Thursday, November 30, 2023

James Bond, Hilal Cibik

  • James Bond 26 will struggle to stand out from Daniel Craig's legacy, which redefined the franchise with groundbreaking creative choices and a new demographic of fans.
  • Daniel Craig's Bond films revived the franchise's success by delivering something new and avoiding repetitive tropes, reigniting interest and proving the franchise could adapt to new eras and tastes.

  • The next Bond film faces challenges due to Bond's death in Daniel Craig's canon, as it must decide whether to make a hard reset or introduce a new agent with a different name, all while maintaining the core spirit of the franchise.

I'd agree with that.  Daniel Craig was incredible.  He did a great job.  He and Sean Connery are the two best Bonds.  Daniel made the role his own.  I think he's going to be very hard to follow.

But . . .

If they can get a good one, he could easily top Daniel's films.

That's because the films got weaker and weaker.  And the writers of the last two films especially tried to turn Bond into Clint Eastwood.  Daniel deserved better scripts and scenes that were better than the basic man-on-revenge-streak storylines.     Seriously, save that for Liam Neeson films.  We watch Bond for gadgets and cars not rifle shoot outs.

Turning to the ongoing assault on Gaza, at COMMON DREAMS, Hilal Cibik writes:

Gaza has been enduring one of the most devastating massacres in this century. The strip has been under blockade for two decades, and the world has recently witnessed some of the bloodiest days in the region’s history. On October 7, following a horrific terrorist attack by Hamas on Israel that took some 1,200 lives and made over 200 people hostages, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared, “We are at war.” He initiated a “military operation” that, despite its putative targeting of the Hamas cadres, has had a much more severe impact on thousands of Palestinian civilians. He cut off potable water, electricity, fuel, and food.

Charges of war crimes against Israel have been discussed by the United Nations, as the Israeli military has thumbed its nose at International Humanitarian Law, which makes attacks on hospitals and schools off-limits under most circumstances. Additionally, Israel has bombed refugee camps, churches, and mosques, leaving Palestinian noncombatants with no safe place. If these actions by Israel raise important questions regarding its compliance with international law, they also raise concerns about the effectiveness of the United Nations in addressing the crisis.

The Ineffectiveness of International Law and Peace Institutions 

For decades, the Gaza Strip has been a hotbed of conflict and tension. A total of 2.3 million residents (about twice the population of Hawaii) live in this small 41 kilometers (about 25.48 miles) long and between 6- and 12-kilometers wide enclave. Already trapped in one of the most densely populated areas on Earth, its inhabitants have endured countless hardships Yet, despite countless resolutions, diplomatic negotiations, and the formation of international bodies dedicated to maintaining peace and security, nothing has changed for the people of Gaza. The international community’s response to the Gaza crisis has been a glaring example of the insufficiency and ineffectiveness of international law and peace and security institutions such as the United Nations. The current humanitarian pause is a mere Band-Aid on a potentially mortal wound.

The United Nations, which is the most important institution established for peace and security after the global horrors of WW II, appears to be powerless when it comes to the Gaza crisis. The countless past resolutions condemning the violence and calling for an end to hostilities have done little to change the situation on the ground. The Israeli government is vowing to start back up its devastating bombardment of the refugees later this week.

Even during the current pause, the delivery of humanitarian aid remains insufficient. Some 500 trucks of aid entered the strip daily before the current conflict, and less than 100 per day are entering these days. The people of Gaza, already dealing with the consequences of long campaigns of total war that have put noncombatants in the crosshairs, face additional suffering because of the inability of international institutions to ensure that aid reaches those in desperate need. 

We need a cease-fire and we need it immediately.  We also need to end the colonization of the Palestinian people.

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

Wednesday, November 29, 2023.  The slaughter continues, the attempts to enforce a silence continues.

The BBC thought editing out support for Palestinians would make it go away.  Instead, it only demonstrates that while they forever try to curry favor with the Israeli government, they don't care if they're caught being biased against Palestinians.

In Glasgow, Scotland, the BBC has been accused of censorship after the network edited calls for a Gaza ceasefire out of its coverage of an awards ceremony. This is BAFTA-winning director Eilidh Munro, who won for her short film “A Long Winter” but had her acceptance speech cut from BBC’s edited version of the ceremony posted online.

