Monday, April 15, 2024

Trump -- All that falls away

He was Donald Trump's pillow.  He was Mr. Trump's shoulder to weep on and  his pillow to sleep on . . .  Brenda Russell "This Time (I Need You)."

The United States Supreme Court on Monday dealt a blow to Mike Lindell, the CEO of MyPillow and a close ally to former President Donald Trump.

The court declined to hear an appeal from Lindell, who has sought to block investigators from seizing his phone in a case surrounding alleged efforts to tamper with voting machines in Colorado around the time of the 2020 presidential election. Lindell has claimed the seizure of his phone constituted a violation of his Constitutional rights, a claim previously rejected by U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Ralph Erickson.

Lindell has been a staunch supporter of Trump's unproven claims that widespread voter fraud was to blame for his loss in the 2020 election. He has said he spent $40 million on failed legal efforts to overturn the election results, leaving him with financial woes as some retailers have stopped carrying his pillow brand.

Poor Mr. Lindell.  He was one heavy duty supporter for Mr. Trump.  Some might even refer to him as the former president's athletic supporter. Katharine Fung (NEWSWEEK) reports more bad news for Mr. Trump:

Former President Donald Trump suffered two losses before the jury selection process even kicked off in his hush money payment trial.
The first criminal trial against Trump began on Monday in Manhattan, where prosecutors and the former president's legal team are trying to seat 12 jurors to hear the case. Trump is facing 34 counts of falsifying business records in connection to an alleged hush money payment to adult film actor Stormy Daniels.

The Manhattan case is one of the four criminal indictments against Trump, and it could be the only one that goes to trial before Election Day.

But even before jury selection began, Judge Juan Merchan rejected two efforts from Trump's team, denying the former president's motion for recusal and granting prosecutors' requests to show jurors headlines and stories from the National Enquirer.

Forget about disappointing before the trial started inside, he was even disappointed outside.  Emily Shugerman (THE DAILY BEAST) reports:

Outside the Manhattan Criminal Court on Monday, a “Christian conservative rapper” who identified himself as “Shawn DVS 7.0” awaited the arrival of Donald Trump.
“Sometimes I have my disagreements with Trump, but nobody compares,” he said, resting a full-size American flag pole on his shoulder. Democrats, he added, “couldn’t get him with collusion, they couldn’t get him with all the other stuff before, so now they’re going with all these side angles.”

He was one of about 50 Trump-stanning protesters who gathered for the start of jury selection in the first of Trump’s four criminal trials. Penned up outside 100 Centre St., they carried signs reading “Trump 2024, Save America,” and “The Purge Begins, Tuesday November 5.”

They were easily outnumbered by the phalanx of reporters and police—which left at least one of them disappointed.

“I thought more people would be here,” said the woman, who gave only her first name, Sophia. She had taken the subway an hour and half from Queens to lower Manhattan to sort-of attend the first-ever criminal trial of a former president.

“When they do finally take our freedom of speech away and screw us over, nobody better say anything about it,” she added. “Shut up, you didn't fight for your rights.”

The courthouse sideshow included some familiar Trumpworld figures, including far-right conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer and Andrew Giuliani, the son of former Trump attorney and New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Asked about the weak turnout on the street, the younger Giuliani replied: “I’m more worried about what’s going on in that courtroom than out here.”

He just knew that his fans would show up.  But they did not. 

In this MSNBC video,  Stephanie Grisham -- the White House press secretary when Mr. Trump was president -- discusses how Mr. Trump spent his courtroom time muttering under his breath in some sort of a performance.  Molly Sprayregen (LGBTQ NATION) reports:

Columnist Nicole Russell held nothing back in a searing op-ed for USA Today condemning the GOP for its unconditional support of Donald Trump.
[. . .]

Russell wrote that “as a former Trump fan who has turned” she understands the temptation to “think that this case isn’t airtight or, on the scale of crimes, that it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal.”

“Giving hush money to a porn star? Falsifying the payoffs? I spent a decade around Washington, D.C. A lot goes on that is worse,” Russell wrote.

But she warned that this way of thinking about Trump must change.

“Many might insist that this trial — like the 91 felony charges — and the other three criminal cases against Trump are all rigged,” Russell wrote. “That they’re all some kind of nationwide conspiracy theory among judges to keep Trump from looking squeaky clean as he runs for office. (This theory isn’t even plausible: How could every single judge be in on it? And to what end?).”

She continued, “That’s how bad things have gotten in the GOP. We’ve bargained so hard and lowered the standards so much that accusations of hush money to a porn star and falsified payoffs seem tame in comparison with — with what exactly? Tax fraud? State and federal election interference? Stealing classified documents and showing them to people without such clearance?”

Poor Mr. Trump.  Today was just not his day.  Meanwhile, Kate Plummer (NEWSWEEK) reports:

With seven months to go until the presidential election, incumbent President Joe Biden is beating his Republican challenger Donald Trump in a series of recent polls.
The Democrat is leading Trump in ten separate polls conducted in the last month, although experts have cautioned that it is still too early to call the election and Trump is polling higher than Biden in other polls too.

