Sunday, December 31, 2023

2023 in film (Ann and Stan)

Ann and Stan back with with our annual look at film.  2023 was the year George Clooney discovered to again explore the plight of White people.  THE BOYS IN THE BOAT is the ninth film he's directed.  You may have noticed that only one of those nine films featured an African-American among the top seven actors credited (THE MIDNIGHT SKY).  To ensure that he can have another all White cast, he decides to go back in time -- consider it his way of celebrating segregation.  So he goes back to the 1936 Summer Olympics -- you know, the summer games famous to this day for Jesse Owens winning four gold medals.  But Jesse Owens was Black so Clooney focuses instead on the rowing team -- the all White rowing team -- to deliver another all White sports film.

For a 'fauxgressive' like George Clooney, "racism" is just another term for "independent film."

Garage films were all over 2023 but there were also a few worth noting.  Here's our pick of the ten best of the year.


The years best film.  The film covers the lead up to The March on Washington and the historic Civil Rights moment itself.  If you steer away from historic films which seem to be dull and staid, don't let that steer you from RUSTIN.  This is a lively and entertaining look at history with a great performance from Colman Domingo as Bayard Rustin.  The amazing cast also includes Audra McDonald, Chris Rock, Michael Potts, Gus Halper, CCH Pounder and Rashad Demond Edwards.  George C. Wolfe better be on the list of nominees for Best Director at the next Academy Awards. 




This musical is first-rate and honors Alice Walker's novel of the same name in ways that the 1985 film missed.  It also features an amazing performance from Fantasia as Celie.  A musical needs to provide joy and this one delivers -- delivers great dancing and singing and most of all the joy that is at the heart of Celie's journey.  



 Did you miss this dark comedy in the theaters?  We did too.  And we wanted to see it opening day.  However, as we noted at our sites, this film wasn't in our cities.  We thought, "Well maybe week two or three . . ."  But no.  It played in about ten theaters in the United States.  You can stream it on HULU or purchase it or rent it via AMAZON.  This is a hidden gem from Paul Weitz.  You get fantastic performances from Richard Roundtree and Malcolm McDowell. You get the always solid teaming of Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda.  They play friends of a woman who's passed away.  Jane Fonda burrows so deeply into the role, it will shock you.  She's been very good in many movies and she set the standard for 20th century acting in film with KLUTE. We'd rank her performance here with what she did in KLUTE (for which she won her first of two Academy Awards).  She's so into the character, you forget you're watching Jane Fonda who you've loved in 9 TO 5, ON GOLDEN POND, BAREFOOT IN THE PARK, CAT BALLOU, JULIA, THE CHINA SYNDROME, THE MORNING AFTER and so many other films.  Lily is excellent in her role but the film really belongs to Jane.  



Will the questions about veracity haunt the film when nominations come out for the Academy Awards?  We don't know.  But those questions are probably why this film is only at number four.  We loved it, though.  Annette Bening is excellent..  She may be the living actress that has given the greatest number of excellent performances in films without ever winning a Best Actress Academy award.  Here she's playing a single-minded individual who's driven, frustrating, admirable and annoying.  She doesn't cheat the role the way Meryl Streep always does (she can't play a bad character, always has to sweeten it and tries to pass that off as 'feminism' when it's just her own limited vision).  Annette goes full out.  And one reason, this especially works in this film is that the supporting actress is Jodie Foster.  Jodie can deliver dramatics -- off the scale when needed.  In this role, she's more reflective -- the moon to Annette's sun -- and her incredible talents allow her to bring so much to this character that would be forgettable in the hands of anyone else. 



Laugh out loud funny.  If you're looking for big laughs, you have to see this film directed by Molly Gordon and Nick Lieberman about a summer theater camp for kids.  Amy Sedaris, Ben Platt, Noah Galvin -- everyone in the film is hilarious -- that includes Will Ferrell.  These are very dark times and maybe that's why horror has become so popular and people run from comedies (from making them and from seeing them).  But this film is hilarious and you shouldn't miss it.



Our number six film for the best of the year is also number six on the year's top grossing films.  We mention that to note (a) we only have two films on our list that made the top ten grossing films of the year (domestically) and (b) this was the 'bomb,' remember?

Rabid MAGAs couldn't stop attacking this film because it starred Halle Bailey.

Because she was so bad in it, right?


Because she can't sing, right?


Because she's Black.  

That's all it boiled down to just like the same rabid MAGAs are attacking the upcoming Snow White remake because Latina Rachel Zegle stars.

Now, look, we get it, characters are beloved.  And that last FANTASTIC FOUR even we found ridiculous.  Sue and Johnny are brother and sister and yet, in that last go round, one was Angle White and the other African-American?  That was offensive -- especially when you grasp that the African-American male was given the usual hot head role that also requires comic eye popping.  Bad enough that they alter the storyline but they fell into racist tropes in the process.

But there's nothing that says Snow White can't be Latina, there's nothing that says a mermaid can't be Black.

Halle, with strong assist from Melissa McCarthy, delivered and demonstrated that she was a star.  She established that onscreen with this performance.  Offscreen, she made that clear as well in promoting the film without ever getting bogged down in all the attacks and all the lies.

MAGAs declared it a bomb opening weekend and kept repeating that lie -- DEADLINE, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER and other outlets fueled it and need to take a look at their own selves as a result. When the film ended its run, it had sold $569,626,89 in tickets.  No, it was not a bomb.  We'd really appreciate it if, in the future, outlets like DEADLINE and THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER would stop promoting racism and amplifying lies.  And if they can't do that?  Kiss our Black asses.



Director Emma Seligman followed up 2020's SHIVA BABY with another classic.  Nicholas Galitzine is already a break out thanks to this film and AMAZON's RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE, but this is a cast that you should be hearing from for years and years to come.  There all delivering laughs especially lead actresses Rachel Sennott and Ayo Edebiri.



This is the other film on our list that made the top ten domestic grossing films for the year.  Superhero burnout didn't surprise us -- we'd noted it for some time.  But two real casualties of this were last year's BLACK ADAM and this Ant-Man installment.  We'd urge you to go over to HBO and watch BLACK ADAM again -- with the assault on Gaza in mind as you watch.  See if you don't appreciate it even more.  We think this Ant-Man installment will age well also.  It's got a strong cast -- that does include Jonathan Majors.  He really delivered and it's a shame about his offscreen actions, a jury has addressed those.  But he was great as the evil Kang.  Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas deserve praise for their performances.  But the film really belongs to two people: Michelle Pfeiffer and Bill Murray.  Michelle is amazing in pretty much everything, isn't she?  And only she could create all the shades and levels that would lead up to this film that explains exactly what happened when Janet disappeared.  Like BLACK ADAM, the film has some political issues that 'reviewers' didn't seem to grasp.  WSWS apparently needs a highlighter troughout a film, for example, to get a message.  And if they can't get a message, they can't praise a film because they're not about art, they're just about messaging when it comes to TV and film -- which is why their arts coverage sucks so much.  Michelle's Janet took on the system with a group of revolutionaries.  She returns years later to find out that her former comrade Bill Murray has sold out and is now part of the system that they wanted to dismantle.  Michelle's fierce throughout the film but we especially enjoyed the scenes she shared with Bill Murray.


A popcorn movie.  It's one of three films starring Jane Fonda that were released in 2023.  The third one -- the sequel to BOOK CLUB -- isn't on her due to a very bad script.  You don't spend a whole movie (SPOILER) building up to Jane Fonda marrying Don Johnson only to call of the wedding at the end.  Equally true, Jane has no heat with Don Johnson.  Not in the first film, not here.  She had heat in MOVING ON with Richard Roundtree.  She has heat in this film as well.  She's funny and her comedic timing is excellent as always.  Sally Field sparkles as a woman in love but frustrated by the aging process (we're referring to the character of her husband, FYI, but trying not to do spoilers).  For Sally and Jane alone, this would be a film to see.  But Lily Tomlin really delivers.  She's having a health scare and that's why she wants to go to the Superbowl with her friends and root on Tom Brady.  It's a great film -- so good in fact that we're not even going to point out that the fourth actress -- who can never stop attacking Natalie Wood -- didn't actually do all of her own singing in WEST SIDE STORY -- a detail she always 'forgets' when trashing Natalie Wood.


Ridley Scott's film is an epic biography.  The film's done much better overseas ($141 million to North America's $60 million).  Maybe that will change in the new year?  It's a film worth catching if you haven't already and it's a film you want to see on a big screen in a theater.  The scope alone if worth the ticket price.

Going out with 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.

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