Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Marjorie Taylor Greene

The political equivalent of a herpes sore would be Marjorie Taylor Greene and she has been parodied on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE by Cecily Strong.  I was not aware of that until a little while ago when C.I. posted a video from a year or so back.

Hilarious.  I wish Ms. Strong was still with the program. Cathy Ann, Girl At A Party You Made the Mistake of Talking To, etc.  She was so hilarious and WEEKEND UPDATE was never as funny after she stopped being the co-host.

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

Wednesday, November 8, 2023.  The assault on Gaza continues, Joe Biden loses support, Antony Blinken has become a dirty joke on the international stage, and much more.

As the assault continues, the world recoils as the Israeli government continues its War Crimes.  ALJAZEERA notes:

A humanitarian aid convoy has come under fire in Gaza City, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Two trucks were damaged and a driver lightly wounded as the ICRC convoy, which was carrying “lifesaving medical supplies to health facilities including to Al Quds hospital of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society,” was hit by fire, the medical NGO said on Tuesday.

The Red Cross.  Attacked.  People just trying to deliver aid are being attacked, their lives threatened by the Israeli government.  Susan Miller, Jorge L. Ortiz and Vanessa Arredondo (USA TODAY) note

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees announced on Sunday that five more staffers died within the last two days. In total, 79 UNRWA workers were killed and at least 24 have been injured since the war began on Oct. 7. 

The agency said a UNRWA school in Jabalia camp, north of Gaza, was directly hit by strikes on Saturday, killing 15 people and injuring 70 others who were sheltering in the facility. Eleven others were injured in a bombing at a school in Nuseirat camp.

Nearly 1.5 million people have been displaced on the Gaza Strip, and about half of them, 710,000, are sheltering in 149 UNRWA facilities. Since the war began, 48 of those facilities have been damaged, the agency said. 

An hour ago, ABC NEWS updated the UN employee death toll to 92.  

Aid workers and officials fear that Israel's call for an evacuation of the northern part of Gaza is precipitating a humanitarian disaster as electricity and other supplies have been cut off in preparation for what appears to be an imminent ground offensive.

Humanitarian groups have urged Israel to call off the evacuation and agree to a cease-fire, even as the country has asserted a right to defend itself -- a right the United States endorses.

This does not win 'hearts and minds.'   ALJAZEERA notes, "Israeli forces have killed twice as many Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip over the past month than the total number of Palestinian children killed in the occupied West Bank and Gaza combined since 1967, according to Defense for Children International-Palestine.  The NGO said on Tuesday that in addition to the number of children killed in Gaza, about 1,350 children are missing under the rubble, 'most of whom are presumed dead'."  UNICEF spokesperson James Elder told CNN, "I know the boys and girls and the moms and dads behind (the numbers) and that’s – I think for UNICEF – why we’re so outraged that they keep spiking and that we can’t get a humanitarian ceasefire."

As DEMOCRACY NOW! pointed out yesterday, the bullying and the brutality is focusing on Al-Rantisi Children’s Hospital in Gaza City.

AMY GOODMAN: Israel is threatening to bomb a children’s hospital in Gaza that houses the enclave’s only pediatric cancer unit. Earlier today, the Israeli military ordered the immediate evacuation of Al-Rantisi Children’s Hospital in Gaza City. Israel already shelled the hospital two days ago.

This comes as Palestinian health officials say the Israeli bombardment of Gaza has killed over 10,000 Palestinians, including 4,000 children, since October 7th, when Hamas attacked Israel, killing up to 1,400 people while seizing about 240 hostages.

On Monday, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres repeated his call for an immediate ceasefire.

SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES: Gaza is becoming a graveyard for children. Hundreds of girls and boys are reportedly being killed or injured every day. More journalists have reportedly been killed over a four-week period than in any conflict in at least three decades. More United Nations aid workers have been killed than in any comparable period in the history of our organization.

AMY GOODMAN: We begin today’s show with two guests. Steve Sosebee is the president and founder of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, an organization that provides medical and humanitarian aid to Palestinian children in Gaza and the West Bank. The fund runs the pediatric cancer unit inside Al-Rantisi Children’s Hospital. He splits his time between the occupied West Bank and Kent, Ohio, where he joins us today.

And we’re joined by Dr. Barbara Zind, pediatrician who traveled to Gaza October 6th to support the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund. After nearly a month trapped in Gaza, she was finally evacuated through the Rafah border crossing and arrived back home Monday. She’s joining us from Grand Junction, Colorado.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Steve Sosebee, let’s begin with you. Can you talk about what’s happening at Al-Rantisi Children’s Hospital in Gaza City and the overall collapse of the medical system in Gaza? We saw a tweet of yours a few days ago asking, had the hospital bombed? You have a ward there, the only one for children with cancer.

STEVE SOSEBEE: Yeah. In 2019, we opened the first and only pediatric oncology department in the Gaza Strip, based on the fact that every child prior to that, every single child in Gaza with cancer, had to travel outside for care that they couldn’t get locally. And that was a problem, because that required permits from the Israeli military, which were often either delayed or not provided for these kids with cancer. So we opened. We started a campaign through grassroots fundraising and raised enough money to open a cancer department in the main pediatric hospital in Gaza City, where, since 2019 until October 7th, hundreds of children had had life-saving care, professional care, through local services and through the support of our international teams coming in. We provide chemotherapy drugs, child life services, and training for doctors and nurses in that department, in addition to any other support those kids possibly need.

Now, since October 7th, obviously, due to the conflict on the ground in Gaza, the services there have been disrupted significantly; however, the department itself is full of children, full of patients with cancer, and, in addition, their families, who are seeking refuge. Many of them have had their homes destroyed and have no other place to go. So the department itself and the hospital itself is full of refugees, full of people seeking shelter and seeking aid.

And in addition to that, the doctors who provide — the oncologists who work at that hospital had to flee Gaza City or have not been able to access the hospital on a regular basis to provide therapy and treatment for the patients. And some of the nurses themselves have had their homes destroyed and family members killed, and they continue to provide services as much as they can.

However, two days ago, there was a threat to Gaza, to the hospital itself, and it was struck yesterday. About 30 hours ago, it was struck by a rocket, and the floor above the department was destroyed, and part of the department itself was destroyed, killing some children and — not in the department itself, but in the hospital — and destroying part of the department that we had built. Now, as of today — and some of the family members have fled. But, unfortunately, there’s no — we’re trying to get them south, out of Gaza City, so possibly evacuating them out of Gaza and getting them continued care in Egypt or in Jordan. But, unfortunately, Gaza itself is encircled.

And now, as of now, there was a report this morning from the Israeli military that they are demanding the evacuation of the hospital because they consider it a combat area. And, unfortunately, a lot of the families have no place to go. They have no place to be evacuated to. And there are still literally hundreds of children and patients within that hospital and the increasing sound of bombings and shootings around the department, around the hospital, is increasingly making it difficult for anybody to leave at this time.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Steve Sosebee, could you talk about what the lack of medical care was for the children in Gaza even before October 7th and before the beginning of this horrific round of Israeli attacks?

STEVE SOSEBEE: Yeah. So, we started our organization over 30 years ago during the First Intifada to provide medical care for children who were getting — who were being injured on the ground as a result of the uprising and the use of force against the civilian population in the West Bank and Gaza, and over the years evolved into an organization that brings volunteer medical teams in on a regular basis to the Gaza Strip and West Bank to provide free specialized medical care to those kids. And over the last few years, we’ve been the main organization on the ground in Gaza bringing in international teams of volunteers with — providing a variety of different kinds of specialized surgical services and medical services, including pediatric oncology, pediatric cardiac surgery, pediatric neurosurgery, general pediatric surgery, orthopedic, so on and so forth, which don’t exist or are underdeveloped within the health sector in Gaza, in an attempt to fill the significant gap of children not having access to quality specialized care and not being able to access that care that may exist in the West Bank or may exist outside of Gaza. We were developing those services locally within the Gaza Strip and treating thousands of children a year in Gaza with these very specialized services. Unfortunately, and this is how Dr. Zind got stuck in Gaza, is that we have teams rotating on a regular basis in Gaza from all over the world, and she was there at the time of the closure, along with another specialist who was developing artificial limbs for amputees, children who are amputees.

And unfortunately, there are literally thousands of kids in Gaza, in addition to those who are being injured now — and we already know that number is graphically high — that there’s thousands of kids in Gaza who have nontrauma-related injuries who need medical care, kids who are born with congenital defects, kids with heart problems, kids with cancer, kids with cystic fibrosis, kids on dialysis. These are children, in addition to those thousands of kids who have been injured over the past month, who need specialized care they can’t get in Gaza. And as a result of the hospitals now running out of fuel and not able to provide services, as a result of hospitals running out of drugs and services, as a result of specialists being killed and being injured or not able to access the treatment centers, as a result of hospitals closing, thousands of children in Gaza, in addition to those who are being injured, are going without specialized care, and many of them are even dying. And that’s actually a huge concern to us. And we hope that we’re able to get these kids out as quickly as possible to provide them care outside if they cannot get care within Gaza. But, of course, we’re asking, more importantly, for a ceasefire and enabling our medical teams, who are standing by, ready to go to Gaza and continue to provide services there — we have several surgical missions ready to go at a moment’s notice if we can access Gaza and be able to relieve the doctors there and provide those services directly to those kids.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I’d like to bring in Dr. Barbara Zind, a pediatrician who traveled to Gaza to support the relief efforts of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund. Dr. Zind, could you talk about your experience while you were there during this Israeli bombardment?