Eilidh Munro: “We have got a responsibility to elevate the world’s most important stories, and we want to take this opportunity tonight to say that we stand in solidarity with everyone in Palestine.”

As ABC NEWS noted, "There has also been a surge in violence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Israeli forces have killed at least 239 Palestinians in the territory since Oct. 7, according to Palestinian health authorities."   The pause has not protected Palestinians outside of Gaza.  THE GUARDIAN notes:

Two Palestinian children were killed on Wednesday by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin, Reuters reports the Palestinian health ministry said.

Al Jazeera reports, citing the Palestinian Wafa news agency, that Israeli forces seized an injured person from an ambulance while he they being transported to the hospital.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society has shared on social media a video which it claims shows “Israeli occupation forces prevent Palestine Red Crescent Society paramedics from reaching a besieged neighbourhood in Jenin refugee camp, despite the presence of injured persons who need help and whose life is threatened.”

The international president of Doctors Without Borders, Christos Christou, said access to a hospital in the West Bank’s Jenin refugee camp had been blocked by the Israeli military. In a video posted late Tuesday on X, formerly Twitter, Christou said that he and other members of the medical organization had been “trapped” at Khalil Suleiman Hospital for 2½ hours while the Israeli army conducted an operation that he said was hindering its ability to offer lifesaving services.

“There is no way for any of the injured patients to reach the hospital, and there’s no way for us to reach these people,” Christou said. In the video, he said two Palestinians “died of wounds while ambulances could not reach them.” He also said “Israeli military vehicles blocked the entrance of the hospital and the road, preventing ambulances from leaving.”

As for Gaza,  CNN explains, "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."  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."  ABC NEWS notes, "In the Gaza Strip, more than 15,000 people have been killed and over 36,000 have been wounded by Israeli forces since Oct. 7, according to the Hamas Government Media Office."  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. "

REUTERS notes, "Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday told United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres that Israel must be held accountable in international courts for what he called war crimes it committed in Gaza, the Turkish presidency said."

The world has had enough.  The hypocrisy is on full display.  US President Joe Biden suffers in one poll after another because he's lied -- he's repeated propaganda put out by the Israeli government even when White House advisors have warned him that it can be verified -- and his 'hugging' of the Israeli government has not delivered any real results although he keeps pretending it has and keeps knocking Barack Obama for the way Barack handled the Israeli government in his second term as president.

From yesterday's DEMOCRACY NOW! let's note this -- especially pay attention to Jeremy Scahill regarding the issue of context.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan GonzĂĄlez.

Israel is continuing to detain the head of Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest hospital in Gaza. Last week, the Israeli military detained Muhammad Abu Salmiya as he was evacuating patients south from Gaza City.

Israel raided Al-Shifa, claiming Hamas ran a command and control center under the hospital, but Israel has yet to provide any hard evidence to back that up. Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak recently spoke with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. He admitted Israel built the bunkers decades ago underneath Al-Shifa.

EHUD BARAK: It’s already known for many years that they have in the bunkers, that originally was built by Israeli constructors underneath Shifa, were used as a command post of the Hamas in a kind of a junction of several — several tunnels, part of this system. I don’t know to say to what extent it is a major. It’s probably not the only kind of command post. Several others are under other hospitals or in other sensitive places. But it’s for sure had been used by Hamas even during this conflict.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Well, when you say it was built by Israeli engineers, did you misspeak?

EHUD BARAK: No, no. Someday, you know, decades ago, we were wanting the place, so we held them. It was decades, many decades, ago, probably five, four decades ago, that we helped them to build these bunkers in order to enable more — more space for the operation of the hospital within the very limited size of this compound.

AMY GOODMAN: Again, that was the former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

We’re joined now by Jeremy Scahill, senior reporter and correspondent at The Intercept, author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army and Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield. One of his most recent pieces for The Intercept is headlined “Al-Shifa Hospital, Hamas’s Tunnels, and Israeli Propaganda.” Jeremy is joining us from Germany.

Jeremy, can you talk about what he just said?

