they keep trying them. It’s very puzzling. This is really one of the great puzzles that American political scientists and psychiatrists need to study. Why does the U.S. refuse to see realities around the world, until they’re defeated, and they get out, and then they, you know, negotiate with the Viet Cong, they negotiate with the Taliban? And they’ll negotiate with Hamas, as they negotiated with Arafat and the PLO. You’re going to see American officials sitting with Hamas, I would say six, eight months down the road probably. They start quietly meeting in cafes in Vienna and stuff, and then…

So, there’s something about American foreign policy, that’s formulated in the public sphere, that is both irrational and ineffective. And it’s largely because the people doing it do not understand how the world works, and respond to political, financial, electoral pressures in their own constituencies. The political leaderships in the U.S. are highly deficient in conducting a moral foreign policy, but they’re highly efficient at conducting a profitable mercantile electoral policy, where they get votes, where they get support for advertising, where they get favorable media. And this is a tragedy for the United States, which tries to tell the world that it is for human rights and decency, equal rights. And the world believed this for 30, 40, 50 years, but don’t believe it anymore. And Gaza is the kind of the exclamation mark on this, where the U.S. actively supports this genocide, will not do a ceasefire, and therefore this is the consequence. And the Saudis don’t want anything to do with this.

AMY GOODMAN: Rami Khouri, I want to thank you for being with us, Palestinian American journalist, senior public policy fellow at the American University of Beirut. We’ll link to your piece in Al Jazeera headlined “Watching the watchdogs: Why the West misinterprets Middle East power shifts,” speaking to us from Boston.

This is Democracy Now! When we come back, we’ll go to James Bamford, who has a new piece in The Nation magazine, then a professor at Columbia University, and we’ll hear from a student at Barnard talking about what’s happening and censorship on college campuses. Stay with us.

In a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his "deepest concern" at the "very heavy civilian toll and the absolute humanitarian emergency facing the civilian population of Gaza." Macron also stressed "the need to work towards a lasting ceasefire, with the help of all regional and international partners," an Elysée Palace readout said. 

Dozens of civilians were killed and injured outside of the al-Amal hospital in Khan Younis on Wednesday, the Palestine Red Crescent Society said in a post on X.

The organization said it was the fourth time the hospital was targeted in the last week, blaming Israel for the attack in a post on X. Hamas also blamed Israel for casualties outside of the hospital in a statement.

The IDF did not immediately have a response to a request for comment and NBC News has not been able to verify the the claims that the IDF was responsible. 

Israel’s murderous aerial bombing of the Maghazi refugee camp—which killed 100 people on Christmas Eve—underlined the scale of the carnage in Gaza and pointed to those responsible.

It was a “massacre committed on a crowded residential square”, said Gazan health ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qudra.

Israel says it issues evacuation orders so civilians can get to safety before military attacks. But people living in Maghazi said there was no such warning. And Israeli troops followed up the bombing with artillery shelling.

The camp’s population of 33,000 in more normal times had risen as people fled other parts of Gaza under attack. Maghazi, established in 1949, exists because of the first wave of slaughter and mass ethnic cleansing as Zionists founded Israel in 1948. That horror, known as the Nakba, is now being repeated.  

On the day of the Maghazi massacre, Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu proclaimed his Christmas message. He reinforced the racist and genocidal logic of the assault. “This is a battle, not only of Israel against these barbarians, it’s a battle of civilisation against barbarism,” he said.

The day after the killings, Netanyahu visited troops in Gaza. He expressed his pride in their work, telling them that he was “unusually impressed.” 

He went on, “Don’t stop. The war continues to the end. Until they are finished, no less than that.”

To suppress speaking out and to distort reality, a lot of attacks take place.  It's amazing that people in the US who supposedly believe in free speech have been perfectly happy to allow a foreign government to terrorize and attack US students.  From yesterday's DEMOCRACY NOW!

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to end now with a Barnard professor and student, as we continue to look at what some are calling the “Palestine exception” to free speech and academic freedom on college campuses across the United States. A New York Times story this past weekend noted, quote, “a sustained antiwar protest like the one against the Gaza invasion has not been seen for decades,” unquote. But many schools have tried to shut down students and teachers who comment on Gaza or call for a ceasefire.

