Thursday, December 21, 2023

The list

Been awhile since we hear of Jizzy Pants.  Ghislaine Maxwell is in prison and serving a 20 year sentence (I'm sure they'll let her out early).  USA Today reports:

The names of more than 150 people linked to Jeffrey Epstein could be revealed after a New York judge ordered a new batch of documents in a lawsuit against his co-conspirator Ghislaine Maxwell unsealed.

Judge Loretta A. Preska ordered the documents to be unsealed on Jan. 1, giving those mentioned more than a week to appeal their case.

In the 2015 lawsuit, Virginia Giuffre accused Maxwell, Epstein's long-time paramour, of facilitating years of sexual abuse at the hands of Epstein that began when Giuffre was 16.

Wonder who on the list will be the most embarrassed?

Think it is way past time that we knew who was part of this.


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


Thursday, December 21, 2023.  Another game of kick the can -- who can kick the can, who can kick the can, old man Biden can -- as the UN Security Council vote is yet again postponed, Christians in Gaza face celebrating a holy day with bombs dropping, dire warnings continue to be made about the food crisis in Gaza, and much more.

THE NEW YORK TIMES notes,  "The United Nations Security Council pushed off to Thursday a highly anticipated vote on a resolution calling for a halt in fighting in the war in Gaza and a major increase aid deliveries. The delay was at the request of the United States to allow more time for more negotiations, according to diplomats."


Feeling deja vu?  That's because the vote was supposed to take place Monday -- we were all told it would over the weekend.  Then Monday came and it was postponed until Tuesday.  Tuesday came and it was postponed until Wednesday.  Wednesday came and now it's postponed to today.  Will it take place today?  THE WASHINGTON POST notes, "The U.N. Security Council will reconvene Thursday after a vote on a war-related resolution was delayed three times because of opposition from the United States. World powers are trying to hone the resolution’s language so that Washington won’t veto it."

Do you really think that as they dicker over wording the bombs and drones aren't still killing civilians?

NBC NEWS reports nearly 15,000 children in Gaza have been killed or injured in the ongoing assault.

We don't have time for performative nonsense intended to garner applause while actually doing nothing.

What's that smell?  

Barbara Lee stinking up the discussion again.  Brett Wilkins must not live in California.  If he did, we'd have to call him a liar for his post at COMMON DREAMS which opens:

Congresswoman Barbara Lee—the only one of three California House Democrats vying for a U.S. Senate seat who backs an unconditional Gaza cease-fire—on Wednesday set herself apart from congressional colleagues who support a pause to the fighting, but with strings attached. 

So Big Fake Barbara has him fooled, she shouldn't have you fooled.  And I don't get the nonsense of saying she's vying with two other Democrats.  That's not how it works in California.  Honestly, shut up if you don't vote in California because it's not your state.  It's different.  If all the people who didn't live in California hadn't been pimping DiFi and telling lies because they were too stupid to know what was what, DiFi wouldn't have died in office.  She wouldn't have won the election.  The country would be better off.  ROE would likely be in place because it wouldn't like she was conspiring and because anyone would have been stronger -- in a hearing, on a vote -- than weak ass DiFi.

But it was time for all the scum of the earth -- including 2008 John McCain girl who's restyled herself as a lefty progressive -- hadn't insisted we had to support Diane or it would go to a Republican!!!!

That's not Califonria.  I'm not even talking demography, I'm talking the way we vote.  Our top two vote getters -- regardless of party -- will advance to the general election.  That's why the general election ballot -- not the primary -- featured only two names DiFi and Kevin de Leon -- both Democrats.

I'm so damn tired of idiots who start lecturing us and they don't even know it works in California.  

Barbara Lee wants to be in the US Senate.  She's too damn old.  Having just had DiFi die in office, the last thing we need to do is elect a 78 year old (she'll be 78 before next November's election) to an six year term.  84.  That's too damn old.

Then there's the fact that a soft and squishy 'left' 'independent' media -- I'm referring to the John Nichols liars -- have repeatedly portrayed as something she's not.  She is a Hawk.  She's always been a hawk.

And she's no friend to Palestinians. 

The latest induction ceremony for Sebastopol’s Living Peace Wall, erected to celebrate and commemorate advocates for peace and justice, has sparked a reaction at odds with its mission: Avoiding conflict.

The dissension stems from the inclusion of Rep. Barbara Lee, a veteran Democratic Congresswoman who represents Oakland, Berkeley and Alameda.

Heralded among wide swathes of progressives for her advocacy for the poor, the Black Lives Matter movement, gay rights, affordable housing and homelessness, Lee has more recently drawn the ire of those who say she has failed to stand up for the rights of Palestinians.

“We respect her for all the work she has done over the years, but on this issue? It’s PEP — Progressive Except Palestine. She’s a classic one,” said longtime North Bay activist Mary Moore of Occidental, herself a 2021 Peace Wall inductee.

And that is her history.

Currently, she's desperate to get on the general election ballot -- only two people will.  And she's either a distant third or fourth in the poll (yes, ,sometimes she comes in behind the former baseball player).  So she suddenly discovers her support for Palestinians after decades in Congress.  

This is the same fake ass who gave Barack Obama cover for Afghanistan in 2009 insisting that people not call him out.  Give him a year, next year, Babsie insisted, she'd hold his feet to the fire. 2010 only brought more excuses and that repeated for every year of his two terms as president.  Which is why Joe Biden was stuck being the grown up in the room and withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan.  

Barbara Lee has a good p.r. team.  That's all.  And that's why Californians don't want her.  They want Katie Porter or Adam Schiff.  They don't want Barbara Lee.  She's not a stranger to us.  We know her very well -- over many years.  She should take a int and drop out.

And instead of doing PR for her, COMMON DREAMS needs to be noting her real record.  That would be holding her feet to the fire -- something real activists in California have been doing for years and one of the only reasons she's now making this tiny effort to stop a slaughter.

There's something sad and sick about a desperate woman who's been in Congress since a 1998 special election and who has ignored the plight of the Palestinians this entire time but now is desperate to get into the Senate so it's Christopher Columbus time for Babsie.

While Babsie plays dress up, Christians around the world gear up to celebrate one of the holiest of holy days in their religion -- Christmas.  But this Christmas, Christians in Gaza are under attack.  From yesterday's DEMOCRACY NOW!

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

“It is terrorism.” Those were the words of Pope Francis after an Israeli sniper shot dead two Christian women, an elderly woman and her adult daughter who tried to save her, at a Catholic church in Gaza City on Sunday. The shooting took place at the Holy Family Latin Parish, where scores of Palestinian Christians have been trapped with little food or water. The pope condemned the shooting in remarks Sunday.

POPE FRANCIS: [translated] And let us not forget our brothers and sisters suffering from war in Ukraine, Palestine, Israel and other conflict zones. May the approach of Christmas strengthen our commitment to open paths of peace. I continue to receive from Gaza very serious and painful news. Unarmed civilians are being bombed and shot at. And this has even happened inside the Holy Family Parish compound, where there are no terrorists, but families, children, and sick people with disabilities, and nuns. A mother and her daughter, Ms. Nahida Khalil Anton and her daughter Samar Kamal Anton, were killed, and others wounded, by the snipers as they went to the bathroom. The house of Mother Teresa’s nuns was damaged, their generator hit. Some say it’s terrorism. It’s war. Yes, it’s war. It’s terrorism. That is why Scripture says that God stops war, breaks bows and breaks spears. Let us pray to the Lord for peace.

AMY GOODMAN: That was the pope this Sunday. British MP Layla Moran has also denounced Israel’s attacks on the Gaza City Catholic church. Some of her relatives are trapped inside.

LAYLA MORAN: I’ve spoken before in this House about my extended family who are in the Holy Family Parish Church in Zeitoun in Gaza. And the situation has been desperate for weeks, but now it’s descending. There are tanks outside the gates. There are soldiers and snipers pointing into the complex, shooting at anyone who ventures out. And the convent was bombed. On Saturday, two women were shot. They were simply trying to get to the toilet. There is no electricity. There is no clean water. And the update that I had last night was that they’re down to their last can of corn. I’m told, after pressure, that food has been delivered. But they’ve not seen it.

And when this began a week ago, the IDF soldiers ordered these civilians to evacuate against their will. Can the government confirm that it sees the forcible displacement of civilians as unacceptable? The people in this church, Mr. Speaker, are civilians. They have nothing to do with Hamas. They are nuns, orphans, disabled people. They are a small Christian community, and they know everyone. As the pope has said, and my family can confirm, it is categorically untrue to say Hamas are operating from there. This situation has been condemned by many. Will this government do so?

AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined now by Philip Farah. He is a co-founder of the Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace, has relatives sheltering in the Church of Saint Porphyrius in Gaza City, which has also come under attack. Last month, one of his relatives, Elham Farah, who was a beloved 84-year-old music teacher, daughter of a famed Palestinian poet, was killed by an Israeli sniper outside the Holy Family Church, where the mother and daughter were killed on Sunday by an Israeli sniper.

Philip Farah, can you describe what is happening there right now? And talk about this small Palestinian Christian community under siege. How is this happening?

PHILIP FARAH: Thank you, Amy. Thank you, Democracy Now!

Yes, three of my grandparents are from Gaza. I was raised in Jerusalem, but we had very strong connections to Gaza. There were many, many Palestinian Christian families in Gaza. It was a thriving community. Our relatives, the Medbaqs, the Tarazis, the Sabas, the Jahshan, Farah, including Farah, and Sayeghs, were a thriving community that lived in peace with their Muslim neighbors and even their Jewish neighbors. Back then, one of my granduncles was a greens merchant, and some of his best friends were Jewish greens merchants, as well. They were in the business of exporting barley, actually, to the United Kingdom for upgrading beer in breweries in the U.K.

Over the years, that community has dwindled to a tiny minority because of the horrible conditions that Israel has imposed on Gaza, especially — back in 2013, the number was 3,000, far, far smaller than it was, say, at the turn of the century. Now it’s only barely a thousand people. And they’re all sheltering in Saint Porphyrius, the Orthodox church. That is the church where my father, uncles and aunts and members of my extended family were baptized. So, many were sheltering in Saint Porphyrius. I think still some are. Four of my Tarazi relatives were killed there.

Elham actually was sheltering at Saint Porphyrius until the bombing that killed — the Israeli bombing that killed 18 Christians in that church. And then she moved to the Holy Cross, the Holy Family Church. She was a delightful 84-year-old woman, beloved of many students in Gaza. But she was strongheaded. And against the advice of her fellows who were sheltering there, she wanted to go home. She just simply wanted to go home. And she proceeded to do that. A sniper shot her in the leg. And folks who were trying to rescue her were all being shot at, so she bled to death. What could a woman like that, 84-year-old woman, have done to hurt Israelis?

So, you know, this is a continuing saga. Now the vast majority are sheltering in the Church of the Holy Family. And as you said, the snipers have shot two other elderly — well, Nahida, an elderly woman, and her daughter came to carry her, and she was shot and killed. And several others were also injured.

I have a relative by the name of Philip Jahshan. Actually, my family originally was Jahshan. Philip Jahshan is the only Gazan whom I’m able to reach through social media. He’s sheltering there. You know, for four days, I was worried about him and tried to reach him, but communications was shut down. Finally, I was able. He told me that he was OK. But, like you said, they have no food. And as you know, Israel has used water and food and electricity as part of its genocidal war. There’s no other name for it.

AMY GOODMAN: Philip, we want to continue this conversation after the broadcast, and we’re going to post it online. Philip Farah is co-founder of the Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace, has relatives sheltering in the Church of Saint Porphyrius in Gaza City, which was bombed by the Israeli military. Porphyrius is thought to be the third-oldest church in the world. Last month, his family member Elham Farah was killed by an Israeli sniper outside the Holy Family Church, where she had been taking refuge.

Next up, Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott has signed one of the nation’s most extreme anti-immigrant bills, empowering local police to arrest anyone they suspect of entering the United States without authorization. Back in 20 seconds.

Gaza is under assault.  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 now well over 18,000. NBC NEWS notes, "The vast majority of its 2.2 million people are displaced, and an estimated half face starvation amid an unfolding humanitarian crisis."  ABC NEWS notes, "In the Gaza Strip, at least 19,667 people have been killed and more than 52,000 others have been wounded by Israeli forces since Oct. 7, according to figures released by Gaza's Hamas-run Ministry of Health and the Hamas government media office."  In addition to the dead and the injured, there are the missing.  AP notes, "About 4,000 people are reported missing."  And the area itself?  Isabele Debre (AP) reveals, "Israel’s military offensive has turned much of northern Gaza into an uninhabitable moonscape. Whole neighborhoods have been erased. Homes, schools and hospitals have been blasted by airstrikes and scorched by tank fire. Some buildings are still standing, but most are battered shells."  Kieron Monks (I NEWS) reports, "More than 40 per cent of the buildings in northern Gaza have been damaged or destroyed, according to a new study of satellite imagery by US researchers Jamon Van Den Hoek from Oregon State University and Corey Scher at the City University of New York. The UN gave a figure of 45 per cent of housing destroyed or damaged across the strip in less than six weeks. The rate of destruction is among the highest of any conflict since the Second World War."  Max Butterworth (NBC NEWS) adds, "Satellite images captured by Maxar Technologies on Sunday reveal three of the main hospitals in Gaza from above, surrounded by the rubble of destroyed buildings after weeks of intense bombing in the region by Israeli forces."

On Wednesday, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) published a report alleging that Israeli forces carried out a mass execution of civilians in northern Gaza Tuesday, separating 11 men from their families and summarily shooting them.

This report and a similar allegation by the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor imply that Israel has moved from murdering civilians through bombing to mass executions.

In its report, the OHCHR in the Occupied Palestinian Territories reports that it “has received disturbing information alleging that Israel Defense Forces (IDF) summarily killed at least 11 unarmed Palestinian men in front of their family members in Al Remal neighbourhood, Gaza City, which raises alarm about the possible commission of a war crime.”

The UN wrote, “On 19 December 2023, between 2000 and 2300 hours, IDF reportedly surrounded and raided Al Awda building, also known as the ‘Annan building’, in Al Remal neighborhood, Gaza City, where three related families were sheltering in addition to Annan family.”

The UN added, “While in control of the building and the civilians sheltering there, the IDF allegedly separated the men from the women and children, and then shot and killed at least 11 of the men, mostly aged in their late 20’s and early 30’s, in front of their family members.” The UN continued, “The IDF then allegedly ordered the women and children into a room, and either shot at them or threw a grenade into the room, reportedly seriously injuring some of them, including an infant and a child. OHCHR has confirmed the killings at Al Awda building.”

The attacks continue.  These are War Crimes.  CNN’s Akanksha Sharma notes:

The head of the United Nations' health agency on Thursday warned of the “toxic mix of disease, hunger and lack of hygiene and sanitation” faced by people in Gaza as he called for an immediate ceasefire in Israel's war with Hamas.

"Hunger weakens the body’s defenses and opens the door to disease," World Health Organization director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

"Gaza is already experiencing soaring rates of infectious disease outbreaks. Diarrhoea cases among children aged under 5 are 25 times what they were before the conflict," he said. "Such illnesses can be lethal for malnourished children, more so in the absence of functioning health services. We need a ceasefire now."

Tedros' comments come amid multiple calls from UN agencies for a pause in fighting to help relief efforts in Gaza.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned Thursday that intense fighting is impeding efforts to assist people in Gaza. He called for “conditions to allow for large-scale humanitarian operations” to be "reestablished immediately.”

On Wednesday, the World Food Programme said half of Gaza's population is starving and residents are often going entire days without eating. Meanwhile, UNICEF warned Tuesday that children and families “are not safe in hospitals” in Gaza as the enclave’s wider health care system teeters on the edge of collapse.  

U.N. Secretary General António Guterres, the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees and the World Food Program expressed difficulties in distributing aid in Gaza — naming bombardments, blackouts, staff members being killed and fuel shortages, among the factors.

Ninety percent of people in Gaza are eating less than one meal a day, the World Food Program said in a statement Wednesday. Half are starving, and the majority are struggling to find drinkable water, it added.

All but one of WFP’s 25 contracted bakeries in Gaza have been destroyed in bombardments, and one of its food assistance program partners, Jamal AbuAitah, died along with his family during shelling, it said.

AMY GOODMAN: The head of Hamas’s political wing, Ismail Haniyeh, has arrived in Cairo, Egypt, for talks as hopes grow that a new deal could be reached for a ceasefire and the release of more hostages. Israel’s bombardment of Gaza began 75 days ago, on October 7th, just hours after Hamas’s attack on Israel. Health authorities in Gaza say at least 19,600 Palestinians have been killed so far. Thousands are feared to be still trapped under the rubble.

Just before this broadcast, Israel struck residential buildings in the southern city of Rafah near the Kuwaiti Special Hospital. A reporter from Al Jazeera, Hani Mahmoud, was on the air when the attack occurred.

HANI MAHMOUD: As we’re getting into — ooh! Oh my god! Did you hear that?

ANCHOR: Yes. Yes, we did, Hani.

HANI MAHMOUD: Oh my god! Oh, that’s the hospital! That’s the hospital! That’s the hospital! Oh my god! Are you guys hearing this?

ANCHOR: Yes, we are. We are hearing that, Hani. Are you — are you OK?

HANI MAHMOUD: Are you hearing that? All the debris.

ANCHOR: Are you — are you in a safe place to continue to talk to us?

HANI MAHMOUD: Why? Why? Why?

AMY GOODMAN: “Why? Why?” Hani Mahmoud asks, the Al Jazeera reporter. Al Jazeera reports the Israeli attack destroyed a large mosque in Rafah, as well as two residential homes. Israeli drones had been seen in the sky just before the strikes. Earlier, an Israeli attack on the Jabaliya refugee camp killed at least 46 Palestinians and wounded dozens.

The United Nations Security Council is expected to vote on a new Gaza resolution today. The vote was postponed Tuesday after the United States voiced opposition to a draft of the resolution. On December 8th, the United States vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for ceasefire.

This all comes as tension is growing in the Red Sea. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has announced the U.S. will lead a new military task force to protect ships in the Red Sea following a number of attacks by Houthi forces from Yemen.

We’re joined now by Rashid Khalidi, the Edward Said professor of modern Arab studies at Columbia University here in New York. He’s the author of several books, including his latest, The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine. His recent opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times is headlined “How the U.S. has fueled Israel’s decades-long war on Palestinians.”

Professor Khalidi, I’m wondering if you can start off by just talking about the situation overall in Gaza? Your family is from the West Bank. You also have family in Gaza. And I want to just point out that I particularly talked about, named the journalist with Al Jazeera, Hani Mahmoud, because it has been so horrifying to only name journalists after they have been killed, and so many scores of them have died. Hani Mahmoud’s bravery is astounding as we watch him through the Gaza Strip and today in the midst of this attack. Take it from there, Professor Khalidi.

RASHID KHALIDI: Well, he’s very fortunate that he’s still alive. Over 90 journalists have been killed in Gaza since — we’re now in the 11th week of this war. Two hundred and eighty-three healthcare workers have been killed. A hundred and thirty-five United Nations workers have been killed. It’s the highest death toll the United Nations has ever suffered in its entire history. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You cited a number of 20,000 people earlier, apparently having been killed. Probably the number is much higher, because there are so many thousands of people buried under the rubble or missing. And we will probably not know the final death toll until many, many months from now, when operations to remove the ruins of the buildings that have been destroyed are completed.

The situation in Gaza is unspeakable. What we hear from my niece’s family there is — I can’t describe it. It’s beyond belief. People are scrambling for the basic necessities of life and are sometimes not finding them — firewood to heat water and cook, enough water for everybody to have sufficient water to drink, let alone wash. I could go on. It is unspeakable. It is intolerable.

And the tragic thing about it is that this is clearly intended. Neither our government nor the Israeli government recognize the fact that what is happening there is causing this immiseration of over 2 million people. And this could easily be stopped, and should be stopped. I can’t — I can’t — I can’t understand how this country can allow this to continue. The idea that going after Hamas entails the destruction of more than half of the housing in Gaza, the idea that going after Hamas entails the wounding of 50,000 people and the killing of 20,000, is just — it’s incomprehensible to me that our government can be so callous and can be so determined not to separate itself from Israel, as far as this basic — the basic nature of this war, which is really directed against the people of Gaza. Over 2 million people have been forced to leave their homes. This is the largest displacement in Palestinian history. The killing of 20,000 people, almost half of whom are children, is unprecedented in Palestinian history. So we are talking about traumatic events that are going to scar generations to come. And this doesn’t seem to be a matter of concern to our government, let alone the government of Israel.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Professor Khalidi, we’ve seen massive, unprecedented demonstrations in support of the Palestinians throughout the world. A majority of governments in the General Assembly, overwhelming majority, have called for a ceasefire, yet the Security Council continues to be a roadblock, especially the United States. Can you talk about what this is doing to the legitimacy of the U.N. itself?

RASHID KHALIDI: Well, I think it’s harming the United Nations, but I think it’s also harming the legitimacy of the United States’ position. It’s not the Security Council that’s blocking action. It’s the U.S. government that’s blocking action. There was one abstention, 13 votes in favor last time that a ceasefire resolution was before the Security Council. And they spent three days trying to get a resolution which involves not a ceasefire, but a humanitarian pause, and the United States has been obstructing that, as I’ve said, for three days. So, I think this is going to harm not just the United Nations, because it’s manifestly helpless in the face of this catastrophe; it’s harming the United States.

There is overwhelming support the world over for ending this. There is overwhelming support, sympathy, the world over for the Palestinians. There is — I think the polls show very strong support even in the United States for ending this war, and at the very least for stopping what’s going on so that humanitarian aid can get in. And the administration is clearly impervious to all of this. And I think the mainstream media, frankly, are complicit in this. Nobody knows that four major trade unions have come out for a ceasefire: the United Auto Workers, the nurses, the electricians and the postal workers. The New York Times, for example, has not deigned to mentioned that. Well, that’s a large chunk of labor. We’re talking about a great deal of anger and opposition to the Biden administration’s policy among wide swaths of the American people. And they just plow on as if none of this mattered. I find it very hard to explain, frankly.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to ask you about — there have been numerous media reports of attacks on U.S. troops in Syria and Iraq, that are threatening to expand the conflict beyond just the Occupied Territories and Gaza. But what the heck are U.S. troops still doing in those two countries? Has Congress authorized their presence there? Do the governments of those countries even want them there?

RASHID KHALIDI: Well, the government of Syria, the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad, certainly doesn’t want them there. And the pretext for their being in Syria [inaudible] against the Islamic State. I don’t think there is any authorization for their being there. The troops that are in Iraq are supposedly engaged in training the Iraqi army but there’s a great deal of opposition in Iraq, even though the Iraqi government has accepted their presence there. There’s a great deal of opposition in the Iraqi parliament to the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq.

And I think what we’re seeing are attacks, whether from Yemen on shipping or firing missiles at Israel or attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq or in Syria, which are a response to what Israel is doing in Gaza. And the same is true, obviously, of the fighting that’s going on between Hezbollah and the Israeli army along Israel’s northern frontiers. The fear is that this will — that this could possibly be expanded, that this could become a regional war. So far, we are now in the 11th week of this war, since the 7th of October. And so far, that fear has been — or, that possibility has been contained. But it is always there. And it would lead to, I think, possibly terrible consequences, were the war to expand beyond its already quite horrific level in Gaza and were that to spark a further increase of fighting on the Lebanese border, in Syria, Iraq or out of Yemen.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about also what’s happening in the Red Sea? You have a dozen corporations who say they won’t ship their goods through the Red Sea. You have U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announcing a 10-nation coalition to protect trading interests there, including Bahrain, Canada, France, Italy, the U.K., the Seychelles; Houthi officials saying that their drone and missile attacks will continue as long as Israel bombards Gaza.

RASHID KHALIDI: There is enormous anger in the Arab world about what is happening in Gaza. Things that Americans don’t see, or don’t see enough of, the scenes of what is actually happening in Gaza, are being watched all over the Arab world, and across much of the world. And the anger that people have and their frustration at the unwillingness of their governments to do more to try and stop this is palpable. In Saudi Arabia, people can’t demonstrate. In some countries, they can demonstrate. But you talk to anybody in any of these countries, and public opinion is boiling. And the passivity of Arab governments in the face of this, their unwillingness to actually take action, I think, is — contrasts with Hezbollah, militias in Iraq and Syria, and the Houthis in Yemen actually engaging militarily in doing something.

And I think it is really time for countries that want to have to ceasefire to begin to group together, whether Arab countries or European countries or countries in the Global South, to group together and say there will be X, Y, Z sanctions if this doesn’t stop. At the very least, if sufficient humanitarian aid, if sufficient field hospitals, if sufficient water and food and so forth are not allowed into Gaza, this and this and this will be done to Israel, which is responsible. And I think that there are countries that could do this, including Arab countries. Jordan has recalled its ambassador. Well, that’s not going to affect Israel very much. But stopping the transportation of food from the Gulf to Israel — apparently the Emiratis are shipping food to Israel — would actually affect Israel. Doing things that threaten diplomatic relations would have an impact. Now, that, in and of itself, is not enough, but I think a lot more has to be done.

The United Nations, as we can see, is paralyzed by the U.N. veto — by the U.S., I should say, veto. The General Assembly has done what it could, 153 to 10. You can’t have a more lopsided vote than that. I think more has to be done to bring home to people in Washington, in particular, that this is unacceptable and actually unsustainable, that the possibility of this overflowing into regional conflagration, which is always there, is only part of the damage that is being done. Whole generations are being brought up angry at the United States, enraged at Israel, all over the region. And Israel is going to have to deal with this for decades to come. The United States is going to have to deal with this for decades to come. We are seen as complicit. These are American artillery shells, American bombs, American rockets, American planes, American helicopters, American artillery that are being used in this war. Twenty thousand people have been killed mainly with American weapons, mostly civilians, in Gaza. And people are not going to forget that, unfortunately. And I don’t see a sense of the impact of this in Washington. I don’t — I really think they live in some kind of a bubble, in some kind of a vacuum, in some kind of a fact-free space, where they don’t seem to understand the impact of all of this. What they are thinking and why they are thinking that is actually beyond me, as I’ve said.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to ask you, Rashid Khalidi, about the Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh, in Egypt to discuss a possible new truce, The Wall Street Journal reporting Hamas is also in discussions with Palestinian rivals, like Fatah, about a possible joint scenario for ruling the West Bank and Gaza afterwards. Of course, Netanyahu is completely against this. If you can talk about the discussion of the hostage negotiations, where we have seen reports of possibly Marwan Barghouti — and if you can explain his significance — being released for a number of Israeli soldiers released? Talk about all of this that’s going on right now, so people can understand what’s next.

RASHID KHALIDI: Well, that’s a big — that’s a big — that’s a big number — that’s a large number of questions.

I think the first thing, the hostage issue. There has been a huge problem around the hostages, because what Hamas has been demanding up until now is essentially an all-for-all exchange, all of the prisoners and hostages. I mean, some of the hostages are military, and many of them are civilians. And what they’ve been saying, apparently, from what we can tell from press reports, is that if you want all of the hostages, you’re going to have to release all of the prisoners. And that is one possibility, I think unlikely. And one of the prisoners who could, therefore, be released is Marwan Barghouti, who’s a senior Fatah leader who was convicted of multiple murders, by an Israeli military court that he never recognized, and who might well be a candidate for president who could win a majority of Palestinian votes.

I think the other issue — and there are other possibilities as far as hostages are concerned — for example, release of all the civilian hostages in exchange for a certain number of prisoners. And I have no idea where that negotiation is going. Some Israeli press reports indicate that the Israeli government is talking about progress, when there hasn’t actually been progress, in order to decrease the pressure of hostage families, who are demanding the release of Palestinian prisoners in order to get their loved ones home. I think the broader question is —

AMY GOODMAN: Especially after Israel killed three of the hostages from Israel.

RASHID KHALIDI: Accidentally, exactly, yes. And many others apparently have been killed in the bombing. And released hostages have said, “We were terrified for our lives because of the bombing that was going on.” I’ve read accounts in the Israeli press from released hostages, who’ve talked about how — the kind of danger that they were in, not so much from their captors as from the possibility that they would be killed by the Israeli bombardments.

The other aspect of this is the political aspect. Hamas has a position in Palestinian politics that is not going to be eradicated, no matter what Israel does in Gaza. If Israel entirely defeats Hamas’s entire military network, infrastructure, if it kills every single fighter — these are, of course, probably unrealistic, but even assuming that they can do that, Hamas continues as a political movement. Hamas continues to have support among Palestinians — not majority support, according to almost every poll I’ve ever seen, but a certain amount of support. If the — when and if the Palestinians manage to put together a government — and, you know, everybody else is going to try and do it for them. The United States is going to try and impose its intentions on them. The Israeli government will undoubtedly try and do the same. And the Europeans, in their colonial way, will probably try and do the same, telling the Palestinians what’s good for them and telling them who they can have and not have in their government. But when and if the Palestinians can get their own act together and form some kind of, for example, reformed PLO, there is no way to exclude Hamas from that. This idea that Hamas, because of what it did on October 7th, is completely excluded from Palestinian governance is a fantasy, an Israeli, American, European fantasy.

You do not negotiate with the people who have already agreed to your terms. You couldn’t do that in Ireland; you had to bring the IRA in. You couldn’t do that in South Africa; you had to bring the ANC in. You couldn’t do that in Algeria; you had to bring the FLN in. These are groups that had carried out horrific attacks, in many cases, on civilians. These are groups that were described by the colonial power in South Africa, in Algeria, in Ireland as terrorists or bandits, or they had different terms at different times. But the only people you really need to negotiate with are the people with the guns, after all. And until that fact gets through the thick skulls of people in Washington and in Paris and London, we’re not going anywhere. They can pick quislings. They can pick technocrats. They can select the Palestinians who are acceptable to them, who meet whatever tests, who get down on their knees and condemn Hamas, or whatever litmus test is imposed, and those people will represent nobody, will have no credibility, will have no legitimacy and will have no control over the situation.

And so, you are looking — barring an acceptance that you have to eventually deal with your real enemies, you are looking at a situation of unending Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip, direct or indirect. You are looking at a situation which implies unending resistance to that occupation. How many people can they kill? If Israel claims that there are 25,000 or 30,000 militants, armed militants, in Hamas, how many of them can they kill? Ten, 12, 11, 15? There will eventually be others, people who are still there. And that means that an imposed solution, with Israel continuing to operate in the Gaza Strip, which it has said it intends to do, will provoke continued resistance. So, nothing will be solved.

And the reconstruction and the end of the misery of the people of Gaza can’t take place until those kinds of changes, from occupation to some kind of Palestinian governance, takes place. And I don’t see — you read The Washington Post, David Ignatius. The idea that Arab countries are going to go in and do Israel and the United States’s dirty work for them is a fantasy. The Emiratis and the Saudis and the Egyptians and the Jordanians will not go in and govern on behalf of Israel. It is not going to happen. There has to be Palestinian governance of Palestinian territories.

And that is going to have to, one way or another, involve all the groups within the Palestinian political spectrum. The Palestinians have been divided by their own, you know, for reasons that have to do with Palestinian dysfunction, but they’ve also been divided by the divide-and-rule policies of the United States, Israel and the Europeans. As long as that continues, this festering sore will continue, and there will be violence. And it will not only be violence caused by hard men in Hamas. It will be violence caused by the horrors visited on the Palestinians by 56 years of occupation, by 75 years of colonialism, and the fact that people, inevitably, necessarily, resist occupation. You have to — they have to come to terms, sooner or later, with the fact — in Washington and in Israel, with the fact that Palestinian governance is a matter to be decided by Palestinians. And that is simply not in the mindset, if you read what comes out of Washington or what comes out of Israel, of our government or the Israeli government or many European governments.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Professor, we only have a couple of minutes left, but I wanted to ask you — you’ve said that there’s an unquestionable connection of Judaism and the Jewish people to the Holy Land, and yet that Israel — the Israeli state is a settler colonial project. And in your L.A. Times piece recently, you called it, the assault on Gaza, “the last colonial war of the modern age.” Could you elaborate?

RASHID KHALIDI: Right. Sure. I mean, this goes back to the nature of Zionism. Zionism is a national project, which distinguishes it from every other settler colonial movement, project. But at the same time, it was a self-identified colonial project. I mean, the Jewish Colonization Agency, the Palestinian Jewish Colonization Agency, is the term that that organization, which existed until 1958, applied to itself. That was something that was accepted by early Zionist leaders. They argued they had a claim to the Holy Land, there’s a connection of the Jewish people to the land of Israel. All of this is true, that there is such an attachment and such a connection, but Zionism is a European colonial project, backed by imperialism, British imperialism, and which intended to replace an Indigenous population with a Jewish population. As Ze’ev Jabotinsky said, “We want to transform Palestine into the land of Israel.” And that meant a demographic transformation, and that meant dispossession of the population and theft of their land, as happens in every settler colonial scenario. So, Israel is both the result of a national project, Zionism, and the result of a settler colonial project. There’s no — you can walk and chew gum at the same time. There’s actually no contradiction between it.

And it’s unique, in that it was not just an extension of a mother country’s population and sovereignty. It had its own independent ambitions: to establish a Jewish state, not a British state — came in under the protection of Britain, but it had its own aims, separate, independent aims. So, it’s a unique — it’s a unique phenomenon in the modern world. And it learned everything it did from the British. The Israeli army’s earliest leaders were trained by British colonial counterinsurgency specialists, to blow up houses over the heads of their residents, to shoot prisoners, to attack villages at night. This is British counterinsurgency, which was transmitted to Israeli — members of the Palmach and the Haganah in the 1930s in order for them to help the British fight the Palestinians. And those are the founders of the Israeli army. Moshe Dayan was trained by British counterinsurgency specialists. Yigal Allon, Yitzhak Sadeh, many of the leading figures in what became the Israeli army have that training. And Israel is using the laws left over, the 1945 Defense (Emergency) Regulations, under which people are put in administrative detention, no indictment, no trial, no conviction, nothing. They’re just put in jail and kept there. That’s a British 1945 emergency regulation. That’s a typical colonial instrument.

So, this is a colonial war, fought in order to maintain the supremacy of this group, which has taken the country over, at the expense of the Indigenous Palestinian population. The connection of the Jewish people to the land of Israel is, in my view, incontrovertible. But that, in and of itself, doesn’t justify the colonial methods that have been used in the establishment and the maintenance of Israel’s supremacy over now the entirety of Palestine, from the river to the sea.

AMY GOODMAN: Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said professor of modern Arab studies at Columbia University, author of a number of books, including The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine. We’ll link to your opinion piece for the L.A. Times, headlined “How the U.S. has fueled Israel’s decades-long war on Palestinians.”

Coming up, we look at how a group of Palestinian Christians are trapped in the Holy Family Church in Gaza, where a mother and daughter were shot dead this weekend by an Israeli sniper. Stay with us.


AMY GOODMAN: “Keep On Keepin’ On” by Len Chandler. The song, by the folk singer who passed away this year, was later quoted in a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The following sites updated:

  • Wednesday, December 20, 2023

    Boobarella Jennifer Love Hewitt should stop lying and shut up

    At least Madonna is always Madonna, right?  I'm never going to have to suffer through her whining that as an employed adult she was 'victimized' and sexualized.  

    Jennifer Love Hewitt.  And her boobs.  She shoved them in America's face for years.   Now she whines:

    Hewitt is over trolls who keep comparing her now to how her body looked in her early 20s.

    “She was a looker,” the “Client List” star said about how she looked back in the day on a recent episode of the “Inside of You” podcast.

    “But also that 23 and 25-year-old wasn’t in her body.”

    “I felt watched. I felt like I had to be everything for everybody all the time,” Hewitt continued.

    “I was called sexy before I ever knew what being sexy was. I was 17-years-old on the cover of ‘Maxim,’ and I had no idea why.”

    Shut up.  Your remarks just make me want to hate you.  

    I don't know that she was 17 years old when she was first on the cover of Maxim.  She probably wasn't.  She's probably lying.  I called C.I.  US Maxim starts in 1997.  Her 18th birthday was in February 1997.   A Google search shows four covers -- her on the cover of Maxim four times -- click here.  The earliest?  November 1999.  That would make her 20 years old.  No, not 18. 

    I don't know why but professional victims tend to lie so always check.  There may be a fifth cover but I don't see that happening.  She's sporting her boobs on every cover.  If there was another cover it most likely would be in the fall of 1997 -- to promote I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER.  In the fall of 1997, she would have been 18 (again, February 1997, she turns 18).


    She chose to market herself -- look at her thrusting and slumping around and this goes into '00s -- her Maxim covers.  In fact, her fourth one is in 2012.  

    She's a joke.  She used her boobs to get attention and now she wants to whine.  There would have been no spin off for her from PARTY OF FIVE without those boobs.  Those boobs are sported throughout her films.

    But other people victimized her when she was an adult.

    Just shut up.  Most of us are still mad at your antics at Lifetime that got The Client List cancelled.  I'm honestly surprised the man she married from that show is still with her. 

    JLH, you are a huge disappointment in every way and I say that as someone who actually loves Heartbreakers and has easily watched it over 100 times.  

    Stop whining. 

    Take accountability for your own actions.  You and your mother made the decision to sexualize you.  Stop pushing it off on others.  And stop pretending you were 17 and stop pretending that at 17 you didn't know what sex was.


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


    Wednesday, December 20, 2023.  The UN Security Council may vote today on a cease-fire resolution or, as they've done twice already, they may push it back another day and meanwhile ugly realities from polling cover Joe Biden's self-inflicted wounds that may result in political suicide.

    The assault on Gaza continues.  There was supposed to be United Nations Security Council vote on Monday.  It got postponed to Tuesday.  Yesterday, it got postponed until today.  AP notes, "U.N. Security Council members were in intense negotiations Tuesday on an Arab-sponsored resolution to spur desperately needed humanitarian aid deliveries to Gaza during some kind of a halt in the fighting, trying to avoid another veto by the United States."  AP states that yesterday's decision to postpone followed a request for "more time" by the US government. Sadly,  nearly 20,000 residents of Gaza do not have "more time" because they've already been killed in the ongoing assault.

    HuffPost's Akbar Shahid Ahmed reported early Wednesday that diplomats pushing for the resolution's passage "see just 'a tiny sliver of hope'" that the Biden administration will let the Security Council approve the measure, either by abstaining or voting yes. The U.S. is one of five permanent Security Council members with veto power.

    The vote, which has already been delayed twice, is expected at noon Wednesday.

    In recent days, diplomats have been racing to adjust the resolution's language to avoid a U.S. veto, changing the original measure's call for an "urgent and sustainable cessation of hostilities" to an "urgent suspension of hostilities"—language resembling the resolution that the Security Council passed last month. It's nowhere near the lasting cease-fire that international humanitarian groups, lawmakers, and others around the world are demanding.

    "The statistics are clear: 66% of the American people want an immediate cease-fire, including 80% of Democrats," Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, wrote earlier this week. "Protests in favor of a cease-fire are continuing across the country and include Jewish organizations, unions, city councils, elected officials at all levels, churches of all denominations, and many others." 

    Most people are repulsed by Joe Biden's actions regarding Gaza.  That's why he's being destroyed in the polls.  Jonathan Weisman, Alyce McFadden and Ruth Igielnik (NEW YORK TIMES via SEATTLE TIMES) report, "Voters broadly disapprove of the way President Joe Biden is handling the bloody strife between Israelis and Hamas, a New York Times/Siena College poll has found, with younger Americans far more critical than older voters of both Israel’s conduct and of the administration’s response to the war in the Gaza Strip."

    Stop right there because nothing else matters in the 2024 vote.  Joe can't win without "younger Americans."  They're the ones who carried him across the finish line in 2020.  Not only did those voting overwhelming choose him but also there's the issue of the number of young Americans  -- ages 18 to 29-- who voted.   The number of them voting?  There was an 11% increase in the turnout of young Americans from 2016 to 2020.  They delivered and then some.  If the election were today, Biden would be on his own.  Brookings tries to dismiss it but they don't seem to grasp much of anything -- they so rarely do, remember their cheerleading for the Iraq War. 

    Reality, they are being pushed into this decision not to vote by Biden's actions regarding Gaza.

    They have conviction.  Most people tend to lose some of that as they age.  But the youth still has it.  Brookings doesn't factor that in.  Because they never know what's happening.  Here's what's happening: We just had Thanksgiving.  Hanukah's just wrapped up.  Christmas is next week.

    Brookings doesn't seem to grasp that or the fact that many young people are taking stands when they gather for these holidays with family.  They're saying what they're going to do next year.  They're being backed into a corner.  It's not going to be easy for Joe to win over the numbers he needs in the next 11 months after some people have already gone public with their condemnation of his position and how they don't plan to vote.

    Do we get how big that group is right now?

    Earlier this month, NBC NEWS noted, "The NBC News national poll, conducted more than a month after the start of the Israel-Hamas war, shows 70% of voters under 35 disapproving of Biden’s handling of the war."  So when a Harvard poll earlier this month finds that less than half of young voters right now plan to vote in 2024, that's alarming.  The ship is going down right now and Brookings wants to say, "Hey, listen to the pretty music, ignore the lack of row boats."

    Back to THE TIMES article:

    Voters between 18 and 29 years old, traditionally a heavily Democratic demographic, jump out. Nearly three-quarters of them disapprove of the way Biden is handling the conflict in Gaza. And among registered voters, they say they would vote for Trump by 49% to 43%; in July, those young voters backed Biden by 10 percentage points.

    “I don’t want to vote for someone who is not aligned with my own personal values, as Biden has shown he is not when it comes to Gaza,” said Colin Lohner, a 27-year-old software engineer in San Francisco. But, he asked, “Do I vote for Biden or do I not vote at all? That’s really difficult, because if I don’t vote for Biden, I open up the possibility that Trump will win, and I really do not want that.” 

    Brookings is in denial as  is Joe Biden.  And they're acting as though the GOP is going to be Donald Trump.  America is sick of both Joe and Donald.  Imagine if the GOP's nominee is Nikki Haley?  You could have a significant number of voters drift to her just to escape the Biden-Trump trap.  Jake Johnson offers this:

      Matt Duss, a former foreign policy adviser to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), responded that Biden's choice is clear.

    "He should choose the option that upholds human rights and international law, which is what he promised during his campaign," wrote Duss, executive vice president of the Center for International Policy. "Support a cease-fire."

    The Times/Siena College poll of U.S. voters found that Biden's current approach—which has consisted of unconditional military support for Israel accompanied by mild calls for the protection of Gaza civilians and opposition to a lasting cease-fire—has just 33% support and 57% opposition.

    Among young voters who were critical to Biden's 2020 victory over former President Donald Trump, the opposition is even more pronounced, with 73% of those between the ages of 18 and 29 saying they disapprove, according to the new survey. Forty-seven percent of young voters said they believe Biden is too supportive of Israel, while just 6% said he's too supportive of the Palestinians.

    The survey's findings amplified concerns that, in addition to rendering himself complicit in genocide, Biden is alienating key elements of the Democratic base by arming the Israeli military as it carries out mass atrocities in the Gaza Strip.

    "Yet another major poll finds that Biden is killing his own reelection bid with his inhumane and strategically nonsensical Gaza policy," Trita Parsi, executive vice president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, wrote on social media.

    The survey was released ahead of an expected United Nations Security Council vote on a resolution calling for a "suspension of hostilities." A previous version of the resolution called for a "cessation of hostilities," but the text was reportedly watered down in an effort to prevent the U.S. from once again wielding its veto power.

    As the Biden administration's opposition to a sustained cease-fire leaves the U.S. increasingly isolated on the world stage, the Times/Siena College poll found that 44% of U.S. voters—including 59% of Democrats—believe Israel should "stop its military campaign in order to protect against civilian casualties, even if not all Israeli hostages have been released."

    Sixty-five percent of Democratic voters believe Israel should stop its assault on Gaza to prevent additional civilian deaths "even if Hamas has not been fully eliminated" in line with the Israeli government's stated objective.

    During a meeting last week with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Biden national security adviser Jake Sullivan reportedly urged the far-right leader to transition to a "lower intensity" form of warfare in Gaza "in a matter of weeks, not months," the latest signal that the Biden administration is feeling domestic and international pressure as the humanitarian catastrophe worsens and the death toll climbs. 

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

    As the humanitarian crisis in Gaza deepens, we turn now to Palestinians and Palestinian Americans who are trying to evacuate their family members to the United States. At least two Palestinian Americans have now filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration, saying its failure to help them violates their constitutional rights. This is Yasmen Elagha, who says she lost at least a hundred relatives in Gaza, including two American citizens.

    YASMEEN ELAGHA: The only thing that I’m being told is that there is nothing further that the U.S. government can do, which I don’t believe all.

    AMY GOODMAN: The lawsuit notes that after the October 7th Hamas attack on Israel, the U.S. government organized charter flights from Tel Aviv for Americans to leave Israel. So far, they say, the United States has not organized any flights to secure the exit of at least 900 U.S. citizens, residents and family members still in Gaza.

    Al Jazeera reports more than a hundred staff members at the Department of Homeland Security signed an open letter to Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas denouncing the response to humanitarian crisis in Gaza so far, saying it should be, quote, “commensurate with past responses to humanitarian tragedies” and offer a humanitarian parole program to Palestinians like it did after conflicts in Afghanistan and Ukraine.

    More than a hundred Democrats, led by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, have called on Biden to make Palestinians who are already in the U.S. eligible for temporary protected status, or TPS.

    Today we’ll hear two stories, one a Palestinian American woman in Detroit whose mother died in Gaza. She was approved to evacuate but was still but waiting to get out. The daughter is desperately seeking the government’s help to evacuate the rest of her family. We’ll also be joined by her attorney, Sophia Akbar. But first, we go to Cairo, Egypt, with another one of Sophia’s clients, Fadi Abu Shammalah. He is Just Vision’s outreach associate in Gaza, executive director of Gaza’s General Union of Cultural Centers. We spoke to him last month, when he was still in Gaza, about his New York Times op-ed, “What More Must the Children of Gaza Suffer?” Well, he was able to leave Gaza and is joining us now as he works to be reunited with his wife and his three children, who are still in Gaza — Ali, Karam and Adam.

    Fadi, welcome back to Democracy Now! In a moment, we’re going to talk about the legal case here. But if you can talk about what is happening in Gaza right now, what’s happening in Rafah, in Jabaliya? Talk about why you left Gaza and what you think needs to happen.

    FADI ABU SHAMMALAH: Oh, thank you so much for having me for the second time. I wouldn’t do the — I wouldn’t do the same for me. But, yeah, again, thank you so much for having me in this interview.

    I will start by telling the situation on the ground, not in Rafah city itself, like in every city in Gaza Strip, is beyond our imagination. Like, not all of the news really come out to us here. I’m talking with you from Cairo. And the situation on the ground itself, it’s more horrible than what you can see by your screens and TVs. I would say also a horrific number. Like, all I would say that 1.9 million of the Palestinian people are displaced, already displaced, their homes. They all, most of them, were pushed into the far south of Gaza Strip in a city called Rafah. In the last — sorry, in the last 36 hours only, 177 Palestinians, civilian Palestinians, were killed.

    This war, I would call it the war against the civilian, the Palestinian civilian, in order only to kill. That’s it. This is the main goal. I would say that there’s two goals. The first one is to kill the civilians as much as they can, and the second goal is to destroy as much as they can. Gaza City itself is erased. You will be shocked when you — if you will send your cameras after, hopefully, this nightmare and this war will end. You will be shocked because of the numbers of the neighborhoods, that it’s completely, completely damaged.

    The south — the north, sorry, the north of the Gaza Strip, no one knows about the north of Gaza Strip. Only there is two journalists, according to what I knew — according to what I know, that only there’s two journalists who are trying to cover the situation, the situation there. Like, they are killing people in tents. That’s what I hear also. Like, also, sorry, witnesses say that the Israeli bulldozers buried the injured people in Kamal Adwan Hospital. They buried them while they are alive. They were still alive. They killed and they buried them.

    This is — we should find a word that can express more than the word of “genocide.” That’s what is going on there. Like, the medical situation is horrible. The humanitarian situation is horrible, the water itself, the food itself, the electricity, the number of the killed people, the number of the bombed homes over the head of its residents. At the end, no one knows when this war is going to end. But what I know for sure, that we were all devastated, that our all hearts is broken for the destruction —

    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Fadi, I wanted to ask you —

    FADI ABU SHAMMALAH: — that’s happened, the cruel destruction that’s happening.

    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: — about your decision to leave Gaza. And also, what is the situation with your wife and your three children? Could you talk about the obstacles of them not being able to get out? Fadi, could you hear me?

    AMY GOODMAN: Fadi, I’m going to put Juan’s question to you. For some reason, you’re not able to hear him. He’s talking about — he’s talking about your family and trying to get your family out. Can you describe —

    FADI ABU SHAMMALAH: I don’t hear you, sorry.

    AMY GOODMAN: I think the IFB has dropped, and we’re going to go back to you.

    Of course young Americans are against Joe right now.  They see what's going on.  They see the suffering and the death and they were raised to believe in this country but this country's government is on the wrong side.  Again from yesterday's DEMOCRACY NOW!

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

    As the death toll in Gaza nears 20,000, Human Rights Watch has accused the Israeli government of using starvation as a weapon of war in Gaza. Human Rights Watch says Israel has deliberately blocked the delivery of water, food and fuel, while willfully impeding humanitarian assistance. The group said Israel has also apparently razed agricultural areas inside Gaza as many Palestinians face starvation.

    We’re joined now by Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch, which has just published a report headlined “Israel: Starvation Used as Weapon of War in Gaza.” He’s joining us from Amman, Jordan.

    Omar, why don’t you lay out your findings?

    OMAR SHAKIR: We found five very disturbing trends coming together that led us to this conclusion, the first of which has been for more than two months now the Israeli government has been blocking all but a trickle of aid, food and water from entering the Gaza Strip. Secondly, the Israeli government has, in essence, cut off the entry and exit of goods from its own crossings with Gaza, despite being the occupying power that’s obligated to provide for the civilian population. Third, satellite imagery that we’ve been carefully studying shows the apparent deliberate razing of agricultural land. You can see entire farms and other areas turned from lush green agricultural land into barren wasteland in different parts of the Gaza Strip. Fourth, we look at the destruction of the kinds of objects necessary for human survival — bakeries, wheat mills, sanitation and water facilities, hospitals. In northern Gaza, you cannot find many of these facilities that are functioning. And fifth and finally, statements from Israeli government officials that set out in very plain terms — and this includes the defense minister, the national security minister, members of COGAT, the Israeli army — that state clearly that they will continue to prevent these basic supplies — food, water, aid — from entering until they accomplish the objectives they’ve set, such as the return of hostages and the destruction of Hamas. All this collectively amounts to starvation used as weapon of war, which is an abhorrent war crime, adding to the Israeli government’s many other war crimes, like collective punishment, that have been taking over the last 10 weeks.

    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Omar, specifically in terms of the deprivation of clean water to drink and fuel, could you talk about the impacts of this policy in terms of the spread of disease and access to food?

    OMAR SHAKIR: Absolutely. Look, I mean, I think water is a basic thing that’s needed for health services, for everyday life, for cleaning. And you’ve seen several things take place with water. The first thing is to note that 97% of the groundwater in Gaza is unfit for human consumption as a result of overextraction of the ground aquifer that comes in from Israel, so Gaza has long relied on water that’s coming in from Israel. Israel cut that water supply after October 7th. It’s resumed piping to parts of southern Gaza, but in northern Gaza that’s not the case. We’ve also seen significant destruction of the water infrastructure. We’ve also seen destruction to other water facilities, pipelines. And you have the lack of fuel, that’s led to the shutdown of desalinization and water pumping facilities.

    So you have some water coming in on trucks, but bottled water is not enough to allow the population to drink, for hospitals to function, for sanitation to take place. And the results are quite deadly. We’re already hearing, seeing reports of thousands of cases of contagious diseases, and we’re seeing hospitals trying to make do. And, of course, the majority of hospitals in Gaza are not functioning. The Israeli government has been systematically attacking hospitals, especially in northern Gaza. But those that are operating are trying to do so without adequate supply of medical supplies and water. And the consequences are stark. And they will get worse unless we see the taps switched on water and the ability for the water infrastructure to be repaired, and fuel to enter, so those pumping stations and desalinization plants can operate.

    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: What actions do you see necessary by the international community at this point, especially given the fact that the United States continues to veto any resolutions in the Security Council?

    OMAR SHAKIR: I think today’s U.N. Security Council vote is quite essential. There’s an opportunity to take concrete action to protect civilians. It’s critical that states support that resolution, and the United States not exercise its veto. Lives quite literally hang in the balance.

    Beyond the action at the Security Council, there is absolutely a need for states to unequivocally condemn this war crime. We’ve seen far too often, especially the United States and its allies in Europe that are condemning, rightfully, abuses that are carried out by Palestinian armed groups, but not using the same language to condemn the clear war crimes committed by the Israeli government.

    There needs to be a call for an immediate resumption of full aid, not the trickle that’s being allowed in. But the aid alone is not enough. There needs to be a restoration of electricity, water and other basic services. And ultimately, that’s not going to matter, if unlawful attacks and incessant bombardment continue to wreak havoc on the lives of people. There must be an end to unlawful attacks.

    And obviously, more long term, beyond these sort of immediate needs of the civilian population, there are a couple of essential things that are needed. One, there must be accountability for unlawful attacks and other violations, including at the International Criminal Court. Secondly, there must be an addressing of root causes, such as Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians. And finally, all states must evaluate all forms of potential complicity in these grave abuses. And in the case of the United States, that means imposing an arms embargo, ending the provision of military assistance and arms, given the high risk they’ll be used in the commission of grave abuses.

    AMY GOODMAN: If you can talk, Omar Shakir, about the Biden administration’s, to say the least, mixed message, bypassing Congress, sending tank artillery that is being used against Palestinians, saying that they’re staunchly behind Israel, then at the same time saying they’re putting out a private message that they’ve got to reduce the casualties, and at the same time vetoing U.N. Security Council resolutions, though it’s not clear what’s going to happen today? They want the language watered down, but may not stop that resolution from going forward. We’ll find out soon. Can you talk about what exactly the U.S. is doing versus France calling for a ceasefire, versus Germany, Britain, and what it would mean if the U.S. were on the front of calling for permanent ceasefire?

    OMAR SHAKIR: Look, I think the United States and Israel are isolated in the international community. There’s a growing consensus, as reflected in U.N. votes and otherwise, about the enormity of the catastrophe that we’re seeing taking place in Gaza and the urgent need for action to end that.

    There has indeed been a shift in the U.S. government rhetoric. President Biden spoke of Israel’s indiscriminate bombing in Gaza. Indiscriminate bombing is a violation of the laws of war. So, if this is the assessment of the Biden administration, how can it justify providing military support? That risks complicity in what they themselves have acknowledged to be war crimes. The reality here is the Israeli government has a long track record of unlawful attacks. U.S. weapons, as has been documented in previous rounds of hostilities by Human Rights Watch, as has been documented by Amnesty International, has itself been used in the commission of grave abuses over the years. The reality here is the United States, by continuing to provide arms and diplomatic cover to the Israeli government as it commits atrocity, risks complicity in these underlying abuses. That not only sends the wrong message, that not only undermines the protection of Israeli and Palestinian civilians, but it undermines the very international human rights and humanitarian law that the United States mobilizes and cites when it comes to places like Ukraine and elsewhere in the world. Undermining the protection of civilians, the use of double standards in Israel-Palestine harms civilians everywhere in the world.

    The Biden administration has the chance to make the right choice here to begin to match some of its recent words with action, and we hope the United States will not veto today’s resolution. Doing so will be incredibly damaging to civilians on the ground and to the United States in its position globally.

    AMY GOODMAN: We just have 30 seconds, but this issue of starvation is not only being raised by Human Rights Watch. World Food Programme warned of the immediate possibility of starvation on December 6th. You have this high risk of famine right through to now. As we wrap up, what this means? We just heard our previous guest talking about what’s happened to his children, from disease to hunger. Your final comment?

    OMAR SHAKIR: Look, you have a reality where nine out of 10 households in north Gaza have gone — you have a reality where nine of 10 households, according to the World Food Programme, in north Gaza have been without food for a whole day and a whole night. Imagine families that have to spend hours or more a day just to be able to get a couple of pieces of bread to feed their family. We’re seeing hundreds of bodies pile up a day in airstrikes. We risk seeing that or more in the days ahead if there isn’t urgent action by world leaders to end these atrocities. We’ve been on the wrong side of this.

    AMY GOODMAN: Omar Shakir of Human Rights Watch, we thank you so much for being with us. And we wrap by saying happy birthday to Renée Feltz.

    The assault on Gaza continues.  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 now well over 18,000. NBC NEWS notes, "The vast majority of its 2.2 million people are displaced, and an estimated half face starvation amid an unfolding humanitarian crisis."  ABC NEWS notes, "In the Gaza Strip, at least 19,667 people have been killed and more than 52,000 others have been wounded by Israeli forces since Oct. 7, according to figures released by Gaza's Hamas-run Ministry of Health and the Hamas government media office."  In addition to the dead and the injured, there are the missing.  AP notes, "About 4,000 people are reported missing."  And the area itself?  Isabele Debre (AP) reveals, "Israel’s military offensive has turned much of northern Gaza into an uninhabitable moonscape. Whole neighborhoods have been erased. Homes, schools and hospitals have been blasted by airstrikes and scorched by tank fire. Some buildings are still standing, but most are battered shells."  Kieron Monks (I NEWS) reports, "More than 40 per cent of the buildings in northern Gaza have been damaged or destroyed, according to a new study of satellite imagery by US researchers Jamon Van Den Hoek from Oregon State University and Corey Scher at the City University of New York. The UN gave a figure of 45 per cent of housing destroyed or damaged across the strip in less than six weeks. The rate of destruction is among the highest of any conflict since the Second World War."  Max Butterworth (NBC NEWS) adds, "Satellite images captured by Maxar Technologies on Sunday reveal three of the main hospitals in Gaza from above, surrounded by the rubble of destroyed buildings after weeks of intense bombing in the region by Israeli forces."

    When the United Nations Children’s Fund featured 12-year-old Dina on its Instagram feed on Sunday, she said she would “become a lawyer so that I can enjoy my rights and the rights of all children.”

    The following day UNICEF said she was killed at the Nasser Hospital in the southern city of Khan Younis.

    In Sunday’s post, the organization said she was being treated for wounds and her right leg had been amputated.

    In Monday’s update, it said the killing of children “must stop.”

    But the killing of children sadly continues.  CNN’s Kareem El Damanhoury notes this morning:

    Children in Gaza are getting only about 10% of the water they would normally use, leaving them with “barely a drop to drink,” UNICEF said in a statement on Wednesday. 

    “Recently displaced children in the southern Gaza Strip are accessing only 1.5 to 2 litres of water each day,” the statement said.

    It added that 15 liters are the minimum standard per day for drinking, washing, and cooking, while three liters are the minimum for survival alone.

    UNICEF says water and sanitation services in Gaza are “at the point of collapse,” which could have severe repercussions on children.

    “The impact of this on children is particularly dramatic because children are also more susceptible to dehydration, diarrhea, disease and malnutrition, all of which can compound to present a threat to their survival,” UNICEF said.

    “Concerns of waterborne diseases such as cholera and chronic diarrhea are particularly heightened given the lack of safe water, especially following this week’s rains and flooding," added the statement.

    Last week, the World Health Organization said it had recorded about 165,000 cases of diarrhea amongst children under the age of five, which it described as “much more” than normal.

    “Without safe water, many more children will die from deprivation and disease in the coming days” UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said. 

    From the scene of one bombing this morning, Hani Mahmoud (ALJAZEERA) reports on the stark conditions:

    I see more people, rushing carrying bodies, people with injuries.

    There is a group of people running and carrying what seems to be a body to the hospital.

    This is the situation in every place where relentless targeting takes place.

    We’re not in the northern part to report the tragedies people have experienced since the early hours of this morning in Jabalia and Gaza City, but this is a real-life example.

    [. . .]

    It’s chaotic here. People are panicking.

    We are getting reports that some 25 injured people were being brought to the Kuwaiti hospital, many of them women and children.

    People have just brought an injured person to the hospital on a donkey cart, since an ambulance was not available, while performing CPR on him.

    The following sites updated: