South Africa’s Genocide Case Against Israel

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FRANCIS BOYLE, fboyle@illinois.edu
Boyle is professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law. He appeared on Democracy Now this morning about the South Africa’s genocide case against Israel at the International Court of Justice. See video clip.

Boyle assessed that a South African victory was likely at the ICJ in spite of the presidency of the Court being held currently by Joan Donoghue, a former State Department official. He also charged the Biden administration with “aiding and abetting Israel’s genocide” and “violating the the U.S. Genocide Convention Implementation Act.” He stressed the importance of other countries filing Declarations of Intervention with the ICJ in support of the South African application.

Boyle won provisional victories for the Bosnians at the ICJ in 1993 using the Genocide Convention.

Boyle’s books include The Bosnian People Charge Genocide (1996) Palestine, Palestinians and International Law (2009) and World Politics, Human Rights and International Law (2021). He was featured on the news release “On Israel: Lawyer Who Applied Genocide Convention for Bosnia Recommends it Now for Palestinians.”

Haaretz reports: “State Officials Fear International Court of Justice Could Charge Israel With Genocide in Gaza.” The Israeli paper also reports: “‘100-200,000, Not Two Million’: Israel’s Finance Minister Envisions Depopulated Gaza.”

The Times of Gaza reports: “Major destruction was inflicted on the Palestinian Bar Association building for lawyers in Gaza caused by the ongoing Israel aggression.”

The Wall Street Journal reports in “The Ruined Landscape of Gaza After Nearly Three Months of Bombing” that “Nearly 70 percent of Gaza’s 439,000 homes and about half of its buildings have been damaged or destroyed.”

See recent mass protests in Turkey and elsewhere for Gaza.

The New York Times in “Half of Gazans Are at Risk of Starving, U.N. Warns” reports: “Israel’s war in Gaza has created a humanitarian catastrophe, with half of the population of about 2.2 million at risk of starvation and 90 percent saying that they regularly go without food for a whole day, the United Nations said in a recent report.” The piece quotes Arif Husain, chief economist at the World Food Program: “I’ve been doing this for about 20 years. I’ve been to pretty much any conflict, whether Yemen, whether it was South Sudan, northeast Nigeria, Ethiopia, you name it. And I have never seen anything like this, both in terms of its scale, its magnitude, but also at the pace that this has unfolded.”

Bombings in Lebanon and Iran

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Sina Toossi, senior fellow at Center for International Policy posts: “A deadly attack near the tomb of Iran’s Gen. Soleimani, assassinated by the U.S. four years ago, has left at least 86 dead as per Iranian media. This is likely to escalate the already high tensions in the Middle East, with many in Iran suspecting Israeli involvement. … Iran’s Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi: ‘The first explosion occurred at 3 PM, and when people gathered to help, the second explosion happened. Most of the martyrs and injured were affected by the second explosion.'”

See Reuters “Israeli drone kills deputy Hamas chief in Beirut,” regarding the assassination of top Hamas chief and Qassam Brigades’ commander Saleh al-Arouri in Beirut.

Hassan Nasrallah of Hizbullah is expected to speak at 11 a.m. ET, will likely be carried by al Mayadeen and translated online by @rania_masri.

AMAL SAAD, SaadA2@cardiff.ac.uk, @amalsaad_lb
Saad is a lecturer in politics at Cardiff University. She is a leading scholar of Hizbullah and the politics of “Resistance Axis.” Listen to her interview on BBC 5.

BASHIR SAADE, bashir.saade@stir.ac.uk, @bashir_saade
Saade is author of Hizbullah and the Politics of Remembrance (Cambridge University Press). He said today: “Those who are saying Hizbullah now has to respond or it’s a ‘win for Israel’ do not understand two things: How martyrdom is a form of victory for groups like Hizbullah and Hamas, and reinforces its ranks, mobilisation etc. And here more timely, that Hizbullah’s actions should be read in light of the developments taking place on the southern Lebanese border, the Israeli settlements have been evacuated, the vital military, intelligence outposts have been destroyed or neutralised. Same thing in Gaza, in terms of military developments, Hizbullah and Hamas still have a strategic edge here, killing a senior figure is just Israel getting more frustrated. But in any case, we have to listen to what the SG of Hizbullah, Hassan Nasrallah will say.”
He is a lecturer in politics and religion at the University of Stirling. He previously held posts at the University of Edinburgh and the American University of Beirut; he holds a Ph.D. in War Studies from King’s College London. He focuses on contemporary Political Islam and nationalism. See prior news release: “Hizbollah Expert: Hamas Trying to Follow in Hizbollah’s Footsteps, Israel Pursuing Exodus of Palestinians.”

Global Coalition Pushes for Countries to Back South Africa at World Court Against Israel

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A newly formed coalition is urging other countries to file Declarations of Intervention at the International Court of Justice in support of South Africa’s genocide case against Israel.

The International Coalition to Stop Genocide in Palestine convened around the urgent need for nations to invoke the Genocide Convention as a way to end the State of Israel’s devastating bombing campaign and additional war crimes being committed in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. That effort advanced on Dec. 29 when South Africa submitted a well-documented case against Israel to the International Court of Justice.

The coalition — which includes Progressive International, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, Black Alliance for Peace, Democracy for the Arab World Now, Palestinian Assembly for Liberation, Popular Resistance, CODEPINK, the National Lawyers Guild and numerous other groups — “strongly supports the call issued on January 2 by the Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Coordinating Committee (PAACC) urging governments to support South Africa’s complaint with Declarations of Intervention, which can be filed before or after the hearing, scheduled to take place on January 11 and 12, 2024.”

The coalition states: “Declarations of Intervention in support of South Africa’s invocation of the Genocide Convention against Israel will increase the likelihood that a positive finding of the crime of genocide will be enforced by the United Nations such that actions will be taken to end all acts of genocide and those who are responsible for the acts will be held accountable.”

“It’s imperative that more states follow South Africa’s historic leadership demanding Israel is held accountable under international law,” said Suzanne Adely, president of the National Lawyers Guild and member of the Bureau of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. She added, “One clear and immediate way to do that is to file Declarations of Intervention supporting South Africa’s filing in the ICJ (also called the World Court) under the Genocide Convention. The increasing global isolation of Israel and the U.S. and their European allies is an indicator that this is a key moment for popular movements to move their governments in the direction of taking these steps and being on the right side of history.” Adely led an international delegation to Cairo last November to demand the opening of Rafah border crossing.

Ajamu Baraka, chair of the coordinating committee of the Black Alliance for Peace, which has repeatedly condemned Israel’s ongoing genocidal campaign in occupied Palestine, stated, “The action by the South African government is a courageous attempt to do no less than salvage the credibility of the international mechanisms that were meant to protect human rights and international law. The South African petition is a reminder that it is a legal and moral imperative for states and international civil society to oppose impunity. Genocide has been identified as one of the most egregious international crimes. If the Israeli state and its backers are allowed to escape justice and international condemnation, it will strip the current international system of justice of any legitimacy.”

Lamis Deek, a Palestinian attorney based in New York, whose firm convened the Palestinian Assembly for Liberation’s Commission on War Crimes Justice, Reparations, and Return and co-launched the Global Legal Alliance for Palestine, added that “This is the rare case where collective social pressure urging governments to support the South African case can be a sharp turning point for Palestine. Through the ICJ, South Africa is poised to strike a decisive blow against this brutal genocide and torture campaign led by Israel in coordination with the United States. We need more states to file supporting interventions — and we need the court to feel the watchful eye of the masses so as to withstand what will be extreme U.S. political pressure on the Court. International Humanitarian Laws and institutions are meant to be, and must be seen as, tools for the people, not distant abstractions. People can — and should — play a strategic and powerful role by integrating this advocacy into their solidarity work, not only until their governments file supporting interventions but until the ICJ delivers justice.”

The International Coalition to Stop Genocide in Palestine “urges human rights, labor, anti-colonial, anti-imperialist and other groups to increase public pressure by mobilizing to demand that their respective countries immediately submit Declarations of Intervention to the International Court of Justice. No matter how the World Court decides South Africa’s case, the coalition is committed to ending the genocide in Palestine and will continue to take action to make this the reality.”

The International Coalition to Stop Genocide in Palestine is currently building global support for this effort by circulating a sign-on letter, which already has over 100 endorsing organizations. The letter can be read and endorsed here.

Contacts with the campaign:

Ajamu Baraka, ajamubaraka2@gmail.com
Lamis Deek, Deek@DeekDictorAdi.com
Suzanne Adely, suzanne.adely@gmail.com

Also see from Sam Husseini: “For the New Year, Global Solidarity to Save Palestine: Backing South Africa.”

U.S. Holocaust Museum Supporters Show “Stop the Genocide In Gaza” on Exterior

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Wednesday evening, supporters of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum projected photographs and slides on the exterior walls calling on the world to “Never Again” tolerate genocide for anyone. The photographs showed scenes of atrocities in Gaza with the words “Stop the Genocide in Gaza,” “Ceasefire Now,” and “Silence=Death.” See photo as well as video.

“We are here to help fulfill the mission of the Holocaust Museum which is to ensure that ethnic cleansing and genocide never happens again for all people, not just Jews,” said organizer, Michael Beer, Director of Nonviolence International, himself a descendent of Holocaust victims. “As an institution created by Congress,” he said, “the Museum has a special responsibility to speak up against genocide in Gaza, in part, because U.S. weapons and support are involved.”

The projection on two western walls of the Museum follows a tradition of anti-genocide images on the Museum with regards to Darfur and internal exhibits regarding the Rohingya.

Helping with the projection was Marianne Ehrlich Ross, a Holocaust survivor, and long time supporter of the Museum, who spoke about her experience being expelled from Vienna, then Prague, and then being stranded in England during the war. She is shocked that Israel, with U.S. support, is engaging in ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, and asked the Museum to not be silent on the present war on the Palestinian people — or anyone else.

Explaining the pictures of destruction and suffering in Gaza, Jonathan Kuttab, Director of Friends of Sabeel North America, spoke about his experience of Palestinians suffering from expulsion, occupation and murder on a vast scale. He spoke to the horrors of the Holocaust in Europe. Kuttab, a renowned International human rights lawyer, said “the Genocide Convention is clearly being openly violated by Israel and the U.S. I call on the Museum to live up to its stated mission which is to prevent and oppose genocide across the whole world.”

In 1993, Beer and Starhawk organized a large alternative opening ceremony for the Museum urging the inclusion of the persecution and extermination of homosexual and bisexual men, which the Museum promptly did. Beer and Starhawk sent an open letter in November, 2023 calling on the Museum replicate its 1993 inclusive response and to again fulfill its mission to end genocide against all people. Beer said “we stated on this Museum plaza then and today, ‘Silence=Death.’”

This action was endorsed by Nonviolence International, Jewish Voice for Peace-DC Metro, and Friends of Sabeel North America.

Contact:
Michael Beer, info@nonviolenceinternational.net@NVIntl
Beer is executive director of Nonviolence International and author of Civil Resistance Tactics in the 21st Century.

Hundreds of Groups Urge Support for South Africa’s Genocide Case Against Israel

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The newly-formed International Coalition to Stop Genocide in Palestine has garnered 900 organizational endorsements from around the world in less than one week.

Organizations include Progressive International, World March of Women and the International People’s Assembly, Palestinian-led and Palestinian solidarity movements such as Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions and the Palestinian NGO Network, as well as human rights and legal groups, unions, and religious organizations of all faiths.

The groups are urging countries to support South Africa’s genocide case — see the heavily documented Application — against Israel at the International Court of Justice. The ICJ, also called the World Court, will take up South Africa’s case against the Israeli State on Jan. 11 and 12. The ICSGP is calling on endorsing organizations to join actions of support at The Hague during the hearing and to hold local rallies and vigils, including expressions of gratitude and solidarity at South African embassies, this week. Details about the hearing at The Hague and where to watch it are here.

Edith Ballantyne, former secretary general and International President of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, warns, “I write from my personal experience over ten decades, spanning two world wars and living through fascism, with the absolute conviction that the basis of the conflict must be solved in a legal, political and non-violent way as the only means to achieve permanent peace desperately needed by the world’s peoples and for the survival of our planet.” She adds, “Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom was involved in the Middle East conflict since the 1920s when it recognized that what was happening in Palestine was destined to be catastrophic. The genocidal war the government of Israel is waging in the Occupied Palestinian Territories against the Palestinian People must be stopped. I urge all to challenge their governments to live up to the principles of the UN Charter and international law, including human rights and humanitarian law.”

See from Marjorie Cohn: “Israel Is Terrified the World Court Will Decide It’s Committing Genocide.” And see from Commondreams: “Israel Accused of ‘Effort to Intimidate the Judges’ Ahead of Genocide Hearings,” which cites an Israeli diplomatic cable.

Morgan Ody of the Confédération paysanne (France) and General Coordinator of La Vía Campesina International said: “La Via Campesina calls upon the governments of the world, and in particular progressive governments and those in the Global South, to do everything in their power to stop Israel’s apartheid and colonization. Those governments have the responsibility to coordinate their efforts in order to ensure a future for Palestine and for all Palestinian people, and to make sure that those responsible for Israel’s crimes against humanity are held accountable.” The coalition letter urges all signing organizations to press their governments to “immediately file a Declaration of Intervention in support of the South African case against Israel at the International Court of Justice to stop the killing in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”

“The South African filing before the ICJ marks a critical juncture which tests the global will to salvage the laws and systems which were designed to safeguard not merely human rights; but to preserve humanity itself,” emphasizes Lamis Deek, co-founder of The Global Legal Alliance for Palestine and the PAL Commission on War Crimes.

The letter from the coalition states: “Many countries have rightly expressed their horror at the State of Israel’s genocidal actions, war crimes and crimes against humanity being committed against Palestinians. Israeli Occupying Forces have bombed hospitals, residences, United Nations refugee centers, schools, places of worship and escape routes, killing and injuring tens of thousands of Palestinians since October 7, 2023. More than half of the dead are women and children.”

Contacts with the coalition:

Ajamu Baraka, ajamubaraka2@gmail.com
Lamis Deek, Deek@DeekDictorAdi.com
Suzanne Adely, suzanne.adely@gmail.com

See from Sam Husseini: “For the New Year, Global Solidarity to Save Palestine: Backing South Africa.”

Examining South Africa’s Genocide Case Against Israel

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South Africa has released the names of its delegation to the Hague in its genocide case against Israel, led by the country’s minister of justice, Ronald Lamola.

On Jan. 11, Progressive International will hold a “special briefing from the Peace Palace in The Hague alongside representatives of the South African government.”

The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem just released the report “Israel is starving Gaza.”

South Africa’s 84-page, heavily footnoted Application to the International Court of Justice will form the basis of arguments the Court will hear Thursday morning, 10 a.m.-12 noon local time at The Hague.

In the section requesting provisional measures, South Africa states: “Israel has engaged in and failed to prevent or to punish acts and measures which are genocidal, constituting flagrant violations of Israel’s obligations under” numerous articles of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. This includes “killing Palestinians in Gaza, including a large proportion of women and children — estimated to account for around 70 per cent of the more than 21,110 fatalities — some of whom appear to have been summarily executed. … Causing the forced evacuation and displacement of around 85 per cent of Palestinians in Gaza — including children, the elderly and infirm, and the sick and wounded — as well as causing the large scale destruction of Palestinian homes, villages, refugee camps, towns and entire areas in Gaza, precluding the return of a significant proportion of the Palestinian people to their homes. …”

JOHN QUIGLEY, quigley.2@osu.edu
Professor emeritus of international law at Ohio State University, Quigley’s books include The Statehood of Palestine: International Law in the Middle East Conflict (Cambridge University Press) and The Ruses for War: American Interventionism Since World War II. He was featured on the recent news release “Beyond U.S. Isolation at UN, What’s Not Being Done.”

He said today: “An act of genocide was committed by Israel on Oct. 13 2023, when the Israel Defense Force ordered the evacuation of upwards of one million persons from the northern sector of Gaza. That population was ordered to move immediately to an area of Gaza to the south of Wadi Gaza, a valley that transects the Gaza Strip. The Genocide Convention is a treaty that defines a criminal offense and proscribes its commission, whether by individual persons, or by states. Under Article 2, the actus reus, as here relevant, is the act of ‘deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.’ The ‘group’ must be ‘national, ethnical, racial or religious.’ …

“The requirement to move immediately with only what could be carried, in circumstances in which fuel, water, food, and other necessities of life would be lacking, was calculated to bring about destruction of part of the population. In public explanations of the Oct. 13, 2023 evacuation order, relevant officials of Israel made clear that they anticipated ‘physical destruction’ of at least a part of the population.

Section D. of the South African Application enumerates “Expressions of Genocidal Intent against the Palestinian People by Israeli State Officials  and Others.” These include statements by the President and Prime Minister of Israel. The South African Application notes: “On 9 October 2023, Defence Minister Yoav Gallant in an Israeli Army ‘situation update’ advised that Israel was ‘imposing a complete siege on Gaza. No electricity, no food, no water, no fuel. Everything is closed. We are fighting human animals and we are acting accordingly.'”

Quigley noted: “The wording of the Genocide Convention was written to encompass acts that had yet to lead to the mass atrocities that served as the inspiration for the Convention. The idea was to penalize the described acts when carried out with the described intent out of concern that were they not stopped, they might lead to mass atrocities. No minimum level of harm is specified.

“The Genocide Convention’s listing of the elements of the crime contains no element of motive. The commission of the described acts with the requisite intent is all that is required. As a result, genocide is not negated if carried out in response to a prior wrong. Nor is there an element that might require an animus adverse to the victim population. If an act calculated to bring about the partial physical destruction of one of the listed groups is carried out with knowledge that the act will have that result, genocide is present.

“Beyond the issue of an act of genocide lies the issue of complicity in that act. States that provide assistance to Israel, militarily or financially, are potentially liable. ‘Complicity in genocide’ is defined as a crime in Article 3 of the Genocide Convention. ‘Complicity’ is not further defined in the Genocide Convention. ‘Complicity’ is, however, defined in international law for purposes of the responsibility of states for international wrongs generally. With respect to a state, the standard for complicity that is accepted as a matter of customary international law is found in Article 16 of the International Law Commission’s 2001 document ‘Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts:’ ‘A State which aids or assists another State in the commission of an internationally wrongful act by the latter is internationally responsible for doing so if: (a) that State does so with knowledge of the circumstances of the internationally wrongful act; and (b) the act would be internationally wrongful if committed by that State.’ As a result, a state is complicit if it provides assistance with knowledge that genocide is being committed.”

South Africa Genocide Case Against Israel

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Jeremy Scahill reports: “On Thursday, South Africa will present its historic case before the International Court of Justice in the Hague, accusing Israel of conducting an ongoing genocide in Gaza and asking the United Nations court to issue a provisional ruling asserting its jurisdiction and instructing Israel to ‘immediately suspend its military operations in and against Gaza.’ Israel, which has accused South Africa of ‘blood libel,’ will present its defense on Friday.

“The U.S., Israel’s chief sponsor and defender, has dismissed South Africa’s charges as ‘meritless.’ There is a solid, though not certain, likelihood that the court will issue a ruling finding a basis to move forward with actual genocide proceedings against Israel, a legal process that could take years to complete. But South Africa has also argued that the court should issue provisional measures to protect the Palestinians of Gaza against ongoing attacks, citing voluminous evidence that Israel is engaged in ongoing violations of the Genocide Convention. ‘Israel has engaged in, is engaging in and risks further engaging in genocidal acts against the Palestinian people in Gaza,’ the filing argues.”

See South Africa’s 84-page, heavily footnoted Application to the ICJ, also called the World Court. The Court will hear the case Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. local time at The Hague and will be viewable online. Progressive International will have a briefing at 1:30 p.m.

CRAIG MOKHIBER, craigmokhiber@gmail.com, @CraigMokhiber
Mokhiber just co-wrote the piece “A Crack in a 75-year-old Wall of Impunity: South Africa Challenges Israeli Genocide in Court.” He is an International human rights lawyer and former Director of the New York Office of the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, who stepped down from his post in 2023 and penned a now-viral letter on unfolding genocide and the UN’s failures. See recent interview with him.

His recent piece states: “South Africa’s petition to the ICJ is filled with clear and horrifically compelling examples, identifying Israeli actions that match at least three of the five acts that constitute genocide when linked to specific intent. Those include killing members of the group, causing serious physical or mental harm to members of the group, and, perhaps most indicative of genocidal purpose, creating ‘conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction.’ As South Africa documents, Israel has shown the world, at levels unprecedented in the 21st century, what those conditions look like. For specific intent, South Africa points to dozens of statements made by Israeli leaders, including the President, Prime Minister, and other cabinet officials, as well as Knesset members, military commanders, and more.”

CRAIG MURRAY, craigmurray1710@btinternet.com, @CraigMurrayOrg
Murray is an author, broadcaster and human rights activist. He has been British Ambassador to Uzbekistan and Rector of the University of Dundee. He stated: “I have now arrived in The Hague ahead of the South African case before the ICJ on the Gaza Genocide. It feels like a key moment in history. Has the entire fabric of international law and human rights been completely undermined by the NATO powers?”

He wrote several pieces about the prospect of a country invoking the Genocide Convnetion before South Africa did so, including “Stopping Genocide,” and “Activating the Genocide Convention.” See relevant IPA news releases.

MARJORIE COHN, marjorielegal@gmail.com@marjoriecohn
Available for interviews beginning Wednesday evening, Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild and dean of the People’s Academy of International Law. She recently wrote the piece “Israel Is Terrified the World Court Will Decide It’s Committing Genocide.”

Cohn reports: “Israel is mounting a full-court press to prevent an ICJ finding that it’s committing genocide in Gaza. On January 4, the Israeli Foreign Ministry instructed its embassies to pressure politicians and diplomats in their host countries to make statements opposing South Africa’s case at the ICJ. …

“Provisional measures can be issued quickly. For example, the ICJ ordered measures 19 days after the Bosnian case was initiated. Provisional measures are binding on the party against whom they are ordered, and compliance with them can be monitored by both the ICJ and the Security Council. Judgments on the merits rendered by the ICJ in disputes between parties are binding on the parties involved. Article 94 of the United Nations Charter provides that ‘each Member of the United Nations undertakes to comply with the decision of [the Court] in any case to which it is a party.’ The judgments of the court are final; there is no appeal.”

South Africa Makes Its Genocide Case at The Hague

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Ryan Grim of The Intercept in “South Africa Just Made Its Case at The Hague. What’s Next?” writes: “South Africa’s charges against Israel were formally brought to The Hague today, with the post-apartheid nation facing off against Israel for two days of emergency hearings. South Africa’s immediate aim is to win a ruling later this month — perhaps as early as next week — ordering Israel to cease and desist its assault of Gaza.”

Also from The Intercept, Jeremy Scahill writes in “In Genocide Case Against Israel at the Hague, the U.S. Is the Unnamed Co-conspirator” that: “’South Africa has recognized the ongoing Nakba against the Palestinian people.’ With those words, Vusimuzi Madonsela, South Africa’s ambassador to the Netherlands, opened his government’s historic suit at the International Court of Justice in The Hague charging the state of Israel with multiple violations of the Genocide Convention.”

At 4 p.m. today, there is a rally in support of South Africa at UN headquarters in New York City. There are protests in defense of Palestine in cities around the world planned for Saturday.

See full video here of South Africa’s oral presentation and thread of video clips here.

South Africa’s written Application to the Court is here. Israel presents its defense tomorrow.

The following are available for a limited number of interviews:

MICHAEL LYNK, mslynk@uwo.ca, @MichaelLynk5
Lynk served as the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, from 2016 to 2022. He is a non-resident fellow at Democracy for the Arab World Now. See his interview on the case on Wednesday’s Electronic Intifada.

CRAIG MOKHIBER, craigmokhiber@gmail.com, @CraigMokhiber
Mokhiber recently co-wrote the piece “A Crack in a 75-year-old Wall of Impunity: South Africa Challenges Israeli Genocide in Court.” See his thread on the hearing.

He is an international human rights lawyer and former Director of the New York Office of the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, who stepped down from his post in 2023 and penned a now-viral letter on unfolding genocide and the UN’s failures. See recent interview with him.

Bombing Yemen; Biden’s Case for Impeaching…Biden

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The Intercept reports: “Biden’s Strikes in Yemen Are Unconstitutional, Bipartisan Members of Congress Say.”

JEHAN HAKIM, yemenialliancecommittee@gmail.com, @jehan_hakim
Hakim is chair of the Yemeni Alliance Committee. She was featured on an IPA news release: “Biden Threatens Houthis in Yemen as They Try to Force Israeli Ceasefire.” See interview with Shireen Al-Adeimi on “Democracy Now” Friday morning.

BRUCE FEIN, bruce@feinpoints.com, @BruceFeinEsq
Fein is a noted lawyer. His books include Constitutional Peril and American Empire Before the Fall.

He said today: “The Declare War Clause is dispositive — only Congress can authorize the offensive use of the military. The President may respond to sudden attacks on the United States that have already broken the peace. Biden was not reacting to an attack on the United States in bombing Yemen. He was defending naval traffic in the Red Sea for which he needed a declaration of war against Yemen or the Houthis to conduct his bombing raids. What Biden has done is indistinguishable from what the UK, France, and Israel did in 1956 in attacking Egypt over nationalizing the Suez Canal. President Eisenhower rejected the use of force, and the UK, France, and Israel backed down tacitly acknowledging their illegal acts of aggression against Egypt. …

“The Constitution’s Declare War Clause is supreme over the War Powers Resolution. The latter ambiguously suggests the President can initiate and fight a war for 60 days unless Congress by statute calls a halt. To the extent the WPR purports to authorize 60-day presidential wars, to that extent it is unconstitutional.” (Many argue that that is not what the War Powers Resolution says, as noted in the above piece in The Intercept.)

“Biden can be hoisted on his own petard.” Fein notes Biden’s 2007 statement about then-President George W. Bush attacking Iran without a congressional declaration of war in on Hardball with Chris Matthews: “the president has no constitutional authority to take this nation to war against a country of 70 million people, unless we’re attacked or unless there is proof that we are about to be attacked. And if he does, I would move to impeach him. The House obviously has to do that, but I would lead an effort to impeach him.”

Said Fein: “Biden should be impeached and removed from office by his own yardstick.”

Biden also made similar statements regarding Trump.

Fein adds: “The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court defines the crime of aggression, which easily covers Biden’s attack on Yemen, as follows:”

“Article 8 bis3 Crime of aggression 1. For the purpose of this Statute, “crime of aggression” means the planning, preparation, initiation or execution, by a person in a position effectively to exercise control over or to direct the political or military action of a State, of an act of aggression which, by its character, gravity and scale, constitutes a manifest violation of the Charter of the United Nations. 2. For the purpose of paragraph 1, “act of aggression” means the use of armed force by a State against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of another State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Charter of the United Nations. Any of the following acts, regardless of a declaration of war, shall, in accordance with United Nations General Assembly resolution 3314 (XXIX) of 14 December 1974, qualify as an act of aggression: (a) The invasion or attack by the armed forces of a State of the territory of another State, or any military occupation, however temporary, resulting from such invasion or attack, or any annexation by the use of force of the territory of another State or part thereof; (b) Bombardment by the armed forces of a State against the territory of another State or the use of any weapons by a State against the territory of another State; (c) The blockade of the ports or coasts of a State by the armed forces of another State; (d) An attack by the armed forces of a State on the land, sea or air forces, or marine and air fleets of another State.”

Namibia Attacks Germany’s Defense of Israel on Genocide

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The New York Times published Megan K. Stack’s most recent piece: “Don’t Turn Away From the Charges of Genocide Against Israel.” Jeremy Scahill wrote the piece “At The Hague, Israel Mounted a Defense Based in an Alternate Reality.”

Many countries have made statements supporting South Africa’s case of genocide against Israel at the International Court of Justice including Bolivia, Brazil, Algeria, Malaysia and Jordan. A global coalition has come together urging countries to issue Declarations of Intervention at the Court supporting South Africa, and Colombia and Bangladesh have announced that they will do so.

Meanwhile, Germany announced it would file a Declaration of Intervention on behalf of Israel. This led to a major furor with Namibia attacking Germany, attracting an extraordinary amount of attention online. It issued a statement: “Namibia rejects Germany’s Support of the Genocidal Intent of the Racist Israeli State against Innocent Civilians in Gaza. On Namibian soil, Germany committed the first genocide of the 20th century in 1904-1908, in which tens of thousands of innocent Namibians died in the most inhumane and brutal conditions. The German Government is yet to fully atone for the genocide it committed on Namibian soil. … President [Hage] Geingob reiterates his call made on 31 December 2023, ‘No peace-loving human being can ignore the carnage waged against Palestinians in Gaza’. In that vein, President Geingob appeals to the German Government to reconsider its untimely decision to intervene as a third-party in defence and support of the genocidal acts of Israel before the International Court of Justice.”

HENNING MELBER, Henning.Melber@nai.uu.se, @HenningMelber
Melber just wrote the piece “Namibia, Germany, and Israel: The Pitfalls of Selective Remorse and Trauma” for The Namibian. He is with the Nordic Africa Institute and is senior adviser and director emeritus of the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation. See his comments on Al Jazeera English and audio of a longer panel discussion.

HERBERT JAUCH, vivaworkers@gmail.com
Jauch is chairperson of the Economic and Social Justice Trust in Namibia. He is co-editor of the book Towards Democratic Development States in Southern Africa.

Also see from Patrick Bond: “Franz Beckenbauer, Rest in Shame: South African Memories of German Corruption.”

“How Biden Can Stop Houthi Attacks”

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In a piece that Time magazine published this week, “How Biden Can Stop Houthi Attacks – Without Risking War,” Trita Parsi wrote: “The Houthis had consistently expressed their demands publicly: an end to attacks on Red Sea ships in exchange for Israel halting strikes on Palestinians in Gaza, which have killed at least 23,000 so far, most of them women and children. There’s no guarantee the Houthis would have upheld their commitment post-ceasefire. But when a temporary truce did reign in Gaza from Nov. 24 to 30 of last year, the number of confirmed Houthi attacks in the Red Sea significantly diminished, according to the Institute for the Study of War.”

Parsi concluded: “If, in the worst-case scenario, Biden’s escalation against the Houthis sparks a regional war, there should be little doubt that this is another war of choice – and one without Congressional authorization. Not because Biden desired it, but because he refused to pursue the most obvious and peaceful path to prevent it.”

TRITA PARSI, trita@quincyinst.org, @tparsi
Parsi is the executive vice president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft.

The Christian Evangelical Right and the 2024 Election

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Though some pundits have suggested that the power of white American evangelicals is waning, an important movement within the Christian right, known as the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), has broad implications for the 2024 election. NAR is a non-denominational movement whose followers believe that God has raised up modern-day apostles to carry out his will. 

ANDRÉ GAGNÉ; andre.gagne@concordia.ca 
    Gagné is professor and chair of the department of theological studies at Concordia University. His most recent book is American Evangelicals for Trump: Dominion, Spiritual Warfare, and the End Times. 

Gagné told the Institute for Public Accuracy that evangelicals who ascribe to NAR ideals use a “marketing strategy called the Seven Mountain Mandate, [which calls them to] enact ‘dominion theology’ through seven spheres: government, education, the family, media, arts and entertainment, business, and religion. The idea is to put top Christians in each sphere to bring about social transformation. 

“Trump is a key figure in the Seven Mountain Mandate. Trump fulfilled his promises to evangelicals when he appointed three conservative judges to the Supreme Court and facilitated the overturn of Roe v. Wade,” as well as through foreign policy by opening the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. “These were significant for evangelicals. Trump kept his promises. It doesn’t matter [to the NAR] if Trump is morally upstanding or not. They believe God can use all sorts of individuals for his will; they take examples from the Bible of imperfect individuals and how God used them. Trump fits into their way of conceiving the world, and [they believe] he will help Christians return America to God. 

“Pundits should be very careful when they say this [movement] is dying out. That has been said before, and it didn’t die out. These groups have networks, money, churches, and a growing presence online. The public thinks that white Christians are losing their influence. But these people are more organized than the left has ever been… Some [apostolic leaders] have become more influential than pastors when it comes to their support for Trump. They will do everything they can to get Trump into office.”

The concept of the New Apostolic Reformation was coined by C. Peter Wagner, an American missionary, as a way to describe a longstanding movement of Christians who focus on apostolic governance. They believe that God chooses strong leaders to direct Christian networks and churches. Wagner worked to create networks of such apostles that extend beyond the United States. Christian leaders use these networks to strategize and penetrate politics. 

Gagné added: “These apostles are viewed as having the function of carrying out God’s mission for them––including the mission of establishing the kingdom of God on Earth by exercising dominion over every aspect of society. Dominion theology is the NAR’s theology of power.” In a three-part reporter’s guide on the New Apostolic Reformation, Gagné explains that NAR churches are driven by “theocratic notions of total societal dominion, including the end of democracy as we’ve known it,” by taking control of political, social, and cultural institutions

International Coalition Applauds South Africa; Denounces Countries Supporting Israel’s Crimes: “It Is the International Court of Justice on Trial”

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Last week, member groups of the International Coalition to Stop Genocide in Palestine (ICSGP) “organized activities around the world, including press conferences at The Hague and outside various South African consulates and embassies, to highlight and support the South African legal team as they presented their evidence of the state of Israel’s acts of genocide against Palestinians to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on January 11.”

Varsha Gandikota-Nellutla, who was at The Hague representing Progressive International, one of the ICSGP’s founding organizations, stated: “Every single person who witnessed the hearing was left in no doubt that we were reading the most frightening document of our time and hearing evidence of the most gruesome, illegal, and genocidal assault.

“In bringing this case to The Hague, South Africa has issued a resounding call to the Global South to break with the Zionist project and its inextricable links to the history of colonialism, imperialism, and capitalism.

“This is not only Israel on trial. It is the International Court of Justice on trial. It is a test of the humanity of the world and whether the institutions we’ve built to protect it — today, this court in The Hague — withstand the test of Western impunity.”
The ICGSP continues to expand with nearly 2,000 signatory organizations from 100 countries on the initial letter with list of organizations calling for “mobilization in defense of South Africa’s strong case for genocide. Member organizations are working to press their governments to submit Declarations of Intervention to the ICJ in support of emergency provisional measures on Israel to stop the murder, maiming, starvation and displacement of Palestinians in Gaza and Occupied Territories in the West Bank. At present, countries that have publicly supported South Africa’s case include Algeria, Armenia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Comoros, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, the Maldives, Morocco, Namibia, Nicaragua, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, Yemen and the Organization of Islamic Countries, which represents 57 nations.

“Only three nations have publicly denied that Israel is committing genocide, the United States, United Kingdom and Germany, despite the fact that the world is watching events happen in real time on social media and on outlets that have reporters on the ground. The state of Israel has tried to hide their crimes by targeting and murdering over 100 members of the media in Gaza, which is another violation of international law.

“The U.S., UK and Germany have taken direct actions to stop support for the Palestinian liberation struggle. On January 11, the same day that South Africa presented its evidence at The Hague, the U.S. and UK conducted 73 bombing raids on Yemen killing five people and injuring six. President Biden stated that the bombing is in retaliation for Yemen’s blockade of ships traveling through the Red Sea on their way to Israel. Yemenis view their actions as an obligation as signatories to the Genocide Convention to impose measures to stop Israel’s genocide. The illegal escalation of military aggression in Yemen by the U.S. and UK adds fuel to the fire of a broader regional conflict.

“In November, 2023, Germany started banning most demonstrations in support of Palestine. Despite that, thousands of people have taken to the streets across the country in defiance of the ban and in solidarity with Palestine. Hage Geingob, the President of Namibia, which was a victim of German genocide between 1904 and 1908, responded to Germany’s decision in a statement, writing, ‘Germany cannot morally express commitment to the United Nations Convention against genocide, including atonement for the genocide in Namibia, whilst supporting the equivalent of a holocaust and genocide in Gaza.'”

Netfa Freeman, who is the Black Alliance for Peace African Team coordinator, said, “The position of Germany represents the moral confusion and hypocrisy of the current leadership in that state. But even more ominously, for a state that still has not completely atoned for its genocidal campaign against the people of Namibia, the German position in support of genocide in Palestine reaffirms the white supremacist core of German thought that fed the Nazi war machine. …”

Attorney Azhar Sakoor, Executive with the Palestine Solidarity Alliance Youth League in South Africa, a member organization of the ICSGP, states: “We support the call for three days of action this month — calling to stop the war on Yemen, support South Africa’s case before the ICJ and oppose Germany siding with genocidaires.

“In South Africa, the parallels between the history of South African Apartheid and the current occupation of Palestine by Israel can be clearly seen.

“As South Africans, we felt incredibly proud to see our government hold Israel accountable at the International Court of Justice, despite Israel being supported by world ‘superpowers’. South Africa called out current genocide in Gaza, acknowledged Israeli attacks in the West Bank, and also recognized the the Nakba. The significance of this cannot be underplayed.

“From the case presented by South Africa at the ICJ, it is clear that not only has Israel ignored international law, they are also committing genocide.

“It is no surprise to see countries like the USA, UK and Germany are openly supporting Israeli genocide, given their history as colonizers and occupiers. They continue to attempt to occupy the world, not by taking land, but by forcing their ideologies onto indigenous people across the world.

“With the USA and UK attacking Yemen (one of the few countries actively trying to fight for Palestinian rights), we see the hypocrisy of the West, caring more for shipping lanes than for human life. We call for an end to the barbaric attacks of the USA and UK on Yemen and an end to the Israeli Genocide in Palestine.”

The ICSGP has issued a call for three days of action, starting with “an international day of action opposing the war against Yemen this Friday, January 19. The following week, on January 24, as we await the decision by the ICJ, there will be a day of action focused on supporting South Africa’s case and taking action to stop the genocide. On January 31, actions are being planned to protest Germany for its role in enabling the state of Israel to commit acts of genocide with impunity.”
Previous ICSGP press statements are available from January 8 and January 3, 2024.

Contact:

● Netfa Freeman, Black Alliance for Peace, netfa@blackallianceforpeace.com
● Varsha Gandikota-Nellutla, Progressive International, varsha.gandikota@gmail.com
● Azhar Sakoor, Palestine Solidarity Alliance Youth League in South Africa, azhar@psayl.co.za

See prior news releases from IPA, which raised the possibility of nations invoking the Genocide Convention as early at October.

Will Biden Policy Starve Yemen?

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While Biden stated on Thursday that his bombing of Yemen wouldn’t be “stopping the Houthis” — but he said it would continue.

Meanwhile, Shireen Al-Adeimi charged: “Biden knows fully well that designating the Houthis/AnsarAllah as terrorists will starve Yemenis en masse.”

AISHA JUMAAN, aisha@yemenfoundation.org, @AishaJumaan
Dr. Jumaan is president of the Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation. She said today: “The U.S. designation of the Ansar-Allah, also known as Houthis as a specially designated Global Terrorist is raising concerns about its impact on the peace process and the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen. With this designation, there is a heightened risk that the peace process could be derailed, as it may further estrange the Houthi and disrupt diplomatic efforts. This, in turn, could lead to the continuation of blockades at vital entry points such as airports, and seaports, exacerbating the already fragile Yemeni economy. Moreover, public servants, who have been awaiting their salaries since 2016 with the start of the peace process, now face further uncertainty and economic hardship. Additionally, the suspension of food distribution by the World Food Programme (WFP) in North Yemen, affecting 9.5 million people, compounds the severe food insecurity crisis in a country where over 17 million people are already at crisis and emergency levels of food security. These combined factors significantly heighten the risk of famine in Yemen, underscoring the urgency of addressing the complex humanitarian and political challenges facing Yemen.”

See prior IPA releases with Dr. Jumaan, including “Biden Threatens Houthis in Yemen as They Try to Force Israeli Ceasefire.”

Reporting on the Radical Right

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Kyle Spencer is a journalist, the author of Raising Them Right: The Untold Story of America’s Ultraconservative Youth Movement and Its Plot for Power, and the executive editor of Reporting Right, a weekly guide for journalists. She assesses some of the pitfalls of reporting on the radical right ahead of the 2024 election.

KYLE SPENCER, ReportingRight@googlegroups.com, KyleSpencerDemocracy@proton.me 

Spencer told the Institute for Public Accuracy: “Journalists often accept arguments and blanket statements that they have been sold by the right, and which have been normalized and entered into common conversation. It is hard for journalists, particularly young journalists out in the hinterlands, to report on the radical right. I found that the extremist right was being reported on as a personality fest––engaging, entertaining, a mockery of these figures and a fascination with them. Radical right figures are charismatic because that’s how totalitarianism and fascism work.” 

Spencer created Reporting Right because “I wanted a clearing house for easily accessible information [for journalists] about what to look out for and how they can get manipulated by radicals and extremists. People are out there who are tracing how right-wing money is getting spent, tracking movements and patterns and the nationalization of these strategies. But that information can be hard to find… There is not [much] information out there for smaller [outlet] reporters who are covering the Trumps on their beat. They can be manipulated by the extremist media machine. The disinformation machine is sophisticated, and it feeds off repetition. Journalists have to do an intricate dance about reporting on it without repeating lies and distortions. The media can’t afford to be naive.”

Spencer also highlighted that established, left-leaning publications oftentimes don’t understand what is happening on the ground in Trump country. The mainstream media’s response is to run pieces that try to explain who Trump voters are and to understand them. “These pieces are ineffective and wrongheaded,” Spencer contends. “They end up personalizing and humanizing [the story] and repeating lies. The story is not about Bobby the nice mechanic who thinks the election was stolen. That story needs to be a process story about how Bobby came to believe a lie. We need to try to understand networks of information rather than who the personalities are. How do communities deal with conflicting facts? How do we identify how radical ideas are getting injected into conversation? We need origin stories––not just presenting the lies at face value.”

Gaza: How Much of the Human Toll Do Americans Really See?

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The Hill reports that U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres “harshly condemned the Israeli government Sunday for its conduct in the Israel-Hamas war, as the civilian death toll in Gaza surpasses 25,000.” He told a U.N. summit that “Israel’s military operations have spread massive destruction and killed civilians on a scale unprecedented during my time as Secretary-General, including more than 150 members of our own staff, following the horrific terror attacks by Hamas” on October 7. Guterres called Israel’s actions “heart-breaking, and utterly unacceptable.”

Last week, the U.N. reported: “Gazans now make up 80 per cent of all people facing famine or catastrophic hunger worldwide, marking an unparalleled humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip amid Israel’s continued bombardment and siege.” And the statement quoted experts who said: “Currently every single person in Gaza is hungry, a quarter of the population are starving and struggling to find food and drinkable water, and famine is imminent.”

How much of such realities is conveyed to Americans in ways anywhere near commensurate to the actual suffering?

In a piece titled “Why We’re Not Seeing the Real Gaza War in the Media,” author Norman Solomon writes: “The media words and images reach us light years away from what it’s actually like to be in a war zone. The experience of consuming news from afar could hardly be more different. And if we hold beliefs or unconscious notions that media outlets are conveying war’s realities, that only ends up obscuring those realities all the more.”

Solomon adds that “for the vast majority of Americans, no matter how much mainstream media they consume, the war that actually exists — in contrast to the war reporting by news outlets — remains virtually invisible.”

Available for interviews:

NORMAN SOLOMON, solomonprogressive[at]gmail.com
Solomon is the author of War Made Invisible. He is the executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.

Columbia University Scolds Students for “Unsanctioned” Gaza Rally Where They Were Attacked With Chemicals

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PREM THAKKER, prem.thakker@theintercept.com@prem_thakker
A reporter for The Intercept, Thakker just wrote the piece “Columbia University Scolds Students for ‘Unsanctioned’ Gaza Rally Where They Were Attacked With Chemicals,” which states: “Administrators at Columbia University responded to reports of students being injured by a chemical attack against an on-campus rally for Gaza by chiding students for holding protests without official authorization. Meanwhile, students told The Intercept that even as the school’s public safety department has said it is investigating the incident, school administrators themselves have yet to contact the victims — some of whom have had to seek medical care for their injuries.

“During a rally on Friday, according to attendees, two individuals sprayed a hazardous chemical that released an odious smell. Dozens of students have reported an array of symptoms, such as burning eyes, nausea, headaches, abdominal and chest pain, and vomiting. …

“The incident marks the latest escalation against students protesting for Palestinian rights at Columbia. Last semester, the university suspended the student groups Jewish Voice for Peace, or JVP, and SJP [Students for Justice in Palestine] for holding an ‘unauthorized event’ (a walkout and art display in support of a ceasefire). More broadly, students at campuses across the country have been met with university discipline and even criminal charges as they have called for their universities to divest from companies with ties to Israel’s military — or at least for their universities to have public meetings about their investments.”

See related IPA news releases.

World Court to Announce Order on Israel Genocide Case Friday

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The International Court of Justice (also called the World Court) has announced it will “deliver its Order on the request for the indication of provisional measures submitted by South Africa in the case South Africa v. Israel this Friday, 26 January 2024, at 1 p.m.” (7 a.m. ET).

South Africa filed its 84-page Application on Dec. 29, 2023. Oral arguments were made before the Court on Jan. 11 (South Africa invoking Genocide Convention: video, text PDF) and Jan. 12 (Israel defense: video, text PDF).

See recent statement from UN experts: “Over one hundred days into the war, Israel destroying Gaza’s food system and weaponizing food, say UN human rights experts,” which states: “Gazans now make up 80 per cent of all people facing famine or catastrophic hunger worldwide, marking an unparalleled humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip amid Israel’s continued bombardment and siege.”

Al Jazeera is now reporting: “20 killed and 150 wounded as Israeli tanks fire shells and live rounds at people in northern Gaza City who lined up to receive much-needed humanitarian supplies, health officials say.” Decensored News reports: “State Dept won’t say if ITV footage of IDF shooting unarmed civilian in Gaza is a ‘potential war crime’.”

See recent New York Times piece by Megan K. Stack: “Don’t Turn Away From the Charges of Genocide Against Israel.” The Guardian reports: “More than one-third of Americans believe Israel is committing genocide, poll shows.”

JOHN QUIGLEY, quigley.2@osu.edu
Professor emeritus of international law at Ohio State University, Quigley’s books include The Statehood of Palestine: International Law in the Middle East Conflict (Cambridge University Press) and The Ruses for War: American Interventionism Since World War II. He was featured on the recent news release “Beyond U.S. Isolation at UN, What’s Not Being Done.”

FRANCIS BOYLE, fboyle@illinois.edu
Boyle is professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law.  Boyle’s books include The Bosnian People Charge Genocide (1996) Palestine, Palestinians and International Law (2009) and World Politics, Human Rights and International Law (2021). He was featured on the news release “On Israel: Lawyer Who Applied Genocide Convention for Bosnia Recommends it Now for Palestinians.” See his recent interview with “Democracy Now.”

MICHAEL LYNK, mslynk@uwo.ca, @MichaelLynk5
Lynk served as the United Nations Special Rapporteur for human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, from 2016 to 2022. He is a non-resident fellow at Democracy for the Arab World Now. See his interview on the case on the Electronic Intifada.

World Court Orders Israel to Abide by Genocide Convention and Stop Killing

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The International Court of Justice on Friday morning ordered: “The State of Israel shall, in accordance with its obligations under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, in relation to Palestinians in Gaza, take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of all acts within the scope of Article II of this Convention, in particular: (a) killing members of the group. …” See full video and clip.

South African foreign minister Naledi Pandor at the Hague said she would have wanted the ICJ (also known as the World Court) to explicitly call for a ceasefire, as South Africa asked for, but says the only way Israel can meet the order of the court is for there to be a ceasefire. See below for further analysis of this.

See news release: “International Coalition to Stop Genocide in Palestine Welcomes Today’s ICJ Order; Demands its Implementation,” which among other things, calls on an escalation of Boycott Divestment and Sanctions — modeled on activism against apartheid South Africa — against Israel.

FRANCIS BOYLE, fboyle@illinois.edu
Boyle is professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law. Boyle’s books include The Bosnian People Charge Genocide (1996) Palestine, Palestinians and International Law (2009) and World Politics, Human Rights and International Law (2021). He was featured on the news release “On Israel: Lawyer Who Applied Genocide Convention for Bosnia Recommends it Now for Palestinians.” See his recent interview with “Democracy Now.”

He said today: “This is a massive, overwhelming legal victory for the Republic of South Africa against Israel on behalf of the Palestinians. The UN General Assembly now can suspend Israel from participation in its activities as it did for South Africa and Yugoslavia. It can admit Palestine as a full member. And — especially since the International Criminal Court has been a farce — it can establish a tribunal to prosecute the highest level officials of the Israeli government, both civilian and military.”

CRAIG MOKHIBER, craigmokhiber@gmail.com, @CraigMokhiber
Mokhiber is an International human rights lawyer and former Director of the New York Office of the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, who stepped down from his post in 2023 and penned a now-viral letter on unfolding genocide and the UN’s failures.

He said today: “The ICJ has ruled on provisional measures in the Genocide case against Israel, which must immediately stop killing and harming people in Gaza and inflicting destructive conditions on them, punish incitement, allow all humanitarian aid, save evidence and report next month.

“Not a ceasefire exactly, but they are ordered to stop the acts that were complained about in the application — killing, harming, destruction, etc.

“This may be less than ideal because Israel will likely continue while claiming military necessity and lawful intent. The mandated report next month and the court’s response will therefore be crucial.

“But this is already an important victory. The court ruled that South Africa’s genocide claim is ‘plausible’ at this stage and ordered Israel to stop all related acts and allow relief to the people of Gaza.

“Senior officials in the U.S. and the West who argued — outrageously — that the case was completely baseless and without merit must now contend with a ruling by the World Court that the case is indeed plausible and requires immediate provisional measures. [See Thursday State Department briefing highlights from Decensored News.]

“Israel, accustomed to impunity, is unlikely to comply. Whether or not they report back to the court next month on measures, the Court will have to act again. And the Security Council can be called to act on non-compliance at any time. The complicit US will then likely veto action.

“The General Assembly would then be convened to act. A strong resolution there could call for specific legal, economic, political, diplomatic, consular, organizational and other measures. And individual states and regional orgs should act as well, as a matter of legal duty under the convention and under the Charter.

“In sum, while imperfect without a call for an unconditional ceasefire, the court’s order is a historic and powerful tool in the struggle against Israeli impunity, further empowering states, organizations and activists to step up pressure on the apartheid regime.

“Time now for all to act to turn the order into the change necessary to bring accountability for the perpetrators, redress for victims, and protection for the vulnerable.”

See from David Swanson: “International Court of Justice Rules That Israel Must Stop Killing Palestinians.”

Ali Abunimah commented: “The International Court of Justice ruled that accusation of genocide against Israel is credible, that Palestinians face urgent, catastrophic situation and that Israeli leaders express genocidal intent. It ordered Israel to immediately halt killing and all other prohibited acts under Genocide Convention. …. A ‘ceasefire’ is what you demand in an armed conflict. In a genocide you demand an immediate end to all genocidal acts and that is exactly what the ICJ ordered with immediate effect.”

Later today, the Center for Constitutional Rights genocide case against the Biden administration for enabling Israel proceeds. See interview on Intercepted.

World Court Cited UNRWA Against Israel, Now, U.S. Is Targeting It

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CRAIG MURRAY, craigmurray1710@btinternet.com, @CraigMurrayOrg
He was apparently the only print journalist observing oral arguments during South Africa v. Israel at the International Court of Justice and has written extensively on the issue. He just wrote the piece “Has International Law Survived, or Has the Western Political Class Killed It?

He notes that the ICJ, also known as the World Court, ordered that “The State of Israel shall … desist from … (a) the expulsion and forced displacement [of Palestinians] from their homes; (b) the deprivation of: (i) access to adequate food and water; (ii) access to humanitarian assistance, including access to adequate fuel, shelter, clothes, hygiene and sanitation; (iii) medical supplies and assistance; and (c) the destruction of Palestinian life in Gaza.”

Murray writes: “the immediate response to the ICJ ruling was a coordinated attack by Israel and the combined imperialist powers on UNRWA, designed to accelerate the genocide by stopping aid, to provide a propaganda counter-narrative to the ICJ judgment, and to reduce the credibility of UNRWA’s evidence before the court.”

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East is the main pillar of humanitarian relief and needs for Palestinians in Gaza. The ICJ cited UNRWA ten times in its Order to Israel.

The New York Times reports that Israel charges that 12 of UNRWA’s 30,000 workers were involved in helping the Oct. 7 attack on Israel (several have been fired); noting that this is the “latest episode of a decades-long friction between Israel and the group.” The U.S. and several European governments have now halted funding to UNRWA based on Israel’s charges.

UN whistleblower and human rights lawyer Craig Mokhiber said on the Katie Halper Show that Israel has been out to destroy UNRWA “because it’s a lifeline to the Palestinians in Gaza.”

Francis Boyle recently appeared on MSNBC and argued that the U.S. and other governments abruptly cutting off UNRWA funds are now not simply complicit in Israel’s genocidal actions, but are themselves now directly in violation of Article 2c of the Genocide Convention since they are: “Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”

AFP reports that the UN Security Council, at the request of Algeria, will meet on Wednesday regarding the ICJ orders.

Trump had cut off funding to UNRWA in 2018, some of which was restored by Biden in 2021.

The Intercept reports: “New York Times Puts ‘Daily’ Episode on Ice Amid Internal Firestorm Over Hamas Sexual Violence Article.”

See related IPA news releases.

Christian Zionism and the Middle East

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Critics say that American evangelical Christians’ support for Israel has been used as a political tool in the shaping of U.S. government policies. 

JONATHAN KUTTAB; jonathankuttab@gmail.com 
    Kuttab is an international human rights attorney, co-founder of the Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq, and co-founder of Nonviolence International. 

Kuttab told Al Jazeera that “in the evangelical Christian worldview, the 1948 creation of Israel was a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy”––making Palestinians the “enemies of God,” since they are the enemies of Israel. 

Kuttab, a Palestinian who grew up as a conservative evangelical Christian and continues to be a believer in the faith, told the Institute for Public Accuracy: The impact of Christian Zionism has been “very devastating, and it has been weaponized by Zionists. [Leaders] high up in the U.S. government have utilized Christian Zionist arguments to pass specific items of policy, such as moving the embassy to Jerusalem––which makes no sense politically, logically, or morally, but is a way to use the Bible to support Zionist positions. It has been used to send weapons to Israel and to blunt the U.S. opposition to settlements in the West Bank. 

“The argument is that the State of Israel and what it does, even in its most extreme right-wing manifestations, somehow has moral or biblical authority because this is the way God is manifesting himself in modern affairs. It’s an illogical argument, but it’s very powerful, because you’re not going to argue with God. [The argument] doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, but it’s not being scrutinized.”

Christian evangelicals “are a very powerful tool for whatever Israel wants to do right now. They are useful if Israel wants to commit genocide or kick all Palestinians out of Gaza; they’re useful if Israel wants to oppose or attack Iran.” 

Kuttab added that the Christian Zionist movement has grown and changed in recent years. “They talk less about the rapture, the End Times, or the second coming, but continue to be very aggressive [in their] political support for Zionism and the State of Israel.

“As a believing Christian, [I believe that Christian evangelical political positions] run against the message of Jesus Christ and of the Bible. Though it uses religious language to justify itself, it is not a message of peace, reconciliation, justice, openness, or universal salvation offered to everyone. It is a very narrow, tribal, militaristic position that is very problematic––morally and ethically, as well as from a Christian point of view.

“Palestinian evangelical Christians are a small minority within a minority. Our numbers are very small, so our biggest challenge is to let people know we exist. People don’t know there are Palestinian Christians in Gaza, let alone evangelicals. We also have a role to speak to evangelicals in [the U.S.], for whom Christian Zionism is a default position. It is widespread, but it is based on ignorance. People don’t know the facts and they don’t know their Bible very well.” But Kuttab says that evangelicals are often receptive to his position if they are “approached in the right way. They can’t be approached with human rights, international law, or logic. That’s not convincing. You have to use the Bible and the Scriptures, and show them through the language they are used to. 

“People misunderstand evangelicals generally. Evangelicals tend to be decent, good-hearted people. They’re not necessarily vicious or nasty or uncaring. They have been manipulated and have been used by Christian Zionists to lend power to AIPAC and to Zionists, even those who are not religious at all. This is how politicians treat Christian Zionism. It is a theology that they don’t believe in, but they use it as a tool.”

Imran Khan Sentenced to 10 Years for Revealing How the U.S. Pushed for His Removal

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MURTAZA HUSSAIN, murtaza.hussain@theintercept.com, @MazMHussain
Hussain is a reporter at The Intercept and co-wrote the piece “Secret Pakistan Document Undermines Espionage Case Against Imran Khan” last month, which reports: “The former prime minister is charged with compromising Pakistan’s secret communications, but a document leaked to The Intercept says that didn’t happen.”

Hussain said today: “Imran Khan has been sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of mishandling a classified national security document revealing U.S. pressure in his removal from power in 2022. A copy of the same document was published by The Intercept last year after being leaked by an insider from Pakistan’s national security establishment. The document validated Khan’s claims that U.S. State Department officials had threatened Pakistan with consequences were he not removed from office, citing anger over Khan’s neutral stance on the Russian conflict in Ukraine.”

See prior IPA news releases.

The Evolution of Trump’s Fascistic Politics

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Since 2016, critics have become more comfortable labeling Trump––and Trumpism––as fascist. 

JEFF SHARLET; jeffrey.sharlet@dartmouth.edu, @JeffSharlet
    Sharlet is a journalist and author, and an expert on the far right. His books include The Undertow: Scenes from a Slow Civil War. 

In an interview on Democracy Now! after Donald Trump won the New Hampshire primary, Sharlet asserted that “fascism is on the ballot.” 

Sharlet told the Institute for Public Accuracy: “Until 2016 or 2017, I was rejecting the term fascism in application to the U.S. There have been moments of fascism in American history. It’s not just Italy and Germany; there have been fascist movements all over the world, and most have not succeeded. [Until now,] there hasn’t been a full cult of personality or the celebration of violence, which are two key facets of fascism. [But] Trump has achieved a blurring of the line between divinity and person. [And] there has been a normalization of violence.

“Trumpism has gotten more fascistic in the last four years. It’s been a long time since Trump led his movement––but he does follow it. He tries to keep up. Trumpism has gotten more fascistic, so Trump has too. He has osmosed some of [the] conspiratorial thinking” and the antisemitism and xenophobia of the far right. 

Sharlet argued that even as Trump has made antisemitic and fascistic comments––toward special prosecutor Jack Smith, toward immigrants––that have echoed language straight from Adolf Hitler, the press has not been direct enough. “The press needs to say ‘Trump is quoting Hitler.’” 

Sharlet also questioned why media outlets are not devoting coverage to the frenzy and undertow of violence that is taking place at Trump rallies. “We overlook the ecstasy and eroticism [of fascism]. You go to a Trump rally and it feels like a Deadhead show. You dance in the parking lot for hours. There is a violent festivity to it. It’s not just that Trump’s fans relish his rudeness. [Trump gives his supporters] permission to feel that level of anger. It’s really fun to give in if you have been resisting that anger and hate for a long time. That permission structure is incredibly empowering.” 

Sharlet added: Outlets like the New York Times tend to use the term “fascism” to describe other countries, but not the United States. “Calling Trump [labels like] ‘neo-fascist’ is a dodge and an evasion. The fascism of 2024 doesn’t look like the fascism of Germany in 1936––that’s a given. Fascism gets hardened and concretized into a static thing. But fascism is less an ideology than it is an aesthetics, and it evolves. It mutates

“There is an exceptionalism going on here. That’s where the mainstream press needs to catch up. Left media, meanwhile, needs a more sophisticated definition and understanding of white supremacy. They’re convinced that the only people at Trump rallies are white.” The left imagines fascism as an “other,” Sharlet said. “If fascists are this other, then you are immune and you don’t need to contend with its gravitational force. Because that force is not a sharply delineated ideology, [fascism] allows people to imagine their way into it from all different angles and identities.”

Why Does the U.S. Have Troops in Syria and Iraq?

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Reuters reports: “U.S. launches strikes in Iraq, Syria, nearly 40 reported killed.”

JOSHUA M. LANDIS, landis@ou.edu, @joshua_landis
Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, Landis just wrote the piece “U.S. Troops Should Have Left Syria and Iraq Long Ago” for Responsible Statecraft.

He writes that recent events, including the killing of three U.S. soldiers “should prompt the United States to speed up its exit from Syria and Iraq, something policy makers have been contemplating for some time….

“Hawks in Washington insist that by striking Iran directly and hard, the U.S. can bring security to its troops, the danger will subside because Iran understands force. But this analysis misunderstands the region and minimizes the dangers arrayed against U.S. troops.”

Landis writes that the Syrian government is “determined to drive Americans from its soil. It accuses Washington of illegally occupying 30 percent of its territory and stealing its oil to subsidize the quasi-independent territory the U.S. has established in northeast Syria. As a consequence, the majority of Syrians languish in poverty and must survive with only a few hours of electricity per day, while the economy remains paralyzed by U.S. sanctions. They want the U.S. out.

“The Iraqi government is also demanding that U.S. troops leave. It was provoked into doing so by Washington’s January 4 assassination of Mushtaq al-Jawari, a leader of Harakat al-Nujaba, one of the Shi’a militias that belongs to the popular mobilization forces. Washington targeted him in retribution for an earlier attack on a U.S. base. Did this show of force cow the Harakat al-Nujaba or the popular mobilization forces? No. On the contrary, it led to an escalating drumbeat of missile and drone attacks on American bases.”

Also see from Responsible Statecraft: “Unreal: White House still denies Mideast turmoil linked to Gaza.”

UK Channel 4 Finds Israeli Documents “Provide No Evidence” in Charges Against UNRWA

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British Channel 4 has examined “confidential Israeli documents” regarding Israel’s claim that UNRWA staff were involved in the Oct. 7 attacks.

The network reports Israel has “provided no evidence” in its charges against UNRWA personnel.

CHRISTOPHER GUNNESS, cgunness@outlook.com
Gunness is former spokesperson for UNRWA and is featured in the Channel 4 report. He calls the halting of funding to UNRWA, which provides food, education and other forms of relief for Palestinian refugees “utterly shocking” and a “violation of international law” and a “violation of the orders by the International Court of Justice.”

In the suit brought by South Africa, The ICJ on Jan. 26 ordered: “Israel must take immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance to address the adverse conditions of life faced by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.”

Hours later, Israel made its charges regarding UNRWA and the U.S. government and other donors then halted funding.

See in-depth interview with Gunness on the Electronic Intifada.

The Electronic Intifada reports: “The Israeli allegations appear to be based off of confessions made by Palestinian detainees, likely under conditions of torture.”

The noted Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert asked: “Why is Israel not being investigated for the killing of 154 UNRWA employees in Gaza?”

See: “International Coalition to Stop Genocide in Palestine Demands Full Funding of UNRWA.”

See from Ryan Grim of The Intercept: “What Are We Doing?? By cutting funding from UNRWA, the U.S. moves Israel closer to its goal” and “Republicans Move to One-Up Biden and Permanently Defund UNRWA.”

Also see from Jonathan Cook: “In waging war on the UN refugee agency, the West is openly siding with Israeli genocide,” which notes among other things: “UNRWA is separate from the UN’s main refugee agency, the UNHCR, and deals only with Palestinian refugees. Although Israel does not want you to know it, the reason for there being two UN refugee agencies is because Israel and its western backers insisted on the division back in 1948. Why? Because Israel was afraid of the Palestinians falling under the responsibility of the UNHCR’s forerunner, the International Refugee Organisation. The IRO was established in the immediate wake of the Second World War in large part to cope with the millions of European Jews fleeing Nazi atrocities. Israel did not want the two cases treated as comparable, because it was pushing hard for Jewish refugees to be settled on lands from which it had just expelled Palestinians.”

In 2021, AP reported: “A confidential Israeli dossier detailing alleged links between Palestinian human rights groups and an internationally designated terrorist organization contains little concrete evidence and failed to convince European countries to stop funding the groups.” And in 2022: “Dutch stop funding Palestinian NGO, question Israeli charges.”

Pro-Israel Jewish Organizations Had Recognized the Dangers of Zionism

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ABBA SOLOMON, abbasolomon@gmail.com, www.threads.net/@abba.a.solomon
Solomon just wrote the piece “Many Jews and Jewish Organizations Recognized the Dangers of Zionism. They Were Right,” which states: “The pernicious results of insisting on forcing Jewish sovereignty over Palestine — and necessarily disrupting Arab life there — was well understood within the Jewish organizations and in the general press.”

Solomon examines the American Jewish Committee in particular, but also highlights positions of noted Jewish leaders: “In November 1939, Louis D. Brandeis objected to a planned visit to the United States by Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann. … In a public letter, Albert Einstein, Hannah Arendt, and others stated that in the years up to statehood, Jewish terrorists ‘inaugurated a reign of terror in the Palestine Jewish community. Teachers were beaten up for speaking against them, adults were shot for not letting their children join them. By gangster methods, beatings, window-smashing, and widespread robberies, the terrorists intimidated the population and exacted a heavy tribute.’ …

“Mainstream Jewish organizations knew endless violence and oppression would result from imposing a Jewish state in Palestine against the stated wishes of its non-Jewish inhabitants. This has proved accurate, most recently in Israel’s methodical destruction of the means of life for millions in Gaza, and increasing state and settler terror against residents of the occupied West Bank.”

Solomon is author of two books on Zionism, The Speech, and Its Context: Jacob Blaustein’s Speech “The Meaning of Palestine Partition to American Jews” and The Miasma of Unity: Jews and Israel.

A recent review of Solomon’s second book in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs states: “It’s amazing — and frightening — to find from Solomon’s research that the AJC” back in January 1948, castigated “a Zionist state as a ‘monstrous idol,’ a state set to act as a ‘complete master not only over its own immediate subjects but also over every living Jewish body and soul the world over, beyond any consideration of good or evil.'”

Biden Backing Israeli Assaults Again and Again

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MOHAMAD BAZZI, mohamad.bazzi@nyu.edu, @BazziNYU
Bazzi is director of the Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies, and is a journalism professor at New York University.

He recently wrote the piece “The Middle East conflict is spiraling. Biden must force Israel to end the war” for the Guardian: “Without a huge airlift of U.S. weapons since October, Israel would run out of bombs to drop on Gaza. But Biden has refused to use that leverage to force Netanyahu’s government to accept a ceasefire. In fact, the Biden administration has gone out of its way to hide the extent of U.S. arms shipments and other recent military aid to Israel — unlike the detailed breakdowns that Washington has provided of its billions of dollars in weapons shipments to Ukraine.

“Recent reports in the Israeli press make clear that because of a global shortage of ammunition that started with the Ukraine war, Israel would not be able to sustain its bombardment of Gaza without the U.S. resupplying the Israeli military.

“Biden has the power to restrain Israel — he has simply refused to use it. Biden is also aware of the responsibility that comes with providing an ally like Israel with a virtually unlimited pipeline of weapons to continue its war.

“On 30 January, reporters at the White House asked Biden whether he holds Iran responsible for the killing of three U.S. soldiers in Jordan. ‘I do hold them responsible in the sense that they’re supplying the weapons to the people who did it,’ Biden said.

“It was a remarkable admission by the U.S. president, and it poses a basic follow-up question: does Biden think the same about the more than 27,000 deaths in Gaza enabled by a steady supply of U.S. weapons he has provided to Israel?”

 

Anti-Immigrant Convoys at U.S.-Mexico Border — Interviews Available

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Convoys arrived in communities in Arizona, California and Texas early this month to rally for border security. In Eagle Pass, Texas, some community members and experts expressed concerns about the anti-immigrant rhetoric employed by the convoy there.

HEIDI BEIRICH; heidi@globalextremism.org, @heidibeirich, @globalextremism 
    Beirich is cofounder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism (GPAHE). 

America’s Voice held a press call with Beirich and several U.S. Representatives. They called the Take Our Border Back rallies part of an “escalating standoff between Texas and the federal government…fueling a dangerous climate of potential right-wing violence and vigilantism at the border.” 

Beirich told the Institute for Public Accuracy that the America’s Voice press call prompted important reporting––but she wished the coverage had been there already. “People should have been watching this. It’s a far-right movement that has gone under the radar, and it shouldn’t have, given [Texas Governor Greg] Abbott’s anti-immigrant rhetoric.” Beirich pointed to the convoy’s use of Great Replacement rhetoric, a “conspiracy theory directly connected to mass violence. [GPAHE] does monitoring of unregulated social media platforms like Gab and Telegram, and [saw] that Great Replacement rhetoric spiked to heights not seen in six months. They are radicalizing the MAGA movement into anti-immigrant rhetoric. Abbott is doing his part to demonize the immigrant situation. It’s dangerous––not just for migrants but for anyone [the far right] thinks might be an immigrant.” 

Beirich noted that the convoy was smaller than expected and “thankfully peaceable.” But an Eagle Pass migrant center was evacuated after militia groups involved in the Take Our Borders Back rally threatened the facility. Approximately 175 migrants were relocated to other facilities around Texas after a militia member “threatened to torch the Eagle Pass site.”

Beirich says the convoy is “riling up the far right.” 

GPAHE covers transnational hate movements––especially in countries that don’t get as much attention for their far-right movements, such as Portugal, Ireland and Australia––as well as U.S. groups that export hate to other countries, usually in the form of anti-LGBTQ and anti-women’s-rights thinking about bodily autonomy and abortion. Beirich told the Institute for Public Accuracy that “the American press hasn’t done a good enough job [covering] Christian nationalists or the [groups like] Alliance Defending Freedom” in particular. These organizations have “gotten a pass,” she said, “given that their angle is to transform this country––or, at a minimum, to pull back the civil rights of certain populations like LGBTQ [people] and women.” She also pointed to the need for more coverage of people living in the Eagle Pass community who have spoken out about the convoy. 

Flint, Michigan Passes Universal Cash Program for Babies

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The city of Flint in Michigan has launched a program, Rx Kids, that gives all mothers $1,500 while they are pregnant and $500 per month for the first year of their child’s life. 

SCOTT SANTENS; scott@scottsantens.com, @scottsantens
    Santens is an author on universal basic income and the founder and president of the Income to Support All Foundation

Santens celebrated the new Flint program. He told the Institute for Public Accuracy: “I like that Flint is doing something more universal than a lot of other cities are doing. Sometimes the thinking is ‘let’s target income, and make sure [recipients are] beneath the line.’ But it’s so much better to provide universally. If you’re going to be a parent in Flint, you can get this program. If you make someone jump through hoops––[like making parents provide] copies of their previous three years of tax returns––then people who need the program end up getting excluded from it. It’s [also] much easier to attack a program as being for ‘them’ if you don’t receive it yourself.”

Santens noted that the program in Flint is permanent, unlike many other cities that have begun to implement universal cash programs as small pilot programs. “A lot of these city-based pilots around the country promote their plan as being a pilot test. But when it comes to getting money to kids in their first year of life, the evidence is very strong.” In contrast to the enhanced Child Tax Credit, Flint’s program also allots money during pregnancy. 

Santens pointed to longitudinal studies out of North Carolina and Alaska. Alaska has had a form of universal income, distributed through a dividend, since 1982. Cash payments are delivered without a means test or a work requirement. “The amount in Alaska is usually one to two thousand dollars, and it’s provided once a year, so you get a natural experiment situation. Some kids are born and get the payment immediately, whereas others have to wait [nearly] a whole year before they get it. We see that when kids get that extra thousand dollars, there is a 10 percent reduction in instances of child abuse reported to child protective services. That’s per thousand dollars. They’ve looked at reduced child obesity. [The payments] also positively impact women while they’re pregnant, so kids are born healthier with healthier birth weights, which is associated with [many] positive health impacts [over time].

“Multiple studies have been done that look at long-term return on investment of investing in kids. Child poverty is not free. It’s expensive to all of society; we pay for it in terms of taxes going to the criminal justice system, taxes to Medicare and Medicaid, our own insurance higher premiums. We spend money on all these things. It doesn’t make sense to spend $60,000 a year to keep someone in prison if that could have been avoided if that person had a healthier childhood and more money as a baby. We need to look at this with a wider lens. With the enhanced Child Tax Credit, we were arguing over $100 billion. But the return on investment is 10 times that––it’s 10 to one

“The cost of child poverty is calculated at over a trillion dollars per year. The younger [we give kids money], the more impactful it is. The program in Flint [will help kids] start off on the right foot. I hope other areas take note and start doing what they can. We know that this stuff works.”

South Africa Tries to Stop Israeli Assault on Rafah; Nicaragua Warns Britain and Germany

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The South African Government has just “made an urgent request to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to consider whether the decision announced by Israel to extend its military operations in Rafah, which is the last refuge for surviving people in Gaza, requires that the court uses its power to prevent further imminent breach of the rights of Palestinians in Gaza. “Under Article 75(1) of the Rules of Court, ‘The Court may at any time decide to examine proprio motu whether the circumstances of the case require the indication of provisional measures which ought to be taken or complied with by any or all of the parties.’ …

“The South African government said it was gravely concerned that the unprecedented military offensive against Rafah, as announced by the State of Israel, has already led to and will result in further large scale killing, harm and destruction. This would be in serious and irreparable breach both of the Genocide Convention and of the Court’s Order of 26 January 2024.” See from Jan. 26: “World Court Orders Israel to Abide by Genocide Convention and Stop Killing.”

The UN Security Council is expected to vote on a resolution based on the ICJ Order of provisional measures calling for a ceasefire.

Meanwhile, Middle East Eye reports: “Nicaragua has warned Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Canada that it will take the countries to the International Court of Justice over allegations that weapons they are providing Israel are being used in a genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.”

Al-Haq and other Palestinian human rights and legal groups have just released the statement: “Deadly Assault on Rafah and Imminent Forced Expulsion of Palestinians from Gaza in Continuing Nakba, Requires Urgent International Intervention.”

FRANCIS BOYLE, fboyle@illinois.edu
Boyle is professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law. Boyle’s books include The Bosnian People Charge Genocide (1996) Palestine, Palestinians and International Law (2009) and World Politics, Human Rights and International Law (2021). He was featured on the news release “On Israel: Lawyer Who Applied Genocide Convention for Bosnia Recommends it Now for Palestinians.”

He said today: “This is a good move by South Africa. The Court should issue new provisional measures of protection for the Palestinians especially given that Israel has continued its genocidal acts in wanton violation of the Court’s Order of January 26 and is threatening catastrophic genocide against the Palestinians by invading Rafah.” See from the Bisan Center for Research and Development: “128 Days on Israel’s Aggression and Two Weeks after the ICJ Ruling, Israel is Continuing its Genocide.”

“The warning from Nicaragua is significant. It could lead to World Court lawsuits against these four States for aiding and abetting Israeli genocide against the Palestinians, an Emergency Hearing by the World Court, another round of oral arguments, and new provisional measures of protection for the benefit of the Palestinians that would go to the Security Council for enforcement and, if that does not succeed, to the United Nations General Assembly for enforcement under the Uniting for Peace Resolution (1950). It is telling that Nicaragua is doing this because they won a resounding World Court Lawsuit against the United States from 1984 to 1986 for illegally mining their harbors. Although the United States richly deserves it too, it would be difficult for Nicaragua to successfully sue the United States for aiding and abetting Israeli genocide against the Palestinians because of its disingenuous Reservation to Article 9 of the Genocide Convention denying such jurisdiction to the World Court.”

Nicaragua has also filed a Declaration of Intervention in the South Africa case, which other countries can do and several, including Jordan and Bangladesh, have stated they will.

See New York Times article from Monday: “Dutch Court Moves to Block Export of Fighter Jet Parts to Israel.”

Humanitarian Groups Warn of Israeli “Bloodbath” in Rafah

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The International Court of Justice announced on Tuesday that South Africa has filed an “urgent request for additional measures” in their genocide case against Israel, citing the “unprecedented military offensive against Rafah” and recent statements by Benjamin Netanyahu. See IPA news release from Tuesday.

Decensored News reports: “The request quotes the International Committee of the Red Cross and NGOs operating on the ground such as the Norwegian Refugee Council and Save the Children, who have warned of a ‘bloodbath;’ that ‘expanded hostilities in Rafah could collapse the humanitarian response‘ and that ‘what happens next’ would ‘be beyond our worst nightmares.'”

See the most recent statement from Norwegian Refugee Council: “Gaza: Israel’s military operation in Rafah would be fatal for displaced civilians and humanitarian aid,” which states: “An expansion of hostilities could turn Rafah into a zone of bloodshed and destruction that people won’t be able to escape,” said Angelita Caredda, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Middle East and North Africa Regional Director. “Conditions in Rafah are already dire, and a full-scale Israeli military operation will lead to even more loss of civilian life. Aid workers have been grappling with insecurity and insufficient aid for months. Attacks in areas where they provide food, water and shelter means this life-saving support will be impeded, if not entirely stopped.”

The group notes: “Rafah, 63 square kilometres in size, is now the most overcrowded governorate in the Gaza Strip with an average density of over 22,200 per square kilometre, five times its pre-conflict levels. Increased access to life saving assistance is crucial for the 1.4 million Palestinians now crammed into the area — or two-thirds of Gaza’s population.

“Any further deterioration in humanitarian conditions in Rafah would be catastrophic as disease and starvation already persist among the displaced population. An NRC assessment of nine shelters hosting 27,400 civilians in Rafah found that people had no drinking water, showers, or personal hygiene items. The shelters operated at 150 per cent capacity as hundreds of displaced people spent the night on the street. Diseases, including hepatitis A, gastroenteritis, diarrhoea, smallpox, lice, influenza, were reported in every location assessed. Expanded hostilities in Rafah could collapse the humanitarian response.

“Military ground operations in and around residential areas in Khan Younis have also intensified, where the latest relocation orders have pushed people to the outskirts of the governorate and into Rafah. These relocation orders have not included guarantees of safety, accommodation and return, and therefore amount to forcible transfer.”

“Repeated relocation orders issued by Israeli authorities over four months of hostilities have forced tens of thousands of people to flee multiple times to areas that are not safe and where shelter is not available,” said Caredda. “Palestinians are being pushed into tiny corners, narrow alleys, and overcrowded shelters while residential areas continue to be pounded.”

“Israel originally designated some of the relocation areas as ‘safe zones’, but they have been heavily bombarded. The UN estimates that 67 percent of the Gaza Strip, or 246 square kilometres, has been placed under evacuation orders.”

Contact:
NRC global media hotline: media@nrc.no, @nrc_norway
Ahmed Bayram, Middle East Media Adviser, in Amman: ahmed.bayram@nrc.no

Assange: “Countdown To Day X”

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Common Dreams reports: “Days Before Extradition Hearing, Australian Parliament Tells U.S. to Drop Assange Case.” Reuters reports: “Julian Assange’s appeal against US extradition is life or death, Wife Says.”

KEVIN GOSZTOLA, kgosztola@protonmail.com, @kgosztola
Gosztola is author of Guilty of Journalism: The Political Case Against Julian Assange and curates The Dissenter.

He has been publishing a series of pieces “Countdown To Day X” ahead of a major appeal hearing before the British High Court of Justice on Feb. 20 and 21, highlighting key aspects of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s appeal against extradition to the United States.

The pieces include “CIA Reportedly Plotted To Kill Assange” and “Assange & The ‘Political Offense’ Exception” which states: “The legal team for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange contends that District Court Judge Vanessa Baraitser erred by failing to recognize that it was an “abuse of process” for the United States government to seek Assange’s extradition for political offenses. They hope the British High Court of Justice will reconsider this aspect of the case. Individuals accused of treason, sedition, or espionage have historically been protected from extradition because those offenses involve acts directed at a particular government. Such offenses are viewed in international law as ‘pure political offenses’ and not ‘ordinary crimes.'”

Gosztola also just wrote the piece “In Lawsuit Against Spying On Assange Visitors, CIA Will Invoke ‘State Secrets Privilege.'”

Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric in 2024

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MAX ELBAUM; ​​maxie@igc.org 
    Elbaum is an author and activist. He writes for Convergence Mag

Elbaum told the Institute for Public Accuracy: “Anti-immigrant rhetoric and policy are central to the MAGA movement in the current moment. But the MAGA movement is the latest manifestation of a 60-year counteroffensive against the progressive changes that were won in the 1960s. Trump is the product of a long movement. But his individual role has reshaped the direction and some of the priorities and rhetoric of that movement. At times, the media hasn’t captured how dynamic that relationship is––and makes mistakes in emphasizing Trump as an individual, rather than emphasizing the social aspect of it.

“There’s an increasing sense of the need to take Trump seriously, but it’s not at the alarm level that I would suggest is warranted… These aren’t just campaign promises. They have a whole cadre of people ready to come in to enforce” their agenda.  

“The meme that’s out there is that immigrants are invading the U.S. There are different wings of the repressive crackdown. It takes two forms: in the MAGA movement, it is posed as part of the Great Replacement, or the effort to replace white America with people ‘from shithole countries,’ to use Trump’s phrase, and that there is a conspiracy of globalist Jews who are bringing in people of color to change the electorate. But there is [also] a wing of the Democrats that has embraced harsh anti-immigrant measures. They emphasize that there are too many people, that they are breaking the law, that we have to protect our borders, [and] that this is a threat to labor rights and jobs. They don’t tend to use the same kind of hateful rhetoric. But in terms of policy, that wing of the Democrats has caved to the idea that we have to view [immigration] as a security threat and not as something that has to do with the dynamics of global migration due to war, inequality, and climate change.”

Since the last progressive immigration reform in the 1960s, and especially since 1986, immigration policy has been framed in terms of a tradeoff, Elbaum argues. “You trade repressive enforcement mechanisms at the border in exchange for a legalization program, a way for undocumented people to legalize their status. That’s been the back and forth between the Republican and Democratic parties. But that tradeoff is off the table [now]. The Biden administration and the Democrats were willing to trade the repressive mechanisms for the aid bill to Ukraine and Israel. That’s a backward shift.” 

Elbaum added: “The electoral system is rigged against popular will and progressive change. But despite the fact that we have a system that privileges money and the incredible influence of financial wealth in our politics, the majority of people are against this right-wing movement in the form of MAGA. If that majority can be activated, when it understands the agenda that is behind this, and when that is put front and center by public opinion shapers and influencers and the media, then people turn out against MAGA. When the movement is framed as a right-wing effort to take over politics and redistribute to the wealthy, then we have the majority of American people on our side, and can begin a new cycle of progressive change.”

Biden Isn’t Mad at Netanyahu and Netanyahu Doesn’t Care About Israeli Hostages

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BRANKO MARCETIC, branko.95.m@gmail.com, @BMarchetich
Marcetic is Jacobin staff writer and the author of Yesterday’s Man: The Case Against Joe Biden.

He recently wrote the pieces “Officials Keep Admitting Biden’s Anger at Israel Isn’t Real” and “If You Care About the Hostages, Demand a Cease-Fire,” which states: “Let’s tally up those numbers. Ceasefire: seven days, zero hostages killed, 105 released. War: 129 days, at least four hostages killed, three rescued. …

“Sure enough, some of the loudest voices in Israel itself who are calling for a cease-fire are the very families of those kidnapped Israelis. After all, they’re reading the same news and watching the same footage as the rest of us. They quite logically understand that, since their family members are being held in Gaza, the Israeli government’s indiscriminate bombing and blockade of the territory puts their lives at risk, too. Any of their loved ones could end up like Sharabi or the other hostages killed by the IDF, or like the thousands of Palestinians now starving to death and riddled with infectious disease.”

See IPA news releases, from 2014: “Israeli Hannibal Directive: ‘A Breach of Democracy and Morality’” and from 2023: “Is Israel Killing U.S. Citizens by Refusing a Cease-fire?

Also see from Jeremy Schahill: “Netanyahu’s War on Truth.”

Biden Bill Slashes Humanitarian Relief for Gaza, Sets Stage for Ethnic Cleansing

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[The International Court of Justice on Monday began hearings on the Israeli occupation of Palestine. This will likely result in an advisory opinion on the illegality of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. See coverage by Al-Jazeera English. This is a separate case from South Africa invoking the Genocide Convention before the Court, which resulted in an Order from the Court which it reiterated on Friday with a reporting mechanism on that case due before the end of the month.]

RICHARD ESKOW, rjeskow@gmail.com, @rjeskow
Eskow is host and managing editor of The Zero Hour and was the lead writer for the Bernie Sanders 2016 campaign. He just wrote the piece “10 Reasons House Progressives Must Reject Biden’s Pro-War, Anti-Humanitarian Bill.”

He said today of the Israeli attack on Gaza: “Western governments and media may report or note certain individual attacks here and there — this hospital invaded, these schools and residential blocks destroyed. They may even engage in performative, pro forma criticisms of them from time to time. But they studiously avoid noting the larger pattern at work: a pattern of systematic ethnic cleansing — and do their best to make sure the public doesn’t notice it.

“It’s not subtle, once you look. Israel has spent the last three months driving Palestinians in Gaza southward toward Egypt, destroying homes, schools, and hospitals behind them, and killing them as they go. UNRWA has the largest remaining humanitarian infrastructure in Gaza and had the institutional backing of the United Nations, so destroying it is the logical next step in rendering Gaza uninhabitable.

“How long before tent cities in Sinai … is promoted as the only ‘humane’ situation? Because, while we didn’t see it coming, events have regrettably forced us to — etc. etc. etc.” [See Wall Street Journal piece “Egypt Builds Walled Enclosure on Border as Israeli Offensive Looms.”]

From his recent piece: “1. Yes, it really slashes humanitarian aid.

“Biden said after the bill’s Senate passage that ‘it will provide lifesaving humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people, who desperately need food, water, and shelter. They need help.’

“The dishonesty and cynicism are stunning. The bill includes only $9.15 billion for humanitarian aid, to be divided among several parts of the world, and doesn’t commit any specific amount for Gaza. …

2. The bill doesn’t specify any level of aid to Gaza.

“Like Biden, Sen. Charles Schumer and other Democrats insist the bill must be passed because it contains humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza. But it doesn’t commit any specific funds. They might get something; it might get nothing.

“State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel claimed the bill included $1.4 billion for Gaza. ‘This is tangible money,’ he said. No, it isn’t. That figure appears nowhere in the bill’s text. Even the Democrats on the Senate Appropriations Committee, led by Sen. Patty Murray, don’t make that claim. …

3. The Administration has shown that it can’t be trusted.

“White House officials met with Arab Americans on February 8 over the administration’s Gaza policy. The New York Times reports that ‘the officials committed to issuing a letter clarifying the administration’s support of the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.’

“Support? Five days later, at the White House’s urging, the Senate passed the bill terminating UNRWA aid in a predawn vote. (The word ‘predawn’ has long been associated with Israeli airstrikes that kill women and children, but in this case it was a vote.)”

See IPA news release from October: “In ‘Grotesque Hoax’ Biden Admin Not Just ‘Green Lighting’ Israeli Ethnic Cleansing — ‘It’s Bankrolling It.’

The Heritage Foundation and Viktor Orbán

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The conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation has ties with Viktor Orbán’s far-right authoritarian government in Hungary. 

HEIDI BEIRICH; heidi@globalextremism.org, @heidibeirich, @globalextremism 
    Beirich is cofounder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism (GPAHE).

In a recent blog post, GPAHE investigates “widespread interactions between Heritage Foundation officials and Viktor Orbán’s regime,” which show a “deep relationship” between the two. Beirich told the Institute for Public Accuracy that Heritage Foundation President Kevin D. Roberts has repeatedly praised and thanked Orbán. 

Beirich also pointed out links between the Heritage Foundation and Hungarian think tanks like the Danube Institute. “They have personnel going between the think tanks… The Danube Institute characterizes itself as a think tank, but it is funded by the Hungarian government, pushes Orbán’s agenda, and justifies the positions of [his] government. It’s not only their relationship with the Heritage Foundation that is of interest.” Last year, a representative from the Institute spoke from the floor of the Tennessee State House “about traditional Judeo-Christian ideas. Their basic position is pushing Christian values and nationalism. They are exporting their ideas into the U.S. wherever they can find a foothold.” 

Orbánism is attractive to Trump and Trumpists writ large because it “reflects the reality that [Trumpists] would like to see. Orbán began attacking migration as early as 2015-2016, and then began attacking LGBTQ rights. He banned LGBTQ studies and women’s studies from universities. He has acolytes in all levels of society. He speaks of himself as a Christian nationalist, and he has suggested that Christian nationalists in the U.S. and Hungary work together. 

“This vision is exactly what Project 2025”––the plan that the Heritage Foundation has put forth to reshape the executive branch of the U.S. federal government if a Republican is elected president in 2024––“lays out. Project 2025 will roll back rights, end quote-unquote wokeism, politicize the bureaucracy, politicize the Department of Justice… Orbánism has achieved what they want to achieve in the U.S.” 

But “Project 2025 hasn’t gotten enough attention. The public needs to know that there’s a plan, and that folks in this movement have said Trump is their instrument to bring this about… Many Americans don’t know who the Heritage Foundation is, or who Orbán is. Unless you’re watching this closely, you wouldn’t connect the dots. But they’re there to be connected.” 

What Now? U.S. Vetoes Another Ceasefire Resolution as Israel Attacks Hospitals

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FRANCIS BOYLE, fboyle@illinois.edu
Boyle is professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law. His books include The Bosnian People Charge Genocide. The U.S. government again was the sole veto, killing a third ceasefire resolution at the UN Security Council on Tuesday. The International Court of Justice is continuing hearings on the Israeli occupation of Palestine, see videos. This is a separate case from South Africa invoking the Genocide Convention before the Court, which resulted in an Order from the Court which it reiterated on Friday with a reporting mechanism on that case due before the end of the month.

The Arab Group at the UN on Tuesday indicated that they may bring the U.S. government before the General Assembly to defend its veto. Boyle highlights that the General Assembly could do the following under Uniting for Peace: “Suspend Israel from participation in its activities as the General Assembly did to the former criminal apartheid regime in South Africa and to the genocidal Yugoslavia;

“Set up an International Criminal Tribunal for Israel in order to prosecute its highest level civilian and military officials for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide;

“Recommend economic sanctions against Israel to UN Member States;

“Recommend UN Member States sever diplomatic relations with Israel;

“Admit Palestine as a full fledged UN Member State.”

KATHY KELLY, kathy.vcnv@gmail.com, @voiceinwild
Kelly is the board president of World BEYOND War and a co-coordinator of the Merchants of Death War Crimes Tribunal. The Progressive just published her piece “Israel Is Assaulting Hospitals in Gaza With Full U.S. Support.”

Kelly writes: “Tragically, hospitals in Gaza and the West Bank have been attacked, invaded, bombed and destroyed. News of additional Israeli attacks is being reported on a daily basis. Last week, ‘Democracy Now!‘ interviewed Dr. Yasser Khan, a Canadian ophthalmologist and eye surgeon who recently returned from a humanitarian surgical mission at the European Hospital in Khan Yunis in Gaza. Dr. Khan spoke of bombings taking place every few hours resulting in a constant influx of mass casualties. The majority of patients he treated were children from age 2 to 17. He saw horrific eye injuries, shattered faces, shrapnel wounds, abdominal injuries, limbs severed above the bone, and traumas caused by drone launched laser guided missiles. Amid the overcrowding and chaos, health care workers tended to patients while lacking basic equipment, including anesthesia. Patients lay on the ground in unsterile conditions, vulnerable to infection and disease. Most of them also suffered from severe hunger. …

“In 2009, on a smaller, yet still horrific scale, I witnessed an Israeli onslaught in Gaza called ‘Operation Cast Lead.’ In the emergency room of the Al Shifa hospital, Dr. Saeed Abuhassan, an orthopedic surgeon, described experiences similar to Khan’s. This surgeon grew up in Chicago, very close to the neighborhood where I lived. I asked him what he would want me to tell our neighbors back home. He listed a litany of horrors and then he stopped. ‘No,’ he said. ‘First, you must tell them that U.S. taxpayer money paid for all of these weapons.’

“Taxpayer money feeds the bloated, swollen Pentagon budget. U.S. Senators, last week, cowed by AIPAC, decided to send Israel an additional $14.1 billion to boost military spending. Only three Senators voted against the bill.”

On Tuesday the group If Not Now commented: “This morning Biden vetoed a ceasefire in Gaza. Tonight he goes to a fundraiser hosted by AIPAC billionaire Haim Saban, with donors giving up to $250,000 each.”

Four States Expand Insurance Coverage to Immigrant Populations

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Four states have recently expanded medical insurance coverage to immigrants through the private marketplace, part of a larger push to expand coverage to all low-income residents.

JUSTIN GIOVANNELLI; ​​Justin.Giovannelli@georgetown.edu  
    Giovannelli is an associate research professor at the Center on Health Insurance Reforms at the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute. 

In a recent blog post for the Commonwealth Fund, Giovannelli and his co-author note that half of undocumented adults in the U.S. are uninsured––more than five times the uninsured rate of U.S. citizens. This is partly because “programs that make health insurance more affordable, including Medicaid and subsidized coverage available through the ACA marketplaces, limit eligibility based on citizenship and immigration status.” Four states––Colorado, Washington, Minnesota, and New York––have tried to fill the gap “by expanding access to private coverage for undocumented residents with incomes just above the Medicaid eligibility threshold.”

Giovannelli told the Institute for Public Accuracy: “There have been great gains in having folks get access to comprehensive health coverage. But because of federal law, among other reasons, one population still has hard-and-fast rules that keep them from accessing coverage––and that’s folks that are undocumented. Unless and until there is a change in federal law, it’s up to the states to decide whether this is a problem they want to fix or not. A handful of states are seeing where they can use state dollars to extend coverage to undocumented folks who are very low on the income scale. There’s a lot to be said for that approach, [since] people who are undocumented are disproportionately low on the income scale, so [that approach] helps the folks who are in the most dire straits. But there are a lot of other folks who make just more than the Medicaid threshold but have all these barriers to coverage and to accessing care. And when folks don’t access coverage and care, there are other costs to society at large… If people don’t have access to coverage, they’re experiencing worse [health] outcomes and those costs tend to spread and get picked up elsewhere.”

These four states are now addressing the population making just above the Medicaid threshold. “They have chosen to focus on this group of people who are by no means well off––they’re at, for instance, 150 percent of the federal poverty level––and [finding] ways to extend private health coverage with state dollars. They’re doing this as part of a much broader strategy to improve access and affordability to comprehensive coverage in ways that benefit citizens and non-citizens who are documented and lawfully present.” These states are putting together “larger packets of improvements that help folks, no matter [their status], be a little better off.” 

Colorado is in its second year of the program. In the first year, they extended coverage to 10,000 people and had 10,000 people sign up. In the second year, they extended to 11,000 people, and have already had 11,000 people sign up. Colorado is “reaching people within the extent of their resources,” Giovannelli said. All of these programs are “indefinite changes,” he added. “They will continue as long as there is funding. There is no sunset date for any of this.”

Israel’s Ethnic Cleansing Plans and the Ignored Barghouti Factor

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Reuters is reporting: “UN food agency pauses deliveries to the north of Gaza.” USA Today reports: “The head of the World Health Organization called Gaza a ‘death zone’ Wednesday, lamenting health and living conditions that are ‘inhumane’ and only getting worse.” Meanwhile, at the International Court of Justice, scores of countries are demanding an end to Israel’s 56-year occupation of Palestinian land, with the U.S. virtually alone in defending Israel’s actions (this case is seperate from South Africa’s invoking the Genocide Convention at the ICJ). Thursday morning, China, Ireland, Japan and Jordan were among the countries that spoke, see videos.

RICHARD SILVERSTEIN, richards1052@gmail.com, @richards1052
Silverstein writes at Tikun Olam and recently wrote the piece “Israel Unloads Gaza Ethnic-Cleansing on U.S., Saudi Arabia and Egypt: U.S. and Saudis would fund refugee camps while Egypt runs them.”

He writes: “There appear to be two separate plans: Egypt’s, which may or may not have been devised with U.S. and Israeli consultation. I broke the story that Egypt was clearing a massive empty space in Egypt surrounded by 20 feet walls and locked gates. The Washington Post confirmed my report the day after I published. …

“And who would care for these 1.5-million Rafah refugees? Who would administer the camps? Not Israel of course. Not its problem. … They palm that problem off on the Egyptians, who controlled Gaza until 1967.”

The Wall Street Journal recently reported in “Israel Proposes Rafah Evacuation Despite U.S. Concerns” that: “The Israeli evacuation proposal includes establishing 15 campsites of around 25,000 tents each across the southwestern part of the Gaza Strip, Egyptian officials said. Egypt would be in charge of setting up the camps and field hospitals, the officials said.”

Silverstein continued: “Given the close security relationship between Israel and Egypt, the latter would certainly permit Israeli troops to enter the camps at will. Isn’t that convenient? Prest-0 change-o, Israel solves its Gaza problem. It gets to destroy Hamas (and Gaza along with it), unloads 80 percent of Gaza’s population on others, and Bibi Netanyahu gets to run a victory lap in Jerusalem. …

The Barghouti factor

“There is one course events could take that would solve everyone’s problem, including the Palestinians. In the prisoner exchange between Israel and Hamas, it could free Marwan Barghouti, the most charismatic leader in Palestine. All factions respect him and would join in welcoming him as the leader of a new country. That includes Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

“Barghouti has already accepted a two-state solution. Hamas itself has also endorsed two-states in a 2021 reconciliation agreement with Fatah, which Biden and Netanyahu rejected.

“This is the best and only way to solve the conflict. If Biden was smart he would push the Israelis hard on this. Even demand it. But in doing so, both he and the Israelis know that it will only work if the world creates a Palestinian state.”

Myths About Israel and International Law

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CRAIG MOKHIBER, craigmokhiber@gmail.com, @CraigMokhiber
Mokhiber is an International human rights lawyer and former Director of the New York Office of the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights. He stepped down from his post in 2023 and penned a widely noted letter.

He was just interviewed by the Electronic Intifada. Regarding the ongoing International Court of Justice hearings on the legality of Israel’s 56-year occupation of Palestinian land, he noted: “This is the largest case in history — more than 50 countries are taking part in this, and the U.S. is virtually alone (but for Fiji) in defending the legality of Israel’s occupation. Most states are affirming its illegality and cataloging Israeli war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other gross violations of international law.

“This includes central tenets of international law (‘jus cogens norms’) from which there is no escape: the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force, the violation of the self-determination of the Palestinian people, and apartheid. Part of what’s on trial here is the political ruse of the Oslo process, which has attempted to subvert international law to the wishes of Israel and its western backers.”

Regarding the South African case against Israel under the Genocide Convention, Mokhiber said that the depiction that the ICJ Order was lacking because it didn’t include the word “ceasefire” is unfounded, since a ceasefire would be approrpriate for a war. “But this case is not about a war, but rather a genocide” said Mokhiber. “The Court’s command for Israel to stop all genocidal activity is in fact an order to stop the military activity, as well as the siege, incitement and other potentially genocidal activity.”

Regarding the UN: “U.S. vetoes of successive ceasefires in the UN Security Council, after which thousands more were killed in the genocide in Palestine, leave the U.S. directly responsible for those deaths. They will be responsible for what happens after this week’s veto as well. Complicity is a crime.”

Mokhiber said that given the U.S. “blocking appropriate action by the Security Council, the General Assembly could pass resolutions that contain teeth, like the removal of Israel from international organizations, the non-recognition of passports, and establish a criminal tribunal to prosecute individuals.”

He also notes that much activity is driven by “Civil society, unions, faith groups, engaging in protests which can fuel an upsurge in activity like boycott, divestment and sanctions.”

Doctors Without Borders: Israel Is Attacking Our Convoys

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Chris Lockyear, Secretary General of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) on Thursday briefed the UN Security Council. He said: “Israeli forces have attacked our convoys, detained our staff, and bulldozed our vehicles, and hospitals have been bombed and raided. Now, for a second time, one of our staff shelters has been hit. … [See video clips.]

“Our colleagues in Gaza are fearful that, as I speak to you today, they will be punished tomorrow. Madame President, every day we witness unimaginable horror. …

“There is no health system to speak of left in Gaza. Israel’s military has dismantled hospital after hospital. What remains is so little in the face of such carnage. It is preposterous. The excuse given is that medical facilities have been used for military purposes, yet we have seen zero independently verified evidence of this. …

“We are appalled by the willingness of the United States to use its powers as a permanent council member to obstruct efforts to adopt the most evident of resolutions: one demanding an immediate and sustained ceasefire. Three times this council has had an opportunity to vote for the ceasefire that is so desperately needed. And three times the United States has used its veto power, most recently this Tuesday. A new draft resolution by the United States ostensibly calls for a ceasefire. However, this is misleading at best. This council should reject any resolution that further hampers humanitarian efforts on the ground, and leads this council to tacitly endorse the continued violence and mass atrocities in Gaza. …

“Surgeons have had no choice but to carry out amputations without anaesthesia, on children. …”

“Medical teams have added a new acronym to their vocabulary: WCNSF — wounded child, no surviving family. Children who survive this war will not only bear the visible wounds of traumatic injuries but the invisible ones, too — those of repeated displacement, constant fear, and witnessing family members literally dismembered before their eyes. These psychological injuries have led children as young as five to tell us they would prefer to die.”

Contact: MSF press team: press_inquiries@newyork.msf.org

Anti-Zionist Jews Take on AIPAC

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Jewish Voice for Peace states: “Over 5,000 Jews and allies, including rabbis and descendants of Holocaust survivors, shut down the AIPAC headquarters in New York City on Thursday, protesting the organization’s involvement in U.S. politics that threatens to undermine democracy by funneling millions of dollars into swaying members of Congress to oppose a ceasefire in Gaza, which is favored by the vast majority of Americans.

“Down the block from AIPAC’s Midtown Manhattan headquarters, police arrested 18 protesters inside the offices of AIPAC-supported Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, who oppose a ceasefire and voted last week to send $14.1 billion in military funding to Israel.”

“The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, known as AIPAC, uses millions of dollars and racist smear campaigns to ensure Congressional complicity in the Israeli’s government’s genocide of Palestinians,” said Jay Saper of Jewish Voice for Peace.

AIPAC has raised an eye-popping $90 million in the past five months, helping bolster its influence on members of Congress who oppose a ceasefire in Gaza and ramp up aggressive campaigns against those who have spoken out against the Israeli military’s bombing of Gaza that has killed over 30,000 Palestinians in Gaza, over 11,000 of whom are children.

According to Open Secrets, Biden is the leading recipitent of pro-Israel funding.

Protesters with Jewish Voice for Peace shut down traffic outside of AIPAC’s headquarters while chanting “Let Gaza Live.” They held held massive cardboard letters that read “Dump AIPAC” and piled up red trash bags emblazoned with that same message in the street, next to a massive mural that said “AIPAC funds genocide.”

They then marched to the offices of AIPAC-supported Sen. Schumer and Gillibrand, who voted last week to send an additional $14.1 billion in military funding to Israel. Observing a Jewish mourning ritual, they placed 30 stones, honoring the 30,000 Palestinians killed by the U.S.-backed bombing, in the lobby of the senators’ office. After staging a sit-in where they unfurled banners inside the lobby calling on the senators to “Stop Funding Genocide,” police made 18 arrests; in Jewish tradition, 18 signifies life.

Polls show the vast majority of Americans want the war on Gaza to stop. And yet, because of pro-apartheid lobby groups like AIPAC, most elected officials still refuse to call for a ceasefire,” said Eliza Klein of Jewish Voice for Peace.

Protesters outside AIPAC on Thursday took inspiration from the historic Garbage Offensive organized by the Young Lords in 1969 to demand NYC divest from war and invest in communities. They called on elected officials to Dump AIPAC as it continues to make Gaza uninhabitable while simultaneously eroding democracy in the U.S.

As a Palestinian Jew who supported the struggle for the Puerto Rican Studies Department at Brooklyn College, I’ve always been touched by the acts of solidarity between our communities. When the Young Lords led the Garbage Offensive in 1969, their platform also included support for Palestinians. I am honored to carry this legacy of solidarity forward in the streets today,” said Esther Farmer of Jewish Voice for Peace.

The protest was the latest in a wave of iconic protests led by Jewish Voice for Peace that halted Congressshut down Grand Central Terminal during rush hour traffictook over the Statue of Libertyshut down the Manhattan Bridgedisrupted the President’s Hanukkah Party at the White House, and blockaded President Biden’s motorcade.

Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) is “the largest progressive Jewish anti-Zionist organization in the world. JVP organizes a grassroots, multiracial, cross-class, intergenerational movement of U.S. Jews into solidarity with the Palestinian freedom struggle, guided by a vision of justice, equality and dignity for all people.”

Contact:
Jay Saper, jaysaper@gmail.com
Sonya Meyerson-Knox, sonya@jvp.org

* Self-Immolation * NYT Credibility

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On Sunday, Aaron Bushnell identified himself in a livestream video as he walked toward the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C. as “an active duty member of the U.S. Air Force,” adding that “I will no longer be complicit in genocide.” He then lit himself ablaze and yelled “Free Palestine!” over and over. He has reportedly died.

As he burned up, uniformed personnel screamed at him to get on the ground. One officer had a gun drawn on Bushnell until after he collapsed.

Finally another officer said: “I don’t need guns, I need fire extinguishers!”

“I’m about to engage in an extreme act of protest,” he had said calmly as he walked to the embassy. “But compared to what people have been experiencing in Palestine at the hands of their colonizers, it’s not extreme at all. This is what our ruling class has decided will be normal.” A vigil for Bushnell has been called for 4:30 at the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C.

Meanwhile, Ryan Grim writes: “Multiple NYT sources tell me that the paper is now cutting ties with Anat Schwarz after her social media history — ‘turn Gaza into a slaughterhouse’ — was exposed. Her explosive article shaped public understanding of 10/7 yet the team at The Daily has still been unable to produce an episode based on it, after producers found it full of holes. …

“This ‘freelancer’ played a lead role in the paper’s most consequential coverage of the war, and had no journalism experience. The better question is who assigned her these stories, why, and what were they thinking.”

ESHA KRISHNASWAMY, esha at umich.edu, @eshaLegal
Krishnaswamy is a journalist and podcaster. She has written an extensive thread on Anat Schwarz on X, formerly known as Twitter.

She is at work on an historical piece on self-immolations. She said today: “While Self-immolation became well-known in the West after Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc’s self-immolation in what was formerly known as Saigon (currently Ho Chi Minh City) on June, 11 1963, this practice has been described in ancient Hindu and Buddhist literature. In one of the earliest tales of the Jataka-Mala, they recount a story of a Bodhisattva (an enlightened being), who jumps into a wood fire to provide food for a hungry Brahmin. In the ancient literature, they always describe an enlightened man who makes a calculated self-sacrifice on behalf of a larger group or community.

“While western newspapers described Thich Quang Duc’s self-immolation as an act of suicide, another monk Thich Nhat Hanh explained why it was not suicide: ‘Suicide is an act of self-destruction, having as causes the following: (1) lack of courage to live and to cope with difficulties; (2) defeat by life and loss of all hope; (3) desire for nonexistence. … The monk who burns himself has lost neither courage nor hope; nor does he desire nonexistence. On the contrary, he is very courageous and hopeful and aspires for something good in the future. He does not think that he is destroying himself; he believes in the good fruition of his act of self-sacrifice for the sake of others. … I believe with all my heart that the monks who burned themselves did not aim at the death of their oppressors but only at a change in their policy. Their enemies are not man. They are intolerance, fanaticism, dictatorship, cupidity, hatred, and discrimination which lie within the heart of man.'”

Krishnaswamy said: “In the continued tradition of western chauvinism, many press outlets are describing this act as suicide and are even speculating if Aaron Bushnell was mentally ill. But, in the East, it seems like these acts have a completely different meaning.”

Also, see “See Dying without Killing: Self-Immolations, 1963-2002” by Michael Biggs at Oxford, though this overlooks self-immolations regarding the 1991 Iraq War.

See “Ignoring Immolators Lulls the Society to Sleep: Aaron Bushnell at the Israeli Embassy: ‘FREE PALESTINE!‘” by Sam Husseini, which notes that while self-immolation was used to spark the Arab uprisings, it has been largely ignored in the U.S.

 

Political Journalism in 2024

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RICK PERLSTEIN; nixonland@gmail.com, @rickperlstein
    Perlstein is a journalist and a historian of the post-1960s American conservative movement. He is the author of several  books including Reaganland.

Perlstein told the Institute for Public Accuracy: News media are meant to “give citizens a basic understanding of what is happening in the world around them. I’m attached to the idea that the First Amendment was the first thing that Congress did. Journalism is the most powerful tool of self-governance that we have, [especially] in a nation that is within spitting distance of dictatorship. A hundred years from now, what will historians make of the way this story was told by journalism? Was it adequate to the task? 

“A lot of the journalism about the rise of Trump and the increasing coarsening of American political culture looks more like the journalism of an authoritarian country. Just looking at the front page of the Washington Post or the New York Times, you would think that the Republican Party and the Democratic Party have equal responsibility for the acceptance of violent rhetoric, because of this professional norm [in journalism] that the contributions of Democrats and Republicans need to be ‘balanced.’ But if you have one political party in a two-party system that has built lying, cheating, and stealing into its DNA… and the media treats [both parties] as equal actors, then the media is biased toward the party willing to lie, cheat, and steal. The Republicans get a booster seat from mainstream journalism. 

“[American] journalists have fallen from their appointed role. As Trump has tightened his vice grip on the Republican party and openly embraced the idea that government is an extension of his own will for revenge and power, the norms at the highest levels of political journalism mostly, though not exclusively, haven’t changed. Journalism has gotten worse because it’s more inaccurate––because the stories they tell are the same stories they told in 1996.

“The coverage of what Republicans do in Washington––or even in state capitals like Austin or Madison––and the ‘insurgent forces’ within the party’s coalition that show up at the border with guns are part of the same story. They work together. Responsible political journalism has to make a space for reporting on how the next January 6th is going to happen. That’s not happening yet. The way insurgent campaigns are covered should be the way counterinsurgency warfare is covered in Ukraine. The Republican Party has evolved into a formulation with both parliamentary and paramilitary wings. These guys are on the same team, in ways that we can’t yet grasp.” 

Vets on Aaron Bushnell’s Self-Immolation

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See images of a vigil from Monday night for Aaron Bushnell who immolated himself in front of the Israeli embassy, shouting “Free Palestine!” over and over again.

MIKE FERNER, mike@veteransforpeace.org, @VFPNational
Ferner is national director of Veterans For Peace, which just put out a statement: “Aaron’s motivation is strikingly similar to that of Norman Morrison, a 35-year-old, Quaker activist who set himself ablaze in the Pentagon parking lot below Secretary of War McNamara’s office, November 2, 1965. …

“We could call our policymakers ‘madmen arsonists’ because they go around the globe setting fires much faster than we can extinguish them.”

MATTHEW HOH, matthew.hoh@icloud.com, @MatthewPHoh
Hoh is the associate director of the Eisenhower Media Network. He is a former Marine Corps captain, an Afghanistan State Department officer and a disabled Iraq War veteran. He said today: “It’s important to note Aaron Bushnell’s self-immolation was not just an act of resistance to genocide and a statement of non-complicity but that it also came from the pain and distress caused by the great and wide wreckage of this war and all wars.

“The moral injury Aaron was enduring by being part of a military whose purposes were not the interests of the American people but rather the political, economic and financial interests of the American Empire, and the great harm and suffering that those interests bring to so many millions of people, is a pain and distress felt by generations of American veterans. …

“Aaron realized he was not wearing a white hat but a black one. The distress and guilt caused by that realization, coupled with his desire to stand resistant to the genocide in Gaza, led to his act of self-immolation. We have to be careful not to celebrate his death, for this act of self-immolation is an extension and agent of the wicked violence of this war in Gaza, and his loss, like the tens of thousands killed in the war, is an act of permanent destruction and moral desecration. We should honor his act of sacrifice, while recognizing the moral injury he was suffering, and utilize his memory to sustain our resistance to genocide, war and occupation.”

Israel: Atrocities, Fabrications and Complicities

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Al Jazeera reports in “‘Massacre’: Dozens killed by Israeli fire in Gaza while collecting food aid” that “More than 100 killed and about 750 wounded after Israeli forces fired at Palestinians trying to get flour for their families as famine stalks the Strip.” [See video.] Jad Allah Al-Shafei, the Nursing Director at Al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza, told Al-Jazeera, “All injuries result from gunfire and artillery shells; claims of a stampede are entirely fabricated.” Euro-Med Monitor reports on a Palestinian being run over by Israeli tanks (graphic images).

The Guardian reports: “Israel has not yet provided evidence to back Hamas 7 October attack claims against UNRWA, UN says.”

STEPHEN ZUNES, zunes@usfca.edu
Professor of politics at the University of San Francisco, Zunes has written extensively on the Mideast. His latest piece for The Progressive is “U.S. Support for Israel Bolsters Its Own Interests” and states: “Despite growing public resentment of support for Israel, policymakers continue to fund violations of international law.”

MARY KOSTAKIDIS, Mary@marykostakidis.com.au, @MaryKostakidis
Kostakidis is a journalist and was anchor of SBS World News Australia for two decades. She just co-wrote the piece “Australian Civil Society submits statement on Gaza genocide to the International Court of Justice.” She said today: “Civil society organisations around the world are demanding political leaders listen to the voice of the public. They want action to end the genocide now. To turn a blind eye is to be complicit. Signatories to the Genocide Convention are doing worse: in abrogation of their responsibilities under international law, many are continuing to enable the supply of arms or arms parts to Israel. This is criminal state behaviour. …”

CHRISTOPHER GUNNESS, cgunness@outlook.com
Gunness is a former spokesperson for UNRWA. He has called the halting of funding to UNRWA, which provides food, education and other forms of relief for Palestinian refugees “utterly shocking” and a “violation of international law” and a “violation of the orders by the International Court of Justice.” He was featured on the IPA news release: “UK Channel 4 Finds Israeli Documents ‘Provide No Evidence’ in Charges Against UNRWA.”

See from the Guardian: “Israel is deliberately starving Palestinians, UN rights expert says.”

See IPA release: “Doctors Without Borders: Israel Is Attacking Our Convoys.”

Harris’ Non-“Ceasefire”

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[On Friday afternoon, news broke that Nicaragua is suing Germany under the Genocide Convention at the International Court of Justice for facilitating Israel’s attack on Gaza. For background, see here and here.]

While outlets including NPRMSNBC and CNN claim in headlines that Vice President Kamala Harris called for a “ceasefire” on Sunday, commentator James Ray stated: “She paused after ‘There must be an immediate ceasefire’ before saying ‘at least for the next six weeks’ because she knows supporters of the administration can now clip it easily and disingenuously tell supporters of Palestinian liberation that the administration is pro ceasefire.”

MARGARET KIMBERLEY, margaret.kimberley@blackagendareport.com, @freedomrideblog
Kimberley is author of Prejudential: Black America and the Presidents and executive editor and senior columnist for Black Agenda Report. She said of Harris’s statement: “They’re scared of the Super Tuesday uncommitted vote campaign.” Super Tuesday is tomorrow. (Biden’s talk of ceasefire, while licking an ice cream cone, similarly came just before the Michigan primary, which saw substantial support for anti-war forces.)

Kimberley added: “Is Harris calling for a ceasefire or is the president? She says this proposal is now on the table. So it isn’t new. … The word ceasefire has been co-opted. We must say end funding and weapons to Israel and no to displacing Palestinians in Gaza.”

Journalist Laila Al-Arian writes: “She’s not calling for a ceasefire. She’s calling for a six week pause to release the hostages. The people of Gaza have called for a permanent ceasefire. Giving them a break only to resume killing them is not a ceasefire.” Abed A. Ayoub of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee noted that six weeks is “just enough time to get most of the Democratic Primaries out of the way.”

Kimberley’s recent pieces include: “What Aaron Bushnell Had to Teach Us,” “Muslim and Arab-American Voters Show Black People How to Exercise Political Power,” and “U.S. Ramps Up War Crimes After ICJ Rules Against Israel.”

Today Harris meets with Benny Gantz, a member of the Israeli war cabinet. He said in November: “The fighting will continue and expand to any place necessary in the Gaza Strip. There will be no sanctuary cities.” See resource on “instances of Israeli incitement to genocide” from Law for Palestine.

Analysis of Trump’s Claim That Christianity Is “Under Attack”

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At the National Religious Broadcasters convention in Nashville, Tenn., last month, former President Donald Trump told the audience that Christianity is “under attack.” NRB is a trade association of radio and TV evangelists with millions of listeners.

FREDERICK CLARKSON; f.clarkson@politicalresearch.org 
    Clarkson is a senior research analyst at Political Research Associates, a progressive think tank. He has been researching and writing about religion and politics for four decades. He is the author of Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy and editor of Dispatches from the Religious Left: The Future of Faith and Politics in America.

Clarkson told the Institute for Public Accuracy: Trump’s premise is that “there is an attack on Christianity going on, allegedly from the ‘radical Left.’ He calls Joe Biden a ‘communist.’ This is 21st Century McCarthyism, acting as if Christianity is under attack by communism. But it shouldn’t come as a surprise, since Trump’s advisor was Roy Cohn [the McCarthy-era prosecutor]. He learned politics from Roy Cohn” in the 1970s and 1980s. “This is his default mode: sleazy, fact-free demagoguery. He says [Democrats] want to tear down crosses where they can and replace them with ‘social justice flags.’ I don’t know where that is happening anywhere in the country. It’s made-up stuff. You could arguably say it’s a metaphor for what [Democrats] want to do. But [Trump] is saying it’s real. ‘No one will touch the cross under the Trump administration,’ he swears.”

Trump is seeking to maximize support from evangelical Christians. His claim to be defending Christianity “suggests that their kind of Christianity is the Christianity—that it is Christianity. But there are plenty of [religious] sectors—Catholicism, mainline Protestantism—that don’t agree. There is no one Christianity. [Trump’s idea] is not just factually wrong, but it’s counter to the values of American constitutional democracy. Constitutional democracy is not [about] the defense of Christianity but the defense of religious freedom, by which the framers of the Constitution meant religious equality under the law, in which your religious or non-religious identity would have no bearing on your status as a citizen: neither an advantage or disadvantage. That’s a core piece of the American experiment… a constellation of freedom, respect for religious pluralism, and separation of church and state. If you’re not talking in those terms, you’re not talking about religious freedom but [rather] religious supremacy or bigotry. 

“This is best expressed in the red and white hats they were giving out at the [National Religious Broadcasters] convention, which said ‘Make America Pray Again.’

“The Democrats should be prepared to say how offensive this is. I would like to see Joe Biden, or anyone in the Democratic Party, say [what it means to defend religious freedom]. It doesn’t mean just protecting one sector of Christianity. If you’re going to deal with the religious right and the politicians who pander to them, you have to engage with this.”

Vets Urging Criminal Investigations of Biden Weapons to Israel at State Dept. Offices

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[The Center for Economic and Policy Research just released a poll showing “A solid majority of Americans support ending arms shipments to Israel until it stops its attacks on Gaza.” Al-Jazeera reports: “Palestinians seeking aid attacked by Israeli forces again.” Ralph Nader estimates Palestinian deaths in Gaza are being massively undercounted, estimating them at 200,000.] [Veterans For Peace will be joining former U.S. intelligence officer Josephine Guilbeau at a news conference at the Capitol on March 6, 2024, 10:30 a.m., by 3rd Street, NW. see profile.]

In sixteen U.S. cities, March 5 to 7, members of Veterans For Peace will “hand deliver an exhaustively researched letter [PDF] to U.S. State Department offices that has gotten no response from the department’s Inspector-General since February 11.

The cities are Buffalo, New York, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Portsmouth, NH, Greensboro, NC, Boston, San Diego, Tucson, Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Bridgeport, Conn., Los Angeles, Dallas and Houston.

Josh Paul, former State Department senior official who resigned over weapons shipments to Israel said, “The Secretary and all relevant officials under his purview should take this letter from Veterans For Peace with the utmost seriousness. It is a stark reminder of the importance of abiding by the laws and policies that relate to arms transfers.”

The letter from Veterans For Peace alleges violations by U.S. government officials of:

* “The Conventional Arms Transfer Policy, which prohibits U.S. weapons transfers when it’s likely they will be used by Israel to commit genocide; crimes against humanity; and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, including attacks intentionally directed against civilian objects or civilians or other serious violations of international humanitarian or human rights law, including serious acts of gender-based violence or serious acts of violence against children. Dozens of authoritative complaints and referrals made by hospital administrators in Gaza, as well as by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Palestine Authority, South Africa, Turkey, Medicins san Frontieres, UNRWA, UNICEF, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Norwegian Refugee Council and the World Food Programme, have confirmed that there is an ongoing human rights and humanitarian disaster due to Israel’s cutoff of water and electricity, deliberate destruction of sewage infrastructure and delaying of aid shipments by Israeli forces.

* “The Foreign Assistance Act, which forbids the provision of assistance to a government which ‘engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.’

* “Arms Export Control Act, which says countries that receive US military aid can only use weapons for legitimate self-defense and internal security. Israel’s genocidal campaign in Gaza goes way beyond self-defense and internal security.

* “The U.S. War Crimes Act, which forbids grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, including willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, and unlawful deportation or transfer, perpetrated by the Israeli Occupying Forces.

* “The Leahy Law, which prohibits the U.S. Government from using funds for assistance to units of foreign security forces where there is credible information implicating that unit in the commission of gross violations of human rights.

* “The Genocide Convention Implementation Act, which was enacted to implement U.S. obligations under the Genocide Convention, provides for criminal penalties for individuals who commit or incite others to commit genocide.

Mike Ferner, VFP National Director, said, “Just as any good soldier can recognize when they are given an unlawful order, we believe some State Department staff are horrified at the orders they’re given and will decide to uphold the law, find the courage to speak out and demand an end to the carnage. VFP enthusiastically supports Josh Paul for what he did and we believe the public does, too. The IDF has killed over 30,000 Palestinians and is utterly destroying Gaza. These actions amount to genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, and VFP wants them investigated.”

Veterans For Peace has over 100 chapters in the U.S. Since 1985 it has “exposed the true costs of war and militarism. Its goal is to abolish war as an instrument of national policy.”

National contacts:
Mike Ferner, mike@veteransforpeace.org, @VFPNational
Jack Gilroy, jgilroy1955@gmail.com

Local contacts available upon request.

Healthcare Cooptation by the Far Right

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The far right is exploiting the public’s distress over corporate health care and the dire lack of universal health care in the U.S. 

RICHARD ESKOW; rjeskow@gmail.com 
    Eskow is a writer and the host and managing editor of The Zero Hour on radio and TV. He was the head writer for the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign in 2016. 

Eskow described some of the most important political actors now at play: 

  1. Libertarians, the libertarian element of the Republican Party, and more broadly, the anti-Obamacare faction. 
  2. Christian pastors who are using issues like transgender health care and abortion rights to mobilize the public against public healthcare. 
  3. A movement that grew during Covid: the spiritual/religious right, which has been infiltrated by the wellness movement and vice versa.

Eskow told the Institute for Public Accuracy: “If you break out these various groups, you see people like Megan McArdle [the Washington Post columnist and blogger], who was groomed and prompted by the Koch brothers to make their extremist ideas seem mainstream.” McArdle has formerly argued that healthcare is a business, not a right. “That argument relies on a fundamental misunderstanding, and the libertarian argument in general is a misunderstanding of how healthcare works. 

“The Libertarian Party and other libertarian advocates say the market can bring down costs and improve [health] care. But healthcare is not a market; it never is. Your doctor tells you what you need. There is no professional who tells me I need a Buick instead of a Chevrolet, but there’s a professional who says I need a chest X-ray. So the idea of ‘healthcare shopping’ is flawed. [Further,] insurance companies are intermediaries. You can only shop for insurance companies, whose incentive is to give you as little care as possible. And you have to do it prospectively, [since you] don’t know what sickness you will get next year.

“The flip side is ‘freedom’: that you should have the freedom to choose your doctor and your care. But you don’t have that freedom now; your insurance company decides that. And you certainly don’t have the freedom if you can’t afford it. [Libertarians] heavily promote things like health IRAs and other tax arrangements. But most people don’t pay enough in taxes to cover potential healthcare costs. That’s another deception. [Libertarians] slide around the fact that Medicare is very popular. With the help of Democrats, they slip private healthcare into Medicare through Medicare Advantage, which people like until they get sick and realize they don’t have any choices.” 

Other organizations, like the Heritage Foundation, suggest that Biden’s Medicare drug plan is “central planning” that will create “price fixing.” The idea, Eskow says, “is that we should celebrate paying more for drugs because that’s how we know we’re getting the best.”

Eskow also argues that there is an “unholy alliance” between some Christian pastors and Republicans. These pastors were mobilized against national healthcare on the grounds that Medicare for All is an “interference in your God-given right to healthcare.” 

Finally, the far right has exploited spiritual communities’ distrust of authority. “They are adept at making the government the authority—forgetting that in our system, insurance companies are the authority… So much of the far right’s [approach] is taking wholesome instincts and perverting them, taking the instinctive awareness that something is wrong with our system and exploiting it. Like by saying the NIH is lying to you. It resonates… Covid was a turning point. People felt alone and abandoned, and there was a lack of direction. It subverted a shared understanding of public health. They intuit part of the truth and the right builds an entire superstructure off of that.”

Donald Trump’s 2024 vision for healthcare and Social Security is still vague. Trump is once again running on not cutting Social Security, but Eskow notes that it is unclear what role the far right will have when it comes to healthcare rhetoric and policy in electoral politics this year. “Trump says that he doesn’t want to terminate Obamacare, he just wants to replace it with better healthcare because Obamacare sucks.” Medicare for All is “not on the radar this year. The progressive Democrats have folded their cards on that one.” 

Ralph Nader Estimates 200,000 Palestinians Killed in Gaza

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RALPH NADER, via Info@csrl.org, @RalphNader
Available for a limited number of interviews, Nader just wrote the piece “Stop the Worsening UNDERCOUNT of Palestinian Casualties in Gaza,” which states: “Since the Hamas raid penetrated the multi-tiered Israeli border security on October 7, 2023 (an unexplained collapse of Israel’s defensive capabilities), 2.3 million utterly defenseless Palestinians in the tiny crowded Gaza enclave have been on the receiving end of over 65,000 bombs/missiles plus non-stop tank shelling and snipers.

“The extreme right-wing Netanyahu regime has enforced its declared siege of, in its genocidal words, ‘no food, no water, no electricity, no fuel, no medicine.’

“The relentless bombing has destroyed apartment buildings, marketplaces, refugee camps, hospitals, clinics, ambulances, bakeries, schools, mosques, churches, roads, electricity networks, critical water mains — just about everything.

“The U.S.-equipped Israeli war machine has even uprooted agricultural fields, including thousands of olive trees on one farm, bulldozed many cemeteries and bombed civilians fleeing on Israeli orders, while obstructing the few trucks carrying humanitarian aid from Egypt.

“With virtually no healthcare left, no medications, and infectious diseases spreading especially among infants, children, the infirm and the elderly, can anybody believe that the fatalities have just gone over 30,000? With 5,000 babies born every month into the rubble, their mothers wounded and without food, healthcare, medicine and clean water for any of their children, severe skepticism about the Hamas Health Ministry’s official count is warranted.

“Netanyahu and Hamas, which he helped over the years, have a common interest in lowballing the death/injury toll. But for different reasons. …

“The Health Ministry is intentionally conservative, citing that its death toll came from reports only of named deceased by hospitals and morgues. But as the weeks turned into months, blasted, disabled hospitals and morgues cannot keep up with the bodies, or cannot count those slain laying on roadsides in allies and beneath building debris. Yet the Health Ministry remains conservative and the ‘official,’ rising civilian fatality and injury count continues to be uncritically reported by both friend and foe of this devastating Israeli state terrorism. …

“Then came the December 29, 2023, opinion piece in The Guardian by the Chair of Global Public Health at the University of Edinburgh, Devi Sridhar. She predicted half a million deaths in 2024 if conditions continue unabated.

“In recent days, the situation has become more dire. In the March 2, 2024, Washington Post, reporter, Ishaan Tharoor writes: ‘The bulk of Gaza’s more than 2 million people face the prospect of famine — a state of affairs that constitutes the fastest decline in a population’s nutrition status ever recorded, according to aid workers. Children are starving at the fastest rate the world has ever known. Aid groups have been pointing to Israel restricting the flow of assistance into the territory as a major driver of the crisis. Some prominent Israeli officials openly champion stymying these transfers of aid.’

“Tharoor quotes Jan Egeland, chief of the Norwegian Refugee Council: ‘We must be clear: civilians in Gaza are falling sick from hunger and thirst because of Israel’s entry restrictions.’ ‘Life-saving supplies are being intentionally blocked, and women and children are paying the price.’

“Martin Griffiths, the United Nations lead humanitarian officer, said ‘Life is draining out of Gaza at terrifying speed.'”

Nader cites other sources and then writes: “Yet, and get this, in this article, the Post still stuck with the ‘more than 30,000 people in Gaza have been killed since the ongoing war began.’

“Just like the entire mass media, many governments, even the independent media and critics of the war would have us accept that between 98 percent and 99 percent of Gaza’s entire population has survived — albeit the sick, injured and more Palestinians about to die. This is lethally improbable!

“From accounts of people on the ground, videos and photographs of deadly episode after episode, plus the resultant mortalities from blocking or smashing the crucial necessities of life, a more likely estimate, in my appraisal, is that at least 200,000 Palestinians must have perished by now and the toll is accelerating by the hour. …”

Nader is author of many books including Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the American Automobile, Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State and most recently, The Rebellious CEO: 12 Leaders Who Did It Right.

“Claims of Mass Rape by Hamas Unravel Upon Investigation”

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ARUN GUPTA, arun.indypendent@gmail.com, @arunindy
The latest piece by investigative reporter Gupta was just published by YES Magazine: “Claims of Mass Rape by Hamas Unravel Upon Investigation.” His piece “American Media Keep Citing Zaka — Though Its October 7 Atrocity Stories Are Discredited in Israel” was published last month by The Intercept.

Gupta said today: “For more than three months the media and Israeli civil organizations have recycled the same allegations of sexual violence to claim Hamas committed mass rape on Oct. 7. They have treated unsubstantiated allegations of rape as solid proof. But there is zero forensic evidence, zero photo evidence, and no survivor testimony. These dodgy rape claims are being explicitly used by Israel as cover for its total war on Palestinians.

“The Israeli military sent in untrained Zaka volunteers into massacre sites instead of soldiers specially trained to collect human remains and preserve evidence. Once inside, Zaka reportedly turned the sites into a war room for donations, used corpses as fundraising props, and spread accounts of atrocities that never happened. In exchange, the Israeli government got Zaka volunteers to spread fake atrocity stories throughout the media, giving Israel legitimacy to carry out total war against Palestinians.”

For his investigative report published Wednesday by YES Magazine, Gupta interviewed the author of Physician for Human Rights Israel paper widely cited as proof of rape on Oct. 7. In reality, Gupta states, “Hadas Ziv acknowledged numerous problems with the PHRI paper. She admitted many sources had credibility problems, she did not review all available evidence, she was unaware sources had fabricated atrocity stories, and conceded there could be other explanations for instances of sexual violence that she cited. …

“In addition, the PHRI, the controversial New York Times Dec. 28 investigation on Oct. 7 sexual violence, and 10 other media investigations rely on 12 individuals for nearly all claims of rape. Of those 12 individuals, eight fabricated other Oct. 7 atrocities, and all but one are connected to Israeli military and police. Even if you consider all claims credible, they are unsubstantiated claims: There is no photo evidence, no forensic evidence, and no survivor testimony. …

“What’s even more disturbing than media abandoning basic evidentiary standards, these dodgy claims have buried actual gender-based and sexual violence that Israel is committing against Palestinian women and girls, as documented by U.N. experts and women’s groups. The media have the ability to correct their utterly biased reporting, but it is an open question if they are willing to challenge powerful forces to do so.”

Biden “Greenlight” to Israel as South Africa and Nicaragua Appeal to the World Court

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FRANCIS BOYLE, fboyle@illinois.edu
Boyle is professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law. Boyle’s books include The Bosnian People Charge Genocide (1996) Palestine, Palestinians and International Law (2009) and World Politics, Human Rights and International Law (2021). He was just on the Rachel Blevins Show and has recently been on FlashpointsDemocracy Now and MSNBC.

He said today: “As many have noted, Biden administration rhetoric is meaningless as it arms and backs Israel. In fact, by saying that Israel needs to have a plan in place for civilians before going into Rafah, as it has been doing, the Biden administration is effectively giving Israel a greenlight to do just that. That plan seems to include camps that have been built by Egypt. What Blinken’s trips to the Mideast have been about isn’t about making peace, they have almost certainly been about hatching a scheme whereby the Israelis force Palestinians into Egypt and the Egyptian government — which hates the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas — runs the camps and other corrupt Arab governments fund the illegal scheme.

“Clearly, with the Israelis rejecting a permanent ceasefire, an increasing threat to peace is quite possible.

“Seeing such threats, South Africa has just returned to the International Court of Justice, stating ‘in light of the new facts and changes in the situation in Gaza — particularly the situation of widespread starvation — brought about by the continuing egregious breaches of the’ Genocide Convention by Israel ‘and its ongoing manifest violations of the provisional measures indicated by’ the ICJ on Jan. 26.” [See PDF of South Africa’s application, filed on Wednesday.]

Boyle represented Bosnia and Herzegovina at the ICJ and the South African application quotes his second request for provisional measures of protection: “The extreme gravity of the situation facing Palestinian men, women, children and babies, and the existential risk the Palestinian people in Gaza as a part of the Palestinian national or ethnical group face as a result of Israel’s genocidal military campaign demands further action by the Court. To this end, the Court is reminded of the application for additional provisional measures made by Bosnia in 1993 in the Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide … case. The written application entreated: ‘Make no mistake about it: This will be the last opportunity that this Court shall have to save both the people and State of Bosnia and Herzegovina from extermination and annihilation by means of genocide by the Respondent. God will record your response to our Request for the rest of eternity.'”

Boyle also notes that Nicaragua has recently brought suit at the ICJ against Germany. The Nicaraguan application states: “In 2004, well before the most recent assault of Israel against the Gaza Strip, the Court had reaffirmed that Palestine was an occupied territory and that the Palestinian people had a right to self determination. The Court also recalled that all States had the obligation not to render aid or assistance in maintaining that situation. [PDF of 2004 ICJ ruling] Germany ignored this obligation then and has compounded this breach by continuing to aid and assist Israel after the most recent and even grosser violations of peremptory norms of general international law and conventional obligations. …

“Germany has provided political, financial and military support to Israel fully aware at the time of authorization that the military equipments would be used in the commission of great breaches of international law by this State and in disregard of its own obligations. In particular, the military equipment provided by Germany enabling Israel to perpetrate genocidal acts and other atrocities, included supplies to the front line and warehouses, and assurances of future supplies such as ammunition, technology and diverse components necessary for the Israeli military.” [See PDF of Nicaraguan application.]

Boyle added that he “expects that the ICJ will shortly call for an expedited hearing on the Nicaragua case. I expect Nicaragua will get some sort of provisional measures. It’s noteworthy that this is being done by Nicaragua — my teacher, colleague and friend, Abram Chayes successfully represented Nicaragua in its suit against the U.S. government in the 1980s which was used by the solidarity movement to stop the U.S. attack on Nicaragua then.

“Such legal action is difficult for Nicaragua or any other state to take against the U.S. government now since it has a reservation on Article 9 of the Genocide Convention granting the ICJ powers to adjudicate disputes. Other states backing Israel, like Canada, Britain and other European states, as with Germany, are vulnerable to such suits.”

Groups Denounce Israel’s Use of Starvation as Genocide

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Hundreds of organizations from over 50 countries have signed on to a letter denouncing the use of starvation as a tool of genocide.

The following are available for interviews:

Fuad Abu Saif, Union of Agricultural Work Committees, based in Ramallah, fuad@uawc-pal.org
Pawel Wargan, Progressive International, pawel.wargan@progressive.international
Dr. Karameh Hawash-Kuemmerle, Doctors Against Genocide

The letter states that the groups, which represent hundreds of millions of people, “vehemently denounce the Israeli occupation’s use of starvation as a tool of genocide in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli occupation’s systematic destruction of Palestinian food systems, deliberate targeting of civilian infrastructure, and obstruction of humanitarian aid constitute egregious violations of international law and fundamental human rights principles.

“We call on all states and international institutions to undertake any and all action possible including sanctions and arms embargoes to bring an immediate end to the obstruction of humanitarian, life sustaining, and life-saving supplies to Palestinians in Gaza, to investigate all state and non-state actors who have directly and indirectly participated in the obstruction and/or destruction of supplies to Gaza, and we ask that the campaign to de-fund UNRWA be investigated as a possible act toward furtherance and facilitation of starvation and/or genocide.

“The deliberate withholding of essential resources, including food, with the intent of starving the Palestinian population of Gaza constitutes a gross violation of international law, human rights, and the principles of justice and humanity. Article II (c) of the Genocide Convention defines as genocide ‘Deliberately inflicting on [a national, ethnical, racial or religious] group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.’ The Israeli occupation’s deliberate destruction of Palestinian food systems and obstruction of humanitarian aid by Israel clearly fall within the ambit of this definition. These actions also flagrantly violate the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, which safeguards the rights of civilians during times of armed conflict, and constitute crimes against humanity, as recognized under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. …

“The disruption and destruction of Palestinian food systems by the Israeli occupation exacerbate the dire situation in Gaza and are not merely intended to starve the population in the short term. The current deliberate targeting by Israel of agricultural lands, livestock, and fishing boats (a genocidal intensification of 75 years of brutal settler colonial occupation that has denied Palestinians their right to self-rule) further undermines the ability of Palestinians to access and produce food, and is intended to ensure their ongoing poverty and malnutrition, and deny them the fundamental right to food sovereignty.” The letter was initiated by the International Coalition to Stop Genocide in Palestine.

The groups, including the large global peasant movement La Via Campesina, are calling for various actions including for Saturday, March 9 to be a global day of fasting in solidarity with the people of Gaza.

Fuad Abu Saif said: “This is not just a matter of law; it is a test of our collective humanity. Let us come together to demand an immediate halt to this brutality, to ensure that food and hope flow freely into Gaza once again.”

Pawel Wargan said: “This week, Israeli forces in Gaza massacred starving people as they lined up to receive the paltry humanitarian aid that is allowed through the blockade — another grim episode in the long, wretched history of Zionist colonialism in Palestine. In Gaza, Zionism and its imperialist backers are striking at the very foundations of humanity. That is why it is imperative for progressive forces to mobilize — with love, courage, and organization more powerful than the inhumanity that threatens to crush the world in its death march.”

See recent Democracy Now segment: “What I Witnessed in Gaza Is a Holocaust: Palestinian Writer Susan Abulhawa.”

Report: Israel Tortured False Confessions Out of UNRWA Staff

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Reuters reports: “UNRWA report says Israel coerced some agency employees to falsely admit Hamas links.”

CHRISTOPHER GUNNESS, cgunness@outlook.com
Gunness is a former spokesperson for UNRWA. He said today: “These allegations are shocking but unsurprising. Numerous UN reports attest to the fact that the Israelis have subjected Palestinians to these abhorrent violations on a very large scale for decades as a routine instrument of occupation. What’s new is that the Israelis are doing this to force confessions from UNRWA staff that they were involved in the October attack. This further undermines the original Israeli claims against UNRWA.” See his recent interviews on CBC News and Al Jazeera.

Canada and Sweden are restoring their funding of UNRWA. Nearly 50 members of the U.S. Congress have called for a restoration of the U.S. government funding of UNRWA.

In the suit brought by South Africa, The ICJ on Jan. 26 ordered: “Israel must take immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance to address the adverse conditions of life faced by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.” Hours later, Israel made its charges regarding UNRWA and the U.S. government and other donors then halted funding.

The U.S. similarly used tortured false confessions about Iraq and Al Qaeda working together that it presented to the UN, see piece from last year by Sam Husseini: “Twenty Years Ago: How Powell Used Tortured ‘Evidence’ for War Against Iraq.”

See B’Tselem page on torture by Israel.

Gunness was on the IPA news release “UK Channel 4 Finds Israeli Documents ‘Provide No Evidence’ in Charges Against UNRWA,” which contains background on the relief agency.

See Doctors Without Borders statement: “U.S. plan for temporary pier in Gaza a ‘glaring distraction.’

What Drug Pricing Reforms Can We Expect in 2024?

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Last month, Congress decided to abandon its attempt to reform pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). Advocates say other drug pricing issues need special attention right now. 

STEVE KNIEVEL; sknievel@citizen.org 
    Knievel is an advocate for Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines program. 

Knievel told the Institute for Public Accuracy: “PBMs have had some pernicious effects on the drug system and on independent pharmacies as well. But as Peter [Maybarduk, Knievel’s colleague at Public Citizen] said [on February 9, during the Senate HELP Committee hearing on drug pricing], ‘the fish rots from the head.’ The drug corporations are the ones who set the prices. They could set different prices if they chose to. PBMs can arguably exacerbate some of these problems, but it’s the drug corporations that have the monopoly power that is the primary basis of our excessive, out-of-control drug prices.”

PBMs “are only a distraction insofar as policymakers allow it to be one,” Knievel added. “It would have been a misstep to only do PBM reform and exclude various other measures to address monopoly abuses. None of those [reforms] were in the cards to be included in a package, even if PBMs were included this time around. 

“Another point that fell by the wayside was the out-of-pocket caps for insulin… Majority Leader Schumer talked about extending that [$35 out-of-pocket monthly cap for insulin] to everyone. We wanted to make sure that the uninsured got low-cost coverage for insulin as well. We were hoping to see PBM reforms, patent abuse reforms, and insulin coverage expansion. But we got none of it. For the foreseeable future, it’s not going to happen. The political realities of an election year are becoming evermore present.”

Right now, one important aspect of progressive drug pricing reform focuses on patents and the Bayh-Dole Act. Bayh-Dole allows government contractors and grantees that make inventions to retain ownership of the patent of that invention; in exchange, the government retains some public interest protections of the patent. For instance, the Federal Trade Commission explains that under Bayh-Dole, “the federal government has the right to ‘march in’ on patents on inventions created using taxpayer funds,” requiring the patent holder to license the federally-funded patent to other applicants. Petitions have previously been sent to agencies like HHS and NIH to exercise march-in rights for prohibitively-expensive drugs like prostate cancer medicines, but this power has never been employed. In pursuit of increasing drug affordability, the Biden administration is currently undergoing an inner-agency review of when march-in rights ought to be employed; in December 2023, the National Institute of Standards and Technology released a draft framework to guide the government’s exercise of march-in rights. In February, the 60-day comment period closed on that draft framework. 

“Once that guidance is finalized and comes out,” Knievel said, “we will be looking for ways that agencies can act upon it and explore what more the administration can do with its executive tools to lower drug prices in the coming year. This is an important piece of our work, because as much progress as we have made through the Medicare drug price negotiation system, there are serious limitations there. By using these sorts of mechanisms [like potential expansions to march-in rights], we can do more to expand access to medicines.”

Knievel noted that there is “insufficient public recognition about the benefits of the law that are already kicking in right now. As much as I’m profuse about the limitations of the law, it does go a long way. Progressives need to know about the progress we’ve made. We haven’t had wins like this in years—maybe ever—against Pharma. We can’t be overly jaded about what we haven’t gotten. If we sit back, Pharma is going to roll over us and take it all back.” 

How Foreign Intervention Precipitated Haiti’s Current Crisis

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JAKE JOHNSTON, johnston@cepr.net, @JakobJohnston
Senior research associate at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Johnston is author of Aid State: Elite Panic, Disaster Capitalism, and the Battle to Control Haiti, which was released earlier this year.

He said today: “The world has been inundated by sensationalist headlines of Haiti in crisis for the last two weeks. There is no question that, indeed, Haiti is facing an incredibly difficult situation. Yet part of the story has been left out of much of the coverage: the role played by foreign powers in causing this crisis.”

Johnston just put out a backgrounder “Haitian Prime Minister Henry Agrees to Resign as CARICOM Announces Formation of Presidential Council,” which reads in part: “What is clear is that the announcement in Kingston late last night is unlikely to lead to a solution to the current crisis by itself. After criticizing Henry for relying on the support of the U.S. and other foreign powers, an agreement pushed by those same foreign powers is likely to face legitimacy concerns from the moment it forms. Though negotiations have been taking place for the better part of a week, none of the participants or discussions have been made public, leaving the vast majority of Haitians in the dark. Notably, CARICOM set conditions for participation, including accepting deployment of a Kenyan-led intervention force. …

“It was U.S. and foreign support for Henry that pushed the situation to its dire state. But rather than letting a truly Haitian-led process play out, those same foreign powers have opted for a stability pact that, it would seem, is likely to lock in an unsustainable status quo at least in the short term.”

See NPR interview with Daniel Foote, a former American diplomat who resigned in protest over U.S. policy.

Israeli Attacks on West Bank and Jerusalem

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See resource list on X/Twitter.

DIMITRI LASCARIS, dimitri.lascaris@proton.me, @dimitrilascaris
Lascaris is a Canadian journalist, activist and lawyer currently in Jenin on the West Bank. Available for a limited number of interviews, he just wrote to the Institute for Public Accuracy: “The Israelis committed an atrocity at a hospital in Jenin this morning. I just interviewed the hospital director and he showed us videotape of the crime. An unarmed Palestinian man was shot in the back as he was running into the hospital to take cover from gunfire.” See his latest articles: “In Jenin Refugee Camp, Israeli Forces Terrorize Palestinian Artists,” “In Jenin, Israeli Soldiers Brutalize Young Men While Using Their Mother as Human Shield,” and “Sheikh Jarrah and Israel’s Kangaroo Courts.”

YAZAN RISHEQ, yazan@grassrootsalquds.org, @grassroots_quds
Risheq is with Grassroots Al-Quds [Arabic for Jerusalem]. He said today: “I believe that ‘existence is resistance.’ Maintaining identity, culture, beliefs and rights in the face of oppressors who always try to erase, and change it, is itself a form of resistance and using knowledge, memorization, heritage, archive, and the potentials of the past, the present and the future as a tool for liberation.” See in-depth interview of Risheq by Israeli activist Miko Peled from April of last year. See from last year during Ramadan: “‘Heinous Crimes’: Global Outcry as Israeli Forces Attack Al-Aqsa Worshipers for Second Night.”

MAZIN QUMSIYEH, mazin@qumsiyeh.org, Skype: mbqumsiyeh
Qumsiyeh is a professor at Bethlehem University. His books include Sharing the Land of Canaan. He is founding director of the Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability. He recently wrote “Impact of the Israeli military activities on the environment” in the International Journal of Environmental Studies.

He addressed long-term Israeli military and settler violence in the West Bank which he has written about extensively and directly confronted, but stressed what is being done to Gaza: “Over one million people also are suffering from the spreading (and curable) diseases associated with the Israeli blockade. …U.S./France/Jordan doing air drops is a sick propaganda stunt. One airdrop cargo is equivalent to one truck. Gaza needs a minimum of 800 trucks of food and medical supplies per day now to avoid full genocide. Over 2,000 trucks are at the borders waiting for weeks.”

St. Patrick’s Day and Gaza

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KATHY KELLY, kathy.vcnv@gmail.com, @voiceinwild
Kelly is board president of World BEYOND War and a co-coordinator of the Merchants of Death War Crimes Tribunal.

She just wrote the piece “When Starvation Is a Weapon, the Harvest Is Shame” for The Progressive. She recounts how in the Irish famine, “starving people died with their mouths stained green because, according to historian Christine Kinealy, their last meal was grass. Shamefully, British occupiers profited from exporting out of Ireland food crops so desperately needed. Over a seven year period, beginning in 1845, one million Irish people died from starvation and related diseases. It was a conscious mass killing. …

“Now, in the occupied Gaza Strip, weapons dealers benefit from increasing military shipments to Israel. Palestinians, like the Irish, have resorted to eating mixtures of grass and animal feed. …

“Human Rights Watch says the Israeli government is starving civilians as a method of warfare in the Gaza Strip. Aiding and abetting this war crime, the U.S. government has approved 100 military sales to Israel over the past five months. …

“In Northampton, Massachusetts, six activists are on day three of occupying the office of Representative Jim McGovern. They are demanding he call on the president to immediately halt all weapons shipments to Israel, even if Israel allows humanitarian aid into Gaza. …

“In May of this year, an Irish NGO called AFRI (Action From Ireland) will hold an annual ‘famine walk’ to commemorate when hundreds of desperate people trekked in cold and stormy weather to beg mercy from British officials designated to assess who would qualify for small portions of food or tickets to enter a workhouse. …

“Each year, the organizers of AFRI’s famine walk focus on a place in the world afflicted by famine. ‘This year’s famine walk will focus on the unspeakable horrors being visited on the population of Gaza,’ says AFRI’s coordinator, Joe Murray, ‘with “Irish” President Biden forgetting his history and playing the part of a “Black and Tan” in providing the means to obliterate an entire population.’ …

“People in the United States ought to occupy local offices of every elected official, denouncing all forms of violence, insisting on an immediate end to any support for Israel’s genocidal war against Gaza.”

35 Big Corporations Paid More to Top Executives Than Federal Taxes

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A new report from Americans for Tax Fairness and the Institute for Policy Studies found that 35 major U.S. corporations paid less in federal income tax between 2018 and 2022 than they paid their top five executives. Those companies were all cumulatively profitable during that time period. 

Among those 35 corporations, their total executive compensation over the five-year timespan was $9.5 billion, while their combined federal income tax bills came to negative $1.8 billion, i.e. they received refunds totaling that amount.

The 64 firms in the study paid an average federal tax rate of 2.8 percent. 

WILLIAM RICE; will.rice@americansfortaxfairness.org 
    Rice is a senior writer at Americans for Tax Fairness and a coauthor of the report.

Rice told the Institute for Public Accuracy: “Dozens of big corporations are paying their top five executives more than they are paying in taxes. It resonates with the public as being unfair. 

“The financial reports of these corporations are not clear for anyone who isn’t an accountant. They are very long, have lots of small print, and the information provided is not user friendly. The actual tax returns are [also] not public––they’re private. Corporations complain that [research on corporate taxes from the last 40 years] lacks context, but no corporation has successfully pointed out why the numbers are wrong or supplied their tax returns to show what they’re paying.

“If you include corporations that [paid more to their top executives than they did in federal taxes] in all five years, you’re talking about $15 billion in executive pay. The scale is astounding. They’re not doing anything illegal here, but the way Congress has set up the tax code, even companies that are doing reasonably well get to pay little to no taxes or else get refunds. 

“It’s important that people know about this. One of the ways that large corporations and other wealthy people get away with this is that they live in a totally different world than average Americans or citizens of any other country. [The public] is unaware of the details of how they pay so little in taxes relative to their wealth and income. People have a vague, accurate understanding that the system is rigged against them, but they are busy with their own lives. This is a concrete example of the sense of unfairness.

Rice emphasizes that there are solutions to the problem, however. The corporate tax rate was 35 percent prior to the Trump presidency, when it was cut to 21 percent. In President Biden’s State of the Union address this month, and in the follow-up budget, he proposed “raising the corporate tax to 28 percent and increasing the minimum tax for corporations with more than $1 billion in assets [to 15 percent]. Some of those companies can go years paying very little taxes or none… [Biden] also wants to close the loophole that currently allows companies to deduct salaries of over $1 million.” Those are two main corporate reforms, along with ensuring that offshore profits are taxed at the same rate as domestic profits. 

Rice noted that reforms included in the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, like the new corporate minimum tax, were promising but did not go into effect until 2023. “We can expect some changes. Some of these companies are getting caught up in the new rules.” Companies like Duke Energy and Whirlpool were both hit by Biden’s 15 percent minimum tax in 2023. Both those companies make the Americans for Tax Fairness report’s “Terrible 10.” Duke paid top executives over $180 million and received a tax refund of almost $2 billion, while Whirlpool paid top executives over $160 million and paid an effective tax rate of just 7 percent––one-third of the official 21 percent rate.

Is the Targeting of TikTok Actually About Israel?

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AP reports: “Former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says he’s putting together investor group to buy TikTok.” See from 2021 Axios: “Scoop: Israeli spy chief in talks to join Mnuchin’s investment fund” and from the Times of Israel: “Former U.S. treasurer Mnuchin leads $275 million funding in Israeli Cybereason.” In January, the Jerusalem Post ran the piece “Time to invest in Israel, says former U.S. treasury secretary Mnuchin.”

Craig Mokhiber, former director of the New York office of the UN High Commission on Human Rights stated: “They are not trying to ban #TikTok. They are trying to use government power to force TikTok to be taken over by pro-Israel ownership to silence criticism of #Genocide and #apartheid.” The Wall Street Journal recently reported of the bill targeting TikTok: “It was slow going until Oct. 7.”

JAMES REHWALD, rehwald15@gmail.com
Rehwald has over 400,000 followers on TikTok. He said today: “This bill is nothing but an attempt to censor young Americans’ progressive political education, activism, and organizing under the guise of protecting national security. The U.S.-backed Israeli genocide of Palestinians exposed on TikTok and the abundance of pro-Palestinian content has renewed calls for tighter imperialist control of the narrative while protecting U.S. monopoly capitalist interests.”

JAMES RAY, jimray598@gmail.com
Ray has over 400,000 followers on TikTok at @jamesgetspolitical. He said today: “I think that the decision to pass legislation that could lead to a ban of TikTok and really any website that the U.S. deems necessary is a step that results from several overlapping factors.” The sale would be “a windfall for the investors involved in the buy. …”

“The historic institutional players are seeing their grasp on information weaken in the midst of a platform that gives people the easy ability to spread information that might not (and in some cases most certainly would never) be covered or covered accurately by traditional media giants. That weakening of the grip of information distribution also likely is on the minds of many U.S. politicians who on both sides of the aisle are likely threatened by a platform that circumvents their traditional channels. …

“Palestine also very much so in my mind plays a role in this discussion as well. … With the typical Zionist attack dogs like Senator John Fetterman of PA openly and vocally taking a break from tweeting about Hamas to clarify his support for the ban legislation. When the typical Zionist allies are circling the wagon it’s more or less a dead giveaway. …

“The fact that Bytedance is a Chinese company only makes it easier for them because they can justify their support for this draconian legislation with the typical sinophobic handwringing we’ve come to expect from Washington.”

RICCI SERGIENKO, ricci@rootsaction.org, @Roots_Action
Ricci Sergienko is with RootsAction, which notes “Well… who is the #1 contributor to the TikTok ban bill’s author, Rep. Mike Gallagher? That’s right — AIPAC. …

“‘We have a major TikTok problem. A Gen-Z problem.’ Leaked audio of ADL chief executive Jonathan Greenblatt freaking out because global youth aren’t buying Israel’s propaganda anymore. THIS is why they’re trying to ban Tiktok. …

“This legislation’s practical ban on TikTok would constitute a serious First Amendment violation and an infringement upon free speech. This does very little to address broader concerns about privacy rights, as U.S. based social media companies extensively violate those rights.”

See videos from Ian Carroll on TikTok and on X.

Could TikTok Be Owned by Its Users?

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NATHAN SCHNEIDER, n@nathanschneider.info, @ntnsndr
Schneider is a professor of media studies at the University of Colorado Boulder, where he directs the Media Economies Design Lab. He is author of the new book Governable Spaces: Democratic Design for Online Life, published by University of California Press. His articles on this subject include “Let Users Own the Tech Companies They Help Build” for Wired magazine.

MICHAEL BRENNAN, michael@usworker.coop, @mrbrnn
Brennan is a researcher on democratic public ownership and currently works as a project coordinator for the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives. In 2020, he and Schneider co-authored the Jacobin article, “There’s No Solution to Big Tech Without Public Ownership of Tech Companies,” and the accompanying report “A Common Platform: Reimagining data and platforms.”

They said today: “The bipartisan move to ban TikTok does nothing to address the crisis of surveillance capitalism that Americans are experiencing. Even if TikTok ceased to exist tomorrow, foreign governments would still have access to the personal data of Americans via U.S.-based big tech companies because the business model is fundamentally predicated on selling data for targeted advertising; there is nothing unique about TikTok in this regard. Worse still, the potential fire sale of TikTok to Steven Mnuchin and American capitalists suggests that Democrats have no real strategy for addressing the underlying problem, and are solely interested in advancing a new Cold War consensus for short-term political gain. …

“Because this is a government-compelled event, there is a window of opportunity for lawmakers to stipulate a democratic ownership structure as a requirement for the divestiture, including through direct public ownership or facilitating a buyout to convert TikTok into a user-owned platform cooperative. …

“Instead of targeting TikTok in particular, lawmakers concerned with Americans’ data and privacy should coalesce around a comprehensive data bill of rights, such as Senator Sherrod Brown’s 2020 DATA Act. Congress should recognize that we need another option than another venture-backed tech monopoly. …

“The situation with TikTok is yet another reminder that we need policy that can support technology owned and governed by the people who depend on it. Whether the platforms are surveilled from abroad or at home, the current model of building technology for investor control and state surveillance is a dead end. Just as we have done through history with rural electric co-ops, credit unions, and more, we need the ability to finance innovation on the foundation of community ownership.”

See from Sam Husseini: “Did the Israel Lobby Push for the TikTok Bill so that its Allies Could Control it?

Should We Care About Moms for Liberty?

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The New Republic recently reported that the conservative political organization Moms for Liberty, which rose to prominence during the Covid pandemic, is “slowly imploding.”

MAURICE CUNNINGHAM; maurice.cunningham153@gmail.com 
    Cunningham is the author of Dark Money and the Politics of School Privatization. 

Cunningham, who has followed the ups and downs of Moms for Liberty, told the Institute for Public Accuracy: The group’s problems “have been mounting. It’s accelerated since the [school board] elections went badly for them. It’s been one thing after another: They severed ties with some chapter heads over their associations with the Proud Boys; they had a chapter head resign for shoplifting. Then their 60 Minutes interview was a disaster. They were exposed [by interviewer Scott Pelley] in a way they hadn’t been exposed before. Pelley was not having ‘gender ideology.’ He wasn’t having ‘grooming.’ And they weren’t prepared to answer.

“Mainstream press and national papers have done an acquiescent job in covering them. This is a new moment in mainstream press, and I hope it will foster a more critical eye toward [the group]. This is the kind of tough questioning they deserve. I hope the media continues to press them. They’re not what they purport to be, and they have a lot of explaining to do. 

“The biggest misconception about [Moms for Liberty] is that they’re just moms. The creation story is always ‘two or three moms gathered around the kitchen table over coffee, discussed issues their kids are having in schools, and formed a group.’ Then boom, they’re sitting on a million dollars and are going on Rush Limbaugh. They’re [actually] part of a right-wing infrastructure that includes the Leadership Institute and the Heritage Foundation, which exert great control over them. These organizations are part of a secret right-wing directorate. These are obedient franchises––they’re not just moms. They’re part of an existing infrastructure and they answer to those superior organizations. The Leadership Institute and the Heritage Foundation have existed for over 40 years. That expertise has been gained over a number of years. Moms for Liberty was founded [in January 2021].

“Moms for Liberty touched this latent conservative anger around schools. It’s out there to touch when you’re a political actor. They took advantage of Covid, and that helped their rise, because there was anxiety and anger about kids not being in school. They have moved from Covid, masks, vaccines, and school closings to ‘DEI’ and ‘CRT.’ There is a constant need to churn the emotions of their followers.” 

The group is “playing defense lately more than anything else,” Cunningham says. “They attacked [the Southern Poverty Law Center] for designating them as an extremist group. That [designation] was extremely damaging. They’re trying to distract us. They try to change the subject, but it’s hard to do. After their poor performance in the 2023 school board races, they’re in retreat.”

U.S. Still Hindering Ceasefire as European Group Demands Action on Gaza

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On Friday, China and Russia vetoed a U.S. resolution at the UN Security Council which did not call for a ceasefire, contrary to reports in major media. See IPA news release: “Beyond U.S. Isolation at UN: What’s Not Being Done.”

[Oxfam recently released a statement: “Israel Government Continues to Block Aid Response Despite ICJ Genocide Court Ruling.” The International Court of Justice has scheduled a hearing for April 8 and 9 on the case of Nicaragua against Germany regarding its “participation in the ongoing plausible genocide and serious breaches of international humanitarian law and other peremptory norms of general international law occurring in the Gaza Strip.” See latest in reporting regarding South Africa’s genocide case against Israel. The Electronic Intifada reports: “British Lawyer Heading ICC’s Palestine Probe Can’t Be Seen as Neutral.” See from Al Jazeera via Euro-Med Monitor: “An Israeli army drone pursued four civilian youths who attempted to reach their destroyed homes and killed them with missiles.”]

The group Geneva International Peace Research Institute recently released an “Open letter to the EU Leadership Demanding an Immediate Ceasefire in Gaza,” which states: “By opening a maritime corridor via Cyprus, the EU is effectively surrendering any remaining moral authority it may have had to the Israelis, by presenting the scenario as though no other possible alternative exists, when in fact many alternatives do exist.

“Through adopting this approach, the EU continues to support the Israeli blockade by steadfastly refusing to call for a ceasefire, and by not calling for Israel to open the land borders to allow the hundreds of aid trucks already positioned to enter Gaza. This is the only effective means through which aid can be distributed to the population by the United Nations agencies, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and other international partners and organizations. These agencies have been calling for months for rapid and unhindered access to deliver aid, calls that continue to fall on deaf ears. …

“We demand that the EU calls for an immediate and unconditional end to the Israeli bombing of Gaza right now, and we demand that the EU also calls for an opening of the borders, allowing rapid and unhindered delivery of food, shelter and medical supplies to the population.

“Anything less than this is unacceptable and in breach of international law, which you all claim to uphold, but which it is evident that you are in breach of.

“Short of this, we will be amplifying calls at the public level for your immediate resignations, as you no longer represent the population of the EU, with your continued support for a racist, murderous, apartheid regime.”

Contact for interviews from the Geneva International Peace Research Institute:
Prof. Gilles-Emmanuel Jacquet, ge.jacquet@gipri.ch

Evidence Grows of Israeli Military Sexual Violence Against Palestinian Women and Girls

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ARUN GUPTA, arun.indypendent@gmail.com, @arunindy
Gupta’s latest reporting on allegations of sexual and gender-based violence during the Oct. 7 attacks is in YES Magazine: “Claims of Mass Rape by Hamas Unravel Upon Investigation” and The Intercept “American Media Keep Citing Zaka — Though Its October 7 Atrocity Stories Are Discredited in Israel” about the scandal-ridden Israeli organization.

He said today: “For months U.S. media have published hundreds of articles lending credibility to Israeli claims that Hamas carried out a campaign of rape during the Oct. 7 attacks. Those claims were dubious from the start, lacked solid evidence and survivor testimony, and many have been discredited. Most recently the New York Times was forced to retract one of the most widely cited rape claims, that of an Israeli special forces paramedic with Unit 669, after evidence surfaced showing he fabricated the story. But that story was never credible. Myself and other journalists have been warning for months his story was false based on a close examination of available evidence, as were many of the other high-profile claims credulously accepted by Western media.

“At the same time, evidence was growing that Israeli military forces in the West Bank and Gaza were committing sexual violence against Palestinian women, girls, and men. Unlike Israeli claims, Palestinian survivors have been openly testifying about sexual violence committed against them. Additionally, three different International human rights organizations have corroborated claims and interviewed Palestinian survivors of sexual violence.

“In February, two U.N. Special Rapporteurs and four U.N. experts said they were ‘distressed’ at reports ‘that Palestinian women and girls in detention have also been subjected to multiple forms of sexual assault, such as being stripped naked and searched by male Israeli army officers. At least two female Palestinian detainees were reportedly raped while others were reportedly threatened with rape and sexual violence.’”

“Later in February, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor released a report that included the testimony of four Palestinian women in Gaza who ‘report being subjected to sexual violence, torture, inhuman treatment, strip searches, sexual harassment, and rape threats while being arrested and held by Israeli army forces.’”

“Most recently, Al Jazeera received access to unpublished report from UNRWA on Israeli sexual violence against Palestinian detainees: ‘Practices recorded by UNRWA include the use of a nail gun on prisoners’ knees, sexual abuse against both men and women and the insertion of what appears to be an electrified metal stick into prisoners’ rectums.’ Also see the Al Jazeera investigation on Oct. 7 that debunks many atrocity stories and unmasks Yossi Landau, an official with the scandal-plagued Zaka organization tasked with collecting human remains after Hamas’ massacre, for fabricating atrocities.

“Many claims of sexual violence have been made by both Palestinians and Israelis. Some are clearly fake stories. In an atmosphere where atrocity propaganda is being used to further military aims, the media have a critical role in corroborating allegations of sexual violence as much as possible by scouring for details, hard evidence, documentation, and supporting witnesses.

“But so far only Palestinian survivors have spoken out, and the only clear photo evidence of sexual violence is that committed against Palestinians, including more than a dozen men, fully naked, blindfolded, and trussed up, with some bearing wounds that may indicate torture. Additionally, at least half-a-dozen Palestinian women and men have spoken on camera or to the media describing in detail sexual violence and torture that they or female relatives endured at the hands of Israeli military forces in Gaza. It is imperative that the media finally give the same amount of prominence and space to presenting credible Palestinian allegations of sexual violence as it gave to dodgy and false Israeli claims.”

The Status of the Anti-Vaccine Movement

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As the country faces an increasing number of measles cases, researchers say anti-vaccine narratives reach from Covid to measles to HIV.

TARA C. SMITH; tsmit176@kent.edu 
    Smith leads the Smith Emerging Infections Laboratory at Kent State University. 

Smith told the Institute for Public Accuracy: “HIV denial narratives [which were in the media in the early 2000s] have become resurgent in the last few years. We’ve seen them come back” especially since the 2021 publication of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s book The Real Anthony Fauci, which covers the years that Dr. Fauci worked in HIV research. “That’s where the HIV denial started from. It’s being pushed on different platforms. 

“There are different ideas being promoted by different groups that don’t agree with one another. On the extreme end, there is the Perth Group in Australia. They believe that HIV doesn’t exist and is ‘cellular debris.’ If the virus doesn’t exist, it can’t cause you harm. That’s the extreme end. Most of the denial––like what RFK Jr. pushes––is what was championed by [molecular biologists who worked on retroviruses in the 1980s, like] Peter Duesberg. When HIV was discovered, Duesberg didn’t buy into it. He argued that HIV could be detected and was associated with sexual activity, but was a harmless ‘passenger virus.’ It didn’t do anything. That hypothesis was adopted well beyond AIDS––into Covid and measles. 

“For the anti-vaccine groups I follow, everything has coalesced into a denial of germ theory. [These groups are saying] why are we getting vaccines, or kids should get measles because it prevents cancer. There’s a meta-narrative around infectious disease no longer being considered dangerous.

“We have also seen a lot of the Covid denial and pushback on Covid vaccines and pandemic precautions. People on the right were angry about how Covid was dealt with. It’s easy to believe that if you’re healthy and eat well and exercise, you’ll be okay. They’re taking any piece of science, no matter how dubious, to support those ideas. We’re seeing vaccine mandates start to fall––in Mississippi, in West Virginia. [Recently], it’s starting to move into childhood vaccines” like the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines. 

Smith notes that although infectious disease outbreaks have been covered relatively well by the media, the public is missing stories about people who have been “harmed by these diseases. Twenty percent of kids with measles are hospitalized. That’s getting glossed over in exchange for the controversy about vaccination.” 

Hollywood’s Big Backlash Against Glazer’s Oscar Speech

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Variety reported that “more than 1,000 Jewish creatives, executives and Hollywood professionals have signed an open letter denouncing Jonathan Glazer’s ‘The Zone of Interest’ Oscar speech.” The letter accused Glazer (who is Jewish) of “drawing a moral equivalence between a Nazi regime that sought to exterminate a race of people, and an Israeli nation that seeks to avert its own extermination.”

The accusation was in sharp contrast to Glazer’s emphasis in his speech accepting an Academy Award for his film “The Zone of Interest.” In the present, he said, what’s crucial is “not to say, ‘Look what they did then,’ rather, ‘Look what we do now.’”

The open letter “refused to look at what Israel is doing now as it bombs, kills, maims and starves Palestinian civilians in Gaza, where there are now 32,000 known dead and 74,000 injured,” Norman Solomon wrote in an article published this week, “Death Culture: When 1,000 in Hollywood Proclaim Support for Gaza Slaughter.”

He added: “The letter even denied that an occupation actually exists — objecting to ‘the use of words like ‘occupation’ to describe an indigenous Jewish people defending a homeland that dates back thousands of years.’ Somehow the Old Testament was presumed to be sufficient justification for the ongoing slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza, most of whose ancestors lived in what’s now Israel. The vast majority of 2.2 million people have been driven from their bombed-out homes in Gaza, with many now facing starvation due to blockage of food.”

But in the letter signed by more than 1,000 in the entertainment industry, Solomon continued, “all the ire is directed at Glazer for pointing out that moral choices on matters of life and death are not merely consigned to the past. The crimes against humanity committed by Nazi Germany against Jews are in no way exculpatory for the crimes against humanity now being committed by Israel.”

Solomon observed that much of the focus of Glazer’s Oscar-winning movie “is on the lives of a man and a woman preoccupied with career, status and material well-being. Such preoccupations are hardly unfamiliar in the movie industry, where silence or support for the Gaza war are common among professionals — in contrast to Jonathan Glazer and others, Jewish or not, who have spoken out in his defense or for a ceasefire.”

Available for interviews:

NORMAN SOLOMON, solomonprogressive@gmail.com
Solomon is the author of War Made Invisible. He is the executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.

New World Court Order Against Israel: Could Uniting for Peace Stop Israel’s Assault?

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Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Democracy for the Arab World Now stated that the U.S.’s acceptance of Israel’s assurances that U.S. weapons are not being used in rights violations “is absurd. It invites global mockery and disdain to hear such a statement issued in front of the world by the Biden administration.”

Commondreams reports on the latest from the World Court: “ICJ Issues New Order in Genocide Case as Another Gaza Child Starves to Death.”

FRANCIS BOYLE, fboyle@illinois.edu
Boyle is professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law. He represented Bosnia and Herzegovina at the ICJ noted a number of shortcomings in the latest International Court of Justice Orders. South Africa’s suit against Israel quotes from Boyle’s suit against Yugoslavia. Boyle said: “If Israel invades Rafah as it is currently planning to do and inflicts tremendous civilian casualties on the Palestinians there that will undoubtedly happen, the ICJ will have more genocidal egg on its face just like when it refused to give me what I asked for in my Second Request for Provisional Measures of Protection followed by the Genocidal Massacre at Srebrenica. RSA [Republic of South Africa] warned them of this outcome if they did not give RSA what it was asking. The Court did not give RSA what it was asking for. I shudder to think of the consequences.” Boyle also refuted the Biden administration’s claim that the UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire was “non-binding.”

What’s needed, Boyle — as well as others, like former UN official Craig Mokhiber — argued is “for the UN General Assembly to address the issue through a Uniting for Peace resolution to:

“Suspend Israel from participation in its activities as the General Assembly did to the former criminal apartheid regime in South Africa and to the genocidal Yugoslavia;

“Set up an International Criminal Tribunal for Israel in order to prosecute its highest level civilian and military officials for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide;

“Recommend economic sanctions against Israel;

“Recommend UN members sever diplomatic relations with Israel;

“Admit Palestine as a full fledged UN member state.”

Boyle, a dual U.S.-Irish national, also welcomed news that Ireland would join the South Africa ICJ Genocide Case against Israel and urged activists to continue to petition other countries to join the suit. Only Nicaragua has done so.

The ICJ has given the dates of April 8 and 9 to hear Nicaragua’s own suit against Germany under the Genocide Convention. See Boyle’s comments on that case. Ramadan ends around April 9 and many speculate that that could be when Israel invades Rafah.

Nicaragua charges: “Germany has provided political, financial and military support to Israel fully aware at the time of authorization that the military equipment would be used in the commission of great breaches of international law by this State and in disregard of its own obligations.”

On Wednesday, State Department spokesperson Matt Miller rebuffed the possibility of Uniting for Peace proceeding at the UN.

Also on Wednesday, Miller, in response to a question from Sam Husseini about whether the State Department recognized that the Geneva Conventions applied to the occupied Palestinian territories, proclaimed: “We of course accept the Geneva Conventions”; but after the Thursday briefing when asked why he didn’t specify occupied Palestinian territory, he said: “I said exactly what I meant” and refused to address if the State Department recognized the Geneva Conventions for the Palestinians. Boyle had warned in November that such a posture would turn “Gaza into a free-fire zone.”

In December, Akbar Shahid Ahmed reported in Huffington Post in “Amid U.N. Security Council Intrigue, U.S. Privately Moves To Block Another Option For International Accountability For Gaza” that: “The Biden administration is finalizing plans to urge Switzerland to reject a request from Palestine and its supporters to hold a conference on violations of the Geneva Conventions.”

Middle East Monitor reports: “U.S. threatens to cut funding to Palestinian Authority if it obtains UN recognition, supports ICC case against Israel.”

Far-Right Extremism in Brazil

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A new report examines the presence of and connections between far-right hate and extremist groups in Brazil. 

WENDY VIA; wendy@globalextremism.org 
     Via is a president and cofounder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism (GPAHE). 

Via told the Institute for Public Accuracy: GPAHE’s country reports “connect the dots between far-right extremists in the U.S. and in other countries. They span the spectrum––from neo-Nazis to powerful, anti-LGBTQ think tanks. We can almost always find a transnational connection. Sometimes these connections run from violent, racist groups to the coat-and-tie policy people. That is true in Brazil as well.”

Far-right groups in Brazil are especially connected to the U.S. and to Portugal. “There is quite a bit of connection to Portugal,” Via said, “because Portuguese is not spoken worldwide. Portugal [is seen as] a ‘home country’ for Brazilians who identify as Europeans. It’s a white supremacy thing… Sometimes people have confusion about why there is white supremacy in Latin American countries. But Brazil was colonized by Portugal, [so some Brazilians] consider themselves of European descent. It’s about identification. Some [people] don’t consider themselves to be the descendents of native populations in South America. They consider themselves white Europeans. And they are accepted by white supremacists in the U.S. 

“When it comes to the far-right extremist hate groups, like the Hammerskins or the Proud Boys and others, they all come from the U.S. Some of them have been around for a long time and they get inspiration from one another. The internet has made it easy for these ideologies to spread. For folks in different countries looking for some solution or a place to put their angst and anger, they can do it by organizing online and in real life… You can see [the connections] if you know who to look for and where to look. This is just what is available publicly. These groups all have private chat rooms and forums. It’s harder to get in there, but that’s where plans are made or shared… We have seen a number of violent incidents in Brazil. The number is remarkable, particularly looking at the number of young people who [have] committed these acts of violence. 

“The rise of anti-LGBTQ think tanks and resource groups [can be seen] in every country. They’re all connected and they’re all connected to groups in the U.S. [Some are] focused on restricting and rolling back rights for LGTBQ folks, women, and people of color. 

“Neo-Nazi symbols are banned [in Brazil] but they’re everywhere. [Brazil] seems to emulate the U.S. a little bit more [than other countries]. They have Proud Boy clubhouses that replicate some of the U.S. activity… It’s shocking to see the use of the swastika so openly. That might seem simplistic, but it is shocking. [The swastika is] outlawed in so many countries and is such an anathema to so many countries. We are seeing it more and more.

“Lula has been very strong on far-right extremism and defines it the way we see it––as a spectrum. They have done some work to get legislation to address [extremism] on the internet, and there are some initiatives in place. But it may be too soon to say that it has made a difference yet. Those folks who rejected Lula the first time around, or who sprung up during Bolsonaro[‘s presidency], have yet to be diminished at this point. If Lula passes good economic policies and makes society run well, we will see [some of this extremism] drift away.” 

Via noted the presence of one Brazilian movement known as the Integralist movement. “It’s not a group, but more of a way of thinking.” This movement grew out of mid-20th century Brazilians who wanted to replicate Mussolini’s approach in Italy at the time. “There was a ton of racism in Mussolini’s regime; Brazilians didn’t want to be blatantly racist, so they eschewed that part of it but took on the materialistic, corporate, typical fascist approach. They went out of favor over the years but there’s been a bit of a resurgence. The [movement supports] a strong government that will manage the economy and do things based on religious ideology. Their open bigotry is against LGBTQ folks, particularly trans people, and some antisemitism.”

Wisconsin’s “Uninstructed” Campaign: “End Israel’s Genocide Now”

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The Wisconsin primary is Tuesday. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports: “What the ‘uninstructed’ movement means for Wisconsin voters, Biden’s chances.”

[Common Dreams reports Monday: “Israeli Assault Turned Gaza’s al-Shifa Hospital Into ‘Mass Graveyard’” and on reporting by the Israeli media on the Israeli military creating “Kill Zones” in Gaza.”]

HALAH AHMAD, press@listentowisconsin.com, @listentowi
Ahmad is a spokesperson with Listen to Wisconsin, the group driving the state’s “Uninstructed” campaign. She notes that a majority in the U.S. are opposed to Israel’s attack on Gaza. Gallup recently found: “Americans now oppose the campaign by a solid margin.”

In These Times magazine reports in: “‘This Is a Movement of Hope’: Wisconsin’s Uninstructed Campaign Has Momentum” that organizers with the campaign say the primary will send President Joe Biden an “unequivocal message from the Midwest” that “if he wants to beat Trump, he must act immediately to end the genocide in Gaza. … Wisconsin may be the most pivotal swing state in the country, and Biden only beat Trump by the narrowest of margins there in 2020 – a little more than 20,000 votes, or just over 0.6 percent. And according to some recent polls, the incumbent is currently trailing (by anywhere from 2 percent to 6 percent) as he is losing support from voters – including younger voters – who care about the mass killings.”

State Representative Francesa Hong drafted a letter signed by numerous lawmakers in Wisconsin, stating, “We have an undeniable responsibility to stand with the Palestinian people in loving solidarity and demand an end to military aid to Israel and ensure the taxpayers are no longer complicit in a genocide that is funded by our government.”

Israel Destroys Hospital, Kills Aid Workers, Threatens Relief Organization

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The Cradle reports in “Israel presents plan to shutter UNRWA in defiance of ICJ order” that: “Israel has put forth a proposal to the UN for the dismantlement of its relief agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, in exchange for permitting more humanitarian aid in the Gaza Strip.”

Doctors Without Borders released a statement: “Israeli forces leave Al-Shifa Hospital in ruins.” See from Democracy Now: “‘Genocidal Machine’: Dr. Ghassan Abu-Sittah on Israel’s Destruction of Gaza’s Hospitals.”

Al Jazeera reports: “U.S.-based aid group World Central Kitchen confirms seven staff members were killed in a ‘targeted attack‘ by the Israeli military and called on it to stop ‘this indiscriminate killing’ in Gaza. Those killed were from Palestine, Australia, Poland, the UK, and a U.S.-Canada citizen.” Al Jazeera also reports: “Japan to resume funding to UNRWA, following Sweden, Finland and Canada.” Meanwhile, see from Common Dreams: “‘Rogue, Authoritarian State’: Netanyahu Vows to Ban Al Jazeera Under New Law.”

Biden recently signed a spending bill which halts funding for UNRWA, the main relief organization in Gaza, through 2025. The Intercept reports the legislation “also contains a long-standing provision that would limit aid to the Palestinian Authority, which governs the occupied West Bank, if ‘the Palestinians initiate an International Criminal Court (ICC) judicially authorized investigation, or actively supports such an investigation, that subjects Israeli nationals to an investigation for alleged crimes against Palestinians.'”

The Washington Post reports: “The Biden administration in recent days quietly authorized the transfer of billions of dollars in bombs and fighter jets to Israel.”

CHRISTOPHER GUNNESS, cgunness@outlook.com, @MyanmarAProject
Gunness is a former spokesperson for UNRWA and was featured on the past IPA releases: “Report: Israel Tortured False Confessions Out of UNRWA Staff” and “UK Channel 4 Finds Israeli Documents ‘Provide No Evidence’ in Charges Against UNRWA.

Israel Targets Children, Aid Workers; Escalates Attacks in Syria

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The Guardian reports: “‘Not a normal war’: doctors say children have been targeted by Israeli snipers in Gaza.”

DAVE DeCAMP, davedecamp@protonmail.com, @DecampDave
DeCamp is news editor of Antiwar.com and host of “Antiwar News with Dave DeCamp” — a daily summary of developments.

Listen to his latest “Israel Bombed Foreign Aid Workers 3 Times, NATO Chief Floats $100 Billion Fund for Ukraine, and More” (also on YouTube and X.)

His piece “Israel Bombed Foreign Aid Workers Three Times Until They Were All Killed” reports: “Israel launched three separate drone strikes on an aid convoy in its attack that killed seven World Central Kitchen aid workers, Haaretz reported on Tuesday.

“One Israeli drone fired three missiles at three cars that were clearly marked with the WCK’s logos and were traveling on roads preapproved by the Israeli military. After the first car was hit, wounded survivors were picked up by a second car. After that car was hit, they went into the third car. Then, the Israeli drone finished the job. …”

DeCamp, the father of a seven-month-old and a two-year-old also just wrote the piece “Israeli Siege Causes Sharp Rise in Newborn Baby Deaths in Gaza.”

[See recent pieces by Sam Husseini: “By Way of Deception: State Dept. Pretending It Recognizes the Geneva Conventions” and “Creation of ‘Kill Zones’ and What ‘Occupied Territory’ Means.”]

In “Khamenei Vows Israel Will Be ‘Punished’ for Bombing Iran’s Syria Consulate,” DeCamp writes: “Israel’s bombing of a diplomatic facility marks a huge escalation in its attacks on Iranians in the region. Since October 7, Israel has significantly ramped up its airstrikes in Syria and has killed several members of the IRGC, Zahedi being the most senior. …

“Israel appears to be trying to provoke a major regional war in hopes that the U.S. would get directly involved. US officials have acknowledged to the media that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might view a full-blown war in Lebanon as key to his political survival. A regional war would also take attention and scrutiny away from Israel’s genocidal campaign in Gaza.”

DeCamp’s other recent pieces include “Mitch McConnell Says He’ll Stay in the Senate To Fight the ‘Isolationist Movement’” and “Zelensky Signs Law Lowering Conscription Age to 25.”

Report: Over 1,000 Attacks on Health Care for Palestinians

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The Electronic Intifada reports: “Aid to Gaza suspended after Israel murders World Central Kitchen workers.” See recent round up of this and other news at the group’s YouTube channel.

The group Insecurity Insight recently released a report titled: “A Disturbing Trend: Over 1,000 Attacks on Health Care in the oPt [Occupied Palestinian Territories] since 07 October 2023,” which marked “the grim milestone of over 1,000 recorded attacks on health care in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) … This equates to approximately five attacks per day with the vast majority of incidents perpetrated by Israeli Defence Forces (IDF).”

Specifically, the group documents:

1,014 attacks on health care
328 incidents where health facilities were damaged
458 health workers killed
311 health workers arrested

The group reports: “In the Gaza Strip where 785 incidents were reported, most involved airstrikes damaging or destroying hospitals and clinics and killing health workers. The IDF’s unrelenting aerial attack on the strip has had a catastrophic and far-reaching impact on the population and the health care system. Only 12 out of 36 hospitals are still functioning at a limited capacity whilst ambulance teams continuously face obstructions in reaching injured and dead civilians trapped under the rubble due indiscriminate bombings which have devastated civilian infrastructure. This direct and indirect use of explosive weapon use in populated areas has also caused massive destruction in almost all of the strip’s refugee camps and destroyed bakeries, agricultural land and greenhouses which, along with an ongoing Israeli blockade of food, water, fuel, and essential medicines and supplies, has contributed towards an imminent risk of famine in Gaza.

“In the West Bank where 175 incidents were recorded, over a third occurred inside refugee camps where security operations have increased since 07 October. During these operations, Israeli forces surrounded hospitals nearby camps and obstructed ambulance crews from assisting injured civilians, leading to some patients bleeding to death. Patients have been detained from ambulances and health workers arrested and assaulted at military checkpoints or whilst attempting to reach patients.” See a recent incident brief from the group [PDF].

For interviews, contact Tim Bishop at tim.bishop@insecurityinsight.org.

Also, see prior IPA news release from February: “Doctors Without Borders: Israel Is Attacking Our Convoys.”

What’s Getting Missed in Project 2025?

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Project 2025, a sweeping policy blueprint for the next Republican president, is a 920-page plan written by the Heritage Foundation and other right-wing groups. The Global Project Against Hate and Extremism (GPAHE) is putting out weekly updates on the plan. 

WENDY VIA; wendy@globalextremism.org 
     Via is president and cofounder of GPAHE. 

ANNE NELSON; an115@columbia.edu 
    Nelson is the author of “Shadow Network” and a lecturer on issues related to international affairs, media and human rights. 

Via told the Institute for Public Accuracy: “People are not understanding how serious this thing is, and how many of the things they [Project 2025 drafters] want to accomplish in the plan are already happening at the federal and state level. Regardless of who wins this November, it’s serious. It’s not just progressives that should know about this. Everyone should know.” 

Nelson said: “The implementation side should be taken seriously if there is a Republican victory, especially if they take Congress and remove guardrails from the courts… They have a concrete action plan for each agency.”

The plan currently has nearly 100 sponsors. Via said: “Some [sponsors] have racist, white supremacist ties, like Turning Point USA. These groups put on a front: They’re highly educated, reasonable, highly religious, and are in it to protect people’s ability to worship as they wish. But when you go behind the curtain, you get racist and anti-LGBTQ, anti-woman, conspiracy theories.”

Thus far, Donald Trump has asserted he has his own platform, called Agenda 47. “He doesn’t want it to look like he’s getting fed [Project 2025],” Via said. “To my knowledge, he hasn’t contradicted anything in it. These people are talking to Trump on a regular basis.”

Both Via and Nelson stressed the environmental impacts of Project 2025. “No one is taking on the environmental issues,” Nelson said. “They would be far-reaching and transformative.” Via noted: The plan “takes away rule-making authority from the [federal] agencies. [The plan] would overturn all of that in favor of industry and energy. They want to get rid of the endangered species list because it stops building and industry. [They argue] the U.S. must be completely independent from other nations.” 

Nelson added: “Very few people have read [the entire plan]. The way it is put together is overwhelming… They padded it so that it is unrealistic to read 900 pages of mind-numbing prose. I think that was intentional.

“The biggest thing people are missing is the role of the fossil fuel industry. The environmental regulation passage is horrific… The fossil fuel industry is all over these movements. They don’t give a toss about sexual politics. That’s just how they get their voting bloc… The fossil fuel industry, driven by Koch networks, is trying to reverse environmental protection and regulation. That can be done and has been done.” 

The plan would end the focus on climate change and green subsidies, and remove energy efficiency standards for home appliances. “They go department by department,” Nelson said. “[They would] eliminate the downwind rulings on air pollution… The results are that extractive industries maximize their profits to an even greater degree.”

Via noted that European countries are affected by Project 2025 as well: “The plan is being used everywhere. In Europe, you’re seeing LGBTQ rights being challenged in court under the heading of religious freedom. Latin America is traditionally Catholic, but in the next 10 years it will be majority-evangelical. They do the same as Catholic churches do: provide community and services.”

Monday: Nicaragua v Germany at the World Court on Israel and Genocide Convention

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On Monday, April 8, the International Court of Justice, also called the World Court, will begin two days of hearings on Nicaragua’s lawsuit against Germany under the Genocide Convention for “enabling Israel to perpetrate genocidal acts.”

The hearings will be viewable here beginning 10 a.m. local time (4 a.m. ET). In January, in a similar suit brought by South Africa against Israel, the ICJ declared that Israel must stop all genocidal acts against the Palestinians in Gaza and in March, it gave additional orders.

The Nicaraguan application states: “In 2004, well before the most recent assault of Israel against the Gaza Strip, the Court had reaffirmed that Palestine was an occupied territory and that the Palestinian people had a right to self determination. The Court also recalled that all States had the obligation not to render aid or assistance in maintaining that situation. [PDF of 2004 ICJ ruling] Germany ignored this obligation then and has compounded this breach by continuing to aid and assist Israel after the most recent and even grosser violations of peremptory norms of general international law and conventional obligations. …

“Germany has provided political, financial and military support to Israel fully aware at the time of authorization that the military equipments would be used in the commission of great breaches of international law by this State and in disregard of its own obligations. In particular, the military equipment provided by Germany enabling Israel to perpetrate genocidal acts and other atrocities, included supplies to the front line and warehouses, and assurances of future supplies such as ammunition, technology and diverse components necessary for the Israeli military.” [See PDF of Nicaraguan application.]

The following analysts and activists are available for interviews:

JOHN QUIGLEY, quigley.2@osu.edu
Professor emeritus of international law at Ohio State University, Quigley’s books include The Statehood of Palestine: International Law in the Middle East Conflict (Cambridge University Press). Currently (Friday), the UN Security Council is discussing the Israeli attack on Gaza. Quigley was featured on the IPA news release “Beyond U.S. Isolation at UN, What’s Not Being Done” about the Uniting for Peace process which allows the General Assembly to assert itself when the Security Council fails in its responsibility to maintain peace and security.

FRANCIS BOYLE, fboyle@illinois.edu
Boyle is professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law. He represented Bosnia at the ICJ in its Genocide Case against Yugoslavia. He was recently on the IPA news release dealing with the Nicaragua case. Boyle has been in contact with the Nicaraguan legal team and shared material with them. See his recent appearances on “Flashpoints,” “Democracy Now” and MSNBC.

DIETER KATTERMANN, Dieter.Kattermann@gmx.de
Kattermann works with a coalition of German peace groups which just released a statement: “No More German Contribution to the Genocide In Gaza!” which states: “A long trail of genocide runs through [German] history in the 20th century, beginning with the Nama and Herero in its former colony in what is now Namibia and continuing with the Holocaust of Jews, Sinti and Roma, as well as many other population groups, especially in Eastern Europe, in the course of the Second World War. Has it really operated a turnaround? Today, it denies the colonialist character of Zionism and supports Israel’s current genocidal policy, politically, ideologically and above all militarily, through a misconceived solidarity with the Jewish victims of that time. In 2023, it even increased its arms export licenses for Israel tenfold, most of them after 7 October. Germany is Israel’s second most important arms supplier after the USA, but the USA has legally ruled out charges of genocide at the ICJ. Germany was also one of the first to end vital support to, and through, UNRWA. … On these two days [April 8 and 9], rallies and vigils will be organized in front of the International Court of Justice in The Hague and in front of many embassies and consulates of the Federal Republic of Germany abroad.”

HEINRICH BUECKER, email@hbuecker.net, @berlinSTOPwar
Buecker is with Coop Anti-War Café in Berlin and will be holding protests on Saturday there.

CodePink is organizing rallies outside the German mission to the UN and at the consulates Los Angeles and San Francisco on Monday, April 8. The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom is holding a rally at the German embassy in Washington, D.C. on Monday at 2 p.m.

[Meanwhile, on Friday, the group Law for Palestine put out a statement on “Urgent Legal Action Against German Arms Exports to Israel,” attempting to stop delivery of weapons including “500,000 rounds of ammunition for machine guns.” See link for report and livestream.]

Challenges to the U.S. and Germany for “Facilitating Genocide”

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Monday Morning, Nicaragua presented its case to the International Court of Justice against Germany under the Genocide Convention for “facilitating genocide” by Israel against the Palestinians in Gaza. See AP feed of the hearing.

See clips of the hearing, from Nicaraguan representatives, noting that UN officials were warning of crimes against humanity as early as Oct. 10. Another lawyer for Nicaragua argues: “Nobody owns the trademark of genocide. No state, not Israel, not Germany, can be free of the fundamental rules of international law.” Al Jazeera English reports: “Nicaragua to ICJ: End Germany’s support of Israeli ‘genocide’ in Gaza.”

See IPA news release from Friday which features experts and activists in the U.S. and Germany, still available for interviews: “Monday: Nicaragua v Germany at the World Court on Israel and Genocide Convention.”

The New York Times on Monday claimed: “The court has not yet accepted the case, but it is obliged to react quickly to requests for emergency measures, as in this case.” Prof. Francis Boyle (featured on the IPA news release from Friday) commented: “This is preposterous. Of course the court accepted the case. That is why the court previously issued an order for the hearings today and tomorrow. Nicaragua has basically won just by getting the hearing of its claims today in front of the court and in front of the entire world. A very powerful case against Germany for aiding and abetting Israeli genocide against the Palestinians as well as implicating the U.S. for collaborating with Germany.” Boyle noted that exactly 40 years ago, Nicaragua filed suit against the U.S. at the ICJ for its illegal war against Nicaragua. Boyle added that Nicaragua won that lawsuit and that the ICJ ruling against the U.S. was useful in getting charges dismissed against people engaging in civil resistance against the U.S. policy. See his book, Defending Civil Resistance Under International Law.

Today Biden is in Madison, Wisconsin. The group Madison for a World BEYOND War and others are organizing protests.
Stefania Sani, co-coordinator of Madison for a World BEYOND War, explained, “The world’s leading weapons dealer, the U.S. government, should send no more weapons to Ukraine, Israel or anywhere in the world. We know that these billions of dollars of our tax money are urgently needed for humans and the planet, not for weapons to kill and maim people.”

The group notes: “A new Gallup poll March 27 shows 74 percent of Democrats disapprove of Israel’s handling of the war on Palestine, and 55 percent of all Americans disapprove. The Biden administration is shifting its public rhetoric against the Gaza genocide, but the Guardian reported on March 29 that the U.S. government is quietly transferring billions more in weapons to Israel.

“More than one-third of Americans (poll here) believe Israel is committing genocide. Almost half of those surveyed aged 18-29, 49 percent, say Israel is committing genocide.  An Israel Palestine ceasefire resolution now stands before the Wisconsin legislature, Resolution 92.  Madison City Council unanimously passed a ceasefire resolution in December.

“Congress has been advancing supplemental funding legislation which includes $14.3 billion for weapons and military ‘assistance’ for Israel while Israel commits genocide in Gaza; and $61 billion to continue the war in Ukraine when there is no military solution — only a diplomatic one.

“Wisconsinites will demonstrate on Monday to call for ceasefires in Gaza, Ukraine and everywhere. The Biden administration and Congress need to stop sending weapons. Humans should negotiate to settle conflicts, not kill each other.”

Available for interviews: Janet Parker, Stefania Sani, warabolition@gmail.com

Is Air Force Hunger Striker Forced Back to Base After Confronting Top Brass About Illegal Policies?

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Medea Benjamin, cofounder of the peace group CODEPINK, posted video on X late Tuesday: “Is active duty airman Larry Hebert, now on day 10 of his hunger strike for Gaza, facing retribution? Today, after bravely confronting the Air Force Chief of Staff regarding U.S. complicity in the Gaza genocide, he’s been ordered back to his post, abruptly canceling his leave.”

Hebert asked Gen. David W. Allvin on Capitol Hill about the U.S. government’s backing of Israel after Allvin testified before Congress: “I would just like to know why we’re committing a genocide and why we’re breaking U.S. and international law. Why are we allowed to do this?”

Hebert’s hunger strike has been covered by outlets ranging from Military.com: “Airman Starts Hunger Strike at White House over Gaza, Inspired by Another Airman’s Self-Immolation Death” to Democracy Now: “Active-Duty U.S. Airman, Inspired by Aaron Bushnell, on Hunger Strike Outside White House over Gaza.”

Hebert said: “When Aaron Bushnell, a fellow Airman, took his own life at the Israeli Embassy [on Feb. 25] for the people of Gaza, it touched me deeply. I knew I had to speak out in opposition to our government sending Israel the bombs and rockets to commit genocide.”

MIKE FERNER, mike@veteransforpeace.org, @VFPNational
Ferner is National Director Veterans For Peace and is in contact with Hebert as he is traveling back to his base in Spain over the next two days. Ferner said: “Veterans For Peace congratulates Senior Airman Larry Hebert for doing what every conscientious member of the military should do — question their leadership when they see them going off the rails. By standing up to General Allvin yesterday and for fasting the last ten days in front of the White House, Larry is inspiring many others to question and resist. That is exactly what VFP will do until this killing stops.” The group has various actions planned in Washington, D.C.

Ferner was featured on an IPA news release last month: “Vets Urging Criminal Investigations of Biden Weapons to Israel at State Dept. Offices” about violations of Conventional Arms Transfer Policy, the Foreign Assistance Act, the Arms Export Control Act, the U.S. War Crimes Act, the Leahy Law, and the Genocide Convention Implementation Act.

Hamas: A “Golem” that Emerged from Israel’s “Divide and Rule” Strategy

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ASSAF KFOURY, kfoury@bu.edu
Kfoury recently wrote the piece “Hamas: From Candidate Enforcer to Implacable Foe,” which states: “In September 1973, a pious Palestinian schoolteacher, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, presided over the founding of al-Mujamma al-Islami (the ‘Islamic Gathering’ or the ‘Islamic Gathering Center’) — or al-Mujamma for short — at a mosque in Gaza. Yassin was a refugee from al-Jura, a village destroyed in 1948 near the present-day city of Ashkelon in Israel.

“Yassin … categorically refused to join the resistance in any form, despite repeated urgings by the others. … While the nationalist resistance groups were systematically dismantled and decimated, Yassin was taking advantage of Israel’s deliberate benign neglect. He was patiently expanding his network of charitable and social activities throughout the Gaza Strip.

“In the words of Gaza’s military governor (general Yitzhak Segev) in 1986: ‘We extend some financial aid to Islamic groups via mosques and religious schools in order to help create a force that would stand against the leftist forces which support the PLO.’ …

“In an internal memorandum dated March 1984, an advisor (Avner Cohen) of Gaza’s Israeli commander described al-Mujamma and the rest of the Islamist network as a golem — a creature in Jewish folklore formed out of lifeless substance which, when brought to life by ritual incantations, ultimately escapes (and in this case, turns against) its creator.”

The first Intifada, which began in 1987, avoided the use of firearms but was ultimately crushed. Hamas was formed shortly thereafter with its initial charter, which had a “scrambled mixture of the Brotherhood’s socially puritanical version of Islam, several concessions to the nationalism espoused by the PLO, and a superficial rehash of Euro-centric antisemitism.” (Hamas revised its charter in 2017.)

Kfoury added: “A major beneficiary of the Oslo agreements and post-Oslo period was undoubtedly Hamas, as the main party that did not fall for an illusory peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians. …

“In 2006 Hamas beat Fatah in Legislative Council elections, as the latter was increasingly perceived as a subcontractor for Israeli occupation. …

“All Israeli leaders have tried to play the divide-and-rule game, but perhaps none played it as deviously and myopically as Netanyahu. ‘Anyone who wants to thwart the establishment of a Palestinian state has to support bolstering Hamas and transferring money to Hamas,’ he told an audience of Likud members in March 2019. ‘This is part of our strategy — to isolate the Palestinians in Gaza from the Palestinians in the West Bank,’ he declared.”

Kfoury also quotes Sara Roy, author of Hamas and Civil Society in Gaza (Princeton University Press): “The current desecration of Gaza is the latest stage in a process that has taken increasingly violent forms over time. In the 56 years since it occupied the Strip in 1967, Israel has transformed Gaza from a territory politically and economically integrated with Israel and the West Bank into an isolated enclave, from a functional economy to a dysfunctional one, from a productive society to an impoverished one. It has likewise removed Gaza’s residents from the sphere of politics, transforming them from a people with a nationalist claim to a population whose majority requires some form of humanitarian aid to sustain themselves.”

Potential Medicaid Cuts in New York State Budget

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New York Focus has reported that New York Gov. Kathy Hochul proposed major Medicaid cuts to this year’s state budget that would impact the state’s Health Homes program. The suggested cuts would take $125 million out of Health Homes––a change that would “end the program as it’s currently functioning.” 

ELIZA FAWCETT; eliza@nysfocus.com 
     Fawcett is a freelance journalist who has done criminal justice reporting for New York Focus

Fawcett told the Institute for Public Accuracy that Health Homes is a care management program that serves around 170,000 New Yorkers with complex health conditions and mental health needs, including 30,000 children. Fawcett said: “Health Homes came up in budget hearing earlier this budget season, but hadn’t gotten a lot of attention. I started looking into this program, which is more than a decade old. 

“Medicaid is a huge point of contention this budget season. Gov. Hochul has talked about the spiraling costs of Medicaid, and has proposed $1 billion in cuts. That is a key source of tension between Hochul and the [State] Senate and Assembly, which had proposed significant increases to Medicaid and no cuts [in their respective] one-house budgets. Hammering out these issues around Medicaid remains a key obstacle right now. 

“Health Homes is a small slice of the pie. Its allocation has been historically in the hundreds of millions [of dollars]. It is one of the programs that would be hit by the cuts… This program has been cut down in the past. A couple of years ago, its appropriation was about 500 million. It has seen some cuts in previous years, and that’s been a real source of frustration for providers. This year, it felt like a different caliber. They weren’t expecting this.”

Health Homes helps connect families to services, including helping them maintain Medicaid eligibility and filling out complicated paperwork. Fawcett cited multiple studies that have linked the program to reductions in the number of emergency department visits and hospitalizations as well as increases in the use of outpatient treatment. “Providers are worried that if [Health Homes] is stripped down, [we] could see increases in hospitalizations and emergency room visits. For [providers] who work with children, [we could see] increases in foster care cases and kids ending up in psychiatric centers.

“The [State] Senate and Assembly have proposed multibillion-dollar increases to Medicaid, and are hoping to use an accounting trick––a loophole that California has also used––to tax and then repay health insurers, which would theoretically get them billions of extra dollars from the federal government to fund Medicaid. It remains to be seen whether that will all come together. There are conversations between the legislature and Hochul, [as well as] between New York and the federal government. It’s an open question whether that extra revenue will come through. Hochul seems open to the trick. For Democratic lawmakers who don’t want to see any Medicaid cuts, [this is] a key point with consequences for what the budget ends up looking like.”

“Iran’s Attack and Prospects for Regional War”

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On April 3, Reuters reported: “The United States, Britain and France on Wednesday opposed a Russian-drafted U.N. Security Council statement that would have condemned an attack on Iran’s embassy compound in Syria, which Tehran has blamed on Washington’s ally Israel.”

On April 11, the Iranian mission to the UN stated: “Had the UN Security Council condemned the Zionist regime’s reprehensible act of aggression on our diplomatic premises in Damascus and subsequently brought to justice its perpetrators, the imperative for Iran to punish this rogue regime might have been obviated.”

The Israeli journalist Gideon Levy, writing for Haaretz just before the Iranian attack in “If Iran Attacks Israel, the Blame Lies on Israel’s Irresponsible Decision-makers,” said: “For several years now, Israel has provoked Iran constantly, in Lebanon, Syria and also on Iranian soil, and has not paid any price. It would be foolish to believe that the rope Israel has stretched will not break. That moment may have come.” For example, see from Nov. 26, 2023 from Reuters: “Syria says Israel strike puts Damascus airport out of service.”

After the Iranian attack, the Israeli author and activist Miko Paled wrote: “The world is distracted by the Iranian attack on Israel … but Palestinians are still dying. The attack succeeded only in diverting attention from the ongoing genocide.”

Politico Europe quotes Yaakov Amidror, a former adviser to Netanyahu, stating that Netanyahu may be positioning himself to tell Biden that he will refrain from striking back at Iran but what “we want in return is that America will give Israel all the help needed” to escalate attacks on Palestinians, including in Rafah.

Asa Winstanley of the Electronic Intifada (which had a livestream on Sunday) highlights comments by a New York Times reporter: “Mossad stooge Ronen Bergman says that Israeli occupation authorities are privately in an absolute panic and that if the discussions were broadcast openly ‘4 million’ Israelis would rush to the airport to leave the country. … As is his habit, Bergman writes such things only in Hebrew.”

JOSHUA M. LANDIS, landis@ou.edu, @joshua_landis
Landis is director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. In February, Reuters reported: “U.S. launches strikes in Iraq, Syria, nearly 40 reported killed” and Landis was featured on the IPA news release “Why Does the U.S. Have Troops in Syria and Iraq?” See his writing at Responsible Statecraft.

RICHARD SILVERSTEIN, richards1052@gmail.com, @richards1052
Silverstein writes at Tikun Olam. His most recent piece is the in-depth “Iran’s Attack and Prospects for Regional War,” which states: “Yesterday’s attack failed to inflict any serious damage on Israel. This was no accident. Iran expected this result. It warned the U.S. in advance of its plans. Unlike Israel, [the Iranian government] exercised calculated restraint.” The Iranian government told the U.S. government “through back-channels what it intended. It negotiated an understanding with the U.S. about what the latter would do in response. …

“Israel will counter-attack. The only question is whether it will be symbolic or full-force. The latter would demand an Iranian response. And not the restrained one of yesterday. Then, we would be right back where we started, when Israel initiated this tit-for-tat cycle with its Damascus bombing. …

“It didn’t have to be this way. U.S.-Iran relations could have been significantly different had U.S. presidents taken advantage of various Iranian overtures during the years. Most notably, the Grand Bargain, a comprehensive deal then-Pres. Khatami offered Pres. Bush for full normalization of relations. … Another was Pres. Biden himself refusing to renew the nuclear deal in the first months of his administration and last few months of Pres. Rouhani’s term in office.”

NSA, Palantir “Feed Israel’s Killing Machine in Gaza”

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JAMES BAMFORD, washwriter@gmail.com, @WashAuthor
Bamford is author of SpyFail, The Puzzle Palace and Body of Secrets. He just wrote the piece “How U.S. Intelligence and an American Company Feed Israel’s Killing Machine in Gaza” for The Nation magazine.

Bamford says the U.S. government “is not only providing the bombs and missiles used to slaughter innocent Palestinians and brave aid workers, it is also secretly providing the highly advanced intel and AI to target them.”

He describes the facilities and outlines the activities of a number of Israeli government agencies in Camp Dayan, writing: “But by far the most secret is the headquarters of Unit 8200, which specializes in eavesdropping, codebreaking, and cyber warfare — Israel’s equivalent of the American National Security Agency. One of Unit 8200’s newest and most important organizations is the Data Science and Artificial Intelligence Center, which, according to a spokesman, was responsible for developing the AI systems that ‘transformed the entire concept of targets in the IDF.’ Back in 2021, the Israeli military described its 11-day war on Gaza as the world’s first ‘AI war.’ Israel’s ongoing invasion of Gaza offers a more recent — and devastating — example.

“More than 70 years ago, that same patch of land was home to the Palestinian village of Ajleel, until the residents were killed or forced to abandon their homes and flee in fear during the Nakba in 1948. Now, soldiers and intelligence specialists are being trained at Camp Moshe Dayan to finish the job — to bomb, shoot, or starve to death the descendants of the Palestinians forced into the squalor of militarily occupied Gaza decades ago. …

“As one of the world’s most advanced data-mining companies, with ties to the CIA, Palantir’s ‘work’ was supplying Israel’s military and intelligence agencies with advanced and powerful targeting capabilities — the precise capabilities that allowed Israel to place three drone-fired missiles into three clearly marked aid vehicles. …

“Even Palantir CEO Alex Karp has argued that ‘the power of advanced algorithmic warfare systems is now so great that it equates to having tactical nuclear weapons against an adversary with only conventional ones.’… I have asked myself, ‘If I were younger at college, would I be protesting me?’ …

“Recently, a number of Karp’s employees decided to quit rather than be involved with a company supporting the ongoing genocide in Gaza. And in London’s Soho Square, dozens of pro-Palestine protesters and health workers gathered at Palantir’s UK headquarters to accuse the firm of being ‘complicit‘ in war crimes. …

“After fleeing to Hong Kong in 2013 with a pocket full of flash drives containing some of the agency’s highest secrets, [NSA whistleblower Edward] Snowden ended up in Moscow where, soon after he arrived, I met with him for Wired magazine. And in the interview, he told me that ‘one of the biggest abuses‘ he saw while at the agency was how the NSA secretly provided Israel with raw, unredacted phone and e-mail communications between Palestinian Americans in the U.S. and their relatives in the occupied territories. Snowden was concerned that as a result of sharing those private conversations with Israel, the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank would be at great risk of being targeted for arrest or worse. …

“In 2014 — more than a year after Snowden turned up in Moscow — Unit 8200’s targeting of innocent Palestinian in the occupied territories was so extreme that it even caused 43 veterans of the unit, including many serving in the reserves, to go public and accuse the organization of startling abuses. They declared that they had a ‘moral duty’ to no longer ‘take part in the state’s actions against Palestinians.’ …

“The most in-depth examination of the connection between AI and the massive numbers of innocent Palestinian men, women, and children slaughtered in Gaza by Israel comes from an investigation recently published by +972 Magazine and Local Call. …

“Now, with Israel’s ongoing war in Gaza, critical information from NSA continues to be used by Unit 8200, according to a number of sources, to target tens of thousands of Palestinians for death — often with U.S.-supplied 2,000-pound bombs and other weapons. And it is extremely powerful data-mining software, such as that from Palantir, that helps the IDF to select targets.”

“Terrifying” “Make Everyone A Spy” Amendment Provokes Outrage

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SEAN VITKA, via Maria Langholz, maria@demandprogress.org, @demandprogress
Vitka is policy director at Demand Progress. The New York Times reports today: “Privacy advocates are raising alarms about a mysterious provision the House added to a surveillance bill last week. The Senate is likely to vote on the bill later this week.”

Demand Progress charges that the “controversial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) reauthorization that includes the ‘Make Everyone A Spy’ amendment. In the [Times] article, the Department of Justice suggests that the provision is narrow in scope and is intended to address data centers. This echoes House Intelligence Chairman Mike Turner and Ranking Member Jim Himes, who represented it as a ‘narrow‘ fix, when it in fact has no guardrails, no independent oversight, and nearly endless reach. A fact sheet on the amendment is available here.”

The Brennan Center for Justice is promoting Demand Progress’ resources and Sen. Ron Wyden has called the bill “terrifying.” Rep. Thomas Massie objected to the “expansion of the domestic warrantless surveillance program” just before he demanded Mike Johnson vacate the House Speakership today.

Vitka said today: “As we have said for months, the Make Everyone A Spy provision is recklessly broad and a threat to democracy itself. It is simply stunning that the administration and House Intelligence Committee do not have a single answer for how frighteningly broad this provision is. While the Department of Justice wants us to believe that this is simply about addressing data centers, that is no justification for exposing cleaning crews, security guards, and untold scores of other Americans to secret Section 702 directives, which are issued without any court review. Receiving one can be a life-changing event, and Jim Himes appears not to have any sense of that.”

Government Compelling Private Universities to “Pledge of Allegiance” to Israel; Universities Disciplined Students for Rallies

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The Intercept reports: “Ahead of Congressional Testimony, Columbia President Cracks Down on Student Advocacy for Palestine” regarding Congressional hearings happening Wednesday morning.

Common Dreams reports: “‘My Own University…Has Abandoned Me’: USC Cancels Muslim Valedictorian’s Speech.”

On Tuesday, the House by 377-44-1 passed a resolution that the “slogan, ‘from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’ is antisemitic and its use must be condemned.”

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports: “Republicans and Democrats in U.S. Congress are uniting to pass a bill that would create a national coordinator of the fight against antisemitism — though it faces competition from another Republican-backed bill that seeks to define antisemitism.”

SAREE MAKDISI, sareemakdisi@proton.me, @sareemakdisi
Makdisi is professor of English at UCLA. His books include Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation, Tolerance Is a Wasteland: Palestine and the Culture of Denial and Reading William Blake.

See his recent interview in Jewish Currents: “Literary scholar Saree Makdisi discusses Zionism’s structures of denial, imperial racial logics, and the horizon of coexistence.”

In his interview with The Drift magazine, Makdisi said: “What we are seeing now is only the latest manifestation of a longstanding campaign to try to redefine the term ‘anti-Semitism’ — to take it away from the dictionary meaning that worked very well for a long time, and to turn it into something else. Under the new definition, anti-Semitism includes criticism of Zionism and of the policies and actions of Israel. …

“Congress should not be involved in overseeing private universities, or even public universities, because they’re state-managed, not managed by the federal government. And yet, suddenly, Congress was inserting itself into issues on campus with a clear disciplinary message, which was made evident in the resolution that the House passed soon after the [prior] hearings, condemning the supposed rise of anti-Semitism on campuses, as well as the university presidents themselves. The job of those presidents, when they were summoned before the halls of power, was to say, What is this about? Who are you to be interrogating us? What is the context for this? Can you think of any precedent for this? It’s never happened before. The closest I can think of is the House Un-American Activities Committee, decades ago. But those investigations were designed to make people pledge an oath of allegiance to America. These hearings were functionally about making Americans pledge allegiance to a foreign country, which is truly extraordinary.”

See his piece “A Context Dependent Decision: The implication is: You may speak, but only I get to determine the meaning of your words.” He co-hosts the Makdisi Street podcast with his brothers, Ussama Makdisi and Karim Makdisi.

Also see from “Democracy Now”: “Yanis Varoufakis Banned from Germany as Berlin Police Raid & Shut Down Palestinian Conference.”

See past IPA news releases including “Columbia University Scolds Students for ‘Unsanctioned’ Gaza Rally Where They Were Attacked With Chemicals.”

Race-Based Kidney Tests

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Medical school activists are sounding the alarm over the EDUCATE Act, a bill that aims to remove Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion curricula and ban race-based admission mandates at medical schools.

NAOMI TWEYO NKINSI; naomi.nkinsi@gmail.com 
    Nkinsi is a family medicine resident physician at MultiCare Tacoma Family Medicine in Tacoma, Washington.

Backers of the EDUCATE Act are in favor of continuing the use of race-based testing for kidney function. Nkinsi spoke to the Institute for Public Accuracy about the problems with race-based kidney function algorithms. “In medicine, there are a variety of shortcuts that physicians use to get a better picture of someone’s health, called algorithms. These are pathways that help standardize [care] across clinics, hospitals, and specialties. We have known for a long time now that a large number of algorithms include race [as a factor]––specifically Black vs. non-Black. The algorithms don’t consider other groups, and just single out ‘Black.’ They give a different lab value or next [clinical] step if the patient is Black, which alters what the physician does down the line. 

“For kidney function, [physicians] use a test to calculate eGFR that used to include race; if a patient were Black, the eGFR [value] was increased. This value works as a cutoff for transplants, medications, referrals to specialists, insurance coverage––so for Black patients to be viewed as sick as their non-Black counterparts, they had to be sicker to get the same eFGR, because their [value] was artificially bumped.”

In 2020, Nkinsi and other medical school students led a successful campaign to remove the race-based value from eGFR, leading to changes in national guidelines. But there has been a backlash among conservatives “who argue there are biological differences” between racial groups; these groups are upset over the algorithms that have been changed to remove race.

These conservatives argue that the removal of race-based eGFR is part of a larger push by DEI to “bastardize medicine and make it less scientific.” But the “people who are pushing for the removal of DEI measures [in medical schools] are pushing for further inequity that will lead to even greater morbidity and mortality in the Black population,” Nkinsi said. “They’re actively pushing for more Black people to face harm in healthcare.”

“Race-based medicine,” Nkinsi said, assumes that “Black people are biologically different and specifically biologically inferior, because it makes the assumption that Black people’s organs don’t function as well as their counterparts.”