DR. BARBARA ZIND: Yeah. I had arrived on October — November? I can’t remember which month. October 6 for a three-day mission to see about a hundred children that the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund is sponsoring with chronic diseases. And then, the morning after I arrived, I was just walking along the beach and saw those missiles fired, and, after that, ended up joining other humanitarian aid staff and volunteers going — over the next month going to, you know, three different U.N. sites for safety, and finally one last place, and then getting there the day that the Rafah border opened with our names on a list to exit.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Barbara Zind, talk about why you got involved with Palestine Children’s Relief Fund and then what it was like, if you can take us on that journey. You were one of a number of foreigners, specialists, humanitarian relief workers inside Gaza as the bombardment began. Can you talk about where you went, whether you were able to get clean water, more importantly, everyone around you — not more importantly, but equally, everyone around you, how you took shelter? You were on TV. We saw you as a bomb went off next to you. You jumped.

DR. BARBARA ZIND: Well, yes. I mean, I was fortunate, much more fortunate than the Gazans themselves, in that we were able to — we had administration. The Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund worked with other humanitarian organizations, and they could see safe places to move.

I’ve been with this organization since 2010, going over to the West Bank and Gaza almost every year, except for the years I couldn’t because of COVID. And it’s because of all the great things that they do. It’s because the children that I see — I’m not a surgeon, but I fill — they help fill in the gaps, medications, special schooling, everything that these children with chronic diseases can’t get through the Ministry of Health, and that includes just diabetics getting insulin, and so, really, life-saving medications that can’t be fully provided through the governmental services and health services that are there.

So, throughout that month, we went — we started in Gaza City and with continuous bombardment, and then everyone was supposed to go to the south. We went to another U.N. facility in the south. That one was just thousands of people coming in the gates. Usually people go to U.N. schools, but the U.N. schools were already full when they ordered the evacuation of the northern part of Gaza, and so people just went to this — it was a vocational school. So it really didn’t have facilities. And those people started building things right away. They took wooden pallets. They took bricks. They just started just building a place for their families. And these are extended families, so they are large families. Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund has a staff member who’s in the last U.N. facility that we were at, and he’s with 150 family members. He has eight children. He has 19 siblings. So, his close relatives are 150 people, and they are living in that southernmost camp.

We were fortunate in that we had clean water delivered, but for — and we had 50 people using one toilet versus 400 to 600 people per toilet. I mean, even in our group of a lot of medical workers, we had an outbreak of diarrhea. I can’t imagine what it was like outside of our camp as far as that. They had limited water. They had a certain amount of drinking water, which ran out. Our drinking water started to run out. Definitely, our water for washing and running the toilet was running out right before we left. We were fortunate to have food, but at the last few days, we ended up computing how much food we needed for 50 people. And at 800 calories a day, we had enough for two days, until we were able to have a driver go all the way to Gaza City, a dangerous drive, to bring some other foods. But I don’t know what — but we knew that the grocery stores were going to be empty. But out in the camp, they were giving one pita bread per person and, initially, a can of meat for two people. And then that went down to four people while we were there. So, the United Nations was supplying some food, but so limited for those people.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to—

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Dr. Zind —

AMY GOODMAN: Go ahead, Juan.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Dr. Zind, I’m wondering — I’m wondering about the issue not just of the life-and-death travails that the Palestinian people are confronting with this bombing, but also if you could talk some about what you see in the terms of the mental health, the long-term — we’re talking about a population, a complete population, that’s been traumatized now for years, and now especially with this bombing. Your sense of what the mental health needs of these children will be for years to come?

DR. BARBARA ZIND: Well, I think a lot of times I’ve described Gaza on a good day. So, in these other missions that I’ve gone to Gaza, they’re just constantly, constantly under siege, really. I mean, food is limited a lot. I mean, fishermen can only go out so far, and that’s — they can’t go to the international water boundaries for fishing. And so, food is always limited. Medications are limited. Sixty-five percent of Gazans are on humanitarian aid all the time. So, when we talk about humanitarian aid coming in, it’s not just for this conflict. I mean, they’re always needing humanitarian aid based on limitations of food and clean water. There’s no surface water. So these children live under that stress all the time. They’re wonderful, resilient people, but I can’t imagine, you know, what it’s like to be a child and be with a family that’s moving around, has really no place to go that’s safe.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to bring Steve Sosebee back into the conversation. This is Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan, who was interviewed on CNN on Sunday.

GILAD ERDAN: There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. In coordination with the U.S. and the U.N., we allowed a number of trucks entering Gaza now with food and medicines to reach almost 100 trucks every day. So we don’t see the need for humanitarian pauses right now, because it will only enable Hamas to rearm and regroup.

AMY GOODMAN: Your response to this, Steve Sosebee? He doesn’t see — this is the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations. He doesn’t see a humanitarian crisis on the ground right now. And if you can also weave in, for example, the children in your cancer ward? How are they possibly getting chemotherapy right now?

STEVE SOSEBEE: Well, that’s an interesting point of view. It’s coming from a political perspective and not a realistic one and not based on reality. The fact is, on the ground, that there is an obvious humanitarian crisis. This is described not only by people on the ground there, but by the United Nations and by other, let’s say, objective points of view.

The humanitarian crisis is obvious. There is no fuel that’s been delivered to Gaza since October 7th. And what does that mean? Well, all of the hospitals in Gaza, every single one of them depends on fuel to run generators. They’re not connected to the electrical grid, because the electrical grid’s shut down since October 11th, so that, then, even when it was operating, it only provided electricity for three or four hours a day, as we all know, prior to October 7th. So, therefore, the hospitals are running out of fuel. They’re not able to operate. They’re not able to provide ventilation for children in the intensive care unit who are severely injured, and there’s hundreds of them. They’re not able to provide electricity for babies in incubators in the neonatal units increasingly. The fuel is running out. We know that in Shifa Hospital, there’s only one generator working now. The Indonesian Hospital has run out of fuel. And other hospitals have closed. And so, I don’t know what humanitarian crisis he’s not seeing.

In addition to that, as Dr. Zind just mentioned, children and people there are on a significant calorie diet, and that’s affecting the entire population. One-point-five million people in Gaza out of 2.2 [million] are displaced. They’re living in warehouses, in tents, in other — in makeshift places, in U.N. schools. And those schools are being hit. There are no safe places in Gaza. We’ve seen the casualty toll, as you mentioned at the beginning of this program, of over 4,000 children who have been killed so far in one month. Four thousand children, that would be hundreds of thousands of American children, if that was compared to our population in the U.S. And that’s not counting the over 1,000 children who are buried under rubble, some of them alive right now, slowly dying. And that’s not a humanitarian crisis. The lack of medication, doctors are operating on children without anesthesia, without pain medication. That’s not a humanitarian crisis. There’s over 200 children who are burned from bombing of their homes, and the doctors don’t have dressings. They don’t have anesthesia. These kids are getting Tylenol, while they have third-degree burns all over their bodies. That’s not a humanitarian crisis. I don’t know what world he’s living in or what world he’s watching, but for those of us who are actually watching with open eyes and open hearts and open minds, this is a humanitarian crisis that we’ve never seen before, and it’s 2023. This is unacceptable that this is happening in this modern world. And it’s happening with modern weapons, and these modern weapons are being paid for by our American tax dollars.

Now, your question about the children in the cancer department, they are running out of drugs. They’re running out of chemotherapy. They’re running out of adequate treatment. The kids who were in remission are falling out of remission. There’s literally dozens of children in Gaza with cancer who are not getting adequate care, not because they don’t have the facility to get that care. We built that and opened it in 2019, and it’s an excellent facility. They’re not getting care, not because the doctors there aren’t qualified and the nurses aren’t qualified to treat them. They are. They’re not getting care because their hospital right now is under attack. It’s been hit by — it was bombed two days ago. The doctors don’t have access. The nurses don’t have access.

The children themselves are living in a state of absolute terror, as was mentioned earlier. If we want to talk about the mental health situation, it’s affecting the entire population in Gaza Strip, and it’s going to be a generational conflict, or a generational issue. How do you solve an entire population that’s been exposed to conflict and war — children — over 1 million children have been traumatized now, and they’re going to live the rest of their lives with this trauma, and it’s impossible to treat it. Why? Because the source of the trauma is not going away. It’s not post-traumatic stress disorder; it’s current traumatic stress. And we can’t solve it. We have a mental health program. We can’t heal these children. We can’t heal their hearts, we can’t heal their souls, and we can’t heal their bodies, until this conflict stops. And it’s not going to stop until there’s a political will on the part of everybody who believes in peace, in justice, in freedom, in equality to take a stand and put an end to this situation once and for all.

AMY GOODMAN: Steve Sosebee, I want to thank you for being with us, president and founder of Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, speaking to us from Kent, Ohio, and Dr. Barbara Zind, pediatrician who traveled to Gaza October 6th to support the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund. She was finally evacuated through the Rafah border crossing weeks later and arrived back home in Grand Junction, Colorado, this week.

Next up, we’ll look at how President Biden’s refusal to support a Gaza ceasefire could impact his reelection chances next year, as his support among Arab Americans is plummeting. Back in 30 seconds.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians remain trapped in the northern Gaza Strip, which Israeli forces have virtually sealed off as part of their genocidal onslaught on the Palestinians. Events over recent days make it increasingly clear that the far-right Netanyahu regime is carrying out a vicious campaign to ethnically cleanse the northern regions of the Gaza Strip, while expanding military operations in the West Bank and on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon.