JEREMY SCAHILL: Yeah. Well, first of all, Amy, the Al-Shifa Hospital, originally, going back to the years of the British Mandate in the 1940s, it was a British military barracks, and then it was converted into a hospital, under both the Israeli and the Egyptian occupations of that area. And then, in the 1980s, the Israelis began to do extensive construction on it. In fact, I was looking at the Israeli Architecture Archives that were set up, and you can go back and look at [inaudible] from that era, and two Tel Aviv architects oversaw the expansion of the Al-Shifa Hospital. And by 1983, they had finished the construction of underground facilities at the hospital.

Now, we should also say, it’s not uncommon for hospitals the world over to have underground facilities for a variety of reasons. But when you’re in an active war zone, it’s very common. In fact, Israel has many underground facilities at its hospitals throughout Israel and has been using them since October 7th, certainly. They’re considered more secure places to hold vulnerable patients.

And so, what we know about Israel’s construction is that they at least built an underground operating room. They built a network of tunnels. And, in fact, during some of the construction, the son of one of the Israeli architects who designed the underground facility said that when Israel was building these in the 1980s, they hired people from Hamas as security to guard the construction project to ensure that it wouldn’t get attacked.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Jeremy, could you talk also about the thousands of prisoners that Israel has been holding, many of them without any trial for extended years, and yet the Netanyahu government refers to all of them as “terrorists”?

JEREMY SCAHILL: Yeah. I mean, Juan, I went through — and this connects also to the narrative around Al-Shifa. But just to directly answer your question, Israel released a list of 300 names that it said were fair game for a hostage-prisoner handover because of the truce with Hamas. And I went through all 15 pages of those names. I read each of the individual dates of birth, the dates of arrest, what the nature of the charges were — if there were any charges. Some of them don’t even list any actual charges against them. And what I discovered is that of the 300 names, 233 of these prisoners — most of them are teenage boys, some are — there’s a teenage girl who’s 15 years old — the 233 of 300 have not been convicted of anything. They haven’t been sentenced for anything. And Israel is the only country in the so-called developed world that tries children in military courts.

And so, you know, the Israeli narrative is that these are all hardened terrorists, because Palestinians are not allowed to have any context. Palestinians are not treated as full human beings. So, when a child — maybe his brother was killed by the Israeli forces, maybe his mother was killed by the Israeli forces — throws a rock at a soldier, their houses are often then raided at night. They’re snatched. They’re taken to interrogation without the presence of a parent or a lawyer. And then they’re pressured into pleading guilty under threat of spending years in a military judicial process.

Now, I say this relates to Al-Shifa because the colonial narrative always — and you can look at the British with the IRA, you can look at the position against Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress — is that those who are victims of the occupation have no rights to legitimate struggle. And so, the prisoners that Israel are holding, overwhelmingly, are people that are accused of committing political acts of violence. And that context also bleeds into Israel’s narrative about Al-Shifa: Al-Shifa is not really a hospital.

Al-Shifa — look, I don’t know if you guys have the video, but if you do, you should play it. Israel puts out a video to justify the siege of Al-Shifa Hospital, the most important hospital in Gaza, where you had dozens of children that needed incubators. Israel had knocked out the power supply. You had the most vulnerable patients there. They put out a video, the Israeli Defense Forces, that is this high-tech three-dimensional rendering, they said, of an underground, what I just call a Hamas Pentagon, and they imply that this is where — this is the central facility where Hamas is planning its terror operations.

When Israel finally then lays full siege to it, with the backing of the Biden administration and Biden himself — they co-signed all of that. They said that hostages had been held under the hospital. They said that it was used as a command and control center. When Israel finally starts to access the hospital, they take embedded journalists on these propaganda tours. And what they found was essentially nothing of any major significance. They go in, and they say, “Oh, look, we found these rifles behind an MRI machine,” which is ridiculous for anyone who knows the technology of an MRI machine and the magnetism of it. They’re all conveniently placed, neatly arranged. There’s one Hamas vest with a Hamas logo on it. So that gets ridiculed, and skepticism is expressed even by corporate media outlets that historically print Israel’s propaganda as just established fact.

So, then they finally gain access to a tunnel in the area. They go down there, and they say, “Oh, this tunnel is X number of meters long, and there’s a blast-proof door that has a hole so that the Hamas terrorists can fire at us. So we need to take some time before we blow it open. And then on the other side is going to be this command and control center.” So, finally, then, last week, they blow the thing open. They go in there. And what do they find? They find three rooms, basically. One looks like a kind of very old-school, 1980s-style exam room from a hospital. There’s a sink somewhere in there. There’s two toilets. And then you have this utter clown from the IDF who has been made a fool of himself by doing these tours. It’s like Geraldo Rivera looking for Al Capone’s vault. He’s running around, saying, “Aha! There’s electricity in here. This is a Hamas command center. Aha! They had an air conditioner in here.” You know, the pipes are rusty. Many of the electrical wires aren’t even connected.

Now, I don’t know for a fact that Hamas guys weren’t under there. It wouldn’t shock me if at some point Hamas did have people under there. But we were told this was like a Hamas Pentagon and that it was so dangerous that it justified laying siege to a hospital filled with the most vulnerable people. This is akin to sort of the George H.W. Bush administration lies about the Iraqis pulling babies from incubators. It’s an utter lie that was co-signed and promoted by President Joe Biden and his administration, and they should be made to answer for this, because it wasn’t just Al-Shifa. They did it at the Indonesia Hospital. They did it at other hospitals. Of course Hamas has networks of tunnels underneath Gaza, 150 to 300 kilometers, by some estimates. Israel is waging a targeted assassination campaign against them, and they live in a confined area waging a guerrilla war. That’s not news. But Israel tried to rebrand something that anyone who’s followed this already knows, and tried to make it seem like it’s a smoking gun. And, in fact, it was a lethal lie.

AMY GOODMAN: Jeremy Scahill, we want to thank you for being with us, senior reporter, correspondent at The Intercept. We’ll link to your pieces on Al-Shifa and Palestinian prisoners at

Coming up, we remember the life and legacy of Pablo Yoruba GuzmĂĄn, who co-founded the New York chapter of the Young Lords. Back in 20 seconds.

And as bad as the destruction has been, it will get worse.  As Tina Turner sang, "You can't stop the pain of your children crying out in your head/They always said that the living would envy the dead."

The World Health Organization also said that only a “trickle” of aid was reaching Gaza, even during the pause in fighting. “It’s barely registering,” said Margaret Harris, spokesperson for the organisation. The scale of displacement meant needs were growing daily, even when there were no new war injuries.

The UN estimates 1.8 million people in Gaza have fled their homes, nearly four in five residents, with children making up half of those crowded into shelters, given shelter by relatives, or living in tents or cars.

“It is not just the hospitals, everybody everywhere has dire health needs now, because they are starving, because they lack clean water, they are crowded together, they are in terror so they have massive mental health needs. And there is a continuing rise in outbreaks of infections disease,” Harris said. 

“Eventually, we will see more people dying from disease than we are even seeing from the bombardment, if we are not able to put back this health system and provide the basics of life. Food, water, medicines and of course fuel to operate hospitals.”

Diarrhoea increased by 45 times compared with the same period last year, and other communicable diseases, from respiratory infections to hygiene issues such as lice, have risen, she said, but people had little hope of getting treatment.

Almost three-quarters of hospitals in Gaza and two-thirds of primary health care clinics have shut down because of damage from hostilities or lack of fuel, the WHO says. The north of Gaza is even more critical, with hospitals “almost entirely shut down”.

Even with simple illnesses where parents understood how to protect their children, such as providing hydration to those with diarrhoea, they were powerless because of a lack of food or clean water.

On Monday, the World Health Organization issued a dire warning: Even after the relentless Israeli bombing that has left over 20,000 Gazans dead or missing, the death toll from infectious disease in the period ahead is likely to be even higher. 

“We will see more people dying from disease than from bombardment if we are not able to put back together this health system,” Margaret Harris, a spokesperson for the WHO, said at a briefing in Geneva on Tuesday.

For two months, Israel has systematically targeted Gaza’s hospital system for destruction. To date, 207 health personnel have been killed, and 56 ambulances have been attacked. Twenty-six hospitals and 55 health centers have ceased operations.

In the latest horrific scene, footage has emerged of premature babies being left to die and decompose in hospital beds at Al-Naser Hospital after Palestinian medical personnel were forced at gunpoint to abandon them.

“We were subjected to a direct targeting operation by the Israeli forces after strangling the health system on the first day of the aggression by cutting off medical supplies, fuel and electricity,” said Palestinian Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qudra.

The destruction of Gaza’s healthcare system compounds the catastrophic consequences of the starvation and dehydration of the population by Israel’s blockade of food, fuel and water, and the mass displacement of nearly three-quarters of the population.

AMY GOODMAN: We begin today’s show in Burlington, Vermont, where three Palestinian college students were shot on Saturday as they were walking to dinner at the home of one of the students’ grandmothers, who lives near the University of Vermont. Two of the men were wearing keffiyehs, and they were speaking Arabic at the time of the attack. The young men have been identified as Hisham Awartani, a Brown University student; Kinnan Abdalhamid, of Haverford College; and Tahseen Ahmad, a student at Trinity College. They were all 20 years old — they’re all 20 years old and graduates of the Ramallah Friends School in the occupied West Bank. Two of the students remain hospitalized. Hisham Awartani, who was shot in the spine, has reportedly lost feeling in the lower part of his body and may never walk again.

Authorities have charged a 48-year-old white man named Jason Eaton with three counts of second-degree attempted murder. He’s being held without bail. He pleaded not guilty on Monday. He reportedly shot the students from his porch as they walked by. U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said the FBI is investigating whether the shooting is a hate crime.

The shooting comes just weeks after a 6-year-old Palestinian American boy was stabbed to death near Chicago by his landlord.

Tamara Tamimi, the mother of one of the students, Kinnan Abdalhamid, told ABC News, quote, “To us, it’s decades of dehumanizing policy and rhetoric from U.S. leaders towards Palestinians and Arabs, including from the Biden administration, which has caused our children to be in the situation that they’re in,” unquote.

On Monday, relatives of the men shot in Vermont joined local authorities at a news conference at Burlington City Hall. This is Rich Price, the uncle of the Brown student, Hisham Awartani.

RICH PRICE: We speak only on behalf of the family because the family can’t be here. I want to say that these three young men are incredible. And that’s not just a proud uncle speaking, but it’s true. They are — they have their lives in front of them. …

I moved here 15 years ago, and I never imagined that this sort of thing could happen. And my sister lives in the occupied West Bank, and people often ask me, “Aren’t you worried about your sister? Aren’t you worried about your nephews and your niece?” And the reality is, as difficult as their life is, they are surrounded by incredible sense of community. And “tragic irony” is not even the right phrase, but to have them come stay with me for Thanksgiving and have something like this happen speaks to the level of civic vitriol, speaks to the level of hatred that exists in some corners of this country. It speaks to a sickness of gun violence that exists in this country.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Rich Price, the uncle of Hisham Awartani, one of the three college students of Palestinian descent who were shot Saturday in Burlington, Vermont. And this is Kinnan Abdalhamid’s uncle, Radi Tamimi.

RADI TAMIMI: Kinnan grew up in the West Bank, and we always thought that that could be more of a risk in terms of his safety, and sending him here would be, you know, the right decision. And we feel somehow betrayed in that decision here. And, you know, we’re just trying to come to terms with everything.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined by two guests. In Burlington, Vermont, Wafic Faour is with us. He’s a Palestinian refugee from Lebanon, has lived in Vermont for years. He’s a member of Vermonters for Justice in Palestine. And in Bethesda, Maryland, Joyce Ajlouny is the former director of the Ramallah Friends School, the school where all three of the students shot in Vermont graduated from. She’s now the general secretary of the international Quaker social justice organization American Friends Service Committee. She herself is Palestinian American.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Wafic, you’re in Burlington. Let’s begin with you. Where were you on Saturday when you got the news that three young Palestinian students, all 20 years old, best friends, visiting one of their grandmothers for Thanksgiving, were shot?

WAFIC FAOUR: I was at my house in Richmond. Thank you, Amy, for inviting us. I was at my house. We were organizing many activities and rallies because of what is happening on Palestine and this genocide war against our people over there. Definitely, I was shocked. And our community here are terrified and angry.

But, Amy, we should talk about what brought this atmosphere of hate. And this is a hate crime, and we should call it as is. From the federal level, the actions of Biden administration’s and Secretary of State Blinken and the defense secretary, they’re supporting Israel unconditionally and talking about the Palestinian victims and questioning the numbers of the Palestinian Health Ministry. This is on the federal level. And here in Vermont, for the past two years we have living under siege, too, from attacks from institutions here. When we brought resolution to talk about Palestinian rights, human rights and the protection of the Palestinian people, we found attacks from administrations in UVM, University of Vermont in Middlebury, and, unfortunately, from many faith-based institutions. And they called us antisemitic. And this atmosphere will bring to the American public that if you talk about Palestinian rights, you’re going to be called “terrorist.” If you wear a keffiyeh like this, you’re going to be called “terrorist.” And this is what brought this crime. And it is hate crime. Unfortunately, our leaders here in Vermont didn’t call it as is. And we should call it as is and use the right words.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Wafic, specifically at the press conference that was held on Monday by law enforcement, what do you believe should have been said but was not?

WAFIC FAOUR: Well, I mean, when state attorney Sarah George mentioned it’s a hateful event, but it is not hate crime. I mean, if it happened to another community, it would have been called hate crime immediately. And now they are questioning of the mental capacity of the attacker, when it is — believe me, we feel here if the name of the attacker is an Arab name or a Muslim name, he will be called “terrorist” immediately by the media, and the media will have a field of describing that person. Now the attacker is a white supremacist, and because of the atmosphere and racism against the Muslims, the Arabs and the Palestinians here, in this state and all across United States, we don’t call it as is.

At the same time, the mayor of Burlington, who opposed and he promised to reject and to veto any resolution in our progressive city that calls for Palestinian human rights and our rights as a Palestinian American citizen and our solidarity groups to call — to use our First Amendment and to call for the right of BDS, Boycott, Divestment and Sanction. And that happened a year and a half ago. You cannot have a double standard that attack us because we are activists for the rights of the Palestinians, at the same time when something like this, you just bring sorrow and mourning and defend yourself and where you stand. You have to stand with people justice regardless, and you have to be the mayor of all the citizens.

And I call for the Burlington councilmembers to bring a stronger resolution, and mainly for ceasefire now. You know, the Palestinians are dying. And we are working to stop this genocide over there. And we have — our local leaders, they have responsibility to support our solidarity group and the people in Vermont and Burlington.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to ask you — the mother of one of the injured young men, Hisham Awartani, his mother, Elizabeth Price, has been trying to leave Ramallah and travel to the U.S. to see her son. Is there any news about whether she’ll be able to come?

WAFIC FAOUR: I don’t know. I heard that she’s coming. I saw a statement about that. I don’t know if she’s on her way already. I know a sister, and her husband, of another victim is here. I am in contact with the stepfather of another victim, and he told me his health is improving now.

But we have to take this crime as example of what we feel and what we are experiencing here. We stand by those victims. But at the same time, I have to talk to you about the fear and the anger of our community here in Vermont, the Palestinian and the Arab Muslim community in particular, and our solidarity groups and young students who getting attacked by UVM administrations and a year and a half ago from Middlebury administration, too.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to get to that, but I want to bring in Joyce Ajlouny into the conversation, former director of the Ramallah Friends School, the school where all three boys went to school in Ramallah. She’s now the general secretary of American Friends Service Committee, joining us from Virginia [sic]. Can you talk about where they went to school? These were three best friends, now 20 years old. I think you’re muted.

JOYCE AJLOUNY: Terribly sorry.


JOYCE AJLOUNY: Yes, Amy. Thank you for having me.

As you were speaking to Wafic, I received a message from Ali Awartani and Elizabeth Price. They’re saying they’re on their way to America — just to answer your question about if they are planning to come. They are en route, traveling to be with Hisham.

AMY GOODMAN: And I should correct that you’re in Bethesda, Maryland. Sorry, I said Virginia.


AMY GOODMAN: Go ahead.

JOYCE AJLOUNY: No worries. That’s close enough.

Yes, the Ramallah Friends School was established in 1869 by Quaker missionaries. It’s a phenomenal place. I’m a graduate of the school myself. My grandmother, who was a Palestinian Quaker, graduated from there in the 1920s. So, this is a proud place for many of us. And not that it’s educationally and academically superior than IP education, kindergarten through 12th grade, but it’s also the Quaker values and the foundations of peace and nonviolence and teaching tolerance and service and integrity, conflict resolution, emphasizing dialogue and inquiry. That is what the school is about. And the track record is phenomenal when we look at our graduates and what they are up to. I think graduates say that they are who they are because of the Ramallah Friends School. So it is a phenomenal place that has transformed the lives of many throughout generations. So I know that Hisham, Kinnan and Tahseen are proud alums.

And, you know, I think that they’re getting together as most of us are, Palestinian Americans here. I also want to share that three of them are Palestinian Americans. And so, sometimes that’s dropped from the news, that two of them are actually American citizens. And so, they are gathered. They gather together to provide solace for each other and just vent sometimes, and it’s therapy to come together. And unfortunately, they have witnessed this horrific, horrific crime in the midst of them coming together to comfort each other. And I think that is what has happened, unfortunately, this time.

AMY GOODMAN: You posted on Facebook their poems, Tahseen’s poem, as well as Hisham. I’m wondering if you could read them for us? How old were they? Like in sixth grade?

JOYCE AJLOUNY: They were in sixth grade. I had the privilege of being the head of school when they were in middle school. And so, the librarian, actually, dug those up. And I will read Hisham’s poem, sixth grade Hisham, who now goes to Brown — by the way, brilliant students, all of them, accomplished, top-notch, value-driven.

I wanted to say, maybe, Amy, before I read his poem, that’s how selfless our students are. You know, Hisham wrote to his professor at Brown — and I want to quote him — he said, “It’s important to recognize that this is part of the larger story. The serious crime did not happen in a vacuum. As much as I appreciate and love every single one of you here today, I am but one casualty in a much wider conflict.” And then Hisham goes on to say to his professor that “This is why, when you say your wishes and light your candles today, you should mind — your mind should not just be focused on me as an individual, but rather a proud member of a people being oppressed.” And so, these are his words since the shooting.

When he was in sixth grade in 2015, he wrote — that’s Hisham Awartani:

“Hope dwells in my heart
It shines like a light in darkness
[This] light cannot be smothered
It cannot be drowned out by tears and the screams of the wounded
It only grows in strength
This light can outshine hate
This light can outshine injustice
It outshines segregation and apartheid
As of Greek legend, Pandora opened a box
And when she did that, all the evil escaped
But luckily, Pandora closed the jar before hope could escape
And as long as hope stayed in that jar
Hope would never escape
So I ask you one thing, learn from that story
Learn to never give up hope
Learn to let hope give power
In the darkest of times
And let the light shine.”

AMY GOODMAN: Wow! Hisham in sixth grade.


AMY GOODMAN: And how about Tahseen?

JOYCE AJLOUNY: Tahseen, there are two poems. I want to read one, which depicts where our students are coming from, that they are coming from living under a brutal occupation apartheid system that agonizes them, that traumatizes them day in and day out, children, sixth-graders. So, Tahseen writes:

“My ears are pounding
Children dying
Mothers crying
Authorities lying
My ears are pounding
My ears are pounding
Missiles destroying
Bombs exploding
Bullets killing
My ears are pounding
Press careless
Dreams traceless
Lands ownerless
My ears are pounding
Kids without mothers
Beds without covers
Palestine without others
My ears are pounding
My ears are pounding
There is one sound I heard
Not from a breeze or a bird
The sound of darkness
My ears are pounding
My ears are pounding
I’d rather be deaf.”

So, that says a lot. That says a lot about where we are at today in the story of the Palestinian struggle, which is often depicted as that this all started on October 7th. And so, this is 2015. And they are — when you read this poem, you feel like you’re reading it about today, about our people in Gaza and what they are going through, and yet this was eight years ago. So, the struggle continues.


JOYCE AJLOUNY: Yeah. Go ahead.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Joyce, I wanted to ask you if you could comment on the tragic irony that the families of the victims have said in various interviews that they thought that the U.S. would be a safer place for their children than the West Bank, and then to have this terrible tragedy occur here.

