• The WHO Pandemic Agreement: A Guide
    By David Bell, Thi Thuy Van Dinh March 22, 2024 Government, Society 30 minute read
    The World Health Organization (WHO) and its 194 Member States have been engaged for over two years in the development of two ‘instruments’ or agreements with the intent of radically changing the way pandemics and other health emergencies are managed.

    One, consisting of draft amendments to the existing International health Regulations (IHR), seeks to change the current IHR non-binding recommendations into requirements or binding recommendations, by having countries “undertake” to implement those given by the WHO in future declared health emergencies. It covers all ‘public health emergencies of international concern’ (PHEIC), with a single person, the WHO Director-General (DG) determining what a PHEIC is, where it extends, and when it ends. It specifies mandated vaccines, border closures, and other directives understood as lockdowns among the requirements the DG can impose. It is discussed further elsewhere and still under negotiation in Geneva.

    A second document, previously known as the (draft) Pandemic Treaty, then Pandemic Accord, and more recently the Pandemic Agreement, seeks to specify governance, supply chains, and various other interventions aimed at preventing, preparing for, and responding to, pandemics (pandemic prevention, preparedness and response – PPPR). It is currently being negotiated by the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB).

    Both texts will be subject to a vote at the May 2024 World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, Switzerland. These votes are intended, by those promoting these projects, to bring governance of future multi-country healthcare emergencies (or threats thereof) under the WHO umbrella.

    The latest version of the draft Pandemic Agreement (here forth the ‘Agreement’) was released on 7th March 2024. However, it is still being negotiated by various committees comprising representatives of Member States and other interested entities. It has been through multiple iterations over two years, and looks like it. With the teeth of the pandemic response proposals in the IHR, the Agreement looks increasingly irrelevant, or at least unsure of its purpose, picking up bits and pieces in a half-hearted way that the IHR amendments do not, or cannot, include. However, as discussed below, it is far from irrelevant.

    Historical Perspective

    These aim to increase the centralization of decision-making within the WHO as the “directing and coordinating authority.” This terminology comes from the WHO’s 1946 Constitution, developed in the aftermath of the Second World War as the world faced the outcomes of European fascism and the similar approaches widely imposed through colonialist regimes. The WHO would support emerging countries, with rapidly expanding and poorly resourced populations struggling under high disease burdens, and coordinate some areas of international support as these sovereign countries requested it. The emphasis of action was on coordinating rather than directing.

    In the 80 years prior to the WHO’s existence, international public health had grown within a more directive mindset, with a series of meetings by colonial and slave-owning powers from 1851 to manage pandemics, culminating in the inauguration of the Office Internationale d’Hygiene Publique in Paris in 1907, and later the League of Nations Health Office. World powers imposed health dictates on those less powerful, in other parts of the world and increasingly on their own population through the eugenics movement and similar approaches. Public health would direct, for the greater good, as a tool of those who wish to direct the lives of others.

    The WHO, governed by the WHA, was to be very different. Newly independent States and their former colonial masters were ostensibly on an equal footing within the WHA (one country – one vote), and the WHO’s work overall was to be an example of how human rights could dominate the way society works. The model for international public health, as exemplified in the Declaration of Alma Ata in 1978, was to be horizontal rather than vertical, with communities and countries in the driving seat.

    With the evolution of the WHO in recent decades from a core funding model (countries give money, the WHO decides under the WHA guidance how to spend it) to a model based on specified funding (funders, both public and increasingly private, instruct the WHO on how to spend it), the WHO has inevitably changed to become a public-private partnership required to serve the interests of funders rather than populations.

    As most funding comes from a few countries with major Pharma industrial bases, or private investors and corporations in the same industry, the WHO has been required to emphasize the use of pharmaceuticals and downplay evidence and knowledge where these clash (if it wants to keep all its staff funded). It is helpful to view the draft Agreement, and the IHR amendments, in this context.

    Why May 2024?

    The WHO, together with the World Bank, G20, and other institutions have been emphasizing the urgency of putting the new pandemic instruments in place earnestly, before the ‘next pandemic.’ This is based on claims that the world was unprepared for Covid-19, and that the economic and health harm would be somehow avoidable if we had these agreements in place.

    They emphasize, contrary to evidence that Covid-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2) origins involve laboratory manipulation, that the main threats we face are natural, and that these are increasing exponentially and present an “existential” threat to humanity. The data on which the WHO, the World Bank, and G20 base these claims demonstrates the contrary, with reported natural outbreaks having increased as detection technologies have developed, but reducing in mortality rate, and in numbers, over the past 10 to 20 years..

    A paper cited by the World Bank to justify urgency and quoted as suggesting a 3x increase in risk in the coming decade actually suggests that a Covid-19-like event would occur roughly every 129 years, and a Spanish-flu repetition every 292 to 877 years. Such predictions are unable to take into account the rapidly changing nature of medicine and improved sanitation and nutrition (most deaths from Spanish flu would not have occurred if modern antibiotics had been available), and so may still overestimate risk. Similarly, the WHO’s own priority disease list for new outbreaks only includes two diseases of proven natural origin that have over 1,000 historical deaths attributed to them. It is well demonstrated that the risk and expected burden of pandemics is misrepresented by major international agencies in current discussions.

    The urgency for May 2024 is clearly therefore inadequately supported, firstly because neither the WHO nor others have demonstrated how the harms accrued through Covid-19 would be reduced through the measures proposed, and secondly because the burden and risk is misrepresented. In this context, the state of the Agreement is clearly not where it should be as a draft international legally binding agreement intended to impose considerable financial and other obligations on States and populations.

    This is particularly problematic as the proposed expenditure; the proposed budget is over $31 billion per year, with over $10 billion more on other One Health activities. Much of this will have to be diverted from addressing other diseases burdens that impose far greater burden. This trade-off, essential to understand in public health policy development, has not yet been clearly addressed by the WHO.

    The WHO DG stated recently that the WHO does not want the power to impose vaccine mandates or lockdowns on anyone, and does not want this. This begs the question of why either of the current WHO pandemic instruments is being proposed, both as legally binding documents. The current IHR (2005) already sets out such approaches as recommendations the DG can make, and there is nothing non-mandatory that countries cannot do now without pushing new treaty-like mechanisms through a vote in Geneva.

    Based on the DG’s claims, they are essentially redundant, and what new non-mandatory clauses they contain, as set out below, are certainly not urgent. Clauses that are mandatory (Member States “shall”) must be considered within national decision-making contexts and appear against the WHO’s stated intent.

    Common sense would suggest that the Agreement, and the accompanying IHR amendments, be properly thought through before Member States commit. The WHO has already abandoned the legal requirement for a 4-month review time for the IHR amendments (Article 55.2 IHR), which are also still under negotiation just 2 months before the WHA deadline. The Agreement should also have at least such a period for States to properly consider whether to agree – treaties normally take many years to develop and negotiate and no valid arguments have been put forward as to why these should be different.

    The Covid-19 response resulted in an unprecedented transfer of wealth from those of lower income to the very wealthy few, completely contrary to the way in which the WHO was intended to affect human society. A considerable portion of these pandemic profits went to current sponsors of the WHO, and these same corporate entities and investors are set to further benefit from the new pandemic agreements. As written, the Pandemic Agreement risks entrenching such centralization and profit-taking, and the accompanying unprecedented restrictions on human rights and freedoms, as a public health norm.

    To continue with a clearly flawed agreement simply because of a previously set deadline, when no clear population benefit is articulated and no true urgency demonstrated, would therefore be a major step backward in international public health. Basic principles of proportionality, human agency, and community empowerment, essential for health and human rights outcomes, are missing or paid lip-service. The WHO clearly wishes to increase its funding and show it is ‘doing something,’ but must first articulate why the voluntary provisions of the current IHR are insufficient. It is hoped that by systematically reviewing some key clauses of the agreement here, it will become clear why a rethink of the whole approach is necessary. The full text is found below.

    The commentary below concentrates on selected draft provisions of the latest publicly available version of the draft agreement that seem to be unclear or potentially problematic. Much of the remaining text is essentially pointless as it reiterates vague intentions to be found in other documents or activities which countries normally undertake in the course of running health services, and have no place in a focused legally-binding international agreement.

    REVISED Draft of the negotiating text of the WHO Pandemic Agreement. 7th March, 2024

    Preamble

    Recognizing that the World Health Organization…is the directing and coordinating authority on international health work.

    This is inconsistent with a recent statement by the WHO DG that the WHO has no interest or intent to direct country health responses. To reiterate it here suggests that the DG is not representing the true position regarding the Agreement. “Directing authority” is however in line with the proposed IHR Amendments (and the WHO’s Constitution), under which countries will “undertake” ahead of time to follow the DG’s recommendations (which thereby become instructions). As the HR amendments make clear, this is intended to apply even to a perceived threat rather than actual harm.

    Recalling the constitution of the World Health Organization…highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.

    This statement recalls fundamental understandings of public health, and is of importance here as it raises the question of why the WHO did not strongly condemn prolonged school closures, workplace closures, and other impoverishing policies during the Covid-19 response. In 2019, WHO made clear that these dangers should prevent actions we now call ‘lockdowns’ from being imposed.

    Deeply concerned by the gross inequities at national and international levels that hindered timely and equitable access to medical and other Covid-19 pandemic-related products, and the serious shortcomings in pandemic preparedness.

    In terms of health equity (as distinct from commodity of ‘vaccine’ equity), inequity in the Covid-19 response was not in failing to provide a vaccine against former variants to immune, young people in low-income countries who were at far higher risk from endemic diseases, but in the disproportionate harm to them of uniformly-imposed NPIs that reduced current and future income and basic healthcare, as was noted by the WHO in 2019 Pandemic Influenza recommendations. The failure of the text to recognize this suggests that lessons from Covid-19 have not informed this draft Agreement. The WHO has not yet demonstrated how pandemic ‘preparedness,’ in the terms they use below, would have reduced impact, given that there is poor correlation between strictness or speed of response and eventual outcomes.

    Reiterating the need to work towards…an equitable approach to mitigate the risk that pandemics exacerbate existing inequities in access to health services,

    As above – in the past century, the issue of inequity has been most pronounced in pandemic response, rather than the impact of the virus itself (excluding the physiological variation in risk). Most recorded deaths from acute pandemics, since the Spanish flu, were during Covid-19, in which the virus hit mainly sick elderly, but response impacted working-age adults and children heavily and will continue to have effect, due to increased poverty and debt; reduced education and child marriage, in future generations.

    These have disproportionately affected lower-income people, and particularly women. The lack of recognition of this in this document, though they are recognized by the World Bank and UN agencies elsewhere, must raise real questions on whether this Agreement has been thoroughly thought through, and the process of development been sufficiently inclusive and objective.

    Chapter I. Introduction

    Article 1. Use of terms

    (i) “pathogen with pandemic potential” means any pathogen that has been identified to infect a human and that is: novel (not yet characterized) or known (including a variant of a known pathogen), potentially highly transmissible and/or highly virulent with the potential to cause a public health emergency of international concern.

    This provides a very wide scope to alter provisions. Any pathogen that can infect humans and is potentially highly transmissible or virulent, though yet uncharacterized means virtually any coronavirus, influenza virus, or a plethora of other relatively common pathogen groups. The IHR Amendments intend that the DG alone can make this call, over the advice of others, as occurred with monkeypox in 2022.

    (j) “persons in vulnerable situations” means individuals, groups or communities with a disproportionate increased risk of infection, severity, disease or mortality.

    This is a good definition – in Covid-19 context, would mean the sick elderly, and so is relevant to targeting a response.

    “Universal health coverage” means that all people have access to the full range of quality health services they need, when and where they need them, without financial hardship.

    While the general UHC concept is good, it is time a sensible (rather than patently silly) definition was adopted. Society cannot afford the full range of possible interventions and remedies for all, and clearly there is a scale of cost vs benefit that prioritizes certain ones over others. Sensible definitions make action more likely, and inaction harder to justify. One could argue that none should have the full range until all have good basic care, but clearly the earth will not support ‘the full range’ for 8 billion people.

    Article 2. Objective

    This Agreement is specifically for pandemics (a poorly defined term but essentially a pathogen that spreads rapidly across national borders). In contrast, the IHR amendments accompanying it are broader in scope – for any public health emergencies of international concern.

    Article 3. Principles

    2. the sovereign right of States to adopt, legislate and implement legislation

    The amendments to the IHR require States to undertake to follow WHO instructions ahead of time, before such instruction and context are known. These two documents must be understood, as noted later in the Agreement draft, as complementary.

    3. equity as the goal and outcome of pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, ensuring the absence of unfair, avoidable or remediable differences among groups of people.

    This definition of equity here needs clarification. In the pandemic context, the WHO emphasized commodity (vaccine) equity during the Covid-19 response. Elimination of differences implied equal access to Covid-19 vaccines in countries with large aging, obese highly vulnerable populations (e.g. the USA or Italy), and those with young populations at minimal risk and with far more pressing health priorities (e.g. Niger or Uganda).

    Alternatively, but equally damaging, equal access to different age groups within a country when the risk-benefit ratio is clearly greatly different. This promotes worse health outcomes by diverting resources from where they are most useful, as it ignores heterogeneity of risk. Again, an adult approach is required in international agreements, rather than feel-good sentences, if they are going to have a positive impact.

    5. …a more equitable and better prepared world to prevent, respond to and recover from pandemics

    As with ‘3’ above, this raises a fundamental problem: What if health equity demands that some populations divert resources to childhood nutrition and endemic diseases rather than the latest pandemic, as these are likely of far higher burden to many younger but lower-income populations? This would not be equity in the definition implied here, but would clearly lead to better and more equal health outcomes.

    The WHO must decide whether it is about uniform action, or minimizing poor health, as these are clearly very different. They are the difference between the WHO’s commodity equity, and true health equity.

    Chapter II. The world together equitably: achieving equity in, for and through pandemic prevention, preparedness and response

    Equity in health should imply a reasonably equal chance of overcoming or avoiding preventable sickness. The vast majority of sickness and death is due to either non-communicable diseases often related to lifestyle, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus, undernutrition in childhood, and endemic infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDS. Achieving health equity would primarily mean addressing these.

    In this chapter of the draft Pandemic Agreement, equity is used to imply equal access to specific health commodities, particularly vaccines, for intermittent health emergencies, although these exert a small fraction of the burden of other diseases. It is, specifically, commodity-equity, and not geared to equalizing overall health burden but to enabling centrally-coordinated homogenous responses to unusual events.

    Article 4. Pandemic prevention and surveillance

    2. The Parties shall undertake to cooperate:

    (b) in support of…initiatives aimed at preventing pandemics, in particular those that improve surveillance, early warning and risk assessment; .…and identify settings and activities presenting a risk of emergence and re-emergence of pathogens with pandemic potential.

    (c-h) [Paragraphs on water and sanitation, infection control, strengthening of biosafety, surveillance and prevention of vector-born diseases, and addressing antimicrobial resistance.]

    The WHO intends the Agreement to have force under international law. Therefore, countries are undertaking to put themselves under force of international law in regards to complying with the agreement’s stipulations.

    The provisions under this long article mostly cover general health stuff that countries try to do anyway. The difference will be that countries will be assessed on progress. Assessment can be fine if in context, less fine if it consists of entitled ‘experts’ from wealthy countries with little local knowledge or context. Perhaps such compliance is best left to national authorities, who are more in use with local needs and priorities. The justification for the international bureaucracy being built to support this, while fun for those involved, is unclear and will divert resources from actual health work.

    6. The Conference of the Parties may adopt, as necessary, guidelines, recommendations and standards, including in relation to pandemic prevention capacities, to support the implementation of this Article.

    Here and later, the COP is invoked as a vehicle to decide on what will actually be done. The rules are explained later (Articles 21-23). While allowing more time is sensible, it begs the question of why it is not better to wait and discuss what is needed in the current INB process, before committing to a legally-binding agreement. This current article says nothing not already covered by the IHR2005 or other ongoing programs.

    Article 5. One Health approach to pandemic prevention, preparedness and response

    Nothing specific or new in this article. It seems redundant (it is advocating a holistic approach mentioned elsewhere) and so presumably is just to get the term ‘One Health’ into the agreement. (One could ask, why bother?)

    Some mainstream definitions of One Health (e.g. Lancet) consider that it means non-human species are on a par with humans in terms of rights and importance. If this is meant here, clearly most Member States would disagree. So we may assume that it is just words to keep someone happy (a little childish in an international document, but the term ‘One Health’ has been trending, like ‘equity,’ as if the concept of holistic approaches to public health were new).

    Article 6. Preparedness, health system resilience and recovery

    2. Each Party commits…[to] :

    (a) routine and essential health services during pandemics with a focus on primary health care, routine immunization and mental health care, and with particular attention to persons in vulnerable situations

    (b) developing, strengthening and maintaining health infrastructure

    (c) developing post-pandemic health system recovery strategies

    (d) developing, strengthening and maintaining: health information systems

    This is good, and (a) seems to require avoidance of lockdowns (which inevitably cause the harms listed). Unfortunately other WHO documents lead one to assume this is not the intent…It does appear therefore that this is simply another list of fairly non-specific feel-good measures that have no useful place in a new legally-binding agreement, and which most countries are already undertaking.

    (e) promoting the use of social and behavioural sciences, risk communication and community engagement for pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.

    This requires clarification, as the use of behavioral science during the Covid-19 response involved deliberate inducement of fear to promote behaviors that people would not otherwise follow (e.g. Spi-B). It is essential here that the document clarifies how behavioral science should be used ethically in healthcare. Otherwise, this is also a quite meaningless provision.

    Article 7. Health and care workforce

    This long Article discusses health workforce, training, retention, non-discrimination, stigma, bias, adequate remuneration, and other standard provisions for workplaces. It is unclear why it is included in a legally binding pandemic agreement, except for:

    4. [The Parties]…shall invest in establishing, sustaining, coordinating and mobilizing a skilled and trained multidisciplinary global public health emergency workforce…Parties having established emergency health teams should inform WHO thereof and make best efforts to respond to requests for deployment…

    Emergency health teams established (within capacity etc.) – are something countries already do, when they have capacity. There is no reason to have this as a legally-binding instrument, and clearly no urgency to do so.

    Article 8. Preparedness monitoring and functional reviews

    1. The Parties shall, building on existing and relevant tools, develop and implement an inclusive, transparent, effective and efficient pandemic prevention, preparedness and response monitoring and evaluation system.

    2. Each Party shall assess, every five years, with technical support from the WHO Secretariat upon request, the functioning and readiness of, and gaps in, its pandemic prevention, preparedness and response capacity, based on the relevant tools and guidelines developed by WHO in partnership with relevant organizations at international, regional and sub-regional levels.

    Note that this is being required of countries that are already struggling to implement monitoring systems for major endemic diseases, including tuberculosis, malaria, HIV, and nutritional deficiencies. They will be legally bound to divert resources to pandemic prevention. While there is some overlap, it will inevitably divert resources from currently underfunded programs for diseases of far higher local burdens, and so (not theoretically, but inevitably) raise mortality. Poor countries are being required to put resources into problems deemed significant by richer countries.

    Article 9. Research and development

    Various general provisions about undertaking background research that countries are generally doing anyway, but with an ’emerging disease’ slant. Again, the INB fails to justify why this diversion of resources from researching greater disease burdens should occur in all countries (why not just those with excess resources?).

    Article 10. Sustainable and geographically diversified production

    Mostly non-binding but suggested cooperation on making pandemic-related products available, including support for manufacturing in “inter-pandemic times” (a fascinating rendering of ‘normal’), when they would only be viable through subsidies. Much of this is probably unimplementable, as it would not be practical to maintain facilities in most or all countries on stand-by for rare events, at cost of resources otherwise useful for other priorities. The desire to increase production in ‘developing’ countries will face major barriers and costs in terms of maintaining quality of production, particularly as many products will have limited use outside of rare outbreak situations.

    Article 11. Transfer of technology and know-how

    This article, always problematic for large pharmaceutical corporations sponsoring much WHO outbreak activities, is now watered down to weak requirements to ‘consider,’ promote,’ provide, within capabilities’ etc.

    Article 12. Access and benefit sharing

    This Article is intended to establish the WHO Pathogen Access and Benefit-Sharing System (PABS System). PABS is intended to “ensure rapid, systematic and timely access to biological materials of pathogens with pandemic potential and the genetic sequence data.” This system is of potential high relevance and needs to be interpreted in the context that SARS-CoV-2, the pathogen causing the recent Covid-19 outbreak, was highly likely to have escaped from a laboratory. PABS is intended to expand the laboratory storage, transport, and handling of such viruses, under the oversight of the WHO, an organization outside of national jurisdiction with no significant direct experience in handling biological materials.

    3. When a Party has access to a pathogen [it shall]:

    (a) share with WHO any pathogen sequence information as soon as it is available to the Party;

    (b) as soon as biological materials are available to the Party, provide the materials to one or more laboratories and/or biorepositories participating in WHO-coordinated laboratory networks (CLNs),

    Subsequent clauses state that benefits will be shared, and seek to prevent recipient laboratories from patenting materials received from other countries. This has been a major concern of low-and middle-income countries previously, who perceive that institutions in wealthy countries patent and benefit from materials derived from less-wealthy populations. It remains to be seen whether provisions here will be sufficient to address this.

    The article then becomes yet more concerning:

    6. WHO shall conclude legally binding standard PABS contracts with manufacturers to provide the following, taking into account the size, nature and capacities of the manufacturer:

    (a) annual monetary contributions to support the PABS System and relevant capacities in countries; the determination of the annual amount, use, and approach for monitoring and accountability, shall be finalized by the Parties;

    (b) real-time contributions of relevant diagnostics, therapeutics or vaccines produced by the manufacturer, 10% free of charge and 10% at not-for-profit prices during public health emergencies of international concern or pandemics, …

    It is clearly intended that the WHO becomes directly involved in setting up legally binding manufacturing contracts, despite the WHO being outside of national jurisdictional oversight, within the territories of Member States. The PABS system, and therefore its staff and dependent entities, are also to be supported in part by funds from the manufacturers whom they are supposed to be managing. The income of the organization will be dependent on maintaining positive relationships with these private entities in a similar way in which many national regulatory agencies are dependent upon funds from pharmaceutical companies whom their staff ostensibly regulate. In this case, the regulator will be even further removed from public oversight.

    The clause on 10% (why 10?) products being free of charge, and similar at cost, while ensuring lower-priced commodities irrespective of actual need (the outbreak may be confined to wealthy countries). The same entity, the WHO, will determine whether the triggering emergency exists, determine the response, and manage the contracts to provide the commodities, without direct jurisdictional oversight regarding the potential for corruption or conflict of interest. It is a remarkable system to suggest, irrespective of political or regulatory environment.

    8. The Parties shall cooperate…public financing of research and development, prepurchase agreements, or regulatory procedures, to encourage and facilitate as many manufacturers as possible to enter into standard PABS contracts as early as possible.

    The article envisions that public funding will be used to build the process, ensuring essentially no-risk private profit.

    10. To support operationalization of the PABS System, WHO shall…make such contracts public, while respecting commercial confidentiality.

    The public may know whom contracts are made with, but not all details of the contracts. There will therefore be no independent oversight of the clauses agreed between the WHO, a body outside of national jurisdiction and dependent of commercial companies for funding some of its work and salaries, and these same companies, on ‘needs’ that the WHO itself will have sole authority, under the proposed amendments to the IHR, to determine.

    The Article further states that the WHO shall use its own product regulatory system (prequalification) and Emergency Use Listing Procedure to open and stimulate markets for the manufacturers of these products.

    It is doubtful that any national government could make such an overall agreement, yet in May 2024 they will be voting to provide this to what is essentially a foreign, and partly privately financed, entity.

    Article 13. Supply chain and logistics

    The WHO will become convenor of a ‘Global Supply Chain and Logistics Network’ for commercially-produced products, to be supplied under WHO contracts when and where the WHO determines, whilst also having the role of ensuring safety of such products.

    Having mutual support coordinated between countries is good. Having this run by an organization that is significantly funded directly by those gaining from the sale of these same commodities seems reckless and counterintuitive. Few countries would allow this (or at least plan for it).

    For this to occur safely, the WHO would logically have to forgo all private investment, and greatly restrict national specified funding contributions. Otherwise, the conflicts of interest involved would destroy confidence in the system. There is no suggestion of such divestment from the WHO, but rather, as in Article 12, private sector dependency, directly tied to contracts, will increase.

    Article 13bis: National procurement- and distribution-related provisions

    While suffering the same (perhaps unavoidable) issues regarding commercial confidentiality, this alternate Article 13 seems far more appropriate, keeping commercial issues under national jurisdiction and avoiding the obvious conflict of interests that underpin funding for WHO activities and staffing.

    Article 14. Regulatory systems strengthening

    This entire Article reflects initiatives and programs already in place. Nothing here appears likely to add to current effort.

    Article 15. Liability and compensation management

    1. Each Party shall consider developing, as necessary and in accordance with applicable law, national strategies for managing liability in its territory related to pandemic vaccines…no-fault compensation mechanisms…

    2. The Parties…shall develop recommendations for the establishment and implementation of national, regional and/or global no-fault compensation mechanisms and strategies for managing liability during pandemic emergencies, including with regard to individuals that are in a humanitarian setting or vulnerable situations.

    This is quite remarkable, but also reflects some national legislation, in removing any fault or liability specifically from vaccine manufacturers, for harms done in pushing out vaccines to the public. During the Covid-19 response, genetic therapeutics being developed by BioNtech and Moderna were reclassified as vaccines, on the basis that an immune response is stimulated after they have modified intracellular biochemical pathways as a medicine normally does.

    This enabled specific trials normally required for carcinogenicity and teratogenicity to be bypassed, despite raised fetal abnormality rates in animal trials. It will enable the CEPI 100-day vaccine program, supported with private funding to support private mRNA vaccine manufacturers, to proceed without any risk to the manufacturer should there be subsequent public harm.

    Together with an earlier provision on public funding of research and manufacturing readiness, and the removal of former wording requiring intellectual property sharing in Article 11, this ensures vaccine manufacturers and their investors make profit in effective absence of risk.

    These entities are currently heavily invested in support for WHO, and were strongly aligned with the introduction of newly restrictive outbreak responses that emphasized and sometimes mandated their products during the Covid-19 outbreak.

    Article 16. International collaboration and cooperation

    A somewhat pointless article. It suggests that countries cooperate with each other and the WHO to implement the other agreements in the Agreement.

    Article 17. Whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches

    A list of essentially motherhood provisions related to planning for a pandemic. However, countries will legally be required to maintain a ‘national coordination multisectoral body’ for PPPR. This will essentially be an added burden on budgets, and inevitably divert further resources from other priorities. Perhaps just strengthening current infectious disease and nutritional programs would be more impactful. (Nowhere in this Agreement is nutrition discussed (essential for resilience to pathogens) and minimal wording is included on sanitation and clean water (other major reasons for reduction in infectious disease mortality over past centuries).

    However, the ‘community ownership’ wording is interesting (“empower and enable community ownership of, and contribution to, community readiness for and resilience [for PPPR]”), as this directly contradicts much of the rest of the Agreement, including the centralization of control under the Conference of Parties, requirements for countries to allocate resources to pandemic preparedness over other community priorities, and the idea of inspecting and assessing adherence to the centralized requirements of the Agreement. Either much of the rest of the Agreement is redundant, or this wording is purely for appearance and not to be followed (and therefore should be removed).

    Article 18. Communication and public awareness

    1. Each Party shall promote timely access to credible and evidence-based information …with the aim of countering and addressing misinformation or disinformation…

    2. The Parties shall, as appropriate, promote and/or conduct research and inform policies on factors that hinder or strengthen adherence to public health and social measures in a pandemic, as well as trust in science and public health institutions and agencies.

    The key word is as appropriate, given that many agencies, including the WHO, have overseen or aided policies during the Covid-19 response that have greatly increased poverty, child marriage, teenage pregnancy, and education loss.

    As the WHO has been shown to be significantly misrepresenting pandemic risk in the process of advocating for this Agreement and related instruments, its own communications would also fall outside the provision here related to evidence-based information, and fall within normal understandings of misinformation. It could not therefore be an arbiter of correctness of information here, so the Article is not implementable. Rewritten to recommend accurate evidence-based information being promoted, it would make good sense, but this is not an issue requiring a legally binding international agreement.

    Article 19. Implementation and support

    3. The WHO Secretariat…organize the technical and financial assistance necessary to address such gaps and needs in implementing the commitments agreed upon under the Pandemic Agreement and the International Health Regulations (2005).

    As the WHO is dependent on donor support, its ability to address gaps in funding within Member States is clearly not something it can guarantee. The purpose of this article is unclear, repeating in paragraphs 1 and 2 the earlier intent for countries to generally support each other.

    Article 20. Sustainable financing

    1. The Parties commit to working together…In this regard, each Party, within the means and resources at its disposal, shall:

    (a) prioritize and maintain or increase, as necessary, domestic funding for pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, without undermining other domestic public health priorities including for: (i) strengthening and sustaining capacities for the prevention, preparedness and response to health emergencies and pandemics, in particular the core capacities of the International Health Regulations (2005);…

    This is silly wording, as countries obviously have to prioritize within budgets, so that moving funds to one area means removing from another. The essence of public health policy is weighing and making such decisions; this reality seems to be ignored here through wishful thinking. (a) is clearly redundant, as the IHR (2005) already exists and countries have agreed to support it.

    3. A Coordinating Financial Mechanism (the “Mechanism”) is hereby established to support the implementation of both the WHO Pandemic Agreement and the International Health Regulations (2005)

    This will be in parallel to the Pandemic Fund recently commenced by the World Bank – an issue not lost on INB delegates and so likely to change here in the final version. It will also be additive to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, and other health financing mechanisms, and so require another parallel international bureaucracy, presumably based in Geneva.

    It is intended to have its own capacity to “conduct relevant analyses on needs and gaps, in addition to tracking cooperation efforts,” so it will not be a small undertaking.

    Chapter III. Institutional and final provisions

    Article 21. Conference of the Parties

    1. A Conference of the Parties is hereby established.

    2. The Conference of the Parties shall keep under regular review, every three years, the implementation of the WHO Pandemic Agreement and take the decisions necessary to promote its effective implementation.

    This sets up the governing body to oversee this Agreement (another body requiring a secretariat and support). It is intended to meet within a year of the Agreement coming into force, and then set its own rules on meeting thereafter. It is likely that many provisions outlined in this draft of the Agreement will be deferred to the COP for further discussion.

    Articles 22 – 37

    These articles cover the functioning of the Conference of Parties (COP) and various administrative issues.

    Of note, ‘block votes’ will be allowed from regional bodies (e.g. the EU).

    The WHO will provide the secretariat.

    Under Article 24 is noted:

    3. Nothing in the WHO Pandemic Agreement shall be interpreted as providing the Secretariat of the World Health Organization, including the WHO Director-General, any authority to direct, order, alter or otherwise prescribe the domestic laws or policies of any Party, or to mandate or otherwise impose any requirements that Parties take specific actions, such as ban or accept travellers, impose vaccination mandates or therapeutic or diagnostic measures, or implement lockdowns.

    These provisions are explicitly stated in the proposed amendments to the IHR, to be considered alongside this agreement. Article 26 notes that the IHR is to be interpreted as compatible, thereby confirming that the IHR provisions including border closures and limits on freedom of movement, mandated vaccination, and other lockdown measures are not negated by this statement.

    As Article 26 states: “The Parties recognize that the WHO Pandemic Agreement and the International Health Regulations should be interpreted so as to be compatible.”

    Some would consider this subterfuge – The Director-General recently labeled as liars those who claimed the Agreement included these powers, whilst failing to acknowledge the accompanying IHR amendments. The WHO could do better in avoiding misleading messaging, especially when this involves denigration of the public.

    Article 32 (Withdrawal) requires that, once adopted, Parties cannot withdraw for a total of 3 years (giving notice after a minimum of 2 years). Financial obligations undertaken under the agreement continue beyond that time.

    Finally, the Agreement will come into force, assuming a two-thirds majority in the WHA is achieved (Article 19, WHO Constitution), 30 days after the fortieth country has ratified it.

    Further reading:

    WHO Pandemic Agreement Intergovernmental Negotiating Board website:

    https://inb.who.int/

    International Health Regulations Working Group website:

    https://apps.who.int/gb/wgihr/index.html

    On background to the WHO texts:

    Amendments to WHO’s International Health Regulations: An Annotated Guide
    An Unofficial Q&A on International Health Regulations
    On urgency and burden of pandemics:

    https://essl.leeds.ac.uk/downloads/download/228/rational-policy-over-panic

    Disease X and Davos: This is Not the Way to Evaluate and Formulate Public Health Policy
    Before Preparing for Pandemics, We Need Better Evidence of Risk
    Revised Draft of the negotiating text of the WHO Pandemic Agreement:

    Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
    For reprints, please set the canonical link back to the original Brownstone Institute Article and Author.

    Authors

    David Bell
    David Bell, Senior Scholar at Brownstone Institute, is a public health physician and biotech consultant in global health. He is a former medical officer and scientist at the World Health Organization (WHO), Programme Head for malaria and febrile diseases at the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) in Geneva, Switzerland, and Director of Global Health Technologies at Intellectual Ventures Global Good Fund in Bellevue, WA, USA.

    View all posts
    Thi Thuy Van Dinh
    Dr. Thi Thuy Van Dinh (LLM, PhD) worked on international law in the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Subsequently, she managed multilateral organization partnerships for Intellectual Ventures Global Good Fund and led environmental health technology development efforts for low-resource settings.

    View all posts
    Your financial backing of Brownstone Institute goes to support writers, lawyers, scientists, economists, and other people of courage who have been professionally purged and displaced during the upheaval of our times. You can help get the truth out through their ongoing work.