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

Monday, April 15, 2024.  Iraq's prime minister is visiting the US (and hoping to get US troops out of Iraq), Iran attacks Israel over the weekend (in response to an April 1st attack by Israel), War Crimes continue to be carried out in Gaza as US War Crimes prepare to go on trial in Virginia today, and much more.

Over the weekend, Iran responded to Israel bombing a consulate on April 1st by sending missiles aimed at Israel.  Lyse Doucet (BBC NEWS) observed:

In the wars within wars of this grievous Gaza crisis, the most explosive of all is the searing official enmity between Israel and Iran.

It's now at its most perilous point.

And this region, and many capitals beyond, are watching and waiting with bated breath to see what Iran does next.

It's Tehran's move after the airstrike on its diplomatic compound in the heart of the Syrian capital, Damascus on 1 April, which killed senior commanders in its Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

Israel never admits carrying out such attacks, but everyone knows it was its doing. 

And since the Israel-Gaza war erupted six months ago, Israel has ramped up its targeting of Iran, not just destroying arms supplies and infrastructure in Syria, but assassinating senior IRGC and Hezbollah commanders. 

Ahead of the attack on Saturday, at Chatham House, Haid Haid noted, "Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said that the attack on the Iranian consulate ‘will be punished’, and that its response will be significant enough to deter Israel from repeating or escalating such attacks. This could mean attacks inside Israel or the targeting of its assets abroad."

Of the attack, NDTV noted, "Iran launched more than 200 drones and missiles at Israel in an unprecedented attack late Saturday, the Israeli army announced, in a major escalation of the long-running covert war between the regional foes."  ABC NEWS added, "Two U.S. officials confirmed that U.S. forces shot down about 70 Iranian drones headed towards Israel. One official added that one of the U.S. Navy destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean was also able to bring down an undetermined number of Iranian ballistic missiles."  The White House released a statement from US President Joe Biden proclaiming that  " we helped Israel take down nearly all of the incoming drones and missiles."

US, UK, France, Jordan and Israeli defense actions managed to mitigate Iran's attack.  Gerrit De Vynck (WASHINGTON POST) observes of Sunday's talking points:

The White House is clearly trying to get a specific message out today: Israel’s defense against the missile barrage was a resounding military success, proving the country’s technological edge and the United States’ commitment to its ally.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby repeated this message on a total of six political talks shows Sunday on ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, CNN and MSNBC.


The regional war in the Middle East now involves at least 16 different countries and includes the first strikes from Iranian territory on Israel, but the United States continues to insist that there is no broader war, hiding the extent of American military involvement. And yet in response to Iran’s drone and missile attacks Saturday, the U.S. flew aircraft and launched air defense missiles from at least eight countries, while Iran and its proxies fired weapons from Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.

The news media has been complicit in its portrayal of the regional war as nonexistent. “Biden Seeks to Head Off Escalation After Israel’s Successful Defense,” the New York Times blared this morning, ignoring that the conflict had already spread. “Iran attacks Israel, risking a full-blown regional war,” says The Economist. “Some top U.S. officials are worried that Israel may respond hastily to Iran’s unprecedented drone and missile attacks and provoke a wider regional conflict that the U.S. could get dragged into,” says NBC, parroting the White House’s deception.

The Washington-based reporting follows repeated Biden administration statements that none of this amounts to a regional war. “So far, there is not … a wider regional conflict,” Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said on Thursday, in response to a question about Israel’s strike on the Iranian Embassy. Ryder’s statement followed repeated assertions by Iranian leadership that retaliation would follow — and even a private message from the Iranians to the U.S. that if it helped defend Israel, the U.S. would also be a viable target — after which the White House reiterated its “ironclad” support for Israel.

While the world has been focused on — and the Pentagon has been stressing — the comings and goings of aircraft carriers and fighter jets to serve as a “deterrent” against Iran, the U.S. has quietly built a network of air defenses to fight its regional war. “At my direction, to support the defense of Israel, the U.S. military moved aircraft and ballistic missile defense destroyers to the region over the course of the past week,” President Joe Biden said in a statement Saturday. “Thanks to these deployments and the extraordinary skill of our servicemembers, we helped Israel take down nearly all of the incoming drones and missiles.”

As part of that network, Army long-range Patriot and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense surface-to-air missile batteries have been deployed in Iraq, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and at the secretive Site 512 base in Israel. These assets — plus American aircraft based in Kuwait, Jordan, the UAE, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia — are knitted together in order to communicate and cooperate with each other to provide a dome over Israel (and its own regional bases). The United Kingdom is also intimately tied into the regional war network, while additional countries such as Bahrain have purchased Patriot missiles to be part of the network.

Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati has accused Israel of dragging the region into war, as he repeated that his country did not want to be dragged into a conflict.

"The Israeli aggressions cannot be tolerated and the violation of Lebanese airspace can not be tolerated," said Mr Mikati.

"Israel is dragging the region into war, and the international community must take note of this and put an end to this war.”

On the topic of Iraq, Mohammed Shia Al Sudani.  That's the prime minister of Iraq.  He's in the United States now.  SHAFAQ notes:

On Monday, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani commenced his official visit to the United States by engaging with the Iraqi community in Washington and other American states.

According to Al-Sudani's media office, the prime minister highlighted various issues and stressed Iraq's pivotal role in the region.

Regarding Baghdad's position between Iran and the United States, Al-Sudani said, "Iran is a neighboring country with shared interests, and America is a strategic ally …The relationship between Iraq, Iran, and the United States is advantageous. It can be leveraged to reduce tension, as has occurred in previous regional crises."

As WION notes, this is his first visit to the US.

They wonder if the Iran-Israel issue will overshadow the visit?   Ahead of the visit, Jihan Abdalla and 

President Joe Biden is hosting Mr Al Sudani at the White House on Monday at the start of a week-long visit that was supposed to focus on expanding bilateral ties and new economic opportunities when US forces eventually leave Iraq.

But Saturday's attack, during which Iran fired 300 drones and missiles through Iraqi airspace towards Israel, will change the focus of Mr Al Sudani's visit.

The events "will cast their shadow heavily on the visit, prompting the White House to impose very strict conditions on the Iraqi Prime Minister”, the political analyst Ihsan Al Shammari, who leads the Iraqi Political Thinking Centre think tank in Baghdad, told The National.

[. . .]

Mr Al Sudani took office in October 2022 as the nominee from the Iran-aligned Co-ordination Framework – the largest political group in the Iraqi parliament with 138 out of 329 seats.

Mr Biden needs Mr Al Sudani to rein in Iran-backed armed groups, who until early February had conducted scores of attacks on US troops in Iraq and Syria. The attacks have stopped for now after negotiations between Baghdad and Washington.

“The US will look very anxiously at the Prime Minister’s inability to control these armed factions, and also, even the guarantees he holds, I believe, will not be very reliable given what happened [on Saturday],” Mr Al Shammari said.

Back in February, al-Sudani met with US Vice President Kamala Harris in Germany.  From AL MAYADEEN:

 On Saturday, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani stated that he plans to discuss with US President Joe Biden the significance of de-escalating the situation in the Gaza Strip and ending the war to prevent its escalation across the region.

Before leaving Baghdad for Washington, al-Sudani emphasized that his visit is at a critical and sensitive juncture for bilateral relations and the region. He stressed that the purpose of his visit is to enhance relations, including the implementation of the provisions outlined in the Strategic Framework Agreement.

Specifically, he's calling for US troops out of Iraq:

He emphasized that he would discuss with Biden the joint US-Iraqi Supreme Military Committee's operations, aiming to establish a timeline for ending the coalition's mission in Iraq. Subsequently, the discussions will focus on bilateral relations with coalition countries.

Two days ago, al-Sudani announced that the joint US-Iraqi Supreme Military Committee has agreed to end the international coalition's mission according to a timetable.

"We consider a comprehensive de-escalation in the Middle East to be in both Iraqi and US interests. That requires, above all, urgently ending the war in the Gaza Strip and respecting the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people," he said in an article for Foreign Affairs.

Since 2005, when Ibrahim Abd al-Karim was prime minister, every Iraqi prime minister has asked US troops to leave -- so far, like a lousy house guest who just won't take a hint, the troops remain in Iraq.

RUDAW notes that the prime minister is under pressure to expel the US troops and:

Iraqi militias affiliated with Iran on Friday renewed their threats against American interests in the region days before Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ al-Sudani travels to Washington to meet with United States President Joe Biden. 

“American criminality is increasing day by day in its support for the Zionist entity, and we hold the Americans fully responsible if their forces or the entity commit any foolishness in Iraq or the Axis countries, as our response will be direct wherever our hands reach,” read a statement from the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a network of shadow Iraqi militia groups affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

The subject of finally concluding America’s counter-ISIS mission in Iraq has been the plot of ongoing deliberations between Washington and Baghdad for the last three years. Monday’s White House meeting between President Joe Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani must be the moment that the story is finally brought to a conclusion. Iran’s attack on Israel this weekend only strengthens the case.

             Withdrawing the roughly 2,500 US troops that remain in Iraq to combat ISIS, which has been relegated to a low-level insurgency with a dwindling support base is a testy subject in Washington and Baghdad alike. In Iraq, Sudani is under pressure from his ruling Shia-led coalition to cut military ties with the US, which is still seen as an occupying power, or at the very least reorient the bilateral relationship from dependency to normality. Sudani has reportedly expressed his desire to keep US forces in the country for the foreseeable future to ensure ISIS doesn’t resurge, a request his hardline coalition partners will be hard-pressed to support.

At the same time, a troop withdrawal is generally viewed warily in the US foreign policy establishment, particularly if it’s based on a timetable rather than conditions on the ground. As the US ambassador in Iraq said last month, “In the past we have left quickly only to come back, or only to need to continue, so this time I would argue we need to do this in an orderly fashion.”

Understandably, the US is looking for an optimal scenario before pulling the plug on the US troop presence. But back in the real world, optimal scenarios are few and far between. If the Biden administration’s approach is to wait for the perfect time to get out, then it will wait for eternity.     

Sudani started his term with promises to focus on economic development and fight corruption, but his government has faced economic difficulties, including a discrepancy in the official and market exchange rates between the Iraqi dinar and the US dollar.

The currency issues came in part as a result of a US tightening of the dollar supply to Iraq, as part of a crackdown on money-laundering and smuggling of funds to Iran. The US has disallowed more than 20 Iraqi banks from dealing in dollars as part of the campaign.

The Sudani government recently renewed Iraq’s contract to purchase natural gas from Iran for another five years, which could lead to US displeasure.

The Iraqi prime minister will return to Iraq and greet the Turkish president on a visit which could finally lead to a solution to a long-running dispute over exports of oil from Kurdish areas of Iraq to Turkey. Washington has sought to get the flow of oil to resume.

Most previous Iraqi prime ministers have visited Washington earlier in their tenure. Sudani’s visit was delayed because of tensions between the US and Iran and regional escalation, including the Gaza war and the killing of three US soldiers in Jordan in a drone attack in late January. That was followed by a US strike that killed a leader in the Katai’b Hezbollah militia whom Washington accused of planning and participating in attacks on US troops.

Sudani came to power in late 2022 after a power struggle between prominent Shia cleric and political leader Moqtada Sadr and opposing Shia factions that are close to Iran after the 2021 elections. Sadr ultimately withdrew from the political process, giving the opportunity to the remaining Shia politicians to form a government headed by Sudani.

Since then, the Iraqi premier has attempted to maintain a balancing act between Iran and the US despite being seen as being close to Tehran and despite several incidents that have put his government in an embarrassing position in relation to Washington.

The prime minister's arrival comes as one of the worst War Crimes the US committed in Iraq goes on trial in Virginia.  Alice Speri (GUARDIAN) reports:

The first trial to contend with the post-9/11 abuse of detainees in US custody begins on Monday, in a case brought by three men who were held in the US-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

The jury trial, in a federal court in Virginia, comes nearly 20 years to the day that the photographs depicting torture and abuse in the prison were first revealed to the public, prompting an international scandal that came to symbolize the treatment of detainees in the US “war on terror”.

The long-delayed case was brought by Suhail Najim Abdullah Al Shimari, Salah Al-Ejaili and As’ad Al-Zuba’e, three Iraqi civilians who were detained at Abu Ghraib, before being released without charge in 2004. (A fourth man, Taha Yaseen Arraq Rashid, was dismissed from the case in 2019.) The men are suing CACI Premier Technology, a private company that was contracted by the US government to provide interrogators at the prison. The company has fought for 16 years to get the case thrown out, ultimately losing its last appeal in November.

“This is a historic trial that we hope will deliver some measure of justice and healing for what President Bush rightly deemed disgraceful conduct that dishonored the United States and its values,” said Katherine Gallagher, a senior attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, or CCR, which brought the case on behalf of the former detainees.

Meanwhile, Tareq Abu Azzoum (ALJAZEERA) reports this morning:

There’s a state of chaos right now as the Israeli military expands its military bombardment and campaign across the entire Gaza Strip.

In the early hours, hundreds of Palestinians tried to return back to the north on the coastal Rashid Road. But they were confronted by Israeli tanks, which blocked the roads, opened fire, and forced the majority of Palestinians to return to their squalid shelters here in the south. A number of injuries have been recorded.

The situation is dire in every single part of Gaza, but the main focus of Israeli operations right now is in the Nuseirat refugee camp.

We have been reporting about this for a couple of days, but today has been one of the bloodiest days. At least four Palestinians have been reported killed and more than 32 others wounded in Israeli attacks.

And, of course, the Israeli government continues to commit War Crimes.  ALJAZEERA notes:

The death toll from the incident remains unclear. But the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor said dozens of people were killed and wounded. Gaza’s Health Ministry said at least 68 were killed over the past 24 hours throughout the enclave.

The monitor condemned “the Israeli army’s targeting of thousands of forcibly displaced Palestinians as they attempted to return to their homes in Gaza City and its north, directly with artillery shells and live bullets, which led to dozens of deaths and injuries, including women and children”.

The Geneva-based rights group said in a statement that “the Israeli army committed on Sunday what may constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes by deliberately directing attacks against the civilian population”.

Artificial intelligence is playing a key and, by some accounts, highly disturbing role in Israel's war in Gaza.

Recent investigative reports suggest the Israeli military let an AI program take the lead on targeting thousands of Hamas operatives in the early days of the fighting and may have played a part in rash and imprecise kills, rampant destruction, and thousands of civilian casualties. The IDF flatly rejects this assertion.

The reporting offers a terrifying glimpse into where warfare could be headed, experts told Business Insider, and a clear example of how bad things can get if humans take a back seat to new technology like AI, especially in life-or-death matters.

"It's been the central argument when we've been talking about autonomous systems, AI, and lethality in war," Mick Ryan, a retired Australian major general and strategist focusing on evolutions in warfare, told BI. "The decision to kill a human is a very big one."

Earlier this month, a joint investigation by +972 Magazine and Local Call revealed Israel's Defense Force had been using an AI program named "Lavender" to generate suspected Hamas targets on the Gaza Strip, citing interviews with six anonymous Israeli intelligence officers.

The report alleges the IDF heavily relied on Lavender and essentially treated its information on who to kill "as if it were a human decision," sources said. Once a Palestinian was linked to Hamas and their home was located, sources said, the IDF effectively rubber-stamped the machine decision, barely taking more than a few seconds to review it themselves.

The speed of Israel's targeting put little effort into trying to reduce the harm to civilians nearby, the joint investigation found.

Dropping back to Friday's DEMOCRACY NOW!

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

Israel’s continued aerial and ground assault on Gaza killed dozens of Palestinians today, including in the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza, in Gaza City and in Rafah, where three-quarters of Gaza’s population have been displaced to. The official death toll in Gaza has topped 33,600, including over 14,000 children, the actual toll expected to be far higher with thousands of people missing and presumed dead under the rubble. More than 76,000 people have been wounded.

For more on Gaza, we turn to Part 2 of our conversation with the Israeli scholar Neve Gordon, professor of international law and human rights at Queen Mary University of London, chair of the Committee on Academic Freedom for British Society of Middle East Studies, author of a number of books, including Israel’s Occupation, co-author of Human Shields: A History of People in the Line of Fire, co-editor of Torture: Human Rights, Medical Ethics and the Case of Israel. He joined Democracy Now! co-host Nermeen Shaikh and I from London last week. I began by asking him about Israeli surveillance in Gaza.

NEVE GORDON: So, every state needs to impose a massive surveillance apparatus on its society — and its largest manifestation is the Central Bureau of Statistics — because in order to manage a society, you need to know a lot about it. You need to know different patterns of occupation, age, gender, race. You need to know their habits and so forth. And so, when Israel enters the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, the first thing, or one of the first things, it does is it begins to monitor and survey the population it is managing, which also tells us a lot about its intentions and the fact that it had no intention of withdrawing from Gaza and the West Bank after the war in 1967, because you don’t put in place such a massive surveillance apparatus, where you look at every letter sent, you look at — you go in and see how many refrigerators people have, how many stoves they have, what kind of crops they’re growing in their agricultural fields, everything like that — you don’t put that in place if you’re planning to leave, but you put it in place if you plan to manage the population.

And Israel managed the Palestinian population until Oslo, where basically the Oslo Accords can be understood as the creation of a subcontractor, Palestinian Authority, that it would take over the management of the daily life of the Palestinians. And the PA then creates its own Central Bureau of Statistics. And Israel changes then the kinds of surveillance that it carries out vis-à-vis the Palestinian population, because it is no longer responsible for the life of the Palestinians — the PA is — but now it is responsible for the security of Israel in relation to the Palestinian body. So it surveys the Palestinian body only insofar as it helps Israel ensure its so-called security. And so we see a change in the surveillance apparatus. And we see what I call in my first book a move from a politics of life, a politics where Israel is planting 200,000 or so trees in the Gaza Strip, versus a politics of death, where Israel is uprooting 200-or-so thousand trees in the Gaza Strip.

Now, over time, technologies develop. The military develops new technologies of surveillance. And one friend who works in the Israeli intelligence basically told me, “We can see almost everything in the Gaza Strip, whether it’s through our Zeppelins, whether it’s through our drones, whether it’s through satellites and different devices.” And Israel monitors every little step in the Gaza Strip. Every SIM card in the Gaza Strip is monitored. A lot of times when they say they’re targeting a person, they’re targeting the SIM card. So, what we have is a whole massive apparatus of surveillance that has existed for years for military use.

But what is new, or relatively new — I think it was first put to use in 2021 — is the use of AI system. It’s the kind of feeding of the data that Israel collects through its surveillance system to a machine that uses algorithms then, basically, to create different kinds of networks and to identify Hamas operative or different Palestinian fighters or other issues, because the bottleneck in the different cycles of violence that Israel has had — and as I mentioned, it had five since 2008 — was always the targets, the kill targets, because it would take an intelligence officer sometimes days or weeks to kind of figure out a target. And here you can put the data into the machine, and the machine — as the article in +972 tells us, the machine, within a limited amount of time, can produce 37,000 human targets. Now, the machine itself, the Israelis itself, are set telling us that there’s a 10% error rate even in that machine, even according to Israel, yet that Israel ignored that 10% error rate, and then it just started using this machine algorithms to bomb people in Gaza, as you said.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Professor Neve Gordon, this is the first time that we’re speaking to you since the October 7th attack, so I want to ask you — you’ve just quoted an Israeli intelligence official who told you that, given the extensive surveillance system that they have in place in Gaza, they can see almost everything that happens there. So, in light of that, could you tell us what your initial response was to the Hamas attack in Israel, and then what’s unfolded since? Of course, you’ve said that, and you say in the piece, that the speed and scale of the devastation of Gaza that’s ensued is “unparalleled in history.” So, if you could talk about that?

NEVE GORDON: So, the October 7th attack, as an Israeli Jew, was both horrific and devastating. A former graduate student of mine was killed on that day. A music teacher from my children’s school was killed on that day. His wife was killed on that day. And a friend that we thought was kidnapped was also — turned out to have been killed on that day. And it was a very, very painful moment for me, and it was a very, very painful moment, I think, for most Israelis. And the audience needs to understand that Israel is a small country, and the degree of separation between either a person that was killed or a person that was kidnapped in Israel, the maximum degree of separation is probably one degree. So everyone knew someone or knew someone that knew someone. And there was this kind of immense pain. And alongside that pain, there was also a major fear, because everything seemed to have collapsed. The major IDF intelligence apparatus was not working. The defense system was not working. The fence was breached without any problems. And the whole apparatus of the state seemed not to be functioning. So, most Israelis were in great pain, were in great fear. But also immediately came this notion of revenge, kind of a sense we have to hit back, we have to hit back hard, and so forth. And my fear is that most Israelis are still trapped, still stuck in that October 7th moment and unwilling to lift their eyes to see, basically, the genocide unfolding in the Gaza Strip.

And that’s what we’ve been seeing in the past six months, is this horrific devastation, massive killings of civilians. We have — I mean, Hamas killed 30 Israeli children on October 7th, and that is horrific. Israel has killed close to 15,000 children, not counting those that are under the rubble, since October 7th. We need to understand that figure: 15,000 children have been killed. We have women — thousands of women have been killed. And thousands of innocent men have been killed. Israel categorizes all the men as terrorists, but thousands of these men were not fighters. They were just men that were in their homes with their wives, with their children, and their homes were bombed. And so, we see the massive displacement of 1.7 million people. We see 70% of the Gaza Strip now in basically rubbles. We see systematic attacks on the healthcare, that the healthcare is now — which is the institution responsible for saving lives. It’s now completely shattered. So, it’s all been very devastating for me, as an Israeli Jew, to watch this kind of horrific violence unfolding in the Gaza Strip, with friends and friends of friends, again, dying. It’s not as if I don’t have friends in the Gaza Strip. And then we see the academia and education system. I mean, all the universities have been bombed in the Gaza Strip. We have almost half the schools are either damaged or destroyed. One-third of these schools are irreparable. So, one-third of the children, even after the war, will not have schools to return to. So, it’s just complete devastation, and it’s beyond words at this point.

AMY GOODMAN: I’m wondering if you can comment on the breaking of the establishment consensus, and if it matters, if you think it will lead to the end of the occupation. You wrote years ago, 15 years ago, a book called Israel’s Occupation. But here you are in London. You have Chef Andrés’s World Central Kitchen, seven people killed — one Palestinian, three British men, some part of the special forces — they were protecting the others, did not succeed in doing that — Australian, a Canadian American. In the United States, you have this odd situation where the president talks about being broken-hearted, and at the same time continues to push for massive amounts of military weapons to go to Israel. You have the mass protests in London, where you are, hundreds of thousands marching, and those calling for an end to military support of Israel. How has this shifted over time? And do you think that this has reached a critical mass, that Palestinians are now becoming full-fledged people in the eyes of the world and the establishment governments, and that Israel is the one being questioned?

NEVE GORDON: Well, we’re not yet where Palestinians have become full-fledged people in the eyes of the world. And we can see that very clearly through the attack on the World Central Kitchen, because, on average, every day, an aid worker has been killed in Gaza since the war began, but it becomes an international issue that all the political elite is discussing only when the aid workers are foreigners. So that shows us the deep-rooted racism that still exists.

However, there is a massive change. I’ve been at it for maybe 40 years now, and there is a massive change. And the massive change is that the Palestinians have managed to globalize their struggle. And civil society, from Sri Lanka and India to the United States through Europe and Africa, is with the Palestinians. And the civil society around the globe are horrified what they’re seeing, and have been now for the past half-year, particularly here in London with these massive demonstrations of hundreds of thousands of people, have been telling the political elite, “Hey, you’re not seeing what’s going on.” And it seems that, finally, after six months of the kind of devastation that I was describing before, this is having some kind of impact on the political elite. And so, we see different — as you mentioned earlier in the program, we see different countries now questioning the weapons trade with Israel. We see that happening in Spain. We saw a ruling in the Netherlands. We see now the law professors and judges in the U.K. protesting the trade and saying that it’s illegal. And we see slowly the political elite changing their voice. But it’s slow. It’s too slow. And what I would suggest is that civil society just needs to continue going out there and creating these thousands of stories of protest every day, until the political elite begins hearing what we have to say.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Professor Neve Gordon, is there any indication of even an incipient change in civil society in Israel? We’ve seen these massive, unprecedented protests, but, of course, those are against Netanyahu, not about a ceasefire in Gaza. But what do you hear about what the situation is on the ground in Israel, how people are thinking of what happened on October 7th and how this war will end?

NEVE GORDON: So, building up to October 7th, there were weekly protests for 35 weeks in a row, with hundreds of thousands of people going to the street against the judicial overhaul and against Netanyahu. That’s about half the Jewish population was against Netanyahu, and half the Jewish population was for Netanyahu. Come October 7th, and the glue that kind of glued these two camps together was revenge. And they wanted revenge against the Palestinian people. And so, the protests dissipated.

We see now the protests reemerging in the past few weeks, with about something around 10,000 people now protesting against Netanyahu. That’s about, I would say, 10% or less than what we saw before October 7th. Then we have protests for the return of the hostages. And so, you’ll get about 2,000, 3,000 people going to those protests. And then the ceasefire protests are sometimes with a hundred or 200 people. And it’s, frankly, often very dangerous to take part in those protests. People can be violent against you in the streets and so forth.

We see at the same time right-wing organizations scanning the different petitions Israelis are signing, looking at what they’re signing, and if an Israeli will sign a petition for a ceasefire or against arms trade with Israel, these right-wing organizations will go — if it’s, let’s say, a lecture in a university, will go to the students and mobilize the students against the lecture, so students ask the university to suspend or fire the professor. And we’ve seen several faculty members across the country being fired. We’ve seen it across the country. Mainly the people that have been targeted are Palestinian citizens of Israel, but also several Jews have lost their jobs due to basically empathy with the Palestinians and call for a ceasefire.

So, the situation in Israel is that the freedom of speech, for example, that I enjoyed when I lived in Israel, has been really curtailed, contracted. And things that people could easily say before October 7th, it’s very difficult to say today, sometimes even very dangerous to say them, and particularly if you’re a Palestinian citizen.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Gordon, I know you have to go soon, but I wanted to ask you about Prime Minister Netanyahu saying he’s going to ban Al Jazeera. Now, it’s not as if Israeli Jews are big aficionados of Al Jazeera, but the significance around the world of what it means? We saw this, you know, at the time, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld talking about Al Jazeera as a terror network. That’s when Al Jazeera was covering the U.S. invasion of Iraq. And we see it again now. You talk about what Israelis see versus what Palestinians are experiencing, the horror of the devastation of Gaza. Yet Al Jazeera is perhaps one of the only global networks that brings the voices of Palestinians and Israeli officials to the Arab world, in a way we do not see in the United States, even with CNN, with MSNBC, rarely interviewing a Palestinian. If you can talk about what the significance of this is?

NEVE GORDON: So, as you said —

AMY GOODMAN: Not to mention how many journalists have been killed in Gaza.

NEVE GORDON: Exactly. So, Israel has killed over a hundred journalists in Gaza. And why are journalists being targeted? Because journalists channel information to the world outside. And the Al Jazeera, since October 7th, has been probably the best global network, the best network, that has managed to cover at least part of the horrors that are taking place in the Gaza Strip, and managed to confront Israeli policymakers and discuss these issues. And Israel does not want the world to see what is going on.

A lot of commentators have said this is the first genocide that the world sees taking — unfolding in front of their very eyes. And I think that is something to think about. And I think that Israel has begun thinking about it. It knows the kind of violence that it’s carrying out. It knows that Al Jazeera has managed to get this violence out there into the world. I’m sure other networks are also looking at what Al Jazeera is doing, and using some of its information. And Israel wants to put a stop to this information so it can carry out the kind of crimes that it’s been carrying out, without it being seen by such a great audience.

So, there is a systematic attack, both inside Israel, in terms of the Facebook, the social media pages of the Palestinian citizens of Israel, that are getting information from Gaza and kind of amplifying it to the world. There is the — we have to remember, there’s the internet blackouts that Israel has put on the Gaza Strip. And there’s the targeting of journalists. And I think the banning of Al Jazeera is just another step in a whole series of steps about how do we manage to restrict the information from getting out of the Gaza Strip so the world won’t see what we’re doing, the kind of — the eliminationist project that we’re carrying out, we, as Israelis, are carrying out in the Gaza Strip.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Professor Gordon, just before we end, if you could tell us how you think this war will come to an end, the status of the negotiations, what’s likely to happen, what will it take for a ceasefire to be declared, for a prisoner exchange to take place?

NEVE GORDON: I think we’re in a major bind here. I think Netanyahu, as many people have already said, has a vested interest in maintaining and sustaining the war, because the minute the war ends, Netanyahu will have to go back to the Israeli public, and they will demand accountability, not only accountability for the three corruption trials that he’s undergoing, but, more importantly, for accountability for October 7th and for the hostages and so forth. So Netanyahu has this kind of vested interest of continuing this war, and maybe even creating a geopolitical crisis that extends far beyond Israel, that goes to Lebanon. We saw the attack on the Iranian Embassy in Syria the other day, and so forth.

I think he will be willing for a short ceasefire to carry out a hostage exchange. And I really, really hope that that happens very soon and that the hostages are released, and that all the Palestinian political prisoners that are being held in Israel are also released.

But if I understood your question correctly, I think you’re also asking about the bigger picture. What about the day after? And I think the problem is not Netanyahu. The problem is the Israeli regime. And I think that if Gantz enters into power or anyone else, not much is going to change under the sun. I think what we need to aspire for is a real change in the regime.

People are chanting, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” So, now, from the river to the sea, there’s millions of Palestinians that are not free. And the way I would imagine the kind of future I would aspire for Israel would be, yes, from the river to the sea, everyone will be free, meaning that we’ll have a state there where both all the Palestinians, the Palestinians in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza Strip, are all citizens of that state, the Jews that are now there will be citizens of that state, and it will be a Jewish — a kind of a state for all its citizens, and not a state, a regime, where Jewish supremacy, as the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem calls it, is the kind of paradigm through which the regime carries out its legislation, its policies and practices.

So, I think a lot will have to be done. There was a great piece in The New York Times the other day by Tareq Baconi, calling on policymakers to abandon the two-state solution. I think Tareq Baconi is right. I think the situation in Israel — and Israel admits to it — that it controls the area from the river to the sea. And so the situation is that there is one state. The one state is a settler-colonial apartheid state. And our project now is how to democratize it.

AMY GOODMAN: Israeli scholar Neve Gordon, professor of international law and human rights at Queen Mary University of London, chair of the Committee on Academic Freedom for British Society of Middle East Studies and chair of the Committee on Academic Freedom for British Society. He is the author of several books, including Israel’s Occupation, and co-author of Human Shields: A History of People in the Line of Fire, co-editor of Torture: Human Rights, Medical Ethics and the Case of Israel. To see our full interview with Neve Gordon, you can go to

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Gaza remains under assault. Day 192 of  the assault in the wave that began in October.  Binoy Kampmark (DISSIDENT VOICE) points out, "Bloodletting as form; murder as fashion.  The ongoing campaign in Gaza by Israel’s Defence Forces continues without stalling and restriction.  But the burgeoning number of corpses is starting to become a challenge for the propaganda outlets:  How to justify it?  Fortunately for Israel, the United States, its unqualified defender, is happy to provide cover for murder covered in the sheath of self-defence."   CNN has explained, "The Gaza Strip is 'the most dangerous place' in the world to be a child, according to the executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund."  ABC NEWS quotes UNICEF's December 9th statement, ""The Gaza Strip is the most dangerous place in the world to be a child. Scores of children are reportedly being killed and injured on a daily basis. Entire neighborhoods, where children used to play and go to school have been turned into stacks of rubble, with no life in them."  NBC NEWS notes, "Strong majorities of all voters in the U.S. disapprove of President Joe Biden’s handling of foreign policy and the Israel-Hamas war, according to the latest national NBC News poll. The erosion is most pronounced among Democrats, a majority of whom believe Israel has gone too far in its military action in Gaza."  The slaughter continues.  It has displaced over 1 million people per the US Congressional Research Service.  Jessica Corbett (COMMON DREAMS) points out, "Academics and legal experts around the world, including Holocaust scholars, have condemned the six-week Israeli assault of Gaza as genocide."   The death toll of Palestinians in Gaza is grows higher and higher.  United Nations Women noted, "More than 1.9 million people -- 85 per cent of the total population of Gaza -- have been displaced, including what UN Women estimates to be nearly 1 million women and girls. The entire population of Gaza -- roughly 2.2 million people -- are in crisis levels of acute food insecurity or worse."  ALJAZEERA notes, "The number of Palestinians killed since Israel launched its attack six months ago reached 33,797, Gaza’s Health Ministry says.  Another 76,465 people have been wounded since October. In the past 24 hours, 68 Palestinians were killed and 94 injured, it said in a statement."  Months ago,  AP  noted, "About 4,000 people are reported missing."  February 7th, Jeremy Scahill explained on DEMOCRACY NOW! that "there’s an estimated 7,000 or 8,000 Palestinians missing, many of them in graves that are the rubble of their former home."  February 5th, the United Nations' Phillipe Lazzarini Tweeted:

April 11th, Sharon Zhang (TRUTHOUT) reported, "n addition to the over 34,000 Palestinians who have been counted as killed in Israel’s genocidal assault so far, there are 13,000 Palestinians in Gaza who are missing, a humanitarian aid group has estimated, either buried in rubble or mass graves or disappeared into Israeli prisons.  In a report released Thursday, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor said that the estimate is based on initial reports and that the actual number of people missing is likely even higher."

As for the area itself?  Isabele Debre (AP) reveals, "Israel’s military offensive has turned much of northern Gaza into an uninhabitable moonscape. Whole neighborhoods have been erased. Homes, schools and hospitals have been blasted by airstrikes and scorched by tank fire. Some buildings are still standing, but most are battered shells."  Kieron Monks (I NEWS) reports, "More than 40 per cent of the buildings in northern Gaza have been damaged or destroyed, according to a new study of satellite imagery by US researchers Jamon Van Den Hoek from Oregon State University and Corey Scher at the City University of New York. The UN gave a figure of 45 per cent of housing destroyed or damaged across the strip in less than six weeks. The rate of destruction is among the highest of any conflict since the Second World War."

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