In one of the latest developments, professors at Syracuse University say upper-level administrators surveilled, harassed and intimidated undergraduates peacefully gathering for a study-in in support of Palestine earlier this month. So they issued a “Statement of Solidarity in Opposition to the Repressive Climate on US Campuses.” That’s what the letter was called, signed by more than 900 educators at this point nationwide, and the list is growing.

In a minute, we’ll be joined by a professor from Barnard College, sister school to Columbia. New York Civil Liberties Union recently sent a letter to the president of Barnard to protest a new policy that requires departments to submit content for their websites for approval by the Office of the Provost. Democracy Now! spoke with Safiya O’Brien, a Barnard College student and student organizer with Columbia University chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine.

SAFIYA O’BRIEN: The most prominent discrimination and harassment on campus has been through not only other students and faculty on campus, but the administration’s vilification of Palestinians through these university-wide emails that they’ve been sending. This is not only vilifying us as student groups that are advocating for an end to the violence as it ensues, but even allowing professors and adults that have very prominent positions in the university to speak so harshly against us and call for harm against students of color that are advocating for Palestine, and with impunity. We have documented hundreds of harassment complaints, because the administration hasn’t helped us at all with these harassment cases.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Barnard College student Safiya O’Brien, organizer with the Columbia University chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine.

For more, we’re joined by Premilla Nadasen, a professor of history at Barnard College, also co-director of the Barnard Center for Research on Women and author of the recent book, Care: The Highest Stage of Capitalism.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Professor Nadasen. We just have a minute. Then we will do a post show interview and post it at But if you can talk about what’s happening on campus and why you signed this letter?

PREMILLA NADASEN: What we’ve seen, Amy, over the past couple of months is a whole series of strategies that universities have deployed, including Barnard College and Columbia University, to censor student and faculty speech and curtail academic freedom. This includes the suspension of Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace on campus, the cancellation of events, the policing of content on departmental websites, as you’ve mentioned, the presence of NYPD on campus. And this relates back to what you started with, and that is a Palestine exception.

What Barnard College has been doing is actually writing new policy as a way to then retroactively decide that events are unauthorized or, in fact, do not follow procedure. And I think there are some really critical issues here, and one of the critical issues is how are decisions at the university made. A lot of these have been made unilaterally, without consultation by faculty or students, and is, in fact, a violation of the university’s own conduct guidelines. And clearly, there’s a tremendous amount of influence by trustees, administrators, alumni and donors, who are making decisions about what kinds of speech ought to take place on college campuses and what can and cannot be posted.

AMY GOODMAN: You signed a statement headlined “Solidarity in Opposition to the Repressive Climate on US Campuses.” Professor Nadasen, if you could start off by talking about what’s happening at Barnard and Columbia University around the groups like Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace, and then what you’re being told to do as a professor in dealing with this crisis?

PREMILLA NADASEN: Yeah. Thanks for having me, Amy.

So, what we’ve seen at Barnard College — and Barnard is a sister college of Columbia University — is where the college and the university are really creating an infrastructure of rules and regulations in order to censor speech and curtail academic freedom. We’ve seen this in a number of instances — the suspension of two student organizations, Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine, presumably because they arranged an unauthorized walkout and rally, because there was supposedly threatening rhetoric and intimidation. However, when pushed, the administration is not able to identify the specific instances of this intimidating behavior. Threatening letters have been sent by deans to students.

We’ve seen the cancellation of events. I direct the Barnard Center for Research on Women. We had organized an event in sponsorship with Students for Justice in Palestine, which the university canceled the night before the event, claiming that Students for Justice in Palestine is an outside organization, even though it’s a Columbia organization, and Barnard students are members of that. They claim there was now a new five-week prior approval policy for co-sponsored events. And then there was an event that the Columbia Law Students for Palestine organized with Omar Shakir, who’s with Human Rights Watch. And so, all of these events have been canceled on, presumably, procedural grounds. And what the university and the college are doing is they’re using procedure and codes of conduct as a way to cancel events and silence students and faculty.

