Thursday, November 30, 2023

The company he keeps



Donald Trump’s country club in Bedminster, New Jersey, was sued by an ex-server who claims one of the former president’s top lawyers tricked her into accepting a “paltry” settlement with an illegal nondisclosure provision after she accused her manager of sexual assault.

Alice Bianco alleges the abuse started with a forced kiss by her boss shortly after she began working at the Trump National Golf Club in May 2021. She claims it quickly escalated into a quid pro quo sexual relationship required for job “protection,” according to her lawsuit, filed Thursday in state court. 

Alleging discrimination and fraud, Bianco is asking the court to void the settlement and bar the golf club from trying to enforce it. If she succeeds, she could file a suit over the alleged acts that seeks more money, and she wouldn’t be exposed to legal action for publicly discussing her claims. She is also seeking disciplinary action against the lawyer, Alina Habba.



So what do you think?

I would say there appears to be no connection to what happened and to former President Trump.  However, I say this does go to Mr. Trump in that it is a reflection on the type of people he employs.  This is not a good look.  If this comes to trial, I wonder if a case can be made that Mr. Trump's own remarks contributed to the climate in which a person who is harassed is judged to be someone who can be duped, lied to, and misled.


This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:


Thursday, November 30, 2023.  Reminder, even when War Criminals die, the suffering they created continues.


Let's start with the Pentagon yesterday where spokesperson Pat Ryder briefed the press:


BRIGADIER GENERAL PAT RYDER: Good afternoon, everyone. I hope you had a restful Thanksgiving holiday. I have just a few things to get to at the top and we'll get right to your questions. [. . .]  And with that, I'm happy to take your questions. We'll start with Associated Press, Tara Copp.

Q: Hi, General Ryder. Thanks for doing this. Just on that aid shipment, is that the first time that U.S. military aircraft has been used to fly aid to -- for Gazans?

GEN. RYDER: Yes, that is correct.

Q: OK. And...

GEN. RYDER: In terms of humanitarian...

Q: I'm sorry?

GEN. RYDER: In terms of humanitarian assistance, aid, correct.

Q: OK. And then secondly, with the ceasefire announcement, it seems like there have been no attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq and Syria since last week. Have -- our facilities, have they been reaching out at all to groups in the area to make sure that that peace lasts or is there any communication at all?

GEN. RYDER: Yes, thanks, Tara. So, as you highlight, there have been no attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria since November 23rd, since the operational pause began in Israel. Again, our forces are there for one reason and that's to stay focused on the Defeat ISIS mission. And so we will continue to focus on that mission, as well as ensuring that our forces are protected. Should there be any additional attacks, we would certainly hope that that's not the case, but we will be prepared to respond accordingly if there are any additional attacks on our forces.


It is unethical and inhumane to support the actions of the Israeli government against Gaza.  That is reason enough to demand a cease-fire.  But it is also not in the interests of the US to continue to support the assault on Gaza because of the impact and effect it is having in the Middle East.  REUTERS noted earlier this week, " Iraq sees a risk of regional conflict if the current truce in Gaza is not turned into a permanent cease-fire, the Iraqi prime minister’s foreign affairs adviser said, as mediators sought an extension of the temporary four-day Israel-Hamas truce."

Again, RESPONSIBLE STATECRAFT is to the right of me.  I feel the need to point that out when they cite them.  Jason Brownlee has a new essay at the think tank's website which includes:

The regional reverberations of the Israel-Gaza war demonstrate why the White House should scrap, not reinforce, America’s outdated and unnecessarily provocative troop presence in Syria and Iraq.

President Joe Biden should redeploy these forces to a safer position offshore and leave it to self-interested Syrians and Iraqis to prevent ISIS from reemerging. As Biden’s own policy on Afghanistan demonstrated — and as I observed on the ground earlier this fall — withdrawing U.S. soldiers and Marines can bolster American security by turning the fight against Islamic State over to well-motivated local belligerents while freeing up U.S. personnel to serve in more vital areas.

Likewise, pivoting out of Syria and Iraq will not make Americans any less safe, but it will deny local militias, and their presumptive patrons in Iran, the chance to use unneeded outposts for leverage over our national strategy.

Since October 17, some 900 U.S. troops in Syria and 2,500 in Iraq have been taking fire from Iran-linked militias and, subsequently, drawing retaliatory air support, including an attack by a C-130 gunship that killed eight members of the Kataib Hezbollah group in Iraq last week. The U.S. service members are the lingering footprint of Operation Inherent Resolve, which began in 2015 to defeat the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq and succeeded in 2019 in eliminating the physical ISIS caliphate, thereby reducing ISIS to “a survival posturewithout territory.

Rather than taking the win and packing up, the Trump and Biden administrations kept in place some troops, who have become a recurring target of opportunity for Iran and its surrogates during moments of tension. In the past five weeks, the Iran-linked militants’ rockets and one-way attack drones have injured over sixty of these Americans.

The prolonged American deployment, driven by policy inertia more than strategic necessity, has added tinder to a potential U.S.-Iranian conflagration that would eclipse the Israel-Gaza War. One Pentagon official has remarked in defiance, “Iran’s objective… has been to force a withdrawal of the U.S. military from the region… What I would observe is that we’re still there [in Iraq and Syria].”

This reluctance to relinquish former ISIS territory to independently-minded governments recapitulates the mindset that made the Afghanistan and Iraq wars so unnecessarily costly. Rather than cutting its losses, the White House and Pentagon have doubled down, with two aircraft carrier groups in the Eastern Mediterranean, an airstrike on an Iran-linked weapons depot in Syria, and an additional 1,200 troops for staffing regional air defenses, and now strikes inside Iraq — over the objections of Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, whose coalition is linked to Kataib Hezbollah.

When it comes to escalating or winding down U.S. military interventions, the deciding factor should not be what Iran’s leaders want in largely deserted corners of Iraq and Syria, but what policies best serve American interests. On this question, Biden’s controversial decision in 2021 to pull all U.S. forces from Afghanistan offers an important lesson. As I have seen firsthand, complete withdrawal can serve Washington’s counterterrorism and strategic goals, even if the policy cedes physical terrain to governments with which U.S. officials do not see eye to eye. 


As the essay makes clear, there is no justification for the continued US military ground presence in Iraq. 


Yesterday, things got heated at the United Nations.  Let's note this video from THE HINDUSTAN TIMES.





Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki demanded a permanent cease-fire on Wednesday and said life in Gaza must prevail against those who seek to destroy it.

Al-Maliki thanked Qatar and Egypt for their efforts that led to a truce between Israel and the Palestinian resistance group, Hamas, as he addressed a UN Security Council session on the Gaza conflict.

"But the truce must become a cease-fire -- a permanent cease-fire. The massacres cannot be allowed to resume. This is not a war. This is a carnage that nothing and no one can justify. It must be brought to an end," he said.

Al-Maliki said the dire needs of residents in Gaza must be addressed throughout the enclave "without further delay and constraints."

He said residents must be allowed to go back to their homes and start rebuilding their lives, and the siege imposed by Israel must be lifted.



Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki told the meeting that the Palestinian people "are faced with an existential threat" amid the conflict.

"We are owed respect to our inherent dignity... Israel has no right to self-defense against a people that it occupies," he said.

The ongoing truce in the latest conflict between Israel and Hamas is scheduled to expire early Thursday after a six-day pause in the fighting, which was sparked by deadly Hamas attacks on October 7 that prompted a devastating Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip in return.


The pause has been extended one more day -- set to expire now on Friday.  It may or may not be extended.   The United Nations published these highlights of the meeting:



  • “We need a true humanitarian ceasefire,” said UN Secretary-General AntĂłnio Guterres, describing a catastrophe on the ground in Gaza and underlining the need to release all hostages
  • Tor Wennesland, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, had “a message that resonates today as we mark the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People: There must be a new and different approach, or we are doomed to return to the path of managing a conflict that clearly cannot be managed”
  • Council members, including many ministers, roundly decried the unfolding humanitarian crisis and commended the ongoing pause in fighting, with some calling for the full implementation of its resolution 2712 on the crisis
  • “We cannot afford to lose more lives,” said the ambassador of Malta, penholder of resolution 2712, adopted in mid-November following several failed attempts
  • Non-Council members echoed those calls, with Qatar’s Prime Minister saying “it is high time to take real measures towards peace; the region will not enjoy peace and security without the establishment of a Palestinian State”
  • Israel’s ambassador said the Council has not addressed Hamas’s “central role in the ruin of the region”
  • “We are at a historic crossroad,” said the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of the observer State of Palestine
  • Read our explainer on international humanitarian law and other explainers here.


  • THE ELECTRONIC INTIFADA wonders why the United Nations still can't use the term "genocide"?




    Throughout the pause, the Israeli government has continued to assault Palestinians in Gaza and they've expanded their assault on the West Bank.  Jordan Shilton (WSWS) reports on the latter:

    In what local residents described as the largest military raid since 7 October, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) killed two children and levelled an entire street in the West Bank city of Jenin Wednesday. The continuation of daily raids on the West Bank during the six-day truce in the bombardment of Gaza underscores the fact that the Israeli regime remains committed to a policy of genocide against the Palestinian people, for which it enjoys the support of the imperialist powers in North America and Europe.

    The two fatalities were identified as 8-year-old Adam Samer al-Ghoul and 15-year-old Basil Suleiman Abu al-Wafa. Both were shot by Israeli soldiers, one in the head and the other in the chest. The IDF claimed to have killed two senior commanders of armed resistance groups operating in Jenin and called in a drone air strike to demolish a house. Roads and water mains were also destroyed.

    In total, Israel detained 35 Palestinians in ''West Bank raids during the night into Wednesday, more than the 30 released in the latest exchange as part of the Gaza truce. Over 3,325 Palestinians have been detained by Israel in the West Bank since 7 October, adding to the more than 5,000 Palestinians already languishing in Israeli jails. Of the 300 Palestinians identified for possible release as part of the truce brokered by Qatar and the US, fully 80 percent have not been charged with any crime, let alone convicted.



    In the occupied West Bank, Israeli forces have surrounded three hospitals and are blocking medical teams as they conduct a major raid in the Jenin refugee camp. The head of Doctors Without Borders, Christos Christou, posted this video last night while trapped with staff at the Khalil Suleiman Hospital.

    Christos Christou: It’s been already two-and-a-half hours that we are trapped in our hospital here in Jenin, while the Israeli forces are operating in another incursion in Jenin camp. There is no way for any of the injured patients to reach the hospital, and there’s no way for us to reach these people.”

    Christou said at least two Palestinians died of their wounds while ambulances could not reach them during the siege. This comes amid reports a 9-year-old Palestinian boy was shot by Israeli soldiers in Jenin this morning.

    The IDF has also destroyed at least two homes in Jenin, as well as roads and water mains, and rounded up at least 20 people. Rights groups say Israel has arrested 35 Palestinians throughout the occupied West Bank within the past 24 hours, including a 12-year-old child.



    Turning to the topic of released prisoners, Leila Sackur (NBC NEWS) reports:


    Prominent Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi was one of those freed by Israel last night.

    Tamimi was one of hundreds arrested in the West Bank in November on charges of inciting terror. Tamimi’s mother has denied the charges against her daughter, saying they were based on fake social media posts.

    Tamimi, 22, has been a prominent activist for Palestinian land rights since childhood. In 2017, she was arrested and imprisoned for eight months for slapping an IDF soldier during a raid of her home village of Nabi Saleh in the occupied West Bank.

    NBC News visited Nabi Saleh in 2014 and interviewed Tamimi, then 14, who had recently become famous for biting and hitting an IDF soldier as he restrained her 12-year-old brother after a protest against the illegal expansion of the Jewish Halamish settlement near Ramallah, captured in viral images celebrated in the occupied territories and around the world as depicting the spirit of the Palestinian resistance.

    “We the Palestinians are not going to wait for Saladin to liberate us,” Tamimi said in an interview with NBC News at that time, referring to a 12th-century leader who united Middle Eastern armies to fight European crusaders. “We are going to make our own Saladin and liberate ourselves.”


    As we noted in yesterday's snapshot, the prisoners the Israeli government is releasing is not that significant in number when you factor in the Palestinians they continue to grab and imprison.   Amy Goodman (DEMOCRACY NOW!) explains: "Israeli media says renowned Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi, who was arrested earlier this month, could be released in an upcoming captive swap. Meanwhile, Palestinian prisoner associations say that over the first four days of prisoner exchanges, Israel arrested 133 Palestinians, nearly as many as the 150 they released."

    The world watches as the assault continues and as the US fails to stand up to War Crimes.  ALJAZEERA notes:

    Jordan’s King Abdullah II has urged UN aid officials and international NGOs to pile pressure on Israel to allow more aid into Gaza, officials and aid workers have said.

    They said the monarch told an emergency meeting in Amman of UN officials, heads of Western non-governmental organisations and representatives of Arab donors it was unacceptable that Israel continued to hold back sufficient aid flows.

    “The monarch urged the international aid community to do their bit and save [Palestinians in Gaza] who have endured a brutal war that has turned their land into an unliveable place,” said one delegate who requested anonymity since deliberations were taking place confidentially.

    Before a frantic e-mail comes in, I do know King Abdullah II -- through his step mother.  It's not like I have him on speed dial.  THE GUARDIAN notes:

    The COP28 climate summit has opening in Dubai with a minute’s silence for the civilians killed in the Israel-Gaza conflict.

    Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry, who served as president of COP27, opened the first session of the day by asking attendees to join him in remembering two officials involved in previous summits who had recently died of natural causes as well as “all civilians who have perished during the current conflict in Gaza”.


    Let's move over to the failing US government.  Jacob Crosse (WSWS) notes:

    Speaking from the floor of the US Senate Wednesday morning, Democratic Majority Leader Charles Schumer (New York) delivered a 40-minute warmongering tirade accusing young people and workers protesting the genocide in Gaza of “aiding and abetting” antisemites.

    “Antisemites are taking advantage of the pro-Palestinian movement to espouse hatred and bigotry towards Jewish people,” Schumer asserted, without providing evidence to back up the claim. “[W]e see so many of our friends and fellow citizens, particularly young people who yearn for justice, unknowingly aiding and abetting their cause.”

    After accusing students on college campuses and in high schools in the United States of being useful idiots for fascists and antisemites because they object to genocide, collective punishment and ethnic cleansing directed against the Palestinian people, Schumer lamented that following the armed incursion of Hamas on October 7, “some of our fellow citizens” justified a “brutal terrorist attack” because of “the actions of the Israeli government.”

    Schumer was similarly silent on “actions” taken by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) since October 7:

    • Saturation bombing and ground attacks on hospitals, mosques and schools that have killed an estimated 20,000 Palestinians, most children and women. According to figures from Iraq Body Count, more Palestinian civilians have been killed in less than two months in Gaza than during every year of the American occupation of Iraq, except 2006 (29,526), 2007 (26,112) and 2014 (20,218).

    • The killing of “at least 57 journalists” as of November 29, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). This compares to 10 journalist fatalities recorded by the organization in the 21 months since the Russian incursion into Ukraine.

    Schumer’s speech, billed as an “address on antisemitism,” was an incitement to more intense repression directed against anti-war protests on college campuses and in high schools.

    While Schumer repeatedly smeared students protesting the Israeli military campaign and the apartheid policies of Israel as promoters of antisemitism, he never criticized his “Republican colleagues,” many of whom regularly trade in antisemitic conspiracy theories and dog whistles, from tirades against the “globalist” George Soros to promotion of the “Great Replacement Theory.”



    Equally as disappointing as Chuck is Bernie Sanders.  Barry Grey (WSWS) notes:



    With the death toll in Gaza exceeding 15,000 and the horror of Israel’s war of annihilation made even more clear by on-the-spot reports during the temporary lull in the bombing, and worldwide protests against the genocide continuing unabated, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is seeking to present himself as an even-handed advocate for both the Israeli state and the Palestinians.

    One would expect nothing less from this pro-Zionist, pro-imperialist political imposter. On November 22, he published an op-ed in the New York Times headlined “Justice for the Palestinians and Security for Israel.”

    It is worth discussing this piece of political sophistry in some detail, but it must first be placed in its proper context.

    On Sunday, November 5, Sanders appeared on CNN to oppose mounting calls for a ceasefire in the Israeli slaughter. Parroting the line of the Netanyahu government as well as the Biden administration, Sanders cast Israel’s campaign of ethnic cleansing as a necessary act of self-defense following the armed breakout and incursion into southern Israel carried out by Hamas on October 7.

    “I don’t know how you can have a ceasefire, a permanent ceasefire, with an organization like Hamas, which is dedicated to turmoil and chaos and destroying the State of Israel,” he told “State of the Union” moderator Dana Bash. “I think what the Arab countries in the region understand is that Hamas has got to go.”

    This defense of the Israeli onslaught was welcomed by the war criminals and their accomplices. White House Deputy Communications Director Herbie Ziskind tweeted out quotes from Sanders’ interview. Within an hour of Sanders’ appearance, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) posted a clip of his remarks on X/Twitter. In a subsequent tweet, the Zionist lobby said, “Thank you @SenSanders for your clear and principled opposition to calls for a ceasefire with Hamas.”

    Sanders’ comments were praised by Israeli officials, and Israeli government spokesman Eylon Levy shared a clip of the interview on X/Twitter.

    When Sanders made his public denunciation of calls to halt Israel’s mass bombing, the official death toll in Gaza had already reached 9,770, with children and women comprising a majority of the victims. Israel was systematically targeting hospitals, schools, UN facilities and other buildings where Palestinians whose homes had been destroyed sought refuge. This included the October 17 bombing of Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City, which, according to Gazan officials, killed at least 471 people and wounded more than 300 others.


    On the topic of US government officials . . . You may have woken up this morning feeling you could breathe a little easier.  Yes, it's true, mass murdered and War Criminal Henry Kissinger has died.  Let the celebrations being.  We'll wind down by posting Elain's piece from last night on the death of the War Criminal:

    Somewhere in hell, a demon just got his horns

    I've been very busy today and had no idea what I was going to write about.  So I pull up GOOGLE NEWS and, goodness, someone died.


    War Criminal Henry Kissinger has died.  Proving Billy Joel right ("Only The Good Die Young"), Killer Kissinger was 100 years old.  


    Sadly, his many victims were not so fortunate.  


    Vietnam, Chile, East Timor . . .  He transformed the entire world into a killing field.


    By the way, sluts.  I will slut shame and I don't care if someone's offended.  Numerous sluts let Kissinger stick it in them -- Candy Bergan, I'm looking at you.  A lot of people were shocked how, in the early '00s, she started in with her b.s. of Dan Quayle was right.  Dan The Idiot was not right.  (He had attacked her fictional character Murphy Brown in the 90s.)  But that's Candy Bergen, pretending to be left and pretending to care and just driving Bert Schneider crazy with her her constant cavings.  A real fake ass.  That's what you had to be to bed down with Henry -- right, Gloria Steinem?  Don't ever pretend to care about the world if you've been underneath Henry Kissinger.  You're just a slut and a slut with really bad taste in men.  Need another example of that?  Failed actress Jill St. John.


    Not only did his judgments and policy manuevers leave children and adults dead across the world in real time but these evil actions had long term implications.  Let's note the Kurds.  This is from 2014, C.I.'s "Little ditty 'bout Iraq and Iran:"



    Meanwhile there is the matter of the oil deal between the Kurdish Regional Government and the central Iraqi government out of Baghdad.  The deal has received much praise, but David L. Phillips points out at CNBC:


      U.S. officials heralded the agreement as a victory for the unity of Iraq. It is a positive, but they should not rush to judgment. The agreement must be enshrined in Iraq's budget bill and passed by the Iraqi parliament. If the agreement is authorized, it must then be implemented—both sides must deliver.
    The Baghdad Agreement defers decisions on important issues. It is silent on "disputed internal boundaries." The central government stills claims Kirkuk and Khanaqin, where Kurds predominate. Successive Iraqi governments ignored article 140 of the constitution, which requires a referendum on Kirkuk's status.

    The agreement will be in force for just one year. Negotiations will resume before the ink is dry, pre-empting a period of confidence-building. 



    Those are very important points and everyone should have been more skeptical of the announcements regarding the deal.

    Everyone includes me.

    I should have been much more cautious in my remarks. That was my error.

    Here, we noted it in terms of the Kurds exercising their power.


    And certainly, they did that to get the deal announced; however, a deal means nothing until it's implemented.  Look at all the starts and stops to Nouri's weapons deal with Russia not all that long ago, for example.


    And this week, there has been muttering from Hadier al-Abadi's staff (to the Iraq press) about the deal which makes the question mark a little bolder.

    But the biggest lesson is and remains the Pike Report.  As that Congressional report documented, the US government (Nixon was President, Henry Kissinger was the go-to for the issue) deliberately encouraged the Kurds to stand, pledged support and much more only to then pull all support without a second thought since the whole thing had been a con and the Kurds were used as a pawn.


     For those late to the party, February 16, 1976, The Village Voice published Aaron Latham's "Introduction to the Pike Papers."  Latham explained:


    In 1972, Dr. Henry Kissinger met with the Shah of Iran, who asked the U.S. to aid the Kurds in their rebellion against Iraq, an enemy of the Shah.  Kissinger later presented the proposal to President Nixon who approved what would become a $16 million program.  Then John B. Connally, the former Nixon Treasury Secretary, was dispatched to Iran to inform the Shah, one oil man to another.
    The committee report charges that: "The President, Dr. Kissinger and the foreign head of state [the Shah] hoped our clients would not prevail.  They preferred instead that the insurgents simply continue a level of hostilities sufficient to sap the resources of our ally's neighboring country [Iraq].  The policy was not imparted to our clients, who were encouraged to continue fighting.  Even in the context of covert action, ours was a cynical enterprise."
    During the Arab-Israeli war, when the Kurds might have been able to strike at a distracted Iraqi government, Kissinger, according to the report, "personally restrained the insurgents from an all-out offensive on the one occasion when such an attack might have been successful."
    Then, when Iran resolved its border dispute with Iraq, the U.S. summarily dropped the Kurds.  And Iraq, knowing aid would be cut off, launched a search-and-destroy campaign the day after the border agreement was signed.
    A high U.S. official later explained to the Pike committee staff: "Covert action should not be confused with missionary work."


    The arrogance, the disdain for human life and human rights.  That is the hallmark of Kissinger's work.  There's nothing to take pride in.  He damaged the world.  Millions are dead because of him.


    While the US refused to admit it, he was a War Criminal.  That is why, for the last decades, he wasn't able to travel freely.  He would have been arrested in certain countries.


    In 2014, The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights posted this by Wolfgang Kaleck:

     

    “Arrest Kissinger!” read the ads that ran in 2012 in the Tagesspiegel, Berliner Zeitung and taz, the three daily newspapers in Berlin. A collaborative art event by the Chilean artist Alfredo Jaar and us, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights. Along with German and English versions, the ads also appeared in Spanish, Vietnamese, Khmer, Portuguese and Timorese dialects, i.e. the languages of the people living in countries where the population endured great suffering under former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s realpolitik. And for these policies he is still lauded by many today.

    World renowned artist Jaar’s piece focuses primarily on his home country and the Pinochet dictatorship. It begins with a date: 11/9/1973, the day coup fighters began bombing the Moneda Palace in Santiago de Chile. A date that still carries a terrible significance for Chile, for Latin America as a whole and for the Left movement everywhere. It marks the moment when the states of the West made it clear that they were unwilling to accept a democratically elected socialist – Salvador Allende – as president of Chile.

    Since then, the 11th of September has been etched in the Latin American consciousness as a reminder of the USA’s ultimate act of dominion. After 11th of September 2001, the date has of course come to be associated with the Al-Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington. And so it is an aching example of imperialist language usage when people in Latin America now hear the 11th of September 1973 being referred to merely as Once de Septiembre chico: the little 11th of September.

    In “Searching For Mr. K” Jaar quotes from a recorded dialogue between Kissinger and President Richard Nixon on 16th of September 1973 about the putsch which had taken place in Chile five days earlier:

    P: Hi Henry.
    K: Mr. President.
    P: Where are you. In New York?
    K: No. I am in Washington. I am working. I may go to a football game this afternoon if I get through.
    P: Good. Good. Well it is the opener. It is better than television. Nothing new of any importance…?
    K: Nothing of very great consequence. The Chilean thing is getting consolidated and of course the newspapers are bleeding because a pro-Communist government has been overthrown.
    P: Isn’t that something? Isn’t that something?
    K: I mean instead of celebrating, in the Eisenhower period we would be heroes.

    The results of the military coup, which was supported by the calculated assistance of the USA: thousands dead, many, many thousands more tortured and exiled, the destruction for decades of democracy in Chile. “Nothing of very great consequence”, was the summary of events from Kissinger, a man who continues to be held in high regard, honored at countless gala events and most recently in Germany by Der Spiegel.

    The University of Bonn and the German Ministry of Defense have gone one step further. In March 2014 they named a university professorship after this war criminal. Yes, those are the words I use to describe this man, even if by law he has not been found guilty. Kissinger continues to go unpunished and largely free from any prosecution. The laws in place at the time his crimes were committed did not allow for universal jurisdiction in criminal cases, as would be possible today. No investigations into his criminal contributions were held anywhere. In the USA, criminal proceedings against powerful political figures remain largely off-limits.

    “Arrest Kissinger!” is thus more of a symbolic plea. But things are quite different for the Kissingers of today, as shown by the decision against former Liberian president Charles Taylor, whose active support of the rebel army in Sierra Leone saw him face charges at a UN tribunal for his role in human rights violations.


    He was a disgusting person.  He killed millions and should have rotted in jail.  Now he's most likely going to rot in hell and he more than deserves it.  Remember, America, every time a War Criminal dies, a demon in hell gets his horns.

    -------------

    End of Elaine's piece.  The following sites updated:



    Wednesday, November 29, 2023

    JEZEBEL and POPULAR SCIENCE

    I had written about JEZEBEL shutting down a few weeks ago ("Sad").  Allison Quinn (THE DAILY BEAST) reports:


    Jezebel’s new home is an Atlanta-based music magazine after its abrupt closure earlier this month sparked outrage and a wave of mournful tributes to the groundbreaking feminist website.

    Paste magazine bought the site Tuesday and hopes to start posting new content on the site as early as Wednesday, co-founder and editor of Paste Josh Jackson told The New York Times.



    So that is good news.  Want some bad news?  THE MESSENGER reports:


    It's been 151 years since the first edition of Popular Science, then called The Popular Science Monthly, was published. But the long running periodical will now no longer be available to purchase as a magazine, The Verge reports.

    Originally founded by Edward L. Youmans as a way to share scientific knowledge and discoveries with the average reader, Popular Science's content, and its name, changed and evolved many times over the decades, as it expanded its focus on science and technology.

    After 144 years of being published on a monthly basis, in January 2016, Popular Science switched to a bi-monthly schedule, and then in September 2018, it changed again to a quarterly publication. In 2020, Popular Science discontinued its printed edition, and in April 2021, the first digital issue of the magazine was shared to its subscribers.

    Moving forward, Popular Science will only exist in its website format, PopSci.com, which first launched in 1999. Cathy Hebert, the communications director for Recurrent Ventures (which currently owns PopSci), told The Verge in a statement that, “We believe that the content strategy has to evolve beyond the digital magazine product. A combination of its news team, along with commerce, video, and other initiatives, will produce content that naturally aligns with PopSci’s mission.”



    Lots of luck with that.  I think it is a huge mistake.  Yes, fewer people buy print magazines.  However, they are needed still.  Where?  Rural doctors offices would be one place.  I have been too many Congressional hearings with C.I. on veterans issues where the issue of rural access was raised.  There are some areas where a video visit is not possible due to lack of high speed internet.  So there are places where you might be waiting an hour for an appointment and might not be able to pull up things on your phone.  


    This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:


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



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



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

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




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


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

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

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








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

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



    As for Gaza,  CNN explains, "The Gaza Strip is 'the most dangerous place' in the world to be a child, according to the executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund."  NBC NEWS notes, "Strong majorities of all voters in the U.S. disapprove of President Joe Biden’s handling of foreign policy and the Israel-Hamas war, according to the latest national NBC News poll. The erosion is most pronounced among Democrats, a majority of whom believe Israel has gone too far in its military action in Gaza."  The slaughter continues.  It has displaced over 1 million people per the US Congressional Research Service.  Jessica Corbett (COMMON DREAMS) points out, "Academics and legal experts around the world, including Holocaust scholars, have condemned the six-week Israeli assault of Gaza as genocide."  ABC NEWS notes, "In the Gaza Strip, more than 15,000 people have been killed and over 36,000 have been wounded by Israeli forces since Oct. 7, according to the Hamas Government Media Office."  In addition to the dead and the injured, there are the missing.  AP notes, "About 4,000 people are reported missing."  And the area itself?  Isabele Debre (AP) reveals, "Israel’s military offensive has turned much of northern Gaza into an uninhabitable moonscape. Whole neighborhoods have been erased. Homes, schools and hospitals have been blasted by airstrikes and scorched by tank fire. Some buildings are still standing, but most are battered shells."  Kieron Monks (I NEWS) reports, "More than 40 per cent of the buildings in northern Gaza have been damaged or destroyed, according to a new study of satellite imagery by US researchers Jamon Van Den Hoek from Oregon State University and Corey Scher at the City University of New York. The UN gave a figure of 45 per cent of housing destroyed or damaged across the strip in less than six weeks. The rate of destruction is among the highest of any conflict since the Second World War."  Max Butterworth (NBC NEWS) adds, "Satellite images captured by Maxar Technologies on Sunday reveal three of the main hospitals in Gaza from above, surrounded by the rubble of destroyed buildings after weeks of intense bombing in the region by Israeli forces. "

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

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

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





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Jeremy, can you talk about what he just said?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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






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

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


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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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






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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    JOYCE AJLOUNY: Terribly sorry.

    AMY GOODMAN: Perfect.

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

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

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

    JOYCE AJLOUNY: I am.

    AMY GOODMAN: Go ahead.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    AMY GOODMAN: Wow! Hisham in sixth grade.

    JOYCE AJLOUNY: Yes.

    AMY GOODMAN: And how about Tahseen?

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

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

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

    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And —

    JOYCE AJLOUNY: Yeah. Go ahead.

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

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

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

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

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

    JOYCE AJLOUNY: Yes.

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

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

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


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


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