    https://brownstone.org/articles/the-who-pandemic-agreement-a-guide/

    https://www.minds.com/donshafi911/blog/the-who-pandemic-agreement-a-guide-1621719398509187077
    The WHO Pandemic Agreement: A Guide By David Bell, Thi Thuy Van Dinh March 22, 2024 Government, Society 30 minute read The World Health Organization (WHO) and its 194 Member States have been engaged for over two years in the development of two ‘instruments’ or agreements with the intent of radically changing the way pandemics and other health emergencies are managed. One, consisting of draft amendments to the existing International health Regulations (IHR), seeks to change the current IHR non-binding recommendations into requirements or binding recommendations, by having countries “undertake” to implement those given by the WHO in future declared health emergencies. It covers all ‘public health emergencies of international concern’ (PHEIC), with a single person, the WHO Director-General (DG) determining what a PHEIC is, where it extends, and when it ends. It specifies mandated vaccines, border closures, and other directives understood as lockdowns among the requirements the DG can impose. It is discussed further elsewhere and still under negotiation in Geneva. A second document, previously known as the (draft) Pandemic Treaty, then Pandemic Accord, and more recently the Pandemic Agreement, seeks to specify governance, supply chains, and various other interventions aimed at preventing, preparing for, and responding to, pandemics (pandemic prevention, preparedness and response – PPPR). It is currently being negotiated by the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB). Both texts will be subject to a vote at the May 2024 World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, Switzerland. These votes are intended, by those promoting these projects, to bring governance of future multi-country healthcare emergencies (or threats thereof) under the WHO umbrella. The latest version of the draft Pandemic Agreement (here forth the ‘Agreement’) was released on 7th March 2024. However, it is still being negotiated by various committees comprising representatives of Member States and other interested entities. It has been through multiple iterations over two years, and looks like it. With the teeth of the pandemic response proposals in the IHR, the Agreement looks increasingly irrelevant, or at least unsure of its purpose, picking up bits and pieces in a half-hearted way that the IHR amendments do not, or cannot, include. However, as discussed below, it is far from irrelevant. Historical Perspective These aim to increase the centralization of decision-making within the WHO as the “directing and coordinating authority.” This terminology comes from the WHO’s 1946 Constitution, developed in the aftermath of the Second World War as the world faced the outcomes of European fascism and the similar approaches widely imposed through colonialist regimes. The WHO would support emerging countries, with rapidly expanding and poorly resourced populations struggling under high disease burdens, and coordinate some areas of international support as these sovereign countries requested it. The emphasis of action was on coordinating rather than directing. In the 80 years prior to the WHO’s existence, international public health had grown within a more directive mindset, with a series of meetings by colonial and slave-owning powers from 1851 to manage pandemics, culminating in the inauguration of the Office Internationale d’Hygiene Publique in Paris in 1907, and later the League of Nations Health Office. World powers imposed health dictates on those less powerful, in other parts of the world and increasingly on their own population through the eugenics movement and similar approaches. Public health would direct, for the greater good, as a tool of those who wish to direct the lives of others. The WHO, governed by the WHA, was to be very different. Newly independent States and their former colonial masters were ostensibly on an equal footing within the WHA (one country – one vote), and the WHO’s work overall was to be an example of how human rights could dominate the way society works. The model for international public health, as exemplified in the Declaration of Alma Ata in 1978, was to be horizontal rather than vertical, with communities and countries in the driving seat. With the evolution of the WHO in recent decades from a core funding model (countries give money, the WHO decides under the WHA guidance how to spend it) to a model based on specified funding (funders, both public and increasingly private, instruct the WHO on how to spend it), the WHO has inevitably changed to become a public-private partnership required to serve the interests of funders rather than populations. As most funding comes from a few countries with major Pharma industrial bases, or private investors and corporations in the same industry, the WHO has been required to emphasize the use of pharmaceuticals and downplay evidence and knowledge where these clash (if it wants to keep all its staff funded). It is helpful to view the draft Agreement, and the IHR amendments, in this context. Why May 2024? The WHO, together with the World Bank, G20, and other institutions have been emphasizing the urgency of putting the new pandemic instruments in place earnestly, before the ‘next pandemic.’ This is based on claims that the world was unprepared for Covid-19, and that the economic and health harm would be somehow avoidable if we had these agreements in place. They emphasize, contrary to evidence that Covid-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2) origins involve laboratory manipulation, that the main threats we face are natural, and that these are increasing exponentially and present an “existential” threat to humanity. The data on which the WHO, the World Bank, and G20 base these claims demonstrates the contrary, with reported natural outbreaks having increased as detection technologies have developed, but reducing in mortality rate, and in numbers, over the past 10 to 20 years.. A paper cited by the World Bank to justify urgency and quoted as suggesting a 3x increase in risk in the coming decade actually suggests that a Covid-19-like event would occur roughly every 129 years, and a Spanish-flu repetition every 292 to 877 years. Such predictions are unable to take into account the rapidly changing nature of medicine and improved sanitation and nutrition (most deaths from Spanish flu would not have occurred if modern antibiotics had been available), and so may still overestimate risk. Similarly, the WHO’s own priority disease list for new outbreaks only includes two diseases of proven natural origin that have over 1,000 historical deaths attributed to them. It is well demonstrated that the risk and expected burden of pandemics is misrepresented by major international agencies in current discussions. The urgency for May 2024 is clearly therefore inadequately supported, firstly because neither the WHO nor others have demonstrated how the harms accrued through Covid-19 would be reduced through the measures proposed, and secondly because the burden and risk is misrepresented. In this context, the state of the Agreement is clearly not where it should be as a draft international legally binding agreement intended to impose considerable financial and other obligations on States and populations. This is particularly problematic as the proposed expenditure; the proposed budget is over $31 billion per year, with over $10 billion more on other One Health activities. Much of this will have to be diverted from addressing other diseases burdens that impose far greater burden. This trade-off, essential to understand in public health policy development, has not yet been clearly addressed by the WHO. The WHO DG stated recently that the WHO does not want the power to impose vaccine mandates or lockdowns on anyone, and does not want this. This begs the question of why either of the current WHO pandemic instruments is being proposed, both as legally binding documents. The current IHR (2005) already sets out such approaches as recommendations the DG can make, and there is nothing non-mandatory that countries cannot do now without pushing new treaty-like mechanisms through a vote in Geneva. Based on the DG’s claims, they are essentially redundant, and what new non-mandatory clauses they contain, as set out below, are certainly not urgent. Clauses that are mandatory (Member States “shall”) must be considered within national decision-making contexts and appear against the WHO’s stated intent. Common sense would suggest that the Agreement, and the accompanying IHR amendments, be properly thought through before Member States commit. The WHO has already abandoned the legal requirement for a 4-month review time for the IHR amendments (Article 55.2 IHR), which are also still under negotiation just 2 months before the WHA deadline. The Agreement should also have at least such a period for States to properly consider whether to agree – treaties normally take many years to develop and negotiate and no valid arguments have been put forward as to why these should be different. The Covid-19 response resulted in an unprecedented transfer of wealth from those of lower income to the very wealthy few, completely contrary to the way in which the WHO was intended to affect human society. A considerable portion of these pandemic profits went to current sponsors of the WHO, and these same corporate entities and investors are set to further benefit from the new pandemic agreements. As written, the Pandemic Agreement risks entrenching such centralization and profit-taking, and the accompanying unprecedented restrictions on human rights and freedoms, as a public health norm. To continue with a clearly flawed agreement simply because of a previously set deadline, when no clear population benefit is articulated and no true urgency demonstrated, would therefore be a major step backward in international public health. Basic principles of proportionality, human agency, and community empowerment, essential for health and human rights outcomes, are missing or paid lip-service. The WHO clearly wishes to increase its funding and show it is ‘doing something,’ but must first articulate why the voluntary provisions of the current IHR are insufficient. It is hoped that by systematically reviewing some key clauses of the agreement here, it will become clear why a rethink of the whole approach is necessary. The full text is found below. The commentary below concentrates on selected draft provisions of the latest publicly available version of the draft agreement that seem to be unclear or potentially problematic. Much of the remaining text is essentially pointless as it reiterates vague intentions to be found in other documents or activities which countries normally undertake in the course of running health services, and have no place in a focused legally-binding international agreement. REVISED Draft of the negotiating text of the WHO Pandemic Agreement. 7th March, 2024 Preamble Recognizing that the World Health Organization…is the directing and coordinating authority on international health work. This is inconsistent with a recent statement by the WHO DG that the WHO has no interest or intent to direct country health responses. To reiterate it here suggests that the DG is not representing the true position regarding the Agreement. “Directing authority” is however in line with the proposed IHR Amendments (and the WHO’s Constitution), under which countries will “undertake” ahead of time to follow the DG’s recommendations (which thereby become instructions). As the HR amendments make clear, this is intended to apply even to a perceived threat rather than actual harm. Recalling the constitution of the World Health Organization…highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition. This statement recalls fundamental understandings of public health, and is of importance here as it raises the question of why the WHO did not strongly condemn prolonged school closures, workplace closures, and other impoverishing policies during the Covid-19 response. In 2019, WHO made clear that these dangers should prevent actions we now call ‘lockdowns’ from being imposed. Deeply concerned by the gross inequities at national and international levels that hindered timely and equitable access to medical and other Covid-19 pandemic-related products, and the serious shortcomings in pandemic preparedness. In terms of health equity (as distinct from commodity of ‘vaccine’ equity), inequity in the Covid-19 response was not in failing to provide a vaccine against former variants to immune, young people in low-income countries who were at far higher risk from endemic diseases, but in the disproportionate harm to them of uniformly-imposed NPIs that reduced current and future income and basic healthcare, as was noted by the WHO in 2019 Pandemic Influenza recommendations. The failure of the text to recognize this suggests that lessons from Covid-19 have not informed this draft Agreement. The WHO has not yet demonstrated how pandemic ‘preparedness,’ in the terms they use below, would have reduced impact, given that there is poor correlation between strictness or speed of response and eventual outcomes. Reiterating the need to work towards…an equitable approach to mitigate the risk that pandemics exacerbate existing inequities in access to health services, As above – in the past century, the issue of inequity has been most pronounced in pandemic response, rather than the impact of the virus itself (excluding the physiological variation in risk). Most recorded deaths from acute pandemics, since the Spanish flu, were during Covid-19, in which the virus hit mainly sick elderly, but response impacted working-age adults and children heavily and will continue to have effect, due to increased poverty and debt; reduced education and child marriage, in future generations. These have disproportionately affected lower-income people, and particularly women. The lack of recognition of this in this document, though they are recognized by the World Bank and UN agencies elsewhere, must raise real questions on whether this Agreement has been thoroughly thought through, and the process of development been sufficiently inclusive and objective. Chapter I. Introduction Article 1. Use of terms (i) “pathogen with pandemic potential” means any pathogen that has been identified to infect a human and that is: novel (not yet characterized) or known (including a variant of a known pathogen), potentially highly transmissible and/or highly virulent with the potential to cause a public health emergency of international concern. This provides a very wide scope to alter provisions. Any pathogen that can infect humans and is potentially highly transmissible or virulent, though yet uncharacterized means virtually any coronavirus, influenza virus, or a plethora of other relatively common pathogen groups. The IHR Amendments intend that the DG alone can make this call, over the advice of others, as occurred with monkeypox in 2022. (j) “persons in vulnerable situations” means individuals, groups or communities with a disproportionate increased risk of infection, severity, disease or mortality. This is a good definition – in Covid-19 context, would mean the sick elderly, and so is relevant to targeting a response. “Universal health coverage” means that all people have access to the full range of quality health services they need, when and where they need them, without financial hardship. While the general UHC concept is good, it is time a sensible (rather than patently silly) definition was adopted. Society cannot afford the full range of possible interventions and remedies for all, and clearly there is a scale of cost vs benefit that prioritizes certain ones over others. Sensible definitions make action more likely, and inaction harder to justify. One could argue that none should have the full range until all have good basic care, but clearly the earth will not support ‘the full range’ for 8 billion people. Article 2. Objective This Agreement is specifically for pandemics (a poorly defined term but essentially a pathogen that spreads rapidly across national borders). In contrast, the IHR amendments accompanying it are broader in scope – for any public health emergencies of international concern. Article 3. Principles 2. the sovereign right of States to adopt, legislate and implement legislation The amendments to the IHR require States to undertake to follow WHO instructions ahead of time, before such instruction and context are known. These two documents must be understood, as noted later in the Agreement draft, as complementary. 3. equity as the goal and outcome of pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, ensuring the absence of unfair, avoidable or remediable differences among groups of people. This definition of equity here needs clarification. In the pandemic context, the WHO emphasized commodity (vaccine) equity during the Covid-19 response. Elimination of differences implied equal access to Covid-19 vaccines in countries with large aging, obese highly vulnerable populations (e.g. the USA or Italy), and those with young populations at minimal risk and with far more pressing health priorities (e.g. Niger or Uganda). Alternatively, but equally damaging, equal access to different age groups within a country when the risk-benefit ratio is clearly greatly different. This promotes worse health outcomes by diverting resources from where they are most useful, as it ignores heterogeneity of risk. Again, an adult approach is required in international agreements, rather than feel-good sentences, if they are going to have a positive impact. 5. …a more equitable and better prepared world to prevent, respond to and recover from pandemics As with ‘3’ above, this raises a fundamental problem: What if health equity demands that some populations divert resources to childhood nutrition and endemic diseases rather than the latest pandemic, as these are likely of far higher burden to many younger but lower-income populations? This would not be equity in the definition implied here, but would clearly lead to better and more equal health outcomes. The WHO must decide whether it is about uniform action, or minimizing poor health, as these are clearly very different. They are the difference between the WHO’s commodity equity, and true health equity. Chapter II. The world together equitably: achieving equity in, for and through pandemic prevention, preparedness and response Equity in health should imply a reasonably equal chance of overcoming or avoiding preventable sickness. The vast majority of sickness and death is due to either non-communicable diseases often related to lifestyle, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus, undernutrition in childhood, and endemic infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDS. Achieving health equity would primarily mean addressing these. In this chapter of the draft Pandemic Agreement, equity is used to imply equal access to specific health commodities, particularly vaccines, for intermittent health emergencies, although these exert a small fraction of the burden of other diseases. It is, specifically, commodity-equity, and not geared to equalizing overall health burden but to enabling centrally-coordinated homogenous responses to unusual events. Article 4. Pandemic prevention and surveillance 2. The Parties shall undertake to cooperate: (b) in support of…initiatives aimed at preventing pandemics, in particular those that improve surveillance, early warning and risk assessment; .…and identify settings and activities presenting a risk of emergence and re-emergence of pathogens with pandemic potential. (c-h) [Paragraphs on water and sanitation, infection control, strengthening of biosafety, surveillance and prevention of vector-born diseases, and addressing antimicrobial resistance.] The WHO intends the Agreement to have force under international law. Therefore, countries are undertaking to put themselves under force of international law in regards to complying with the agreement’s stipulations. The provisions under this long article mostly cover general health stuff that countries try to do anyway. The difference will be that countries will be assessed on progress. Assessment can be fine if in context, less fine if it consists of entitled ‘experts’ from wealthy countries with little local knowledge or context. Perhaps such compliance is best left to national authorities, who are more in use with local needs and priorities. The justification for the international bureaucracy being built to support this, while fun for those involved, is unclear and will divert resources from actual health work. 6. The Conference of the Parties may adopt, as necessary, guidelines, recommendations and standards, including in relation to pandemic prevention capacities, to support the implementation of this Article. Here and later, the COP is invoked as a vehicle to decide on what will actually be done. The rules are explained later (Articles 21-23). While allowing more time is sensible, it begs the question of why it is not better to wait and discuss what is needed in the current INB process, before committing to a legally-binding agreement. This current article says nothing not already covered by the IHR2005 or other ongoing programs. Article 5. One Health approach to pandemic prevention, preparedness and response Nothing specific or new in this article. It seems redundant (it is advocating a holistic approach mentioned elsewhere) and so presumably is just to get the term ‘One Health’ into the agreement. (One could ask, why bother?) Some mainstream definitions of One Health (e.g. Lancet) consider that it means non-human species are on a par with humans in terms of rights and importance. If this is meant here, clearly most Member States would disagree. So we may assume that it is just words to keep someone happy (a little childish in an international document, but the term ‘One Health’ has been trending, like ‘equity,’ as if the concept of holistic approaches to public health were new). Article 6. Preparedness, health system resilience and recovery 2. Each Party commits…[to] : (a) routine and essential health services during pandemics with a focus on primary health care, routine immunization and mental health care, and with particular attention to persons in vulnerable situations (b) developing, strengthening and maintaining health infrastructure (c) developing post-pandemic health system recovery strategies (d) developing, strengthening and maintaining: health information systems This is good, and (a) seems to require avoidance of lockdowns (which inevitably cause the harms listed). Unfortunately other WHO documents lead one to assume this is not the intent…It does appear therefore that this is simply another list of fairly non-specific feel-good measures that have no useful place in a new legally-binding agreement, and which most countries are already undertaking. (e) promoting the use of social and behavioural sciences, risk communication and community engagement for pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. This requires clarification, as the use of behavioral science during the Covid-19 response involved deliberate inducement of fear to promote behaviors that people would not otherwise follow (e.g. Spi-B). It is essential here that the document clarifies how behavioral science should be used ethically in healthcare. Otherwise, this is also a quite meaningless provision. Article 7. Health and care workforce This long Article discusses health workforce, training, retention, non-discrimination, stigma, bias, adequate remuneration, and other standard provisions for workplaces. It is unclear why it is included in a legally binding pandemic agreement, except for: 4. [The Parties]…shall invest in establishing, sustaining, coordinating and mobilizing a skilled and trained multidisciplinary global public health emergency workforce…Parties having established emergency health teams should inform WHO thereof and make best efforts to respond to requests for deployment… Emergency health teams established (within capacity etc.) – are something countries already do, when they have capacity. There is no reason to have this as a legally-binding instrument, and clearly no urgency to do so. Article 8. Preparedness monitoring and functional reviews 1. The Parties shall, building on existing and relevant tools, develop and implement an inclusive, transparent, effective and efficient pandemic prevention, preparedness and response monitoring and evaluation system. 2. Each Party shall assess, every five years, with technical support from the WHO Secretariat upon request, the functioning and readiness of, and gaps in, its pandemic prevention, preparedness and response capacity, based on the relevant tools and guidelines developed by WHO in partnership with relevant organizations at international, regional and sub-regional levels. Note that this is being required of countries that are already struggling to implement monitoring systems for major endemic diseases, including tuberculosis, malaria, HIV, and nutritional deficiencies. They will be legally bound to divert resources to pandemic prevention. While there is some overlap, it will inevitably divert resources from currently underfunded programs for diseases of far higher local burdens, and so (not theoretically, but inevitably) raise mortality. Poor countries are being required to put resources into problems deemed significant by richer countries. Article 9. Research and development Various general provisions about undertaking background research that countries are generally doing anyway, but with an ’emerging disease’ slant. Again, the INB fails to justify why this diversion of resources from researching greater disease burdens should occur in all countries (why not just those with excess resources?). Article 10. Sustainable and geographically diversified production Mostly non-binding but suggested cooperation on making pandemic-related products available, including support for manufacturing in “inter-pandemic times” (a fascinating rendering of ‘normal’), when they would only be viable through subsidies. Much of this is probably unimplementable, as it would not be practical to maintain facilities in most or all countries on stand-by for rare events, at cost of resources otherwise useful for other priorities. The desire to increase production in ‘developing’ countries will face major barriers and costs in terms of maintaining quality of production, particularly as many products will have limited use outside of rare outbreak situations. Article 11. Transfer of technology and know-how This article, always problematic for large pharmaceutical corporations sponsoring much WHO outbreak activities, is now watered down to weak requirements to ‘consider,’ promote,’ provide, within capabilities’ etc. Article 12. Access and benefit sharing This Article is intended to establish the WHO Pathogen Access and Benefit-Sharing System (PABS System). PABS is intended to “ensure rapid, systematic and timely access to biological materials of pathogens with pandemic potential and the genetic sequence data.” This system is of potential high relevance and needs to be interpreted in the context that SARS-CoV-2, the pathogen causing the recent Covid-19 outbreak, was highly likely to have escaped from a laboratory. PABS is intended to expand the laboratory storage, transport, and handling of such viruses, under the oversight of the WHO, an organization outside of national jurisdiction with no significant direct experience in handling biological materials. 3. When a Party has access to a pathogen [it shall]: (a) share with WHO any pathogen sequence information as soon as it is available to the Party; (b) as soon as biological materials are available to the Party, provide the materials to one or more laboratories and/or biorepositories participating in WHO-coordinated laboratory networks (CLNs), Subsequent clauses state that benefits will be shared, and seek to prevent recipient laboratories from patenting materials received from other countries. This has been a major concern of low-and middle-income countries previously, who perceive that institutions in wealthy countries patent and benefit from materials derived from less-wealthy populations. It remains to be seen whether provisions here will be sufficient to address this. The article then becomes yet more concerning: 6. WHO shall conclude legally binding standard PABS contracts with manufacturers to provide the following, taking into account the size, nature and capacities of the manufacturer: (a) annual monetary contributions to support the PABS System and relevant capacities in countries; the determination of the annual amount, use, and approach for monitoring and accountability, shall be finalized by the Parties; (b) real-time contributions of relevant diagnostics, therapeutics or vaccines produced by the manufacturer, 10% free of charge and 10% at not-for-profit prices during public health emergencies of international concern or pandemics, … It is clearly intended that the WHO becomes directly involved in setting up legally binding manufacturing contracts, despite the WHO being outside of national jurisdictional oversight, within the territories of Member States. The PABS system, and therefore its staff and dependent entities, are also to be supported in part by funds from the manufacturers whom they are supposed to be managing. The income of the organization will be dependent on maintaining positive relationships with these private entities in a similar way in which many national regulatory agencies are dependent upon funds from pharmaceutical companies whom their staff ostensibly regulate. In this case, the regulator will be even further removed from public oversight. The clause on 10% (why 10?) products being free of charge, and similar at cost, while ensuring lower-priced commodities irrespective of actual need (the outbreak may be confined to wealthy countries). The same entity, the WHO, will determine whether the triggering emergency exists, determine the response, and manage the contracts to provide the commodities, without direct jurisdictional oversight regarding the potential for corruption or conflict of interest. It is a remarkable system to suggest, irrespective of political or regulatory environment. 8. The Parties shall cooperate…public financing of research and development, prepurchase agreements, or regulatory procedures, to encourage and facilitate as many manufacturers as possible to enter into standard PABS contracts as early as possible. The article envisions that public funding will be used to build the process, ensuring essentially no-risk private profit. 10. To support operationalization of the PABS System, WHO shall…make such contracts public, while respecting commercial confidentiality. The public may know whom contracts are made with, but not all details of the contracts. There will therefore be no independent oversight of the clauses agreed between the WHO, a body outside of national jurisdiction and dependent of commercial companies for funding some of its work and salaries, and these same companies, on ‘needs’ that the WHO itself will have sole authority, under the proposed amendments to the IHR, to determine. The Article further states that the WHO shall use its own product regulatory system (prequalification) and Emergency Use Listing Procedure to open and stimulate markets for the manufacturers of these products. It is doubtful that any national government could make such an overall agreement, yet in May 2024 they will be voting to provide this to what is essentially a foreign, and partly privately financed, entity. Article 13. Supply chain and logistics The WHO will become convenor of a ‘Global Supply Chain and Logistics Network’ for commercially-produced products, to be supplied under WHO contracts when and where the WHO determines, whilst also having the role of ensuring safety of such products. Having mutual support coordinated between countries is good. Having this run by an organization that is significantly funded directly by those gaining from the sale of these same commodities seems reckless and counterintuitive. Few countries would allow this (or at least plan for it). For this to occur safely, the WHO would logically have to forgo all private investment, and greatly restrict national specified funding contributions. Otherwise, the conflicts of interest involved would destroy confidence in the system. There is no suggestion of such divestment from the WHO, but rather, as in Article 12, private sector dependency, directly tied to contracts, will increase. Article 13bis: National procurement- and distribution-related provisions While suffering the same (perhaps unavoidable) issues regarding commercial confidentiality, this alternate Article 13 seems far more appropriate, keeping commercial issues under national jurisdiction and avoiding the obvious conflict of interests that underpin funding for WHO activities and staffing. Article 14. Regulatory systems strengthening This entire Article reflects initiatives and programs already in place. Nothing here appears likely to add to current effort. Article 15. Liability and compensation management 1. Each Party shall consider developing, as necessary and in accordance with applicable law, national strategies for managing liability in its territory related to pandemic vaccines…no-fault compensation mechanisms… 2. The Parties…shall develop recommendations for the establishment and implementation of national, regional and/or global no-fault compensation mechanisms and strategies for managing liability during pandemic emergencies, including with regard to individuals that are in a humanitarian setting or vulnerable situations. This is quite remarkable, but also reflects some national legislation, in removing any fault or liability specifically from vaccine manufacturers, for harms done in pushing out vaccines to the public. During the Covid-19 response, genetic therapeutics being developed by BioNtech and Moderna were reclassified as vaccines, on the basis that an immune response is stimulated after they have modified intracellular biochemical pathways as a medicine normally does. This enabled specific trials normally required for carcinogenicity and teratogenicity to be bypassed, despite raised fetal abnormality rates in animal trials. It will enable the CEPI 100-day vaccine program, supported with private funding to support private mRNA vaccine manufacturers, to proceed without any risk to the manufacturer should there be subsequent public harm. Together with an earlier provision on public funding of research and manufacturing readiness, and the removal of former wording requiring intellectual property sharing in Article 11, this ensures vaccine manufacturers and their investors make profit in effective absence of risk. These entities are currently heavily invested in support for WHO, and were strongly aligned with the introduction of newly restrictive outbreak responses that emphasized and sometimes mandated their products during the Covid-19 outbreak. Article 16. International collaboration and cooperation A somewhat pointless article. It suggests that countries cooperate with each other and the WHO to implement the other agreements in the Agreement. Article 17. Whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches A list of essentially motherhood provisions related to planning for a pandemic. However, countries will legally be required to maintain a ‘national coordination multisectoral body’ for PPPR. This will essentially be an added burden on budgets, and inevitably divert further resources from other priorities. Perhaps just strengthening current infectious disease and nutritional programs would be more impactful. (Nowhere in this Agreement is nutrition discussed (essential for resilience to pathogens) and minimal wording is included on sanitation and clean water (other major reasons for reduction in infectious disease mortality over past centuries). However, the ‘community ownership’ wording is interesting (“empower and enable community ownership of, and contribution to, community readiness for and resilience [for PPPR]”), as this directly contradicts much of the rest of the Agreement, including the centralization of control under the Conference of Parties, requirements for countries to allocate resources to pandemic preparedness over other community priorities, and the idea of inspecting and assessing adherence to the centralized requirements of the Agreement. Either much of the rest of the Agreement is redundant, or this wording is purely for appearance and not to be followed (and therefore should be removed). Article 18. Communication and public awareness 1. Each Party shall promote timely access to credible and evidence-based information …with the aim of countering and addressing misinformation or disinformation… 2. The Parties shall, as appropriate, promote and/or conduct research and inform policies on factors that hinder or strengthen adherence to public health and social measures in a pandemic, as well as trust in science and public health institutions and agencies. The key word is as appropriate, given that many agencies, including the WHO, have overseen or aided policies during the Covid-19 response that have greatly increased poverty, child marriage, teenage pregnancy, and education loss. As the WHO has been shown to be significantly misrepresenting pandemic risk in the process of advocating for this Agreement and related instruments, its own communications would also fall outside the provision here related to evidence-based information, and fall within normal understandings of misinformation. It could not therefore be an arbiter of correctness of information here, so the Article is not implementable. Rewritten to recommend accurate evidence-based information being promoted, it would make good sense, but this is not an issue requiring a legally binding international agreement. Article 19. Implementation and support 3. The WHO Secretariat…organize the technical and financial assistance necessary to address such gaps and needs in implementing the commitments agreed upon under the Pandemic Agreement and the International Health Regulations (2005). As the WHO is dependent on donor support, its ability to address gaps in funding within Member States is clearly not something it can guarantee. The purpose of this article is unclear, repeating in paragraphs 1 and 2 the earlier intent for countries to generally support each other. Article 20. Sustainable financing 1. The Parties commit to working together…In this regard, each Party, within the means and resources at its disposal, shall: (a) prioritize and maintain or increase, as necessary, domestic funding for pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, without undermining other domestic public health priorities including for: (i) strengthening and sustaining capacities for the prevention, preparedness and response to health emergencies and pandemics, in particular the core capacities of the International Health Regulations (2005);… This is silly wording, as countries obviously have to prioritize within budgets, so that moving funds to one area means removing from another. The essence of public health policy is weighing and making such decisions; this reality seems to be ignored here through wishful thinking. (a) is clearly redundant, as the IHR (2005) already exists and countries have agreed to support it. 3. A Coordinating Financial Mechanism (the “Mechanism”) is hereby established to support the implementation of both the WHO Pandemic Agreement and the International Health Regulations (2005) This will be in parallel to the Pandemic Fund recently commenced by the World Bank – an issue not lost on INB delegates and so likely to change here in the final version. It will also be additive to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, and other health financing mechanisms, and so require another parallel international bureaucracy, presumably based in Geneva. It is intended to have its own capacity to “conduct relevant analyses on needs and gaps, in addition to tracking cooperation efforts,” so it will not be a small undertaking. Chapter III. Institutional and final provisions Article 21. Conference of the Parties 1. A Conference of the Parties is hereby established. 2. The Conference of the Parties shall keep under regular review, every three years, the implementation of the WHO Pandemic Agreement and take the decisions necessary to promote its effective implementation. This sets up the governing body to oversee this Agreement (another body requiring a secretariat and support). It is intended to meet within a year of the Agreement coming into force, and then set its own rules on meeting thereafter. It is likely that many provisions outlined in this draft of the Agreement will be deferred to the COP for further discussion. Articles 22 – 37 These articles cover the functioning of the Conference of Parties (COP) and various administrative issues. Of note, ‘block votes’ will be allowed from regional bodies (e.g. the EU). The WHO will provide the secretariat. Under Article 24 is noted: 3. Nothing in the WHO Pandemic Agreement shall be interpreted as providing the Secretariat of the World Health Organization, including the WHO Director-General, any authority to direct, order, alter or otherwise prescribe the domestic laws or policies of any Party, or to mandate or otherwise impose any requirements that Parties take specific actions, such as ban or accept travellers, impose vaccination mandates or therapeutic or diagnostic measures, or implement lockdowns. These provisions are explicitly stated in the proposed amendments to the IHR, to be considered alongside this agreement. Article 26 notes that the IHR is to be interpreted as compatible, thereby confirming that the IHR provisions including border closures and limits on freedom of movement, mandated vaccination, and other lockdown measures are not negated by this statement. As Article 26 states: “The Parties recognize that the WHO Pandemic Agreement and the International Health Regulations should be interpreted so as to be compatible.” Some would consider this subterfuge – The Director-General recently labeled as liars those who claimed the Agreement included these powers, whilst failing to acknowledge the accompanying IHR amendments. The WHO could do better in avoiding misleading messaging, especially when this involves denigration of the public. Article 32 (Withdrawal) requires that, once adopted, Parties cannot withdraw for a total of 3 years (giving notice after a minimum of 2 years). Financial obligations undertaken under the agreement continue beyond that time. Finally, the Agreement will come into force, assuming a two-thirds majority in the WHA is achieved (Article 19, WHO Constitution), 30 days after the fortieth country has ratified it. Further reading: WHO Pandemic Agreement Intergovernmental Negotiating Board website: https://inb.who.int/ International Health Regulations Working Group website: https://apps.who.int/gb/wgihr/index.html On background to the WHO texts: Amendments to WHO’s International Health Regulations: An Annotated Guide An Unofficial Q&A on International Health Regulations On urgency and burden of pandemics: https://essl.leeds.ac.uk/downloads/download/228/rational-policy-over-panic Disease X and Davos: This is Not the Way to Evaluate and Formulate Public Health Policy Before Preparing for Pandemics, We Need Better Evidence of Risk Revised Draft of the negotiating text of the WHO Pandemic Agreement: Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License For reprints, please set the canonical link back to the original Brownstone Institute Article and Author. Authors David Bell David Bell, Senior Scholar at Brownstone Institute, is a public health physician and biotech consultant in global health. He is a former medical officer and scientist at the World Health Organization (WHO), Programme Head for malaria and febrile diseases at the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) in Geneva, Switzerland, and Director of Global Health Technologies at Intellectual Ventures Global Good Fund in Bellevue, WA, USA. View all posts Thi Thuy Van Dinh Dr. Thi Thuy Van Dinh (LLM, PhD) worked on international law in the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Subsequently, she managed multilateral organization partnerships for Intellectual Ventures Global Good Fund and led environmental health technology development efforts for low-resource settings. View all posts Your financial backing of Brownstone Institute goes to support writers, lawyers, scientists, economists, and other people of courage who have been professionally purged and displaced during the upheaval of our times. You can help get the truth out through their ongoing work. https://brownstone.org/articles/the-who-pandemic-agreement-a-guide/ https://www.minds.com/donshafi911/blog/the-who-pandemic-agreement-a-guide-1621719398509187077
    BROWNSTONE.ORG
    The WHO Pandemic Agreement: A Guide ⋆ Brownstone Institute
    The commentary below concentrates on selected draft provisions of the latest publicly available version of the draft agreement that seem to be unclear or potentially problematic.
    Like
    1
    0 Comments 0 Shares 12781 Views
  • The IDF’s war crimes are a perfect reflection of Israeli society
    Miko Peled, author and former member of IDF Special Forces, explains how Israel indoctrinates its citizens in anti-Palestinian racism from the cradle to the grave.


    Three months into Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, the atrocities the IDF has committed against Palestinians are too numerous to name. Israel is staging a prolonged assault on the Palestinian people’s very means of existence—destroying homes, hospitals, sanitation infrastructure, food and water sources, schools, and more. To understand the genocidal campaign unfolding before our eyes, we must examine the roots of Israeli society. Israel is a settler colonial state whose existence depends on the elimination of Palestinians. Accordingly, Israel is a deeply militarized society whose citizens are raised in an environment of historical revisionism and indoctrination that whitewashes Israel’s crimes while cultivating a deep-seated racism against Palestinians. Miko Peled, former IDF Special Forces and author of The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine, joins The Chris Hedges Report for a frank conversation on the distortions of history and reality at the foundations of Israeli identity.

    Studio Production: David Hebden, Adam Coley, Cameron Granadino
    Post-Production: Adam Coley

    Transcript

    Chris Hedges: The Israeli army, known as the Israel Defense Force or IDF, is integral to understanding Israeli society. Nearly all Israelis do three years of military service, most continue to serve in the reserves until middle age. Its generals often retire to occupy senior positions in government and industry. The dominance of the military in Israeli society helps explain why war, militaristic nationalism, and violence are so deeply embedded in Zionist ideology.

    Israel is the outgrowth of a militarized settler colonial movement that seeks its legitimacy in biblical myth. It has always sought to solve nearly every conflict; The ethnic cleansing and massacres against Palestinians known as the Nakba or catastrophe in the years between 1947 and 1949, the Suez War of 1956, the 1967 and 1973 wars with Arab neighbors, the two invasions of Lebanon, the Palestinian intifadas, and the series of military strikes on Gaza, including the most recent, with violence. The long campaign to occupy Palestinian land and ethnically cleanse Palestinians is rooted in the Zionist paramilitaries that formed the Israeli state and continue within the IDF.

    The overriding goal of settler colonialism is the total conquest of Palestinian land. The few Israeli leaders who have sought to reign in the military, such as Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, have been pushed aside by the generals. The military setbacks suffered by Israel in the 1973 war with Egypt and Syria, and during Israel’s invasions of Lebanon only fuel the extreme nationalists who have abandoned all pretense of a liberal democracy. They speak in the open language of apartheid and genocide. These extremists were behind the 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Israel’s failure to live up to the Oslo Accords.

    This extremism has now been exacerbated by the attack of October 7, which killed about 1,200 Israelis. The few Israelis who oppose this militaristic nationalism, especially after October 7, have been silenced and persecuted in Israel. Genocidal violence is almost exclusively the language Israeli leaders, and now Israeli citizens, use to speak to the Palestinians and the Arab world.

    Joining me to discuss the role of the military in Israeli society is Miko Peled. Miko’s father was a general in the Israeli army. Miko was a member of Israel’s special forces and, although disillusioned with the military, moved from his role as a combatant to that of a medic. After the 1982 war in Lebanon, he buried his service pin. He is the author of, The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine and Injustice: The Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.

    You grew up, you were a child when your father was a general in the IDF. This inculcation of that military ethos has begun very young and begun in the schools. Can you talk about that?

    Miko Peled: Sure, thanks for having me, Chris. It’s good to be with you again and talk to you. So it begins before the military. It begins in preschool. It begins as soon as kids are able to talk and walk. I always say I knew the order of the ranks in the military before I knew my alphabet and this is true for many Israeli kids. The Israeli education system is such that it leads young Israelis to become soldiers, to serve the apartheid state, and to serve in this genocidal state, which is the state of Israel. It’s an enormous part of that. And with me, it came with mega-doses of that because when your father’s a general, and particularly of that generation of the 1967 generals, they were like gods of Olympus. Everybody knew their names.

    On Independence Day, I remember in the schools you would have little flags, not just flags of Israel, but flags of the IDF with pictures of IDF generals, pictures of the military, all kinds of military symbols, and so on. It’s everywhere. When I was a kid they still had a military parade. It’s everywhere and it’s inescapable. And you hear it when you walk down the street, you hear it in the news, you hear it in conversations, you hear it in schools, you read it in the textbooks, and there’s no place to develop dissent. There’s no place to develop a sense that dissent is okay, that dissent is possible. And the few cases where people do become dissenters, it’s either because their families have a tradition of being communist or more progressive and somehow it’s part of their tradition but this is a minority of a minority. By and large, Israel stands with the army, and Israel is the army. You can’t separate Israel from its army, from its military.

    Chris Hedges: Let’s juxtapose the myth that you were taught in school about the IDF with the reality.

    Miko Peled: The myth that I was… Again, this was given to me in larger doses at home because my father and his comrades were all part of the 1948 mythology. We were small and we were resourceful, and we were clever, and therefore, in 1948, we were able to defeat these Arab armies and these Arab killers who came to try to kill us and so on and destroy our fledgling little Jewish state. And because of our heroism – And you talked about the biblical connection – Because we are the descendants of King David, and we are the descendants of the Maccabees, and we have this resourcefulness and strength in our genes, we were able to create a state and then every time they attacked, we were there. We were able to defend ourselves and prevail and so on. It’s everywhere. Then again, in my case, it’s every time the larger, more extended family got together or my parents got together with their friends. And in many cases, the fathers were also comrades in arms.

    The stories of the battles, the stories of the conquests; Every city in Israel has an IDF plaza. Street names after different units of different generals are all over the country, street names of battles, so it’s everywhere. It wasn’t until I was probably 40 or a little less than 40, that it was the first time that I encountered the other narrative, the Palestinian story, and it was unbelievable. Somebody was telling me the day is night and night is day, or the world is flat, or whatever the comparison you want to make, it was incredible. They are telling me that what I know to be true – ‘Cause I heard it in school and I read it in books and I heard it from my father and my mother and friends – That all of this is not true. And what you find out if you go along the path that I chose to take, this journey of an Israeli to Palestine, is that it was one horrifying crime against humanity.

    That’s what this so-called heroism was, it was no heroism at all. It was a well-trained, highly motivated, well-indoctrinated, well-armed militia that then became the IDF. But when it started, it was still a militia or today they would be called a terrorist organization, that went up against the people who had never had a military force, who never had a tank, who never had a warplane, who never prepared, even remotely, for battle or an assault. Then you have to make a choice: How do you bridge this? The differences are not nuanced, the differences are enormous. The choice that I made is to investigate for myself and find out who’s telling the truth and who isn’t. And my side was not telling the truth.

    Chris Hedges: How did they explain incidents such as the Nakba, the massacres that took place in ’48 and ’56, and the massive ethnic cleansing that took place in ’67? How was that explained to you within that mythic narrative? Many of the activities that the IDF has had to carry out are quite brutal, quite savage. The indiscriminate killing of civilians – We can talk about Gaza in a minute – What did that do to society? The people who carried out those killings, and eventually huge prisons, torture, and everything else? But let’s begin with how the myth coped with those incidents and then talk about the trauma that is carried within Israeli society for carrying out those war crimes.

    Miko Peled: My generation, we knew that there were several instances of bad apples that committed terrible crimes. And we admitted, so there was Deir Yassin, which was a village on the outskirts of Jerusalem, a peaceful village where a horrible massacre took place. Then we knew that Ariel Sharon was a bit of a lunatic and he took the commandos that he commanded in the ’50s and went to the West Bank and went into Gaza and committed acts of terrible massacres. He was still a hero, held in high regard by everyone, but we knew that there were certain instances… And every military, every nation makes its mistakes and then these things happen But there was never any sense that this somehow discounted or hurt the image of us being a moral army.

    There are lots of stories of how soldiers went and they decided to, out of the kindness of their hearts, they didn’t harm civilians. And those same civilians went and then warned the enemy that they were coming. And these same good Israeli soldiers would then pay the price and were killed. So it’s presented as limited cases. Nakba was not something that was ever discussed. I’m sure it’s not discussed today, certainly not in schools. In Israeli schools today, you’re not allowed to mention the Nakba. There’s a directive by the Ministry of Education that even Palestinians are not allowed to mention the Nakba. But nobody ever talked about that. And the Arabs left, what are you going to do? There was a war and all these people left and this is the way it is.

    So none of that ever hurt, in any way, the image of us being this glorious heroic army, descendants of King David, and other great traditions of Jewish heroism. None of that ever hurt itself. So there’s no trauma because we did nothing wrong. If somebody did something wrong, well, it was a case of bad apples, it was limited to a particular circumstance, a particular person, a particular unit, and you get crazy people everywhere. What are you going to do? It’s never been presented as systemic. Today, we have a history so we can look back and if we do pay attention, and if we do read the literature, and if we do listen to Palestinians – And today there’s this great NGO called Zochrot, whose mission is to maintain the memory of the towns and cities that were destroyed in 1948 and to revive the stories of what took place in 1948 – They are uncovering new massacres all the time. Because as that generation is dying off, both the Israelis who committed the crimes and the Palestinians who were still alive at the time and survived, are opening up and telling more and more stories.

    So we know of churches that were filled with civilians and were burned down. We know of a mosque in Lydd that was filled with people and a young man went and shot a Fiat missile into it. All of these horrific stories are still coming out but Israelis are not paying attention, Israelis are not listening. Whenever there’s an attack on Gaza – And as you know very well, these attacks began in the fifties with Ariel Sharon, by the way – There is always a reason. Because at first they were infiltrators, and then they were terrorists, and now they’re called Hamas, and whatever the devil’s name may be there’s always a very good reason to go in there because these are people who are raised to hate and kill and so on. So it’s a tightly-knit and tightly-orchestrated narrative that is being perpetuated and Israelis don’t seem to have a problem with that.

    Chris Hedges: And yet carrying out acts of brutality. The occupation – Huge numbers, a million Israelis are in the states. Large numbers of Israelis have left the country. I’m wondering how many of those are people who have a conscience and are repulsed by what they have seen in the West Bank and Gaza. Perhaps I’m incorrect about that.

    Miko Peled: I don’t know. In the few encounters that I’ve had with Israelis in the US over the years, the vast majority support Israel, support Israel’s actions. It’s interesting that you mentioned that because I got an email from someone representing a group of alumni of Jewish Day Schools. These are Zionist schools all over countries where they indoctrinate the worst Zionism: secular Zionism. And they are now appalled by the indoctrination to serve in the IDF. A very high percentage of these students grew up, went to Israel, joined the IDF, took part in APEC events, and so on. And now they’re looking back and they’re reflecting and they’re feeling a sense of anger that they were put through this and lied through their entire lives about this.

    So that’s an interesting development. And if that grows, then that might be a game changer because these are the most loyal American Jews. The most loyal to Israel. But by and large, Israelis that I meet, with few exceptions, support Israel and they’re here for whatever reasons people come to America: They’re not unique, they’re not necessarily here because they were fed up or they were angry, or they were dissenters in any way, shape, or form. Around DC and Maryland, there are many Israelis. Sometimes you’ll sit in a coffee shop or go somewhere, you hear the conversations, and there’s no lack of support for Israel among these Israelis as far as I can see.

    Chris Hedges: Let’s talk about the armies. You were in the Special Forces elite unit. Talk about that indoctrination. I remember visiting Auschwitz a few years ago, and there were Israeli groups and people flying Israeli flags. But speak about that form of indoctrination and its link, in particular, to the Holocaust.

    Miko Peled: The myth is that Israel is a response to the Holocaust. And that the IDF is a response to the Holocaust; We must be strong, we must be willing to fight, and we must always have a gun in one hand or a weapon in one hand so that this will never happen again. And what’s interesting is, when you talk to Holocaust survivors who are not indoctrinated, who did not get pulled into Zionism – Which there are very, very many – They’ll say the notion that a militarized state is somehow the answer to the Holocaust is absurd because the answer to the Holocaust is tolerance and education and humanity, not violence and racism. But nobody wants to ruin a good myth with the facts. So that’s the story.

    The story is because of Auschwitz, we represent all those that were killed, perished by the Nazis, and so on, and therefore we need to be strong. And the Israeli flag represents them, and the Israeli military represents them. It’s absurd, it’s absolute madness. I went to serve in the army willingly, as most young Israelis do. In my environment, refusing or not going was not heard of, although there were some voices in the wilderness that were refusing and questioning morality. But I never did. Nobody around me ever did until I began the training and you began patrolling. I remember – You and I may have talked about this once – We were an infantry unit, a commando infantry unit. And suddenly we were given batons and these plastic handcuffs and were told to patrol in Ramallah.

    And I’m going, what the hell’s going on? What are we doing here? And then we’re told if anybody looks at you funny, you break every bone in their body. And I thought, everybody’s going to look at us, we’re commandos while marching through a city. Who’s not going to look at us? I was behind. I didn’t realize that everybody already understood that this is how it is, this is how it’s supposed to be. I thought, wait, this is wrong. Why are we doing this? We’re supposed to be the good guys here.

    And then there was the Lebanon invasion of ’82 and so on. So that broke that in my mind, that was a serious crack in the wall of belief and the wall of patriotism that was in me. But this whole notion that somehow being violent and militaristic and racist and being conquerors is somehow a response to the horrors of the Holocaust is absolute madness. But when you’re in it nobody around you is asking questions. You don’t ask questions either unless you’re willing to stand out and be smacked on the head.

    Chris Hedges: Within the military, within the IDF, how did they speak about Palestinians and Arabs?

    Miko Peled: The discourse, the hatred, the racism, is horrifying. First of all, they’re the animals. They’re nothing. It’s a joke, you see, it’s horrifying. They think it’s funny to stop people and ask them for their ID and to chase them and to chase kids and to shoot. It all seems like entertainment, you know? I never heard that discourse until I was in it. Then afterward, when I would meet Israelis who served, even here in the US, the way they joked around about what they did in the West Bank, the way they joked around about killing or stopping people or making them take their clothes off and dance naked, it’s entertainment.

    They think it’s funny. They don’t see that there’s a problem here because racism is so ingrained from such a young age that it’s almost organic. And I don’t think it’s surprising. When you have a racist society, and you have a racist education system that is so methodical, that’s what you get. And the racism doesn’t stop with Palestinians or with Arabs; It goes on to the Black people, it goes on to people of color, it goes to Jews or Israelis who come from other countries who are dark-skinned, for some reason. The racism crosses all these boundaries and it’s completely part of the culture.

    Chris Hedges: You have very little criticism of the IDF, almost none within the Israeli press, although there is quite a bit of criticism right now, of Netanyahu and his mismanagement and his corruption. Talk a little bit about the deification of the IDF within the public discourse and mainstream media and what that means for what’s happening in Gaza.

    Miko Peled: Well, the military is above the law. It’s above reproach, except from time to time. So after the ’73 war, there was an investigation. Earlier this week, there was, in the cabinet meeting… The cabinet meets every Sunday. And the army chief of staff was there and he was… This was leaked from the cabinet meeting. It was leaked that some of the more right-wing partners – It’s funny to say right-wing partners because they’re all this right-wing lunacy in the Israeli cabinet – But the more right-wing settlers that are in the cabinet were attacking the army, were attacking the chief of staff because he decided to start an inquiry because it was catastrophic when the Palestinian fighters came in from Gaza, there was nobody home. They took over half of their country back. They took 22 Israeli settlements and cities.

    They took over the army base of the Gaza brigade, which is supposed to defend the country from exactly this happening. And there was nobody in the… They took over the base. So he initiated an internal inquiry within the army, and they’re criticizing him and what you see in the Israeli press is two very interesting things: One is something went horribly wrong and we need to find out why, but we should wait because we shouldn’t do it during wartime. We shouldn’t criticize the army during wartime. We shouldn’t make the soldiers feel like they have to hold back because if they need to shoot, they should be allowed to shoot. And the other thing we see is that politically, everybody is eating each other up. They’re killing each other politically in the press. So everybody that’s against Netanyahu and wants to see it is attacking him.

    His people are attacking the others for attacking the government. It seems like there’s this paralysis as a result of this infighting that is affecting the functionality of the state as a state. Israelis are not living in the country, Israel is not the state that it was prior to October 7, it was paralyzed for several weeks, and now it’s still paralyzed in many ways. You’ve got missiles coming from the north, you’ve got missiles coming from the south. You’ve got very large numbers of Israeli soldiers being killed and thousands being injured and the war’s not ending. They’re not able to defeat the Palestinians in Gaza, the armed resistance, and so on.

    So all of this is taking place and you read the Israeli press and it’s like this cesspool that’s bubbling and bubbling and bubbling, and everybody’s attacking everybody else. And the army, it’s true, they are above reproach mostly, but this particular time the settlers are very angry. Another reason is because the the military decided to pull back some of the ground troops, understandably, since they’re being hit so hard. And I remember that happening before when the army pulled back out of Gaza, they were being attacked for stopping the killing, for not continuing these mass killings of Palestinians.

    Chris Hedges: Well, you had what? 70 fatalities in the Golani Brigade? And they were pulled back. This is a very elite unit.

    Miko Peled: Yeah, it’s very interesting because many of the casualties are high-ranking officers. You have colonels, lieutenant colonels, and very high-ranking commanders within Israeli special forces who are being killed. And they’re usually killed in big bunches because they’ll be in an armored personnel carrier or they’ll be marching together. And in Jenin a few days ago, they blew up a military vehicle and killed a bunch of soldiers. So Israelis are scratching their heads, not knowing what the hell is going on and what to do, because number one, they were not protected as they thought they were.

    And I’m sure you know this, the Israeli settlements, the kibbutzim, the cities in the south that border Gaza, [inaudible 00:25:59], they enjoy some of the highest standards of living among Israelis. It’s a beautiful lifestyle. It’s warm, it’s lovely. Agriculture is… And I don’t think it ever occurred to them that Palestinians would dare to come out of Gaza fighting and succeeding the way they did. The army was bankrupt. It was gone, the intelligence apparatus was bankrupt, and nothing worked. And it is reminiscent of what happened in 1973. This is far worse but it is reminiscent. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the October 7 attacks were exactly 50 years and one day after the 1973 October war began and the whole system collapsed. So that’s what we’re seeing right now.

    Chris Hedges: How do you read what’s happening in Gaza, militarily?

    Miko Peled: The Palestinians are able to hold on and kill many Israelis. And even though the Israelis have the firepower and they’ve got the logistics, supply chains are not a problem. Whereas Palestinians, I don’t know where they’re getting supplies. I don’t know where they’re getting food to continue fighting. They’re putting up a fierce resistance. I don’t think that militarily there’s a strategy here. This is revenge; Israel was humiliated, the army was humiliated, and they needed to take it out on somebody.

    So they found the weakest victims they could lay their hands on, and these are the Palestinian civilians in Gaza. And so they’re killing them by the tens of thousands. I don’t think anybody believes in such a thing as getting rid of Hamas. I don’t think anybody believes that that’s possible. I don’t believe anybody takes seriously or believes that you can take too many people out of Gaza and spread them around the world and into other places, even though that’s what they’re saying. But as long as Israel is allowed to kill, and as long as the supply chain isn’t interrupted, they’re going to continue to kill.

    Chris Hedges: And they’re also creating a humanitarian crisis. So it’s not just the bombs and the shells, but it’s now starvation. Diarrhea is an epidemic, sanitation is broken. I’m wondering at what point this humanitarian crisis becomes so pronounced that the choice is you leave or you die.

    Miko Peled: That’s always the big question for Palestinians. And the sad thing is that Palestinians are always being placed in these situations where they have to make that choice. It’s the worst form of injustice. And you know this, you’ve been in war zones. We don’t know how many bodies are buried under the rubble and what that’s going to bring up. And there are hundreds of thousands now who are suffering from all kinds of diseases as a result of this environmental catastrophe. And you remember, what was it? 2016 or something, 2017? The UN came out with a report that by 2020, Gaza would be uninhabitable. I don’t think the Gaza Strip has ever been inhabitable. It’s been a humanitarian disaster since it was created in the late forties and early fifties because they suddenly threw all these refugees there with no infrastructure and that was it, and then began killing them.

    I was talking to some people the other day, as Americans, as taxpayers, wouldn’t we want the Sixth Fleet, which is in the Mediterranean, the US Navy Sixth Fleet, to aid the Palestinians? To provide them support? To create a no-fly zone over these innocent people that are being massacred? As Americans, shouldn’t that be the natural ask, the natural desire to demand our politicians to use? Because American naval vessels have been used for humanitarian causes before. Why aren’t they supporting the Palestinians? Why aren’t they providing them aid? Why aren’t they helping them rebuild? Why are American tax dollars going to continue this genocide rather than stop it and aid the victims?

    These are questions Americans need to ask themselves because it makes absolutely no sense. It is absolute madness that people are allowing their government to support a genocide that’s not even done in secret. It’s not even done in hiding it. It’s on prime time. Everybody sees it. Everybody knows what’s going on. And again, for some strange reason, Americans are allowing their military and their government to aid the genocide. And there’s no question that it’s genocide. The definition of the crime of genocide is so absolutely clear, that anybody can look it up and compare it to what’s been going on in Palestine. So that to me is the greatest question: Why aren’t Americans demanding that the US support the Palestinians?

    Chris Hedges: Well, according to opinion polls, most Americans want a ceasefire. But the Congress is bought and paid for by the Israel lobby. Biden is one of the largest recipients of aid or campaign financing from the Israel lobby. This is true for both parties. Chuck Schumer was at the rally saying no ceasefire.

    Miko Peled: Which is odd. A ceasefire is a very small ask and I don’t know why we always ask for the bare minimum for Palestinians. But let’s talk about ceasefire. Israeli soldiers are being killed as well in very large numbers. How has ceasefire suddenly become an anti-Israeli demand? But it’s a very small ask. I don’t know how it was or where it was that this idea of demanding a ceasefire came up because that is not a serious demand. Ceasefire gets violated by Israel anyway, within 24-48 hours. You know that historically Israel always violated ceasefires. What is required here are severe sanctions, a no-fly zone, immediate aid to the Palestinians, and stopping this and providing guarantees for the safety and security of Palestinians forever moving forward so this can never happen again.

    That’s what needs to be asked. At this point, after having sacrificed so much, after having shown much of what I believe is immense courage, Palestinians deserve everything. We as people of conscience need to demand not to ceasefire, we need to demand a dismantling of the apartheid state and a full stop and absolute end to the genocide and guarantees put in place that Palestinian kids will be safe. I was talking to Issa Amro earlier in Hebron. It’s ridiculous when nobody even talks about what happens in the West Bank. Friends of mine who are Palestinian citizens of Israel, nobody dares to leave the house, nobody dares to text. They’re afraid to walk down the streets. Their safety is not guaranteed by anyone.

    Palestinian safety and security are left to the whims of any Israeli, and that should be the conversation right now, after such horrendous violence. That needs to be the demand. That needs to be the ask when we go to protests when we make these demands like a ceasefire. And even that, Israel is not willing. And these bouts of political supporters of Israel here in America are not willing to entertain a ceasefire. I believe it’s a crazy part of history that we’re experiencing right now and it’s a watershed moment. October 7 created an opportunity to end this for good, to end the suffering of Palestinians, the oppression, and the genocide for good. And if we being people of conscience don’t take advantage of this now and bring it to an end, we will regret this for generations.

    Chris Hedges: The Netanyahu government is talking about this assault on Gaza, this genocide continuing for months. There are strikes, and have been strikes against, now Hezbollah leaders. What concerns you? How could this all go terribly wrong?

    Miko Peled: It’s already gone terribly wrong because of the death and destruction of so many innocent lives is… I don’t even know that there’s a word for it. It’s beyond horrifying. Netanyahu is relying on the restraint of Hezbollah and the restraint of Iran and the restraint of the Arab governments has all been neutralized either through destruct, being destroyed, or through normalization. So he’s relying on that and he knows that he can keep triggering, he can keep bombing Lebanon, bombing Syria, instigating all of these things and it won’t turn into an all-out war. Because at the end of the day, even though Lebanese, Hezbollah, and Palestinian fighters have shown that they’re superior as fighters, they don’t have the supply chains, they don’t have the warplanes, they don’t have the tanks. So more and more civilians are going to be hurt.

    So I don’t think it’s going to turn into a regional war by any stretch of the imagination. And so Netanyahu is betting on that, and that’s why he’s allowing this to go on. And for him, this is a win-win. There’s no way that he can be unseated by anybody that’s around him. There’s no opposition. And as long as this goes on, as long as everybody’s in a state of crisis, he can continue to sit in the Prime Minister’s seat, which for him is the end all and be all of everything. And the world is supporting. The world, as governments of the world, I should say.

    I do interviews with African TV stations, Indian TV stations, and Europeans; Everybody is supporting Israel. Everybody listens to what I have to say, and they think I am a lunatic for supporting terrorism or whatever it is they, however, it is that they frame it. But I don’t see this ending unless there is massive pressure by people of conscience on their governments to force change, to force sanctions, to force the end of the genocide, and the end of the apartheid state.

    Chris Hedges: I want to talk about the shift within Zionism itself from the dominance of a secular leadership to – We see it in the government of Netanyahu – The rise of a religious Zionism, which is also true now within the IDF. And I wondered if you could talk about the consequences of that.

    Miko Peled: Sure. So originally, traditionally, and historically, Zionism and Judaism were at odds. And even to this day ultra-orthodox Jews reject Zionism and reject Israel by and large. But after 1967, there was this new creation of the Zionist religious movement. And these are the settlers who went to the West Bank and they became the new pioneers. And they are today, they make up a large portion of the officers and those who joined the special forces and so on. In the past, in the army, the unofficial policy was that these guys, should not be allowed to advance. The current chief of staff comes from that world, which is a huge change. There are several generals and high-ranking commanders and so on who come from that world. The reason that it was the unofficial policy that these guys should not be promoted was that it’s an incredibly toxic combination, this messianic form of Judaism, which is an aberration.

    It’s not Judaism at all, with this nationalist fanaticism. This combination is toxic and look what it created. It created some of the worst racists, some of the most violent thugs that we’ve seen, certainly in the short history of the state of Israel, although I don’t know that they’re any less violent than the generation of Zionists of my father who are secular. This was a big concern in the past but now they’re everywhere and look at its current government. They hold the finance ministry, they hold the national security ministry, certainly in the military they’re everywhere, they hold many sub-cabinets, and they’re heads of committees in the Knesset, and so on. And they’ve done their work. They worked very hard to get to where they are today, which is where they call the shots. And Netanyahu’s guaranteed to remain in power.

    They’re his support group. That’s why you could have had, as we had earlier this year, hundreds of thousands of Israelis protesting in the streets and it didn’t affect him because he has his block in the Knesset that will never leave him as long as he allows them to play their game. And this is what’s happening. So in terms of violence and the facts on the ground, I don’t think these guys are any worse again than my parents’ generation who were young Zionists and zealots at the time and committed the 1948 Nakba and ran the country and operated the apartheid state for the first few decades. But it’s a new form of fanaticism being that it is religious as well as fascist. So it’s very toxic. And they have more of a stomach for killing civilians than we’ve ever seen before, even for Israelis. These numbers are beyond belief, even for Israel.

    Chris Hedges: I’m wondering if this religious Zionism probably has its profoundest effect within Israel, in terms of shutting down dissidents, civil liberties, this kind of stuff.

    Miko Peled: Well, Israelis love them. Israelis love these guys because they’re religious but they dress like us. They don’t look like the old Jews with the big beards and everything; They’re cool. They wear jeans. And the reason I say this is because one of their objectives is to take over Al-Aqsa and build a Jewish temple. They’re destroying Al-Aqsa and they conduct these tours. In the old city of Jerusalem, there’s a particular path that you take from where the western wall is up to Al-Aqsa, which is open for non-Muslims. And so they hold tours and there’s several odd times throughout the day. I’ve taken some of these tours to see what it’s about, what these guys do, you know?

    These are prayer tours and hundreds of thousands of Israelis go on these tours. And these are Israelis who are not religious at all, these are secular people. I see the people that go on the tours. To give you an idea of what this is about, you go up on that bridge and then you wait until the tour starts because you have to go in a group. And there’s a massive model of the new temple, of the Jewish temple that is going to be built there. And then you have a huge group of armed police –They’re not soldiers, they’re police but dressed completely militarized. And Muslim Palestinians are not allowed – That accompany the tour all around and they stop and they pray and they stop and they pray and they stop and pray at various places. The whole thing takes maybe an hour. But the interesting thing is that the people who go on these tours are secular Israelis. And then as I was doing this, I was remembering, even as a kid growing up completely secular, we would sing songs about the day that we build a temple.

    Why did we sing songs about building a temple? Because it went beyond our religious significance and became a national significance. And there’s no question in my mind that Netanyahu and secular Israelis would love to see this idea of destroying Al-Aqsa and having a Jewish temple there. It’s a sign that we’re back, King David is back. Even though it has nothing to do with history and there’s no truth in it, the connection that we are descendants of King David is something Israelis love. That’s what this is about, the relationship between the so-called settlers. That’s what they’re called in Israeli jargon. They’re called the settlers. Regular secular Israelis are an interesting one because on the one hand, they’re looked down upon because they’re religious, but on the other hand, they’re a cool religious. So there is an affinity.

    Chris Hedges: Great. That was Miko Peled, author of The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine and Injustice: The Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five. I want to thank the Real News Network and its production team: Cameron Granandino, Adam Coley, David Hebden, and Kayla Rivara. You can find me at chrishedges.substack.com.

    Creative Commons License

    Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.

    https://therealnews.com/the-idfs-war-crimes-are-a-perfect-reflection-of-israeli-society

    https://telegra.ph/The-IDFs-war-crimes-are-a-perfect-reflection-of-Israeli-society-04-02
    The IDF’s war crimes are a perfect reflection of Israeli society Miko Peled, author and former member of IDF Special Forces, explains how Israel indoctrinates its citizens in anti-Palestinian racism from the cradle to the grave. Three months into Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, the atrocities the IDF has committed against Palestinians are too numerous to name. Israel is staging a prolonged assault on the Palestinian people’s very means of existence—destroying homes, hospitals, sanitation infrastructure, food and water sources, schools, and more. To understand the genocidal campaign unfolding before our eyes, we must examine the roots of Israeli society. Israel is a settler colonial state whose existence depends on the elimination of Palestinians. Accordingly, Israel is a deeply militarized society whose citizens are raised in an environment of historical revisionism and indoctrination that whitewashes Israel’s crimes while cultivating a deep-seated racism against Palestinians. Miko Peled, former IDF Special Forces and author of The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine, joins The Chris Hedges Report for a frank conversation on the distortions of history and reality at the foundations of Israeli identity. Studio Production: David Hebden, Adam Coley, Cameron Granadino Post-Production: Adam Coley Transcript Chris Hedges: The Israeli army, known as the Israel Defense Force or IDF, is integral to understanding Israeli society. Nearly all Israelis do three years of military service, most continue to serve in the reserves until middle age. Its generals often retire to occupy senior positions in government and industry. The dominance of the military in Israeli society helps explain why war, militaristic nationalism, and violence are so deeply embedded in Zionist ideology. Israel is the outgrowth of a militarized settler colonial movement that seeks its legitimacy in biblical myth. It has always sought to solve nearly every conflict; The ethnic cleansing and massacres against Palestinians known as the Nakba or catastrophe in the years between 1947 and 1949, the Suez War of 1956, the 1967 and 1973 wars with Arab neighbors, the two invasions of Lebanon, the Palestinian intifadas, and the series of military strikes on Gaza, including the most recent, with violence. The long campaign to occupy Palestinian land and ethnically cleanse Palestinians is rooted in the Zionist paramilitaries that formed the Israeli state and continue within the IDF. The overriding goal of settler colonialism is the total conquest of Palestinian land. The few Israeli leaders who have sought to reign in the military, such as Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, have been pushed aside by the generals. The military setbacks suffered by Israel in the 1973 war with Egypt and Syria, and during Israel’s invasions of Lebanon only fuel the extreme nationalists who have abandoned all pretense of a liberal democracy. They speak in the open language of apartheid and genocide. These extremists were behind the 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Israel’s failure to live up to the Oslo Accords. This extremism has now been exacerbated by the attack of October 7, which killed about 1,200 Israelis. The few Israelis who oppose this militaristic nationalism, especially after October 7, have been silenced and persecuted in Israel. Genocidal violence is almost exclusively the language Israeli leaders, and now Israeli citizens, use to speak to the Palestinians and the Arab world. Joining me to discuss the role of the military in Israeli society is Miko Peled. Miko’s father was a general in the Israeli army. Miko was a member of Israel’s special forces and, although disillusioned with the military, moved from his role as a combatant to that of a medic. After the 1982 war in Lebanon, he buried his service pin. He is the author of, The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine and Injustice: The Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five. You grew up, you were a child when your father was a general in the IDF. This inculcation of that military ethos has begun very young and begun in the schools. Can you talk about that? Miko Peled: Sure, thanks for having me, Chris. It’s good to be with you again and talk to you. So it begins before the military. It begins in preschool. It begins as soon as kids are able to talk and walk. I always say I knew the order of the ranks in the military before I knew my alphabet and this is true for many Israeli kids. The Israeli education system is such that it leads young Israelis to become soldiers, to serve the apartheid state, and to serve in this genocidal state, which is the state of Israel. It’s an enormous part of that. And with me, it came with mega-doses of that because when your father’s a general, and particularly of that generation of the 1967 generals, they were like gods of Olympus. Everybody knew their names. On Independence Day, I remember in the schools you would have little flags, not just flags of Israel, but flags of the IDF with pictures of IDF generals, pictures of the military, all kinds of military symbols, and so on. It’s everywhere. When I was a kid they still had a military parade. It’s everywhere and it’s inescapable. And you hear it when you walk down the street, you hear it in the news, you hear it in conversations, you hear it in schools, you read it in the textbooks, and there’s no place to develop dissent. There’s no place to develop a sense that dissent is okay, that dissent is possible. And the few cases where people do become dissenters, it’s either because their families have a tradition of being communist or more progressive and somehow it’s part of their tradition but this is a minority of a minority. By and large, Israel stands with the army, and Israel is the army. You can’t separate Israel from its army, from its military. Chris Hedges: Let’s juxtapose the myth that you were taught in school about the IDF with the reality. Miko Peled: The myth that I was… Again, this was given to me in larger doses at home because my father and his comrades were all part of the 1948 mythology. We were small and we were resourceful, and we were clever, and therefore, in 1948, we were able to defeat these Arab armies and these Arab killers who came to try to kill us and so on and destroy our fledgling little Jewish state. And because of our heroism – And you talked about the biblical connection – Because we are the descendants of King David, and we are the descendants of the Maccabees, and we have this resourcefulness and strength in our genes, we were able to create a state and then every time they attacked, we were there. We were able to defend ourselves and prevail and so on. It’s everywhere. Then again, in my case, it’s every time the larger, more extended family got together or my parents got together with their friends. And in many cases, the fathers were also comrades in arms. The stories of the battles, the stories of the conquests; Every city in Israel has an IDF plaza. Street names after different units of different generals are all over the country, street names of battles, so it’s everywhere. It wasn’t until I was probably 40 or a little less than 40, that it was the first time that I encountered the other narrative, the Palestinian story, and it was unbelievable. Somebody was telling me the day is night and night is day, or the world is flat, or whatever the comparison you want to make, it was incredible. They are telling me that what I know to be true – ‘Cause I heard it in school and I read it in books and I heard it from my father and my mother and friends – That all of this is not true. And what you find out if you go along the path that I chose to take, this journey of an Israeli to Palestine, is that it was one horrifying crime against humanity. That’s what this so-called heroism was, it was no heroism at all. It was a well-trained, highly motivated, well-indoctrinated, well-armed militia that then became the IDF. But when it started, it was still a militia or today they would be called a terrorist organization, that went up against the people who had never had a military force, who never had a tank, who never had a warplane, who never prepared, even remotely, for battle or an assault. Then you have to make a choice: How do you bridge this? The differences are not nuanced, the differences are enormous. The choice that I made is to investigate for myself and find out who’s telling the truth and who isn’t. And my side was not telling the truth. Chris Hedges: How did they explain incidents such as the Nakba, the massacres that took place in ’48 and ’56, and the massive ethnic cleansing that took place in ’67? How was that explained to you within that mythic narrative? Many of the activities that the IDF has had to carry out are quite brutal, quite savage. The indiscriminate killing of civilians – We can talk about Gaza in a minute – What did that do to society? The people who carried out those killings, and eventually huge prisons, torture, and everything else? But let’s begin with how the myth coped with those incidents and then talk about the trauma that is carried within Israeli society for carrying out those war crimes. Miko Peled: My generation, we knew that there were several instances of bad apples that committed terrible crimes. And we admitted, so there was Deir Yassin, which was a village on the outskirts of Jerusalem, a peaceful village where a horrible massacre took place. Then we knew that Ariel Sharon was a bit of a lunatic and he took the commandos that he commanded in the ’50s and went to the West Bank and went into Gaza and committed acts of terrible massacres. He was still a hero, held in high regard by everyone, but we knew that there were certain instances… And every military, every nation makes its mistakes and then these things happen But there was never any sense that this somehow discounted or hurt the image of us being a moral army. There are lots of stories of how soldiers went and they decided to, out of the kindness of their hearts, they didn’t harm civilians. And those same civilians went and then warned the enemy that they were coming. And these same good Israeli soldiers would then pay the price and were killed. So it’s presented as limited cases. Nakba was not something that was ever discussed. I’m sure it’s not discussed today, certainly not in schools. In Israeli schools today, you’re not allowed to mention the Nakba. There’s a directive by the Ministry of Education that even Palestinians are not allowed to mention the Nakba. But nobody ever talked about that. And the Arabs left, what are you going to do? There was a war and all these people left and this is the way it is. So none of that ever hurt, in any way, the image of us being this glorious heroic army, descendants of King David, and other great traditions of Jewish heroism. None of that ever hurt itself. So there’s no trauma because we did nothing wrong. If somebody did something wrong, well, it was a case of bad apples, it was limited to a particular circumstance, a particular person, a particular unit, and you get crazy people everywhere. What are you going to do? It’s never been presented as systemic. Today, we have a history so we can look back and if we do pay attention, and if we do read the literature, and if we do listen to Palestinians – And today there’s this great NGO called Zochrot, whose mission is to maintain the memory of the towns and cities that were destroyed in 1948 and to revive the stories of what took place in 1948 – They are uncovering new massacres all the time. Because as that generation is dying off, both the Israelis who committed the crimes and the Palestinians who were still alive at the time and survived, are opening up and telling more and more stories. So we know of churches that were filled with civilians and were burned down. We know of a mosque in Lydd that was filled with people and a young man went and shot a Fiat missile into it. All of these horrific stories are still coming out but Israelis are not paying attention, Israelis are not listening. Whenever there’s an attack on Gaza – And as you know very well, these attacks began in the fifties with Ariel Sharon, by the way – There is always a reason. Because at first they were infiltrators, and then they were terrorists, and now they’re called Hamas, and whatever the devil’s name may be there’s always a very good reason to go in there because these are people who are raised to hate and kill and so on. So it’s a tightly-knit and tightly-orchestrated narrative that is being perpetuated and Israelis don’t seem to have a problem with that. Chris Hedges: And yet carrying out acts of brutality. The occupation – Huge numbers, a million Israelis are in the states. Large numbers of Israelis have left the country. I’m wondering how many of those are people who have a conscience and are repulsed by what they have seen in the West Bank and Gaza. Perhaps I’m incorrect about that. Miko Peled: I don’t know. In the few encounters that I’ve had with Israelis in the US over the years, the vast majority support Israel, support Israel’s actions. It’s interesting that you mentioned that because I got an email from someone representing a group of alumni of Jewish Day Schools. These are Zionist schools all over countries where they indoctrinate the worst Zionism: secular Zionism. And they are now appalled by the indoctrination to serve in the IDF. A very high percentage of these students grew up, went to Israel, joined the IDF, took part in APEC events, and so on. And now they’re looking back and they’re reflecting and they’re feeling a sense of anger that they were put through this and lied through their entire lives about this. So that’s an interesting development. And if that grows, then that might be a game changer because these are the most loyal American Jews. The most loyal to Israel. But by and large, Israelis that I meet, with few exceptions, support Israel and they’re here for whatever reasons people come to America: They’re not unique, they’re not necessarily here because they were fed up or they were angry, or they were dissenters in any way, shape, or form. Around DC and Maryland, there are many Israelis. Sometimes you’ll sit in a coffee shop or go somewhere, you hear the conversations, and there’s no lack of support for Israel among these Israelis as far as I can see. Chris Hedges: Let’s talk about the armies. You were in the Special Forces elite unit. Talk about that indoctrination. I remember visiting Auschwitz a few years ago, and there were Israeli groups and people flying Israeli flags. But speak about that form of indoctrination and its link, in particular, to the Holocaust. Miko Peled: The myth is that Israel is a response to the Holocaust. And that the IDF is a response to the Holocaust; We must be strong, we must be willing to fight, and we must always have a gun in one hand or a weapon in one hand so that this will never happen again. And what’s interesting is, when you talk to Holocaust survivors who are not indoctrinated, who did not get pulled into Zionism – Which there are very, very many – They’ll say the notion that a militarized state is somehow the answer to the Holocaust is absurd because the answer to the Holocaust is tolerance and education and humanity, not violence and racism. But nobody wants to ruin a good myth with the facts. So that’s the story. The story is because of Auschwitz, we represent all those that were killed, perished by the Nazis, and so on, and therefore we need to be strong. And the Israeli flag represents them, and the Israeli military represents them. It’s absurd, it’s absolute madness. I went to serve in the army willingly, as most young Israelis do. In my environment, refusing or not going was not heard of, although there were some voices in the wilderness that were refusing and questioning morality. But I never did. Nobody around me ever did until I began the training and you began patrolling. I remember – You and I may have talked about this once – We were an infantry unit, a commando infantry unit. And suddenly we were given batons and these plastic handcuffs and were told to patrol in Ramallah. And I’m going, what the hell’s going on? What are we doing here? And then we’re told if anybody looks at you funny, you break every bone in their body. And I thought, everybody’s going to look at us, we’re commandos while marching through a city. Who’s not going to look at us? I was behind. I didn’t realize that everybody already understood that this is how it is, this is how it’s supposed to be. I thought, wait, this is wrong. Why are we doing this? We’re supposed to be the good guys here. And then there was the Lebanon invasion of ’82 and so on. So that broke that in my mind, that was a serious crack in the wall of belief and the wall of patriotism that was in me. But this whole notion that somehow being violent and militaristic and racist and being conquerors is somehow a response to the horrors of the Holocaust is absolute madness. But when you’re in it nobody around you is asking questions. You don’t ask questions either unless you’re willing to stand out and be smacked on the head. Chris Hedges: Within the military, within the IDF, how did they speak about Palestinians and Arabs? Miko Peled: The discourse, the hatred, the racism, is horrifying. First of all, they’re the animals. They’re nothing. It’s a joke, you see, it’s horrifying. They think it’s funny to stop people and ask them for their ID and to chase them and to chase kids and to shoot. It all seems like entertainment, you know? I never heard that discourse until I was in it. Then afterward, when I would meet Israelis who served, even here in the US, the way they joked around about what they did in the West Bank, the way they joked around about killing or stopping people or making them take their clothes off and dance naked, it’s entertainment. They think it’s funny. They don’t see that there’s a problem here because racism is so ingrained from such a young age that it’s almost organic. And I don’t think it’s surprising. When you have a racist society, and you have a racist education system that is so methodical, that’s what you get. And the racism doesn’t stop with Palestinians or with Arabs; It goes on to the Black people, it goes on to people of color, it goes to Jews or Israelis who come from other countries who are dark-skinned, for some reason. The racism crosses all these boundaries and it’s completely part of the culture. Chris Hedges: You have very little criticism of the IDF, almost none within the Israeli press, although there is quite a bit of criticism right now, of Netanyahu and his mismanagement and his corruption. Talk a little bit about the deification of the IDF within the public discourse and mainstream media and what that means for what’s happening in Gaza. Miko Peled: Well, the military is above the law. It’s above reproach, except from time to time. So after the ’73 war, there was an investigation. Earlier this week, there was, in the cabinet meeting… The cabinet meets every Sunday. And the army chief of staff was there and he was… This was leaked from the cabinet meeting. It was leaked that some of the more right-wing partners – It’s funny to say right-wing partners because they’re all this right-wing lunacy in the Israeli cabinet – But the more right-wing settlers that are in the cabinet were attacking the army, were attacking the chief of staff because he decided to start an inquiry because it was catastrophic when the Palestinian fighters came in from Gaza, there was nobody home. They took over half of their country back. They took 22 Israeli settlements and cities. They took over the army base of the Gaza brigade, which is supposed to defend the country from exactly this happening. And there was nobody in the… They took over the base. So he initiated an internal inquiry within the army, and they’re criticizing him and what you see in the Israeli press is two very interesting things: One is something went horribly wrong and we need to find out why, but we should wait because we shouldn’t do it during wartime. We shouldn’t criticize the army during wartime. We shouldn’t make the soldiers feel like they have to hold back because if they need to shoot, they should be allowed to shoot. And the other thing we see is that politically, everybody is eating each other up. They’re killing each other politically in the press. So everybody that’s against Netanyahu and wants to see it is attacking him. His people are attacking the others for attacking the government. It seems like there’s this paralysis as a result of this infighting that is affecting the functionality of the state as a state. Israelis are not living in the country, Israel is not the state that it was prior to October 7, it was paralyzed for several weeks, and now it’s still paralyzed in many ways. You’ve got missiles coming from the north, you’ve got missiles coming from the south. You’ve got very large numbers of Israeli soldiers being killed and thousands being injured and the war’s not ending. They’re not able to defeat the Palestinians in Gaza, the armed resistance, and so on. So all of this is taking place and you read the Israeli press and it’s like this cesspool that’s bubbling and bubbling and bubbling, and everybody’s attacking everybody else. And the army, it’s true, they are above reproach mostly, but this particular time the settlers are very angry. Another reason is because the the military decided to pull back some of the ground troops, understandably, since they’re being hit so hard. And I remember that happening before when the army pulled back out of Gaza, they were being attacked for stopping the killing, for not continuing these mass killings of Palestinians. Chris Hedges: Well, you had what? 70 fatalities in the Golani Brigade? And they were pulled back. This is a very elite unit. Miko Peled: Yeah, it’s very interesting because many of the casualties are high-ranking officers. You have colonels, lieutenant colonels, and very high-ranking commanders within Israeli special forces who are being killed. And they’re usually killed in big bunches because they’ll be in an armored personnel carrier or they’ll be marching together. And in Jenin a few days ago, they blew up a military vehicle and killed a bunch of soldiers. So Israelis are scratching their heads, not knowing what the hell is going on and what to do, because number one, they were not protected as they thought they were. And I’m sure you know this, the Israeli settlements, the kibbutzim, the cities in the south that border Gaza, [inaudible 00:25:59], they enjoy some of the highest standards of living among Israelis. It’s a beautiful lifestyle. It’s warm, it’s lovely. Agriculture is… And I don’t think it ever occurred to them that Palestinians would dare to come out of Gaza fighting and succeeding the way they did. The army was bankrupt. It was gone, the intelligence apparatus was bankrupt, and nothing worked. And it is reminiscent of what happened in 1973. This is far worse but it is reminiscent. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the October 7 attacks were exactly 50 years and one day after the 1973 October war began and the whole system collapsed. So that’s what we’re seeing right now. Chris Hedges: How do you read what’s happening in Gaza, militarily? Miko Peled: The Palestinians are able to hold on and kill many Israelis. And even though the Israelis have the firepower and they’ve got the logistics, supply chains are not a problem. Whereas Palestinians, I don’t know where they’re getting supplies. I don’t know where they’re getting food to continue fighting. They’re putting up a fierce resistance. I don’t think that militarily there’s a strategy here. This is revenge; Israel was humiliated, the army was humiliated, and they needed to take it out on somebody. So they found the weakest victims they could lay their hands on, and these are the Palestinian civilians in Gaza. And so they’re killing them by the tens of thousands. I don’t think anybody believes in such a thing as getting rid of Hamas. I don’t think anybody believes that that’s possible. I don’t believe anybody takes seriously or believes that you can take too many people out of Gaza and spread them around the world and into other places, even though that’s what they’re saying. But as long as Israel is allowed to kill, and as long as the supply chain isn’t interrupted, they’re going to continue to kill. Chris Hedges: And they’re also creating a humanitarian crisis. So it’s not just the bombs and the shells, but it’s now starvation. Diarrhea is an epidemic, sanitation is broken. I’m wondering at what point this humanitarian crisis becomes so pronounced that the choice is you leave or you die. Miko Peled: That’s always the big question for Palestinians. And the sad thing is that Palestinians are always being placed in these situations where they have to make that choice. It’s the worst form of injustice. And you know this, you’ve been in war zones. We don’t know how many bodies are buried under the rubble and what that’s going to bring up. And there are hundreds of thousands now who are suffering from all kinds of diseases as a result of this environmental catastrophe. And you remember, what was it? 2016 or something, 2017? The UN came out with a report that by 2020, Gaza would be uninhabitable. I don’t think the Gaza Strip has ever been inhabitable. It’s been a humanitarian disaster since it was created in the late forties and early fifties because they suddenly threw all these refugees there with no infrastructure and that was it, and then began killing them. I was talking to some people the other day, as Americans, as taxpayers, wouldn’t we want the Sixth Fleet, which is in the Mediterranean, the US Navy Sixth Fleet, to aid the Palestinians? To provide them support? To create a no-fly zone over these innocent people that are being massacred? As Americans, shouldn’t that be the natural ask, the natural desire to demand our politicians to use? Because American naval vessels have been used for humanitarian causes before. Why aren’t they supporting the Palestinians? Why aren’t they providing them aid? Why aren’t they helping them rebuild? Why are American tax dollars going to continue this genocide rather than stop it and aid the victims? These are questions Americans need to ask themselves because it makes absolutely no sense. It is absolute madness that people are allowing their government to support a genocide that’s not even done in secret. It’s not even done in hiding it. It’s on prime time. Everybody sees it. Everybody knows what’s going on. And again, for some strange reason, Americans are allowing their military and their government to aid the genocide. And there’s no question that it’s genocide. The definition of the crime of genocide is so absolutely clear, that anybody can look it up and compare it to what’s been going on in Palestine. So that to me is the greatest question: Why aren’t Americans demanding that the US support the Palestinians? Chris Hedges: Well, according to opinion polls, most Americans want a ceasefire. But the Congress is bought and paid for by the Israel lobby. Biden is one of the largest recipients of aid or campaign financing from the Israel lobby. This is true for both parties. Chuck Schumer was at the rally saying no ceasefire. Miko Peled: Which is odd. A ceasefire is a very small ask and I don’t know why we always ask for the bare minimum for Palestinians. But let’s talk about ceasefire. Israeli soldiers are being killed as well in very large numbers. How has ceasefire suddenly become an anti-Israeli demand? But it’s a very small ask. I don’t know how it was or where it was that this idea of demanding a ceasefire came up because that is not a serious demand. Ceasefire gets violated by Israel anyway, within 24-48 hours. You know that historically Israel always violated ceasefires. What is required here are severe sanctions, a no-fly zone, immediate aid to the Palestinians, and stopping this and providing guarantees for the safety and security of Palestinians forever moving forward so this can never happen again. That’s what needs to be asked. At this point, after having sacrificed so much, after having shown much of what I believe is immense courage, Palestinians deserve everything. We as people of conscience need to demand not to ceasefire, we need to demand a dismantling of the apartheid state and a full stop and absolute end to the genocide and guarantees put in place that Palestinian kids will be safe. I was talking to Issa Amro earlier in Hebron. It’s ridiculous when nobody even talks about what happens in the West Bank. Friends of mine who are Palestinian citizens of Israel, nobody dares to leave the house, nobody dares to text. They’re afraid to walk down the streets. Their safety is not guaranteed by anyone. Palestinian safety and security are left to the whims of any Israeli, and that should be the conversation right now, after such horrendous violence. That needs to be the demand. That needs to be the ask when we go to protests when we make these demands like a ceasefire. And even that, Israel is not willing. And these bouts of political supporters of Israel here in America are not willing to entertain a ceasefire. I believe it’s a crazy part of history that we’re experiencing right now and it’s a watershed moment. October 7 created an opportunity to end this for good, to end the suffering of Palestinians, the oppression, and the genocide for good. And if we being people of conscience don’t take advantage of this now and bring it to an end, we will regret this for generations. Chris Hedges: The Netanyahu government is talking about this assault on Gaza, this genocide continuing for months. There are strikes, and have been strikes against, now Hezbollah leaders. What concerns you? How could this all go terribly wrong? Miko Peled: It’s already gone terribly wrong because of the death and destruction of so many innocent lives is… I don’t even know that there’s a word for it. It’s beyond horrifying. Netanyahu is relying on the restraint of Hezbollah and the restraint of Iran and the restraint of the Arab governments has all been neutralized either through destruct, being destroyed, or through normalization. So he’s relying on that and he knows that he can keep triggering, he can keep bombing Lebanon, bombing Syria, instigating all of these things and it won’t turn into an all-out war. Because at the end of the day, even though Lebanese, Hezbollah, and Palestinian fighters have shown that they’re superior as fighters, they don’t have the supply chains, they don’t have the warplanes, they don’t have the tanks. So more and more civilians are going to be hurt. So I don’t think it’s going to turn into a regional war by any stretch of the imagination. And so Netanyahu is betting on that, and that’s why he’s allowing this to go on. And for him, this is a win-win. There’s no way that he can be unseated by anybody that’s around him. There’s no opposition. And as long as this goes on, as long as everybody’s in a state of crisis, he can continue to sit in the Prime Minister’s seat, which for him is the end all and be all of everything. And the world is supporting. The world, as governments of the world, I should say. I do interviews with African TV stations, Indian TV stations, and Europeans; Everybody is supporting Israel. Everybody listens to what I have to say, and they think I am a lunatic for supporting terrorism or whatever it is they, however, it is that they frame it. But I don’t see this ending unless there is massive pressure by people of conscience on their governments to force change, to force sanctions, to force the end of the genocide, and the end of the apartheid state. Chris Hedges: I want to talk about the shift within Zionism itself from the dominance of a secular leadership to – We see it in the government of Netanyahu – The rise of a religious Zionism, which is also true now within the IDF. And I wondered if you could talk about the consequences of that. Miko Peled: Sure. So originally, traditionally, and historically, Zionism and Judaism were at odds. And even to this day ultra-orthodox Jews reject Zionism and reject Israel by and large. But after 1967, there was this new creation of the Zionist religious movement. And these are the settlers who went to the West Bank and they became the new pioneers. And they are today, they make up a large portion of the officers and those who joined the special forces and so on. In the past, in the army, the unofficial policy was that these guys, should not be allowed to advance. The current chief of staff comes from that world, which is a huge change. There are several generals and high-ranking commanders and so on who come from that world. The reason that it was the unofficial policy that these guys should not be promoted was that it’s an incredibly toxic combination, this messianic form of Judaism, which is an aberration. It’s not Judaism at all, with this nationalist fanaticism. This combination is toxic and look what it created. It created some of the worst racists, some of the most violent thugs that we’ve seen, certainly in the short history of the state of Israel, although I don’t know that they’re any less violent than the generation of Zionists of my father who are secular. This was a big concern in the past but now they’re everywhere and look at its current government. They hold the finance ministry, they hold the national security ministry, certainly in the military they’re everywhere, they hold many sub-cabinets, and they’re heads of committees in the Knesset, and so on. And they’ve done their work. They worked very hard to get to where they are today, which is where they call the shots. And Netanyahu’s guaranteed to remain in power. They’re his support group. That’s why you could have had, as we had earlier this year, hundreds of thousands of Israelis protesting in the streets and it didn’t affect him because he has his block in the Knesset that will never leave him as long as he allows them to play their game. And this is what’s happening. So in terms of violence and the facts on the ground, I don’t think these guys are any worse again than my parents’ generation who were young Zionists and zealots at the time and committed the 1948 Nakba and ran the country and operated the apartheid state for the first few decades. But it’s a new form of fanaticism being that it is religious as well as fascist. So it’s very toxic. And they have more of a stomach for killing civilians than we’ve ever seen before, even for Israelis. These numbers are beyond belief, even for Israel. Chris Hedges: I’m wondering if this religious Zionism probably has its profoundest effect within Israel, in terms of shutting down dissidents, civil liberties, this kind of stuff. Miko Peled: Well, Israelis love them. Israelis love these guys because they’re religious but they dress like us. They don’t look like the old Jews with the big beards and everything; They’re cool. They wear jeans. And the reason I say this is because one of their objectives is to take over Al-Aqsa and build a Jewish temple. They’re destroying Al-Aqsa and they conduct these tours. In the old city of Jerusalem, there’s a particular path that you take from where the western wall is up to Al-Aqsa, which is open for non-Muslims. And so they hold tours and there’s several odd times throughout the day. I’ve taken some of these tours to see what it’s about, what these guys do, you know? These are prayer tours and hundreds of thousands of Israelis go on these tours. And these are Israelis who are not religious at all, these are secular people. I see the people that go on the tours. To give you an idea of what this is about, you go up on that bridge and then you wait until the tour starts because you have to go in a group. And there’s a massive model of the new temple, of the Jewish temple that is going to be built there. And then you have a huge group of armed police –They’re not soldiers, they’re police but dressed completely militarized. And Muslim Palestinians are not allowed – That accompany the tour all around and they stop and they pray and they stop and they pray and they stop and pray at various places. The whole thing takes maybe an hour. But the interesting thing is that the people who go on these tours are secular Israelis. And then as I was doing this, I was remembering, even as a kid growing up completely secular, we would sing songs about the day that we build a temple. Why did we sing songs about building a temple? Because it went beyond our religious significance and became a national significance. And there’s no question in my mind that Netanyahu and secular Israelis would love to see this idea of destroying Al-Aqsa and having a Jewish temple there. It’s a sign that we’re back, King David is back. Even though it has nothing to do with history and there’s no truth in it, the connection that we are descendants of King David is something Israelis love. That’s what this is about, the relationship between the so-called settlers. That’s what they’re called in Israeli jargon. They’re called the settlers. Regular secular Israelis are an interesting one because on the one hand, they’re looked down upon because they’re religious, but on the other hand, they’re a cool religious. So there is an affinity. Chris Hedges: Great. That was Miko Peled, author of The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine and Injustice: The Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five. I want to thank the Real News Network and its production team: Cameron Granandino, Adam Coley, David Hebden, and Kayla Rivara. You can find me at chrishedges.substack.com. Creative Commons License Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license. https://therealnews.com/the-idfs-war-crimes-are-a-perfect-reflection-of-israeli-society https://telegra.ph/The-IDFs-war-crimes-are-a-perfect-reflection-of-Israeli-society-04-02
    THEREALNEWS.COM
    The IDF's war crimes are a perfect reflection of Israeli society
    Miko Peled, author and former member of IDF Special Forces, explains how Israel indoctrinates its citizens in anti-Palestinian racism from the cradle to the grave.
    0 Comments 0 Shares 11256 Views
  • Meta Refuses to Answer Questions on Gaza Censorship, Say Sens. Warren and Sanders
    Sam BiddleMarch 26 2024, 8:00 a.m.
    WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 03: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) questions U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell as he testifies at a Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on the Fed's "Semiannual Monetary Policy Report to the Congress," on Capitol Hill on March 3, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images)
    Citing the company’s “failure to provide answers to important questions,” Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., are pressing Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, to respond to reports of disproportionate censorship around the Israeli war on Gaza.

    “Meta insists that there’s been no discrimination against Palestinian-related content on their platforms, but at the same time, is refusing to provide us with any evidence or data to support that claim,” Warren told The Intercept. “If its ad-hoc changes and removal of millions of posts didn’t discriminate against Palestinian-related content, then what’s Meta hiding?”

    In a letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg sent last December, first reported by The Intercept, Warren presented the company with dozens of specific questions about the company’s Gaza-related content moderation efforts. Warren asked about the exact numbers of posts about the war, broken down by Hebrew or Arabic, that have been deleted or otherwise suppressed.

    The letter was written following widespread reporting in The Intercept and other outlets that detailed how posts on Meta platforms that are sympathetic to Palestinians, or merely depicting the destruction in Gaza, are routinely removed or hidden without explanation.

    A month later, Meta replied to Warren’s office with a six-page letter, obtained by The Intercept, that provided an overview of its moderation response to the war but little in the way of specifics or new information.

    Most Read

    “Meta’s lack of investment to safeguard its users significantly exacerbates the political situation in Palestine and perpetuates tech harms on fundamental rights in Palestine and other global majority countries, all while evading meaningful legal accountability,” Mona Shtaya, nonresident fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, told The Intercept. “The time has come for Meta, among other tech giants, to publicly disclose detailed measures and investments aimed at safeguarding individuals amidst the ongoing genocide, and to be more responsive to experts and civil society.”

    Meta’s reply disclosed some censorship: “In the nine days following October 7, we removed or marked as disturbing more than 2,200,000 pieces of content in Hebrew and Arabic for violating our policies.” The company declined, however, to provide a breakdown of deletions by language or market, making it impossible to tell whether that figure reflects discriminatory moderation practices.

    Much of Meta’s letter is a rehash of an update it provided through its public relations portal at the war’s onset, some of it verbatim.

    Now, a second letter from Warren to Meta, joined this time by Sanders, says this isn’t enough. “Meta’s response, dated January 29, 2024, did not provide any of the requested information necessary to understand Meta’s treatment of Arabic language or Palestine-related content versus other forms of content,” the senators wrote.

    Both senators are asking Meta to again answer Warren’s specific questions about the extent to which Arabic and Hebrew posts about the war have been treated differently, how often censored posts are reinstated, Meta’s use of automated machine learning-based censorship tools, and more.

    Accusations of systemic moderation bias against Palestinians have been borne out by research from rights groups.

    “Since October 7, Human Rights Watch has documented over 1,000 cases of unjustified takedowns and other suppression of content on Instagram and Facebook related to Palestine and Palestinians, including about human rights abuses,” Human Rights Watch said in a late December report. “The censorship of content related to Palestine on Instagram and Facebook is systemic, global, and a product of the company’s failure to meet its human rights due diligence responsibilities.”


    Related

    Meta Considering Increased Censorship of the Word “Zionist”

    A February report by AccessNow said Meta “suspended or restricted the accounts of Palestinian journalists and activists both in and outside of Gaza, and arbitrarily deleted a considerable amount of content, including documentation of atrocities and human rights abuses.”

    A third-party audit commissioned by Meta itself previously concluded it had given the short shrift to Palestinian rights during a May 2021 flare-up of violence between Israel and Hamas, the militant group that controls the Gaza Strip. “Meta’s actions in May 2021 appear to have had an adverse human rights impact … on the rights of Palestinian users to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, political participation, and non-discrimination, and therefore on the ability of Palestinians to share information and insights about their experiences as they occurred,” said the auditor’s report.

    In response to this audit, Meta pledged an array of reforms, which free expression and digital rights advocates say have yet to produce a material improvement.

    In its December report, Human Rights Watch noted, “More than two years after committing to publishing data around government requests for taking down content that is not necessarily illegal, Meta has failed to increase transparency in this area.”

    Update: March 26, 2024, 1:11 p.m. ET
    This story has been updated to include a statement received after publication from Mona Shtaya, a nonresident fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy.

    https://theintercept.com/2024/03/26/meta-gaza-censorship-warren-sanders/
    Meta Refuses to Answer Questions on Gaza Censorship, Say Sens. Warren and Sanders Sam BiddleMarch 26 2024, 8:00 a.m. WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 03: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) questions U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell as he testifies at a Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on the Fed's "Semiannual Monetary Policy Report to the Congress," on Capitol Hill on March 3, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images) Citing the company’s “failure to provide answers to important questions,” Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., are pressing Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, to respond to reports of disproportionate censorship around the Israeli war on Gaza. “Meta insists that there’s been no discrimination against Palestinian-related content on their platforms, but at the same time, is refusing to provide us with any evidence or data to support that claim,” Warren told The Intercept. “If its ad-hoc changes and removal of millions of posts didn’t discriminate against Palestinian-related content, then what’s Meta hiding?” In a letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg sent last December, first reported by The Intercept, Warren presented the company with dozens of specific questions about the company’s Gaza-related content moderation efforts. Warren asked about the exact numbers of posts about the war, broken down by Hebrew or Arabic, that have been deleted or otherwise suppressed. The letter was written following widespread reporting in The Intercept and other outlets that detailed how posts on Meta platforms that are sympathetic to Palestinians, or merely depicting the destruction in Gaza, are routinely removed or hidden without explanation. A month later, Meta replied to Warren’s office with a six-page letter, obtained by The Intercept, that provided an overview of its moderation response to the war but little in the way of specifics or new information. Most Read “Meta’s lack of investment to safeguard its users significantly exacerbates the political situation in Palestine and perpetuates tech harms on fundamental rights in Palestine and other global majority countries, all while evading meaningful legal accountability,” Mona Shtaya, nonresident fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, told The Intercept. “The time has come for Meta, among other tech giants, to publicly disclose detailed measures and investments aimed at safeguarding individuals amidst the ongoing genocide, and to be more responsive to experts and civil society.” Meta’s reply disclosed some censorship: “In the nine days following October 7, we removed or marked as disturbing more than 2,200,000 pieces of content in Hebrew and Arabic for violating our policies.” The company declined, however, to provide a breakdown of deletions by language or market, making it impossible to tell whether that figure reflects discriminatory moderation practices. Much of Meta’s letter is a rehash of an update it provided through its public relations portal at the war’s onset, some of it verbatim. Now, a second letter from Warren to Meta, joined this time by Sanders, says this isn’t enough. “Meta’s response, dated January 29, 2024, did not provide any of the requested information necessary to understand Meta’s treatment of Arabic language or Palestine-related content versus other forms of content,” the senators wrote. Both senators are asking Meta to again answer Warren’s specific questions about the extent to which Arabic and Hebrew posts about the war have been treated differently, how often censored posts are reinstated, Meta’s use of automated machine learning-based censorship tools, and more. Accusations of systemic moderation bias against Palestinians have been borne out by research from rights groups. “Since October 7, Human Rights Watch has documented over 1,000 cases of unjustified takedowns and other suppression of content on Instagram and Facebook related to Palestine and Palestinians, including about human rights abuses,” Human Rights Watch said in a late December report. “The censorship of content related to Palestine on Instagram and Facebook is systemic, global, and a product of the company’s failure to meet its human rights due diligence responsibilities.” Related Meta Considering Increased Censorship of the Word “Zionist” A February report by AccessNow said Meta “suspended or restricted the accounts of Palestinian journalists and activists both in and outside of Gaza, and arbitrarily deleted a considerable amount of content, including documentation of atrocities and human rights abuses.” A third-party audit commissioned by Meta itself previously concluded it had given the short shrift to Palestinian rights during a May 2021 flare-up of violence between Israel and Hamas, the militant group that controls the Gaza Strip. “Meta’s actions in May 2021 appear to have had an adverse human rights impact … on the rights of Palestinian users to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, political participation, and non-discrimination, and therefore on the ability of Palestinians to share information and insights about their experiences as they occurred,” said the auditor’s report. In response to this audit, Meta pledged an array of reforms, which free expression and digital rights advocates say have yet to produce a material improvement. In its December report, Human Rights Watch noted, “More than two years after committing to publishing data around government requests for taking down content that is not necessarily illegal, Meta has failed to increase transparency in this area.” Update: March 26, 2024, 1:11 p.m. ET This story has been updated to include a statement received after publication from Mona Shtaya, a nonresident fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy. https://theintercept.com/2024/03/26/meta-gaza-censorship-warren-sanders/
    THEINTERCEPT.COM
    Meta Refuses to Answer Questions on Gaza Censorship, Say Sens. Warren and Sanders
    Facebook and Instagram’s parent company Meta dodged questions from Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders about censorship of posts about Gaza.
    0 Comments 0 Shares 3467 Views
  • The WHO Wants to Rule the World
    Ramesh Thakur
    The World Health Organisation (WHO) will present two new texts for adoption by its governing body, the World Health Assembly comprising delegates from 194 member states, in Geneva on 27 May–1 June. The new pandemic treaty needs a two-thirds majority for approval and, if and once adopted, will come into effect after 40 ratifications.

    The amendments to the International Health Regulations (IHR) can be adopted by a simple majority and will be binding on all states unless they recorded reservations by the end of last year. Because they will be changes to an existing agreement that states have already signed, the amendments do not require any follow-up ratification. The WHO describes the IHR as ‘an instrument of international law that is legally-binding’ on its 196 states parties, including the 194 WHO member states, even if they voted against it. Therein lies its promise and its threat.

    The new regime will change the WHO from a technical advisory organisation into a supra-national public health authority exercising quasi-legislative and executive powers over states; change the nature of the relationship between citizens, business enterprises, and governments domestically, and also between governments and other governments and the WHO internationally; and shift the locus of medical practice from the doctor-patient consultation in the clinic to public health bureaucrats in capital cities and WHO headquarters in Geneva and its six regional offices.

    From net zero to mass immigration and identity politics, the ‘expertocracy’ elite is in alliance with the global technocratic elite against majority national sentiment. The Covid years gave the elites a valuable lesson in how to exercise effective social control and they mean to apply it across all contentious issues.

    The changes to global health governance architecture must be understood in this light. It represents the transformation of the national security, administrative, and surveillance state into a globalised biosecurity state. But they are encountering pushback in Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, and most recently Ireland. We can but hope that the resistance will spread to rejecting the WHO power grab.

    Addressing the World Governments Summit in Dubai on 12 February, WHO Director-General (DG) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attacked ‘the litany of lies and conspiracy theories’ about the agreement that ‘are utterly, completely, categorically false. The pandemic agreement will not give WHO any power over any state or any individual, for that matter.’ He insisted that critics are ‘either uninformed or lying.’ Could it be instead that, relying on aides, he himself has either not read or not understood the draft? The alternative explanation for his spray at the critics is that he is gaslighting us all.

    The Gostin, Klock, and Finch Paper

    In the Hastings Center Report “Making the World Safer and Fairer in Pandemics,” published on 23 December, Lawrence Gostin, Kevin Klock, and Alexandra Finch attempt to provide the justification to underpin the proposed new IHR and treaty instruments as ‘transformative normative and financial reforms that could reimagine pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response.’

    The three authors decry the voluntary compliance under the existing ‘amorphous and unenforceable’ IHR regulations as ‘a critical shortcoming.’ And they concede that ‘While advocates have pressed for health-related human rights to be included in the pandemic agreement, the current draft does not do so.’ Directly contradicting the DG’s denial as quoted above, they describe the new treaty as ‘legally binding’. This is repeated several pages later:

    …the best way to contain transnational outbreaks is through international cooperation, led multilaterally through the WHO. That may require all states to forgo some level of sovereignty in exchange for enhanced safety and fairness.

    What gives their analysis significance is that, as explained in the paper itself, Gostin is ‘actively involved in WHO processes for a pandemic agreement and IHR reform’ as the director of the WHO Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law and a member of the WHO Review Committee on IHR amendments.

    The WHO as the World’s Guidance and Coordinating Authority

    The IHR amendments will expand the situations that constitute a public health emergency, grant the WHO additional emergency powers, and extend state duties to build ‘core capacities’ of surveillance to detect, assess, notify, and report events that could constitute an emergency.

    Under the new accords, the WHO would function as the guidance and coordinating authority for the world. The DG will become more powerful than the UN Secretary-General. The existing language of ‘should’ is replaced in many places by the imperative ‘shall,’ of non-binding recommendations with countries will ‘undertake to follow’ the guidance. And ‘full respect for the dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms of persons’ will be changed to principles of ‘equity’ and ‘inclusivity’ with different requirements for rich and poor countries, bleeding financial resources and pharmaceutical products from industrialised to developing countries.

    The WHO is first of all an international bureaucracy and only secondly a collective body of medical and health experts. Its Covid performance was not among its finest. Its credibility was badly damaged by tardiness in raising the alarm; by its acceptance and then rejection of China’s claim that there was no risk of human-human transmission; by the failure to hold China accountable for destroying evidence of the pandemic’s origins; by the initial investigation that whitewashed the origins of the virus; by flip-flops on masks and lockdowns; by ignoring the counterexample of Sweden that rejected lockdowns with no worse health outcomes and far better economic, social, and educational outcomes; and by the failure to stand up for children’s developmental, educational, social, and mental health rights and welfare.

    With a funding model where 87 percent of the budget comes from voluntary contributions from the rich countries and private donors like the Gates Foundation, and 77 percent is for activities specified by them, the WHO has effectively ‘become a system of global public health patronage’, write Ben and Molly Kingsley of the UK children’s rights campaign group UsForThem. Human Rights Watch says the process has been ‘disproportionately guided by corporate demands and the policy positions of high-income governments seeking to protect the power of private actors in health including the pharmaceutical industry.’ The victims of this Catch-22 lack of accountability will be the peoples of the world.

    Much of the new surveillance network in a model divided into pre-, in, and post-pandemic periods will be provided by private and corporate interests that will profit from the mass testing and pharmaceutical interventions. According to Forbes, the net worth of Bill Gates jumped by one-third from $96.5 billion in 2019 to $129 billion in 2022: philanthropy can be profitable. Article 15.2 of the draft pandemic treaty requires states to set up ‘no fault vaccine-injury compensation schemes,’ conferring immunity on Big Pharma against liability, thereby codifying the privatisation of profits and the socialisation of risks.

    The changes would confer extraordinary new powers on the WHO’s DG and regional directors and mandate governments to implement their recommendations. This will result in a major expansion of the international health bureaucracy under the WHO, for example new implementation and compliance committees; shift the centre of gravity from the common deadliest diseases (discussed below) to relatively rare pandemic outbreaks (five including Covid in the last 120 years); and give the WHO authority to direct resources (money, pharmaceutical products, intellectual property rights) to itself and to other governments in breach of sovereign and copyright rights.

    Considering the impact of the amendments on national decision-making and mortgaging future generations to internationally determined spending obligations, this calls for an indefinite pause in the process until parliaments have done due diligence and debated the potentially far-reaching obligations.

    Yet disappointingly, relatively few countries have expressed reservations and few parliamentarians seem at all interested. We may pay a high price for the rise of careerist politicians whose primary interest is self-advancement, ministers who ask bureaucrats to draft replies to constituents expressing concern that they often sign without reading either the original letter or the reply in their name, and officials who disdain the constraints of democratic decision-making and accountability. Ministers relying on technical advice from staffers when officials are engaged in a silent coup against elected representatives give power without responsibility to bureaucrats while relegating ministers to being in office but not in power, with political accountability sans authority.

    US President Donald Trump and Australian and UK Prime Ministers Scott Morrison and Boris Johnson were representative of national leaders who had lacked the science literacy, intellectual heft, moral clarity, and courage of conviction to stand up to their technocrats. It was a period of Yes, Prime Minister on steroids, with Sir Humphrey Appleby winning most of the guerrilla campaign waged by the permanent civil service against the transient and clueless Prime Minister Jim Hacker.

    At least some Australian, American, British, and European politicians have recently expressed concern at the WHO-centred ‘command and control’ model of a public health system, and the public spending and redistributive implications of the two proposed international instruments. US Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) warned on 5 February that ‘far too little scrutiny has been given, far too few questions asked as to what this legally binding agreement or treaty means to health policy in the United States and elsewhere.’

    Like Smith and Wenstrup, the most common criticism levelled has been that this represents a power grab at the cost of national sovereignty. Speaking in parliament in November, Australia’s Liberal Senator Alex Antic dubbed the effort a ‘WHO d’etat’.

    A more accurate reading may be that it represents collusion between the WHO and the richest countries, home to the biggest pharmaceutical companies, to dilute accountability for decisions, taken in the name of public health, that profit a narrow elite. The changes will lock in the seamless rule of the technocratic-managerial elite at both the national and the international levels. Yet the WHO edicts, although legally binding in theory, will be unenforceable against the most powerful countries in practice.

    Moreover, the new regime aims to eliminate transparency and critical scrutiny by criminalising any opinion that questions the official narrative from the WHO and governments, thereby elevating them to the status of dogma. The pandemic treaty calls for governments to tackle the ‘infodemics’ of false information, misinformation, disinformation, and even ‘too much information’ (Article 1c). This is censorship. Authorities have no right to be shielded from critical questioning of official information. Freedom of information is a cornerstone of an open and resilient society and a key means to hold authorities to public scrutiny and accountability.

    The changes are an effort to entrench and institutionalise the model of political, social, and messaging control trialled with great success during Covid. The foundational document of the international human rights regime is the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Pandemic management during Covid and in future emergencies threaten some of its core provisions regarding privacy, freedom of opinion and expression, and rights to work, education, peaceful assembly, and association.

    Worst of all, they will create a perverse incentive: the rise of an international bureaucracy whose defining purpose, existence, powers, and budgets will depend on more frequent declarations of actual or anticipated pandemic outbreaks.

    It is a basic axiom of politics that power that can be abused, will be abused – some day, somewhere, by someone. The corollary holds that power once seized is seldom surrendered back voluntarily to the people. Lockdowns, mask and vaccine mandates, travel restrictions, and all the other shenanigans and theatre of the Covid era will likely be repeated on whim. Professor Angus Dalgliesh of London’s St George’s Medical School warns that the WHO ‘wants to inflict this incompetence on us all over again but this time be in total control.’

    Covid in the Context of Africa’s Disease Burden

    In the Hastings Center report referred to earlier, Gostin, Klock, and Finch claim that ‘lower-income countries experienced larger losses and longer-lasting economic setbacks.’ This is a casual elision that shifts the blame for harmful downstream effects away from lockdowns in the futile quest to eradicate the virus, to the virus itself. The chief damage to developing countries was caused by the worldwide shutdown of social life and economic activities and the drastic reduction in international trade.

    The discreet elision aroused my curiosity on the authors’ affiliations. It came as no surprise to read that they lead the O’Neill Institute–Foundation for the National Institutes of Health project on an international instrument for pandemic prevention and preparedness.

    Gostin et al. grounded the urgency for the new accords in the claim that ‘Zoonotic pathogens…are occurring with increasing frequency, enhancing the risk of new pandemics’ and cite research to suggest a threefold increase in ‘extreme pandemics’ over the next decade. In a report entitled “Rational Policy Over Panic,” published by Leeds University in February, a team that included our own David Bell subjected claims of increasing pandemic frequency and disease burden behind the drive to adopt the new treaty and amend the existing IHR to critical scrutiny.

    Specifically, they examined and found wanting a number of assumptions and several references in eight G20, World Bank, and WHO policy documents. On the one hand, the reported increase in natural outbreaks is best explained by technologically more sophisticated diagnostic testing equipment, while the disease burden has been effectively reduced with improved surveillance, response mechanisms, and other public health interventions. Consequently there is no real urgency to rush into the new accords. Instead, governments should take all the time they need to situate pandemic risk in the wider healthcare context and formulate policy tailored to the more accurate risk and interventions matrix.


    The lockdowns were responsible for reversals of decades worth of gains in critical childhood immunisations. UNICEF and WHO estimate that 7.6 million African children under 5 missed out on vaccination in 2021 and another 11 million were under-immunised, ‘making up over 40 percent of the under-immunised and missed children globally.’ How many quality adjusted life years does that add up to, I wonder? But don’t hold your breath that anyone will be held accountable for crimes against African children.

    Earlier this month the Pan-African Epidemic and Pandemic Working Group argued that lockdowns were a ‘class-based and unscientific instrument.’ It accused the WHO of trying to reintroduce ‘classical Western colonialism through the backdoor’ in the form of the new pandemic treaty and the IHR amendments. Medical knowledge and innovations do not come solely from Western capitals and Geneva, but from people and groups who have captured the WHO agenda.

    Lockdowns had caused significant harm to low-income countries, the group said, yet the WHO wanted legal authority to compel member states to comply with its advice in future pandemics, including with respect to vaccine passports and border closures. Instead of bowing to ‘health imperialism,’ it would be preferable for African countries to set their own priorities in alleviating the disease burden of their major killer diseases like cholera, malaria, and yellow fever.

    Europe and the US, comprising a little under ten and over four percent of world population, account for nearly 18 and 17 percent, respectively, of all Covid-related deaths in the world. By contrast Asia, with nearly 60 percent of the world’s people, accounts for 23 percent of all Covid-related deaths. Meantime Africa, with more than 17 percent of global population, has recorded less than four percent of global Covid deaths (Table 1).

    According to a report on the continent’s disease burden published last year by the WHO Regional Office for Africa, Africa’s leading causes of death in 2021 were malaria (593,000 deaths), tuberculosis (501,000), and HIV/AIDS (420,000). The report does not provide the numbers for diarrhoeal deaths for Africa. There are 1.6 million such deaths globally per year, including 440,000 children under 5. And we know that most diarrhoeal deaths occur in Africa and South Asia.

    If we perform a linear extrapolation of 2021 deaths to estimate ballpark figures for the three years 2020–22 inclusive for numbers of Africans killed by these big three, approximately 1.78 million died from malaria, 1.5 million from TB, and 1.26 million from HIV/AIDS. (I exclude 2023 as Covid had faded by then, as can be seen in Table 1). By comparison, the total number of Covid-related deaths across Africa in the three years was 259,000.

    Whether or not the WHO is pursuing a policy of health colonialism, therefore, the Pan-African Epidemic and Pandemic Working Group has a point regarding the grossly exaggerated threat of Covid in the total picture of Africa’s disease burden.

    A shorter version of this was published in The Australian on 11 March

    Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
    For reprints, please set the canonical link back to the original Brownstone Institute Article and Author.

    Author

    Ramesh Thakur, a Brownstone Institute Senior Scholar, is a former United Nations Assistant Secretary-General, and emeritus professor in the Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.

    View all posts
    Your financial backing of Brownstone Institute goes to support writers, lawyers, scientists, economists, and other people of courage who have been professionally purged and displaced during the upheaval of our times. You can help get the truth out through their ongoing work.

    https://brownstone.org/articles/the-who-wants-to-rule-the-world/
    The WHO Wants to Rule the World Ramesh Thakur The World Health Organisation (WHO) will present two new texts for adoption by its governing body, the World Health Assembly comprising delegates from 194 member states, in Geneva on 27 May–1 June. The new pandemic treaty needs a two-thirds majority for approval and, if and once adopted, will come into effect after 40 ratifications. The amendments to the International Health Regulations (IHR) can be adopted by a simple majority and will be binding on all states unless they recorded reservations by the end of last year. Because they will be changes to an existing agreement that states have already signed, the amendments do not require any follow-up ratification. The WHO describes the IHR as ‘an instrument of international law that is legally-binding’ on its 196 states parties, including the 194 WHO member states, even if they voted against it. Therein lies its promise and its threat. The new regime will change the WHO from a technical advisory organisation into a supra-national public health authority exercising quasi-legislative and executive powers over states; change the nature of the relationship between citizens, business enterprises, and governments domestically, and also between governments and other governments and the WHO internationally; and shift the locus of medical practice from the doctor-patient consultation in the clinic to public health bureaucrats in capital cities and WHO headquarters in Geneva and its six regional offices. From net zero to mass immigration and identity politics, the ‘expertocracy’ elite is in alliance with the global technocratic elite against majority national sentiment. The Covid years gave the elites a valuable lesson in how to exercise effective social control and they mean to apply it across all contentious issues. The changes to global health governance architecture must be understood in this light. It represents the transformation of the national security, administrative, and surveillance state into a globalised biosecurity state. But they are encountering pushback in Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, and most recently Ireland. We can but hope that the resistance will spread to rejecting the WHO power grab. Addressing the World Governments Summit in Dubai on 12 February, WHO Director-General (DG) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attacked ‘the litany of lies and conspiracy theories’ about the agreement that ‘are utterly, completely, categorically false. The pandemic agreement will not give WHO any power over any state or any individual, for that matter.’ He insisted that critics are ‘either uninformed or lying.’ Could it be instead that, relying on aides, he himself has either not read or not understood the draft? The alternative explanation for his spray at the critics is that he is gaslighting us all. The Gostin, Klock, and Finch Paper In the Hastings Center Report “Making the World Safer and Fairer in Pandemics,” published on 23 December, Lawrence Gostin, Kevin Klock, and Alexandra Finch attempt to provide the justification to underpin the proposed new IHR and treaty instruments as ‘transformative normative and financial reforms that could reimagine pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response.’ The three authors decry the voluntary compliance under the existing ‘amorphous and unenforceable’ IHR regulations as ‘a critical shortcoming.’ And they concede that ‘While advocates have pressed for health-related human rights to be included in the pandemic agreement, the current draft does not do so.’ Directly contradicting the DG’s denial as quoted above, they describe the new treaty as ‘legally binding’. This is repeated several pages later: …the best way to contain transnational outbreaks is through international cooperation, led multilaterally through the WHO. That may require all states to forgo some level of sovereignty in exchange for enhanced safety and fairness. What gives their analysis significance is that, as explained in the paper itself, Gostin is ‘actively involved in WHO processes for a pandemic agreement and IHR reform’ as the director of the WHO Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law and a member of the WHO Review Committee on IHR amendments. The WHO as the World’s Guidance and Coordinating Authority The IHR amendments will expand the situations that constitute a public health emergency, grant the WHO additional emergency powers, and extend state duties to build ‘core capacities’ of surveillance to detect, assess, notify, and report events that could constitute an emergency. Under the new accords, the WHO would function as the guidance and coordinating authority for the world. The DG will become more powerful than the UN Secretary-General. The existing language of ‘should’ is replaced in many places by the imperative ‘shall,’ of non-binding recommendations with countries will ‘undertake to follow’ the guidance. And ‘full respect for the dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms of persons’ will be changed to principles of ‘equity’ and ‘inclusivity’ with different requirements for rich and poor countries, bleeding financial resources and pharmaceutical products from industrialised to developing countries. The WHO is first of all an international bureaucracy and only secondly a collective body of medical and health experts. Its Covid performance was not among its finest. Its credibility was badly damaged by tardiness in raising the alarm; by its acceptance and then rejection of China’s claim that there was no risk of human-human transmission; by the failure to hold China accountable for destroying evidence of the pandemic’s origins; by the initial investigation that whitewashed the origins of the virus; by flip-flops on masks and lockdowns; by ignoring the counterexample of Sweden that rejected lockdowns with no worse health outcomes and far better economic, social, and educational outcomes; and by the failure to stand up for children’s developmental, educational, social, and mental health rights and welfare. With a funding model where 87 percent of the budget comes from voluntary contributions from the rich countries and private donors like the Gates Foundation, and 77 percent is for activities specified by them, the WHO has effectively ‘become a system of global public health patronage’, write Ben and Molly Kingsley of the UK children’s rights campaign group UsForThem. Human Rights Watch says the process has been ‘disproportionately guided by corporate demands and the policy positions of high-income governments seeking to protect the power of private actors in health including the pharmaceutical industry.’ The victims of this Catch-22 lack of accountability will be the peoples of the world. Much of the new surveillance network in a model divided into pre-, in, and post-pandemic periods will be provided by private and corporate interests that will profit from the mass testing and pharmaceutical interventions. According to Forbes, the net worth of Bill Gates jumped by one-third from $96.5 billion in 2019 to $129 billion in 2022: philanthropy can be profitable. Article 15.2 of the draft pandemic treaty requires states to set up ‘no fault vaccine-injury compensation schemes,’ conferring immunity on Big Pharma against liability, thereby codifying the privatisation of profits and the socialisation of risks. The changes would confer extraordinary new powers on the WHO’s DG and regional directors and mandate governments to implement their recommendations. This will result in a major expansion of the international health bureaucracy under the WHO, for example new implementation and compliance committees; shift the centre of gravity from the common deadliest diseases (discussed below) to relatively rare pandemic outbreaks (five including Covid in the last 120 years); and give the WHO authority to direct resources (money, pharmaceutical products, intellectual property rights) to itself and to other governments in breach of sovereign and copyright rights. Considering the impact of the amendments on national decision-making and mortgaging future generations to internationally determined spending obligations, this calls for an indefinite pause in the process until parliaments have done due diligence and debated the potentially far-reaching obligations. Yet disappointingly, relatively few countries have expressed reservations and few parliamentarians seem at all interested. We may pay a high price for the rise of careerist politicians whose primary interest is self-advancement, ministers who ask bureaucrats to draft replies to constituents expressing concern that they often sign without reading either the original letter or the reply in their name, and officials who disdain the constraints of democratic decision-making and accountability. Ministers relying on technical advice from staffers when officials are engaged in a silent coup against elected representatives give power without responsibility to bureaucrats while relegating ministers to being in office but not in power, with political accountability sans authority. US President Donald Trump and Australian and UK Prime Ministers Scott Morrison and Boris Johnson were representative of national leaders who had lacked the science literacy, intellectual heft, moral clarity, and courage of conviction to stand up to their technocrats. It was a period of Yes, Prime Minister on steroids, with Sir Humphrey Appleby winning most of the guerrilla campaign waged by the permanent civil service against the transient and clueless Prime Minister Jim Hacker. At least some Australian, American, British, and European politicians have recently expressed concern at the WHO-centred ‘command and control’ model of a public health system, and the public spending and redistributive implications of the two proposed international instruments. US Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) warned on 5 February that ‘far too little scrutiny has been given, far too few questions asked as to what this legally binding agreement or treaty means to health policy in the United States and elsewhere.’ Like Smith and Wenstrup, the most common criticism levelled has been that this represents a power grab at the cost of national sovereignty. Speaking in parliament in November, Australia’s Liberal Senator Alex Antic dubbed the effort a ‘WHO d’etat’. A more accurate reading may be that it represents collusion between the WHO and the richest countries, home to the biggest pharmaceutical companies, to dilute accountability for decisions, taken in the name of public health, that profit a narrow elite. The changes will lock in the seamless rule of the technocratic-managerial elite at both the national and the international levels. Yet the WHO edicts, although legally binding in theory, will be unenforceable against the most powerful countries in practice. Moreover, the new regime aims to eliminate transparency and critical scrutiny by criminalising any opinion that questions the official narrative from the WHO and governments, thereby elevating them to the status of dogma. The pandemic treaty calls for governments to tackle the ‘infodemics’ of false information, misinformation, disinformation, and even ‘too much information’ (Article 1c). This is censorship. Authorities have no right to be shielded from critical questioning of official information. Freedom of information is a cornerstone of an open and resilient society and a key means to hold authorities to public scrutiny and accountability. The changes are an effort to entrench and institutionalise the model of political, social, and messaging control trialled with great success during Covid. The foundational document of the international human rights regime is the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Pandemic management during Covid and in future emergencies threaten some of its core provisions regarding privacy, freedom of opinion and expression, and rights to work, education, peaceful assembly, and association. Worst of all, they will create a perverse incentive: the rise of an international bureaucracy whose defining purpose, existence, powers, and budgets will depend on more frequent declarations of actual or anticipated pandemic outbreaks. It is a basic axiom of politics that power that can be abused, will be abused – some day, somewhere, by someone. The corollary holds that power once seized is seldom surrendered back voluntarily to the people. Lockdowns, mask and vaccine mandates, travel restrictions, and all the other shenanigans and theatre of the Covid era will likely be repeated on whim. Professor Angus Dalgliesh of London’s St George’s Medical School warns that the WHO ‘wants to inflict this incompetence on us all over again but this time be in total control.’ Covid in the Context of Africa’s Disease Burden In the Hastings Center report referred to earlier, Gostin, Klock, and Finch claim that ‘lower-income countries experienced larger losses and longer-lasting economic setbacks.’ This is a casual elision that shifts the blame for harmful downstream effects away from lockdowns in the futile quest to eradicate the virus, to the virus itself. The chief damage to developing countries was caused by the worldwide shutdown of social life and economic activities and the drastic reduction in international trade. The discreet elision aroused my curiosity on the authors’ affiliations. It came as no surprise to read that they lead the O’Neill Institute–Foundation for the National Institutes of Health project on an international instrument for pandemic prevention and preparedness. Gostin et al. grounded the urgency for the new accords in the claim that ‘Zoonotic pathogens…are occurring with increasing frequency, enhancing the risk of new pandemics’ and cite research to suggest a threefold increase in ‘extreme pandemics’ over the next decade. In a report entitled “Rational Policy Over Panic,” published by Leeds University in February, a team that included our own David Bell subjected claims of increasing pandemic frequency and disease burden behind the drive to adopt the new treaty and amend the existing IHR to critical scrutiny. Specifically, they examined and found wanting a number of assumptions and several references in eight G20, World Bank, and WHO policy documents. On the one hand, the reported increase in natural outbreaks is best explained by technologically more sophisticated diagnostic testing equipment, while the disease burden has been effectively reduced with improved surveillance, response mechanisms, and other public health interventions. Consequently there is no real urgency to rush into the new accords. Instead, governments should take all the time they need to situate pandemic risk in the wider healthcare context and formulate policy tailored to the more accurate risk and interventions matrix. The lockdowns were responsible for reversals of decades worth of gains in critical childhood immunisations. UNICEF and WHO estimate that 7.6 million African children under 5 missed out on vaccination in 2021 and another 11 million were under-immunised, ‘making up over 40 percent of the under-immunised and missed children globally.’ How many quality adjusted life years does that add up to, I wonder? But don’t hold your breath that anyone will be held accountable for crimes against African children. Earlier this month the Pan-African Epidemic and Pandemic Working Group argued that lockdowns were a ‘class-based and unscientific instrument.’ It accused the WHO of trying to reintroduce ‘classical Western colonialism through the backdoor’ in the form of the new pandemic treaty and the IHR amendments. Medical knowledge and innovations do not come solely from Western capitals and Geneva, but from people and groups who have captured the WHO agenda. Lockdowns had caused significant harm to low-income countries, the group said, yet the WHO wanted legal authority to compel member states to comply with its advice in future pandemics, including with respect to vaccine passports and border closures. Instead of bowing to ‘health imperialism,’ it would be preferable for African countries to set their own priorities in alleviating the disease burden of their major killer diseases like cholera, malaria, and yellow fever. Europe and the US, comprising a little under ten and over four percent of world population, account for nearly 18 and 17 percent, respectively, of all Covid-related deaths in the world. By contrast Asia, with nearly 60 percent of the world’s people, accounts for 23 percent of all Covid-related deaths. Meantime Africa, with more than 17 percent of global population, has recorded less than four percent of global Covid deaths (Table 1). According to a report on the continent’s disease burden published last year by the WHO Regional Office for Africa, Africa’s leading causes of death in 2021 were malaria (593,000 deaths), tuberculosis (501,000), and HIV/AIDS (420,000). The report does not provide the numbers for diarrhoeal deaths for Africa. There are 1.6 million such deaths globally per year, including 440,000 children under 5. And we know that most diarrhoeal deaths occur in Africa and South Asia. If we perform a linear extrapolation of 2021 deaths to estimate ballpark figures for the three years 2020–22 inclusive for numbers of Africans killed by these big three, approximately 1.78 million died from malaria, 1.5 million from TB, and 1.26 million from HIV/AIDS. (I exclude 2023 as Covid had faded by then, as can be seen in Table 1). By comparison, the total number of Covid-related deaths across Africa in the three years was 259,000. Whether or not the WHO is pursuing a policy of health colonialism, therefore, the Pan-African Epidemic and Pandemic Working Group has a point regarding the grossly exaggerated threat of Covid in the total picture of Africa’s disease burden. A shorter version of this was published in The Australian on 11 March Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License For reprints, please set the canonical link back to the original Brownstone Institute Article and Author. Author Ramesh Thakur, a Brownstone Institute Senior Scholar, is a former United Nations Assistant Secretary-General, and emeritus professor in the Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University. View all posts Your financial backing of Brownstone Institute goes to support writers, lawyers, scientists, economists, and other people of courage who have been professionally purged and displaced during the upheaval of our times. You can help get the truth out through their ongoing work. https://brownstone.org/articles/the-who-wants-to-rule-the-world/
    BROWNSTONE.ORG
    The WHO Wants to Rule the World ⋆ Brownstone Institute
    The World Health Organisation (WHO) will present two new texts for adoption by its governing body, the World Health Assembly comprising delegates from 194 member states, in Geneva on 27 May–1 June.
    0 Comments 0 Shares 8330 Views
  • Firm helping Israel spy on Gaza includes genocide advocate
    Michael F. Brown Rights and Accountability 28 March 2024

    Palestinian children and adults try to secure food
    Giora Eiland, a retired Israeli major general, has pushed for a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, a position which has contributed to desperate scenes of Palestinians trying to secure food.
    Mahmoud Issa DPA
    The Israeli military is using Corsight facial recognition technology to collect information about Palestinians in Gaza according to The New York Times.

    “The facial recognition program, which is run by Israel’s military intelligence unit, including the cyber-intelligence division Unit 8200, relies on technology from Corsight, a private Israeli company, four intelligence officers said.”


    The Israeli military also employs Google Photos.

    Israel’s apartheid army detained, interrogated and beat Palestinian poet Mosab Abu Toha, a graduate of Syracuse University, with the assistance of Corsight’s facial recognition technology. Other Palestinians have been similarly detained via Corsight technology.
    Abu Toha notes Palestinians have died in Israeli custody.

    There is little complaint from western politicians. Corsight’s complicity isn’t seen as an urgent matter.

    Nor, for that matter, do most of these politicians give sufficient attention to Israel’s genocidal policies in Gaza.

    Board of directors

    Unmentioned by the Times is that Giora Eiland, a retired Israeli major general, serves on the board of directors of Corsight.

    When Eiland joined the board in January 2021, Igal Raichelgauz, chairman and founder of the Cortica Group, stated, “We are excited to add Giora to the company board, we believe that due to his extensive experience in the national security field, Corsight will continue growing into new markets and territories and lead the face recognition market in Israel and in the world.” Corsight is a subsidiary of Cortica, a firm focused on artificial intelligence.

    Eiland is a proponent of the ethnic cleansing of the occupied territory of Gaza.

    He wrote for the Israeli publication Ynet on 12 October that “One option is a massive and complex ground operation, with no regard to duration and cost, while the second option is to create conditions where life in Gaza becomes unsustainable.”

    In fact, Israel has done both.

    Eiland noted, without voicing dissent, that “Israel has already begun suspending the supply of diesel, fuel, electricity and water, as well as closing the border crossings. Yet, it remains uncertain whether these measures are enough.”

    He then moved to ethnic cleansing.

    “Israel issued a stern warning to Egypt and made it clear that it would not permit humanitarian aid from Egypt to enter Gaza. Israel needs to create a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, compelling tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands to seek refuge in Egypt or the Gulf.”

    He said nothing of wanting such an arrangement to be temporary.

    Eiland then jumped beyond an ethnic cleansing of “tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands.” He wrote: “The entire population of Gaza will either move to Egypt or move to the Gulf.”

    The retired general also recommended targeting civilian vehicles in Gaza.

    “Every vehicle in Gaza is considered a military vehicle transporting combatants. Therefore, there is no vehicular traffic, and it does not matter whether it is transporting water or other critical supplies.”

    Such rhetoric amounts to abetting war crimes and has had real consequences for Palestinian children such as 6-year-old Hind Rajab who, according to the Palestine Red Crescent, the Israeli military killed earlier this year in a car along with other family members.

    Eiland pushed collective punishment of Palestinians in Gaza as well.

    “The UN secretary-general has initiated humanitarian aid to Gaza. The Israeli condition for any aid should be a visit by the Red Cross to Israeli hostages and especially the civilians among them. Until this happens, no aid of any kind will be permitted to enter into Gaza.”

    Hinting at the overwhelming violence to come against Palestinian civilians, Eiland wrote of the developing Israeli attack: “It is comparable to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which led to the launch of an atomic bomb in Japan.”

    The Israeli military has killed over 32,000 Palestinians in Gaza since 7 October, including more than 13,000 children. The International Court of Justice deems it plausible that Israel is engaged in genocidal actions in the small coastal territory.

    Eiland wrapped up his opinion piece by declaring, “As a result, Gaza will become a place where no human being can exist, and I say this as a means rather than an end. I say this because there is no other option for ensuring the security of the state of Israel. We are fighting an existential war.”

    This goes beyond ethnic cleansing to genocide talk when speaking of “a place where no human being can exist.”


    Omer Bartov, a professor of Holocaust and genocide studies at Brown University, documented this and more from Eiland in a November opinion piece in The New York Times.
    He cited a column Eiland wrote in the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth. The Brown University professor quoted Eiland as writing, “The state of Israel has no choice but to turn Gaza into a place that is temporarily or permanently impossible to live in.”

    Bartov also quoted Eiland for maintaining, “Creating a severe humanitarian crisis in Gaza is a necessary means to achieving the goal.”

    Then he cited the same Ynet quote noted above that “Gaza will become a place where no human being can exist.”

    Bartov commented, “Apparently, no army representative or politician denounced this statement.”

    Eiland continued with the genocidal talk in November when he wrote, “The international community warns of a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza and of severe epidemics. We must not shy away from it, as hard as it is. After all, severe epidemics in the south of the Strip will hasten victory.”


    Corsight, with its invasive technology against a largely refugee population dispossessed in 1948, should expect heavy criticism with a board member calling for the ethnic cleansing of Gaza and to make the place uninhabitable.
    Of course, Democratic Majority for Israel received scant attention when it came to light that its board member Archie Gottesman once issued her own genocidal call against Palestinians in Gaza when she tweeted: “Gaza is full of monsters. Time to burn the whole place.”

    Ethnic cleansing and genocide against Palestinians don’t properly register with most western politicians who, of course, are providing weapons to Israel to carry out the devastation in Gaza.

    That Corsight carries out “global operations and support in the US, UK, Singapore, Australia, and R&D in Israel” with the backing of a board member proponent of ethnic cleansing and genocide will not be a significant concern in Washington.

    Popular concern, however, may prove to be a different matter.


    Corsight
    The New York Times
    Google Photos
    Mosab Abu Toha
    Syracuse University
    Igal Raichelgauz
    Cortica Group
    Giora Eiland
    Ynet
    ethnic cleansing
    Hind Rajab
    Palestine Red Crescent Society
    collective punishment
    International Court of Justice
    Gaza genocide
    Omer Bartov
    Brown University
    Democratic Majority for Israel
    Archie Gottesman
    Yediot Ahronot

    https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/michael-f-brown/firm-helping-israel-spy-gaza-includes-genocide-advocate
    Firm helping Israel spy on Gaza includes genocide advocate Michael F. Brown Rights and Accountability 28 March 2024 Palestinian children and adults try to secure food Giora Eiland, a retired Israeli major general, has pushed for a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, a position which has contributed to desperate scenes of Palestinians trying to secure food. Mahmoud Issa DPA The Israeli military is using Corsight facial recognition technology to collect information about Palestinians in Gaza according to The New York Times. “The facial recognition program, which is run by Israel’s military intelligence unit, including the cyber-intelligence division Unit 8200, relies on technology from Corsight, a private Israeli company, four intelligence officers said.” The Israeli military also employs Google Photos. Israel’s apartheid army detained, interrogated and beat Palestinian poet Mosab Abu Toha, a graduate of Syracuse University, with the assistance of Corsight’s facial recognition technology. Other Palestinians have been similarly detained via Corsight technology. Abu Toha notes Palestinians have died in Israeli custody. There is little complaint from western politicians. Corsight’s complicity isn’t seen as an urgent matter. Nor, for that matter, do most of these politicians give sufficient attention to Israel’s genocidal policies in Gaza. Board of directors Unmentioned by the Times is that Giora Eiland, a retired Israeli major general, serves on the board of directors of Corsight. When Eiland joined the board in January 2021, Igal Raichelgauz, chairman and founder of the Cortica Group, stated, “We are excited to add Giora to the company board, we believe that due to his extensive experience in the national security field, Corsight will continue growing into new markets and territories and lead the face recognition market in Israel and in the world.” Corsight is a subsidiary of Cortica, a firm focused on artificial intelligence. Eiland is a proponent of the ethnic cleansing of the occupied territory of Gaza. He wrote for the Israeli publication Ynet on 12 October that “One option is a massive and complex ground operation, with no regard to duration and cost, while the second option is to create conditions where life in Gaza becomes unsustainable.” In fact, Israel has done both. Eiland noted, without voicing dissent, that “Israel has already begun suspending the supply of diesel, fuel, electricity and water, as well as closing the border crossings. Yet, it remains uncertain whether these measures are enough.” He then moved to ethnic cleansing. “Israel issued a stern warning to Egypt and made it clear that it would not permit humanitarian aid from Egypt to enter Gaza. Israel needs to create a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, compelling tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands to seek refuge in Egypt or the Gulf.” He said nothing of wanting such an arrangement to be temporary. Eiland then jumped beyond an ethnic cleansing of “tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands.” He wrote: “The entire population of Gaza will either move to Egypt or move to the Gulf.” The retired general also recommended targeting civilian vehicles in Gaza. “Every vehicle in Gaza is considered a military vehicle transporting combatants. Therefore, there is no vehicular traffic, and it does not matter whether it is transporting water or other critical supplies.” Such rhetoric amounts to abetting war crimes and has had real consequences for Palestinian children such as 6-year-old Hind Rajab who, according to the Palestine Red Crescent, the Israeli military killed earlier this year in a car along with other family members. Eiland pushed collective punishment of Palestinians in Gaza as well. “The UN secretary-general has initiated humanitarian aid to Gaza. The Israeli condition for any aid should be a visit by the Red Cross to Israeli hostages and especially the civilians among them. Until this happens, no aid of any kind will be permitted to enter into Gaza.” Hinting at the overwhelming violence to come against Palestinian civilians, Eiland wrote of the developing Israeli attack: “It is comparable to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which led to the launch of an atomic bomb in Japan.” The Israeli military has killed over 32,000 Palestinians in Gaza since 7 October, including more than 13,000 children. The International Court of Justice deems it plausible that Israel is engaged in genocidal actions in the small coastal territory. Eiland wrapped up his opinion piece by declaring, “As a result, Gaza will become a place where no human being can exist, and I say this as a means rather than an end. I say this because there is no other option for ensuring the security of the state of Israel. We are fighting an existential war.” This goes beyond ethnic cleansing to genocide talk when speaking of “a place where no human being can exist.” Omer Bartov, a professor of Holocaust and genocide studies at Brown University, documented this and more from Eiland in a November opinion piece in The New York Times. He cited a column Eiland wrote in the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth. The Brown University professor quoted Eiland as writing, “The state of Israel has no choice but to turn Gaza into a place that is temporarily or permanently impossible to live in.” Bartov also quoted Eiland for maintaining, “Creating a severe humanitarian crisis in Gaza is a necessary means to achieving the goal.” Then he cited the same Ynet quote noted above that “Gaza will become a place where no human being can exist.” Bartov commented, “Apparently, no army representative or politician denounced this statement.” Eiland continued with the genocidal talk in November when he wrote, “The international community warns of a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza and of severe epidemics. We must not shy away from it, as hard as it is. After all, severe epidemics in the south of the Strip will hasten victory.” Corsight, with its invasive technology against a largely refugee population dispossessed in 1948, should expect heavy criticism with a board member calling for the ethnic cleansing of Gaza and to make the place uninhabitable. Of course, Democratic Majority for Israel received scant attention when it came to light that its board member Archie Gottesman once issued her own genocidal call against Palestinians in Gaza when she tweeted: “Gaza is full of monsters. Time to burn the whole place.” Ethnic cleansing and genocide against Palestinians don’t properly register with most western politicians who, of course, are providing weapons to Israel to carry out the devastation in Gaza. That Corsight carries out “global operations and support in the US, UK, Singapore, Australia, and R&D in Israel” with the backing of a board member proponent of ethnic cleansing and genocide will not be a significant concern in Washington. Popular concern, however, may prove to be a different matter. Corsight The New York Times Google Photos Mosab Abu Toha Syracuse University Igal Raichelgauz Cortica Group Giora Eiland Ynet ethnic cleansing Hind Rajab Palestine Red Crescent Society collective punishment International Court of Justice Gaza genocide Omer Bartov Brown University Democratic Majority for Israel Archie Gottesman Yediot Ahronot https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/michael-f-brown/firm-helping-israel-spy-gaza-includes-genocide-advocate
    ELECTRONICINTIFADA.NET
    Firm helping Israel spy on Gaza includes genocide advocate
    Retired general Giora Eiland has promoted making Gaza “a place where no human being can exist.”
    0 Comments 0 Shares 3128 Views
  • Opinion: Why I’m resigning from the State Department
    Editor’s Note: Annelle Sheline, PhD, served for a year as a foreign affairs officer at the Office of Near Eastern Affairs in the Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. The views expressed here are her own. Read more opinion on CNN.

    CNN — normal
    Since Hamas’ attack on October 7, Israel has used American bombs in its war in Gaza, which has killed more than 32,000 people — 13,000 of them children — with countless others buried under the rubble, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health. Israel is credibly accused of starving the 2 million people who remain, according to the UN special rapporteur on the right to food; a group of charity leaders warns that without adequate aid, hundreds of thousands more will soon likely join the dead.

    Yet Israel is still planning to invade Rafah, where the majority of people in Gaza have fled; UN officials have described the carnage that is expected to ensue as “beyond imagination.” In the West Bank, armed settlers and Israeli soldiers have killed Palestinians, including US citizens. These actions, which experts on genocide have testified meet the crime of genocide, are conducted with the diplomatic and military support of the US government.

    For the past year, I worked for the office devoted to promoting human rights in the Middle East. I believe strongly in the mission and in the important work of that office. However, as a representative of a government that is directly enabling what the International Court of Justice has said could plausibly be a genocide in Gaza, such work has become almost impossible. Unable to serve an administration that enables such atrocities, I have decided to resign from my position at the Department of State.

    Whatever credibility the United States had as an advocate for human rights has almost entirely vanished since the war began. Members of civil society have refused to respond to my efforts to contact them. Our office seeks to support journalists in the Middle East; yet when asked by NGOs if the US can help when Palestinian journalists are detained or killed in Gaza, I was disappointed that my government didn’t do more to protect them. Ninety Palestinian journalists in Gaza have been killed in the last five months, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. That is the most recorded in any single conflict since the CPJ started collecting data in 1992.

    By resigning publicly, I am saddened by the knowledge that I likely foreclose a future at the State Department. I had not initially planned a public resignation. Because my time at State had been so short — I was hired on a two-year contract — I did not think I mattered enough to announce my resignation publicly. However, when I started to tell colleagues of my decision to resign, the response I heard repeatedly was, “Please speak for us.”

    Related article Opinion: What Biden needs to know about Rafah

    Across the federal government, employees like me have tried for months to influence policy, both internally and, when that failed, publicly. My colleagues and I watched in horror as this administration delivered thousands of precision-guided munitions, bombs, small arms and other lethal aid to Israel and authorized thousands more, even bypassing Congress to do so. We are appalled by the administration’s flagrant disregard for American laws that prohibit the US from providing assistance to foreign militaries that engage in gross human rights violations or that restrict the delivery of humanitarian aid.

    The Biden administration’s own policy states, “The legitimacy of and public support for arms transfers among the populations of both the United States and recipient nations depends on the protection of civilians from harm, and the United States distinguishes itself from other potential sources of arms transfers by elevating the importance of protecting civilians.” Yet this noble statement of policy has been directly in contradiction with the actions of the president who promulgated it.

    President Joe Biden himself indirectly admits that Israel is not protecting Palestinian civilians from harm. Under pressure from some congressional Democrats, the administration issued a new policy to ensure that foreign military transfers don’t violate relevant domestic and international laws.

    Yet just recently, the State Department ascertained that Israel is in compliance with international law in the conduct of the war and in providing humanitarian assistance. To say this when Israel is preventing the adequate entrance of humanitarian aid and the US is being forced to air drop food to starving Gazans, this finding makes a mockery of the administration’s claims to care about the law or about the fate of innocent Palestinians.

    Related article Opinion: The crux of Israel’s challenge

    Some have argued that the US lacks influence over Israel. Yet Retired Israeli Maj. Gen. Yitzhak Brick noted in November that Israel’s missiles, bombs and airplanes all come from the US. “The minute they turn off the tap, you can’t keep fighting,” he said. “Everyone understands that we can’t fight this war without the United States. Period.”

    Even now, Israel is considering invading Lebanon, which brings a heightened risk of regional conflict that would be catastrophic. The US has sought to prevent this outcome but shows no appetite for withholding offensive weapons from Israel in order to compel greater restraint there or in Gaza. Biden’s support for Israel’s far-right government thus risks sparking a wider conflagration in the region, which could well put US troops in harm’s way.

    So many of my colleagues feel betrayed. I write for myself but speak for many others, including Feds United for Peace, a group mobilizing for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza that represents federal workers in their personal capacities across the country, and across 30 federal agencies and departments. After four years of then-President Donald Trump’s efforts to cripple the department, State employees embraced Biden’s pledge to rebuild American diplomacy. For some, US support for Ukraine against Russia’s illegal occupation and bombardment seemed to reestablish America’s moral leadership. Yet the administration continues to enable Israel’s illegal occupation and destruction of Gaza.

    I am haunted by the final social media post of Aaron Bushnell, the 25-year-old US Air Force serviceman who self-immolated in front of the Israeli Embassy in Washington on February 25: “Many of us like to ask ourselves, ‘What would I do if I was alive during slavery? Or the Jim Crow South? Or apartheid? What would I do if my country was committing genocide?’ The answer is, you’re doing it. Right now.”

    I can no longer continue what I was doing. I hope that my resignation can contribute to the many efforts to push the administration to withdraw support for Israel’s war, for the sake of the 2 million Palestinians whose lives are at risk and for the sake of America’s moral standing in the world.


    https://www.cnn.com/2024/03/27/opinions/gaza-israel-resigning-state-department-sheline/index.html
    Opinion: Why I’m resigning from the State Department Editor’s Note: Annelle Sheline, PhD, served for a year as a foreign affairs officer at the Office of Near Eastern Affairs in the Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. The views expressed here are her own. Read more opinion on CNN. CNN — normal Since Hamas’ attack on October 7, Israel has used American bombs in its war in Gaza, which has killed more than 32,000 people — 13,000 of them children — with countless others buried under the rubble, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health. Israel is credibly accused of starving the 2 million people who remain, according to the UN special rapporteur on the right to food; a group of charity leaders warns that without adequate aid, hundreds of thousands more will soon likely join the dead. Yet Israel is still planning to invade Rafah, where the majority of people in Gaza have fled; UN officials have described the carnage that is expected to ensue as “beyond imagination.” In the West Bank, armed settlers and Israeli soldiers have killed Palestinians, including US citizens. These actions, which experts on genocide have testified meet the crime of genocide, are conducted with the diplomatic and military support of the US government. For the past year, I worked for the office devoted to promoting human rights in the Middle East. I believe strongly in the mission and in the important work of that office. However, as a representative of a government that is directly enabling what the International Court of Justice has said could plausibly be a genocide in Gaza, such work has become almost impossible. Unable to serve an administration that enables such atrocities, I have decided to resign from my position at the Department of State. Whatever credibility the United States had as an advocate for human rights has almost entirely vanished since the war began. Members of civil society have refused to respond to my efforts to contact them. Our office seeks to support journalists in the Middle East; yet when asked by NGOs if the US can help when Palestinian journalists are detained or killed in Gaza, I was disappointed that my government didn’t do more to protect them. Ninety Palestinian journalists in Gaza have been killed in the last five months, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. That is the most recorded in any single conflict since the CPJ started collecting data in 1992. By resigning publicly, I am saddened by the knowledge that I likely foreclose a future at the State Department. I had not initially planned a public resignation. Because my time at State had been so short — I was hired on a two-year contract — I did not think I mattered enough to announce my resignation publicly. However, when I started to tell colleagues of my decision to resign, the response I heard repeatedly was, “Please speak for us.” Related article Opinion: What Biden needs to know about Rafah Across the federal government, employees like me have tried for months to influence policy, both internally and, when that failed, publicly. My colleagues and I watched in horror as this administration delivered thousands of precision-guided munitions, bombs, small arms and other lethal aid to Israel and authorized thousands more, even bypassing Congress to do so. We are appalled by the administration’s flagrant disregard for American laws that prohibit the US from providing assistance to foreign militaries that engage in gross human rights violations or that restrict the delivery of humanitarian aid. The Biden administration’s own policy states, “The legitimacy of and public support for arms transfers among the populations of both the United States and recipient nations depends on the protection of civilians from harm, and the United States distinguishes itself from other potential sources of arms transfers by elevating the importance of protecting civilians.” Yet this noble statement of policy has been directly in contradiction with the actions of the president who promulgated it. President Joe Biden himself indirectly admits that Israel is not protecting Palestinian civilians from harm. Under pressure from some congressional Democrats, the administration issued a new policy to ensure that foreign military transfers don’t violate relevant domestic and international laws. Yet just recently, the State Department ascertained that Israel is in compliance with international law in the conduct of the war and in providing humanitarian assistance. To say this when Israel is preventing the adequate entrance of humanitarian aid and the US is being forced to air drop food to starving Gazans, this finding makes a mockery of the administration’s claims to care about the law or about the fate of innocent Palestinians. Related article Opinion: The crux of Israel’s challenge Some have argued that the US lacks influence over Israel. Yet Retired Israeli Maj. Gen. Yitzhak Brick noted in November that Israel’s missiles, bombs and airplanes all come from the US. “The minute they turn off the tap, you can’t keep fighting,” he said. “Everyone understands that we can’t fight this war without the United States. Period.” Even now, Israel is considering invading Lebanon, which brings a heightened risk of regional conflict that would be catastrophic. The US has sought to prevent this outcome but shows no appetite for withholding offensive weapons from Israel in order to compel greater restraint there or in Gaza. Biden’s support for Israel’s far-right government thus risks sparking a wider conflagration in the region, which could well put US troops in harm’s way. So many of my colleagues feel betrayed. I write for myself but speak for many others, including Feds United for Peace, a group mobilizing for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza that represents federal workers in their personal capacities across the country, and across 30 federal agencies and departments. After four years of then-President Donald Trump’s efforts to cripple the department, State employees embraced Biden’s pledge to rebuild American diplomacy. For some, US support for Ukraine against Russia’s illegal occupation and bombardment seemed to reestablish America’s moral leadership. Yet the administration continues to enable Israel’s illegal occupation and destruction of Gaza. I am haunted by the final social media post of Aaron Bushnell, the 25-year-old US Air Force serviceman who self-immolated in front of the Israeli Embassy in Washington on February 25: “Many of us like to ask ourselves, ‘What would I do if I was alive during slavery? Or the Jim Crow South? Or apartheid? What would I do if my country was committing genocide?’ The answer is, you’re doing it. Right now.” I can no longer continue what I was doing. I hope that my resignation can contribute to the many efforts to push the administration to withdraw support for Israel’s war, for the sake of the 2 million Palestinians whose lives are at risk and for the sake of America’s moral standing in the world. https://www.cnn.com/2024/03/27/opinions/gaza-israel-resigning-state-department-sheline/index.html
    WWW.CNN.COM
    Opinion: Why I’m resigning from the State Department | CNN
    I’m unable to serve an administration that enables the atrocities in Gaza, so I have decided to resign from my position at the Department of State, writes Annelle Sheline.
    Like
    1
    0 Comments 0 Shares 3477 Views
  • Ignorance, Stupidity, or Malice?
    Rob Jenkins
    A major topic of conversation at the recent Brownstone retreat was whether the people who locked us down and then mandated an experimental gene therapy, along with their supporters and enablers, were motivated primarily by stupidity or malice. I’d like to propose a third option: ignorance. In my view, all three played a part in the Covid debacle.

    I believe—I choose to believe—that many of the people who are to some degree responsible for the devastation of the last four years—particularly the millions of Americans who allowed it to happen because they docilely went along—were simply ignorant. They accepted what they were told in March 2020 about the virulence and lethality of the virus. They fell for the fake videos of Chinese citizens keeling over in the streets. They watched in horror as what appeared to be freezer trucks sat parked outside New York hospitals. They assumed the government wouldn’t be sending military hospital ships to New York and Los Angeles if the disease wasn’t ravaging those cities. And they eagerly embraced the notion that, if we all just stayed home for two weeks, we could actually “flatten the curve.”

    I confess: I fell into this category initially, for about those first two weeks. I’m blessed (or maybe cursed) with a natural skepticism and fortunate to have found, early on, alternative news sources that were reporting the truth—or at least trying to get at it. So I began to suspect, as “two weeks” stretched to infinity, that we were being had. But most Westerners have been conditioned to believe whatever the government and the media tell them, without questioning. Those people bought into the indefinite forced isolation and the social distancing and the Zoom school and the grocery delivery because they were ignorant. They didn’t really understand what was happening.

    That includes, by the way, many in positions of authority and responsibility, like medical doctors and nurses, teachers and administrators, religious leaders, and local elected officials. Maybe even some elected officials at the national level. They swallowed the official narrative, too. I’m convinced most of these people honestly believed they were doing the right thing, saving lives, when in fact they were doing nothing of the sort because, as we now know, none of those “mitigation strategies” had any effect on the virus. But to be completely fair to them—and I think it’s important to be fair, however angry we might be at the consequences of their behavior—they were acting out of ignorance.

    Of course, at some point, ignorance begins to bleed over into stupidity—perhaps at the point where people could have known better, and maybe even should have known better. Then their ignorance, which is a legitimate excuse for bad behavior, becomes willful. And willful ignorance is a form of stupidity, which is not an excuse, especially not for those we entrust with important decisions that affect all our lives.

    The definition of stupidity proposed by UC Berkeley economist Carlo Cipolla in 1976 seems relevant in this context: “A stupid person is one who causes losses to another person or group while deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses.” (You can find a nice summary of Cipolla’s theory here.) In other words, stupid people do stupid things for no reason. They harm other people, and they don’t even get anything out of it. They might even harm themselves in the process—“shooting themselves in the foot,” as we sometimes say, or “cutting off their nose to spite their face.” That is indeed the height of stupidity.

    This definition certainly applies to many, many of the Covidians, including quite a few who (if we want to be generous) started out as merely ignorant. Over time, their perhaps understandable ignorance morphed into stupidity as they held on stubbornly to masking, distancing, and school closures despite literal mountains of evidence that none of those had any salutary effect. And most of them didn’t even benefit from their stubborn, stupid refusal to acknowledge reality. Yes, some did, and we’ll get to them in a moment. But most didn’t. In many cases, they embarrassed themselves, damaged their careers, lost businesses and personal relationships, and for what? So they could yell at the rest of us about masks? That’s pretty stupid.

    Also instructive here is Cipolla’s Second Law of Stupidity: “The probability that a certain person is stupid is independent of any other characteristic of that person.” In other words, stupidity, as he defines it, is more or less evenly distributed throughout the population. It has nothing to do with intelligence, education, or income level. There are stupid doctors, lawyers, and college professors, just as there are stupid plumbers and ditch diggers. If anything, the former groups are somewhat more likely to contain stupid people. It all comes down to a person’s willingness to do things that make no sense, things that harm others—aka, stupid things—despite not getting anything out of it and perhaps even losing in the bargain.

    And then there are the people who actually DO benefit from the harm they cause to others. They exhibit many of the same behaviors as the stupid people, except that they actually get something out of it—money, fame, power. Cipolla refers to these people—those who harm others for their own benefit—as “bandits.” Most of the best-known Covidians, the biggest names in media, government, “public health,” and the pharmaceuticals industry, fall into this category. They initiated, enforced, and supported policies that seemingly made no sense, and they came away smelling like roses. They became the toast of the media circuit, earned cushy sinecures, and expanded their bank accounts by millions.

    The main difference between stupid people and bandits, according to Cipolla, is that the latter’s actions actually make sense, once you understand what they’re trying to accomplish. If a person knocks you down for no reason—well, that’s just stupid. But if they knock you down and then take your wallet, that makes sense. You understand why they knocked you down, even if you don’t like it any better. Moreover, you can to some degree adjust for the actions of “bandits”—for instance, by staying out of the bad part of town, where someone might knock you down and take your wallet. But if you’re at a mall in a nice suburb, and people are just knocking you down for no apparent reason, there’s no way to plan for that.

    The problem with stupidity, says Cipolla, is two-fold. First, we consistently “underestimate the number of stupid people in circulation.” We assume the vast majority of people will act rationally under most circumstances, but—as we’ve seen plainly over the last four years—that turns out not to be true. Many behave irrationally much of the time, and it appears that a majority will do so in a time of crisis.

    Second, as Cipolla points out, the stupid people are if anything more dangerous than the bandits, mostly for the reasons cited above: There are a lot more of them, and it’s nearly impossible to account for them. You can have a perfectly good plan to address some emergency—like, say, a pandemic—and the stupid people will blow it up for no good reason. Sure, malicious bad actors will make off with the treasury, if they can, but that has always been the case. I mean, is anybody really surprised that Albert Bourla added millions to his net worth? Or that Anthony Fauci now has a cushy job teaching at Georgetown? Yes, it’s frustrating and disgusting. There’s no doubt they were among the main architects of this disaster, as well as its main beneficiaries. But none of that is, or was, completely unexpected. Bandits gonna bandit.

    What has been most frustrating to me over the past couple of years has been the way that millions of otherwise normal people—including friends, relatives and colleagues, as well as store clerks, flight attendants, and random people on the streets—have behaved so stupidly. A surprising number continue to do so, embarrassing themselves by haranguing the rest of us about masks and “vaccines,” alienating everyone in sight, making life more difficult for themselves and others even though they gain nothing by it.

    So yes, the four-year debacle that is our collective Covid response is attributable in part to ignorance and in part to malice. But worse than either of those, and far more damaging to society in the long term, has been the sheer stupidity—humanity’s capacity for which I will never again underestimate.

    Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
    For reprints, please set the canonical link back to the original Brownstone Institute Article and Author.

    Author

    Rob Jenkins is an associate professor of English at Georgia State University – Perimeter College and a Higher Education Fellow at Campus Reform. He is the author or co-author of six books, including Think Better, Write Better, Welcome to My Classroom, and The 9 Virtues of Exceptional Leaders. In addition to Brownstone and Campus Reform, he has written for Townhall, The Daily Wire, American Thinker, PJ Media, The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. The opinions expressed here are his own.

    View all posts
    Your financial backing of Brownstone Institute goes to support writers, lawyers, scientists, economists, and other people of courage who have been professionally purged and displaced during the upheaval of our times. You can help get the truth out through their ongoing work.

    https://brownstone.org/articles/ignorance-stupidity-or-malice/
    Ignorance, Stupidity, or Malice? Rob Jenkins A major topic of conversation at the recent Brownstone retreat was whether the people who locked us down and then mandated an experimental gene therapy, along with their supporters and enablers, were motivated primarily by stupidity or malice. I’d like to propose a third option: ignorance. In my view, all three played a part in the Covid debacle. I believe—I choose to believe—that many of the people who are to some degree responsible for the devastation of the last four years—particularly the millions of Americans who allowed it to happen because they docilely went along—were simply ignorant. They accepted what they were told in March 2020 about the virulence and lethality of the virus. They fell for the fake videos of Chinese citizens keeling over in the streets. They watched in horror as what appeared to be freezer trucks sat parked outside New York hospitals. They assumed the government wouldn’t be sending military hospital ships to New York and Los Angeles if the disease wasn’t ravaging those cities. And they eagerly embraced the notion that, if we all just stayed home for two weeks, we could actually “flatten the curve.” I confess: I fell into this category initially, for about those first two weeks. I’m blessed (or maybe cursed) with a natural skepticism and fortunate to have found, early on, alternative news sources that were reporting the truth—or at least trying to get at it. So I began to suspect, as “two weeks” stretched to infinity, that we were being had. But most Westerners have been conditioned to believe whatever the government and the media tell them, without questioning. Those people bought into the indefinite forced isolation and the social distancing and the Zoom school and the grocery delivery because they were ignorant. They didn’t really understand what was happening. That includes, by the way, many in positions of authority and responsibility, like medical doctors and nurses, teachers and administrators, religious leaders, and local elected officials. Maybe even some elected officials at the national level. They swallowed the official narrative, too. I’m convinced most of these people honestly believed they were doing the right thing, saving lives, when in fact they were doing nothing of the sort because, as we now know, none of those “mitigation strategies” had any effect on the virus. But to be completely fair to them—and I think it’s important to be fair, however angry we might be at the consequences of their behavior—they were acting out of ignorance. Of course, at some point, ignorance begins to bleed over into stupidity—perhaps at the point where people could have known better, and maybe even should have known better. Then their ignorance, which is a legitimate excuse for bad behavior, becomes willful. And willful ignorance is a form of stupidity, which is not an excuse, especially not for those we entrust with important decisions that affect all our lives. The definition of stupidity proposed by UC Berkeley economist Carlo Cipolla in 1976 seems relevant in this context: “A stupid person is one who causes losses to another person or group while deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses.” (You can find a nice summary of Cipolla’s theory here.) In other words, stupid people do stupid things for no reason. They harm other people, and they don’t even get anything out of it. They might even harm themselves in the process—“shooting themselves in the foot,” as we sometimes say, or “cutting off their nose to spite their face.” That is indeed the height of stupidity. This definition certainly applies to many, many of the Covidians, including quite a few who (if we want to be generous) started out as merely ignorant. Over time, their perhaps understandable ignorance morphed into stupidity as they held on stubbornly to masking, distancing, and school closures despite literal mountains of evidence that none of those had any salutary effect. And most of them didn’t even benefit from their stubborn, stupid refusal to acknowledge reality. Yes, some did, and we’ll get to them in a moment. But most didn’t. In many cases, they embarrassed themselves, damaged their careers, lost businesses and personal relationships, and for what? So they could yell at the rest of us about masks? That’s pretty stupid. Also instructive here is Cipolla’s Second Law of Stupidity: “The probability that a certain person is stupid is independent of any other characteristic of that person.” In other words, stupidity, as he defines it, is more or less evenly distributed throughout the population. It has nothing to do with intelligence, education, or income level. There are stupid doctors, lawyers, and college professors, just as there are stupid plumbers and ditch diggers. If anything, the former groups are somewhat more likely to contain stupid people. It all comes down to a person’s willingness to do things that make no sense, things that harm others—aka, stupid things—despite not getting anything out of it and perhaps even losing in the bargain. And then there are the people who actually DO benefit from the harm they cause to others. They exhibit many of the same behaviors as the stupid people, except that they actually get something out of it—money, fame, power. Cipolla refers to these people—those who harm others for their own benefit—as “bandits.” Most of the best-known Covidians, the biggest names in media, government, “public health,” and the pharmaceuticals industry, fall into this category. They initiated, enforced, and supported policies that seemingly made no sense, and they came away smelling like roses. They became the toast of the media circuit, earned cushy sinecures, and expanded their bank accounts by millions. The main difference between stupid people and bandits, according to Cipolla, is that the latter’s actions actually make sense, once you understand what they’re trying to accomplish. If a person knocks you down for no reason—well, that’s just stupid. But if they knock you down and then take your wallet, that makes sense. You understand why they knocked you down, even if you don’t like it any better. Moreover, you can to some degree adjust for the actions of “bandits”—for instance, by staying out of the bad part of town, where someone might knock you down and take your wallet. But if you’re at a mall in a nice suburb, and people are just knocking you down for no apparent reason, there’s no way to plan for that. The problem with stupidity, says Cipolla, is two-fold. First, we consistently “underestimate the number of stupid people in circulation.” We assume the vast majority of people will act rationally under most circumstances, but—as we’ve seen plainly over the last four years—that turns out not to be true. Many behave irrationally much of the time, and it appears that a majority will do so in a time of crisis. Second, as Cipolla points out, the stupid people are if anything more dangerous than the bandits, mostly for the reasons cited above: There are a lot more of them, and it’s nearly impossible to account for them. You can have a perfectly good plan to address some emergency—like, say, a pandemic—and the stupid people will blow it up for no good reason. Sure, malicious bad actors will make off with the treasury, if they can, but that has always been the case. I mean, is anybody really surprised that Albert Bourla added millions to his net worth? Or that Anthony Fauci now has a cushy job teaching at Georgetown? Yes, it’s frustrating and disgusting. There’s no doubt they were among the main architects of this disaster, as well as its main beneficiaries. But none of that is, or was, completely unexpected. Bandits gonna bandit. What has been most frustrating to me over the past couple of years has been the way that millions of otherwise normal people—including friends, relatives and colleagues, as well as store clerks, flight attendants, and random people on the streets—have behaved so stupidly. A surprising number continue to do so, embarrassing themselves by haranguing the rest of us about masks and “vaccines,” alienating everyone in sight, making life more difficult for themselves and others even though they gain nothing by it. So yes, the four-year debacle that is our collective Covid response is attributable in part to ignorance and in part to malice. But worse than either of those, and far more damaging to society in the long term, has been the sheer stupidity—humanity’s capacity for which I will never again underestimate. Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License For reprints, please set the canonical link back to the original Brownstone Institute Article and Author. Author Rob Jenkins is an associate professor of English at Georgia State University – Perimeter College and a Higher Education Fellow at Campus Reform. He is the author or co-author of six books, including Think Better, Write Better, Welcome to My Classroom, and The 9 Virtues of Exceptional Leaders. In addition to Brownstone and Campus Reform, he has written for Townhall, The Daily Wire, American Thinker, PJ Media, The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. The opinions expressed here are his own. View all posts Your financial backing of Brownstone Institute goes to support writers, lawyers, scientists, economists, and other people of courage who have been professionally purged and displaced during the upheaval of our times. You can help get the truth out through their ongoing work. https://brownstone.org/articles/ignorance-stupidity-or-malice/
    BROWNSTONE.ORG
    Ignorance, Stupidity, or Malice? ⋆ Brownstone Institute
    So yes, the four-year debacle that is our collective Covid response is attributable in part to ignorance and in part to malice.
    Like
    1
    0 Comments 1 Shares 4860 Views
  • ‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 171: ‘Horrific’ eyewitness accounts continue to emerge from Israel’s siege on Gaza’s hospitals
    Leila WarahMarch 25, 2024
    Injured Palestinians, including children, are brought to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir El-Balah for treatment following the Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip, on March 23, 2024. (Photo: Omar Ashtawy/APA Images)
    Injured Palestinians, including children, are brought to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir El-Balah for treatment following the Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip, on March 23, 2024. (Photo: Omar Ashtawy/APA Images)
    Casualties

    32,333 + killed* and at least 74,694 wounded in the Gaza Strip.
    435+ Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.**
    Israel revises its estimated October 7 death toll down from 1,400 to 1,147.
    594 Israeli soldiers killed since October 7, and at least 3,221 injured.***
    *Gaza’s Ministry of Health confirmed this figure on its Telegram channel. Some rights groups estimate the death toll to be much higher when accounting for those presumed dead.

    ** The death toll in the West Bank and Jerusalem is not updated regularly. According to the PA’s Ministry of Health on March 17, this is the latest figure.

    *** This figure is released by the Israeli military, showing the soldiers whose names “were allowed to be published.”

    Key Developments

    UNRWA: Israel says no more UNRWA food convoys to north Gaza.
    UNRWA chief: Israeli decision to deny all UNRWA food convoys to northern Gaza is “obstruct[ing] lifesaving assistance during a man-made famine.”
    Doctors Without Borders “deeply concerned” after medical staff arrested at al-Shifa Hospital amid “heavy air strikes by Israeli forces and fierce fighting” nearby.
    Tanks crushed bodies, ambulances at al-Shifa Hospital, reports AP News, citing witnesses.
    Footage emerges of Israeli soldiers assaulting Palestinian boy
    Casualties in Israeli attack on aid distributors at Kuwaiti roundabout in Gaza City, reports Al Jazeera.
    Israeli forces raid Al Aqsa mosque during nightly prayers, assault and expel worshipers, reports Al Jazeera journalist.
    WHO Chief: Israel must reverse decision on blocking north Gaza aid.
    Israeli war cabinet minister threatens to quit if bill exempting ultra-Orthodox Jews from conscription passes
    UNRWA: U.S. funding cut will ‘compromise access to food’ in Gaza.
    UN special rapporteurs decry underreporting of sexual violence against Palestinians.
    Israel blocks access to Jerusalem for West Bank Christians on Palm Sunday, reports Wafa.
    PRCS says it has lost radio contact with staff at al-Amal Hospital in Khan Younis.
    Euro-Med: Israel’s attacks on academics in line with Gaza ‘genocide’
    WAFA correspondent killed along with son Israeli airstrike on Gaza
    MAP report: Doctor says conditions inside European Gaza Hospital ‘unimaginable’
    Gaza: Three Hospitals under military siege

    The Israeli military has imposed ongoing sieges on at least three medical facilities in the besieged enclave, terrorizing, injuring, and killing thousands of civilians in the process.

    Al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza has entered its seventh day under siege, and the civilians able to flee are reporting ruthless massacres in and around the medical complex.

    A teenage Palestinian boy, Farouk Mohammed Hamd, told Al Jazeera he witnessed Israeli soldiers executing a group of eight people, including his father and brother, inside al-Shifa Hospital.

    He said he and the others were stripped of their clothing and moved several times inside the al-Shifa Hospital building in central Gaza over the course of hours before being taken to the top floor of the facility.

    “They left us for about three hours, then said, ‘You are safe. You can go south.”

    “We stood up, but then they opened fire. We all laid down on the floor again. Then, the snipers entertained themselves by shooting us one after the other.”

    Hamad said his father told him before being killed to run away if he could, and he managed to run, but not before seeing the unresponsive bodies of the executed group.

    On Sunday, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said its staff have reported “heavy air strikes by Israeli forces and fierce fighting” in the vicinity of al-Shifa hospital, “endangering patients, medical staff and people trapped inside with very few supplies.”

    Jameel al-Ayoubi, one of the thousands of Palestinians sheltering at the hospital, saw Israeli tanks and armored bulldozers drive over at least four bodies in the hospital courtyard, AP News reports. Ambulances were also crushed, he says.

    Kareem Ayman Hathat, who lived in a five-story building about 100 meters (328 feet) from the hospital, told AP he hid in his kitchen for days waiting as explosions shook the building.

    “From time to time, the tank would fire a shell,” he said. “It was to terrorise us.”

    MSF added that Israeli forces have carried out a mass-arrest campaign of medical staff and other people and that the organization is “deeply concerned” for the safety of those detained.

    Meanwhile, another two hospitals in Khan Younis have been under Israeli military siege for the last 24 hours: al-Amal and Nasser hospitals, reports Al Jazeera correspondent Hani Mahmoud from Gaza.

    “Military vehicles, tanks and attack drones are encircling these two facilities. They’re also blocking the entrance with piles of sand, preventing medical staff, patients and injured people inside from leaving safely and constantly failing to provide a safe corridor for people and evacuees trapped inside the hospital,” Mahmoud said.

    Palestinian Red Crescent (PRCS) gave their latest update on the situation in al Amal hospital on Sunday afternoon, saying Israeli tanks and armored vehicles have completely surrounded all entrances to the hospital and control any movement in and out.

    Israeli forces attacked the hospital earlier on Sunday, surrounding it with tanks and forcing nearly everyone inside, from patients to displaced Palestinians sheltering there, to evacuate.

    “What we’re getting confirmed from al-Amal Hospital is that not only has it been under constant bombing and tank shells, but loudspeakers are ordering people inside the hospital to come out only with their underwear on. And that has been confirmed by multiple sources and witnesses on the ground, those who managed to flee the harrowing situation,” Mahmoud added.

    On Sunday evening, the PRCS announced that they lost radio contact with their staff at the hospital.

    While all displaced Palestinians and patients who could move independently were evacuated towards the al-Mawasi area west of Khan Younis, hospital staff remain, along with nine patients and their ten companions and a displaced family with children who have disabilities. PCRS says all of them need to be safely evacuated.

    PRCS added that staff member Amir Abu Aisha and a wounded individual who was being treated at the hospital after being shot in the head by the Israeli military were both killed, and their bodies need to be removed.

    In a statement, Hamas said the Israeli military is systematically targeting hospitals across Gaza with the goal of displacing all Palestinians from their lands, showing Israel wants to continue its “war of extermination” against Palestinians and forcibly displace them from their land “by destroying all means of life in the Gaza Strip, especially hospitals,” reported Al Jazeera.

    Underreporting of sexual violence against Palestinians

    Witnesses at al-Shifa hospital have reported that “Palestinian women have been subjected to rape, torture, and execution by Israeli forces.”

    Reem Alsalem, the UN special rapporteur on violence against women and girls, said in a post on X that it is “abhorrent” that reports of rape by Israeli forces keep coming out without any consequences.

    “Rape and other forms of sexual violence can constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity or a constitutive act with respect to genocide! It must stop!”

    Francesca Albanese, the UN special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territory, similarly said, “I lost count of how many renowned journalists interviewed me on the alleged mistreatment of/sexual abuse against Palestinian women by Israeli forces, and never published any article on this.”

    “What we can see on the ground is a systematic creation of a corrosive environment in which Israel, with its destruction of neighborhoods and hospitals, is making Gaza unliveable for the majority of Palestinians,” said Al Jazeera co-respondent, Tareq Abu Azzoum from Gaza while reporting on the besieged hospitals.

    “Horrific scenes” at European Hospital

    Meanwhile, at Gaza’s European Hospital near Khan Younis, one of the last functioning medical facilities, medical staff report “horrific scenes” at the hospital with patients “dying from infections with evidence of serious malnutrition,” reported Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP).

    Husam Basheer, an orthopedic surgeon working at the hospital, says he and his staff are “managing with the bare minimum of resources” at the medical facility due to Israeli restrictions on medical aid entering the besieged enclave.

    “One day we wanted to do a plate and screw, which is a standard procedure for bone fixation, but we didn’t have the right equipment. Sometimes we’ve also lacked gauze which is a basic supply for surgery. We worked around the challenges we faced and managed in a different way, but the staff here are overwhelmed,” he said.

    Similarly, Konstantina Ilia Karydi, an anesthetist, described the situation inside the medical facility as “unimaginable.”

    “This hospital had an original capacity of just 200 beds. Now, it has expanded to 1,000 beds,” she said.

    “There are around 22,000 displaced people sheltering in the corridors and in tents inside the hospital because people feel that it’s safer to be here than anywhere else.”

    Israel bars UNRWA from northern Gaza

    The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) announced on Sunday that Israel has officially barred it from making aid deliveries in northern Gaza, where the threat of famine is highest.

    “This is outrageous [and] makes it intentional to obstruct lifesaving assistance during a man-made famine. These restrictions must be lifted,” the head of the UNRWA, Philippe Lazzarini, wrote in an X post.

    Famine is likely to occur by May in northern Gaza and could spread across the enclave by July, according to the world’s hunger watchdog, Integrated Food-Security Phase Classification (IPC), said last week.

    Lazzarini warned that Israel’s decision would speed up the coming of famine in the north of the Strip and said that “many more will die of hunger, dehydration.”

    Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO), says Israel must “urgently reverse” its decision to block the entry of food convoys organized by UNRWA into northern Gaza, where humanitarian needs are most urgent.

    “The levels of hunger are acute. All efforts to deliver food should not only be permitted but there should be an immediate acceleration of food deliveries,” Ghebreyesus said in a post on X.

    Martin Griffiths, the undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator at the UN, says he repeatedly urged Israel to lift all its restrictions on aid to Gaza. Still, it has now done the exact opposite.

    “UNRWA is the beating heart of the humanitarian response in Gaza,” Griffiths said on X , “The decision to block its food convoys to the north only pushes thousands closer to famine. It must be revoked.”

    No other agency is able to provide lifesaving assistance in Gaza in the same way as UNRWA, Natalie Boucly, the deputy commissioner-general of the UN agency, has said on X.

    Boucly added that attempts to “isolate” UNRWA will result in more people dying, “UNRWA is part of the UN and it was given a specific mandate by the General Assembly.”

    In January, several countries cut funding to UNRWA following unverified Israeli allegations that less than a dozen employees participated in Hamas’s operation on October 7.

    While some countries, including Canada and Sweden, have since reinstated their funding, several countries, including the US, have yet to follow suit, which will have severe implications for Palestinians in Gaza and the region.

    Israel is using famine as a “weapon of war” in Gaza to put pressure on the Palestinian people to leave the besieged enclave, Adel Abdel Ghafar, an analyst at the Middle East Council on Global Affairs, told Al Jazeera.
    “In Gaza, the humanitarian community is racing against the clock to avert famine. As the backbone of the humanitarian response, any gap in funding to UNRWA will compromise access to food, shelter, primary health care & education at a time of deep trauma,” the organization’s chief, Lazzarini, wrote on X.

    “Palestine Refugees are counting on the international community to step up support to meet their basic needs.”

    Israel is using famine as a “weapon of war” in Gaza to put pressure on the Palestinian people to leave the besieged enclave, Adel Abdel Ghafar, an analyst at the Middle East Council on Global Affairs, told Al Jazeera.

    The “dream” of many far-right politicians in Israel is to make Gaza “uninhabitable” for Palestinians, with the goal of re-establishing settlements for the Israelis, Ghafar continued.

    “The destruction of schools, hospitals, infrastructure [is making Gaza] almost unlivable and it will force the international community to take further refugees and thin out the population of Gaza,” he said.

    “I think Israel wants to have a big chunk of the population leave and become refugees elsewhere.”

    UN Resolution for ceasefire

    On Monday, the UN Security Council is expected to vote on yet another resolution regarding Israel’s war on Gaza. Since October seven, only two of eight resolutions have been accepted, with both mainly dealing with humanitarian aid to the besieged enclave.

    Guterres says the most recent UN Security Council resolution does not link a ceasefire in Gaza to the release of Israeli captives, reported Al Jazeera.

    In the resolution, “a ceasefire is required together with, but not in a linkage with, the unconditional release of all hostages,” he said. “And we have also claimed the need for that release.”

    Diplomats told the AFP news agency that the resolution had been worked on with the U.S. to avoid a veto, reported France 24. The U.S. has vetoed three resolutions calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

    “We expect, barring a last-minute twist, that the resolution will be adopted and that the US will not vote against it,” one diplomat told AFP.

    Last Friday, the Security Council voted on a draft submitted by the U.S. that called for an “immediate” ceasefire linked to the release of captives. China and Russia vetoed the resolution, criticizing it for stopping short of explicitly demanding Israel halt its campaign.

    No progress on negotiations.

    Meanwhile, Israel and Hamas have continued negotiations mediated by Qatar with little progress.

    Hamas’s political bureau official Basem Naim says a lot of “misinformation” has recently been circulated through the media regarding the ongoing truce talks in Doha, reported Al Jazeera.

    Naim said the Israelis are focusing on only one aspect of the negotiations, the release of captives, and are unwilling to discuss Hamas’s three demands – a permanent end to the war, “total withdrawal” from Gaza, and the return of displaced people to their homes.

    Hamas had proposed the release of some 100 Israeli captives in phases in exchange for a permanent end to the war, total withdrawal of Israeli troops, and the return of displaced people to their homes; however, according to Al Jazeera, Israel rejected the demand to end the war and withdraw troops from Gaza.

    Al Jazeera added that Israeli negotiators said they would allow only 2,000 Palestinians to return to their homes each day, meaning it would take more than two years for all displaced Palestinians to leave Rafah.

    Meanwhile, Israel wants all Israeli captives released immediately. Hamas has indicated it will only release women and children in the first phase.

    As negotiations continue, Yossi Amrosi, an ex-senior official of Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security service, was quoted by The Jerusalem Post as admitting that the Israeli army does not have the means to return all captives currently held in Gaza by Hamas and other Palestinian groups.

    Hamas’s armed wing, the Qassam Brigades, said at the start of the war that it had taken 250 captives during its October 7 incursion into Israel.

    According to the Qassam Brigades, 50 captives have been killed in Israeli air raids. Israeli intelligence officers say 30 captives have died in Gaza so far since they were taken to the enclave.

    https://mondoweiss.net/2024/03/operation-al-aqsa-flood-day-171-horrific-eyewitness-accounts-continue-to-emerge-from-israels-siege-on-gazas-hospitals/
    ‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 171: ‘Horrific’ eyewitness accounts continue to emerge from Israel’s siege on Gaza’s hospitals Leila WarahMarch 25, 2024 Injured Palestinians, including children, are brought to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir El-Balah for treatment following the Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip, on March 23, 2024. (Photo: Omar Ashtawy/APA Images) Injured Palestinians, including children, are brought to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir El-Balah for treatment following the Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip, on March 23, 2024. (Photo: Omar Ashtawy/APA Images) Casualties 32,333 + killed* and at least 74,694 wounded in the Gaza Strip. 435+ Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.** Israel revises its estimated October 7 death toll down from 1,400 to 1,147. 594 Israeli soldiers killed since October 7, and at least 3,221 injured.*** *Gaza’s Ministry of Health confirmed this figure on its Telegram channel. Some rights groups estimate the death toll to be much higher when accounting for those presumed dead. ** The death toll in the West Bank and Jerusalem is not updated regularly. According to the PA’s Ministry of Health on March 17, this is the latest figure. *** This figure is released by the Israeli military, showing the soldiers whose names “were allowed to be published.” Key Developments UNRWA: Israel says no more UNRWA food convoys to north Gaza. UNRWA chief: Israeli decision to deny all UNRWA food convoys to northern Gaza is “obstruct[ing] lifesaving assistance during a man-made famine.” Doctors Without Borders “deeply concerned” after medical staff arrested at al-Shifa Hospital amid “heavy air strikes by Israeli forces and fierce fighting” nearby. Tanks crushed bodies, ambulances at al-Shifa Hospital, reports AP News, citing witnesses. Footage emerges of Israeli soldiers assaulting Palestinian boy Casualties in Israeli attack on aid distributors at Kuwaiti roundabout in Gaza City, reports Al Jazeera. Israeli forces raid Al Aqsa mosque during nightly prayers, assault and expel worshipers, reports Al Jazeera journalist. WHO Chief: Israel must reverse decision on blocking north Gaza aid. Israeli war cabinet minister threatens to quit if bill exempting ultra-Orthodox Jews from conscription passes UNRWA: U.S. funding cut will ‘compromise access to food’ in Gaza. UN special rapporteurs decry underreporting of sexual violence against Palestinians. Israel blocks access to Jerusalem for West Bank Christians on Palm Sunday, reports Wafa. PRCS says it has lost radio contact with staff at al-Amal Hospital in Khan Younis. Euro-Med: Israel’s attacks on academics in line with Gaza ‘genocide’ WAFA correspondent killed along with son Israeli airstrike on Gaza MAP report: Doctor says conditions inside European Gaza Hospital ‘unimaginable’ Gaza: Three Hospitals under military siege The Israeli military has imposed ongoing sieges on at least three medical facilities in the besieged enclave, terrorizing, injuring, and killing thousands of civilians in the process. Al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza has entered its seventh day under siege, and the civilians able to flee are reporting ruthless massacres in and around the medical complex. A teenage Palestinian boy, Farouk Mohammed Hamd, told Al Jazeera he witnessed Israeli soldiers executing a group of eight people, including his father and brother, inside al-Shifa Hospital. He said he and the others were stripped of their clothing and moved several times inside the al-Shifa Hospital building in central Gaza over the course of hours before being taken to the top floor of the facility. “They left us for about three hours, then said, ‘You are safe. You can go south.” “We stood up, but then they opened fire. We all laid down on the floor again. Then, the snipers entertained themselves by shooting us one after the other.” Hamad said his father told him before being killed to run away if he could, and he managed to run, but not before seeing the unresponsive bodies of the executed group. On Sunday, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said its staff have reported “heavy air strikes by Israeli forces and fierce fighting” in the vicinity of al-Shifa hospital, “endangering patients, medical staff and people trapped inside with very few supplies.” Jameel al-Ayoubi, one of the thousands of Palestinians sheltering at the hospital, saw Israeli tanks and armored bulldozers drive over at least four bodies in the hospital courtyard, AP News reports. Ambulances were also crushed, he says. Kareem Ayman Hathat, who lived in a five-story building about 100 meters (328 feet) from the hospital, told AP he hid in his kitchen for days waiting as explosions shook the building. “From time to time, the tank would fire a shell,” he said. “It was to terrorise us.” MSF added that Israeli forces have carried out a mass-arrest campaign of medical staff and other people and that the organization is “deeply concerned” for the safety of those detained. Meanwhile, another two hospitals in Khan Younis have been under Israeli military siege for the last 24 hours: al-Amal and Nasser hospitals, reports Al Jazeera correspondent Hani Mahmoud from Gaza. “Military vehicles, tanks and attack drones are encircling these two facilities. They’re also blocking the entrance with piles of sand, preventing medical staff, patients and injured people inside from leaving safely and constantly failing to provide a safe corridor for people and evacuees trapped inside the hospital,” Mahmoud said. Palestinian Red Crescent (PRCS) gave their latest update on the situation in al Amal hospital on Sunday afternoon, saying Israeli tanks and armored vehicles have completely surrounded all entrances to the hospital and control any movement in and out. Israeli forces attacked the hospital earlier on Sunday, surrounding it with tanks and forcing nearly everyone inside, from patients to displaced Palestinians sheltering there, to evacuate. “What we’re getting confirmed from al-Amal Hospital is that not only has it been under constant bombing and tank shells, but loudspeakers are ordering people inside the hospital to come out only with their underwear on. And that has been confirmed by multiple sources and witnesses on the ground, those who managed to flee the harrowing situation,” Mahmoud added. On Sunday evening, the PRCS announced that they lost radio contact with their staff at the hospital. While all displaced Palestinians and patients who could move independently were evacuated towards the al-Mawasi area west of Khan Younis, hospital staff remain, along with nine patients and their ten companions and a displaced family with children who have disabilities. PCRS says all of them need to be safely evacuated. PRCS added that staff member Amir Abu Aisha and a wounded individual who was being treated at the hospital after being shot in the head by the Israeli military were both killed, and their bodies need to be removed. In a statement, Hamas said the Israeli military is systematically targeting hospitals across Gaza with the goal of displacing all Palestinians from their lands, showing Israel wants to continue its “war of extermination” against Palestinians and forcibly displace them from their land “by destroying all means of life in the Gaza Strip, especially hospitals,” reported Al Jazeera. Underreporting of sexual violence against Palestinians Witnesses at al-Shifa hospital have reported that “Palestinian women have been subjected to rape, torture, and execution by Israeli forces.” Reem Alsalem, the UN special rapporteur on violence against women and girls, said in a post on X that it is “abhorrent” that reports of rape by Israeli forces keep coming out without any consequences. “Rape and other forms of sexual violence can constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity or a constitutive act with respect to genocide! It must stop!” Francesca Albanese, the UN special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territory, similarly said, “I lost count of how many renowned journalists interviewed me on the alleged mistreatment of/sexual abuse against Palestinian women by Israeli forces, and never published any article on this.” “What we can see on the ground is a systematic creation of a corrosive environment in which Israel, with its destruction of neighborhoods and hospitals, is making Gaza unliveable for the majority of Palestinians,” said Al Jazeera co-respondent, Tareq Abu Azzoum from Gaza while reporting on the besieged hospitals. “Horrific scenes” at European Hospital Meanwhile, at Gaza’s European Hospital near Khan Younis, one of the last functioning medical facilities, medical staff report “horrific scenes” at the hospital with patients “dying from infections with evidence of serious malnutrition,” reported Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP). Husam Basheer, an orthopedic surgeon working at the hospital, says he and his staff are “managing with the bare minimum of resources” at the medical facility due to Israeli restrictions on medical aid entering the besieged enclave. “One day we wanted to do a plate and screw, which is a standard procedure for bone fixation, but we didn’t have the right equipment. Sometimes we’ve also lacked gauze which is a basic supply for surgery. We worked around the challenges we faced and managed in a different way, but the staff here are overwhelmed,” he said. Similarly, Konstantina Ilia Karydi, an anesthetist, described the situation inside the medical facility as “unimaginable.” “This hospital had an original capacity of just 200 beds. Now, it has expanded to 1,000 beds,” she said. “There are around 22,000 displaced people sheltering in the corridors and in tents inside the hospital because people feel that it’s safer to be here than anywhere else.” Israel bars UNRWA from northern Gaza The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) announced on Sunday that Israel has officially barred it from making aid deliveries in northern Gaza, where the threat of famine is highest. “This is outrageous [and] makes it intentional to obstruct lifesaving assistance during a man-made famine. These restrictions must be lifted,” the head of the UNRWA, Philippe Lazzarini, wrote in an X post. Famine is likely to occur by May in northern Gaza and could spread across the enclave by July, according to the world’s hunger watchdog, Integrated Food-Security Phase Classification (IPC), said last week. Lazzarini warned that Israel’s decision would speed up the coming of famine in the north of the Strip and said that “many more will die of hunger, dehydration.” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO), says Israel must “urgently reverse” its decision to block the entry of food convoys organized by UNRWA into northern Gaza, where humanitarian needs are most urgent. “The levels of hunger are acute. All efforts to deliver food should not only be permitted but there should be an immediate acceleration of food deliveries,” Ghebreyesus said in a post on X. Martin Griffiths, the undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator at the UN, says he repeatedly urged Israel to lift all its restrictions on aid to Gaza. Still, it has now done the exact opposite. “UNRWA is the beating heart of the humanitarian response in Gaza,” Griffiths said on X , “The decision to block its food convoys to the north only pushes thousands closer to famine. It must be revoked.” No other agency is able to provide lifesaving assistance in Gaza in the same way as UNRWA, Natalie Boucly, the deputy commissioner-general of the UN agency, has said on X. Boucly added that attempts to “isolate” UNRWA will result in more people dying, “UNRWA is part of the UN and it was given a specific mandate by the General Assembly.” In January, several countries cut funding to UNRWA following unverified Israeli allegations that less than a dozen employees participated in Hamas’s operation on October 7. While some countries, including Canada and Sweden, have since reinstated their funding, several countries, including the US, have yet to follow suit, which will have severe implications for Palestinians in Gaza and the region. Israel is using famine as a “weapon of war” in Gaza to put pressure on the Palestinian people to leave the besieged enclave, Adel Abdel Ghafar, an analyst at the Middle East Council on Global Affairs, told Al Jazeera. “In Gaza, the humanitarian community is racing against the clock to avert famine. As the backbone of the humanitarian response, any gap in funding to UNRWA will compromise access to food, shelter, primary health care & education at a time of deep trauma,” the organization’s chief, Lazzarini, wrote on X. “Palestine Refugees are counting on the international community to step up support to meet their basic needs.” Israel is using famine as a “weapon of war” in Gaza to put pressure on the Palestinian people to leave the besieged enclave, Adel Abdel Ghafar, an analyst at the Middle East Council on Global Affairs, told Al Jazeera. The “dream” of many far-right politicians in Israel is to make Gaza “uninhabitable” for Palestinians, with the goal of re-establishing settlements for the Israelis, Ghafar continued. “The destruction of schools, hospitals, infrastructure [is making Gaza] almost unlivable and it will force the international community to take further refugees and thin out the population of Gaza,” he said. “I think Israel wants to have a big chunk of the population leave and become refugees elsewhere.” UN Resolution for ceasefire On Monday, the UN Security Council is expected to vote on yet another resolution regarding Israel’s war on Gaza. Since October seven, only two of eight resolutions have been accepted, with both mainly dealing with humanitarian aid to the besieged enclave. Guterres says the most recent UN Security Council resolution does not link a ceasefire in Gaza to the release of Israeli captives, reported Al Jazeera. In the resolution, “a ceasefire is required together with, but not in a linkage with, the unconditional release of all hostages,” he said. “And we have also claimed the need for that release.” Diplomats told the AFP news agency that the resolution had been worked on with the U.S. to avoid a veto, reported France 24. The U.S. has vetoed three resolutions calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. “We expect, barring a last-minute twist, that the resolution will be adopted and that the US will not vote against it,” one diplomat told AFP. Last Friday, the Security Council voted on a draft submitted by the U.S. that called for an “immediate” ceasefire linked to the release of captives. China and Russia vetoed the resolution, criticizing it for stopping short of explicitly demanding Israel halt its campaign. No progress on negotiations. Meanwhile, Israel and Hamas have continued negotiations mediated by Qatar with little progress. Hamas’s political bureau official Basem Naim says a lot of “misinformation” has recently been circulated through the media regarding the ongoing truce talks in Doha, reported Al Jazeera. Naim said the Israelis are focusing on only one aspect of the negotiations, the release of captives, and are unwilling to discuss Hamas’s three demands – a permanent end to the war, “total withdrawal” from Gaza, and the return of displaced people to their homes. Hamas had proposed the release of some 100 Israeli captives in phases in exchange for a permanent end to the war, total withdrawal of Israeli troops, and the return of displaced people to their homes; however, according to Al Jazeera, Israel rejected the demand to end the war and withdraw troops from Gaza. Al Jazeera added that Israeli negotiators said they would allow only 2,000 Palestinians to return to their homes each day, meaning it would take more than two years for all displaced Palestinians to leave Rafah. Meanwhile, Israel wants all Israeli captives released immediately. Hamas has indicated it will only release women and children in the first phase. As negotiations continue, Yossi Amrosi, an ex-senior official of Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security service, was quoted by The Jerusalem Post as admitting that the Israeli army does not have the means to return all captives currently held in Gaza by Hamas and other Palestinian groups. Hamas’s armed wing, the Qassam Brigades, said at the start of the war that it had taken 250 captives during its October 7 incursion into Israel. According to the Qassam Brigades, 50 captives have been killed in Israeli air raids. Israeli intelligence officers say 30 captives have died in Gaza so far since they were taken to the enclave. https://mondoweiss.net/2024/03/operation-al-aqsa-flood-day-171-horrific-eyewitness-accounts-continue-to-emerge-from-israels-siege-on-gazas-hospitals/
    MONDOWEISS.NET
    ‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 171: ‘Horrific’ eyewitness accounts continue to emerge from Israel’s siege on Gaza’s hospitals
    Eyewitness accounts continue to emerge from Gaza’s hospitals, including rape, torture, mass executions, and soldiers crushing Palestinian bodies with tanks. Hamas says Israel’s systematic attack on hospitals is central to its “war of extermination.”
    Like
    1
    0 Comments 1 Shares 7365 Views
  • NEW ARTICLE: The Princess of Wales, Kate Middleton has been diagnosed with Cancer - there is a high probability she has Turbo Cancer, caused by COVID-19 mRNA Vaccines she took in 2021.

    What are the most likely mRNA Induced Turbo Cancers that would require major abdominal surgery and "preventative chemotherapy"?

    1. Turbo Colon Cancer - one of most common
    2. Turbo Ovarian Cancer - on the rise, poor prognosis
    3. Turbo Uterine Cancer - endometrial or sarcoma
    4. Rare Turbo Cancers - appendix, gallbladder, pancreas, gastric

    I go through each of these Turbo Cancer scenarios in detail in my article.

    Turbo Colon Cancer would be the most common scenario, it is the top 5 cancer that occurs following vaccination with Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 mRNA Vaccines.

    Turbo Colon Cancer is skyrocketing and presents now in younger and younger men and women. It grows rapidly and often doesn't respond to standard chemotherapy and radiotherapy regimens. Immunotherapy also doesn't work, which tends to shock Oncologists.

    Turbo Ovarian Cancer is on the rise in younger women. These often present as ovarian cysts and in many cases are initially assumed to be benign.

    Many cases of Turbo Ovarian Cancer have been ignored by doctors until they were so large that they had to be surgically removed - and only then is cancer discovered. These have a poor prognosis.

    Turbo Uterine cancer is also skyrocketing and this could present with abdominal pain or bleeding, and thought initially to be benign tumors like fibroids. These are either endometrial cancers or sarcomas.

    Rare Turbo Cancers in the abdomen would include appendix, gallbladder, pancreas, gastric, liver.

    Appendix can present as appendicitis, gallbladder as acute cholecystitis - upon removal, cancer can be discovered, hidden and unexpected. These are not "major abdominal surgeries", however, so they are less likely.

    My hypothesis and concern is that the major abdominal surgery The Princess of Wales had was a total hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy and the cancer is either an Ovarian cancer or a Uterine cancer that was discovered unexpectedly after pathological examination of the surgical specimen.

    The need for "preventative chemotherapy" suggests a Turbo Ovarian Cancer, or a more advanced stage Turbo Uterine Cancer (or more aggressive subtypes such as Uterine carcinosarcomas, clear cell cancers, or serous cancers) which would also require chemotherapy.

    If The Princess of Wales is suffering from Turbo Ovarian Cancer or an advanced or aggressive Turbo Uterine Cancer, she will need a much more comprehensive Cancer Treatment plan than her UK Oncologists will offer her.

    Turbo Cancers in general don't respond to standard chemotherapy, radiotherapy or immunotherapy regimens.

    This is especially true for Turbo Ovarian Cancers.

    The Princess will need a Treatment plan that addresses some of the unique characteristics of mRNA Induced Turbo Cancer.

    This will include a spike protein “detoxification” protocol (that involves spike protein breakdown agents such as Nattokinase and spike protein binding agents with anti-cancer properties such as Quercetin, Olive Leaf, Nigella Sativa or Curcumin)

    as well as an “Alternative treatment plan” that includes high dose Ivermectin and high dose Fenbendazole/Mebendazole/Albendazole.

    She must also eliminate sugar from her diet, as cancer thrives on sugar, and consider certain foods with powerful anti-cancer properties (Soursop, Turkey Tail mushroom, etc are great examples)

    I hope The Princess of Wales can surround herself with doctors who didn’t abandon their Hippocratic Oath during the COVID-19 pandemic (unfortunately vast majority did, including virtually all Oncologists).

    She also needs doctors who understand the very real and dangerous phenomenon of COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine Induced Turbo Cancer.

    William Makis MD

    ROBINMG 🚀
    NEW ARTICLE: The Princess of Wales, Kate Middleton has been diagnosed with Cancer - there is a high probability she has Turbo Cancer, caused by COVID-19 mRNA Vaccines she took in 2021. What are the most likely mRNA Induced Turbo Cancers that would require major abdominal surgery and "preventative chemotherapy"? 1. Turbo Colon Cancer - one of most common 2. Turbo Ovarian Cancer - on the rise, poor prognosis 3. Turbo Uterine Cancer - endometrial or sarcoma 4. Rare Turbo Cancers - appendix, gallbladder, pancreas, gastric I go through each of these Turbo Cancer scenarios in detail in my article. Turbo Colon Cancer would be the most common scenario, it is the top 5 cancer that occurs following vaccination with Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 mRNA Vaccines. Turbo Colon Cancer is skyrocketing and presents now in younger and younger men and women. It grows rapidly and often doesn't respond to standard chemotherapy and radiotherapy regimens. Immunotherapy also doesn't work, which tends to shock Oncologists. Turbo Ovarian Cancer is on the rise in younger women. These often present as ovarian cysts and in many cases are initially assumed to be benign. Many cases of Turbo Ovarian Cancer have been ignored by doctors until they were so large that they had to be surgically removed - and only then is cancer discovered. These have a poor prognosis. Turbo Uterine cancer is also skyrocketing and this could present with abdominal pain or bleeding, and thought initially to be benign tumors like fibroids. These are either endometrial cancers or sarcomas. Rare Turbo Cancers in the abdomen would include appendix, gallbladder, pancreas, gastric, liver. Appendix can present as appendicitis, gallbladder as acute cholecystitis - upon removal, cancer can be discovered, hidden and unexpected. These are not "major abdominal surgeries", however, so they are less likely. My hypothesis and concern is that the major abdominal surgery The Princess of Wales had was a total hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy and the cancer is either an Ovarian cancer or a Uterine cancer that was discovered unexpectedly after pathological examination of the surgical specimen. The need for "preventative chemotherapy" suggests a Turbo Ovarian Cancer, or a more advanced stage Turbo Uterine Cancer (or more aggressive subtypes such as Uterine carcinosarcomas, clear cell cancers, or serous cancers) which would also require chemotherapy. If The Princess of Wales is suffering from Turbo Ovarian Cancer or an advanced or aggressive Turbo Uterine Cancer, she will need a much more comprehensive Cancer Treatment plan than her UK Oncologists will offer her. Turbo Cancers in general don't respond to standard chemotherapy, radiotherapy or immunotherapy regimens. This is especially true for Turbo Ovarian Cancers. The Princess will need a Treatment plan that addresses some of the unique characteristics of mRNA Induced Turbo Cancer. This will include a spike protein “detoxification” protocol (that involves spike protein breakdown agents such as Nattokinase and spike protein binding agents with anti-cancer properties such as Quercetin, Olive Leaf, Nigella Sativa or Curcumin) as well as an “Alternative treatment plan” that includes high dose Ivermectin and high dose Fenbendazole/Mebendazole/Albendazole. She must also eliminate sugar from her diet, as cancer thrives on sugar, and consider certain foods with powerful anti-cancer properties (Soursop, Turkey Tail mushroom, etc are great examples) I hope The Princess of Wales can surround herself with doctors who didn’t abandon their Hippocratic Oath during the COVID-19 pandemic (unfortunately vast majority did, including virtually all Oncologists). She also needs doctors who understand the very real and dangerous phenomenon of COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine Induced Turbo Cancer. William Makis MD ROBINMG 🚀
    Sad
    1
    0 Comments 0 Shares 1919 Views
  • "It is obviously un-American for the government to develop a ‘hit list’ of citizens to mute in the public square through secret pressure on communications monopolies."

    This Country Can't Afford A SCOTUS Weak On Internet Censorship
    Joy Pullmann
    The Biden administration attempted to distract the Supreme Court from the voluminous evidence of federal abuse of Americans’ speech rights during oral arguments in Murthy v. Missouri Monday. It sounded like several justices followed the feds’ waving red flag.

    “The government may not use coercive threats to suppress speech, but it is entitled to speak for itself by informing, persuading, or criticizing private speakers,” said Biden administration lawyer Brian Fletcher in his opening remarks. He and several justices asserted government speech prerogatives that would flip the Constitution upside down.

    The government doesn’t have constitutional rights. Constitutional rights belong to the people and restrain the government. The people’s right to speak may not be abridged. Government officials’ speaking, in their official capacities, may certainly be abridged. Indeed, it often must be, precisely to restrict officials from abusing the state’s monopoly on violence to bully citizens into serfdom.

    It is obviously un-American and unconstitutional for the government to develop a “hit list” of citizens to mute in the public square through secret pressure on communications monopolies beholden to the government for their monopoly powers. There is simply no way it’s “protected speech” for the feds to use intermediaries to silence anyone who disagrees with them on internet forums where the majority of the nation’s political organizing and information dissemination occurs.

    Bullying, Not the Bully Pulpit

    What’s happening is not government expressing its views to media, or “encouraging press to suppress their own speech,” as Justice Elena Kagan put it. This is government bullying third parties to suppress Americans’ speech that officials dislike.

    In the newspaper analogy, it would be like government threatening an IRS audit or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigation, or pulling the business license of The Washington Post if the Post published an op-ed from Jay Bhattacharya. As Norwood v. Harrison established in 1973, that’s blatantly unconstitutional. Government cannot “induce, encourage or promote private persons to accomplish what it is constitutionally forbidden to accomplish.”

    Yet, notes Matt Taibbi, some justices and Fletcher “re-framed the outing of extravagantly funded, ongoing content-flagging programs, designed by veterans of foreign counterterrorism operations and targeting the domestic population, as a debate about what Fletcher called ‘classic bully pulpit exhortations.’”

    Every Fake Excuse for Censorship Is Already Illegal

    We have laws against all the harms the government and several justices put forth as excuses for government censorship. Terrorism is illegal. Promoting terrorism is illegal, as an incitement to treason and violence. Inciting children to injure or murder themselves by jumping out windows — a “hypothetical” brought up by Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson and discussed at length in oral arguments — is illegal.

    If someone is spreading terrorist incitements to violence on Facebook, law enforcement needs to go after the terrorist plotters, not Facebook. Just like it’s unjust to punish gun, knife, and tire iron manufacturers for the people who use their products to murder, it’s unjust and unconstitutional for government to effectively commandeer Facebook under the pretext of all the evils people use it to spread. If they have a problem with those evils, they should address those evils directly, not pressure Facebook to do what they can’t get through Congress like it’s some kind of substitute legislature.

    It’s also ridiculous to, as Jackson and Fletcher did in oral argument, assume that the government is the only possible solution to every social ill. Do these hypothetically window-jumping children not have parents? Teachers? Older siblings? Neighbors? Would the social media companies not have an interest in preventing their products from being used to promote death, and wouldn’t that be an easy thing to explain publicly? Apparently, Jackson couldn’t conceive of any other solution to problems like these than government censorship, when our society has handled far bigger problems like war, pandemics, and foreign invasion without government censorship for 250 years!

    Voters Auditing Government Is Exactly How Our System Should Work

    Fletcher described it as a “problem” that in this case, “two states and five individuals are trying to use the Article III courts to audit all of the executive branch’s communications with and about social media platforms.” That’s called transparency, and it’s only a problem if the government is trying to escape accountability to voters for its actions.

    The people have a fundamental right to audit what their government is doing with public positions, institutions, and funds! How do we have government by consent of the governed if the people can have no idea what their government is doing?

    Under federal laws, all communications like those this lawsuit uncovered are public records. Yet these public records are really hard to get. The executive branch has been effectively nullifying open records laws by absurdly lengthening disclosure times — to as long as 636 days — increasingly forcing citizens to wage expensive lawsuits to get federal agencies to cough up records years beyond the legal deadline.

    Congress should pass a law forcing the automatic disclosure of all government communications with tech monopolies that don’t concern actual classified information and “national security” designations, which the government expands unlawfully to avoid transparency. No justice should support government secrecy about its speech pressure efforts outside of legitimate national security actions.

    Government Is So Big, It’s Always Coercive

    Fletcher’s argument also claimed to draw a line between government persuasion and government coercion. The size and minute harassment powers of our government long ago obliterated any such line, if it ever existed. Federal agencies now have the power to try citizens in non-Article III courts, outside constitutional protections for due process. Citizens can be bankrupted long before they finally get to appeal to a real court. That’s why most of them just do whatever the agencies say, even when it’s clearly unlawful.

    Federal agencies demand power over almost every facet of life, from puddles in people’s backyards to the temperature of cheese served in a tiny restaurant. If they put a target on any normal citizen’s back, he goes bankrupt after regulatory torture.

    As Franklin Roosevelt’s “brain trust” planned, government is now the “senior partner” of every business, giving every “request” from government officials automatic coercion power. Federal agencies have six ways from Sunday of getting back at a noncompliant company, from the EEOC to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to the Environmental Protection Agency to Health and Human Services to Securities and Exchange Commission investigations and more. Use an accurate pronoun? Investigation. Hire “one too many” white guys? Investigation.

    TikTok legislation going through Congress right now would codify federal power to seize social media companies accused of being owned by foreign interests. Shortly after he acquired X, Elon Musk faced a regulatory shakedown costing him tens of millions, and more on the way. He has money like that, but the rest of us don’t.

    Speech from a private citizen does not have the threat of violence behind it. Speech from a government official, on the other hand, absolutely does and always has. Government officials have powers that other people don’t, and those powers are easily abused, which is exactly why we have a Constitution. SCOTUS needs to take this crucial context into account, making constitutional protections stronger because the government is far, far outside its constitutional bounds.

    Big tech companies’ very business model depends on government regulators and can be destroyed — or kneecapped — at the stroke of an activist president’s pen. Or, at least, that’s what the president said when Facebook and Twitter didn’t do what he wanted: Section 230 should “immediately be revoked.” This is a president who claims the executive power to unilaterally rewrite laws, ignore laws, and ignore Supreme Court decisions. It’s a president who issues orders as press releases so they go into effect months before they can even begin to be challenged in court.

    Constitutionally Protected Speech Isn’t Terrorism

    If justices buy the administration’s nice-guy pretenses of “concern about terrorism,” and “once in a lifetime pandemic measures,” they didn’t read the briefs in this case and see that is simply a cover for the U.S. government turning counterterrorism tools on its own citizens in an attempt to control election outcomes. This is precisely what the First Amendment was designed to check, and we Americans need our Supreme Court to understand that and act to protect us. Elections mean nothing when the government is secretly keeping voters from talking to each other.

    The Supreme Court may not be able to return the country to full constitutional government by eradicating the almost entirely unconstitutional administrative state. But it should enforce as many constitutional boundaries as possible on such agencies. That clearly includes prohibiting all of government from outsourcing to allegedly “private” organizations actions that would be illegal for the government to take.

    That includes not just coercive instructions to social media companies, but also developing social media censorship tools and organizations as cutouts for the rogue security state that is targeting peaceful citizens instead of actual terrorists. Even false speech is not domestic terrorism, and no clearheaded Supreme Court justice looking at the evidence could let the Biden administration weaponize antiterrorism measures to strip law-abiding Americans of our fundamental human rights.

    Joy Pullmann is executive editor of The Federalist, a happy wife, and the mother of six children. Her ebooks include "Classic Books For Young Children," and "101 Strategies For Living Well Amid Inflation." An 18-year education and politics reporter, Joy has testified before nearly two dozen legislatures on education policy and appeared on major media from Fox News to Ben Shapiro to Dennis Prager. Joy is a grateful graduate of the Hillsdale College honors and journalism programs who identifies as native American and gender natural. Her traditionally published books include "The Education Invasion: How Common Core Fights Parents for Control of American Kids," from Encounter Books.


    https://thefederalist.com/2024/03/21/this-country-cannot-afford-a-weak-supreme-court-decision-on-internet-censorship/

    Join ➡️ @MartinKulldorf
    "It is obviously un-American for the government to develop a ‘hit list’ of citizens to mute in the public square through secret pressure on communications monopolies." This Country Can't Afford A SCOTUS Weak On Internet Censorship Joy Pullmann The Biden administration attempted to distract the Supreme Court from the voluminous evidence of federal abuse of Americans’ speech rights during oral arguments in Murthy v. Missouri Monday. It sounded like several justices followed the feds’ waving red flag. “The government may not use coercive threats to suppress speech, but it is entitled to speak for itself by informing, persuading, or criticizing private speakers,” said Biden administration lawyer Brian Fletcher in his opening remarks. He and several justices asserted government speech prerogatives that would flip the Constitution upside down. The government doesn’t have constitutional rights. Constitutional rights belong to the people and restrain the government. The people’s right to speak may not be abridged. Government officials’ speaking, in their official capacities, may certainly be abridged. Indeed, it often must be, precisely to restrict officials from abusing the state’s monopoly on violence to bully citizens into serfdom. It is obviously un-American and unconstitutional for the government to develop a “hit list” of citizens to mute in the public square through secret pressure on communications monopolies beholden to the government for their monopoly powers. There is simply no way it’s “protected speech” for the feds to use intermediaries to silence anyone who disagrees with them on internet forums where the majority of the nation’s political organizing and information dissemination occurs. Bullying, Not the Bully Pulpit What’s happening is not government expressing its views to media, or “encouraging press to suppress their own speech,” as Justice Elena Kagan put it. This is government bullying third parties to suppress Americans’ speech that officials dislike. In the newspaper analogy, it would be like government threatening an IRS audit or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigation, or pulling the business license of The Washington Post if the Post published an op-ed from Jay Bhattacharya. As Norwood v. Harrison established in 1973, that’s blatantly unconstitutional. Government cannot “induce, encourage or promote private persons to accomplish what it is constitutionally forbidden to accomplish.” Yet, notes Matt Taibbi, some justices and Fletcher “re-framed the outing of extravagantly funded, ongoing content-flagging programs, designed by veterans of foreign counterterrorism operations and targeting the domestic population, as a debate about what Fletcher called ‘classic bully pulpit exhortations.’” Every Fake Excuse for Censorship Is Already Illegal We have laws against all the harms the government and several justices put forth as excuses for government censorship. Terrorism is illegal. Promoting terrorism is illegal, as an incitement to treason and violence. Inciting children to injure or murder themselves by jumping out windows — a “hypothetical” brought up by Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson and discussed at length in oral arguments — is illegal. If someone is spreading terrorist incitements to violence on Facebook, law enforcement needs to go after the terrorist plotters, not Facebook. Just like it’s unjust to punish gun, knife, and tire iron manufacturers for the people who use their products to murder, it’s unjust and unconstitutional for government to effectively commandeer Facebook under the pretext of all the evils people use it to spread. If they have a problem with those evils, they should address those evils directly, not pressure Facebook to do what they can’t get through Congress like it’s some kind of substitute legislature. It’s also ridiculous to, as Jackson and Fletcher did in oral argument, assume that the government is the only possible solution to every social ill. Do these hypothetically window-jumping children not have parents? Teachers? Older siblings? Neighbors? Would the social media companies not have an interest in preventing their products from being used to promote death, and wouldn’t that be an easy thing to explain publicly? Apparently, Jackson couldn’t conceive of any other solution to problems like these than government censorship, when our society has handled far bigger problems like war, pandemics, and foreign invasion without government censorship for 250 years! Voters Auditing Government Is Exactly How Our System Should Work Fletcher described it as a “problem” that in this case, “two states and five individuals are trying to use the Article III courts to audit all of the executive branch’s communications with and about social media platforms.” That’s called transparency, and it’s only a problem if the government is trying to escape accountability to voters for its actions. The people have a fundamental right to audit what their government is doing with public positions, institutions, and funds! How do we have government by consent of the governed if the people can have no idea what their government is doing? Under federal laws, all communications like those this lawsuit uncovered are public records. Yet these public records are really hard to get. The executive branch has been effectively nullifying open records laws by absurdly lengthening disclosure times — to as long as 636 days — increasingly forcing citizens to wage expensive lawsuits to get federal agencies to cough up records years beyond the legal deadline. Congress should pass a law forcing the automatic disclosure of all government communications with tech monopolies that don’t concern actual classified information and “national security” designations, which the government expands unlawfully to avoid transparency. No justice should support government secrecy about its speech pressure efforts outside of legitimate national security actions. Government Is So Big, It’s Always Coercive Fletcher’s argument also claimed to draw a line between government persuasion and government coercion. The size and minute harassment powers of our government long ago obliterated any such line, if it ever existed. Federal agencies now have the power to try citizens in non-Article III courts, outside constitutional protections for due process. Citizens can be bankrupted long before they finally get to appeal to a real court. That’s why most of them just do whatever the agencies say, even when it’s clearly unlawful. Federal agencies demand power over almost every facet of life, from puddles in people’s backyards to the temperature of cheese served in a tiny restaurant. If they put a target on any normal citizen’s back, he goes bankrupt after regulatory torture. As Franklin Roosevelt’s “brain trust” planned, government is now the “senior partner” of every business, giving every “request” from government officials automatic coercion power. Federal agencies have six ways from Sunday of getting back at a noncompliant company, from the EEOC to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to the Environmental Protection Agency to Health and Human Services to Securities and Exchange Commission investigations and more. Use an accurate pronoun? Investigation. Hire “one too many” white guys? Investigation. TikTok legislation going through Congress right now would codify federal power to seize social media companies accused of being owned by foreign interests. Shortly after he acquired X, Elon Musk faced a regulatory shakedown costing him tens of millions, and more on the way. He has money like that, but the rest of us don’t. Speech from a private citizen does not have the threat of violence behind it. Speech from a government official, on the other hand, absolutely does and always has. Government officials have powers that other people don’t, and those powers are easily abused, which is exactly why we have a Constitution. SCOTUS needs to take this crucial context into account, making constitutional protections stronger because the government is far, far outside its constitutional bounds. Big tech companies’ very business model depends on government regulators and can be destroyed — or kneecapped — at the stroke of an activist president’s pen. Or, at least, that’s what the president said when Facebook and Twitter didn’t do what he wanted: Section 230 should “immediately be revoked.” This is a president who claims the executive power to unilaterally rewrite laws, ignore laws, and ignore Supreme Court decisions. It’s a president who issues orders as press releases so they go into effect months before they can even begin to be challenged in court. Constitutionally Protected Speech Isn’t Terrorism If justices buy the administration’s nice-guy pretenses of “concern about terrorism,” and “once in a lifetime pandemic measures,” they didn’t read the briefs in this case and see that is simply a cover for the U.S. government turning counterterrorism tools on its own citizens in an attempt to control election outcomes. This is precisely what the First Amendment was designed to check, and we Americans need our Supreme Court to understand that and act to protect us. Elections mean nothing when the government is secretly keeping voters from talking to each other. The Supreme Court may not be able to return the country to full constitutional government by eradicating the almost entirely unconstitutional administrative state. But it should enforce as many constitutional boundaries as possible on such agencies. That clearly includes prohibiting all of government from outsourcing to allegedly “private” organizations actions that would be illegal for the government to take. That includes not just coercive instructions to social media companies, but also developing social media censorship tools and organizations as cutouts for the rogue security state that is targeting peaceful citizens instead of actual terrorists. Even false speech is not domestic terrorism, and no clearheaded Supreme Court justice looking at the evidence could let the Biden administration weaponize antiterrorism measures to strip law-abiding Americans of our fundamental human rights. Joy Pullmann is executive editor of The Federalist, a happy wife, and the mother of six children. Her ebooks include "Classic Books For Young Children," and "101 Strategies For Living Well Amid Inflation." An 18-year education and politics reporter, Joy has testified before nearly two dozen legislatures on education policy and appeared on major media from Fox News to Ben Shapiro to Dennis Prager. Joy is a grateful graduate of the Hillsdale College honors and journalism programs who identifies as native American and gender natural. Her traditionally published books include "The Education Invasion: How Common Core Fights Parents for Control of American Kids," from Encounter Books. https://thefederalist.com/2024/03/21/this-country-cannot-afford-a-weak-supreme-court-decision-on-internet-censorship/ Join ➡️ @MartinKulldorf
    THEFEDERALIST.COM
    This Country Can't Afford A SCOTUS Weak On Internet Censorship
    It is obviously un-American for the government to develop a 'hit list' of citizens to mute through secret pressure on tech monopolies.
    1 Comments 0 Shares 6591 Views
  • ISIS claims responsibility for attack at Moscow-area concert venue that left at least 60 dead
    CNN — normal
    ISIS has claimed responsibility for an attack at a popular concert hall complex near Moscow Friday after assailants stormed the venue with guns and incendiary devices, killing at least 60 people and injuring 145.

    The terror group took responsibility for the attack in a short statement published by ISIS-affiliated news agency Amaq on Telegram on Friday. It did not provide evidence to support the claim.

    Video footage from the Crocus City Hall shows the vast complex, which is home to both the music hall and a shopping center, on fire with smoke billowing into the air. State-run RIA Novosti reported the armed individuals “opened fire with automatic weapons” and “threw a grenade or an incendiary bomb, which started a fire.” They then “allegedly fled in a white Renault car,” the news agency said.

    State media Russia 24 reported the roof of the venue has partially collapsed.

    The fire had been brought largely under control more than six hours later. “There are still some pockets of fire, but the fire has been mostly eliminated,” Moscow governor Andrey Vorobyov said on Telegram.

    The deadliest terror attack on Moscow in decades, Friday’s assault came less than a week after President Vladimir Putin won a stage-managed election by an overwhelming majority to secure another term in office, tightening his grip on the country he has ruled since the turn of the century.

    With attention focused on the country’s war with neighboring Ukraine, Putin had trumpeted a message of national security before Russians went to the polls.

    The carnage broke out before a concert by the band Picnic, according to Russia 24.

    “Unidentified people in camouflage broke into Crocus City Hall and started shooting before the start of the concert,” the Prosecutor General’s Office said, cited by TASS.

    This screen grab from video shows armed men inside the Crocus City Hall concert venue in Moscow region, Russia. CNN can not verify whether these are the armed attackers or Russian authorities moving in.
    Video footage showed panic as the attack unfolded, with crowds of people huddling together, screaming and ducking behind cushioned seats as gunshots started echoing in the vast hall. One group sheltering next to a large wall of windows outside the concert venue were forced to break them to escape the gunfire, video obtained by CNN shows.

    Footage geolocated by CNN shows an armed individual starting at least one fire inside the venue. The individual is seen carrying something in their hand and, as they walk off-screen, a bright flash of light from a large flame is seen in the video.

    A SWAT team was called to the area and more than 70 ambulance teams and doctors assisted victims.

    One hundred and forty-five people have been hospitalized, TASS reported. Sixty people are in a “serious condition.”

    According to the Kremlin, Putin was informed about the attack and is being kept updated on measures on the ground.

    The president on Saturday wished those injured in the attack a speedy recovery, the state-run RIA-Novosti news agency said. He also “conveyed his gratitude to the doctors,” RIA added.

    Around 100 people were evacuated from the building by firefighters, TASS reported.

    Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin called the attack a “terrible tragedy.”

    “My condolences to the loved ones of the victims. I gave orders to provide all necessary assistance to everyone who suffered during the incident,” Sobyanin said in a statement.

    Sobyanin said on Telegram that he was canceling all sports, cultural and other public events in Moscow this weekend.

    Picnic’s manager told state media that the performers were unharmed.

    Shaman, the band’s singer, said he would pay for the funerals of the victims and treatment for those injured.

    “We are all one big family. And in a family there is no such thing as somebody else’s grief,” the singer, known for his nationalistic views, said in a video posted on the Russian social media network Vkontakte to his more than 600,000 followers.

    “My people, any troubles and misfortunes have always united our country. They have made Russia tougher and stronger. It will not be possible to frighten and break us this time either.”

    ISIS claims responsibility for Moscow attack that killed 40

    02:51 - Source: CNN
    US had warned of potential attack

    Earlier this month, the US embassy in Russia said it was “monitoring reports that extremists have imminent plans to target large gatherings in Moscow,” including concerts. The embassy warned US citizens to avoid large gatherings. On Friday, following reports of the Crocus City Hall attack, it advised US citizens not to travel to Russia.

    Starting in November, there has been a steady stream of intelligence that ISIS-K was determined to attack in Russia, according to two sources familiar with the information.

    ISIS-K stands for ISIS-Khorasan, the terror organization’s affiliate that is active in Afghanistan and the surrounding region.

    US National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said the US government had had information about a planned terrorist attack in Moscow – potentially targeting large gatherings, to include concerts – and that this is what prompted the State Department to issue the public advisory.

    “The US government also shared this information with Russian authorities in accordance with its longstanding ‘duty to warn’ policy,” Watson said.

    In a speech Tuesday, Putin had blasted the American warnings as “provocative,” saying “these actions resemble outright blackmail and the intention to intimidate and destabilize our society.”

    In March alone, Russian authorities had thwarted several ISIS-related incidents, according to RIA. On March 3, RIA reported that six ISIS members were killed in a counter-terrorist operation in the Ingush Karabulak; on March 7, it said security services had uncovered and “neutralized” a cell of the banned organization Vilayat Khorasan in the Kaluga region, whose members were planning an attack on a synagogue in Moscow; and on March 20, it said the commander of an ISIS combat group had been detained.

    A US official said Friday that Washington had no reason to doubt ISIS’ claim that it was responsible for the latest attack.

    International response

    Ukraine, which has been embroiled in a war with Russia for more than two years, denied any involvement in the attack.

    “Ukraine has never resorted to the use of terrorist methods,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak wrote, in part, in a post on X. He said he believed Russia would use the attack to justify the ongoing conflict and scale up operations as part of “military propaganda” in Ukraine.

    United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres late Friday condemned “in the strongest possible terms today’s terrorist attack” according to a statement released by his deputy spokesperson, Farhan Haq.

    “The secretary-general conveys his deep condolences to the bereaved families and the people and the government of the Russian Federation. He wishes those injured a speedy recovery,” the statement said.

    In a separate statement, the UN Security Council called the attack “heinous and cowardly.”

    Chinese leader Xi Jinping offered his condolences to Putin on Saturday “over the serious terrorist attack that caused heavy casualties,” according to a report from Chinese state media.

    French President Emmanuel Macron also condemned the attack. “France expresses its solidarity with the victims, their loved ones and all the Russian people,” the Elysee Palace said, AFP and Reuters reported.

    India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman both also denounced the attack.

    CNN’s Eva Rothenberg, Paul Murphy and Hannah Strange contributed to this reporting.

    https://www.cnn.com/2024/03/22/europe/crocus-moscow-shooting/index.html
    ISIS claims responsibility for attack at Moscow-area concert venue that left at least 60 dead CNN — normal ISIS has claimed responsibility for an attack at a popular concert hall complex near Moscow Friday after assailants stormed the venue with guns and incendiary devices, killing at least 60 people and injuring 145. The terror group took responsibility for the attack in a short statement published by ISIS-affiliated news agency Amaq on Telegram on Friday. It did not provide evidence to support the claim. Video footage from the Crocus City Hall shows the vast complex, which is home to both the music hall and a shopping center, on fire with smoke billowing into the air. State-run RIA Novosti reported the armed individuals “opened fire with automatic weapons” and “threw a grenade or an incendiary bomb, which started a fire.” They then “allegedly fled in a white Renault car,” the news agency said. State media Russia 24 reported the roof of the venue has partially collapsed. The fire had been brought largely under control more than six hours later. “There are still some pockets of fire, but the fire has been mostly eliminated,” Moscow governor Andrey Vorobyov said on Telegram. The deadliest terror attack on Moscow in decades, Friday’s assault came less than a week after President Vladimir Putin won a stage-managed election by an overwhelming majority to secure another term in office, tightening his grip on the country he has ruled since the turn of the century. With attention focused on the country’s war with neighboring Ukraine, Putin had trumpeted a message of national security before Russians went to the polls. The carnage broke out before a concert by the band Picnic, according to Russia 24. “Unidentified people in camouflage broke into Crocus City Hall and started shooting before the start of the concert,” the Prosecutor General’s Office said, cited by TASS. This screen grab from video shows armed men inside the Crocus City Hall concert venue in Moscow region, Russia. CNN can not verify whether these are the armed attackers or Russian authorities moving in. Video footage showed panic as the attack unfolded, with crowds of people huddling together, screaming and ducking behind cushioned seats as gunshots started echoing in the vast hall. One group sheltering next to a large wall of windows outside the concert venue were forced to break them to escape the gunfire, video obtained by CNN shows. Footage geolocated by CNN shows an armed individual starting at least one fire inside the venue. The individual is seen carrying something in their hand and, as they walk off-screen, a bright flash of light from a large flame is seen in the video. A SWAT team was called to the area and more than 70 ambulance teams and doctors assisted victims. One hundred and forty-five people have been hospitalized, TASS reported. Sixty people are in a “serious condition.” According to the Kremlin, Putin was informed about the attack and is being kept updated on measures on the ground. The president on Saturday wished those injured in the attack a speedy recovery, the state-run RIA-Novosti news agency said. He also “conveyed his gratitude to the doctors,” RIA added. Around 100 people were evacuated from the building by firefighters, TASS reported. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin called the attack a “terrible tragedy.” “My condolences to the loved ones of the victims. I gave orders to provide all necessary assistance to everyone who suffered during the incident,” Sobyanin said in a statement. Sobyanin said on Telegram that he was canceling all sports, cultural and other public events in Moscow this weekend. Picnic’s manager told state media that the performers were unharmed. Shaman, the band’s singer, said he would pay for the funerals of the victims and treatment for those injured. “We are all one big family. And in a family there is no such thing as somebody else’s grief,” the singer, known for his nationalistic views, said in a video posted on the Russian social media network Vkontakte to his more than 600,000 followers. “My people, any troubles and misfortunes have always united our country. They have made Russia tougher and stronger. It will not be possible to frighten and break us this time either.” ISIS claims responsibility for Moscow attack that killed 40 02:51 - Source: CNN US had warned of potential attack Earlier this month, the US embassy in Russia said it was “monitoring reports that extremists have imminent plans to target large gatherings in Moscow,” including concerts. The embassy warned US citizens to avoid large gatherings. On Friday, following reports of the Crocus City Hall attack, it advised US citizens not to travel to Russia. Starting in November, there has been a steady stream of intelligence that ISIS-K was determined to attack in Russia, according to two sources familiar with the information. ISIS-K stands for ISIS-Khorasan, the terror organization’s affiliate that is active in Afghanistan and the surrounding region. US National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said the US government had had information about a planned terrorist attack in Moscow – potentially targeting large gatherings, to include concerts – and that this is what prompted the State Department to issue the public advisory. “The US government also shared this information with Russian authorities in accordance with its longstanding ‘duty to warn’ policy,” Watson said. In a speech Tuesday, Putin had blasted the American warnings as “provocative,” saying “these actions resemble outright blackmail and the intention to intimidate and destabilize our society.” In March alone, Russian authorities had thwarted several ISIS-related incidents, according to RIA. On March 3, RIA reported that six ISIS members were killed in a counter-terrorist operation in the Ingush Karabulak; on March 7, it said security services had uncovered and “neutralized” a cell of the banned organization Vilayat Khorasan in the Kaluga region, whose members were planning an attack on a synagogue in Moscow; and on March 20, it said the commander of an ISIS combat group had been detained. A US official said Friday that Washington had no reason to doubt ISIS’ claim that it was responsible for the latest attack. International response Ukraine, which has been embroiled in a war with Russia for more than two years, denied any involvement in the attack. “Ukraine has never resorted to the use of terrorist methods,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak wrote, in part, in a post on X. He said he believed Russia would use the attack to justify the ongoing conflict and scale up operations as part of “military propaganda” in Ukraine. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres late Friday condemned “in the strongest possible terms today’s terrorist attack” according to a statement released by his deputy spokesperson, Farhan Haq. “The secretary-general conveys his deep condolences to the bereaved families and the people and the government of the Russian Federation. He wishes those injured a speedy recovery,” the statement said. In a separate statement, the UN Security Council called the attack “heinous and cowardly.” Chinese leader Xi Jinping offered his condolences to Putin on Saturday “over the serious terrorist attack that caused heavy casualties,” according to a report from Chinese state media. French President Emmanuel Macron also condemned the attack. “France expresses its solidarity with the victims, their loved ones and all the Russian people,” the Elysee Palace said, AFP and Reuters reported. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman both also denounced the attack. CNN’s Eva Rothenberg, Paul Murphy and Hannah Strange contributed to this reporting. https://www.cnn.com/2024/03/22/europe/crocus-moscow-shooting/index.html
    WWW.CNN.COM
    ISIS claims responsibility for attack in busy Moscow-area concert venue that left at least 40 dead | CNN
    At least 40 people were killed and more than 100 were injured after armed attackers stormed a popular concert venue complex near Moscow and opened fire, according to preliminary information from the Federal Security Service in Russia, state media TASS reported.
    2 Comments 0 Shares 4693 Views
  • Inside the anti-Syria lobby’s Capitol Hill push for more starvation sanctions
    Hekmat AboukhaterMarch 20, 2024

    A week from the 13th anniversary of the US-backed Syrian dirty war, the American Coalition for Syria held its annual day of advocacy in Washington DC. I went undercover into meetings with Senate policy advisors and witnessed the lobby’s cynical campaign to starve Syria into submission.

    On the morning of March 7, as the US Capitol teemed with lobbyists securing earmarks ahead of appropriations week and activists decrying the Gaza genocide, one special interest group on the Hill stood out. In the corridors of the Rayburn building, a group of roughly 50 people prepared for a busy day of advocating for sanctions to be levied against their homeland.

    They were the Anti-Syria lobby — and had I infiltrated their influence campaign.

    Throughout the day, I watched as this group pushed US officials to accept their policy of starvation sanctions while cynically ignoring famished Palestinians in Gaza.

    Among the lobbyists was Raed Saleh, the head of the Syrian White Helmets, who were to propagandize for regime change from behind humanitarian cover.

    I attended a total of seven meetings with policy teams representing Senators Sherrod Brown, Maggie Hassan, Ben Cardin, Mark Kelly, Chris Van Hollen, John Fetterman, and Rick Scott. Throughout these sessions, I witnessed the anti-Syria Lobby attempt to bully and manipulate US officials into accepting their policy of starvation while cynically throwing starving Palestinians in Gaza under the bus.

    At one moment, Raed Saleh, head of the Syrian White Helmets, which was founded by British intelligence, and funded by NATO states, painted Israeli air strikes against Syria in a positive light.

    During a separate meeting, Wa’el Alzayat of the pro-Zionist Muslim outreach Emgage even demanded Senator Chris Van Hollen’s office support the approval of aid for Al Qaeda-linked militias in Syria.

    “Stop freaking out about the stuff going to terrorists,” he insisted, adding that “the Brits are doing it, the Turks are doing it, [and] the Qataris are doing it.”

    Purporting to be a voice for all Syrians, the anti-Syria lobby is spearheaded by the American Coalition for Syria (ACS), an umbrella organization representing opposition groups such as the Syrian American Council (SAC), the Syrian Forum, and a handful of others located in the US and Turkey.

    Emgage, meanwhile, has been credited with getting the diaspora vote out for then-candidate Joe Biden in November 2020. The group has since fallen under criticism for acting as a de facto extension of the Biden White House and Democratic Party within the Muslim community. Emgage board member Farooq Mitha formally went to work for the Biden Pentagon in March 2021. On March 7, Alzayat aimed to weaponize Emgage’s influence against Democratic Senators who seemed uncomfortable with an escalating sanctions policy.

    “I need a good story for my voters,” he explained to Senator Van Hollen’s team.

    Throughout their sanctions campaign on the Hill, Alzayat and his cohorts operated like a miniature version of their Israel lobby allies, supplying roughly 50 volunteers with folders outlining talking points and the biographies of congressional representatives. The bios included a comprehensive list of the Senator or Representative’s recorded stance on Syria, such as their votes on the extension of the AUMF, the US military withdrawal from Syria, and previous sanctions packages targeting the country.



    The handouts also laid out the lobby’s key legislative requests, which largely focused on securing development aid for militia-controlled territory in Syria — including that held by Al Qaeda’s local ally in the country — and ensuring passage of the ‘Assad Regime Anti Normalization Bill,’ which seeks to extend and expand sanctions targeting Damascus.

    The Anti-Syria Lobby’s resemblance to their Israeli counterparts was no mistake. As Republican Florida Sen. Rick Scott’s chief of staff reassured us, “the Israelis want you guys in charge.”


    Syrian Civil War map|Syrian Civil War map (November 24, 2023) via Wikimedia Commons. Edited by author
    More Starvation Sanctions

    Ever since the US included Syria on its inaugural State Sponsor of Terrorism (SST) list over Damascus’ support for the Palestinian resistance in 1979, Washington has gradually ratcheted up its financial war on the Syrian people. When decades of covert hybrid war erupted into an all-out proxy battle for the country’s territory—and survival—in 2011, the Anti-Syria Lobby officially began to take shape in Washington.


    Syria is the unrivaled champion of the SST having never been delisted since the list’s inception in 1979.
    In 2019, as Syria’s government emerged victorious from a multi-year battle with foreign-backed militias, Washington decided that while Damascus may have won the war, it would not win the peace. That January, New York Rep. Eliot Engel, a recipient of $1.8 million in AIPAC donations, introduced a sanctions package known as the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act. Trump signed the bill as part of the National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2020.


    The US has a 45-year long tradition of sanctioning and isolating Syria economically in response to the country’s support of Palestinian resistance
    The bill was unprecedented in both the way that it sanctioned broad sectors of the Syrian economy rather than only specific individuals, and in its deployment of so-called “secondary sanctions.” Secondary sanctions are imposed on parties that do business with a sanctioned entity even if those exchanges occur outside of the sanctioning entity’s jurisdiction.

    Syria’s economy has been in free fall ever since the Caesar sanctions came into effect. Today, over 12 million Syrians representing more than half of the total population face food insecurity — a 51% increase from 2019. Meanwhile, 90 percent of the population lives under the poverty line. In 2019, the US dollar exchanged for 500 Syrian Pounds. Today, that number is more like 14,100— figures that represent a 2,720 percent devaluation.


    The Syrian currency has devalued by 35,150% since the initial exchange rate of 40 SYP to 1 USD early 2011
    Though H.R. 3202 appears to be focused on addressing UN aid divergence, and sanctioning previously unsanctioned entities like Asma Al Assad’s Syria Trust for Development and the Syrian Red Crescent, the real agenda of the bill is found deep within its 22-page text.

    With the Caesar Sanctions set to expire by the end of 2024, H.R. 3202 seeks to quietly extend the aggressive financial measures until 2032.


    The new bill’s main aim, which received very little attention, is the extension of the Caesar Act for 8 more years.
    Having passed the House with overwhelming enthusiasm, H.R. 3202’s sister bill in the Senate can only pass with Democratic support. It was introduced by Israeli lobby-funded Republican Idaho Sen. James Risch last September and has since been co-sponsored by arch-neoconservative Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

    Because S. 2935 can only pass with Democratic sponsorship, the Anti-Syria Lobby chose Sen. Ben Cardin, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and sponsor of the anti-Russia Magnitsky Act, as a crucial target for influence.

    After meeting with Sherrod Brown’s office, Cardin’s Research and Legislative Assistant, Christopher Barr, hosted us in the Senator’s office. There, Raed Saleh of the White Helmets complained to Barr that USAID had slashed funding for his organization from $12 million to $3 million in recent years.

    Next, it was time to discuss the true purpose of our visit: the passage of S. 2935.

    Barr appeared uneasy from the outset and even expressed displeasure about the bill, complaining, “What passed the House was kind of a lot… the list of targets is vast.”

    “Syria has already been so heavily sanctioned,” he added.

    In response, Ghanem revealed a critical piece of information about the forces driving the dirty war on Syria, explaining that the impetus to expand and extend Caesar did not come from the Anti-Syria Lobby itself, but someone on Capitol Hill. Ghanem explained that the Hill source actually contacted the American Coalition for Syria to alert them to the fact that Caesar was set to expire, lamenting the fact that its sunset would amount to a loss of “US leverage over the Syrian regime.”

    This line echoed the disturbing language of officials representing both the Biden and Trump administration alike. In 2019, neoconservative operative Dana Stroul declared that thanks to Caesar, Washington “holds a card on preventing reconstruction aid and technical expertise from going back,” to Syria. She lauded the fact that the U.S. could weaponize that “leverage” to keep Syria in “rubble.” Two years later, she would take up post as Deputy Secretary of Defense for the Middle East under Biden.


    Similarly, during an event at the neoconservative think tank, WINEP, the following year, the Special Envoy for Syria under Trump, Joel Rayburn, boasted that Caesar “lowers the bar” for evidence-based sanctions and allows for the broad targeting of any and all reconstruction projects in Syria.


    “We don’t have to prove, for example, that a company that’s going in to do a reconstruction project in the Damascus region is dealing directly with the Assad regime,” Rayburn explained.

    “We don’t have to have the evidence to prove that link,” he continued. “We just have to have the evidence that proves that a company or an individual is investing in […] the construction sector, the engineering sector, most of the aviation sector, the finance sector, energy sector, and so on.”

    These public confessions did not stop the Anti-Syria Lobby from lying to the faces of congressional staffers throughout their March 7 campaign. During a meeting with Sen. Mark Kelly’s office, Ghanem falsely stated that the Caesar Sanctions were “targeted,” “not sectoral,” and “not [an] embargo, nothing punishing to civilians.”

    Yet Alena Douhan, the UN Special Rapporteur on Sanctions who visited Syria to document the effects of Washington’s unilateral sanctions regime on Syria, disagrees. In her 19-page report she clearly states that the sanctions are both illegal and inhumane in the way they affect the average Syrian.

    Stabilization for me but not for thee

    The second legislative ask came in the form of a well rehearsed speech by Ghanem, Zayat, and others, outlining what US tax dollars do and don’t fund in Syria. US aid packages are typically divided into two categories: “humanitarian funding” earmarked for goods such as food, water, and basic medical supplies or “stabilization” funding designed to secure a country as it transitions out of a period of turmoil. Unlike humanitarian assistance, stabilization funding may be used to support major investment and infrastructure projects such as roads, schools, healthcare facilities, and government services.

    The US is the primary funder of humanitarian aid in both North East (NE) and NW Syria. However, while the US spends abundantly on stabilization needs in NE Syria, it spends $0 on the NW. That is because while Washington has long dreamed of establishing a secessionist Kurdish state in Syria’s Northeast, it neglected to send stabilization funds to the Northwest in order to avoid providing direct support to HTS, the Al Qaeda offshoot that governs the territory. The Anti-Syria Lobby was in Washington to change that.

    Leading the push for US funds to Al Qaeda-affiliated elements in Northwest Syria was Wa’el Alzayat, a Syrian expat who proudly served in Iraq’s Green Zone under George Bush’s State Department and more recently published a shocking Washington Post oped begging US officials not to “lift sanctions to help Syria earthquake victims.” In the office of Sen. Chris Van Hollen, Alzayat voiced his frustration with US hesitation in the Northwest.

    “Stop freaking out about the stuff going to terrorists,” he demanded, adding that “the Brits are doing it, the Turks are doing it, the Qataris are doing it.”




    We’re missing out on a golden opportunity here to stabilize the region and leverage it for a political settlement,” he pleaded. In other words, Alzayat was openly lobbying US officials to strengthen Al Qaeda’s position in Syria in order to leverage the terrorist group against the country’s government.

    Alzayat then weaponized his six-figure salary as head of Emgage to bully Van Hollen’s office into bowing before the anti-Syria Lobby, falsely claiming that his AIPAC-linked organization was “behind” the “Uncommitted” vote campaigns that damaged Biden’s primary performance in Michigan and Minnesota.




    Towards the end of the meeting, the regime change lobbyist cynically invoked Israel’s slaughter of 30,000 Palestinians in Gaza to make the case for Al Qaeda in Syria one last time.

    He argued that although “his community” is up in arms about the Biden administration’s funding and arming of the Gaza genocide, they would gladly flock back to the Democratic Party if the US funded roads and schools in Al Qaeda-controlled Idlib.

    “I need a good story for my voters,” Alzayat explained, noting the Muslim community’s disapproval of the Biden Administration’s policy in Gaza and Yemen.

    “You’re upset about all these disappointments,” he continued, play-acting a scenario in which he convinced a Muslim constituent to vote for Biden, again. “Guess what? They’re pumping 50 million into the school sector in the North [of Syria]!”




    Overtures Towards Israel

    The Israel-Palestine crisis loomed large throughout the ACS lobbying trip. Sen. Sherrod Brown’s secretary happened to be a hijabi Muslim woman sporting a pendant outlining the map of Palestine around her neck. As she greeted us, Farouk Belal, the head of the Syrian American Council, grumbled to Ghanem and me: “I hope she’s not with the resistance.”

    When I asked him to clarify what he meant as we exited the office, he explained that people aligned with the Palestinian cause in Washington “don’t like us.”

    Meanwhile, in Sen. Cardin’s office, Raed Salah of the White Helmets painted Israeli strikes on Syria which have crippled Syrian infrastructure, regularly damaged the country’s International civilian airports, and killed hundreds of Syrian Soldiers and civilians alike in a positive light:

    “The situation in Syria is very complicated. Every day we hear of Israeli strikes on the dens, or the bases of the IRGC and its militias. Even we as Syrians did not know the extent to which the Iranians were entrenched in the country…”




    For Saleh, the Israeli strikes do nothing but highlight the presence of the Syrian government-invited Iranian military presence in Syria.

    Later that day, Ghanem attempted to capitalize on Sen. Fetterman’s fanatical pro-Israel antics by describing recent developments in Syria to a 20-something staffer. Referring to the Syrian government’s successful campaign to retake southern territory, he explained that the South is “where they lob missiles on Israel, by the way.” The aide dutifully transcribed this seemingly random piece of information in her notepad. Towards the end of the meeting, Fetterman was discussed as a potential Democratic sponsor of S. 2935 in the Senate.

    In Senator Rick Scott’s office, a Cuban American Government Relations Associate for ACS, Alberto Hernandez, accidentally said the quiet part out loud. When Senator Scott’s ultra-Zionist National Security Advisor, Paul Bonicelli, asked if our group had connected with our “counterparts” in the Israeli lobby so that they could “vet” our proposals — revealing that Scott has apparently outsourced his brain to Zionists — Hernandez remarked: “Formally? No. Informally.”

    He then turned to the rest of the ACS team in the meeting room and said: “You didn’t hear me say that.”

    That admission prompted Bonicelli to suggest that ACS directly coordinate with groups such as the Aramaic Church in Israel, which has supported regime change efforts in Damascus despite overwhelming Christian support of the government within Syria itself.

    As the meeting wound to a close, Bonicelli informed us that he agreed with ACS on the necessity to oppose Iran and Russia.

    “If Obama had done the right thing in 2012, we wouldn’t be here,” he lamented, adding: “the Israelis want you guys in charge.”


    At one point during the meeting in Rick Scott’s Office, Alberto Hernandez, and Sarah Salas, a Cuban American legislative aide, expressed full agreement with US use of unilateral sanctions as means to “push” governments that “we don’t like.”
    Starving Syrians Without A Mandate

    Though several ACS volunteers shared painful personal encounters with the Syrian government throughout the day, many were simply too far removed from Syria to truly represent the voice of Syrian people, especially the 12 million plus civilians currently living in Syrian government-controlled territory.

    One 24-year-old woman who did not speak Arabic and has not been to Syria since 2003 described the Syrian Army’s 2016 liberation of Aleppo from Al Qaeda-linked militants as “the fall of Aleppo.”

    Other Syrians like myself experienced the terror of the West’s proxy war in Syria firsthand. In 2012, my aunt and cousins watched in horror as the Turkish-backed Liwa’ Al Tawhid, an umbrella group of takfiri jihadist militias, arrived on their street in the Seryan El Jdideh neighborhood of Aleppo. The militants proceeded to execute a local pick-up truck driver and steal his vehicle, leaving his bleeding corpse on the street. Shahba, where my family lived up until 2015, was located just a stone’s throw away from these sectarian death squads during our final months there.

    The Syrian dirty war was bloody and gruesome, yet the picture that ACS paints is entirely one-sided. Unfortunately, while organizations like ACS have flocked to the Beltway swamp throughout the last 13 years, there are no Syrians present in Washington DC to counter them. While these groups claim to speak on behalf of the Syrian people, those of us who have lived and still live in areas controlled by Syrian government — regardless of our political affiliations—are rendered voiceless in the very center of power where our perspective should matter most. Even Syria’s embassy has been shuttered since 2014, while Syrian diplomats at the UN in New York are heavily monitored and restricted from traveling beyond the NYC metro area.

    As I witnessed on Capitol Hill, there are few obstacles to the anti-Syria lobby’s ruthless push to prevent the majority of Syrians from emerging from the ruins of war.

    https://thegrayzone.com/2024/03/20/anti-syria-lobbys-capitol-hill-sanctions/
    Inside the anti-Syria lobby’s Capitol Hill push for more starvation sanctions Hekmat AboukhaterMarch 20, 2024 A week from the 13th anniversary of the US-backed Syrian dirty war, the American Coalition for Syria held its annual day of advocacy in Washington DC. I went undercover into meetings with Senate policy advisors and witnessed the lobby’s cynical campaign to starve Syria into submission. On the morning of March 7, as the US Capitol teemed with lobbyists securing earmarks ahead of appropriations week and activists decrying the Gaza genocide, one special interest group on the Hill stood out. In the corridors of the Rayburn building, a group of roughly 50 people prepared for a busy day of advocating for sanctions to be levied against their homeland. They were the Anti-Syria lobby — and had I infiltrated their influence campaign. Throughout the day, I watched as this group pushed US officials to accept their policy of starvation sanctions while cynically ignoring famished Palestinians in Gaza. Among the lobbyists was Raed Saleh, the head of the Syrian White Helmets, who were to propagandize for regime change from behind humanitarian cover. I attended a total of seven meetings with policy teams representing Senators Sherrod Brown, Maggie Hassan, Ben Cardin, Mark Kelly, Chris Van Hollen, John Fetterman, and Rick Scott. Throughout these sessions, I witnessed the anti-Syria Lobby attempt to bully and manipulate US officials into accepting their policy of starvation while cynically throwing starving Palestinians in Gaza under the bus. At one moment, Raed Saleh, head of the Syrian White Helmets, which was founded by British intelligence, and funded by NATO states, painted Israeli air strikes against Syria in a positive light. During a separate meeting, Wa’el Alzayat of the pro-Zionist Muslim outreach Emgage even demanded Senator Chris Van Hollen’s office support the approval of aid for Al Qaeda-linked militias in Syria. “Stop freaking out about the stuff going to terrorists,” he insisted, adding that “the Brits are doing it, the Turks are doing it, [and] the Qataris are doing it.” Purporting to be a voice for all Syrians, the anti-Syria lobby is spearheaded by the American Coalition for Syria (ACS), an umbrella organization representing opposition groups such as the Syrian American Council (SAC), the Syrian Forum, and a handful of others located in the US and Turkey. Emgage, meanwhile, has been credited with getting the diaspora vote out for then-candidate Joe Biden in November 2020. The group has since fallen under criticism for acting as a de facto extension of the Biden White House and Democratic Party within the Muslim community. Emgage board member Farooq Mitha formally went to work for the Biden Pentagon in March 2021. On March 7, Alzayat aimed to weaponize Emgage’s influence against Democratic Senators who seemed uncomfortable with an escalating sanctions policy. “I need a good story for my voters,” he explained to Senator Van Hollen’s team. Throughout their sanctions campaign on the Hill, Alzayat and his cohorts operated like a miniature version of their Israel lobby allies, supplying roughly 50 volunteers with folders outlining talking points and the biographies of congressional representatives. The bios included a comprehensive list of the Senator or Representative’s recorded stance on Syria, such as their votes on the extension of the AUMF, the US military withdrawal from Syria, and previous sanctions packages targeting the country. The handouts also laid out the lobby’s key legislative requests, which largely focused on securing development aid for militia-controlled territory in Syria — including that held by Al Qaeda’s local ally in the country — and ensuring passage of the ‘Assad Regime Anti Normalization Bill,’ which seeks to extend and expand sanctions targeting Damascus. The Anti-Syria Lobby’s resemblance to their Israeli counterparts was no mistake. As Republican Florida Sen. Rick Scott’s chief of staff reassured us, “the Israelis want you guys in charge.” Syrian Civil War map|Syrian Civil War map (November 24, 2023) via Wikimedia Commons. Edited by author More Starvation Sanctions Ever since the US included Syria on its inaugural State Sponsor of Terrorism (SST) list over Damascus’ support for the Palestinian resistance in 1979, Washington has gradually ratcheted up its financial war on the Syrian people. When decades of covert hybrid war erupted into an all-out proxy battle for the country’s territory—and survival—in 2011, the Anti-Syria Lobby officially began to take shape in Washington. Syria is the unrivaled champion of the SST having never been delisted since the list’s inception in 1979. In 2019, as Syria’s government emerged victorious from a multi-year battle with foreign-backed militias, Washington decided that while Damascus may have won the war, it would not win the peace. That January, New York Rep. Eliot Engel, a recipient of $1.8 million in AIPAC donations, introduced a sanctions package known as the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act. Trump signed the bill as part of the National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2020. The US has a 45-year long tradition of sanctioning and isolating Syria economically in response to the country’s support of Palestinian resistance The bill was unprecedented in both the way that it sanctioned broad sectors of the Syrian economy rather than only specific individuals, and in its deployment of so-called “secondary sanctions.” Secondary sanctions are imposed on parties that do business with a sanctioned entity even if those exchanges occur outside of the sanctioning entity’s jurisdiction. Syria’s economy has been in free fall ever since the Caesar sanctions came into effect. Today, over 12 million Syrians representing more than half of the total population face food insecurity — a 51% increase from 2019. Meanwhile, 90 percent of the population lives under the poverty line. In 2019, the US dollar exchanged for 500 Syrian Pounds. Today, that number is more like 14,100— figures that represent a 2,720 percent devaluation. The Syrian currency has devalued by 35,150% since the initial exchange rate of 40 SYP to 1 USD early 2011 Though H.R. 3202 appears to be focused on addressing UN aid divergence, and sanctioning previously unsanctioned entities like Asma Al Assad’s Syria Trust for Development and the Syrian Red Crescent, the real agenda of the bill is found deep within its 22-page text. With the Caesar Sanctions set to expire by the end of 2024, H.R. 3202 seeks to quietly extend the aggressive financial measures until 2032. The new bill’s main aim, which received very little attention, is the extension of the Caesar Act for 8 more years. Having passed the House with overwhelming enthusiasm, H.R. 3202’s sister bill in the Senate can only pass with Democratic support. It was introduced by Israeli lobby-funded Republican Idaho Sen. James Risch last September and has since been co-sponsored by arch-neoconservative Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Because S. 2935 can only pass with Democratic sponsorship, the Anti-Syria Lobby chose Sen. Ben Cardin, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and sponsor of the anti-Russia Magnitsky Act, as a crucial target for influence. After meeting with Sherrod Brown’s office, Cardin’s Research and Legislative Assistant, Christopher Barr, hosted us in the Senator’s office. There, Raed Saleh of the White Helmets complained to Barr that USAID had slashed funding for his organization from $12 million to $3 million in recent years. Next, it was time to discuss the true purpose of our visit: the passage of S. 2935. Barr appeared uneasy from the outset and even expressed displeasure about the bill, complaining, “What passed the House was kind of a lot… the list of targets is vast.” “Syria has already been so heavily sanctioned,” he added. In response, Ghanem revealed a critical piece of information about the forces driving the dirty war on Syria, explaining that the impetus to expand and extend Caesar did not come from the Anti-Syria Lobby itself, but someone on Capitol Hill. Ghanem explained that the Hill source actually contacted the American Coalition for Syria to alert them to the fact that Caesar was set to expire, lamenting the fact that its sunset would amount to a loss of “US leverage over the Syrian regime.” This line echoed the disturbing language of officials representing both the Biden and Trump administration alike. In 2019, neoconservative operative Dana Stroul declared that thanks to Caesar, Washington “holds a card on preventing reconstruction aid and technical expertise from going back,” to Syria. She lauded the fact that the U.S. could weaponize that “leverage” to keep Syria in “rubble.” Two years later, she would take up post as Deputy Secretary of Defense for the Middle East under Biden. Similarly, during an event at the neoconservative think tank, WINEP, the following year, the Special Envoy for Syria under Trump, Joel Rayburn, boasted that Caesar “lowers the bar” for evidence-based sanctions and allows for the broad targeting of any and all reconstruction projects in Syria. “We don’t have to prove, for example, that a company that’s going in to do a reconstruction project in the Damascus region is dealing directly with the Assad regime,” Rayburn explained. “We don’t have to have the evidence to prove that link,” he continued. “We just have to have the evidence that proves that a company or an individual is investing in […] the construction sector, the engineering sector, most of the aviation sector, the finance sector, energy sector, and so on.” These public confessions did not stop the Anti-Syria Lobby from lying to the faces of congressional staffers throughout their March 7 campaign. During a meeting with Sen. Mark Kelly’s office, Ghanem falsely stated that the Caesar Sanctions were “targeted,” “not sectoral,” and “not [an] embargo, nothing punishing to civilians.” Yet Alena Douhan, the UN Special Rapporteur on Sanctions who visited Syria to document the effects of Washington’s unilateral sanctions regime on Syria, disagrees. In her 19-page report she clearly states that the sanctions are both illegal and inhumane in the way they affect the average Syrian. Stabilization for me but not for thee The second legislative ask came in the form of a well rehearsed speech by Ghanem, Zayat, and others, outlining what US tax dollars do and don’t fund in Syria. US aid packages are typically divided into two categories: “humanitarian funding” earmarked for goods such as food, water, and basic medical supplies or “stabilization” funding designed to secure a country as it transitions out of a period of turmoil. Unlike humanitarian assistance, stabilization funding may be used to support major investment and infrastructure projects such as roads, schools, healthcare facilities, and government services. The US is the primary funder of humanitarian aid in both North East (NE) and NW Syria. However, while the US spends abundantly on stabilization needs in NE Syria, it spends $0 on the NW. That is because while Washington has long dreamed of establishing a secessionist Kurdish state in Syria’s Northeast, it neglected to send stabilization funds to the Northwest in order to avoid providing direct support to HTS, the Al Qaeda offshoot that governs the territory. The Anti-Syria Lobby was in Washington to change that. Leading the push for US funds to Al Qaeda-affiliated elements in Northwest Syria was Wa’el Alzayat, a Syrian expat who proudly served in Iraq’s Green Zone under George Bush’s State Department and more recently published a shocking Washington Post oped begging US officials not to “lift sanctions to help Syria earthquake victims.” In the office of Sen. Chris Van Hollen, Alzayat voiced his frustration with US hesitation in the Northwest. “Stop freaking out about the stuff going to terrorists,” he demanded, adding that “the Brits are doing it, the Turks are doing it, the Qataris are doing it.” We’re missing out on a golden opportunity here to stabilize the region and leverage it for a political settlement,” he pleaded. In other words, Alzayat was openly lobbying US officials to strengthen Al Qaeda’s position in Syria in order to leverage the terrorist group against the country’s government. Alzayat then weaponized his six-figure salary as head of Emgage to bully Van Hollen’s office into bowing before the anti-Syria Lobby, falsely claiming that his AIPAC-linked organization was “behind” the “Uncommitted” vote campaigns that damaged Biden’s primary performance in Michigan and Minnesota. Towards the end of the meeting, the regime change lobbyist cynically invoked Israel’s slaughter of 30,000 Palestinians in Gaza to make the case for Al Qaeda in Syria one last time. He argued that although “his community” is up in arms about the Biden administration’s funding and arming of the Gaza genocide, they would gladly flock back to the Democratic Party if the US funded roads and schools in Al Qaeda-controlled Idlib. “I need a good story for my voters,” Alzayat explained, noting the Muslim community’s disapproval of the Biden Administration’s policy in Gaza and Yemen. “You’re upset about all these disappointments,” he continued, play-acting a scenario in which he convinced a Muslim constituent to vote for Biden, again. “Guess what? They’re pumping 50 million into the school sector in the North [of Syria]!” Overtures Towards Israel The Israel-Palestine crisis loomed large throughout the ACS lobbying trip. Sen. Sherrod Brown’s secretary happened to be a hijabi Muslim woman sporting a pendant outlining the map of Palestine around her neck. As she greeted us, Farouk Belal, the head of the Syrian American Council, grumbled to Ghanem and me: “I hope she’s not with the resistance.” When I asked him to clarify what he meant as we exited the office, he explained that people aligned with the Palestinian cause in Washington “don’t like us.” Meanwhile, in Sen. Cardin’s office, Raed Salah of the White Helmets painted Israeli strikes on Syria which have crippled Syrian infrastructure, regularly damaged the country’s International civilian airports, and killed hundreds of Syrian Soldiers and civilians alike in a positive light: “The situation in Syria is very complicated. Every day we hear of Israeli strikes on the dens, or the bases of the IRGC and its militias. Even we as Syrians did not know the extent to which the Iranians were entrenched in the country…” For Saleh, the Israeli strikes do nothing but highlight the presence of the Syrian government-invited Iranian military presence in Syria. Later that day, Ghanem attempted to capitalize on Sen. Fetterman’s fanatical pro-Israel antics by describing recent developments in Syria to a 20-something staffer. Referring to the Syrian government’s successful campaign to retake southern territory, he explained that the South is “where they lob missiles on Israel, by the way.” The aide dutifully transcribed this seemingly random piece of information in her notepad. Towards the end of the meeting, Fetterman was discussed as a potential Democratic sponsor of S. 2935 in the Senate. In Senator Rick Scott’s office, a Cuban American Government Relations Associate for ACS, Alberto Hernandez, accidentally said the quiet part out loud. When Senator Scott’s ultra-Zionist National Security Advisor, Paul Bonicelli, asked if our group had connected with our “counterparts” in the Israeli lobby so that they could “vet” our proposals — revealing that Scott has apparently outsourced his brain to Zionists — Hernandez remarked: “Formally? No. Informally.” He then turned to the rest of the ACS team in the meeting room and said: “You didn’t hear me say that.” That admission prompted Bonicelli to suggest that ACS directly coordinate with groups such as the Aramaic Church in Israel, which has supported regime change efforts in Damascus despite overwhelming Christian support of the government within Syria itself. As the meeting wound to a close, Bonicelli informed us that he agreed with ACS on the necessity to oppose Iran and Russia. “If Obama had done the right thing in 2012, we wouldn’t be here,” he lamented, adding: “the Israelis want you guys in charge.” At one point during the meeting in Rick Scott’s Office, Alberto Hernandez, and Sarah Salas, a Cuban American legislative aide, expressed full agreement with US use of unilateral sanctions as means to “push” governments that “we don’t like.” Starving Syrians Without A Mandate Though several ACS volunteers shared painful personal encounters with the Syrian government throughout the day, many were simply too far removed from Syria to truly represent the voice of Syrian people, especially the 12 million plus civilians currently living in Syrian government-controlled territory. One 24-year-old woman who did not speak Arabic and has not been to Syria since 2003 described the Syrian Army’s 2016 liberation of Aleppo from Al Qaeda-linked militants as “the fall of Aleppo.” Other Syrians like myself experienced the terror of the West’s proxy war in Syria firsthand. In 2012, my aunt and cousins watched in horror as the Turkish-backed Liwa’ Al Tawhid, an umbrella group of takfiri jihadist militias, arrived on their street in the Seryan El Jdideh neighborhood of Aleppo. The militants proceeded to execute a local pick-up truck driver and steal his vehicle, leaving his bleeding corpse on the street. Shahba, where my family lived up until 2015, was located just a stone’s throw away from these sectarian death squads during our final months there. The Syrian dirty war was bloody and gruesome, yet the picture that ACS paints is entirely one-sided. Unfortunately, while organizations like ACS have flocked to the Beltway swamp throughout the last 13 years, there are no Syrians present in Washington DC to counter them. While these groups claim to speak on behalf of the Syrian people, those of us who have lived and still live in areas controlled by Syrian government — regardless of our political affiliations—are rendered voiceless in the very center of power where our perspective should matter most. Even Syria’s embassy has been shuttered since 2014, while Syrian diplomats at the UN in New York are heavily monitored and restricted from traveling beyond the NYC metro area. As I witnessed on Capitol Hill, there are few obstacles to the anti-Syria lobby’s ruthless push to prevent the majority of Syrians from emerging from the ruins of war. https://thegrayzone.com/2024/03/20/anti-syria-lobbys-capitol-hill-sanctions/
    THEGRAYZONE.COM
    Inside the anti-Syria lobby's Capitol Hill push for more starvation sanctions - The Grayzone
    A week from the 13th anniversary of the US-backed Syrian dirty war, the American Coalition for Syria held its annual day of advocacy in Washington DC. I went undercover into meetings with Senate policy advisors and witnessed the lobby’s cynical campaign to starve Syria into submission. On the morning of March 7, as the US Capitol teemed with lobbyists securing earmarks ahead of appropriations week and activists decrying the Gaza genocide, one special interest group on the Hill stood out. […]
    1 Comments 0 Shares 8736 Views
  • National ARM Sends ‘Vaccine’ Crime Evidence Petition to Washington State and Nevada Governors and Attorney Generals
    Together In Truth
    National ARM Sends ‘Vaccine’ Crime Evidence Petition to Washington State and Nevada Governors and Attorney Generals
    The National American Renaissance Movement (National ARM) has taken action against the distribution of C19 nanoparticle injections by filing Grand Jury petitions in various states. The organization has submitted an 85-90 page document, prepared by its president, David Meiswinkle, to state officials, listing 153 exhibits of evidence and alleging state and federal crimes. The petitions call for an immediate ban on C19 vaccines and the initiation of criminal investigations.

    The Grand Jury petitions have already been submitted to the Governors, Attorney Generals, prosecutors, and sheriffs in Indiana, Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, South Carolina, Ohio, California, Tennessee, Texas, Idaho, Florida, and New Jersey. This latest move sees Washington State and Nevada added to the list, bringing the total to 15 states.

    The evidence presented in the document includes allegations of murder, racketeering, violations of biological weapons laws, treason, and genocide. National ARM intends to share this evidence with local prosecutors and law enforcement agencies in all 50 states to ensure that there is no plausible deniability.

    See also Majority of Vaccinated Patients Found to Have Long COVID: Study

    National ARM has made the Executive Summary and the Full Document available for viewing and download on their website. The Executive Summary for Washington State and Nevada can be accessed through separate links provided by the organization.

    Additionally, National ARM President David R. Meiswinkle has introduced the Grand Jury Petition in a video that outlines the crimes committed. The video can be watched on the provided link.

    In Florida, the Department of Health has recently called for a halt to Covid mRNA injections. In response to this development, a Writ of Mandamus has been filed by an individual in the Supreme Court of Florida. The writ seeks to compel Governor DeSantis to ban the vaccines and Attorney General Ashley Moody to confiscate the vials for forensic analysis.

    National ARM's actions reflect growing concerns about the safety and legality of C19 vaccines. By filing these Grand Jury petitions and taking legal measures, the organization aims to ensure that appropriate investigations are conducted into the alleged crimes associated with the distribution of these vaccines.

    See also Vaccination-Related Acute Psychotic Breakdowns: An Overview

    In conclusion, the National American Renaissance Movement is making significant efforts to halt the distribution of C19 nanoparticle injections. Their Grand Jury petitions, supported by extensive evidence, have been submitted to state officials in multiple states, with Washington State and Nevada being the latest additions. National ARM's actions highlight the need for thorough investigations into the alleged crimes surrounding C19 vaccines.

    Source

    They don't want you to see this... Big Tech does its best to limit what news you see. Make sure you see our Top 10 Articles of the Week — delivered directly to your inbox every Sunday. Click here to subscribe now.

    https://togetherintruth.co/national-arm-vaccine-crime-evidence/
    National ARM Sends ‘Vaccine’ Crime Evidence Petition to Washington State and Nevada Governors and Attorney Generals Together In Truth National ARM Sends ‘Vaccine’ Crime Evidence Petition to Washington State and Nevada Governors and Attorney Generals The National American Renaissance Movement (National ARM) has taken action against the distribution of C19 nanoparticle injections by filing Grand Jury petitions in various states. The organization has submitted an 85-90 page document, prepared by its president, David Meiswinkle, to state officials, listing 153 exhibits of evidence and alleging state and federal crimes. The petitions call for an immediate ban on C19 vaccines and the initiation of criminal investigations. The Grand Jury petitions have already been submitted to the Governors, Attorney Generals, prosecutors, and sheriffs in Indiana, Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, South Carolina, Ohio, California, Tennessee, Texas, Idaho, Florida, and New Jersey. This latest move sees Washington State and Nevada added to the list, bringing the total to 15 states. The evidence presented in the document includes allegations of murder, racketeering, violations of biological weapons laws, treason, and genocide. National ARM intends to share this evidence with local prosecutors and law enforcement agencies in all 50 states to ensure that there is no plausible deniability. See also Majority of Vaccinated Patients Found to Have Long COVID: Study National ARM has made the Executive Summary and the Full Document available for viewing and download on their website. The Executive Summary for Washington State and Nevada can be accessed through separate links provided by the organization. Additionally, National ARM President David R. Meiswinkle has introduced the Grand Jury Petition in a video that outlines the crimes committed. The video can be watched on the provided link. In Florida, the Department of Health has recently called for a halt to Covid mRNA injections. In response to this development, a Writ of Mandamus has been filed by an individual in the Supreme Court of Florida. The writ seeks to compel Governor DeSantis to ban the vaccines and Attorney General Ashley Moody to confiscate the vials for forensic analysis. National ARM's actions reflect growing concerns about the safety and legality of C19 vaccines. By filing these Grand Jury petitions and taking legal measures, the organization aims to ensure that appropriate investigations are conducted into the alleged crimes associated with the distribution of these vaccines. See also Vaccination-Related Acute Psychotic Breakdowns: An Overview In conclusion, the National American Renaissance Movement is making significant efforts to halt the distribution of C19 nanoparticle injections. Their Grand Jury petitions, supported by extensive evidence, have been submitted to state officials in multiple states, with Washington State and Nevada being the latest additions. National ARM's actions highlight the need for thorough investigations into the alleged crimes surrounding C19 vaccines. Source They don't want you to see this... Big Tech does its best to limit what news you see. Make sure you see our Top 10 Articles of the Week — delivered directly to your inbox every Sunday. Click here to subscribe now. https://togetherintruth.co/national-arm-vaccine-crime-evidence/
    TOGETHERINTRUTH.CO
    National ARM Sends 'Vaccine' Crime Evidence Petition to Washington State and Nevada Governors and Attorney Generals
    The National American Renaissance Movement (National ARM) files Grand Jury petitions in multiple states, seeking to ban C19 vaccines and investigate alleged crimes.
    0 Comments 0 Shares 2020 Views
  • Avi Shlaim: ‘Three Worlds – Memoirs of an Arab – Jew’
    This beautiful, inspiring, elegiac book is the story of the author’s journey – a journey from Baghdad to Israel in 1950, aged five, and from Israel to England. But Avi Schlaim’s journey was at different levels. It was geographical and it was cultural. It also became a political journey to his own position today.

    His personal experiences illustrate a bigger story of the Jewish exodus from Iraq to Israel in 1950 following the creation of Israel in 1948. His story and his words speak more eloquently than any reviewer can, and so for the most part, I quote directly from his memoir.

    The book is “a glimpse into the lost and rich world of the Iraqi-Jewish community”. Perhaps, coming from what he describes as a prosperous, privileged family, he may see the past through rose-tinted glasses. But his memories are precious.

    “We belonged to a branch of the global Jewish community that is now almost extinct. We were Arab-Jews. We lived in Baghdad and were well integrated into Iraqi society. We spoke Arabic at home, our social customs were Arab, our lifestyle was Arab, our cuisine was exquisitely Middle Eastern and my parents’ music was an attractive blend of Arabic and Jewish…We in the Jewish community had much more in common, linguistically and culturally, with our Iraqi compatriots than with our European co-religionists.

    Of all the Jewish communities in the Ottoman Empire, the one in Mesopotamia was the most integrated into local society, the most Arabised in its culture and the most prosperous… When the British created the Kingdom of Iraq…the Jews were the backbone of the Iraqi economy”

    Jewish lineage in Mesopotamia stretched as far back as Babylonian times, pre-dating the rise of Islam by a millenium.

    “Their influence was evident in every branch of Iraqi culture, from literature and music to journalism and banking. Banks – with the exception of government owned banks – and all the big markets remained closed on the Sabbath and the other Jewish holy days.” By the 1880s there were 55 synagogues in Baghdad.

    He describes how in Iraq there was a long tradition of religious tolerance and harmony. “The Jews were neither newcomers nor aliens in Iraq. They were certainly not intruders”. By the time of the First World War, Jews constituted one third of the population of Baghdad.

    He contrasts Europe and the Middle East. “Unlike Europe the Middle East did not have a ‘Jewish Question’. “Iraq’s Jews did not live in ghettos, nor did they experience the violent repression, persecution and genocide that marred European history. There were of course exceptions, notably the infamous pogrom against Jews in June 1941, for which the actions of British imperialism must take substantial responsibility.

    By 1941, antisemitism in Baghdad was on the increase but was more a foreign import than a home grown product. There was a violent pogrom against the Jewish community named the farhud. The Jews were seen as friends of the British. 179 Jews were murdered and several hundred injured. It was completely unexpected and unprecedented. There had been no other attack against the Jews for centuries. Avi gives many examples of Muslims assisting their Jewish neighbours.

    And yet he writes: “The overall picture, however, was one of religious tolerance, cosmopolitanism, peaceful co-existence and fruitful interaction.”

    The critical moment was the creation of Israel. “As a result of the Arab defeat, there was a backlash against the Jews throughout the Arab world. “What had been a pillar of Iraqi society was increasingly perceived as a sinister fifth column”, with Islamic fundamentalists and Arab nationalists identifying the Jews in their countries with the hated Zionist enemy.

    Palestinians “were the main victims of the Zionist project. More than half their number became refugees and the name Palestine was wiped off the map. But there was another category of victims, less well known and much less talked about: the Jews of the Arab lands”.

    The sub-title of the book refers to ‘Arab-Jews’. “The hyphen is significant. Critics of the term Arab-Jew see it as… conflating two separate identities. As I see it, the hyphen unites: an Arab can also be a Jew and a Jew can also be an Arab…We are told that there is a clash of cultures, an unbridgeable gulf between Muslims and Jews… The story of my family in Iraq -and that of many forgotten families like mine – points to a dramatically different picture. It harks back to an era of a more pluralist Middle East with greater religious tolerance and a political culture of mutual respect and co-operation.”

    Yet the Zionists portray the Jews as the victims of endemic Arab persecution and this is used to justify the atrocious treatment of the Palestinians. Thus the narrative of the ‘Jewish Nakba’ to create a ‘false symmetry between the fate of two communities. This narrative is not history; it is the propaganda of the victors.”

    On 29th November 1947 the General Assembly of the United Nations voted for the partition of mandate Palestine into two states: one Arab, one Jewish. The General Council of the Iraqi Jewish community sent a telegram to the UN opposing the partition resolution and the creation of a Jewish state. “Like my family, the majority of Iraqi Jews saw themselves as Iraqi first and Jewish second; they feared that the creation of a Jewish state would undermine their position in Iraq… The distinction between Jews and Zionists, so crucial to interfaith harmony in the Arab world, was rapidly breaking down”.

    Iraq’s participation in the war for Palestine fuelled tensions between Muslims and Jews. Iraqi Jews were widely suspected of being secret supporters of Israel. With the defeat of Palestine a wave of hostility towards Israel and the Jews living in their midst swept through the Arab world. Demonstrators marched through the streets of Baghdad shouting “Death to the Jews.” And the government needing a scapegoat did not simply respond to public anger but actively whipped up public hysteria and suspicion against the Jews.

    At this point official persecution against the Jews began. In July 1948 a law was passed making Zionism a criminal offence punishable by death or a minimum sentence of seven years in prison. Jews were fired from government jobs and from the railways, post office and telegraph department, Jewish merchants were denied import and export licences, restrictions placed on Jewish banks to trade in foreign currency, young Jews were barred from admission to colleges of education and the entire community was put under surveillance.

    The number of Jewish immigrants leaving Iraq to the end of 1953 numbered almost 125,000 out of a total of 135,000. The Jewish presence going back well over 2,000 years was destroyed.

    And yet for all this the mass exodus did not occur till 1950/1951 in what was known as the ‘Big Aliyah”. The majority of Iraqi Jews did not want to leave Iraq and had no affinity with Zionism. Most who emigrated to Israel did so only after a wave of five bombings of Jewish targets in Baghdad. It has long been argued that the bombings were instigated by Israel and the Zionists to spark a mass flight of Iraqi Jews to Israel, needed as they were to do many of the menial jobs and to boost numbers in the army.

    The author makes a forensic examination of the evidence – based on examination of documents and on interviews – and concluded that three out of the five bombings were carried out by the Zionist underground in Baghdad, a fourth – the bombing of the Mas’uda Shemtob synagogue, which was the only one that resulted in fatalities – was the result of Zionist bribery and there was one carried out by a far right wing, anti-Jewish Iraqi nationalist group.

    When the Iraqi Jews arrived in Israel, their experience fell short of the Zionist myth. At the airport in Israel, many were sprayed with DDT pesticides “to disinfect them as if they were animals.” They were then taken to squalid and unsanitary transit camps. Some camps were surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by policemen. The immigration and settlement authorities had no understanding of their customs and culture. “They thought of them as backward and primitive and expected them to take their place at the bottom of the social hierarchy and be grateful for whatever they were given… The lens through which the new immigrants were viewed was the same colonialist lens through which the Ashkenazi establishment viewed the Palestinians.”

    “We were Jews from an Arab country that was still officially at war with Israel. European Jews.. looked down on us as socially and culturally inferior. They despised the Arabic language…I was an Iraqi boy in a land of Europeans.”

    For his grandmothers, Iraq was the beloved homeland while Israel was the place of exile. “Migration to Israel is usually described as Aliyah or ascent. For us the move from Iraq to Israel was decidedly a Yeridah, a descent down the economic and social ladder. Not only did we lose our property and possessions; we also our lost our strong sense of identity as proud Iraqi Jews as we were relegated to the margins of Israeli society.” The experience was to break his father.

    “The unstated aims of the official policy for schools were to undermine our Arab-Jewish identity… A systematic process was at work to delegitimise our heritage and erase our cultural roots” It was a clash of cultures. The Mizrahim were earmarked to be the proletariat – the fodder to support the country’s industrial and agricultural development. As one author put it, “We left Iraq as Jews and arrived in Israel as Iraqis.” They were clearly, to borrow from current jargon, “the wrong kind of Israeli”.

    His journey was a political one too. His message and his warnings are unequivocally universalist. “The Holocaust stands out as an archetype of a crime against humanity. For me as a Jew and an Israeli therefore the Holocaust teaches us to resist the dehumanising of any people, including the Palestinian ‘victims of victims’, because dehumanising a people can easily result, as it did in Europe in the 1940s, in crimes against humanity.”

    He had previously argued that it was only after the 1967 war that Israel became a colonial power, oppressing the Palestinians in the occupied territories. However, “a deeper analysis… led me to the conclusion that Israel had been created by a settler-colonial movement. The years 1948 and 1967 were merely milestones in the relentless systematic takeover of the whole of Palestine… Since Zionism was an avowedly settler-colonial movement from the outset, the building of civilian settlements on occupied land was only a new stage in the long march… The most crucial turning point was not the war of 1967 but the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.”

    And more: “the two-state solution is dead or, to be more accurate, it was never born… The outcome I have come to favour is one democratic state… with equal rights for all its citizens regardless of ethnicity or religion.” He is absolutely right in my view.

    His family’s story “serves as a corrective to the Zionist narrative which views Arabs and Jews as congenitally incapable of dwelling together in peace and doomed to permanent conflict and discord… My experience as a young boy and that of the whole Jewish community in Iraq, suggests there is nothing inevitable or pre-ordained about Arab-Jewish antagonism… Remembering the past can help us to envisage a better future… Arab-Jewish co-existence is not something that my family imagined in our minds; we experienced it, we touched it.”

    Optimistic? Yes, perhaps over-optimistic. But towards the end of this masterpiece, Avi Schlaim justifies his message. “Recalling the era of cosmopolitanism and co-existence that some Jews, like my family, enjoyed in Arab countries before 1948 offers a glimmer of hope… It’s the best model we have for a better future.”


    https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/article/avi-shlaim-three-worlds-memoirs-of-an-arab-jew/
    Avi Shlaim: ‘Three Worlds – Memoirs of an Arab – Jew’ This beautiful, inspiring, elegiac book is the story of the author’s journey – a journey from Baghdad to Israel in 1950, aged five, and from Israel to England. But Avi Schlaim’s journey was at different levels. It was geographical and it was cultural. It also became a political journey to his own position today. His personal experiences illustrate a bigger story of the Jewish exodus from Iraq to Israel in 1950 following the creation of Israel in 1948. His story and his words speak more eloquently than any reviewer can, and so for the most part, I quote directly from his memoir. The book is “a glimpse into the lost and rich world of the Iraqi-Jewish community”. Perhaps, coming from what he describes as a prosperous, privileged family, he may see the past through rose-tinted glasses. But his memories are precious. “We belonged to a branch of the global Jewish community that is now almost extinct. We were Arab-Jews. We lived in Baghdad and were well integrated into Iraqi society. We spoke Arabic at home, our social customs were Arab, our lifestyle was Arab, our cuisine was exquisitely Middle Eastern and my parents’ music was an attractive blend of Arabic and Jewish…We in the Jewish community had much more in common, linguistically and culturally, with our Iraqi compatriots than with our European co-religionists. Of all the Jewish communities in the Ottoman Empire, the one in Mesopotamia was the most integrated into local society, the most Arabised in its culture and the most prosperous… When the British created the Kingdom of Iraq…the Jews were the backbone of the Iraqi economy” Jewish lineage in Mesopotamia stretched as far back as Babylonian times, pre-dating the rise of Islam by a millenium. “Their influence was evident in every branch of Iraqi culture, from literature and music to journalism and banking. Banks – with the exception of government owned banks – and all the big markets remained closed on the Sabbath and the other Jewish holy days.” By the 1880s there were 55 synagogues in Baghdad. He describes how in Iraq there was a long tradition of religious tolerance and harmony. “The Jews were neither newcomers nor aliens in Iraq. They were certainly not intruders”. By the time of the First World War, Jews constituted one third of the population of Baghdad. He contrasts Europe and the Middle East. “Unlike Europe the Middle East did not have a ‘Jewish Question’. “Iraq’s Jews did not live in ghettos, nor did they experience the violent repression, persecution and genocide that marred European history. There were of course exceptions, notably the infamous pogrom against Jews in June 1941, for which the actions of British imperialism must take substantial responsibility. By 1941, antisemitism in Baghdad was on the increase but was more a foreign import than a home grown product. There was a violent pogrom against the Jewish community named the farhud. The Jews were seen as friends of the British. 179 Jews were murdered and several hundred injured. It was completely unexpected and unprecedented. There had been no other attack against the Jews for centuries. Avi gives many examples of Muslims assisting their Jewish neighbours. And yet he writes: “The overall picture, however, was one of religious tolerance, cosmopolitanism, peaceful co-existence and fruitful interaction.” The critical moment was the creation of Israel. “As a result of the Arab defeat, there was a backlash against the Jews throughout the Arab world. “What had been a pillar of Iraqi society was increasingly perceived as a sinister fifth column”, with Islamic fundamentalists and Arab nationalists identifying the Jews in their countries with the hated Zionist enemy. Palestinians “were the main victims of the Zionist project. More than half their number became refugees and the name Palestine was wiped off the map. But there was another category of victims, less well known and much less talked about: the Jews of the Arab lands”. The sub-title of the book refers to ‘Arab-Jews’. “The hyphen is significant. Critics of the term Arab-Jew see it as… conflating two separate identities. As I see it, the hyphen unites: an Arab can also be a Jew and a Jew can also be an Arab…We are told that there is a clash of cultures, an unbridgeable gulf between Muslims and Jews… The story of my family in Iraq -and that of many forgotten families like mine – points to a dramatically different picture. It harks back to an era of a more pluralist Middle East with greater religious tolerance and a political culture of mutual respect and co-operation.” Yet the Zionists portray the Jews as the victims of endemic Arab persecution and this is used to justify the atrocious treatment of the Palestinians. Thus the narrative of the ‘Jewish Nakba’ to create a ‘false symmetry between the fate of two communities. This narrative is not history; it is the propaganda of the victors.” On 29th November 1947 the General Assembly of the United Nations voted for the partition of mandate Palestine into two states: one Arab, one Jewish. The General Council of the Iraqi Jewish community sent a telegram to the UN opposing the partition resolution and the creation of a Jewish state. “Like my family, the majority of Iraqi Jews saw themselves as Iraqi first and Jewish second; they feared that the creation of a Jewish state would undermine their position in Iraq… The distinction between Jews and Zionists, so crucial to interfaith harmony in the Arab world, was rapidly breaking down”. Iraq’s participation in the war for Palestine fuelled tensions between Muslims and Jews. Iraqi Jews were widely suspected of being secret supporters of Israel. With the defeat of Palestine a wave of hostility towards Israel and the Jews living in their midst swept through the Arab world. Demonstrators marched through the streets of Baghdad shouting “Death to the Jews.” And the government needing a scapegoat did not simply respond to public anger but actively whipped up public hysteria and suspicion against the Jews. At this point official persecution against the Jews began. In July 1948 a law was passed making Zionism a criminal offence punishable by death or a minimum sentence of seven years in prison. Jews were fired from government jobs and from the railways, post office and telegraph department, Jewish merchants were denied import and export licences, restrictions placed on Jewish banks to trade in foreign currency, young Jews were barred from admission to colleges of education and the entire community was put under surveillance. The number of Jewish immigrants leaving Iraq to the end of 1953 numbered almost 125,000 out of a total of 135,000. The Jewish presence going back well over 2,000 years was destroyed. And yet for all this the mass exodus did not occur till 1950/1951 in what was known as the ‘Big Aliyah”. The majority of Iraqi Jews did not want to leave Iraq and had no affinity with Zionism. Most who emigrated to Israel did so only after a wave of five bombings of Jewish targets in Baghdad. It has long been argued that the bombings were instigated by Israel and the Zionists to spark a mass flight of Iraqi Jews to Israel, needed as they were to do many of the menial jobs and to boost numbers in the army. The author makes a forensic examination of the evidence – based on examination of documents and on interviews – and concluded that three out of the five bombings were carried out by the Zionist underground in Baghdad, a fourth – the bombing of the Mas’uda Shemtob synagogue, which was the only one that resulted in fatalities – was the result of Zionist bribery and there was one carried out by a far right wing, anti-Jewish Iraqi nationalist group. When the Iraqi Jews arrived in Israel, their experience fell short of the Zionist myth. At the airport in Israel, many were sprayed with DDT pesticides “to disinfect them as if they were animals.” They were then taken to squalid and unsanitary transit camps. Some camps were surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by policemen. The immigration and settlement authorities had no understanding of their customs and culture. “They thought of them as backward and primitive and expected them to take their place at the bottom of the social hierarchy and be grateful for whatever they were given… The lens through which the new immigrants were viewed was the same colonialist lens through which the Ashkenazi establishment viewed the Palestinians.” “We were Jews from an Arab country that was still officially at war with Israel. European Jews.. looked down on us as socially and culturally inferior. They despised the Arabic language…I was an Iraqi boy in a land of Europeans.” For his grandmothers, Iraq was the beloved homeland while Israel was the place of exile. “Migration to Israel is usually described as Aliyah or ascent. For us the move from Iraq to Israel was decidedly a Yeridah, a descent down the economic and social ladder. Not only did we lose our property and possessions; we also our lost our strong sense of identity as proud Iraqi Jews as we were relegated to the margins of Israeli society.” The experience was to break his father. “The unstated aims of the official policy for schools were to undermine our Arab-Jewish identity… A systematic process was at work to delegitimise our heritage and erase our cultural roots” It was a clash of cultures. The Mizrahim were earmarked to be the proletariat – the fodder to support the country’s industrial and agricultural development. As one author put it, “We left Iraq as Jews and arrived in Israel as Iraqis.” They were clearly, to borrow from current jargon, “the wrong kind of Israeli”. His journey was a political one too. His message and his warnings are unequivocally universalist. “The Holocaust stands out as an archetype of a crime against humanity. For me as a Jew and an Israeli therefore the Holocaust teaches us to resist the dehumanising of any people, including the Palestinian ‘victims of victims’, because dehumanising a people can easily result, as it did in Europe in the 1940s, in crimes against humanity.” He had previously argued that it was only after the 1967 war that Israel became a colonial power, oppressing the Palestinians in the occupied territories. However, “a deeper analysis… led me to the conclusion that Israel had been created by a settler-colonial movement. The years 1948 and 1967 were merely milestones in the relentless systematic takeover of the whole of Palestine… Since Zionism was an avowedly settler-colonial movement from the outset, the building of civilian settlements on occupied land was only a new stage in the long march… The most crucial turning point was not the war of 1967 but the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.” And more: “the two-state solution is dead or, to be more accurate, it was never born… The outcome I have come to favour is one democratic state… with equal rights for all its citizens regardless of ethnicity or religion.” He is absolutely right in my view. His family’s story “serves as a corrective to the Zionist narrative which views Arabs and Jews as congenitally incapable of dwelling together in peace and doomed to permanent conflict and discord… My experience as a young boy and that of the whole Jewish community in Iraq, suggests there is nothing inevitable or pre-ordained about Arab-Jewish antagonism… Remembering the past can help us to envisage a better future… Arab-Jewish co-existence is not something that my family imagined in our minds; we experienced it, we touched it.” Optimistic? Yes, perhaps over-optimistic. But towards the end of this masterpiece, Avi Schlaim justifies his message. “Recalling the era of cosmopolitanism and co-existence that some Jews, like my family, enjoyed in Arab countries before 1948 offers a glimmer of hope… It’s the best model we have for a better future.” https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/article/avi-shlaim-three-worlds-memoirs-of-an-arab-jew/
    1 Comments 0 Shares 8263 Views 0
  • Avi Shlaim: ‘Three Worlds – Memoirs of an Arab – Jew’
    This beautiful, inspiring, elegiac book is the story of the author’s journey – a journey from Baghdad to Israel in 1950, aged five, and from Israel to England. But Avi Schlaim’s journey was at different levels. It was geographical and it was cultural. It also became a political journey to his own position today.

    His personal experiences illustrate a bigger story of the Jewish exodus from Iraq to Israel in 1950 following the creation of Israel in 1948. His story and his words speak more eloquently than any reviewer can, and so for the most part, I quote directly from his memoir.

    The book is “a glimpse into the lost and rich world of the Iraqi-Jewish community”. Perhaps, coming from what he describes as a prosperous, privileged family, he may see the past through rose-tinted glasses. But his memories are precious.

    “We belonged to a branch of the global Jewish community that is now almost extinct. We were Arab-Jews. We lived in Baghdad and were well integrated into Iraqi society. We spoke Arabic at home, our social customs were Arab, our lifestyle was Arab, our cuisine was exquisitely Middle Eastern and my parents’ music was an attractive blend of Arabic and Jewish…We in the Jewish community had much more in common, linguistically and culturally, with our Iraqi compatriots than with our European co-religionists.

    Of all the Jewish communities in the Ottoman Empire, the one in Mesopotamia was the most integrated into local society, the most Arabised in its culture and the most prosperous… When the British created the Kingdom of Iraq…the Jews were the backbone of the Iraqi economy”

    Jewish lineage in Mesopotamia stretched as far back as Babylonian times, pre-dating the rise of Islam by a millenium.

    “Their influence was evident in every branch of Iraqi culture, from literature and music to journalism and banking. Banks – with the exception of government owned banks – and all the big markets remained closed on the Sabbath and the other Jewish holy days.” By the 1880s there were 55 synagogues in Baghdad.

    He describes how in Iraq there was a long tradition of religious tolerance and harmony. “The Jews were neither newcomers nor aliens in Iraq. They were certainly not intruders”. By the time of the First World War, Jews constituted one third of the population of Baghdad.

    He contrasts Europe and the Middle East. “Unlike Europe the Middle East did not have a ‘Jewish Question’. “Iraq’s Jews did not live in ghettos, nor did they experience the violent repression, persecution and genocide that marred European history. There were of course exceptions, notably the infamous pogrom against Jews in June 1941, for which the actions of British imperialism must take substantial responsibility.

    By 1941, antisemitism in Baghdad was on the increase but was more a foreign import than a home grown product. There was a violent pogrom against the Jewish community named the farhud. The Jews were seen as friends of the British. 179 Jews were murdered and several hundred injured. It was completely unexpected and unprecedented. There had been no other attack against the Jews for centuries. Avi gives many examples of Muslims assisting their Jewish neighbours.

    And yet he writes: “The overall picture, however, was one of religious tolerance, cosmopolitanism, peaceful co-existence and fruitful interaction.”

    The critical moment was the creation of Israel. “As a result of the Arab defeat, there was a backlash against the Jews throughout the Arab world. “What had been a pillar of Iraqi society was increasingly perceived as a sinister fifth column”, with Islamic fundamentalists and Arab nationalists identifying the Jews in their countries with the hated Zionist enemy.

    Palestinians “were the main victims of the Zionist project. More than half their number became refugees and the name Palestine was wiped off the map. But there was another category of victims, less well known and much less talked about: the Jews of the Arab lands”.

    The sub-title of the book refers to ‘Arab-Jews’. “The hyphen is significant. Critics of the term Arab-Jew see it as… conflating two separate identities. As I see it, the hyphen unites: an Arab can also be a Jew and a Jew can also be an Arab…We are told that there is a clash of cultures, an unbridgeable gulf between Muslims and Jews… The story of my family in Iraq -and that of many forgotten families like mine – points to a dramatically different picture. It harks back to an era of a more pluralist Middle East with greater religious tolerance and a political culture of mutual respect and co-operation.”

    Yet the Zionists portray the Jews as the victims of endemic Arab persecution and this is used to justify the atrocious treatment of the Palestinians. Thus the narrative of the ‘Jewish Nakba’ to create a ‘false symmetry between the fate of two communities. This narrative is not history; it is the propaganda of the victors.”

    On 29th November 1947 the General Assembly of the United Nations voted for the partition of mandate Palestine into two states: one Arab, one Jewish. The General Council of the Iraqi Jewish community sent a telegram to the UN opposing the partition resolution and the creation of a Jewish state. “Like my family, the majority of Iraqi Jews saw themselves as Iraqi first and Jewish second; they feared that the creation of a Jewish state would undermine their position in Iraq… The distinction between Jews and Zionists, so crucial to interfaith harmony in the Arab world, was rapidly breaking down”.

    Iraq’s participation in the war for Palestine fuelled tensions between Muslims and Jews. Iraqi Jews were widely suspected of being secret supporters of Israel. With the defeat of Palestine a wave of hostility towards Israel and the Jews living in their midst swept through the Arab world. Demonstrators marched through the streets of Baghdad shouting “Death to the Jews.” And the government needing a scapegoat did not simply respond to public anger but actively whipped up public hysteria and suspicion against the Jews.

    At this point official persecution against the Jews began. In July 1948 a law was passed making Zionism a criminal offence punishable by death or a minimum sentence of seven years in prison. Jews were fired from government jobs and from the railways, post office and telegraph department, Jewish merchants were denied import and export licences, restrictions placed on Jewish banks to trade in foreign currency, young Jews were barred from admission to colleges of education and the entire community was put under surveillance.

    The number of Jewish immigrants leaving Iraq to the end of 1953 numbered almost 125,000 out of a total of 135,000. The Jewish presence going back well over 2,000 years was destroyed.

    And yet for all this the mass exodus did not occur till 1950/1951 in what was known as the ‘Big Aliyah”. The majority of Iraqi Jews did not want to leave Iraq and had no affinity with Zionism. Most who emigrated to Israel did so only after a wave of five bombings of Jewish targets in Baghdad. It has long been argued that the bombings were instigated by Israel and the Zionists to spark a mass flight of Iraqi Jews to Israel, needed as they were to do many of the menial jobs and to boost numbers in the army.

    The author makes a forensic examination of the evidence – based on examination of documents and on interviews – and concluded that three out of the five bombings were carried out by the Zionist underground in Baghdad, a fourth – the bombing of the Mas’uda Shemtob synagogue, which was the only one that resulted in fatalities – was the result of Zionist bribery and there was one carried out by a far right wing, anti-Jewish Iraqi nationalist group.

    When the Iraqi Jews arrived in Israel, their experience fell short of the Zionist myth. At the airport in Israel, many were sprayed with DDT pesticides “to disinfect them as if they were animals.” They were then taken to squalid and unsanitary transit camps. Some camps were surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by policemen. The immigration and settlement authorities had no understanding of their customs and culture. “They thought of them as backward and primitive and expected them to take their place at the bottom of the social hierarchy and be grateful for whatever they were given… The lens through which the new immigrants were viewed was the same colonialist lens through which the Ashkenazi establishment viewed the Palestinians.”

    “We were Jews from an Arab country that was still officially at war with Israel. European Jews.. looked down on us as socially and culturally inferior. They despised the Arabic language…I was an Iraqi boy in a land of Europeans.”

    For his grandmothers, Iraq was the beloved homeland while Israel was the place of exile. “Migration to Israel is usually described as Aliyah or ascent. For us the move from Iraq to Israel was decidedly a Yeridah, a descent down the economic and social ladder. Not only did we lose our property and possessions; we also our lost our strong sense of identity as proud Iraqi Jews as we were relegated to the margins of Israeli society.” The experience was to break his father.

    “The unstated aims of the official policy for schools were to undermine our Arab-Jewish identity… A systematic process was at work to delegitimise our heritage and erase our cultural roots” It was a clash of cultures. The Mizrahim were earmarked to be the proletariat – the fodder to support the country’s industrial and agricultural development. As one author put it, “We left Iraq as Jews and arrived in Israel as Iraqis.” They were clearly, to borrow from current jargon, “the wrong kind of Israeli”.

    His journey was a political one too. His message and his warnings are unequivocally universalist. “The Holocaust stands out as an archetype of a crime against humanity. For me as a Jew and an Israeli therefore the Holocaust teaches us to resist the dehumanising of any people, including the Palestinian ‘victims of victims’, because dehumanising a people can easily result, as it did in Europe in the 1940s, in crimes against humanity.”

    He had previously argued that it was only after the 1967 war that Israel became a colonial power, oppressing the Palestinians in the occupied territories. However, “a deeper analysis… led me to the conclusion that Israel had been created by a settler-colonial movement. The years 1948 and 1967 were merely milestones in the relentless systematic takeover of the whole of Palestine… Since Zionism was an avowedly settler-colonial movement from the outset, the building of civilian settlements on occupied land was only a new stage in the long march… The most crucial turning point was not the war of 1967 but the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.”

    And more: “the two-state solution is dead or, to be more accurate, it was never born… The outcome I have come to favour is one democratic state… with equal rights for all its citizens regardless of ethnicity or religion.” He is absolutely right in my view.

    His family’s story “serves as a corrective to the Zionist narrative which views Arabs and Jews as congenitally incapable of dwelling together in peace and doomed to permanent conflict and discord… My experience as a young boy and that of the whole Jewish community in Iraq, suggests there is nothing inevitable or pre-ordained about Arab-Jewish antagonism… Remembering the past can help us to envisage a better future… Arab-Jewish co-existence is not something that my family imagined in our minds; we experienced it, we touched it.”

    Optimistic? Yes, perhaps over-optimistic. But towards the end of this masterpiece, Avi Schlaim justifies his message. “Recalling the era of cosmopolitanism and co-existence that some Jews, like my family, enjoyed in Arab countries before 1948 offers a glimmer of hope… It’s the best model we have for a better future.”


    https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/article/avi-shlaim-three-worlds-memoirs-of-an-arab-jew/
    Avi Shlaim: ‘Three Worlds – Memoirs of an Arab – Jew’ This beautiful, inspiring, elegiac book is the story of the author’s journey – a journey from Baghdad to Israel in 1950, aged five, and from Israel to England. But Avi Schlaim’s journey was at different levels. It was geographical and it was cultural. It also became a political journey to his own position today. His personal experiences illustrate a bigger story of the Jewish exodus from Iraq to Israel in 1950 following the creation of Israel in 1948. His story and his words speak more eloquently than any reviewer can, and so for the most part, I quote directly from his memoir. The book is “a glimpse into the lost and rich world of the Iraqi-Jewish community”. Perhaps, coming from what he describes as a prosperous, privileged family, he may see the past through rose-tinted glasses. But his memories are precious. “We belonged to a branch of the global Jewish community that is now almost extinct. We were Arab-Jews. We lived in Baghdad and were well integrated into Iraqi society. We spoke Arabic at home, our social customs were Arab, our lifestyle was Arab, our cuisine was exquisitely Middle Eastern and my parents’ music was an attractive blend of Arabic and Jewish…We in the Jewish community had much more in common, linguistically and culturally, with our Iraqi compatriots than with our European co-religionists. Of all the Jewish communities in the Ottoman Empire, the one in Mesopotamia was the most integrated into local society, the most Arabised in its culture and the most prosperous… When the British created the Kingdom of Iraq…the Jews were the backbone of the Iraqi economy” Jewish lineage in Mesopotamia stretched as far back as Babylonian times, pre-dating the rise of Islam by a millenium. “Their influence was evident in every branch of Iraqi culture, from literature and music to journalism and banking. Banks – with the exception of government owned banks – and all the big markets remained closed on the Sabbath and the other Jewish holy days.” By the 1880s there were 55 synagogues in Baghdad. He describes how in Iraq there was a long tradition of religious tolerance and harmony. “The Jews were neither newcomers nor aliens in Iraq. They were certainly not intruders”. By the time of the First World War, Jews constituted one third of the population of Baghdad. He contrasts Europe and the Middle East. “Unlike Europe the Middle East did not have a ‘Jewish Question’. “Iraq’s Jews did not live in ghettos, nor did they experience the violent repression, persecution and genocide that marred European history. There were of course exceptions, notably the infamous pogrom against Jews in June 1941, for which the actions of British imperialism must take substantial responsibility. By 1941, antisemitism in Baghdad was on the increase but was more a foreign import than a home grown product. There was a violent pogrom against the Jewish community named the farhud. The Jews were seen as friends of the British. 179 Jews were murdered and several hundred injured. It was completely unexpected and unprecedented. There had been no other attack against the Jews for centuries. Avi gives many examples of Muslims assisting their Jewish neighbours. And yet he writes: “The overall picture, however, was one of religious tolerance, cosmopolitanism, peaceful co-existence and fruitful interaction.” The critical moment was the creation of Israel. “As a result of the Arab defeat, there was a backlash against the Jews throughout the Arab world. “What had been a pillar of Iraqi society was increasingly perceived as a sinister fifth column”, with Islamic fundamentalists and Arab nationalists identifying the Jews in their countries with the hated Zionist enemy. Palestinians “were the main victims of the Zionist project. More than half their number became refugees and the name Palestine was wiped off the map. But there was another category of victims, less well known and much less talked about: the Jews of the Arab lands”. The sub-title of the book refers to ‘Arab-Jews’. “The hyphen is significant. Critics of the term Arab-Jew see it as… conflating two separate identities. As I see it, the hyphen unites: an Arab can also be a Jew and a Jew can also be an Arab…We are told that there is a clash of cultures, an unbridgeable gulf between Muslims and Jews… The story of my family in Iraq -and that of many forgotten families like mine – points to a dramatically different picture. It harks back to an era of a more pluralist Middle East with greater religious tolerance and a political culture of mutual respect and co-operation.” Yet the Zionists portray the Jews as the victims of endemic Arab persecution and this is used to justify the atrocious treatment of the Palestinians. Thus the narrative of the ‘Jewish Nakba’ to create a ‘false symmetry between the fate of two communities. This narrative is not history; it is the propaganda of the victors.” On 29th November 1947 the General Assembly of the United Nations voted for the partition of mandate Palestine into two states: one Arab, one Jewish. The General Council of the Iraqi Jewish community sent a telegram to the UN opposing the partition resolution and the creation of a Jewish state. “Like my family, the majority of Iraqi Jews saw themselves as Iraqi first and Jewish second; they feared that the creation of a Jewish state would undermine their position in Iraq… The distinction between Jews and Zionists, so crucial to interfaith harmony in the Arab world, was rapidly breaking down”. Iraq’s participation in the war for Palestine fuelled tensions between Muslims and Jews. Iraqi Jews were widely suspected of being secret supporters of Israel. With the defeat of Palestine a wave of hostility towards Israel and the Jews living in their midst swept through the Arab world. Demonstrators marched through the streets of Baghdad shouting “Death to the Jews.” And the government needing a scapegoat did not simply respond to public anger but actively whipped up public hysteria and suspicion against the Jews. At this point official persecution against the Jews began. In July 1948 a law was passed making Zionism a criminal offence punishable by death or a minimum sentence of seven years in prison. Jews were fired from government jobs and from the railways, post office and telegraph department, Jewish merchants were denied import and export licences, restrictions placed on Jewish banks to trade in foreign currency, young Jews were barred from admission to colleges of education and the entire community was put under surveillance. The number of Jewish immigrants leaving Iraq to the end of 1953 numbered almost 125,000 out of a total of 135,000. The Jewish presence going back well over 2,000 years was destroyed. And yet for all this the mass exodus did not occur till 1950/1951 in what was known as the ‘Big Aliyah”. The majority of Iraqi Jews did not want to leave Iraq and had no affinity with Zionism. Most who emigrated to Israel did so only after a wave of five bombings of Jewish targets in Baghdad. It has long been argued that the bombings were instigated by Israel and the Zionists to spark a mass flight of Iraqi Jews to Israel, needed as they were to do many of the menial jobs and to boost numbers in the army. The author makes a forensic examination of the evidence – based on examination of documents and on interviews – and concluded that three out of the five bombings were carried out by the Zionist underground in Baghdad, a fourth – the bombing of the Mas’uda Shemtob synagogue, which was the only one that resulted in fatalities – was the result of Zionist bribery and there was one carried out by a far right wing, anti-Jewish Iraqi nationalist group. When the Iraqi Jews arrived in Israel, their experience fell short of the Zionist myth. At the airport in Israel, many were sprayed with DDT pesticides “to disinfect them as if they were animals.” They were then taken to squalid and unsanitary transit camps. Some camps were surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by policemen. The immigration and settlement authorities had no understanding of their customs and culture. “They thought of them as backward and primitive and expected them to take their place at the bottom of the social hierarchy and be grateful for whatever they were given… The lens through which the new immigrants were viewed was the same colonialist lens through which the Ashkenazi establishment viewed the Palestinians.” “We were Jews from an Arab country that was still officially at war with Israel. European Jews.. looked down on us as socially and culturally inferior. They despised the Arabic language…I was an Iraqi boy in a land of Europeans.” For his grandmothers, Iraq was the beloved homeland while Israel was the place of exile. “Migration to Israel is usually described as Aliyah or ascent. For us the move from Iraq to Israel was decidedly a Yeridah, a descent down the economic and social ladder. Not only did we lose our property and possessions; we also our lost our strong sense of identity as proud Iraqi Jews as we were relegated to the margins of Israeli society.” The experience was to break his father. “The unstated aims of the official policy for schools were to undermine our Arab-Jewish identity… A systematic process was at work to delegitimise our heritage and erase our cultural roots” It was a clash of cultures. The Mizrahim were earmarked to be the proletariat – the fodder to support the country’s industrial and agricultural development. As one author put it, “We left Iraq as Jews and arrived in Israel as Iraqis.” They were clearly, to borrow from current jargon, “the wrong kind of Israeli”. His journey was a political one too. His message and his warnings are unequivocally universalist. “The Holocaust stands out as an archetype of a crime against humanity. For me as a Jew and an Israeli therefore the Holocaust teaches us to resist the dehumanising of any people, including the Palestinian ‘victims of victims’, because dehumanising a people can easily result, as it did in Europe in the 1940s, in crimes against humanity.” He had previously argued that it was only after the 1967 war that Israel became a colonial power, oppressing the Palestinians in the occupied territories. However, “a deeper analysis… led me to the conclusion that Israel had been created by a settler-colonial movement. The years 1948 and 1967 were merely milestones in the relentless systematic takeover of the whole of Palestine… Since Zionism was an avowedly settler-colonial movement from the outset, the building of civilian settlements on occupied land was only a new stage in the long march… The most crucial turning point was not the war of 1967 but the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.” And more: “the two-state solution is dead or, to be more accurate, it was never born… The outcome I have come to favour is one democratic state… with equal rights for all its citizens regardless of ethnicity or religion.” He is absolutely right in my view. His family’s story “serves as a corrective to the Zionist narrative which views Arabs and Jews as congenitally incapable of dwelling together in peace and doomed to permanent conflict and discord… My experience as a young boy and that of the whole Jewish community in Iraq, suggests there is nothing inevitable or pre-ordained about Arab-Jewish antagonism… Remembering the past can help us to envisage a better future… Arab-Jewish co-existence is not something that my family imagined in our minds; we experienced it, we touched it.” Optimistic? Yes, perhaps over-optimistic. But towards the end of this masterpiece, Avi Schlaim justifies his message. “Recalling the era of cosmopolitanism and co-existence that some Jews, like my family, enjoyed in Arab countries before 1948 offers a glimmer of hope… It’s the best model we have for a better future.” https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/article/avi-shlaim-three-worlds-memoirs-of-an-arab-jew/
    WWW.JEWISHVOICEFORLABOUR.ORG.UK
    Avi Shlaim: ‘Three Worlds – Memoirs of an Arab – Jew’
    Graham Bash reviews this groundbreaking personal and political memoir by Avi Shlaim in which he laments the lost world of…
    1 Comments 0 Shares 7844 Views
More Results