The other example, which you mentioned in your opening, is the control of faculty websites, departmental websites and center websites. Our Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Department wrote a statement in solidarity with Palestine that was posted on October 22nd — on October 21st, sorry. It was removed on October 22nd by the Provost’s Office. And just a few weeks later, the college created a new policy saying that any website content on departmental pages must be reviewed and approved by the Provost’s Office prior to posting.

And so, this is really crucial, because I think what it suggests is that decisions are being made unilaterally by the university officials, by college officials, without consultation with faculty and without through proper procedure, which includes going through the University Senate. Trustees, administrators, alumni and donors are the ones who are actually having undue influence in what — in the kinds of decisions that are being made around academic freedom and freedom of expression.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Professor Nadasen, I wanted to —

PREMILLA NADASEN: And, you know, the —

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yeah, I wanted to ask you, several — about a decade ago, the University of Chicago initiated a whole new movement among administrators at American universities, which they called the “Chicago Principles,” that supposedly, quote, said that, quote, “the University’s overarching commitment to free, robust, and uninhibited debate.” And then they got universities all around the country to sign on to this. Columbia signed on in 2016. How does the university reconcile its commitment to these Chicago Principles while at the same time shutting down unpopular speech, as far as they’re concerned, that has to do with Palestine?

PREMILLA NADASEN: What Barnard College has done is that it has actually rewritten its political activity guidelines. It rewrote it on November 13th. And what the new policy suggests is that specific actions, statements or positions taken by public officials or governmental bodies is off limits to faculty or is not protected by academic freedom. We cannot attempt to influence legislation or the outcome related to actions by the legislator. Previously, political activity was understood in terms of electoral or partisan politics. But clearly what the college is doing is expanding this notion of political activity and suggesting that faculty and students are in fact in violation of its policy.

But the Chicago Principles are extremely important. And what it says is that there, in fact, should be free and open inquiry, debate, discussion around all sorts of political issues, even if those are difficult and perhaps uncomfortable for people. Our faculty voted just a few weeks ago in favor of the Chicago Principles, because what we have seen now is, in fact, the administration using the power it has as a way to suppress any kind of debate and discussion, especially around Palestine.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Nadasen, are you concerned about speaking out? And do you need any prior approval? And what kind of discussions are you having among the professors at Columbia and Barnard? And talk about your decision to sign on to this letter, which speaks out against censorship and repression on college campuses, started by these Syracuse University professors, that has now close to a thousand signatures.

PREMILLA NADASEN: Students — faculty and staff at Barnard and Columbia formed a Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine shortly after the suspension of JVP and SJP on campus. So, we believe it’s extremely important for faculty and staff to be able to speak out on this issue, partly as a way to protect students. Students have been bearing the brunt of the intimidation and the threatening tactics on the part of the administration. They are the ones who have been suspended, who have been threatened with suspension individually.

And there are always risks. There are always risks in speaking out. I am on the Canary Mission website, and I have been for a very long time, because this is not a new issue for me. But I do think that there is really too much at stake right now. There’s too much at stake around what is happening in Gaza and in Palestine. There’s too much at stake in terms of what we need to be able to do on college campuses.

This is not the first time this has happened at Barnard. In 2015, the college changed its banner policy. It used to be that students could put banners up announcing events that were happening. In 2015, during Israeli Apartheid Week, students put up a banner. Shortly after that, the college changed its policy, and students are no longer to put — are no longer allowed to put banners up.

And so, I think we have to think about the meaning, really, of a liberal arts education and how we want to be able to create a climate that is for — that is one that allows academic debate, allows discussion, allows people to disagree with ideas, where we can have students challenged and give students a space to voice their opinions and faculty the space to teach very difficult topics.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to ask you: In terms of the impact on the student movement, overall, on student organizations, what has been the response of the organizations, given the fact that this is not government censorship? This is basically censorship imposed by donors, in essence, through their dollar contributions or the withholding of money to these universities.

PREMILLA NADASEN: Right. Students have been leading the way in the struggle. So, after JVP and SJP were suspended on the campus, 80 student organizations came together and formed CU Apartheid Divest as a way to represent the pro-Palestinian issue and to incorporate a lot of the agenda of JVP and SJP. Students on campus are currently calling for a tuition strike in the spring and trying to build support for that. So students are leading the way despite the threatening and intimidating behavior on the part of the college administration.

AMY GOODMAN: And I wanted to ask you about the congressional hearing where Elise Stefanik went after these three female college presidents — right? — the president of MIT, the president of Harvard and the president of University of Pennsylvania, who ultimately resigned. The president of Harvard got support from students, from professors, and she did not resign, Claudine Gay, but is under enormous, withering attack right now. Now they’re saying she’s guilty of plagiarism and has to step down. If you can talk about whether you’re following that, and the effect that that has had at Barnard and Columbia and around the country as college presidents are taken down, the most vulnerable, women and women of color? She was the first Black woman president of Harvard. And, of course, UPenn was President Magill, who is a female president of UPenn.

PREMILLA NADASEN: That’s right, Amy. And, in fact, many of the students who have been targeted on the campus here at Barnard and Columbia are largely students of color, and women of color, as well. So we’re seeing this across the board. It’s hard.

You have to place what’s happening at Barnard and Columbia right now in this larger national context. And the House subcommittee that you’re talking about, the hearings on antisemitism on college campuses, the Biden’s administration issuing of guidelines around antisemitism on campus, I think the core issue here — oh, and I will also add the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, that is investigating a number of schools around the country. I think part of the problem with this is the creation or the assumption that any criticism of the state of Israel is, in fact, antisemitic, and the ways in which, as you mentioned, donors, trustees and alumni are having undue influence on the ways in which there is space to critique the state of Israel on college campuses.

The AAUP has principles of academic freedom that state very clearly that the purpose of academic freedom is to protect the academe as a space for the production and dissemination of knowledge, that serves the public irrespective of governmental, corporate or institutional interests. And so, what we’re seeing right now is a violation of that, at Barnard, at Columbia, at Harvard, at Brown, and Penn, and a shutting down of debate, particularly around Palestine. And this is precisely why the New York Civil Liberties Union wrote this open letter to the Barnard administration about control of websites.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Nadasen, I want to end by asking about your own background. You said you have been outspoken on Palestinian issues for quite some time. You said your profile is on the Canary Mission website. We just spoke to the investigative journalist James Bamford about the Canary Mission and what it has been doing around profiling students and professors in the United States. People go to But why you are interested in this issue? Can you talk about where you were born, and what that means for your analysis of the situation in the Middle East?

PREMILLA NADASEN: I was born in South Africa under apartheid. I lived there as a child and moved to the United States, but went back periodically. So I was deeply impacted by apartheid in South Africa and became active in the anti-apartheid movement in high school, and then in college, and knew about what was happening in Palestine, but don’t think I fully understood.

I did go on a delegation to Palestine for the first time. My first time in the region was in 2011 on a women of color delegation. And, Amy, I will just have to say I was shocked by what I saw. And I was shocked mostly with the parallels I saw to apartheid South Africa — the gates, the control of roads, the control of movement, the checkpoints, the use of military force, threatening military force, soldiers with guns. The areas we went to were essentially a militarized state. And even though I had spoken out about Palestine prior to that, I think traveling there and seeing for myself what is happening in Palestine had a real impact on how I could understand and see the issue there. And so I made a commitment at that point to continue to speak out, and to speak out whenever I could, because I think it’s unconscionable. I think what has been happening for decades in Palestine is unconscionable.

And I think what we’re really seeing now is a collective punishment and mass starvation in Gaza and unprecedented attacks in the West Bank. And it’s something that’s being supported by U.S. dollars. So I think it’s very important that we, as Americans who are paying tax dollars that are going to support the Israeli state, speak out about the things that we think are morally just, morally right, and to try to have — and to vote — and to vote as a way to make our voices heard.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Premilla Nadasen, we want to thank you so much for being with us, professor of history at Barnard College, co-director of the Barnard Center for Research on Women, one of close to 1,000 educators who have signed a statement, the headline, “Solidary in Opposition to the Repressive Climate on US Campuses.” The list is growing.

The following sites updated: