Last night TCM had some good horror movies on. I thought I'd just watch one that had started at 8 pm and I was ten minutes late. But I watched that one and then the host for the night was Dave Karger who always makes you eager to watch the movie he's setting up so I ended staying up for two more films. I hadn't seen any of them before. I think my favorite was Deborah Kerr in THE INNOCENTS. Speaking of horror stories, Robert De Niro:
Robert De Niro spent several minutes on the witness stand in Manhattan federal court Tuesday explaining why it was OK for him to make two phone calls to his assistant at her grandmother's funeral.
De Niro wanted the assistant, Chase Robinson, to purchase bus tickets for his son, he said. She had told her at a certain point that it would be fine for him to call her, he said.
Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
The head of the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees told a U.N. emergency meeting Monday “an immediate humanitarian cease-fire has become a matter of life and death for millions,” accusing Israel of “collective punishment” of Palestinians and the forced displacement of civilians.
Philippe Lazzarini warned that a further breakdown of civil order following the looting of the agency’s warehouses by Palestinians searching for food and other aid “will make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the largest U.N. agency in Gaza to continue operating.”
Mathu Joyini: “South Africa urges the United Nations to impose an arms embargo on all parties involved in this conflict, given the nature of the death and destruction we are witnessing every day.”
The resolution is nonbinding but holds political and symbolic weight.
The United States, a leading instigator and supporter of Israel’s genocide of the Palestinians in Gaza, has once again publicly rebuked global calls for an end to the war.
At a news briefing Friday, US National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby was asked to comment on Friday’s overwhelming 140-15 vote in the United Nations General Assembly in favor of a ceasefire in Gaza.
“We do not believe that a ceasefire is the right answer right now,” Kirby said. “We believe that a ceasefire right now benefits Hamas, and Hamas is the only one that would gain from that right now.”
Kirby reiterated the talking points of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who vocally condemned all those both within Israel and worldwide who are calling for an end to Israel’s attacks on Gaza.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re also joined by Lara Friedman, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, former Foreign Service officer who served in Jerusalem, Tunis and Beirut, has worked on Israel-Palestine and the broader region for over 30 years, former director of policy and government relations at Americans for Peace Now, Americans for Shalom Achshav.
It’s great to have you with us, Lara. Can you talk about what’s happening in the Congress now, and if you feel movement, a change in Biden’s position from the beginning of the — after October 7th?
LARA FRIEDMAN: Sure. And thanks for having me.
I do think that we’re seeing, and in the piece that you had before we came on here, we’re seeing real movement in the grassroots. There’s really a surge in energy and a surge in support for Palestinian rights that we haven’t — I think has never been seen before.
I think it still remains to be seen how that’s going to be reflected in Congress. If we just go by the statements that are being made by members of Congress, which, except for a small number — and Congresswoman Ramirez is among them — except for a small number, are, at best, very, very cautious about saying anything that would validate the humanity and the rights of the Palestinian people. The narrative on both sides of the aisle is mostly about the rights of Israel to defend itself, and that is — to defend itself is defined basically to mean Israel can do and should do whatever it wants to do, and it bears no responsibility, has no agency, with respect to the results when it comes to human casualties. Congress has bought, completely, the framing which says that any Palestinian that dies in Gaza from an Israeli bomb or who gets sick or starves or dehydrated or ill or dies in a hospital, that’s all on Hamas. That is not Israel’s fault. Everything is Hamas’s fault, which suggests a new ethos of war that really opens the door for everyone to target civilians.
There’s also the framing of human shields, which basically says, you know, it’s Hamas’s fault that we’re killing your civilians, that we’re killing your children, which, I mean, there is truth to the argument that Hamas has placed itself behind human beings. It raises the question: You know, if bad guys invaded a school, would the United States say, “Ah, for the sake of killing the bad guys, we need to bomb the school. We’re going to kill all the children in the school, because we have to, and it’s the bad guys’ fault”? The inhumanity of it is stunning.
But what we’ve seen, really, since the beginning, since October 7th — and I follow — I do a report every Friday covering every single thing that happens in Congress related to the Middle East and Israel-Palestine — is a deluge of new legislation, of resolutions and of letters, which, by and large, either ignore or diminish the humanity of Palestinians, which directly conflate criticism of what Israel is doing in Gaza or assertions that there is any context, that there is history before October 7th, conflate it with antisemitism, conflate it with support for Hamas and terror. And we’ve seen that with the attacks on the members of Congress, like Congresswoman Ramirez, who have dared to do something like call for a ceasefire, with really despicable language used by members of Congress against their own colleagues on both sides of the aisle. This is coming at them, suggesting that daring to talk about ceasefire is a betrayal of support for Israel and is a form of antisemitism and support for terror.
AMY GOODMAN: Earlier this month, you tweeted, quote, “Reminder: 6 mos before Israeli elex that made Kahanists arguably most powerful political force in Israel, the Biden Admin decided to do its part in normalizing Kahanism by removing Kahanist groups from US list of foreign terrorist orgs, where they’d been listed for decades.” For those who don’t understand who Kahanists are, explain the significance of this tweet.
LARA FRIEDMAN: Well, I mean, whole books have been written about the Kahanists. The Kahanists — Rabbi Meir Kahane was an American citizen rabbi from the New York area. He wrote many, many books. His basic philosophy was, you know, all of the land of Israel — and that extends far beyond Israel’s current borders — belongs to the Jews, because it was given to the Jews by God. And he made clear that — I mean, you have to give him credit for honesty — that this wasn’t — that this is not a conflict that was going to be resolved in a way that would address everybody’s rights or needs, that this was going to be a war and that the Arabs were going to have to lose, and this meant removing Arabs. And he was very, very clear. It’s a worldview that is openly racist, openly Islamophobic, almost proudly so, and, in effect, suggests that people who think that there’s some other solution are naive.
That strand of thinking was much, I would say, maligned and disrespected for a very long time. The Kahanist party was outlawed in Israel as a racist party during Rabbi Kahane’s lifetime. He was eventually assassinated. But what’s happened since then is the mainstreaming of his worldview in Israel and, I would say, in the United States amongst many supporters of Israel — a lot of the financing for his work and his thoughts comes from the United States still — and to the point where today you have very powerful people in the Israeli government, very powerful political strands in Israel, which are largely identical, whose worldview is largely identical to that of the Kahanists. The fact that the Biden administration elected to remove the Kahanist parties from the terrorist list — and they were on the terrorist list because of acts of terror committed by acolytes of this movement against American citizens, you know, not in recent years, but it was — I don’t know why they chose that moment to remove them, but it certainly speaks to the mainstreaming and normalizing of this approach to the Palestinians.
AMY GOODMAN: Lara Friedman, can you talk about the hostage negotiations? You have Qatar and Egypt involved in those negotiations, mainly Qatar right now. You have the hostage families, who are a powerful force. We hear their stories repeatedly in the U.S. media, as we should. They should be a model for also the coverage there should be of Palestinian suffering. But those families are calling for this exchange of the hostages — it’s believed there’s more than 220 or 230 of them that are being held by Hamas and other groups in Gaza — and Palestinian political prisoners, Palestinian prisoners, of which I think there are more than 6,600. I think they’re calling it “everybody for everybody.” Can you talk about this?
LARA FRIEDMAN: Yeah. I mean, look, the taking of hostages, the taking of civilian hostages by Hamas — I mean, the October 7th attack was heinous in every aspect. The aspect of taking the hostages brought this home to Israelis in a way that is just — I don’t think anyone who has not spent time in a small country where everyone is — you know, there’s one degree of separation. This is incredibly real and incredibly personal for everyone in Israel.
What is notable is, in past experiences where there have been hostages taken, Israel has sort of turned over every rock possible, done everything possible to get them back. You have negotiations. You have contacts. You have — think of Gilad Shalit. I mean, the entire country mobilizes to get the hostage back — “hostage,” singular, “hostages,” plural. In this context, after October 7th, the issue of hostages is raised constantly by the Israeli government as a reason for why it has to do what it’s doing in Gaza, notwithstanding the fact that carpet bombing Gaza, using deep, deep penetrating bombs that are trying to get at the tunnels, seems like a very likely way to kill your own hostages. There has been a clear signal given — and if you listen to the — if you look at the Israeli media, the contacts that the families of hostages have had with the Netanyahu government, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that there isn’t actually a lot of desire on the part of the Israeli government to get the hostages back.
There have been numerous — and it’s been public — from other governments, from negotiators, there have been numerous offers by Hamas to exchange hostages, to release hostages in certain circumstances. There was, you know, a 24 — for a brief ceasefire. And so far, the argument seems to be, from the Israeli side, “We won’t do that, because anything we do would be a victory for Hamas. And that is — that we can’t let that happen, so releasing the hostages is simply not a priority.”
But talking about the hostages and accusing anyone who talks about ceasefire as not caring about the hostages is a wonderful tactic. All of us who are speaking out on this in social media, on media like this, are accused constantly of, “Well, you don’t care about the hostages.” The answer is, no, I care very much about the hostages. I don’t understand why the Israeli government doesn’t care more about the hostages. I would suggest that the Israeli government’s approach to the hostages makes clear that their objectives in this war are not about freeing the hostages. And that, I think, requires further thought.
AMY GOODMAN: Lara Friedman, I want to thank you for being with us, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, and Congressmember Delia Ramirez of Chicago for being with us, as well.
Next up, as the death toll in Gaza tops more than 8,000, as Israel intensifies its ground and aerial attack, we’ll speak with a doctor in Cairo who’s been trying for two weeks to get back into Gaza. Stay with us.
The signatories of the letter to Sanders, including In These Times’ executive director Alex Han, join a growing chorus of concerned former political staffers making similar demands of other powerful elected officials. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and John Fetterman (D-Pa.) both received open letters from former campaign staff last week urging them to support a cease-fire. Fetterman and Warren have also recently been the targets of efforts by Jewish groups and anti-occupation activists calling for the same action to be taken.
“Throughout your career, you have spoken with moral clarity on the issues in Israel and Palestine,” the signees wrote to Sanders. “Today, we’re asking you to use your power, the respect you have across the United States and globe, to clearly and forcefully stand up against war, against occupation and for the dignity of human life.”
Human rights defenders on Monday accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of an "explicit call to genocide" after he delivered a televised address calling Israel's imminent invasion of Gaza a "holy mission" and invoked an ancient mythical foe whom the God of the Hebrew Bible commanded the Israelites to exterminate.
Declaring the start of a "second stage" of Israel's war on Gaza—which he described as a "holy mission"—Netanyahu said that "you must remember what Amalek has done to you, says our Holy Bible."
According to the Hebrew Bible, the nation of Amalek was an ancient archenemy of the Israelites whose extermination was commanded by God to Saul via the prophet Samuel.
"Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass," states the Old Testament in 1 Samuel 15:3.
The holy text further states that Saul infuriates God by sparing some of the Amalekites and their livestock.
"If it was not obvious from the carpet bombing, use of white phosphorus, and indiscriminate killing that the Zionist government of Israel [has] clear genocidal intentions, then the... reference to Palestinians as Amalek in Netanyahu's speech describing his plans for Gaza should be enough to convince you," British religious scholar Hamza Andreas Tzortzis wrote on social media Monday.
With more than 7,300 Palestinians killed so far in Israel’s three-week bombardment of Gaza, a series of reports this week have exposed how U.S. weapon-makers and billionaire donors are enabling what legal scholars say could amount to genocide.
After Israel declared war in response to Hamas killing over 1,400 Israelis and taking around 200 hostages, the stocks of major American and European war profiteers soared. A Thursday report from Eyes on the Ties—the news site of LittleSis and Public Accountability Initiative—targets five U.S. firms with a record of providing weaponry to Israel.
The outlet stressed that while announcing a supplemental funding request that includes $14.3 billion for Israel, U.S. President Joe Biden last week “invoked ‘patriotic American workers’ who are ‘building the arsenal of democracy and serving the cause of freedom,’ but it’s the defense company CEOs who rake in tens of millions a year, and Wall Street shareholders, who are the real beneficiaries of warmongering.”
The five targeted industry giants collectively recorded $196.5 billion in military-related revenue last year, Eyes on the Ties reported. They are Boeing ($30.8 billion), General Dynamics ($30.4 billion), Lockheed Martin ($63.3 billion), Northrop Grumman ($32.4 billion), and RTX, formerly Raytheon ($39.6 billion).
“The top shareholders in these five defense companies largely consist of big asset managers, or big banks with asset management wings, that include BlackRock, Vanguard, State Street, Fidelity, Capital Group, Wellington, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Newport Trust Company, Longview Asset Management, Massachusetts Financial Services Company, Geode Capital, and Bank of America,” the news outlet noted.
While so much of the US government looks the other way as the assault on Gaza is carried out, they're not as silent in the Iraqi government. MEMO reports:
Iraqi Prime Minister, Mohammed Shayya’ Al-Sudani, warned yesterday that the region is going through a dangerous turning point that threatens the escalation and expansion of the war on Gaza.
Al-Sudani said during a phone call with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni: “What happened on October 7 is the result of years of injustice, killing, lack of respect for international covenants and conventions, and depriving the Palestinian people of their most basic rights to live in safety.”
According to a statement by the Iraqi government, he reiterated: “Iraq’s firm and principled position on the Palestinian right and the great need for a responsible position by the international community and the global superpowers, in order to remedy the humanitarian crisis and prevent the expansion of the conflict, affecting energy supplies and adding a new war to the current wars and conflicts.”
The Iraqi prime minister stressed the need to “open safe corridors for humanitarian and medical aid to reach the more than two million Palestinians living in tragic conditions.”
This week, longtime DSA member Maurice Isserman used an article in The Nation to explain why he was quitting our organization. We want to thank Isserman for his years of dedication to the organized left, and for his scholarship that has contributed to a better understanding of the history of social movements for liberation. It is regrettable that he felt he had no other choice but to end his association with DSA.
However, while everyone is entitled—even encouraged—to express their views about the decisions we make, we fundamentally disagree with Isserman’s portrayal of DSA, and we want to set the record straight about several of his assertions and analyses.
The central argument of Isserman’s piece is that DSA’s growing consensus on our solidarity with Palestinian liberation is a result of the organization’s being “captured by left sectarian ‘entryists.’” This is not true. DSA’s political commitment against the Israeli occupation is just one small part of a broader generational and cultural shift in the way the public understands the conflict. The moral case for ending Israeli apartheid has never been clearer. Our taking a strong stance isn’t due to organized entryism but the result of years of dedicated organizing by anti-occupation activists across the globe—and a robust internal democratic process within DSA.
On October 7, a coalition of armed Palestinian groups entered Israel, killed more than a thousand people, and took hundreds of hostages. Israel responded by launching an indiscriminate bombing campaign against Gaza. As we write this, Gaza is now under massive bombardment from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Over 7,000 Gazans have been killed—nearly 3,000 of them children. Millions are displaced. As anti-war activists call for a cease-fire and de-escalation of violence, the IDF and the United States prepare for a potential ground invasion in which many more will surely be killed.
Isserman accuses DSA’s position on the conflict—demanding a cease-fire and calling attention to the history of occupation and apartheid in Palestine—of being “politically and morally bankrupt.” Let us be clear: we do not seek to justify or excuse the killing of any civilian. As we have said publicly, we abhor the deaths of Israeli and Palestinian civilians alike. Every life is precious.
What we are also determined not to do, though, is abandon our calls for Palestinian liberation, and for an end to Israeli apartheid. There is no contradiction in our eyes between recognizing the tragedy that has befallen too many innocent people in both Israel and Palestine and understanding that the root cause of that tragedy lies in Israel’s occupation and discriminatory policies.
The history of this conflict did not begin on October 7, despite the simplistic narrative being driven by much of the media. Since Palestinians were driven out of their homes en masse in the 1948 “Nakba” (Arabic for “catastrophe”), Israel has increased its control over the territory, including with the occupation of territories captured in the 1967 Six-Day War such as Gaza and the West Bank. This occupation has been a humanitarian crisis for the Palestinian people, with Gaza being turned into an “open-air prison,” and increasing settlement in the West Bank becoming an explicit political priority of the Israeli state in recent years.