“The Israeli military offensive has caused the largest mass displacement of Palestinians in such a short period of time since the 1948 Nakba: around 1,500,000 or about 65 percent of Gaza’s population, are now internally displaced inside Gaza,” noted three Palestinian rights groups, Al Mezan, Al-Haq and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, in a statement.

Reports Tuesday revealed that due to a lack of flour and fuel, which Israel has refused to allow into Gaza since its bombardment began, no large bakeries are operating north of the line established by the Israeli military to cut Gaza in two. Under conditions in which bread is one of the main foodstuffs for people who have no electricity or water to cook, this development is tantamount to starving hundreds of thousands who remain confined to Gaza City and surrounding areas.

Conditions further south are little better, where Israeli air strikes continue to pummel densely populated areas indiscriminately. Intense strikes took place on the Al-Shati refugee camp on Tuesday evening, with Israeli troops reportedly gathering on its outskirts.

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

“No ceasefire, no votes” and “In November, we remember,” those were two chants we heard Saturday in Washington at the largest rally in U.S. history for Palestinian rights. Protesters denounced President Biden for refusing to support a ceasefire in Gaza while sending more arms to Israel as it continues its monthlong bombardment that’s killed over 10,000 Palestinians, including 4,000 children. Polls show Biden’s support among Arab Americans is plummeting. This is Nihad Awad, the head of CAIR — that’s the Council on American-Islamic Relations — speaking at Saturday’s rally.

NIHAD AWAD: No ceasefire, no votes. No ceasefire, no votes. No votes in Michigan. No votes in Arizona. No votes in Georgia. No votes in Nevada. No votes in Wisconsin. No votes in Pennsylvania. No votes in Ohio. No votes for you anywhere, if you do not call for a ceasefire now. … We will make our voices heard more and more. In November, we remember. In November, we remember.

AMY GOODMAN: Nihad Awad, the head of CAIR, said he was speaking in his own capacity.

We are joined now by Jim Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, joining us now from Washington, D.C.

It’s great to have you with us. If you could talk about these figures, that I’m sure the White House is looking at carefully? In 2020, President Biden had something like 59% support of the Arab American community. Right now it’s at something like 17%. James Zogby, if you can talk about Biden’s stance right now on Israel and Gaza?

JAMES ZOGBY: Thanks, Amy. It’s been a long time since we’ve been together, and I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you.

Look, yeah, the poll is one that we did to get a read on the community. I have never seen, in the 27 years we’ve been polling, my brother and I have been polling Arab Americans, we never saw a movement this dramatic over this short a period of time. The last time we polled Arab Americans was just a few months ago, and the drop since then has been even more precipitous than the drop since 2020.

This issue resonates. It’s big. It’s important. It also is part of a general national trend. Arab Americans are not immune from what the rest of the culture is feeling, and that is that President Biden just is not in control of his own presidency and how he is being portrayed to the American people and to the world. They didn’t elect a Reaganite foreign policy advocate, a neocon who was fighting for freedom there to have freedom here, that kind of rhetoric that comes from the White House. They voted for somebody that focused on a whole bunch of domestic issues to bring domestic peace and tranquility after four years of Donald Trump. And that’s not what they’ve gotten. And I think that, coupled with the Gaza situation, most certainly, is driving these negative numbers. They are deeply disappointed with the position he’s taken on this conflict, and they just are jumping ship.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Jim Zogby, could you talk about some other aspects of the poll, what the support for a ceasefire was, and also whether there were gender or age or religious differences in those you polled?

JAMES ZOGBY: What was really significant was that across the board — when you get numbers that high, a flip that high or numbers in the 70% range on several questions, like support for a ceasefire, or how important is the Palestinian issue to you, or how disappointed are you with the president’s performance on this issue — all of those numbers were two-thirds or greater. When you get numbers that great, you expect, across the board, to see the crosstabs reading that way. And we did. There was virtually no difference in terms of majorities, regardless of religion, regardless of whether born here or immigrant, or gender or age. Pretty much across the board, there’s frustration and deep disappointment with this president.

And the question I keep getting asked is: Can Biden win them back? The visceral reaction to this issue is so great that in order to do that, something dramatic has to come from the White House. And I’m not sure that the president has the wherewithal to do it. Look, I’ve heard two things from people at the White House. The one is, they’re not going to vote for Donald Trump, because they don’t want — you know, they don’t want back what he was doing during his four years, and so they’ll come around in a year. I told them that — when I heard that, I said, “That’s insulting and dismissive. You have to earn that vote.” They might just as well stay home. They might vote for Cornel West. They might just not vote at all. And it’s not a given that young Arab American women, who want control over their bodies and their healthcare, that older Arab Americans, who want protection for their Medicare or an expansion of healthcare — it’s not clear that they are going to make the decision to vote at all, if they don’t have something to vote for. It worked the last time: “Vote for me because I’m not the other guy.” I’m not quite sure it will work this time.

And, you know, I’ve got an article coming out in The Nation tomorrow that makes the point that it’s not just Arab Americans who are affected this way. It’s young people. It’s progressive Jews. It’s Black, Latino, Asian voters. There’s a significant decline that this president is encountering across the board. And, you know, Gaza is playing into it. It is a sort of a canary-in-the-coal-mine issue. It’s one that sort of is speaking to a broader sense of dissatisfaction. And the White House has to get a handle on that, not just dismiss it.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And speaking of broader sense of dissatisfaction, you worked with Bernie Sanders for two of his campaigns. How do you understand his insistence only on calling for a humanitarian pause and not a ceasefire?

AMY GOODMAN: And, Juan, let me play a clip of Bernie Sanders, who was interviewed this weekend on CNN.

DANA BASH: I want to just clarify one thing, Senator, if I might. You support a humanitarian pause in Gaza. Some of your fellow progressives say that there should be a full-on ceasefire, which would require an agreement on both sides to halt the fighting. Do you support a ceasefire? And if not, why not?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Well, I don’t know how you can have a ceasefire, permanent ceasefire, with an organization like Hamas, which is dedicated to turmoil and chaos and destroying the state of Israel. And I think, what the Arab countries in the region understand, that Hamas has got to go.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Bernie Sanders being interviewed by Dana Bash of CNN. In fact, just a few days ago, Bernie Sanders’ office was occupied by a group of progressives protesting that he wasn’t calling for a ceasefire, among other senators. Jim Zogby?

JAMES ZOGBY: Look, you know, I have no idea. I’ve called the senator, didn’t get a call back; left him a couple messages, text messages, didn’t hear back. And I’m disappointed and, frankly, confounded. I don’t understand the thinking here. One could easily take the sentence that he spoke about “You don’t have a ceasefire with a group like Hamas” that blah, blah, blah, and stick in the Netanyahu government of the most extremist rightists in the country that are today, while under the cover of Gaza, taking armed settlers to evacuate Palestinian villages and force people to leave their lands, leave their orchards and their homes. This is a crazy extremist government. And, yes, Hamas is a group that has done and does evil things, just like the Netanyahu government does evil things. The question is — that’s why you need a ceasefire. And to say we can’t have peace with them, it’s what the Palestinians say: We can’t have peace with the Netanyahu government.

But the problem is that the United States has to act like the adult in the room, and we haven’t. We’ve been the cheerleader, the coat holder, the enabler and the funder of one side, digging the hole deeper every single day. And the result is, is that we’re locked in a conflict here, on Israel’s side, that has no good end in sight. Those who think, “On this path, we’ll eliminate Hamas,” forget what happened in Beirut in '82, forget what happened in Lebanon in 2006, or what happened in Afghanistan or Iraq. You don't eliminate. What you do is you create the conditions for something more virulent afterwards. You’re not going to get rid of Hamas. I mean, the million-plus people who have been forced to leave their belongings, their memories, the neighborhoods that they lived in now reduced to rubble, and flee to the south, where there’s no infrastructure to take care of them, the families of the 10,000 who have died, 4,000 of whom children, they’re not going to say when this is over, if it’s ever over, “Oh, we love Israel. Let’s have peace.” There is going to be the seed — there are the seeds being planted today for Hamas 2.0 or something more virulent. And I don’t understand how the folks in the White House or the State Department just don’t get it, and say, “This is not going to end well.” At the end of this path, with the exception of more dead bodies, more anger and more virulent extremism, we’re going to be right back where we started. It’s a failure of the United States, not of Hamas and of Israel, but the United States. We have not shown the leadership — that we ought to be showing, given the fact that we’re funding this damn thing — to stop it.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, James Zogby, you’ve been, for decades now, an expert in public opinion and polling. And it’s not just the United States or England and France where we’re seeing unprecedented demonstrations in support of the Palestinians and opposed to Israeli bombardment and the invasion, but also across the Global South. In the rest of the world, outside of the Western countries, there is virtually no support for the United States’ policies and Israel. I’m wondering if you could talk about that?

JAMES ZOGBY: Yeah. We’ve just finished a poll in 12 Arab countries. I should add, my brother does the domestic polling. We played the game of Risk, and he took one side of the board, and I got the other side of the board. I do polling in the Middle East and some polling in Europe. We’ve done some polling on Ukraine with European countries, their attitude toward it.

But in the Arab world, we’ve blown it. There wasn’t actually much of a bounce when Joe Biden got elected. The damage done by George W. Bush, the disappointment in Obama making promises in Cairo that excited people and then blaming the Arabs for not delivering on the promises he made, and then Trump and the chaos of four years. People have told me there, “We’ve been on a roller coaster with your country for the last 20 years, and, frankly, we’re dizzy right now. We don’t know what we’re getting.” They, too, hoped for calm when Joe Biden got elected. And instead of calm, they have two big wars, and they’re being forced to choose. And frankly, they can’t, because they have decided, as European countries are deciding, that they have to make their own decisions, and they have to do what’s in their interest. And their people are watching what is happening in Gaza and saying, “Hell no, we’re not going to do this anymore.” Even countries that have made peace with Israel, their public opinion has turned decidedly against Israel and decidedly against the prospect of living in harmony with that country. Damage has been done here.

And I don’t understand, in all of my conversations with people at the White House and the State Department, that they don’t just get it. I don’t know what they’re taking in the morning that makes them think, “Today is going to be a better day. Israel is going to kill more people, and Arabs are going to say, ’Let’s have peace with Israel.’” It doesn’t work that way. And I’ve been down this road now for the last 40, 50 years doing this work full time, and, frankly, it gets worse, not better. And those who think you win a victory in a war where you kill lots of civilians, their heads aren’t screwed on right. And frankly, we need new thinking on this, but the guys in the White House aren’t capable, I think, of that kind of new thinking. And it’s really — it’s deeply disturbing, because the hole we’re digging is one that’s going to take a generation to get out of.

AMY GOODMAN: Jim Zogby, I wanted to ask you a few quick questions. I see you have a TV behind you, and I was looking to see if there was a crack in the screen, because I was wondering of your comments on the coverage by the mainstream media. A word you almost never hear — and I’m not talking about Fox, I’m talking about MSNBC and CNN, places where you appear — rarely do we hear the word “occupation,” and why that is so significant in understanding how to end this. We’re not just talking about Gaza; we’re talking about the West Bank. When you had the national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, saying, right before October 7th, you know, “It’s peaceful there in the Middle East. We’re moving on to other issues,” yet at that time you had at least a Palestinian a day being killed in the West Bank by settlers or by the Israeli military. Now I think, since October 7th, the number is well over 150. The OPT, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Gaza and the West Bank. Question: How we should be talking about this issue, what you think would be the most honest? And do you think there’s a difference between Biden and Trump, not on other domestic issues, but on Israel-Palestine?

JAMES ZOGBY: Joe Biden promised us a lot. He issued not just a platform plank, that was one that they made some accommodations to us about, but they issued a separate policy statement for Arab Americans. And I remember when we wanted language that talked about the equality of human needs and rights, and they issued that statement that both Israelis and Palestinians are equally deserving of, and then there were a litany of words that followed it. Three-and-a-half years later, we’re still waiting for the delivery on the equal promise of. All that Palestinians have gotten has been a green light for Israel to run roughshod over the West Bank, take more land, build more settlements, demolish more homes, more restrictions on Palestinian rights, Jerusalem the same, and Gaza worse. It’s been a huge disappointment.

And frankly, I don’t — I recall some interesting things in the platform debate that still trouble me, because I remember back in '88 when I was negotiating with Madeleine Albright on the Dukakis-Jackson platform issue, we wanted the word “Palestinian” in the platform. And she told me, she said, “If the P-word even appears in print in the Democratic Party platform, all hell will break loose.” I told her, I said, “Don't play Chicken Little with me. The sky is not going to fall. We can do it and live with it. I mean, it’s not rocket science to say there are Palestinians in this conflict.” The party had never even mentioned the word up 'til then, and it didn't that year, either.

What troubled me in 2016 and 2020 was that we couldn’t get the word “occupation” in the platform. They wouldn’t use the word “occupation,” which was Trump language. Trump wouldn’t use “occupation,” either. In fact, they changed the human rights report from reporting on the Occupied Territories to putting it all in one thing. That was the — what do you call it? — by U.S. Ambassador Friedman. Trump’s ambassador wanted it that way. There was no occupation. The Biden administration deals with it as if it were an occupation in language, but not in practice. Not in practice. We have not put conditions or terms on Israel to deal with Palestinians as an occupied people. And so, we’ve kind of come a ways, but we haven’t come anywhere at all, from not using the P-word to not using the “occupation” word. Frankly, it’s maybe a little bit of a semantic thing.

But Palestinians are living under a brutal occupation. It’s an apartheid occupation. And they are also being victims of a genocidal attack on Gaza right now that is killing the infrastructure, killing the people, forcibly evicting over a million people from their homes in the north to move south, where there is no capacity to care for them. They’re living in tents, without water, without power, without healthcare. The hospitals in the south are not capable of dealing with all the issues. And the Israelis are treating the people in the north as if, as the general says, they’re all animals and deserve to die. If that’s not genocide, I don’t know what is.

And yet, this administration, if they can’t use the word “occupation” — and, for God’s sake, they won’t use the word “apartheid” — they can’t use the word “genocide.” Something horrible is happening to these people, and this administration is turning a blind eye to it. And I’m sorry, but when they say, “We’re deeply concerned,” if that’s the best they can do, when we’re providing $14.3 billion additional this year on top of $4 billion, when we’re providing diplomatic cover at the United Nations, that is not enough. And frankly, this, what is happening in Gaza, is not only happening on our watch, but we’re complicit and enabling it. Sounds harsh, but it’s the reality. And they have to deal with it. And there are going to be electoral consequences. And I wish it weren’t so. Last thing on Earth I want to see is a Republican of the type of Donald Trump or whoever comes after in the White House. But they have to earn the vote and establish that there’s a difference. They haven’t done it.

AMY GOODMAN: James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, joining us from Washington, D.C.

Americans recoil in horror and wonder how the hell Joe Biden cannot just endorse this but fund it with our tax dollars.  Brett Wilkins (COMMON DREAMS) reports:

  The leaders of youth-led progressive groups on Tuesday published an open letter warning U.S. President Joe Biden that his administration's staunch support for Israel's war on Gaza—which many experts say may be genocidal—could cost him millions of young votes in next year's presidential election.

"We mobilized the record youth turnout in 2020 that pushed your ticket over the finish line in key swing states. Many of us worked to provide the critical source of support for Democrats in the 2022 midterm elections that prevented the Red Wave. We have been preparing to mobilize the youth vote again as you face your reelection," wrote the campaigners—who include leaders of groups like March for Our Lives, Gen Z for Change, and Sunrise Movement.

"We share your conviction that the 2024 election will be one of the most important in American history," the letter states. "We write to you to issue a very stark and unmistakable warning: You and your administration's stance on Gaza risks millions of young voters staying home or voting third party next year. We are pleading with you to use every tool available to you to broker a cease-fire, now, and to revive the peace process." 

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken makes Henry Kissinger look like Mother Teresa.  This morning, CNN notes, he's yet again denounced the idea of a cease-fire:

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has escalated his opposition to a ceasefire in Gaza in comments made Wednesday, saying “those calling for an immediate ceasefire have an obligation to explain how to address the unacceptable result that would likely bring.”

Many of the Arab states have called for such a ceasefire – putting the US and its G7 allies at odds with their regional partners. 

Blinken’s remarks at a press conference following the G7 Ministerial in Tokyo go further than his comments in the past. He has consistently said the US does not support a ceasefire, arguing that such an indefinite stop to the fighting would allow Hamas to regroup and again attack Israel, but had not explicitly called out those who support one.

He is a disaster and Joe Biden needs to task someone else with this responsibility.  Courtney McBride and Iain Marlow (BLOOMBERG NEWS) note:

After stopping in five cities in four days in his latest Middle East mission, the best a tired-looking Antony Blinken could say about the results was that “all of this is a work in progress.”

Judging from the outward results of the US secretary of state’s second marathon trip through the region in the less than a month since Israel’s latest war with Hamas began, there was more labor than payoff.

In Israel, Blinken’s calls for humanitarian “pauses” in the assault of the Gaza Strip were met with more air attacks and ground operations, worsening a grave humanitarian crisis for hundreds of thousands of trapped civilians. An Israeli government minister even hinted at using nuclear weapons there, although his comments were quickly disavowed. A stop in Jordan, one of the US’s closest allies in the region, brought an unusually public lecture about the need for not just breaks but an immediate cease-fire — an option Israel and the US reject.

Monday’s visit to another ally - Turkey - brought a snub by the president and a sense of US frustration at the lack of progress in talks with others, according to officials there who asked for anonymity to discuss private conversations.

I'm confused.  Is there a reason that his visit to Iraq isn't noted?  It did see the biggest protest of all the stops on his junket. Susan Miller, Jorge L. Ortiz and Vanessa Arredondo (USA TODAY) could note the Baghdad stop: 

Blinken met Sunday in Baghdad with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani and they discussed putting a stop to the attacks by Iran-backed militias on U.S. and coalition military facilities in Iraq and neighboring Syria, which have surged to 32 assaults since Oct. 17.

There is no trust in Blinken who seems to just lie and make stuff up over and over.  THE FINANCIAL TIMES notes:

US secretary of state Antony Blinken has played down prospects of Israel reoccupying Gaza after Israel’s prime minister said the country would maintain an indefinite grip over the Palestinian territory following its war with Hamas. After a meeting of the Group of Seven foreign ministers in Tokyo, Blinken said on Wednesday: “It is imperative that the Palestinian people be central to the governance in Gaza and in the West Bank as well. 
 “What I’ve heard from Israeli leaders is that they have no intent to reoccupy Gaza and retake control of Gaza,” he added. His comments echoed a warning from John Kirby, White House National Security Council spokesperson, on Tuesday that President Joe Biden “maintains his position that reoccupation by Israeli forces is not the right thing to do”. 
 The interventions by Blinken and Kirby came after Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu told ABC News that “for an indefinite period, [Israel] will have the overall security responsibility” for Gaza. Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant has stressed that after the war ends, neither Israel nor Hamas will rule Gaza, from which Israel formally withdrew in 2005.

The following sites updated: