Wednesday, November 15, 2023


Adnan Ahman has a must-read column at COMMON DREAMS:

  Many of us at this moment feel compelled to act and not look away. There are daily direct actions happening across the country and the world. Palestinian rights activists along with Jewish peace activist groups are urgently calling for a cease-fire and justice for Palestinians. On November 4, 2023, we saw the largest protest for Palestine in Washington D.C., attended by over 300,000 people. Recently hundreds of protesters tried to block a military ship in Tacoma, Washington, that was believed to be transporting military supplies to Israel. Even congressional staffers staged a walkout accusing their “bosses on Capitol Hill [of] not listening” and demanding a cease-fire. On November 9, 2023, protesters occupied the headquarters of The New York Times, reading the names of killed Palestinians and calling out the paper’s biased coverage of Palestine.

People who are showing up to protests are together in this collective grief and anger towards “world leaders” for allowing this nightmare to continue. This dangerous ruling class precedent of targeting the masses for speaking out against grave injustices has the potential to backfire due to growing frustration toward them. We saw this not too long ago during the George Floyd uprising when people came out into the streets to protest police killing of one Black man during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic and were themselves exposed to police violence.

One of the most heartbreaking aspects of what is happening to the Palestinians is that many of them who are making videos to show us what is being done to them are doing so in English, which is not their first language. They are doing this for us, while they are being killed, so that they can convince people in the West of their humanity.

We should continue to be vigilant and hold accountable imperialist leaders and their spokespersons when they tell us that what we are witnessing isn’t happening and that our words mean something other than what they do. Rather than censoring speech or punishing people who amplify Palestinians voices, it is our moral obligation to join them and call for an end to this genocide.

It is genocide.  I say that as an elderly Jewish woman.  Genocide is being carried out.

I hope you will take a moment to stream this video because it makes a lot of important points.

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

Wednesday, November 15, 2023.  Sherman, Texas pulls together to fight bigotry, the assault on Gaza continues and Joe Biden wants the Israel government to turn the killings down from "boiling" to "simmer" because he's getting push back here in the US.

Let's start with a victory.  Max Hightower is 17-years-old.  He was thrilled to be cast as in his high school production of OKLAHOMA.  We covered this in the November 9th snapshot.  Refer to that for more details but, in terms of the basics,  Praveena Somasundaram (WASHINGTON POST) lays them out clearly:

As he walked out of his theater director’s office last month, Max Hightower tried to keep his cool.

The 17-year-old had just been offered a main role in his Texas high school’s production of “Oklahoma!” playing a peddler who is a love interest opposite one of the musical’s female leads. After having held only singing ensemble roles for years, Max, who is transgender, was set to star as a lead with his own song. He’d already started picturing himself onstage, imagining ways he’d make the character his own.

“I’m Ali Hakim,” he whispered to his friends, who erupted in screams and cheered him on for so long that Max had to ask his theater director for a late pass to his next class.

But the next week, the role was no longer his.

An administrator told the Hightower family Nov. 3 that Max would have to be recast because of a new policy that required Sherman High School students to portray characters that align with their sex assigned at birth, his parents told The Washington Post. The sudden change meant that Max and several others — transgender and cisgender students alike — were cut from the production, the Hightowers said. Since Friday, they and other families with students in Sherman High’s theater program have been pushing for the roles to be restored and for the show to proceed as planned.

It was a hideous move to strip Max of his role.  And Sherman's citizens stood with Max.    Ayden Runnels (TEXAS TRIBUNE via KERA) notes:

 The Sherman school board on Monday directed high school leadership to allow the production of "Oklahoma!" to proceed as planned before the school principal stripped trans student Max Hightower of his role, the Dallas Morning News reported. The board also insisted the original script — and not a "youth" version — be used. This ensures Hightower will have a solo. However, it's unclear when the show will be staged.

A Texas school district has apologized and reversed a decision that ousted a transgender student from a part in the musical “Oklahoma!”

The school board in Sherman voted unanimously Monday to reinstate the original show and cast after a meeting in which dozens criticized them and spoke in support the 17-year-old transgender boy who'd lost his role in the production because of a new policy.

“We want to apologize to our students, parents and our community regarding the circumstances that they have had to go through to this date," President Brad Morgan said in a statement on behalf of the board following the vote.

Monday, the school board met and members of the community offered their thoughts with one after another speaking up for Max.  Talia Richman (DALLAS MORNING NEWS) describes the scene:

Dozens of people from his community waved Pride flags. They wore shirts that read, “I stand with Max,” and “Let them sing.” They were standing — and chanting — in support of the 17-year-old and other theater students at Sherman High School who suddenly had their roles in the school’s production of Oklahoma! revoked.

“There’s so many people,” Max whispered to his sister, as they settled into the second row for the Monday night school board meeting. It was standing room only.

[. . .]

More than 60 speakers showed up at the Sherman school board meeting in response. They demanded the students sing in their original roles, in the version of Oklahoma! they were working toward.

Marlee Russell spoke about her own experience performing Oklahoma! in 2014 as a Sherman High student.

“The fact that SISD administrators have just now taken offense to the ‘mature adult themes’ is frankly laughable and insulting to our intelligence,” Russell said. “SISD’s actions over the past few weeks have been nothing but a disguise for bigotry towards its trans students. Hate and discrimination do not deserve a place in the theater.”

Speaker after speaker slammed the district Monday, including Sherman graduates, taxpayers, actors and LGBTQ community members.

“I’m ashamed to see the bullies have moved from the hallways to the administration of this school,” one former Sherman student said.

“Reinstate the real version of 'Oklahoma!' and let the students sing!” a taxpayer said to applause.

“I’ve played male roles in the past and it was no big deal. And guess what? That’s theater!” one actress told the board.

“I’m transgender, I’m risking coming out to my entire homophobic family for this because this is a hill I will die on!” a member of the LGBTQ community said.

One theater student sat in the audience listening to each person who addressed the board, Max Hightower, the transgender male at the center of the whole controversy.

“Nobody stood up in opposition,” Max Hightower said, “Nobody did anything, like, hateful against me.”

He said he’s thankful for the support and hopeful it will be enough to put him, and his castmates, out of the spotlight and back on the Bearcats’ stage.

“I’m hoping that things change for the better,” Max Hightower said.

Max Hightower’s faith would prove to be true. Things did change. The board also called a special meeting to be held at the Sherman ISD Support Building on Friday at noon, with legal present, to further discuss this issue.

Good for Max, good for the citizens of Sherman.  When people pull together, they can stop injustice.

Something to really remember with the continued assault on Gaza.

Who is  Ahmed Shabat?  Nidal Al-Mughrabi (REUTERS) explains he is a little boy, a four-year-old  boy who's now an orphan "keeps asking for his parents, and he wants to get up and walk, but his parents are dead and his legs have been amputated.  That is the plight of Ahmed Shabat, a four-year-old boy whose parents were killed when their home in the town of Beit Hanoun in the northeastern corner of the Gaza Strip was hit by an Israeli air strike."  Evil, little terrorist?  No, just a little boy whose life has been destroyed by the Israeli government.  

Now life wasn't so good for Gaza residents before this open and continuous assault began but it was better than this hell that the Israeli government is creating.

A rally was held in DC on Tuesday and where was DW Griffith with his camera because it played out just like that racist BIRTH OF THE NATION.  Jacob Crosse and Joseph Kishore (WSWS) report:

On Tuesday, a degraded spectacle took place on the National Mall in Washington D.C. The “March for Israel” will be recorded in history as a rally for ethnic cleansing and genocide.

Leaders of both the Democratic and Republican parties declared their support for Israel’s war against the people of Gaza, which has already killed at least 11,000 people, including more than 4,000 children. Just hours later, in a move apparently coordinated with the rally, Israeli tanks and bulldozers attacked Al-Shifa Hospital, the latest blatant war crime.

Under these conditions, the most popular chant at the rally, “No Ceasefire! No Ceasefire!” would have been more accurately rendered as “Genocide, genocide, more genocide!”

The rally was a desperate attempt by the ruling class to manufacture popular support for its actions that does not exist. It had the backing of the entire political establishment, with Democratic and Republican leaders in both the US Senate and House featured as prominent speakers. The Biden administration sent as a representative its “Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism,” Deborah Lipstadt.

Substantial funding was devoted to flying participants from throughout the country and financing their attendance. At its height, however, the rally barely attracted 10,000 people, a tiny fraction of those who participated in the mass rally of 300,000 in Washington D.C. 10 days ago.

The media, entirely predictably, trumpeted the rally as a massive outpouring of support for Israel. The New York Times, Washington Post and other publications carried prominent articles Tuesday night, while the network news published live reports—the same outlets that have blacked out coverage of far larger demonstrations against the genocide. Wildly inflated figures were published, along with closely cropped images, claiming an attendance more than 10 times the reality.

While those speaking attempted to present the rally as representing the voice of Jewish people, far more Jews have participated in demonstrations against Israel’s actions than traveled to D.C. Tuesday. Just the day before, hundreds of protesters, led by Jewish Voice for Peace, staged a sit-in of the federal building in Oakland, California, with many arrested.

They weren't bothered that Ahmed Shabat was now an orphan and now lost both legs because of the actions of the Israeli government.  They were just out in the street cheering for more blood because some are idiots, some can't shake loose decades of propaganda and some just get off on violence and murder. Chuck Schumer, which one fits you?

And it's not just Gaza residents that are being harmed and killed.  Over 100 UN workers have lost their lives -- grasp that.  It hasn't even been two months, this current assault.  But over 100 UN workers have lost their lives.  Normally, that would result in not just harsh words, it would result in various world leaders -- including the US -- raging before cameras and demanding the violence stop.
Besides UN workers, journalists are also harmed and killed.  From yesterday's DEMOCRACY NOW! 

AMY GOODMAN: The United Nations says more than 200,000 Palestinians living in the northern Gaza Strip have fled their homes over the past 10 days after being forcibly displaced by Israel’s massive bombardment. Since October 7th, more than 1.5 million Palestinians have been displaced. That’s more than three-quarters of Gaza’s population. Many fear they’ll never be allowed to return home.

Over 1,500 displaced Palestinians remain at Al-Shifa, the largest hospital in Gaza, which has run out of fuel and has stopped functioning as a hospital. The World Health Organization has warned Al-Shifa has become, quote, “nearly a cemetery” as dead bodies pile up outside the hospital. Heavy fighting has been reported just outside the hospital doors. Israel claims Hamas has a command center below the hospital, but the claim has been denied by hospital officials.

Many Palestinians in Gaza are comparing the recent events to the 1948 Nakba, Arabic for “catastrophe,” when 700,000 Palestinians were pushed out of their homes and turned into refugees during the creation of the state of Israel. This is 80-year-old Abla Awad. She grew up in a refugee camp in Gaza, had been forced from her home as a 5-year-old in 1948. Now she’s become a refugee again.

ABLA AWAD: [translated] We came here. We fled from Jabaliya camp and came here to escape the bombing. And now we’re here. Ants are everywhere. Flies are everywhere. There’s no food. It’s been a while since I had any bread. I’m hungry and want to eat. They’re kneading the dough now. …

It’s the same thing happening again. We were displaced from our home cities, and we ended up in Gaza. We used to live in Bureij refugee camp. And now it’s a second Nakba. What did we do to them? Every few years they bring a new Nakba onto us. … I was 5 years old, and I remember being displaced. Our families carried us along with their bags, and they took us to Gaza. I swear it’s the same as what’s happening today. Just like they displaced us the first time, they’re doing so another time. The two situations are alike. I have never seen a war like this. People are being displaced.

AMY GOODMAN: The words of Abla Awad, an 80-year-old Palestinian woman in Gaza.

We go now to London, where we’re joined by Ahmed Alnaouq. He is a Palestinian journalist from Gaza who lives now in London, co-founder of We Are Not Numbers. At least 20 members of his family have been killed in Gaza since October 7th, including his father and several siblings. His recent piece for The Nation is headlined “Palestinians Just Want to Be Treated Like Human Beings.”

Welcome to Democracy Now! We are so sorry for your loss, Ahmed. If you can talk about what happened to your family?

AHMED ALNAOUQ: Thank you very much, first, for having me.

What happened to my family is what’s happened to another thousand Palestinian families — in fact, 1,200 other Palestinian families. And it’s what has been going on for the past 75 years. My family was living in their home. There was my father, my three sisters, two brothers, my cousin and 14 nieces and nephews. They were sleeping in my home on the 22nd of October when Israel bombed my home and killed all of my family members except for two — actually, except for three. One of them was a kid whose name is Malak, 10 years old. She was severely burned, and then she spent a few days at the hospital, and then she succumbed to her wound. The rest is my nephew, 3 years old, and my sister-in-law. She survived. But 21 family members were killed. And this is what’s happening in Gaza. This is what has been going on for the past 75 years. And only since the 7th of October, more than 1,200 other families suffered the same loss I have suffered right now.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Ahmed, you left Gaza in 2019. Have you been able to return since? And when was the last time you saw any of your family members?

AHMED ALNAOUQ: Well, unfortunately, I left Gaza in 2019 but haven’t been able to meet any of my family members ever since. And I was — for the past four years, I have been trying my best to meet with my father, to see my father. He was an old man. He was 75 years old, but he looked older than he is. He was very sick. And for the past four years I have been dying every day a hundred times because I miss my father, and I couldn’t meet with him because of the borders and the blockade. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen him ever since I left Gaza. And I never met with any of my siblings, who I lost, ever since I left Gaza.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Your reaction to the enormous protests around the world? There was a huge one in London this Saturday. What do you hope might come from these mobilizations?

AHMED ALNAOUQ: Well, actually, London has been protesting for the past four weeks, every Saturday, London, in protests — not only London, but also in Edinburgh and in capitals all over the world. People are protesting in thousands and in hundreds of thousands. The Saturday that we have seen on — the protest that we have seen on Saturday in London, people estimate the number between 800,000 to a million people. It’s one of the biggest protests in the history of Britain, after the protest in the War in Iraq in 2003. And these hundreds of thousands of people who protested, every one of them called for one single thing: a ceasefire, and ceasefire now.

It gives me a heartwarming feeling that Palestine, that my family, that the children in Gaza are not forgotten, that people follow the news, that people care about the Palestinians in Gaza, and people — and, most importantly, that people in the West no longer buy the mainstream media narrative that seeks to dehumanize and demonize the Palestinian people and to provide a cover for Israelis to commit massacres against the Palestinian people. So it gives me a heartwarming feeling that we are not forgotten, and people care about us, and people will keep protesting against the Israeli occupation, people will keep protesting against this aggression, this onslaught on the Palestinians in Gaza, until there is a ceasefire.

And I think these protests are doing a great job. We have seen that the governments, many of the politicians have changed their tone when it comes to Gaza. We have seen the comments from President Macron, which is very good, and I think it’s a step in the right direction. I think this country is a democracy, and I think people, when they protest, I think, eventually, their government will have to listen to them and to pressure Israel stop its onslaught on Gaza.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the politics of what’s happening in London now? I mean, this massive protest, one of the largest Britain has seen, in London this weekend, and then the ousting of the foreign secretary, Braverman, saying that pro-Palestinian marches are “hate marches,” so she was thrown out, and David Cameron, the former prime minister, was made the foreign secretary, and then the discussion of Tony Blair being brought back, as well. Your response, Ahmed?

AHMED ALNAOUQ: Well, I think the message that the protesters in London and all over the U.K. gave to the government is that we do not accept to be slammed. We do not accept to be called hate marches. We do not accept the false allegation that people who protest for Palestine are antisemitic. And unfortunately, unfortunately, we have seen some comments from politicians, from the former home secretary, describing these marches as “hate marches.” Unfortunately, we, the Palestinians and pro-Palestinians and people from all over the U.K. — now we are talking about the majority of the people who live in the U.K. are now pro-Palestinian, are pro-ceasefire. You could rarely find someone who wants Israel to continue their massacres against the Palestinian people. Unfortunately, the government is not living up to its responsibility as a democracy. They’re not living up to the demands and aspiration of the British people.

And I think the British people were very generous, very kind. They were very pro-justice. And they came from all across the U.K. on Saturday. People came from all across the U.K. They traveled for hours in order to participate in this protest. And their message was that they do not accept these allegations. They do not accept that this protest is a hate march. They come — Jewish, Muslims, Christians, atheists, people of LGBTQ, people from all colors, from all faiths came to the U.K., came to London on Saturday, and they protested, calling for a ceasefire. This is actually a love march. And people who came here, they came out of love, out of humanity. And they came here to say that enough is enough. And these people do not accept that their home secretary says that they are hate marchers.

And I believe that the power of people is very, very — people are very powerful, and their calls are very powerful. And I think, eventually, the government will have to listen to them. I think this is a right step, a step in the right direction from the British government to ousting this — Suella. And I really hope that the next home secretary — I really have hope that they will do a better job than the previous one.

AMY GOODMAN: We were just showing video of this massive march. And among the signs, there was a large group of Jews who were marching, saying “Jews against apartheid,” the Jewish star with “Not in our name.” But I wanted to come to the United States and get your response, Ahmed, to what’s happening here, President Biden speaking Monday, saying Al-Shifa Hospital must be protected.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: You know I have not been reluctant in expressing my concern to what’s going on. And it is my hope and expectation that there will be less intrusive action relative to the hospital. We’re in contact, and we’re — with the Israelis. Also, there is an effort to take this pause to deal with the release of prisoners. And that’s being negotiated, as well, with the Qataris engaged. And so I remain somewhat hopeful. But the hospital must be protected.

AMY GOODMAN: “The hospital must be protected,” President Biden said. Your response, and also, previously, to the large Jewish population who’s speaking out against what Israel is doing in Gaza, and separating their condemnation of antisemitism from condemnation of the Israeli state?

AHMED ALNAOUQ: The Jewish people in this country and in America, actually, has been playing a pivotal role in this struggle against the occupation, in this struggle against the apartheid and occupation of Palestine. We in London, we have, for example, in this protest, more than a thousand people, Jewish people, came in the protest, in the Jewish bloc, and they protested. And their calls were the same calls as everyone in the protest is calling for. The Jewish people are part of the struggle of the Palestinian liberation movement, and they have been doing a great job. And actually, I believe that one of the most vocal voices for Palestine are of Jewish voices. We have seen many organizations in the U.S. and in the U.K. with Jewish people, Jewish Voice for Peace and Na’amod and many other organizations here and there, who are calling, who are fighting day and night for the liberation of the Palestinian people, who are fighting against the occupation peacefully and justly. They are not antisemitic. They can’t be antisemitic while they are Jews.

And unfortunately, the smear campaigns that the Israeli lobby is doing here is fierce, and they do not distinguish between the Jewish people or the Christians or the Muslims. As long as we are pro-Palestine, as long as we are against occupation, then we are antisemitic. That’s really absurd. But I am very, very, very proud, and all of us are very, very, very proud of the Jewish community, of the Jewish community in the U.S. and in the U.K. who challenge the stereotypes, who challenge the Western media, and who challenge the disinformation and misinformation about what’s going on in Palestine and Israel. And they came out and said in one word that they are pro-justice, pro-peace, and they are with ceasefire now.

As for Biden, he said that Al-Shifa Hospital should be protected. I really want to believe him, but I don’t think that he’s genuine in his calls, because he is supporting Israel. He has been aiding Israel with the money, with diplomacy, with weaponry. He has doubled the money that he gives to Israel to bomb us. For example, my family was bombed by an F-16, an American-made airplane. So, Biden provides Israel with whatever it needs, with the weapon, with whatever it needs, and then they say that Al-Shifa Hospital should be protected. Unfortunately, Al-Shifa Hospital is not protected. Now most of the refugees who came to Al-Shifa Hospital, they already left. We have seen videos of piles of bodies in Al-Shifa Hospital, and eyewitnesses say that the stray dogs go and eat from the bodies of the Palestinian people, because they cannot go and bury these bodies of the dead people in the Gaza Strip. Unfortunately, I think these comments from Biden should be — I will only believe these comments if he does something, if he does an action. But right now I do not trust his words. I do not trust his calls. And I believe he is complicit in the war crimes that Israel is committing against the Palestinian people, including the targeting of the hospitals, Al-Shifa Hospital and other hospitals. They have been targeted, these hospitals, because Israel had the cover and the atmosphere from the U.S. government, from the U.S. military, from the U.S. media, mainstream media, to do what they are doing right now.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yeah, Ahmed, I wanted to ask you — you were mentioning Al-Shifa Hospital and the United States being complicit. The terrible, absolutely terrible images we’ve seen in the past two days of the premature infants cut off from their incubators and just all together in a big group surrounded by aluminum foil to protect them — I can’t understand why even in the United States still or even in the West there are still people who don’t recognize the enormous war crimes that are being committed here. Your sense of what it will take to stop this, to allow at least a ceasefire in Gaza right now?

AHMED ALNAOUQ: Well, I don’t know what it takes to force a ceasefire, after everything that we have seen, after the targeting of civilians, the targeting of hospitals, targeting of schools, targeting of refugees as they are going south, more than 15,000 people now already killed, including the 2,000 or 3,000 people under the rubble. Entire areas have been wiped out. Neighborhoods have been destroyed. And people are starving. People are literally starving in Gaza. They don’t have food. They dont’ have water. They don’t have medical supplies. They don’t have electricity. They don’t have internet connection. All of this, a genocide, is taking place in Gaza, and we’re still seeing some politicians and some governments who refuse to push Israel for a ceasefire. I don’t know what does it take to stop all of that.

And we have seen what’s going on in the hospital, in Shifa Hospital, is a crime. It’s a crime against humanity. I don’t think — I don’t know how these people are humans, how they feel for their brothers and sisters, who allow these massacres to happen in Al-Shifa Hospital. And allow me to say this: The Israelis are targeting Al-Shifa Hospital and other hospitals not because there is a Hamas base in it. Of course they know that there is no Hamas there. These are public areas, and everyone, like, they are taped and filmed all the time. There is no Hamas inside Al-Shifa Hospital, but Israel wants to destroy Al-Shifa Hospital in order to force everyone who live north of the valley to go south, because people are taking refuge in these hospitals, so Israel are bombing these hospitals so that they end all the shelters for the refugees, and that’s when they will be forced to move south. So, all these allegations that Hamas members or military base is in Al-Shifa Hospital, other hospital, is absurd.

Now, a country or an army that is willing and capable of killing 5,000 Palestinian kids while they were sleeping in their homes, including 14 of my nieces and nephews, is capable of lying and saying that there is Hamas in the hospital. This is a lie, and the world should know. The world should know better. Now we have social media. We see the truth as it is. And I do not give any excuse for anyone who believes or buys the Israeli narrative about what’s going on in this conflict, because this army is a killer, is a murderer, and they are, of course, capable of lying, as they have lied for many, many, many years before.

AMY GOODMAN: Ahmed Alnaouq, I want to thank you for being with us, co-founder of We Are Not Numbers. At least 20 members of his family have been killed in Gaza since the October 7th Hamas attack, including his father and several siblings. His recent piece for The Nation is headlined “Palestinians Just Want to Be Treated Like Human Beings.” We’ll link to it at

Next up, we speak with two journalists, the award-winning Jazmine Hughes, forced to resign from The New York Times Magazine after signing an open letter criticizing Israel. We also speak to the writer Jamie Lauren Keiles, who is leaving The New York Times, as well. Back in 30 seconds.


AMY GOODMAN: “Wednesday Morning” by Macklemore, who addressed the pro-ceasefire rally in Washington, D.C., last week.

Of course, doctors, nurses, medical techs and others are being targeted and we've noted that before but let's again note -- fourth time, fifth time? -- that US President Joe Biden has painted a bulls eye on the  backs of US troops in the Middle East.  AFP notes:

American forces deployed in Iraq and Syria have been attacked 55 times over the past month, causing minor injuries to dozens of US troops, the Pentagon said Tuesday.
Washington has blamed the spike in violence on Tehran-backed forces and carried out strikes on sites in Syria it said were linked to Iran on three separate occasions, but the drone and rocket attacks have continued.
“Since October 17 through today, we are tracking that there have been 55 attacks on US forces. There have been 27 attacks against US forces in Iraq and 28 attacks in Syria,” Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh told journalists, putting the number of injured American personnel at 59.

I remember when Bully Boy Bush was doing that and THE NEW YORKER cover illustration of a US service member with a bulls eye on their back.  That's not leadership.  Your supporting the War Crimes being carried out by the Israeli government and doing so is putting US troops at risk?  You need to fire every one of your advisors because no one is helping you, Joe.

Julian Borger (GUARDIAN) writes, "The Biden administration is increasingly seeking ways to restrain the Israeli military in an effort to slow the civilian toll and limit the risk of a wider conflict, while it faces a rising level of internal dissent over its Middle East policy."  So, in other words, Joe's saying, "Hey, could you please just kill hundreds of innocent civilians and not thousands because voters are starting to get on my back!"  On yesterday's DEMOCRACY NOW!, Amy Goodman noted:

President Joe Biden on Monday called on Israel to scale back its attacks on civilian targets, saying its military should take what he called “less intrusive action” at Gaza’s main medical center, the Al-Shifa Hospital. Biden added, “The hospital must be protected.” His remarks came after Doctors Without Borders reported Israeli troops fired on medical teams and an ambulance attempting to retrieve injured people from Al-Shifa’s gates. At least one Israeli sniper fired into the hospital, hitting patients. Others reported they’d been struck by gunfire from low-flying Israeli drones. Israel claims Hamas has a command center below the hospital, but the claim has been denied by hospital officials.

Human Rights Watch has called for Israel’s attacks on Gaza’s hospitals to be investigated as war crimes. In February, Biden signed an executive order barring the U.S. from supplying weapons to countries that would likely use them to target civilians. But just last week, the Biden administration approved a $320 million deal to supply Israel with precision-guided bombs, and Biden is asking Congress for a further $14 billion on top of $3.8 billion in annual U.S. military aid to Israel.

Yesterday, ABC NEWS reported:

The White House said on Tuesday the U.S. has intelligence that shows Hamas has used hospitals in Gaza, including the Al-Shifa Hospital, "to conceal and to support their military operations and to hold hostages."

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby made the announcement on Air Force One while traveling with President Joe Biden to the APEC summit in San Francisco.

There's John with the jokes, "the US has intelligence."  Take a deep breath and grasp that (a) saying it doesn't make it true -- as anyone who lived through the early stages of media coverage of the Iraq War and (b) so what?

I don't believe it's true.  But if it is true?  I believe citizens of Israel have been very clear that they want their citizens back -- and they don't mean as corpses.  If you honestly believe that Al-Shifa Hospital is used, was use, is being used, whatever to hold hostages, you don't bomb it.  That's beyond stupid.

It's also beyond stupid that John Kirby made that ridiculous remark.

Time and again, the US government has bombed hospitals, has attacked TV stations and always with the (false) claim that this was due to some bad guy.  That never holds when the war's over.  But while it is believed, so what?  Even if true, you do not attack hospitals.

That's not my rule.  That's international law. 

Don't believe me?  Google it and this will pop up:

The First Geneva Convention states that there should be no "obstacle to the humanitarian activities" and that wounded and sick "shall be respected and protected in all circumstances." Article 19 demands that medical units, i.e. hospitals and mobile medical facilities, may in no circumstances be attacked.

In 1949, the US signed off on all four Articles of The Geneva Convention and that includes this:

1. ' Terminology '


The terminology in normal use should be defined. A distinction is made between:


A. ' Hospital zones and localities, ' generally of a permanent character, established outside the combat zone in order to shelter military or civilian wounded and sick from long-range weapons, especially aerial bombardment (1).


B. ' Safety zones and localities, ' generally of a permanent character, established outside the combat zone in order to shelter certain categories of the civilian population, which, owing to their weakness, require special protection (children, old people, expectant mothers, etc.) from long-range weapons, especially aerial bombardment (2).


C. ' Hospital and safety zones and localities, ' which are a combination of A and B above;


D. ' Neutralized zones, ' generally of a temporary character, established in the actual combat zone to protect both combatant and noncombatant wounded and sick, as well as all members of the civilian population who are in the area and not taking part in the hostilities, from military operations in the neighbourhood.

This is the terminology used in the 1949 Geneva Conventions, although they do not contain any formal definition. ' Locality ' should [p.121] be taken to mean a specific place of limited area, generally containing buildings. The term ' zone ' is used to describe a relatively large area of land and may include one or more localities.

Article 14 relates to hospital and safety zones and localities intended for civilian wounded and sick and for certain categories of the civilian population. The hospital zones and localities set aside for wounded and sick members of the armed forces are dealt with in Article 23 of the First Geneva Convention of 1949 (3). Neutralized zones are dealt with in Article 15 of the Convention we are studying (4).

Although it was necessary to define the meaning of the various terms employed, it should be pointed out that in practice, and even in theory, the problem of providing places of refuge (5) is capable of solution by several combinations of means. The system described in the Geneva Conventions provides all the flexibility required in this respect. A hospital locality, for instance, could be established which sheltered both wounded soldiers and sick civilians. In the same way, a safety zone might shelter military or civilian wounded and sick in addition to certain categories of the civilian population.


2. ' Historical background '


Since hospital and safety zones and localities were first incorporated in positive law in 1949, it will be advisable to dwell at some length on the origin of the problem and its history (6). In 1870, during the Franco-Prussian War, Henry Dunant, the founder of the Red Cross, suggested that certain towns should be declared neutral and the wounded members of the armed forces collected there. That was the first time the idea of hospital localities was put forward. The proposal was not followed up owing to the rapid development of military events.

During the Paris Commune of 1871, Dunant tried, once more in vain, to set up places of refuge for the civilian population in Paris, That was the first time the idea of having safety zones arose.

[p.122] In 1929, Surgeon-General Georges Saint-Paul drew up a plan for setting aside places of refuge to shelter not only the wounded and sick of the armed forces, but also sick civilians and certain other categories of civilians whose weakness entitles them to be placed on the same footing as the sick (children, old people, etc.). In Paris, in 1931, General Saint-Paul founded the ' Association internationale des Lieux de Genève ' (International Association for the Lieux de Genève), for the purpose of giving publicity to the plan and encouraging its realization (7).

In 1934, a commission of medical and legal experts, meeting in Monaco on the recommendation of the International Congress of Military Medicine and Pharmacy, drew up a Draft Convention dealing with respect for human life in wartime. This document, which is known as the Monaco Draft, contained important provisions concerning hospital localities and safety zones. The Belgian Government which had at first contemplated holding a Diplomatic Conference to adopt the draft, was later obliged to abandon its intention. The Monaco texts were then handed over to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

In 1936, the International Committee of the Red Cross, which had also been studying the question, convened a Commission of Experts nominated by the National Red Cross Societies and by the Standing Committee of the Congresses on Military Medicine and Pharmacy. The Commission considered that some progress might be made, at least so far as hospital zones were concerned, but pointed out that the assistance of military experts would be essential to carry the work to a successful conclusion. The International Committee of the Red Cross then drew up a preliminary draft Convention, and proposed that a commission of military experts and experts in international law should be convened. In spite of repeated representations, the Commission did not meet until October 1938, on the recommendation of the XVIth International Red Cross Conference.

On the basis of all the documents then existing, the commission drew up a Draft Convention (known as the 1938 Draft) for the Creation of Hospital Localities and Zones in Wartime. This draft, together with a report by the International Committee of the Red Cross, was communicated to all States by the Swiss Government. It was intended to serve as a basis for the work of the Diplomatic Conference which it was proposed to hold at the beginning of 1940 to revise and extend the Geneva Conventions. The Conference, however, was postponed owing to the outbreak of war.

[p.123] During the Second World War, the International Committee of the Red Cross proposed on several occasions that the belligerent Powers should conclude agreements for the setting up of hospital and safety zones (8). The 1938 Draft was to have provided the basis for these agreements. It would have been extended by analogy to safety zones for certain categories of the civilian population. The fact that neutralized zones had been successfully established at Madrid, in 1936, and at Shanghai, in 1937, was an encouraging precedent. But although a number of States sent replies which were favourable in principle, none of them acted on these proposals, practical and precise though they were.

Apart from negotiations of a general nature, the International Committee of the Red Cross was informed, during that period, of a certain number of proposals, more or less private in character, to set up hospital or safety zones (e.g. at Siena, Bologna, Imola, Constance, Tromsö and Shanghai). No official action followed, however, as the proposals did not come from belligerent Governments, which continued to treat the whole question with great reserve.

The International Committee took the 1938 Draft relating to hospital localities and zones as the basis for the preparatory work it undertook in 1945 in connection with the revision and extension of the Geneva Conventions, extending it to cover certain categories of civilians.

The 1947 Conference of Government Experts agreed to the possibility of providing in the Geneva Conventions for the establishment of places of refuge whose recognition by the enemy would depend upon the conclusion of special agreements.

About the same time, i.e. in 1948, the International Committee of the Red Cross had been able to establish and administer places of refuge in Jerusalem. This experience encouraged it to propose, for inclusion in the Convention, a provision which would enable Powers to set up safety zones of a new type. The zones in Jerusalem, like those in Madrid and Shanghai, were different from the earlier theoretical idea of what such zones should be. In theory, the first tendency had been to establish permanent zones behind the front, in order to shelter certain categories of the civilian population against long-range weapons, especially bomber aircraft. In actual practice, however, it was always found necessary to establish temporary places of refuge in the actual combat area, in order to provide shelter for the whole of the local population, who were in danger as a result of the military operations in the vicinity.

[p.124] The International Committee of the Red Cross accordingly pre-prepared a draft Article providing for the establishment of places of refuge of the type just described, open without distinction to the wounded and sick and to all non-combatants, and known as "neutralized zones".

The various Articles mentioned, together with the Draft Agreement, were approved, with no change of any importance, by the XVIIth International Red Cross Conference, and later by the Diplomatic Conference of 1949. The latter separated the Draft Agreement, which had previously been common to the First and Fourth Conventions, into two distinct documents, one instituting hospital zones for wounded and sick members of the armed forces, and the other hospital zones for wounded and sick civilians and safety zones for certain categories of the population.

That should be clear to everyone.

"Uh, I broke the law because terrorists were operating out of the hospital!"  Guess what, it doesn't matter.  The four articles from 1949 were built around what people had witnessed in WWII.  And, guess what, some 'enemies' hid in hospitals, some were though to have but didn't actually, and it didn't matter.  To the people who wrote it and witnessed, it did not matter.  They declared it a War Crime to attack a hospital.  End of story.

More than 400 federal officials sent President Joe Biden a letter today protesting his support for Israel and demanding he call for an immediate ceasefire, according to a report in the New York Times.

The letter, obtained by the Times, was anonymously signed by officials of various faith backgrounds representing 40 government agencies, including the National Security Council, the FBI, and the Justice Department. The document begins by denouncing the Oct. 7 attack on Israelis carried out by Hamas and implores the president to facilitate moving more aid into Gaza, the newspaper reported.

“We call on President Biden to urgently demand a cease-fire; and to call for de-escalation of the current conflict by securing the immediate release of the Israeli hostages and arbitrarily detained Palestinians; the restoration of water, fuel, electricity and other basic services; and the passage of adequate humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip,” the letter says, according to the Times

A friend with MOTHER JONES asked for that to be noted.  They weren't sure I would because I little respect for MOTHER JONES at this point in time.  Up until around 2006, I respected their work.  But, as I said, if it comes off as a strong piece of writing I'll note it as long as it's not by some hate merchant.  So we've noted it.

I can't stand ___________, for example, but if ___ wants to go public with  thoughts, I'll be happy to note them as well.  ____ would score a very big round of applause by either going public or resigning -- and would  be the highest ranking person to resign so far. ____ going public would also render Antony Blinken to pipsqueak status -- which is all he truly is.

Concerns are mounting that hospitals are now being targeted for military action. Searing images and accounts from civilians inside continue to emerge and as doctors warn they cannot evacuate their most vulnerable patients.

Speaking by phone to CNN on Tuesday, Mohammed Zarqout, who has responsibility for all of Gaza’s hospitals, said the basement at Al Rantisi had been used as a shelter for women and children – not to store Hamas weaponry and hold hostages – as well as being the location of the pharmacy and some of the hospital’s administrative offices before rainwater made it “impossible” to use.

Zarqout also told CNN that medical staff had been forced to leave the hospital by Israeli soldiers, and had been unable to take all the patients with them when they left.

This morning, Nidal Al-Mughrabi (REUTERS) reports: "Israeli troops entered Gaza's biggest hospital on Wednesday and were searching its rooms and basement, witnesses said, culminating a days-long siege that caused global alarm over the fate of thousands of civilians trapped inside."  , Abeer Salman and

Israeli tanks and military vehicles were “inside the courtyard of Al-Shifa Hospital,” Khader Al Za’anoun, a reporter for the Palestinian news agency, Wafa, told CNN.

Israeli soldiers, he said, were in the buildings “conducting search and interrogation operations with the young men amidst intense and violent gunfire inside the hospital.” He added that the Israeli army “is calling on the young men through megaphones to raise their hands, come out, and surrender themselves.”

Earlier, he said gunfire was exchanged across the hospital yard.   

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