JOYCE AJLOUNY: Yes, of course. I mean, I think that is the absolute truth. You know, I know that a large number of Palestinian students from the Ramallah Friends School attend U.S. colleges. And they’re actually very sought after. And when they come here, the parents know that they are keeping them away from being subjected to violence from not just the Israeli military but the Israeli settlers. I have a 31-year-old son there now, and I worry about his safety. The settlers have been emboldened, and there’s violence there every day. And you wonder. You know, you send them here, and then they — this keffiyeh has now become a symbol, instead of our struggle, instead of a symbol of our tradition, our traditional dress and our struggle, this is now being painted and tainted as a symbol of violence. And so, I have another son in Washington, D.C. He doesn’t leave home without his keffiyeh. I worry about him, too. So, that is where we’re at right now.

And I can’t but agree with Wafic about the dehumanization that has been taking place. And this is not new. You know, Palestinians are — you know, even in our grief, we are depicted as Palestinians “dying” — right? — while Israelis are being “killed” and “massacred.” So language really matters. And I think that is what we have seen time and time again. You know, 47 children died on the West Bank between January and August of this year, way before this war started. And I wonder, like, who cried for them. Who mourned them? Where was the U.S. mainstream media talking about them? And so, it’s not just the language. It’s also the framing — right? — that this is the worst attack since the Holocaust, painting Palestinians as Jew haters, as that this is a religious struggle rather than a people seeking freedom, seeking liberation from a settler colonial system, and remembering, you know, that Palestinians of all faiths are in the same struggle, as well, and they have not been offered the humanity and the dignity that they deserve. And so, I think this is all — this is manifest due to the continued dehumanization, not only by the media but by our government, you know, as Wafic said, that they continue to turn a blind eye. They’re not calling for a ceasefire. They continue to embolden the Israeli atrocities by sending more aid, doubling their aid, and supporting the genocide of our people. And so, that is truly the reason why this is happening.

I just wanted to also take the opportunity, you know, we’re doing the — there’s this exchange of hostages. And when they talk about that, they talk about Israelis released the children — the Israelis released are “children,” while the Palestinians who are released are “teenagers,” so children versus teenagers. You know, in my book, they’re all hostages. The fact that the media is not talking about the 3,000 Palestinians who have been kidnapped, basically, since October 10th and put in Israeli jails, and they’re calling them — they’re not prisoners. To them, they are bargaining chips — right? — that they will use in exchange. But, to us, they are hostages, just like the hostages that are held in Gaza. And so, that is the narrative that is being talked about day in and day out. And people who have sentiments that are anti-Arab, anti-Muslim are emboldened by all of that and take action, like Jason Eaton, who felt emboldened because no is portraying Palestinians as human beings that deserve the dignity and the respect that everyone else should be — that everyone else is granted.

AMY GOODMAN: Jason Eaton, of course, is the alleged shooter —


AMY GOODMAN: — of the three Palestinian young men. I want to thank you, Joyce Ajlouny, the former director of the Ramallah Friends School, where they all went to school in the occupied West Bank, all three students shot in Burlington, Vermont, on Friday. Joyce is also now the general secretary of the American Friends Service Committee. And I want to thank Wafic Faour, a Palestinian refugee from Lebanon, member of Vermonters for Justice in Palestine, speaking to us from Burlington.

And this final note: Speaking about the Vermont representatives, you have Becca Balint, who is the first Jewish congressmember to call for a ceasefire. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has not called for a ceasefire but has called for conditions on U.S. aid to Israel. He said, quote, “While Israel has the right to go after Hamas, Netanyahu’s right-wing extremist government does not have the right to wage almost total warfare against the Palestinian people.”

Coming up, we speak to prize-winning investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill about Israel’s propaganda war over Al-Shifa Hospital and what’s underneath it. Who built what’s under Shifa Hospital? Back in 20 seconds.

If it was a hate crime -- and it looks like it was -- Joe Biden needs to ask himself what he did in the last weeks that encouraged this to happen.  He is the leader of this country and his actions with regards to the Palestinians has not just been disappointing, it has been disgraceful.

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