Saturday, December 23, 2023

Rod Stewart has a new video, Miss Lindsey Graham has a hissy fit

 That's Rod Stewart singing "Almost Like Being In Love."  I wrote about him in "Rod Stewart" earlier this week and this video went up after so I thought I'd highlight it.


And the day after I wrote about Rod, I wrote "New York shouldn't have Chick-filet-A at rest stops."  The short version: If you're not open every day, you shouldn't get a contract to serve food at a rest stop.  Miss South Carolina State disagrees with me.  Ben Blanchet (HUFFINGTON POST) explains:


Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has declared “war” over a New York bill that poses a conflict with Chick-fil-A’s “closed on Sundays” policy.

The South Carolina senator took to social media on Friday to criticize New York State officials over the bill, which would require restaurants that are part of the state’s highway system rest areas to be open seven days a week.


The bill “wouldn’t immediately apply” to restaurants currently operating at the state rest areas, but would impact future contracts for food service there, The Associated Press noted.

“This is war,” wrote Graham in defense of the fast-food chain, which has maintained founder S. Truett Cathy’s policy for employees to use Sundays to spend time with family or worship.

Graham later shared a picture of him in front of a Chick-fil-A restaurant in midtown Manhattan, a location that wouldn’t be impacted if the bill were to become law, to “send a clear message.”


He works in DC and he lives in South Carolina.  What was he doing in NCY?  Bobbing for cocks?


I stand by my opinion.



Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


Friday, December 22, 2023.  Still no vote by the UN Security Council, is anything changing in the assault on Gaza?

We have to start with John Schneider -- Who?  Exactly.  A TV star of a dopey show in the 70s who got into his head that the way to handle minor success was to walk out demanding more money has shown that you can get even more dumb than that.  Dominic Patten (DEADLINE) reports:

John Schneider may now be insisting he never threatened the life of President Joe Biden, but the Secret Service beg to differ.

The federal agency charged with protecting POTUS, the Vice President and their immediate families, as well as major political candidates and high level government officials, have opened a probe into statements the former Dukes of Hazzard star made online against the President and his son Hunter Biden earlier today, Deadline has learned.

Hours after publicly coming up short in the Season 10 finale of The Masked Singer, vocal conservative Schneider called for the hanging of the president, whom he accused of “treason,” and his criminally-indicted offspring. In a now deleted post (yep, he erased it pretty fast), the longtime Biden critic and Smallville actor made no secret of his feelings about POTUS – as a screen grab of that now-delated post on X/Twitter reveals:    

Schneider Tweeted to Joe, "Mr. President, I believe you of treason and should be publicly hung. Your son too. Your response is..? Sincerely, John Schneider."

As Betty's already pointed out ("Little bitch John Schneider"), the term is "hanged."  Unless John Schneider's is lusting after Joe and Hunter, "hung" really doesn't enter into it.

I can't even get through the e-mails in the public account because there are over 100 on the above event.  If there's something of value in there (another topic or an article we should highlight), you picked the wrong day to e-mail it because I'm not going to continue to try to read any of the rest.

So legal and realistic are what we're focused on.

Did John make a threat on the president's life?

No, I don't believe he did.  The wording doesn't qualify as a threat of "I will physically harm you."  Leave out the treason charge and the sentence is "I believe you should be publicly hung."  

So, no, I don't believe he made a threat to publicly harm Joe Biden or Hunter Biden.

Some of the e-mails I managed to get through were convinced that John was being railroaded.

I don't believe that either.

The Secret Service is tasked with protecting the life of the president.  

They have to look at every incident.

They have to do an assessment -- is ____  a risk to the president's life?

That's what they're now doing.  

You're dealing with an actor -- who killed Lincoln? -- who has very low impulse control, isolates, has issues with booze, became a widower this year, etc, etc.  

They're going to look through all that and they would be remiss if they did otherwise.

Some are saying that Johnny Depp and Madonna -- some in e-mails -- got away with threats against Trump.  What do you mean got away with?

The remarks they made resulted in assessments by the Secret Service.

They didn't go whining to the press immediately the way I Need Attention John Schneider did.

I agree with Betty's assessment ("little bitch") because he said it and was so proud of himself and then immediately deletes and then goes whining to the press.  

He made a controversial remark that summoned violence at a time when the nation's already heated enough.  Overheated in fact.

This is not something minor.

His own actions have caused this and anything that follows. 

If next October, he were to make an attempt on Joe's life, the public reaction would be: What were you doing after you saw his Tweet!

Their job is to make an assessment and determine whether or not he is a risk.  

They're doing their job.

And he's being a little bitch.  He runs to the press to whine.  Have you once heard him say it was poor judgment to Tweet what he Tweeted?


So let's move on to a new topic.  Over this past weekend, we were told that the United Nations Security Council would be voting on a cease fire on Monday.  Then, due to the US government, the vote was pushed to Tuesday, then to Wednesday, then to yesterday.  And it didn't happen yesterday.

The UN Security Council is moving closer to a vote on humanitarian aid for Gaza after the US expressed support for the latest draft resolution.

The vote, now delayed until Friday, had been in limbo after the US voiced "widespread concerns" with a draft.

Washington had said it was concerned the resolution, put forward by the United Arab Emirates, could "actually slow down" aid into Gaza.

The latest announcement from the US comes after some two weeks of talks.

All week, the Security Council has repeatedly postponed the draft resolution aimed at bringing in some form of ceasefire, as wrangling continued over the language.

The slaughter continues.  PRB notes, "The West Bank, approximately the size of Delaware, is bordered by Israel to the west and Jordan to the east. Gaza (also called the Gaza Strip) is approximately twice the size of Washington, D.C., and shares a border with Israel to the north and east and Egypt to the south."  So with us all grasping how small Gaza is,  , Allegra Goodwin, Gianluca Mezzofiore and Nima Elbagir (CNN) report:

In the first month of its war in Gaza, Israel dropped hundreds of massive bombs, many of them capable of killing or wounding people more than 1,000 feet away, analysis by CNN and artificial intelligence company Synthetaic suggests.

Satellite imagery from those early days of the war reveals more than 500 impact craters over 12 meters (40 feet) in diameter, consistent with those left behind by 2,000-pound bombs. Those are four times heavier than the largest bombs the United States dropped on ISIS in Mosul, Iraq, during the war against the extremist group there.

Weapons and warfare experts blame the extensive use of heavy munitions such as the 2,000-pound bomb for the soaring death toll. The population of Gaza is packed together much more tightly than almost anywhere else on earth, so the use of such heavy munitions has a profound effect.

“The use of 2,000-pound bombs in an area as densely populated as Gaza means it will take decades for communities to recover,” said John Chappell, advocacy and legal fellow at CIVIC, a DC-based group focused on minimizing civilian harm in conflict.   

I haven't seen a figure on how many people have  been displaced in Gaza this week.  But last week, the number was 1.9 million -- and Gaza has 2.3 million people.  

This is horrific and you would have thought that with a holy day for many around the world (Christmas) approaching (December 25th), the US government would be doing everything possible to create a pause if not a cease-fire.  (An immediate cease-fire is what is needed.)

Let's move over to a discussion on yesterday's DEMOCRACY NOW!

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

NERMEEN SHAIKH: The United Nations Security Council has for the third time this week postponed a vote on a resolution calling for a halt to the fighting in Gaza and for Israel to allow shipments of food, water, fuel and medicine into the besieged territory. Several Security Council members have expressed frustration with the United States for repeatedly delaying votes and for threatening to once again veto any resolution.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined now by Phyllis Bennis, fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, serves as an international adviser for Jewish Voice for Peace. Phyllis has written a number of books, including Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict, her recent piece for In These Times headlined “The Christmas Truce of 1914 and the Demand for a Cease-Fire in Gaza.”

As we went to air today, Phyllis, there is no resolution at this point at the U.N. One is expected today, but we said that Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday. If you can talk about what’s going on there? And then we can talk about that Christmas truce, as we move into the weekend.

PHYLLIS BENNIS: This is, in some ways, a very old story. The United States refuses to accept a globally demanded ceasefire in the context of Israeli assaults, particularly on Gaza. And we’ve seen it before; we’re seeing it again now. The U.S. is refusing to allow the term “cessation of hostilities.” They certainly will not allow the term “ceasefire” to be used. They want to talk about a suspension of hostilities, meaning just a temporary pause, like we saw two weeks ago, to allow in a certain amount of aid, reduce the pressure on Israel, get some of the hostages released, and then go back to the Israeli assault and kill more thousands of Palestinians presumably.

So what we’re looking at is the question of whether the other members of the Security Council will be able to persuade the U.S. — and I think this is very doubtful — to change their position and allow decent language about a real cessation of hostilities or a ceasefire. And if they don’t, will the council go ahead and force the United States to use its veto, something the U.S. does not like to do, or will it essentially collapse under its own pressure and simply withdraw the resolution and say, “Well, we couldn’t get the U.S. on board, so we’re not going to go forward”? The issue then becomes whether you’re letting the U.S. off the hook by saying, “We will simply” — excuse me — “We will simply withdraw the resolution,” or do you force the U.S. to use its veto, which then has consequences, including sending the resolution off to the General Assembly, where it passes under very particular conditions that can make it much more influential and, by some arguments by legal scholars, perhaps enforceable, like a Security Council resolution would be? So that’s where the council is right now.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Phyllis, so, if you could explain that? Because normally a General Assembly vote is not legally binding in the way that a Security Council vote is —


NERMEEN SHAIKH: — which is why there’s so much emphasis on what the Security Council does.

PHYLLIS BENNIS: The particularity here, Nermeen, is that when the U.S. or any other of the five permanent members of the council actually uses a veto, a new regulation at the U.N., that was passed a couple of years ago, requires that the General Assembly then meet within 10 days to take up that same issue. You know, ordinarily, this is very closely held. The Security Council deals with threats to peace and security around the world. The General Assembly can deal with everything else. But when one of the five permanent members — in this case, of course, the United States — uses its veto on an issue of peace and security, under those conditions, the General Assembly is required to hold an emergency session. And it’s held under what’s known in the U.N. as “Uniting for Peace” precedent. This was something the U.N. was forced to accept back in 1951 at the instigation, ironically, of the United States. It’s how the U.S. got the United Nations to endorse its war in Korea. And under those conditions, the decisions made by the General Assembly, which officially are considered nonbinding, not enforceable, take on additional power, because it’s derivative of United Nations Security Council power. So, the decisions are uncertain, whether it’s really enforceable, but it’s a much stronger resolution in the General Assembly if it follows a veto in the Security Council. That’s one of the big reasons why the United States does not like to use its veto, if it can avoid it.

The other reason, of course, is that it shows the world just how isolated the United States now is. The U.S. and Israel stand alone. The vote in the General Assembly on a very similar resolution was 153 countries, out of 193, who voted “yes,” and only 10 countries, including the U.S. and Israel, voted “no.” And under those circumstances, it really demonstrates the isolation of the U.S. And that’s not something that the Biden administration is eager to be showing up again.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, if you could say, Phyllis — I mean, talk about the significance of U.S. support. Explain why it’s so strident, despite what’s happening in Gaza, and also the fact that when Biden did lightly criticize Israel for its indiscriminate bombardment, saying that it was losing international support, the Israeli foreign minister very quickly said that Israel would continue, quote, “with or without international support.” Your response to that?


NERMEEN SHAIKH: I mean, is that accurate, you think?

PHYLLIS BENNIS: Right. Well, I think what is true is that the United States has made a number of polite requests of the Israeli government. They have said, “Please stop killing so many people. What you’re doing is OK. Using massive bombardment is OK. But try and pull back a little bit. Maybe change the tactics of the ground invasion so that you’re not killing quite so many civilians. It doesn’t look good.” But there are no consequences when the Israeli response, as you just said, from Prime Minister Netanyahu or others is simply, “No, we’re going to continue what we’re doing.”

There’s no way that Israel feels compelled to respond to that until the request become requirements, and the requirements come with conditions that make a difference, so that when the United States says, “You’ve got to stop bombing Gaza. You’re killing civilians, and it’s illegal under international law. You’ve got to stop,” and Israel says, “Nope, we’re going to continue,” then the next sentence out of the mouth of President Biden or Secretary of State Blinken, or whoever is relaying that message, is, “OK. Then, you know those billions of dollars we send to your military every year? You can kiss that goodbye. And you know how we’ve been protecting you at the International Criminal Court so you’re never held accountable for war crimes? We’re not doing that anymore.” So, those are the kinds of things that will begin to have a real impact on Israel. As long as the Israelis are clear that the Biden position of what we might call bear hug diplomacy, where the symbolism of his embrace, physically and politically, of Netanyahu and the Israeli state is “We have your back. We will protect you no matter what, but please make a few amendments,” they have no reason to take that seriously —

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn —

PHYLLIS BENNIS: — because the U.S. doesn’t express it seriously.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken, speaking Wednesday in D.C. at a State Department briefing.

SECRETARY OF STATE ANTONY BLINKEN: I hear virtually no one saying — demanding of Hamas that it stop hiding behind civilians, that it lay down its arms, that it surrender. This is over tomorrow if Hamas does that. This would have been over a month ago, six weeks ago, if Hamas had done that. And how could it be — how can it be that there are no demands made of the aggressor and only demands made of the victim?

AMY GOODMAN: Phyllis Bennis, your response?

PHYLLIS BENNIS: You know, it’s ironic that the secretary of state of Israel’s biggest supporter, the provider of 20% of its entire military budget, among other things, will move forward to say that it’s — that there’s the need for the people of Gaza — because this war is against the people of Gaza. It is not just against Hamas. That’s simply not the case. The notion that the U.S. is saying that the demand should be made on Hamas, when it’s been the United States’ backing of Israel that has allowed Israel to impose a siege on Gaza for 17 years? We should be clear: This siege did not begin on October 7th. It was escalated after the atrocities that were committed on October 7th, for sure. But this had been going on for 17 years, harshly enough that 20% of all children in Gaza were stunted by the age of 2 because they could not get sufficient food necessary for children to thrive. That was way before October 7th. So, we have to look at this in the context of the ongoing war that Israel has been waging in Gaza, against Gaza, against the people of Palestine. And it’s a war that has become genocidal in its impact. So, this notion that Secretary of State Blinken, who is desperately trying to divert the focus of U.S. outrage, global outrage at Israel and at the United States for enabling the Israeli war crimes to continue, he’s using every possibility that he can.

The negotiations are underway between Israel and Hamas in Cairo, with Egypt and Qatar as interlocutors. There’s other negotiations underway, of course, at the United Nations, as we’ve been discussing. But the bottom line is that Israel has killed 20,000 people, 70% of them children and women. And that doesn’t even count the thousands of people that have been killed under the rubble when Israeli bombs have destroyed buildings and homes over people’s bodies. So we’re looking at something that has never happened at this scale in this century. And that has to be our focus. That’s why we need a ceasefire. You’re not going to be able to protect the hostages and bring them home without a ceasefire. You’re not going to be able to bring in sufficient aid to make it possible to stop what is now real starvation in Gaza. We have not seen that before, even under the siege. We have not seen actual starvation. And now the United States — sorry, the United Nations World Food Programme is saying that more than half of the families in Gaza are starving and that 90% are food insecure. That doesn’t exist anywhere in the world right now, where 50% of a population is starving. And that’s what has to stop. And that’s why we need a ceasefire, to end those realities.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And finally, Phyllis, we just have a minute. If you could respond to The New York Times/Siena poll that was released earlier this week, where it’s clear that the majority of Americans are opposed to the Biden administration’s policy, but, in a perplexing finding, a number of them say that they would, in the 2024 election, vote for Trump instead as a result?

PHYLLIS BENNIS: I can’t explain it. I don’t know exactly what the question was that they asked, and that’s always a key part of how they get answers like this. But I think what’s key is the first thing you said, Nermeen. There is massive opposition in this country to what the Biden administration is doing. Eighty percent of Democrats, President Biden’s own party, want a ceasefire now. We’re seeing massive opposition within the State Department, within the White House. The White House interns, these young ambitious students, high school and college students, the youngest of the federal workforce, came out publicly and said, “We are not the leaders of today, but we aspire to lead in the future, and we cannot stand by and watch this genocide being perpetuated by Israel with our support.” That’s extraordinary. That’s never been seen before in this country. And that’s why we say that not only is the U.S. isolated at the United Nations, but the Biden administration, on this issue, is massively isolated within the United States itself.

AMY GOODMAN: Phyllis Bennis, we want to thank you for being with us, fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, international adviser for Jewish Voice for Peace. We’ll link to your new piece in In These Times, “The Christmas Truce of 1914 and the Demand for a Cease-Fire in Gaza.”

Coming up, we look at the Colorado Supreme Court’s historic decision to bar Donald Trump from the Colorado primary ballot over his role in the January 6th insurrection, and then his increasingly extreme rhetoric talking about immigrants “poisoning the blood” of the nation. Back in 20 seconds.

Gaza is 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 18,000. 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."  ALJAZEERA notes, "On Friday, the Ministry of Health in Gaza said that 20,057 Palestinians have been killed and 53,320 wounded in Israeli attacks since October 7, when the current conflict broke out."  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."

Joe Biden has married himself to the assault on Gaza.  Kate Plummer (NEWSWEEK) reports on how Joe is losing the support of young voters:

Now, a new poll by the New York Times/ Siena College has found that nearly 75 percent of a sample of young voters aged between 18 and 29 disapprove of how the Democrat is handling the conflict. The same proportion believe Israel isn't doing enough to prevent civilian casualties in Gaza and 44 percent said Israel should end its military campaign even if Hamas is not defeated, to 39 percent who said it should continue.

It also found that 27 percent of young people sympathize with Israel while 47 percent sympathize with Palestinians.

The poll was conducted from December 10 to December 14, 2023. The sample size was 1,016 registered voters nationwide and the margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

The poll found that Biden's Republican rival and GOP front runner Donald Trump is attracting the support of 21 percent of young people who voted for Biden in 2020, who sympathize more with Palestine than Israel.

Overall, it found Trump leads the incumbent president among young voters by 49 percent to 43 percent, and has a 46 percent to 44 percent lead among registered voters overall.

Newsweek has contacted representatives of Biden for comment.

A Quinnipiac University poll released in November found that those under 35 are more likely to disapprove of Israel's response to the attack with 66 percent reporting so.

More than 40 interns who work at the White House and other branches of the executive office called for Biden to support a ceasefire in Gaza, accusing him of having ignored the "pleas of the American people" by not calling for an end to the war.

 Jeffrey St. Clair (COUNTERPUNCH) writes this morning of public opinion:

+ Even with nearly the entire political and media establishment in the US backing Israel’s genocidal rampage in Gaza, public support for US military aid to Israel has continued to fall, especially among the youth of Biden’s own party, a demographic he’s always been indifferent to and patronizing towards, now at his own (and the country’s) peril

Support more military aid to Israel?

Oct 17
All Voters: 64-28 (+36)
Dems: 59-29 (+30)

Nov 2
All Voters: 51/41 (+10)
Dems 49-43 (+6)

Nov 17
All Voters: 54-39 (+15)
Dems: 45-48 (-3)

Dec 20
All Voters: 45-46 (-1)
Dems: 36-58 (-22)

The generational gap is profound.

Opposition by age bracket:

18-34: 72%
35-49: 53%
50-64: 36%
65+:     28%

Source: Quinnipiac.

+ Hannah Arendt: “The bourgeoisie’s political philosophy was always ‘totalitarian’; it always assumed an identity of politics, economics and society, in which political institutions served only as the façade for private interest.”


More journalists have been killed in the first 10 weeks of the Israel-Gaza war than have ever been killed in a single country over an entire year, according to CPJ data. By December 20, 2023, at least 68 journalists and media workers had been killed since the October 7 start of the conflict. Of those 68, 61 were Palestinian, four Israeli, and three Lebanese.

CPJ is particularly concerned about an apparent pattern of targeting of journalists and their families by the Israeli military. In at least one case, a journalist was killed while clearly wearing press insignia in a location where no fighting was taking place. In at least two other cases, journalists reported receiving threats from Israeli officials and IDF officers before their family members were killed.  

CPJ is investigating in more detail the circumstances of all 68 deaths. This research is hampered by the widespread destruction in Gaza, and, in a number of cases, the fact that the journalists were killed along with family members who typically are sources for such information.  

“The Israel-Gaza war is the most dangerous situation for journalists we have ever seen, and these figures show that clearly,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “The Israeli army has killed more journalists in 10 weeks than any other army or entity has in any single year. And with every journalist killed, the war becomes harder to document and to understand.”

More than half the deaths – 37 – occurred during the first month of the war, making it the deadliest single month documented by CPJ since it began collecting data in 1992.

In Iraq, the only country to approach this toll in a single year, 56 journalists were killed in 2006. CPJ determined that 48 were killed in connection with their work but was unable to confirm the circumstances in eight other deaths. With the exception of the Philippines, where 33 of the 35 journalists and media workers killed in 2009 were murdered in a single massacre, the countries with the highest number of journalists killed for their work in any given year – Syria (32 killed because of their work in 2012; five still under investigation); Afghanistan (15 of 16 killed in 2018 died because of their work); Ukraine (13 of 15 deaths in 2022 confirmed to have been work-related); and Somalia (12 of 14 work-related in 2012) – were in a state of war or insurrection during the years in review.

The Israel-Gaza war deaths have taken place against a backdrop of growing censorship of media in the region, including at least 20 arrests as well as physical and online harassment of journalists. Media facilities have also been damaged or destroyed. 

In May, CPJ published “Deadly Pattern,” a report that found members of the Israel Defense Forces had killed at least 20 journalists over the past 22 years and that no one had ever been charged or held accountable for their deaths.

“Journalists are civilians and must be treated as such under international humanitarian law,” said Mansour. “It’s imperative we see independent, transparent investigations into the latest pattern of killings. In addition, the Israeli army must end its muzzling of international media by allowing them to report from Gaza, stop its harassment of journalists in the West Bank, and allow the free flow of information and humanitarian aid into Gaza,” Mansour added.

Repeated communications blackouts and a lack of fuel, food, and housing due to the bombardment and limited humanitarian assistance has severely stifled reporting in Gaza, where international journalists have had almost no independent access for most of the war. Palestinian journalists report a desperate need for assistance to be able to continue reporting, including in the West Bank where some funders have cut funding for long-standing partners.

CPJ on Thursday published a series of calls to Israel and the international community.

The main recommendations are:

  1. Protect the lives of journalists: 

– Facilitate immediate access to humanitarian aid and basic supplies to Gaza and the safe delivery of personal protective equipment – such as helmets and flak jackets – to journalists in Gaza and the occupied West Bank. 

– Ensure media credentials and press insignia are respected, and that all parties follow international humanitarian law and do not target or harm journalists. 

  1. Provide access and the ability to report: 

– Grant international news organizations access to Gaza and halt the practice of communications blackouts. 

– Repeal new regulations that allow for the shutdown of news organizations and end the “administrative detention” of journalists, which allows for imprisonment without charge.

  1. Investigate attacks and end impunity: 

– End the longstanding pattern of impunity in cases of journalists killed by the IDF. The international community should act to ensure swift, transparent, and independent investigations are conducted into all journalist deaths since the October 7 start of the Israel-Gaza war.

Notes on CPJ methodology and its documentation of deaths in the Israel-Gaza war

  • CPJ defines journalists as people who cover news or comment on public affairs through any medium — including in print, online, via broadcast media, or photographs and video. We take up cases involving staff journalists and freelancers. We do not include journalists if there is evidence that they were acting on behalf of militant groups or serving in a military capacity at the time of their deaths. CPJ also documents the deaths of media support workers in recognition of the vital role they play in news gathering. These include translators, drivers, guards, fixers, and administrative workers. 
  • CPJ researchers investigate every journalist’s death to determine whether they were killed in relation to their work. We interview families, friends, colleagues, and authorities to learn as much as possible about the circumstances of each case. Details we investigate include whether the journalist was on assignment at the time of the killing, whether they had received threats, and whether they had published work that might have attracted the anger of government authorities, militant groups, or criminal gangs.
  • CPJ’s focus is on press freedom violations, so we distinguish between those we are reasonably certain were killed because of their journalism [motive confirmed] and those who may have been killed for journalism or for another reason [motive unconfirmed]. In situations of war such as Israel-Gaza and Ukraine, CPJ documents all journalists whose deaths and journalistic credentials we are able to verify as “confirmed” while we investigate the circumstances of their killing.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Health officials in Gaza say the death toll from Israel’s 10-week bombardment has now topped 20,000, including more than 8,000 Palestinian children. Officials in Gaza say the death toll also includes 97 journalists and 310 healthcare workers.

On Wednesday, the political leader of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, traveled to Cairo for talks with Egyptian officials about a possible new ceasefire and the exchange of captives. Israel believes about 129 Israeli hostages are still being held in Gaza. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under increasing pressure to secure the release of more hostages, after Israeli forces mistakenly shot dead three Israeli hostages who managed to escape captivity in northern Gaza. The three men, who were all shirtless, were shot as they cried for help in Hebrew while holding up a white flag.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined now by the Israeli journalist Yuval Abraham. His latest article for +972 Magazine and Local Call is headlined “'The hostages weren't our top priority’: How Israel’s bombing frenzy endangered captives in Gaza.”

Yuval, if you can start off by talking about exactly what you understand happened? Now there is apparently a GoPro on a dog that captured what took place. The reaction of the Israeli public, and then what this means about the Netanyahu administration and how they’re dealing or prioritizing, or not, hostages?

YUVAL ABRAHAM: Yeah, sure, of course. So, these are three hostages — Yotam, Alon and Samir — one of them is a Palestinian Israeli, two of them Jewish Israelis — who somehow managed to escape their captivity. We don’t know how. And they roamed around Gaza for a few days. They have written in Hebrew on buildings, “Help,” in Hebrew, “Hostages are released.” They have, as you said, communicated the fact they were Israeli captives to a dog that — an army dog that had a GoPro camera.

And they were, I mean, essentially, executed by soldiers. One of them held a white flag. They took off their — they approached soldiers. They took off their clothes to show that they were not wearing any explosives. And soldiers opened fire at them, immediately killing two of them. The commander on the scene realized that they were perhaps Israelis, and told soldiers to stop firing. The third captive managed to run back to a building. And when he came out, soldiers shot at him again, killing him.

And yeah, I mean, I’ve heard — I mean, it’s being reported as a mistake that soldiers have made. I think that it was not a mistake when they thought they were Palestinians. I mean, clearly, you do not, you know, accidentally shoot at somebody who is holding a white flag. And, of course, it becomes a mistake when they realize they’re Israeli hostages.

And it shocked Israeli society. It triggered protests calling on the Netanyahu government to reach a deal with Hamas to release more captives and hostages. But currently, from the way I am reading both the political situation and the public situation, such a deal seems unlikely for now.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: So, Yuval, could you explain why you think such a deal is unlikely? And then tell us what the intelligence sources you spoke to for your piece, what they told you about the concerns that hostages had, the fact that you write in this piece that Israeli hostages often said that they were more afraid of being killed by Israeli airstrikes than they were by Hamas.

YUVAL ABRAHAM: Yeah, of course. So, I think it’s unlikely, because I think Netanyahu politically is not going to be willing to pay the price that Hamas is asking, which is to reach a more substantial ceasefire, or perhaps a permanent ceasefire, and to release a lot of Palestinian prisoners, including people like Marwan Barghouti and Ahmad Sa’adat, who are considered to be Palestinian leaders, including many Palestinians who are serving, you know, long prison sentences in the occupation jails, some of them for killing Israeli civilians. And this will, you know, ruin Netanyahu politically, even more than he’s already ruined, which I think is why he will not do it and why he is making it clear publicly that he plans to continue the war for months.

And this relates to our investigation at +972 Magazine, because we have basically spoken to Israeli intelligence sources who have described how during the first weeks of Israel’s onslaught in Gaza, the military knowingly carried out a striking policy, relentless bombardment policy, that not only decimated Gaza and killed thousands and thousands of Palestinians, but also endangered Israeli captives and hostages. And sources have told me, in intelligence, that at the time, they had very little intelligence as to where these captives were being held and that the general atmosphere was, in the top military commanders, is that the hostages are just not a priority, that their safety is relegated in favor of carrying out this bombardment campaign.

And as you said, you know, in the end of November, when captives were released from Gaza for the first time, many of them have described being hit by Israeli airstrikes or attacks, describing a fear, you know, this sort of traumatic fear, of feeling that the power that is supposed to supposedly protect you is actually a very, very, very big threat to your life, you know, talking about really being on the verge of death. And we know that in some cases hostages were hit by these Israeli attacks. Now, the conditions in the captivity of Hamas were horrific for some hostages, as well. We also cover that in the report. We also talk about testimonies of released captivities and sources inside the military of sexual assault against some of the captives. But a recurring theme in many of the testimonies of the captives is really being terrified from the Israeli airstrikes. And again, it seems that, at least for the first few weeks of the war, this was done knowingly, in a sense, by the military.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, I mean, quite rightly, there has been a lot of emphasis on the Israeli hostages. But at the same time — you mentioned earlier Palestinian activist and politician Mustafa Barghouti — speaking to the BBC this morning, he talked about how Palestinian prisoners are not so much the focus of discussion. Some who were released from a detention center in northern [sic] Israel earlier, they said that they were — that they were tortured, and some died as a result. He was speaking to the BBC on Thursday.

MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI: They told me they were kept, more than 1,000 people, in detention or concentration camp near Beersheba, and they were beaten badly. They were tortured with different methods. Some people were hit with electrical shocks. They also used drowning their heads in the water while they were interrogating them intensively for hours. They are kept in a place which is very cold. They don’t have enough clothes. And the food they are given is very little. But the most important thing, that a number of prisoners that they witnessed died because of the beating and torture. Some of them were old people who had diseases, like heart diseases.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: So, that’s Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, speaking earlier today to the BBC. And just a correction: The detention center where the Palestinian prisoners were held was in southern Israel, not northern. Yuval, your response?

YUVAL ABRAHAM: Yeah, it’s appalling. And I’ve seen these testimonies. I’ve also seen live testimonies of these Palestinians being released from Israeli interrogation. And honestly, to me, it reminded me of scenes that I saw of Jews in Eastern Europe, you know, in the '30s and ’40s. You see their hands are filled with bruises. They were handcuffed for hours. Some of them have died. They spoke about being electrified by soldiers, being beaten by soldiers, really torture. I mean, you could see on their faces. I mean, it's horrific.

And I think that — you know, you said at the start of the show that now it’s more than 20,000 Palestinians who were killed in Gaza, roughly 1% of the population. That’s unimaginable numbers. I mean, just to put it in some sort of proportion for audiences in the United States, 1% of the population in the U.S. is 3.3 million people being killed in 75 days.

And yeah, I agree with you that, in a way, I’ve heard Israeli journalists using the term “war crimes” for the first time after the three Israeli hostages were killed by soldiers. And obviously — obviously — soldiers thought that they were Palestinians, which is why they felt comfortable, it seems, to shoot somebody who was holding a white flag in their hand. And to me, it’s really outrageous how there is like two completely different sets of ways we look at the world, not according to the crime, but according to the victim of the crime. Because, you know, how many Palestinians were executed by Israeli soldiers? And how often does that happen without any response from journalists, without using words like “war crimes”? And I think, really, at the heart of a lot of what is going on is this disparity between having some people whose lives have meaning and other people whose lives have no meaning for so many people on the West and in Israel.

AMY GOODMAN: Yuval, I wanted to ask you about the number of prisoners being taken by Israel on the West Bank. We’re talking about something like 4,000 just since October 7th. Do you have the sense that they are just rounding up people because, as they negotiate a prisoner exchange, they’ll have more to give back? That’s one question. And the other is about Human Rights Watch’s report released today, “Meta’s Broken Promises: Systemic Censorship of Palestine Content on Instagram and Facebook,” people being systemically knocked off of Facebook and Instagram if they are posting about what’s happening to Palestinians.

YUVAL ABRAHAM: Yeah. So, you know, Israel has a long-standing policy of these mass arrests. We’ve seen them happening in the previous Gaza bombardments, also in 2021. Many of these — I think thousands of these Palestinian prisoners are held without trial, without charges being pressed against them. Even when charges are pressed, the system of the military occupation and the military judicial system is extremely unjust. Ninety-nine-point-four percent of the cases end up in indictment.

I’m not sure — I mean, I think part of it has to do with getting numbers. It seems very logical. I don’t have any inside information about it, but what you suggested seems logical. Again, I think that for the next prisoner exchange, Hamas will insist on releasing much more prominent Palestinian prisoners. So, unlike the last time, when, really, you know, you saw Palestinian prisoners being released after they spent a short time in prison, I think if — for a next hostage deal to take place, they will need to have more substantial Palestinian prisoners.

And, I mean, there is repression online. I know that there are Israeli ministries that are constantly working with Meta, with Facebook, with X, as well, and with Instagram to aid in this process. There have been reports about sort of this mass scanning that Israel does of social media to find posts to flag, in a way, for these international social media organizations. And yeah, the repression is taking place, yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: Yuval Abraham, I want to thank you for being with us, journalist based in Jerusalem who writes for +972 Magazine and Local Call. We’ll link to your new article, “'The hostages weren't our top priority’: How Israel’s bombing frenzy endangered captives in Gaza.”

Coming up, on Wednesday, the U.N. Security Council forced to postpone a vote for the third time on Gaza due to U.S. opposition. We’ll speak with Phyllis Bennis. Back in 20 seconds.


AMY GOODMAN: “Blinding Lights” by The Weeknd. The artist announced earlier this month he would be directing $2.5 million to meals for Palestinians in Gaza.

ADDED: Everything below this until "The following sites  updated" was added after this published -- added 12:54 pm EST 12/22/23

The snapshots are dictated.  They go long.  After it's dictated and before it publishes, I'll say "Pull the part on ____" if it's way too long.  This snapshot lost an LGBTQ+ issue that I'm about to put in.  It also lost the section on Donald Trump and Colorado.  On the Trump section, Elaine's covering that due to MTG so I'm handing her that section that never made today's snapshot.  Sometimes scraps make it back in, sometimes they don't.  Since she can use it later today, she can have it.  But while going in to grab that for her, I saw the LGBTQ+ portion and it needs to go up this week so I'm adding it here.

The growing number of book bans in the US are using a so-called parental rights movement as cover for a wide-ranging attack on civil rights in America, a Democratic congressman has warned.

Earlier this month, a new study by PEN America revealed that there had been at least 5,894 book bans in US public schools from July 2021 to June 2023, with more than 40% of them in Florida, birthplace of a rightwing parents group called Moms for Liberty.

The books targeted are frequently those which tackle issues like racism, gender or LGBTQ+ rights.

“Book bans are a baseless attack on our civil rights and civil liberties under the guise of parental rights,” warned Florida congressman Maxwell Frost, who introduced the Fight Banned Books Act earlier this month.

“If the arts and literature our students read are getting attacked, what will happen next?” Frost told the Guardian in an interview.

On 5 December, alongside Congresswoman Frederica Wilson and Congressman Jamie Raskin, he unveiled the planned legislation and vowed to take a stand against censorship by providing grants to school districts to fight them.

“We found that one of the real problems in Florida after the book gets officially taken off the shelves is that school boards do not have the resources necessary to battle the book bans and get the books back on the shelves,” Frost said.

The GOP group Moms For Bigotry are a hate group dedicated to attacking people of color, LGBTQ+ people, democracy and basic human rights.  Despite this -- or because of it -- the group and fiction writer Naomi Wolf have glommed onto one another -- interfaced with one another?  Wolf once wrote books like THE END OF AMERICA calling out Nazis but today she embarrasses herself rolling around in bed with Moms For Bigotry.  "Entangled in embraces that God will never see," as Carly Simon once wrote ("The Three Of Us In The Dark").  

And if you're not getting how destructive Moms For Bigotry are, refer to Ariana Lee's article for THE NATION:

It has been 70 years since the Lavender Scare, when thousands of gay people in the US government were fired or forced to resign from their jobs. Now, this same discrimination is driving modern-day legislation. “We’re talking about the systematic, intentional targeting of queer people,” says Jay Jones, the first openly transgender vice president of the Howard University Student Association.

In May of 2023, the Human Rights Campaign tallied over 520 anti-LGBTQ+ bills that have been introduced in state legislatures, along with 70 laws ranging from bans on gender affirming care for transgender youth to the censorship of school curriculum.

A staggering two-thirds of LGBTQ+ youth report that potential state or local laws banning the discussion of queer topics in education has made their mental health “a lot” worse. Acts passed by governments in red states, such as Florida’s controversial HB 1557, commonly referred to as the “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” bill, contest queer inclusion, mirroring the mass hysteria of the Lavender Scare and contributing to the stigmatization of queer youth and educators nationally.

“I think it’s scary. I’m not even gonna lie,” says Jones of legislation methodically targeting LGBTQ+ youth. She explains that she sees Florida’s legislation as a “test,” gauging how far anti-LGBTQ+ legislation can expand as other states adopt similar laws. In June, Jones’s home state of Texas signed into law Senate Bill 17, making it the second state to ban diversity, equity, and inclusion offices at public universities. According to the Human Rights Watch, Texas is also responsible for more than 20 percent of anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced nationally.

“It’s a scary thing, not only for LGBTQ youth, but also for folks who aren’t knowledgeable and can easily fall into this indoctrination,” says Eshe Ukweli, a transgender digital creator and journalist.

Although southern states have gained the most scrutiny for anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, “it’s occurring everywhere,” according to Matthew Juarez, a queer student activist and executive director of StudentsActNow.

Introduced in early 2023, Pennsylvania’s HB 216 calls for gendered sports teams to be expressly designated by biological sex, ostracizing transgender athletes and students. On March 8, the bill was referred to the Committee on Education, leaving transgender youth fearful for their future in their respective sports.

What Moms for Bigotry and other hate merchants don't get is that the world has moved on.  We've grown, we've stretched, we've learned.  The hate merchants resort to lies and distortions to scare people.  They can't be honest because honesty doesn't scare or alarm.  Young people, especially, look at the nonsense spewed by Moms For Bigotry and roll their eyes.  Hate merchants die and they take most of their hatred with them to the grave.  They don't leave much behind because they don't have much to offer in the first place.

The following sites updated:

Thursday, December 21, 2023

BIg Fatty Tara Reade alone, alone, alone

Waist deep in a big fatty.  What?  You thought "Waste deep in a big muddy"?  Well, it's Tubby Tara Reade so 'waist deep in a big fatty' is more accurate.  When last seen lumbering onto Russia's land, she was explaining she was a defector from the US.  She still is.  But she's got something on her mind -- her ass!  From NEWSWEEK:

Reade still resides there and has been granted asylum in an expedited process, she told Newsweek via phone on Wednesday.

"In my opinion, the U.S. has lost its democracy," said Reade, who before working for Biden served as an intern for then-Representative Leon Panetta. "I'm not being melodramatic, but it's come out in different ways. It's bigger than me. I frankly don't know if I'll get any justice in my own case but am hoping it will help others.

"I think the only way I can know [if I can gain legal traction] is by doing it and pushing it."

The new civil rights complaint, which is not a lawsuit, was filed on Wednesday and requests an investigation into FBI practices that resulted in Reade, described within as a whistleblower victim of sexual assault with no criminal background or monetary motivation, "becoming the target" of a federal grand jury investigation and California criminal investigation "even after she requested FBI protection from death threats."

She's whining on paper.  And threatening a lawsuit if the world doesn't stop for her.

Lady, stop wasting our time.  You're in Russia now, you're trying to become a citizen there.  Leave us all alone.

If you're stupid enough to feel sorry for Tara, please note that before she went to Russia, she was hanging around with Scott Ritter.

That's right, Tara Believe Me Believe All Victims was hanging with Scott Ritter -- arrested three times for attempting to have sex with under age girls.  The third time he had to go to court and got convicted and sent to prison.  He lied to his parole board and pretend he was remorseful.  As soon as he was released on parole he started insisting he was innocent.  That should have gotten him tossed back into prison.

But Tara loves him.

She also still loves Matt Gaetz.  He let her down but she's sure that'll change.  And she just knows Mike Johnson's going to be her friend. She was tight with Marjorie Taylor Greene too.

And she wonders why those of us on the left don't give a damn about her anymore.  Look at those people, they are hate merchants who target LGBTQ+ people.  

Fatty Reade, I don't care if you're sinking Russia into the ground, don't come back to the US.  We don't need you and we don't want you.

And apparently other people feel the same.  NEWSWEEK notes, "she's lost contact with many friends and family members who are too fearful to talk with her. Reade will also soon miss her daughter's wedding."


Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


Thursday, December 21, 2023.  Another game of kick the can -- who can kick the can, who can kick the can, old man Biden can -- as the UN Security Council vote is yet again postponed, Christians in Gaza face celebrating a holy day with bombs dropping, dire warnings continue to be made about the food crisis in Gaza, and much more.

THE NEW YORK TIMES notes,  "The United Nations Security Council pushed off to Thursday a highly anticipated vote on a resolution calling for a halt in fighting in the war in Gaza and a major increase aid deliveries. The delay was at the request of the United States to allow more time for more negotiations, according to diplomats."


Feeling deja vu?  That's because the vote was supposed to take place Monday -- we were all told it would over the weekend.  Then Monday came and it was postponed until Tuesday.  Tuesday came and it was postponed until Wednesday.  Wednesday came and now it's postponed to today.  Will it take place today?  THE WASHINGTON POST notes, "The U.N. Security Council will reconvene Thursday after a vote on a war-related resolution was delayed three times because of opposition from the United States. World powers are trying to hone the resolution’s language so that Washington won’t veto it."

Do you really think that as they dicker over wording the bombs and drones aren't still killing civilians?

NBC NEWS reports nearly 15,000 children in Gaza have been killed or injured in the ongoing assault.

We don't have time for performative nonsense intended to garner applause while actually doing nothing.

What's that smell?  

Barbara Lee stinking up the discussion again.  Brett Wilkins must not live in California.  If he did, we'd have to call him a liar for his post at COMMON DREAMS which opens:

Congresswoman Barbara Lee—the only one of three California House Democrats vying for a U.S. Senate seat who backs an unconditional Gaza cease-fire—on Wednesday set herself apart from congressional colleagues who support a pause to the fighting, but with strings attached. 

So Big Fake Barbara has him fooled, she shouldn't have you fooled.  And I don't get the nonsense of saying she's vying with two other Democrats.  That's not how it works in California.  Honestly, shut up if you don't vote in California because it's not your state.  It's different.  If all the people who didn't live in California hadn't been pimping DiFi and telling lies because they were too stupid to know what was what, DiFi wouldn't have died in office.  She wouldn't have won the election.  The country would be better off.  ROE would likely be in place because it wouldn't like she was conspiring and because anyone would have been stronger -- in a hearing, on a vote -- than weak ass DiFi.

But it was time for all the scum of the earth -- including 2008 John McCain girl who's restyled herself as a lefty progressive -- hadn't insisted we had to support Diane or it would go to a Republican!!!!

That's not Califonria.  I'm not even talking demography, I'm talking the way we vote.  Our top two vote getters -- regardless of party -- will advance to the general election.  That's why the general election ballot -- not the primary -- featured only two names DiFi and Kevin de Leon -- both Democrats.

I'm so damn tired of idiots who start lecturing us and they don't even know it works in California.  

Barbara Lee wants to be in the US Senate.  She's too damn old.  Having just had DiFi die in office, the last thing we need to do is elect a 78 year old (she'll be 78 before next November's election) to an six year term.  84.  That's too damn old.

Then there's the fact that a soft and squishy 'left' 'independent' media -- I'm referring to the John Nichols liars -- have repeatedly portrayed as something she's not.  She is a Hawk.  She's always been a hawk.

And she's no friend to Palestinians. 

The latest induction ceremony for Sebastopol’s Living Peace Wall, erected to celebrate and commemorate advocates for peace and justice, has sparked a reaction at odds with its mission: Avoiding conflict.

The dissension stems from the inclusion of Rep. Barbara Lee, a veteran Democratic Congresswoman who represents Oakland, Berkeley and Alameda.

Heralded among wide swathes of progressives for her advocacy for the poor, the Black Lives Matter movement, gay rights, affordable housing and homelessness, Lee has more recently drawn the ire of those who say she has failed to stand up for the rights of Palestinians.

“We respect her for all the work she has done over the years, but on this issue? It’s PEP — Progressive Except Palestine. She’s a classic one,” said longtime North Bay activist Mary Moore of Occidental, herself a 2021 Peace Wall inductee.

And that is her history.

Currently, she's desperate to get on the general election ballot -- only two people will.  And she's either a distant third or fourth in the poll (yes, ,sometimes she comes in behind the former baseball player).  So she suddenly discovers her support for Palestinians after decades in Congress.  

This is the same fake ass who gave Barack Obama cover for Afghanistan in 2009 insisting that people not call him out.  Give him a year, next year, Babsie insisted, she'd hold his feet to the fire. 2010 only brought more excuses and that repeated for every year of his two terms as president.  Which is why Joe Biden was stuck being the grown up in the room and withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan.  

Barbara Lee has a good p.r. team.  That's all.  And that's why Californians don't want her.  They want Katie Porter or Adam Schiff.  They don't want Barbara Lee.  She's not a stranger to us.  We know her very well -- over many years.  She should take a int and drop out.

And instead of doing PR for her, COMMON DREAMS needs to be noting her real record.  That would be holding her feet to the fire -- something real activists in California have been doing for years and one of the only reasons she's now making this tiny effort to stop a slaughter.

There's something sad and sick about a desperate woman who's been in Congress since a 1998 special election and who has ignored the plight of the Palestinians this entire time but now is desperate to get into the Senate so it's Christopher Columbus time for Babsie.

While Babsie plays dress up, Christians around the world gear up to celebrate one of the holiest of holy days in their religion -- Christmas.  But this Christmas, Christians in Gaza are under attack.  From yesterday's DEMOCRACY NOW!

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

“It is terrorism.” Those were the words of Pope Francis after an Israeli sniper shot dead two Christian women, an elderly woman and her adult daughter who tried to save her, at a Catholic church in Gaza City on Sunday. The shooting took place at the Holy Family Latin Parish, where scores of Palestinian Christians have been trapped with little food or water. The pope condemned the shooting in remarks Sunday.

POPE FRANCIS: [translated] And let us not forget our brothers and sisters suffering from war in Ukraine, Palestine, Israel and other conflict zones. May the approach of Christmas strengthen our commitment to open paths of peace. I continue to receive from Gaza very serious and painful news. Unarmed civilians are being bombed and shot at. And this has even happened inside the Holy Family Parish compound, where there are no terrorists, but families, children, and sick people with disabilities, and nuns. A mother and her daughter, Ms. Nahida Khalil Anton and her daughter Samar Kamal Anton, were killed, and others wounded, by the snipers as they went to the bathroom. The house of Mother Teresa’s nuns was damaged, their generator hit. Some say it’s terrorism. It’s war. Yes, it’s war. It’s terrorism. That is why Scripture says that God stops war, breaks bows and breaks spears. Let us pray to the Lord for peace.

AMY GOODMAN: That was the pope this Sunday. British MP Layla Moran has also denounced Israel’s attacks on the Gaza City Catholic church. Some of her relatives are trapped inside.

LAYLA MORAN: I’ve spoken before in this House about my extended family who are in the Holy Family Parish Church in Zeitoun in Gaza. And the situation has been desperate for weeks, but now it’s descending. There are tanks outside the gates. There are soldiers and snipers pointing into the complex, shooting at anyone who ventures out. And the convent was bombed. On Saturday, two women were shot. They were simply trying to get to the toilet. There is no electricity. There is no clean water. And the update that I had last night was that they’re down to their last can of corn. I’m told, after pressure, that food has been delivered. But they’ve not seen it.

And when this began a week ago, the IDF soldiers ordered these civilians to evacuate against their will. Can the government confirm that it sees the forcible displacement of civilians as unacceptable? The people in this church, Mr. Speaker, are civilians. They have nothing to do with Hamas. They are nuns, orphans, disabled people. They are a small Christian community, and they know everyone. As the pope has said, and my family can confirm, it is categorically untrue to say Hamas are operating from there. This situation has been condemned by many. Will this government do so?

AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined now by Philip Farah. He is a co-founder of the Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace, has relatives sheltering in the Church of Saint Porphyrius in Gaza City, which has also come under attack. Last month, one of his relatives, Elham Farah, who was a beloved 84-year-old music teacher, daughter of a famed Palestinian poet, was killed by an Israeli sniper outside the Holy Family Church, where the mother and daughter were killed on Sunday by an Israeli sniper.

Philip Farah, can you describe what is happening there right now? And talk about this small Palestinian Christian community under siege. How is this happening?

PHILIP FARAH: Thank you, Amy. Thank you, Democracy Now!

Yes, three of my grandparents are from Gaza. I was raised in Jerusalem, but we had very strong connections to Gaza. There were many, many Palestinian Christian families in Gaza. It was a thriving community. Our relatives, the Medbaqs, the Tarazis, the Sabas, the Jahshan, Farah, including Farah, and Sayeghs, were a thriving community that lived in peace with their Muslim neighbors and even their Jewish neighbors. Back then, one of my granduncles was a greens merchant, and some of his best friends were Jewish greens merchants, as well. They were in the business of exporting barley, actually, to the United Kingdom for upgrading beer in breweries in the U.K.

Over the years, that community has dwindled to a tiny minority because of the horrible conditions that Israel has imposed on Gaza, especially — back in 2013, the number was 3,000, far, far smaller than it was, say, at the turn of the century. Now it’s only barely a thousand people. And they’re all sheltering in Saint Porphyrius, the Orthodox church. That is the church where my father, uncles and aunts and members of my extended family were baptized. So, many were sheltering in Saint Porphyrius. I think still some are. Four of my Tarazi relatives were killed there.

Elham actually was sheltering at Saint Porphyrius until the bombing that killed — the Israeli bombing that killed 18 Christians in that church. And then she moved to the Holy Cross, the Holy Family Church. She was a delightful 84-year-old woman, beloved of many students in Gaza. But she was strongheaded. And against the advice of her fellows who were sheltering there, she wanted to go home. She just simply wanted to go home. And she proceeded to do that. A sniper shot her in the leg. And folks who were trying to rescue her were all being shot at, so she bled to death. What could a woman like that, 84-year-old woman, have done to hurt Israelis?

So, you know, this is a continuing saga. Now the vast majority are sheltering in the Church of the Holy Family. And as you said, the snipers have shot two other elderly — well, Nahida, an elderly woman, and her daughter came to carry her, and she was shot and killed. And several others were also injured.

I have a relative by the name of Philip Jahshan. Actually, my family originally was Jahshan. Philip Jahshan is the only Gazan whom I’m able to reach through social media. He’s sheltering there. You know, for four days, I was worried about him and tried to reach him, but communications was shut down. Finally, I was able. He told me that he was OK. But, like you said, they have no food. And as you know, Israel has used water and food and electricity as part of its genocidal war. There’s no other name for it.

AMY GOODMAN: Philip, we want to continue this conversation after the broadcast, and we’re going to post it online. Philip Farah is co-founder of the Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace, has relatives sheltering in the Church of Saint Porphyrius in Gaza City, which was bombed by the Israeli military. Porphyrius is thought to be the third-oldest church in the world. Last month, his family member Elham Farah was killed by an Israeli sniper outside the Holy Family Church, where she had been taking refuge.

Next up, Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott has signed one of the nation’s most extreme anti-immigrant bills, empowering local police to arrest anyone they suspect of entering the United States without authorization. Back in 20 seconds.

Gaza is 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 18,000. 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 19,667 people have been killed and more than 52,000 others have been wounded by Israeli forces since Oct. 7, according to figures released by Gaza's Hamas-run Ministry of Health and 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."

On Wednesday, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) published a report alleging that Israeli forces carried out a mass execution of civilians in northern Gaza Tuesday, separating 11 men from their families and summarily shooting them.

This report and a similar allegation by the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor imply that Israel has moved from murdering civilians through bombing to mass executions.

In its report, the OHCHR in the Occupied Palestinian Territories reports that it “has received disturbing information alleging that Israel Defense Forces (IDF) summarily killed at least 11 unarmed Palestinian men in front of their family members in Al Remal neighbourhood, Gaza City, which raises alarm about the possible commission of a war crime.”

The UN wrote, “On 19 December 2023, between 2000 and 2300 hours, IDF reportedly surrounded and raided Al Awda building, also known as the ‘Annan building’, in Al Remal neighborhood, Gaza City, where three related families were sheltering in addition to Annan family.”

The UN added, “While in control of the building and the civilians sheltering there, the IDF allegedly separated the men from the women and children, and then shot and killed at least 11 of the men, mostly aged in their late 20’s and early 30’s, in front of their family members.” The UN continued, “The IDF then allegedly ordered the women and children into a room, and either shot at them or threw a grenade into the room, reportedly seriously injuring some of them, including an infant and a child. OHCHR has confirmed the killings at Al Awda building.”

The attacks continue.  These are War Crimes.  CNN’s Akanksha Sharma notes:

The head of the United Nations' health agency on Thursday warned of the “toxic mix of disease, hunger and lack of hygiene and sanitation” faced by people in Gaza as he called for an immediate ceasefire in Israel's war with Hamas.

"Hunger weakens the body’s defenses and opens the door to disease," World Health Organization director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

"Gaza is already experiencing soaring rates of infectious disease outbreaks. Diarrhoea cases among children aged under 5 are 25 times what they were before the conflict," he said. "Such illnesses can be lethal for malnourished children, more so in the absence of functioning health services. We need a ceasefire now."

Tedros' comments come amid multiple calls from UN agencies for a pause in fighting to help relief efforts in Gaza.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned Thursday that intense fighting is impeding efforts to assist people in Gaza. He called for “conditions to allow for large-scale humanitarian operations” to be "reestablished immediately.”

On Wednesday, the World Food Programme said half of Gaza's population is starving and residents are often going entire days without eating. Meanwhile, UNICEF warned Tuesday that children and families “are not safe in hospitals” in Gaza as the enclave’s wider health care system teeters on the edge of collapse.  

U.N. Secretary General António Guterres, the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees and the World Food Program expressed difficulties in distributing aid in Gaza — naming bombardments, blackouts, staff members being killed and fuel shortages, among the factors.

Ninety percent of people in Gaza are eating less than one meal a day, the World Food Program said in a statement Wednesday. Half are starving, and the majority are struggling to find drinkable water, it added.

All but one of WFP’s 25 contracted bakeries in Gaza have been destroyed in bombardments, and one of its food assistance program partners, Jamal AbuAitah, died along with his family during shelling, it said.

AMY GOODMAN: The head of Hamas’s political wing, Ismail Haniyeh, has arrived in Cairo, Egypt, for talks as hopes grow that a new deal could be reached for a ceasefire and the release of more hostages. Israel’s bombardment of Gaza began 75 days ago, on October 7th, just hours after Hamas’s attack on Israel. Health authorities in Gaza say at least 19,600 Palestinians have been killed so far. Thousands are feared to be still trapped under the rubble.

Just before this broadcast, Israel struck residential buildings in the southern city of Rafah near the Kuwaiti Special Hospital. A reporter from Al Jazeera, Hani Mahmoud, was on the air when the attack occurred.

HANI MAHMOUD: As we’re getting into — ooh! Oh my god! Did you hear that?

ANCHOR: Yes. Yes, we did, Hani.

HANI MAHMOUD: Oh my god! Oh, that’s the hospital! That’s the hospital! That’s the hospital! Oh my god! Are you guys hearing this?

ANCHOR: Yes, we are. We are hearing that, Hani. Are you — are you OK?

HANI MAHMOUD: Are you hearing that? All the debris.

ANCHOR: Are you — are you in a safe place to continue to talk to us?

HANI MAHMOUD: Why? Why? Why?

AMY GOODMAN: “Why? Why?” Hani Mahmoud asks, the Al Jazeera reporter. Al Jazeera reports the Israeli attack destroyed a large mosque in Rafah, as well as two residential homes. Israeli drones had been seen in the sky just before the strikes. Earlier, an Israeli attack on the Jabaliya refugee camp killed at least 46 Palestinians and wounded dozens.

The United Nations Security Council is expected to vote on a new Gaza resolution today. The vote was postponed Tuesday after the United States voiced opposition to a draft of the resolution. On December 8th, the United States vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for ceasefire.

This all comes as tension is growing in the Red Sea. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has announced the U.S. will lead a new military task force to protect ships in the Red Sea following a number of attacks by Houthi forces from Yemen.

We’re joined now by Rashid Khalidi, the Edward Said professor of modern Arab studies at Columbia University here in New York. He’s the author of several books, including his latest, The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine. His recent opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times is headlined “How the U.S. has fueled Israel’s decades-long war on Palestinians.”

Professor Khalidi, I’m wondering if you can start off by just talking about the situation overall in Gaza? Your family is from the West Bank. You also have family in Gaza. And I want to just point out that I particularly talked about, named the journalist with Al Jazeera, Hani Mahmoud, because it has been so horrifying to only name journalists after they have been killed, and so many scores of them have died. Hani Mahmoud’s bravery is astounding as we watch him through the Gaza Strip and today in the midst of this attack. Take it from there, Professor Khalidi.

RASHID KHALIDI: Well, he’s very fortunate that he’s still alive. Over 90 journalists have been killed in Gaza since — we’re now in the 11th week of this war. Two hundred and eighty-three healthcare workers have been killed. A hundred and thirty-five United Nations workers have been killed. It’s the highest death toll the United Nations has ever suffered in its entire history. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You cited a number of 20,000 people earlier, apparently having been killed. Probably the number is much higher, because there are so many thousands of people buried under the rubble or missing. And we will probably not know the final death toll until many, many months from now, when operations to remove the ruins of the buildings that have been destroyed are completed.

The situation in Gaza is unspeakable. What we hear from my niece’s family there is — I can’t describe it. It’s beyond belief. People are scrambling for the basic necessities of life and are sometimes not finding them — firewood to heat water and cook, enough water for everybody to have sufficient water to drink, let alone wash. I could go on. It is unspeakable. It is intolerable.

And the tragic thing about it is that this is clearly intended. Neither our government nor the Israeli government recognize the fact that what is happening there is causing this immiseration of over 2 million people. And this could easily be stopped, and should be stopped. I can’t — I can’t — I can’t understand how this country can allow this to continue. The idea that going after Hamas entails the destruction of more than half of the housing in Gaza, the idea that going after Hamas entails the wounding of 50,000 people and the killing of 20,000, is just — it’s incomprehensible to me that our government can be so callous and can be so determined not to separate itself from Israel, as far as this basic — the basic nature of this war, which is really directed against the people of Gaza. Over 2 million people have been forced to leave their homes. This is the largest displacement in Palestinian history. The killing of 20,000 people, almost half of whom are children, is unprecedented in Palestinian history. So we are talking about traumatic events that are going to scar generations to come. And this doesn’t seem to be a matter of concern to our government, let alone the government of Israel.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Professor Khalidi, we’ve seen massive, unprecedented demonstrations in support of the Palestinians throughout the world. A majority of governments in the General Assembly, overwhelming majority, have called for a ceasefire, yet the Security Council continues to be a roadblock, especially the United States. Can you talk about what this is doing to the legitimacy of the U.N. itself?

RASHID KHALIDI: Well, I think it’s harming the United Nations, but I think it’s also harming the legitimacy of the United States’ position. It’s not the Security Council that’s blocking action. It’s the U.S. government that’s blocking action. There was one abstention, 13 votes in favor last time that a ceasefire resolution was before the Security Council. And they spent three days trying to get a resolution which involves not a ceasefire, but a humanitarian pause, and the United States has been obstructing that, as I’ve said, for three days. So, I think this is going to harm not just the United Nations, because it’s manifestly helpless in the face of this catastrophe; it’s harming the United States.

There is overwhelming support the world over for ending this. There is overwhelming support, sympathy, the world over for the Palestinians. There is — I think the polls show very strong support even in the United States for ending this war, and at the very least for stopping what’s going on so that humanitarian aid can get in. And the administration is clearly impervious to all of this. And I think the mainstream media, frankly, are complicit in this. Nobody knows that four major trade unions have come out for a ceasefire: the United Auto Workers, the nurses, the electricians and the postal workers. The New York Times, for example, has not deigned to mentioned that. Well, that’s a large chunk of labor. We’re talking about a great deal of anger and opposition to the Biden administration’s policy among wide swaths of the American people. And they just plow on as if none of this mattered. I find it very hard to explain, frankly.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to ask you about — there have been numerous media reports of attacks on U.S. troops in Syria and Iraq, that are threatening to expand the conflict beyond just the Occupied Territories and Gaza. But what the heck are U.S. troops still doing in those two countries? Has Congress authorized their presence there? Do the governments of those countries even want them there?

RASHID KHALIDI: Well, the government of Syria, the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad, certainly doesn’t want them there. And the pretext for their being in Syria [inaudible] against the Islamic State. I don’t think there is any authorization for their being there. The troops that are in Iraq are supposedly engaged in training the Iraqi army but there’s a great deal of opposition in Iraq, even though the Iraqi government has accepted their presence there. There’s a great deal of opposition in the Iraqi parliament to the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq.

And I think what we’re seeing are attacks, whether from Yemen on shipping or firing missiles at Israel or attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq or in Syria, which are a response to what Israel is doing in Gaza. And the same is true, obviously, of the fighting that’s going on between Hezbollah and the Israeli army along Israel’s northern frontiers. The fear is that this will — that this could possibly be expanded, that this could become a regional war. So far, we are now in the 11th week of this war, since the 7th of October. And so far, that fear has been — or, that possibility has been contained. But it is always there. And it would lead to, I think, possibly terrible consequences, were the war to expand beyond its already quite horrific level in Gaza and were that to spark a further increase of fighting on the Lebanese border, in Syria, Iraq or out of Yemen.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about also what’s happening in the Red Sea? You have a dozen corporations who say they won’t ship their goods through the Red Sea. You have U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announcing a 10-nation coalition to protect trading interests there, including Bahrain, Canada, France, Italy, the U.K., the Seychelles; Houthi officials saying that their drone and missile attacks will continue as long as Israel bombards Gaza.

RASHID KHALIDI: There is enormous anger in the Arab world about what is happening in Gaza. Things that Americans don’t see, or don’t see enough of, the scenes of what is actually happening in Gaza, are being watched all over the Arab world, and across much of the world. And the anger that people have and their frustration at the unwillingness of their governments to do more to try and stop this is palpable. In Saudi Arabia, people can’t demonstrate. In some countries, they can demonstrate. But you talk to anybody in any of these countries, and public opinion is boiling. And the passivity of Arab governments in the face of this, their unwillingness to actually take action, I think, is — contrasts with Hezbollah, militias in Iraq and Syria, and the Houthis in Yemen actually engaging militarily in doing something.

And I think it is really time for countries that want to have to ceasefire to begin to group together, whether Arab countries or European countries or countries in the Global South, to group together and say there will be X, Y, Z sanctions if this doesn’t stop. At the very least, if sufficient humanitarian aid, if sufficient field hospitals, if sufficient water and food and so forth are not allowed into Gaza, this and this and this will be done to Israel, which is responsible. And I think that there are countries that could do this, including Arab countries. Jordan has recalled its ambassador. Well, that’s not going to affect Israel very much. But stopping the transportation of food from the Gulf to Israel — apparently the Emiratis are shipping food to Israel — would actually affect Israel. Doing things that threaten diplomatic relations would have an impact. Now, that, in and of itself, is not enough, but I think a lot more has to be done.

The United Nations, as we can see, is paralyzed by the U.N. veto — by the U.S., I should say, veto. The General Assembly has done what it could, 153 to 10. You can’t have a more lopsided vote than that. I think more has to be done to bring home to people in Washington, in particular, that this is unacceptable and actually unsustainable, that the possibility of this overflowing into regional conflagration, which is always there, is only part of the damage that is being done. Whole generations are being brought up angry at the United States, enraged at Israel, all over the region. And Israel is going to have to deal with this for decades to come. The United States is going to have to deal with this for decades to come. We are seen as complicit. These are American artillery shells, American bombs, American rockets, American planes, American helicopters, American artillery that are being used in this war. Twenty thousand people have been killed mainly with American weapons, mostly civilians, in Gaza. And people are not going to forget that, unfortunately. And I don’t see a sense of the impact of this in Washington. I don’t — I really think they live in some kind of a bubble, in some kind of a vacuum, in some kind of a fact-free space, where they don’t seem to understand the impact of all of this. What they are thinking and why they are thinking that is actually beyond me, as I’ve said.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to ask you, Rashid Khalidi, about the Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh, in Egypt to discuss a possible new truce, The Wall Street Journal reporting Hamas is also in discussions with Palestinian rivals, like Fatah, about a possible joint scenario for ruling the West Bank and Gaza afterwards. Of course, Netanyahu is completely against this. If you can talk about the discussion of the hostage negotiations, where we have seen reports of possibly Marwan Barghouti — and if you can explain his significance — being released for a number of Israeli soldiers released? Talk about all of this that’s going on right now, so people can understand what’s next.

RASHID KHALIDI: Well, that’s a big — that’s a big — that’s a big number — that’s a large number of questions.

I think the first thing, the hostage issue. There has been a huge problem around the hostages, because what Hamas has been demanding up until now is essentially an all-for-all exchange, all of the prisoners and hostages. I mean, some of the hostages are military, and many of them are civilians. And what they’ve been saying, apparently, from what we can tell from press reports, is that if you want all of the hostages, you’re going to have to release all of the prisoners. And that is one possibility, I think unlikely. And one of the prisoners who could, therefore, be released is Marwan Barghouti, who’s a senior Fatah leader who was convicted of multiple murders, by an Israeli military court that he never recognized, and who might well be a candidate for president who could win a majority of Palestinian votes.

I think the other issue — and there are other possibilities as far as hostages are concerned — for example, release of all the civilian hostages in exchange for a certain number of prisoners. And I have no idea where that negotiation is going. Some Israeli press reports indicate that the Israeli government is talking about progress, when there hasn’t actually been progress, in order to decrease the pressure of hostage families, who are demanding the release of Palestinian prisoners in order to get their loved ones home. I think the broader question is —

AMY GOODMAN: Especially after Israel killed three of the hostages from Israel.

RASHID KHALIDI: Accidentally, exactly, yes. And many others apparently have been killed in the bombing. And released hostages have said, “We were terrified for our lives because of the bombing that was going on.” I’ve read accounts in the Israeli press from released hostages, who’ve talked about how — the kind of danger that they were in, not so much from their captors as from the possibility that they would be killed by the Israeli bombardments.

The other aspect of this is the political aspect. Hamas has a position in Palestinian politics that is not going to be eradicated, no matter what Israel does in Gaza. If Israel entirely defeats Hamas’s entire military network, infrastructure, if it kills every single fighter — these are, of course, probably unrealistic, but even assuming that they can do that, Hamas continues as a political movement. Hamas continues to have support among Palestinians — not majority support, according to almost every poll I’ve ever seen, but a certain amount of support. If the — when and if the Palestinians manage to put together a government — and, you know, everybody else is going to try and do it for them. The United States is going to try and impose its intentions on them. The Israeli government will undoubtedly try and do the same. And the Europeans, in their colonial way, will probably try and do the same, telling the Palestinians what’s good for them and telling them who they can have and not have in their government. But when and if the Palestinians can get their own act together and form some kind of, for example, reformed PLO, there is no way to exclude Hamas from that. This idea that Hamas, because of what it did on October 7th, is completely excluded from Palestinian governance is a fantasy, an Israeli, American, European fantasy.

You do not negotiate with the people who have already agreed to your terms. You couldn’t do that in Ireland; you had to bring the IRA in. You couldn’t do that in South Africa; you had to bring the ANC in. You couldn’t do that in Algeria; you had to bring the FLN in. These are groups that had carried out horrific attacks, in many cases, on civilians. These are groups that were described by the colonial power in South Africa, in Algeria, in Ireland as terrorists or bandits, or they had different terms at different times. But the only people you really need to negotiate with are the people with the guns, after all. And until that fact gets through the thick skulls of people in Washington and in Paris and London, we’re not going anywhere. They can pick quislings. They can pick technocrats. They can select the Palestinians who are acceptable to them, who meet whatever tests, who get down on their knees and condemn Hamas, or whatever litmus test is imposed, and those people will represent nobody, will have no credibility, will have no legitimacy and will have no control over the situation.

And so, you are looking — barring an acceptance that you have to eventually deal with your real enemies, you are looking at a situation of unending Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip, direct or indirect. You are looking at a situation which implies unending resistance to that occupation. How many people can they kill? If Israel claims that there are 25,000 or 30,000 militants, armed militants, in Hamas, how many of them can they kill? Ten, 12, 11, 15? There will eventually be others, people who are still there. And that means that an imposed solution, with Israel continuing to operate in the Gaza Strip, which it has said it intends to do, will provoke continued resistance. So, nothing will be solved.

And the reconstruction and the end of the misery of the people of Gaza can’t take place until those kinds of changes, from occupation to some kind of Palestinian governance, takes place. And I don’t see — you read The Washington Post, David Ignatius. The idea that Arab countries are going to go in and do Israel and the United States’s dirty work for them is a fantasy. The Emiratis and the Saudis and the Egyptians and the Jordanians will not go in and govern on behalf of Israel. It is not going to happen. There has to be Palestinian governance of Palestinian territories.

And that is going to have to, one way or another, involve all the groups within the Palestinian political spectrum. The Palestinians have been divided by their own, you know, for reasons that have to do with Palestinian dysfunction, but they’ve also been divided by the divide-and-rule policies of the United States, Israel and the Europeans. As long as that continues, this festering sore will continue, and there will be violence. And it will not only be violence caused by hard men in Hamas. It will be violence caused by the horrors visited on the Palestinians by 56 years of occupation, by 75 years of colonialism, and the fact that people, inevitably, necessarily, resist occupation. You have to — they have to come to terms, sooner or later, with the fact — in Washington and in Israel, with the fact that Palestinian governance is a matter to be decided by Palestinians. And that is simply not in the mindset, if you read what comes out of Washington or what comes out of Israel, of our government or the Israeli government or many European governments.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Professor, we only have a couple of minutes left, but I wanted to ask you — you’ve said that there’s an unquestionable connection of Judaism and the Jewish people to the Holy Land, and yet that Israel — the Israeli state is a settler colonial project. And in your L.A. Times piece recently, you called it, the assault on Gaza, “the last colonial war of the modern age.” Could you elaborate?

RASHID KHALIDI: Right. Sure. I mean, this goes back to the nature of Zionism. Zionism is a national project, which distinguishes it from every other settler colonial movement, project. But at the same time, it was a self-identified colonial project. I mean, the Jewish Colonization Agency, the Palestinian Jewish Colonization Agency, is the term that that organization, which existed until 1958, applied to itself. That was something that was accepted by early Zionist leaders. They argued they had a claim to the Holy Land, there’s a connection of the Jewish people to the land of Israel. All of this is true, that there is such an attachment and such a connection, but Zionism is a European colonial project, backed by imperialism, British imperialism, and which intended to replace an Indigenous population with a Jewish population. As Ze’ev Jabotinsky said, “We want to transform Palestine into the land of Israel.” And that meant a demographic transformation, and that meant dispossession of the population and theft of their land, as happens in every settler colonial scenario. So, Israel is both the result of a national project, Zionism, and the result of a settler colonial project. There’s no — you can walk and chew gum at the same time. There’s actually no contradiction between it.

And it’s unique, in that it was not just an extension of a mother country’s population and sovereignty. It had its own independent ambitions: to establish a Jewish state, not a British state — came in under the protection of Britain, but it had its own aims, separate, independent aims. So, it’s a unique — it’s a unique phenomenon in the modern world. And it learned everything it did from the British. The Israeli army’s earliest leaders were trained by British colonial counterinsurgency specialists, to blow up houses over the heads of their residents, to shoot prisoners, to attack villages at night. This is British counterinsurgency, which was transmitted to Israeli — members of the Palmach and the Haganah in the 1930s in order for them to help the British fight the Palestinians. And those are the founders of the Israeli army. Moshe Dayan was trained by British counterinsurgency specialists. Yigal Allon, Yitzhak Sadeh, many of the leading figures in what became the Israeli army have that training. And Israel is using the laws left over, the 1945 Defense (Emergency) Regulations, under which people are put in administrative detention, no indictment, no trial, no conviction, nothing. They’re just put in jail and kept there. That’s a British 1945 emergency regulation. That’s a typical colonial instrument.

So, this is a colonial war, fought in order to maintain the supremacy of this group, which has taken the country over, at the expense of the Indigenous Palestinian population. The connection of the Jewish people to the land of Israel is, in my view, incontrovertible. But that, in and of itself, doesn’t justify the colonial methods that have been used in the establishment and the maintenance of Israel’s supremacy over now the entirety of Palestine, from the river to the sea.

AMY GOODMAN: Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said professor of modern Arab studies at Columbia University, author of a number of books, including The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine. We’ll link to your opinion piece for the L.A. Times, headlined “How the U.S. has fueled Israel’s decades-long war on Palestinians.”

Coming up, we look at how a group of Palestinian Christians are trapped in the Holy Family Church in Gaza, where a mother and daughter were shot dead this weekend by an Israeli sniper. Stay with us.


AMY GOODMAN: “Keep On Keepin’ On” by Len Chandler. The song, by the folk singer who passed away this year, was later quoted in a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The following sites updated: