“Resist the Normalization of Evil”: Israeli Reporter Amira Hass on Palestine & the Role of Journalism

"Resist the Normalization of Evil": Israeli Reporter Amira Hass on Palestine & the Role of Journalism 1

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

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

Israel is intensifying its bombardment of the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza, destroying dozens of residential buildings in heavy airstrikes overnight and pushing residents to flee to other parts of the city. This comes as Israel is vowing to escalate its ground attack in the southernmost city of Rafah, with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant saying Thursday additional troops would enter Rafah and that military operations will intensify in the city. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also said Thursday, quote, “The battle in Rafah is critical,” unquote.

One-point-four million Palestinians — over half of Gaza’s population — had been displaced to Rafah seeking shelter. Now more than 600,000 have fled Rafah over the past week and a half since Israel launched its ground offensive there. Since then, no food, fuel or other aid has entered the two main border crossings in southern Gaza, further exacerbating the humanitarian crisis. Some 1.1 million Palestinians are on the brink of starvation, according to the U.N., while a full-blown famine is taking place in the north, this confirmed by the World Food Programme.

The developments come as the International Court of Justice has wrapped up two days of hearings in The Hague after South Africa’s request last week for emergency measures to halt Israel’s assault on Rafah. It marked the third time the U.N.’s top court held hearings on Gaza since South Africa filed a case in December accusing Israel of committing genocide. On Thursday, South Africa’s ambassador to the Netherlands, Vusimuzi Madonsela, urged the court to order Israel to “totally and unconditionally withdraw” from the Gaza Strip.

VUSIMUZI MADONSELA: When we last appeared before this court to halt this genocidal process, to preserve Palestine and its people, instead, Israel’s genocide has continued apace and has just reached a new and horrific stage. Israel has sought to hide its crimes through the weaponization of international humanitarian law. It pretends that the civilians it ruthlessly kills, through its 2,000-pound bombs, through its targeted airstrikes, through its artificial intelligence systems, through its executions, are human shields. This whitewashing of Israel’s genocide misses the key and fundamental element, that of the massive and still mounting evidence of Israel’s genocidal intent.

AMY GOODMAN: Israel presented its defense at the World Court today and denied it’s carrying out a genocide in Gaza. This is the head of the Israeli delegation to the court, Gilad Noam.

GILAD NOAM: South Africa presents the court yet again, for the fourth time within the scope of less than five months, with a picture that is completely divorced from the facts and circumstances. Israel is engaged in a difficult and tragic armed conflict. South Africa ignores this factual context, which is essential in order to comprehend the situation, and also ignores the applicable legal framework of international humanitarian law. It makes a mockery of the heinous charge of genocide.

AMY GOODMAN: The International Court of Justice today ordered representatives for Israel to submit more information about humanitarian conditions in its so-called evacuation zones in Gaza. This comes as foreign ministers from 13 countries have signed onto a letter warning Israel to halt its ground operations in Rafah and to get more aid to Palestinians. The letter is signed by all G7 members minus the United States.

For more, we’re joined by longtime Israeli journalist Amira Hass. Born in 1956 in Jerusalem, her parents Holocaust survivors, she’s the Haaretz correspondent for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, based in Ramallah. She’s the only Israeli Jewish journalist to have spent 30 years living in and reporting from Gaza and the West Bank. Her books include Drinking the Sea at Gaza: Days and Nights in a Land Under Siege. Amira Hass is the recipient of the 2024 Columbia Journalism Award. And on Wednesday, she addressed the graduating class of the Columbia Journalism School here in New York. She now joins us in our New York studio.

Amira, welcome to Democracy Now!

AMIRA HASS: Thank you, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: Congratulations on your award, but more importantly on your reporting. You are so unusual in Israel as the only Israeli Jewish journalist who lived in the Occupied Territories for the last 30 years. As you gave your address to the Columbia Journalism School, a number of its students threatened by New York police to even step outside the school when they were trying to cover the Gaza Solidarity Encampment outside, as police moved in, and, ultimately, I think, the number of arrests on campus numbered more than 200. Can you talk about the coming together of the issues that you cover, and what you feel it’s so important that journalists should understand about their role in society?

AMIRA HASS: As I said in my address to the students, it is — if I want to sum it up not in a professional way or like a teacher-like way, is to resist the normalization of evil and of injustice, because we are so used to so — there is so much injustice in this world, not in — everywhere. And we have to use our — the unwritten social contract between us and citizens the world over to scrutinize, to monitor, to challenge power, centers of power, the abusive power. Any power can be abusive or is abusive, only we have the power to at least try and restrain it. I think this is — this should be the role — not the only role, but this should be a main role of journalists, to restrain power, wherever it is being manifested.

AMY GOODMAN: Ever the journalist, in your J school address, you quoted a friend in Gaza. This is particularly important as —


AMY GOODMAN: — what happened just feet from where the school is. If you can tell us who he is —


AMY GOODMAN: — and what he said?

AMIRA HASS: Yeah. Just a few — two weeks before the address, I received a WhatsApp from a friend called Bassam Nasser. I met him in the early ’90s when he was still a student. And we haven’t been in touch for many years. He’s a father of four. He’s heading a aid institution or center in Gaza. He was displaced, like so many others, from Gaza to Rafah to save his life. His house, I know, is in ruins now in Gaza. And now he had to flee again with his family from — and the institution, from Rafah to Deir al-Balah in the center. And he sent me a very — he, from time to time, writes something on WhatsApp in English, and I guess he shares it with some others, and he shares his thoughts and feelings. And he shared with me something concerning the demonstrations and protests in American campuses. And I thought, of course, fit to bring it to the — to read it. So I can read it now. Sorry. And this is from the talk and what I — the quote that I brought on Wednesday to the students.

“A glimmer of hope emerges from university students demonstrating the enduring presence of humanity. Panicked, hypocritical politicians swiftly resort to force in order to quell the movement, fearing its global expansion. Repression is enacted to stifle voices challenging the status quo. Police and National Guards are deployed, arresting students who were expelled just hours earlier for speaking out against the violence in Palestine. From Gaza to New York and other major cities worldwide, I want to express deep gratitude for these voices. While you may not be able to save every child in Gaza or restore our shattered lives and dreams, and your efforts won’t prevent the next devastating airstrike that will wipe out our entire family, on behalf of every Palestinian, I want to express heartfelt appreciation for raising awareness to our plight.” And I know he’s not the only one. I mean, I know that if there was some kind of, really, a ray of hope in people’s life in — people’s hell — it’s not life — in the last month, are those demonstrations and protests.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, I wanted to go to someone else talking about those protests. You gave your graduation address on Wednesday at the Columbia Journalism School. The president, Minouche Shafik, had canceled the main graduation ceremony because of the protests. But yesterday, faculty, to say the least, completely exhausted, organized a People’s Graduation. Columbia students and faculty celebrated an alternative People’s Graduation as they gathered for a ceremony just nearby at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, with many students wearing their blue graduation gowns. On the stage with the professors was the Reverend Herbert Daughtry, the New York civil rights leader who was an early mentor to now-Mayor Eric Adams, who’s claimed the protests at Columbia were, quote, “coopted by professional outside agitators.” But among the speakers who addressed the students was the poet Fady Joudah, who read his poem, “Dedication,” about Palestinians killed by Israel; the Palestinian American lawyer and human rights activist Noura Erakat; and the award-winning journalist Mona Chalabi, who has rejected her 2023 Pulitzer Prize and has been highly critical of Gaza coverage by mainstream U.S. media outlets. In her address, she paid tribute to the student journalists in the audience who covered the Gaza encampment, often while facing arrest themselves.

MONA CHALABI: Hi, habibis. I’m just going to talk to you for two minutes, because I have the huge honor of acknowledging my fellow journalists in the room. So, as many of you know, our institutions have failed us these past seven months, and long before that. Writers and editors at some of the most respected newsrooms have told lies about what is happening in Gaza. They have said that death threats falling from the skies are evacuation orders. They have described forced displacement as migration. They have issued warnings to their staff, telling them not to use words like “ethnic cleansing” or “genocide.” In short, they’ve used their reporting to minimize the suffering in Gaza and maintain a status quo. And they’ve had that reporting honored by the Pulitzers. They’ve even sought to —


MONA CHALABI: They’ve even sought to discredit or ignore Palestinian journalists, like Hind, who face death every day.

So I shouldn’t have been surprised when I heard what happened last month. A reporter at The New York Times was told that something seemed to be happening at Columbia University. Students appeared to have claimed a lawn as theirs. So, like any breaking news story, a select channel had been created for the journalists to discuss details and assign stories. This is what they do at The New York Times. When this reporter joined the select channel, they were surprised to find that it had been titled “Antisemitism on Campus.” They had decided what the story was before they even took a train uptown.


MONA CHALABI: Meanwhile, journalists on campus have had a very different perspective. You had begun reporting before a single tent was assembled. You have not only witnessed the encampments, you listened to the chants, you read the signs, and you spoke to the organizers. You did the work, and you did it so well that journalists like me off campus turned to your words, your Instagram accounts, and we listened to your radio stations if we wanted the truth.

And you did that truth telling while cops harassed, assaulted and arrested you and your fellow students. And you did it all while trying to graduate and to grieve. That is true for anti-Zionist Jewish students who were having their faith questioned by those who want them to fall silent. It’s true for students whose parents look like the mothers and fathers being killed every day. And it is especially true for the Palestinian students who continue to report the facts while navigating unbearable grief. I am so proud to call you my colleagues. Would the journalists in the room please stand?

AMY GOODMAN: That’s the award-winning journalist Mona Chalabi, who just won the 2023 Pulitzer Prize, though she rejected it. At the award ceremony, Mona called out fellow journalists for their unwillingness to say the word “Palestine.” She donated her $15,000 prize money to the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate to help fight what she talked about as the asymmetry of information that elevates Israeli voices over Palestinian ones in the mainstream media. She was addressing the People’s Graduation yesterday at St. John the Divine for the Columbia and Barnard students.

Amira Hass, as you listen to Mona and you think about also the Palestinian journalists who have died in Gaza, the astounding number of journalists who have died —

AMIRA HASS: Who have been killed.

AMY GOODMAN: Who have been killed.


AMY GOODMAN: Talk about that, then. And do you feel that they were directly targeted, so often wearing the press vests and the helmets?


AMY GOODMAN: I remember one Palestinian journalist, as he heard about his dear friend just having been killed, ripped off his press and helmet and said, “Why are we wearing these? They just make us a target.”

AMIRA HASS: Yeah. I guess, you know, one part in me wants to think that this is not true, I mean, that they were killed because they are in places which are dangerous and because they circulate a lot, I mean, move around in times when people try not to move around. I think there is what we call a finger — I think, a fingerprint targeting or profiling, because anybody who uses a drone, even for filming, for photographing, is considered by the people behind the Israeli assaulting drones, or Predator drones, as somebody who is part of the fighting units, so they kill them automatically without checking if they are only taking photos. So, I think there is a variety of excuses or explanation that Israel would give. But certainly, in some cases, they were connecting journalists to the 7th of October or to other activities completely not as journalists and wanting to take revenge of them. But this has to be checked, and I think it is being checked by several venues, each one case.

But certainly, when there are so many people, so many journalists killed, it shows that there is a pattern. And our role is to discover the pattern. But there are patterns of other things. There are patterns of whole families who are being killed, so 40, 30, 35. So, you can say that you are targeting one of the family, which means that you allow the killing of — let’s say that this one person is very dangerous to the security of Israel. Then it means that you allow yourself to kill 30 people, 40 people, 25 people, including children, including babies, for one person. So this is a pattern. We can learn about it from the reality. We don’t need to have secret documents for it. But it was so. There is a very important investigation by Yuval Abraham of +972, who did talk to intelligence, soldiers in the intelligence, and proved that there is an Israeli OK to kill so-and-so many for one person.

AMY GOODMAN: And we interviewed Yuval —


AMY GOODMAN: — on Democracy Now! talking about the AI programs Lavender and Where’s Daddy?

AMIRA HASS: Yes, yeah, yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: So, you have the killing of journalists and then the banning of journalists. And I wanted to go for a moment — I think it was two days after World Press Freedom Day that Israel banned Al Jazeera inside —


AMY GOODMAN: — the country, police officers raiding the network’s Jerusalem bureau, seizing broadcast equipment. Over the past seven months, Al Jazeera, one of the only international outlets with reporters on the ground inside Gaza — a few of whom were killed. This is a prerecorded video message by Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan from East Jerusalem.

IMRAN KHAN: If you’re watching this prerecorded report, then Al Jazeera has been banned in the territory of Israel. On April the 1st, the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, passed a law that allowed the prime minister to ban Al Jazeera. He’s now enacted that law.

Let me just take you through some of the definitions within the law. They’ve banned our website, including anything that has the option of entering or accessing the website, even passwords that are needed, whether they’re paid or not, and whether it’s stored on Israeli servers or outside of Israel. The website is now inaccessible. They’re also banning any device used for providing content. That includes my mobile phone. If I use that to do any kind of news gathering, then the Israelis can simply confiscate it. Our internet access provider, the guy that simply hosts AlJazeera.net, is also in danger of being fined if they host the website. The Al Jazeera TV channel, completely banned. Transmission by any kind of content provider is also banned, and holding offices or operating them in the territory of Israel by the channel. Also, once again, any devices used to provide content for the channel can be taken away by the Israelis.

It’s a wide-ranging ban. We don’t know how long it will be in place for, but it does cover this territory of the state of Israel.

Imran Khan, Al Jazeera, occupied East Jerusalem.

AMY GOODMAN: And that was his last report from occupied East Jerusalem. Now Al Jazeera reporters say, when they’re reporting from, for example, Amman, “We are banned from Israel.” But interestingly, Amira Hass, you don’t have the same thing happening with CNN and MSNBC. No, they’re not banned from reporting in Israel, but they are not allowed by Israel to go into Gaza. And each time they have a report outside of Gaza, they don’t say, “And we want to remind you, we are not on the ground in Gaza because the Israeli government has prevented that.”

AMIRA HASS: I cannot — I don’t watch them when I’m in Ramallah. But I want to say that when it comes to the Israeli public, it doesn’t matter if Al Jazeera are inside Israel or not inside Israel. The general Israeli public does not want to know about what’s happening in Gaza. And the Israeli media does not show anything. I mean, they show very, very, very few images of the destruction. They give very little information and footage of the death, of the wounded people. I mean, there is no relation between what is happening and what is shown on Al Jazeera and what the Israeli media shows.

But it is not — it is not a dictate from above. It is not state censorship, unlike with Al Jazeera. It is a decision of most of the Israeli venues, most of the Israeli media venues, especially the TV, of course, not to show those horrible scenes, that might give some sense to some Israelis that this is, not morally, but this is — logically, cannot produce — cannot produce a change in Palestinian attitudes or a change for accepting Israel or accepting Israeli right to exist, etc., etc., for eight months it launches such an onslaught of revenge and supremacy against them. But the Israeli public is not looking for it, is not searching for it, in general. I mean, of course there are exceptions, like the Israeli left wing, Israeli activists, Israeli human rights activists, political leftist activists. Of course, there are exceptions, so it’s not the entire society. And, of course, there are the Palestinians who are Israeli citizens. But the banning of Al Jazeera is not the reason why Israelis do not see — do not see the reality in Gaza. And this is not the reason. This is the choice not to know.

AMY GOODMAN: Interestingly, hostage families — you don’t even see in the U.S. media hostage families saying, “End this war.” You certainly see them talking about the horror of —


AMY GOODMAN: — their loved ones being held in Gaza. But the second part of it, for a number of these hostage families, are “End the war now.”

AMIRA HASS: Yeah, number, not all, but number, yes, of course. But this is the American media. I mean, it’s not — we do know that there are families among the hostage families that do speak differently than the choir.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to ask you about the Nakba, about what happened in 1948 and what’s happening today, when we come back from break. We’re speaking with longtime Israeli journalist Amira Hass, Haaretz correspondent for the Occupied Palestinian Territories. She’s based in Ramallah. And she lived in Gaza for three years, wrote a book called Drinking the Sea at Gaza: Days and Nights in a Land Under Siege. She’s the only Israeli journalist to have lived in the Occupied Territories for decades. Stay with us.


AMY GOODMAN: Composer and pianist Vijay Iyer performing “Kite” during the People’s Graduation Thursday at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. He dedicated the song to the Palestinian writer and poet Refaat Alareer, who was killed in December by an Israeli airstrike along with his brother, sister and four of his nieces, children.

This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we continue our conversation with the longtime Israeli journalist Amira Hass, the Haaretz correspondent for the Occupied Palestinian Territories. She’s now based in Ramallah, the only Israeli Jewish journalist to have spent 30 years in and reporting from Gaza and the West Bank. Among her books, Drinking the Sea at Gaza: Days and Nights in a Land Under Siege, and editing her mother’s memoir from Bergen-Belsen, from the concentration camp. She is the daughter of Holocaust survivors.

Talk about what happened 76 years ago this week, May 15th, Amira, and talk about what’s happening today.

AMIRA HASS: I’ll start from with today, because I think that we — look, there is a country with two peoples, Palestinians and Jews. And we can have a long discussion, historiographical discussion, and debate about how it came about that there are two peoples in this country and why in 1948 there was a state for Jews established, while the U.N. resolution about a state for Palestinians — Arabs, as they were called — was not established. It doesn’t change the fact that there are two peoples. And it doesn’t change the fact that people want to live in their homeland. It doesn’t change the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of refugees, Palestinian refugees, who were — or hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who were chased out of the country, of their homeland, in 1948, and that, by now, with their children and grandchildren, there are several millions, and they see this country as their country, as their homeland. And it doesn’t change the fact that there are Israeli Jews who see Israel and the country as their country.

And there is a decision that has to be made. Do they want to live, do they want their grandchildren to live, and live well, in that country, in justice? Or do they want to send their grandchildren and children for wars forever, that will force some people, who have the money, who have the talents, who have the contacts, to emigrate, and for others to remain and to live in destitute and in hunger and in ignorance for the rest of their lives and their — I don’t know — for the end of the generations, or until the world expires? So, this is why we feel that we still live the Nakba and the outcomes of the Nakba, because there is no —

AMY GOODMAN: The Nakba, Arabic for “catastrophe.”

AMIRA HASS: For “catastrophe” — because there is no acknowledgment that you cannot live in this unbearable injustice, that one people has the rights and one people controls and dictates the life of the other people in the land. The thing is that we have to acknowledge there are two peoples in the land, and peoples have rights. And right now we deprive the Palestinians of their very basic rights, not only the basic right of life, as we see going on in Gaza right now, but on the normal days of occupation, we deprive them of water, freedom of movement, land, housing rights, planning, travel, living with their families, choosing their university, developing their economy, prospering, investing, all these things. At any moment, Israeli soldiers can confiscate millions of dollars from Palestinians for one pretext or another. Israeli settlers carry out Israeli policies, but in much more zeal, and confiscate land, take over land. I mean, Palestinians’ life is never — they are never safe. They never live in security, for more than 75 years, in both sides of the Green Line, both in Israel and the territory occupied in ’67.

So, there has to be a decision by Israeli people: Do we want to live for — we came — Israel was established so that Jews will feel secure and live normally. This is not normal life. They pretended that this is normal life, that we can occupy another people and feel normal. No, on the 7th of October, with all the atrocities and the enormous suffering that families and the casualties and the victims on 7th of October are living through, all this suffering and the, really, trauma, terrible trauma and cruelty, but this was a kind of a very expected answer by Hamas and by Palestinians to yearslong atrocities perpetuated by Israel and perpetrated by Israel.

And the main thing is the refusal, refusal to accept and to acknowledge the national rights of Palestinians for statehood. They were ready for it in the ’90s, I know. I know that the Israelis try to switch everything around and say that they sabotaged the Oslo agreement. Not correct. And this is one of the things that I followed very closely, how Israel did everything, from the beginning, under the guise of a peace process, did everything possible to thwart the establishment of a Palestinian side alongside Israel. And there is a — you know, we go back all the time to this, because all the time Israelis say that it’s the opposite. But they completely avoid all the evidence.

So, Israel did — what Israel did during the last 30 years is to prove to the world and to the Palestinians that the Palestinians were right from the beginning of the ’30s and the ’40s, when they said that Israel is a colonial entity or a settler-colonial entity. Israel had the chance in 1993 to stop its settler-colonial activity in the West Bank and Gaza and to say, “OK, we don’t go back to ’48. Let’s start for now and build a different, a new phase, a new historical phase.” It did the opposite. It continued with its bans on Palestinian construction, on Palestinian development. It disconnected Palestinians from each other, disconnected Gaza from the West Bank, started to fragment more and more the West Bank by roads that are meant only for Jews. And this is in the ’90s. This is in the ’90s. Rabin said himself he did not want — he was not opting for a state. So this is the question of Israeli settler colonialism. It’s Israel that proved that it’s settler-colonial.

And we live with it now with all of this abnormalcy. Israeli Jews wanted to live normally, happily. You go to Tel Aviv, you think you are in New York or you’re in London — and 40, 50 kilometers away, Palestinians live in cages, in cages disconnected from each other, and everything is dictated by Israel — the quantity of water. In my place, in my home in al-Bireh, in summer, we have — the water quantities are rationed, because there is not enough water. But when you go to a nearby settlement, it’s lush. It’s green in so much water they have. Israeli ranchers take over by violence, take over hundreds of thousands or tens of thousands of dunams, something that built settlements could not do. And they do it by violence and by the assistance and silence or indifference or encouragement of the Israeli authorities — the police, the army, the prosecution, everybody.

So, this is — when Palestinians say that the Nakba is ongoing, they don’t only mean — they mean Gaza, of course. And for many people, as I know, they feel that what’s the carnage in Gaza now is much worse than they experienced in 1948. But it’s also the — Israel took the Palestinian life and liberty and freedom as hostage for the past 70 years, 75 years, all over, in many forms. Inside Israel, Palestinians do not dare to speak out, because then they will be — if they just say a word, like if they say the word ”shahid,” which is “martyr,” and they mourn the deaths of so many Palestinians in Gaza, they might be taken. They might be arrested for incitement. So —

AMY GOODMAN: If they use the word “martyr”?

AMIRA HASS: Yeah, like on Facebook. I don’t — in Facebook, you see that they — or “martyr” or something like this. I mean, it’s just an example of how people are afraid to use words that are very normal. Even a sentence from the Qur’an can be taken as a proof that they are — that they support Hamas. So —

AMY GOODMAN: As you talk about Gaza and the West Bank, let’s talk more about the West Bank. Thousands of people have been arrested. Hundreds have been killed since October 7th. You talk about what you call the Smotrich plan. Bezalel Smotrich, now the minister of finance since 2022.

AMIRA HASS: Yeah, and he is a minister also in the Ministry of Defense, and he’s responsible on the settlements, actually, on the development of the settlements of the West Bank.

AMY GOODMAN: Both he and Ben-Gvir are settlers.

AMIRA HASS: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. He published in 2017 something called the Decisive Plan, which actually says that the Palestinians have to accept that they will never have a state, that we will never be equal citizens in this country, and they can enjoy their individual rights. If they don’t want, they can go, they can emigrate, which is, of course, the preferable option for him. And then, if they refuse both and they resist — sometimes he says “violently resist,” sometimes he says “resist” — they will — the army will know, or the security apparatus will know how to deal with it. And it was, in one way or the other, interpreted as, “OK, they will be killed.” He rejected when people — people assumed that he meant that civilians will be killed. He rejected this.

But anyway, we see now that what is happening is the implementation of the Decisive Plan. But it shows that, all over, Palestinians are targeted for any — as a message that if you want to live in peace, I mean, normally, or seemingly or quasi-normally, you have to be silent. You shouldn’t say anything. You certainly should not demonstrate. You certainly shouldn’t take arms. You certainly shouldn’t convene, do something to show support. Even defend yourself, protect yourself from settlers’ violence can cause you an arrest.

So, this message — and Smotrich would not have succeeded to such an extent if the state has not prepared the ground and has not really been in the same position for the last 20 years at least. So, it’s not that Smotrich is such a genius that he can — or so powerful that he can impose his position on the rest of the government. In a way, he is, because, I mean, he knows where Netanyahu is vulnerable. He knows how much also the Orthodox Jews want this government to continue. But the fact that, in practice, all Israeli authorities are part of the repression of the Palestinians, in so many ways, and in such a way that is so similar to Smotrich’s plans, shows that it has been in the DNA of the system of this deep state for so many years.

AMY GOODMAN: As we wrap up this discussion, where do you see what’s happening right now? Just as we sat down, Israel finished its defense for the emergency appeal by South Africa to prevent it from a full-scale ground offensive in Rafah, Israel insisting that aid is coming through with ease at all the entry points, and South Africa saying they must be stopped. How do you see this ending?

AMIRA HASS: Right now I hope that the judges will move, because the way that Israel has been able for almost six months to play and to drag it into — and how the Western countries allow this to continue without putting leverage, that they have, on Israel in order to stop the carnage and the famine and the starvation, and the deliberate starvation, our hopes now are with the judges, that they will see that Israel is lying.

AMY GOODMAN: And what about with the United States? I mean, you have President Biden now announcing $1 billion of military weapons in the pipeline for Israel, including $700 million for tank ammunition, $500 million in tactical vehicles, $60 million in mortar rounds. The significance of what position the U.S. takes and what Biden is doing?

AMIRA HASS: He supports Israel to continue the war. I mean, I see no other explanation to this. I mean, all his words that he’s worried about Rafah or famine or whatever, so it’s such hypocrisy that I feel almost speechless. You think, on the one hand, they are sending aid, or they say that they are sending aid, but it takes so long, and it is so little. And on the other hand, they encourage Israel to continue with the war against Gaza, where we see that already Israel is defeated. I mean, it’s defeated. If such a huge military power is still fighting Hamas after eight months, it doesn’t give anything good to the Israelis, I mean, except of some groups that want it to continue. But —

AMY GOODMAN: Five seconds.

AMIRA HASS: Yeah. But for the majority of Israelis, it’s clear that the majority of Israelis understand, even though they support the war, on the one hand, they understand it’s against them, too.

AMY GOODMAN: Longtime Israeli journalist and author Amira Hass, Haaretz correspondent for the Occupied Palestinian Territories. I’m Amy Goodman. Thanks for joining us.

“Rampage of Killings, Looting, Torture, Rape”: Ethnic Cleansing in Sudan’s Darfur Region

"Rampage of Killings, Looting, Torture, Rape": Ethnic Cleansing in Sudan's Darfur Region 2

This post was originally published on this site

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, Belkis, we want to turn now to a conflict that is very rarely covered, and certainly not covered to the extent that it should be, which is in Sudan, where a humanitarian catastrophe in North Darfur is escalating, as Human Rights Watch has documented. On Wednesday, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Sudan said people are, quote, “trapped in an inferno of brutal violence” between the army and paramilitary forces, which has made it hard to deliver aid, and now, quote, “famine is closing in” for more than 4 million people. Also on Wednesday, the United States imposed sanctions against two commanders of Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.

This is human rights lawyer Jamal Abdallah Khamis describing how he nearly escaped a massacre orchestrated by the Rapid Security Forces, or RSF. He spoke in a video for a new Human Rights Watch report titled “Sudan: Ethnic Cleansing in West Darfur.”

JAMAL ABDALLAH KHAMIS: [translated] I was accompanying my injured friend, Yousef Haroun Kabello. Minutes later, around eight militiamen wearing Rapid Support Forces uniforms appeared. There were others with them from these well-known Arab militias. They were arguing with people. They stopped the cars. They opened fire on us. They shot at the chests of children, women, old and young men. It was a harrowing scene. We thought about how to escape. But we needed a way to escape. How were we going to escape? They started chasing people down the valley and firing on people who were in the water. It was terrifying.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: So, Belkis Wille, that was an excerpt from the video that accompanied your report, Human Rights Watch’s report on Sudan. If you could talk about the key findings in the report and why Human Rights Watch has concluded that the RSF may have committed genocide?

BELKIS WILLE: So, this report is about a period last year between April and June, and then subsequently in November. And we’ve centered the report around events that occurred in the capital of West Darfur, the city of El Geneina. The reason we focused there is because though there has been fighting across Sudan since last April, when there was a split between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces, the RSF, the violence has been perhaps most acute there. And this is, you know, an area that since 2003 has faced waves of violence and horrific killings.

Last April, with this split and fighting that developed in Khartoum, the capital, we saw the RSF proceed to encircle the city of El Geneina, where there was a limited presence of the Sudanese Armed Forces. They pulled out of the city at that point, leaving civilians in the city to the hands of the RSF. The RSF brought in allied militia. And these allied militia and the RSF then, from April until June, conducted a rampage of killings, of looting, of torture, of rape, targeting a specific ethnic group, the Masalit population, and a few other specific ethnic groups. And this was a campaign, as you say, of ethnic cleansing that we saw conducted over about six weeks.

And over that time, these armed forces encircled this population, pushing them into a smaller and smaller sector of the city, and then ultimately pushed them out of the city in one mass wave of killing, where you had tens of thousands of people on the streets, mostly Masalit, walking, trying to get to safety, and Rapid Support Forces along the sides of the road just opening fire and shooting them. People started running. They jumped into the river, which was deep. They were drowning. As they were drowning, they were being shot and killed. Some then turned around and ran in the direction of the border with Chad. And they, along that road, were also rounded up by forces, and many were killed.

At the end of last summer, my colleague and I interviewed dozens of survivors of this violence. We ended up interviewing 200 or so. And they shared with us horrific details about these killings. And it’s really important that states focus on the acuteness of this violence and focus on examining whether indeed there was intent to commit genocide by the RSF and whether there should be prosecutions for genocide.

AMY GOODMAN: And, Belkis Wille, if you can explain: Who is arming both sides? I mean, we’ve just passed the first anniversary of this conflict between the Sudanese military and the RSF, who were together before this. And explain who the leaders are and the countries on both sides.

BELKIS WILLE: Unfortunately, this is an incredibly murky picture. We have different governments providing arms to either side of these groups. We ourselves have been trying to track some of these arms transfers, because, of course, the more that weapons continue to get poured into this conflict, the more the fighting will continue and the more civilians will pay the price.

I think what’s perhaps the most notable, though, is actually the lack of action to protect civilians, whether that’s by the U.N. Security Council or by the African Union. You know, there was a U.N. mission of peacekeepers that was based in Sudan, and their mission ended in 2020. A new mission was created by the U.N. that had no peacekeeping or protection of civilian mandate. It was only a, you know, political negotiations mission. But even that closed at the end of last year, last November. So, at the moment in Sudan, there is absolutely no entity that is focused on the protection of civilians.

And so, what we’re calling for in this report is a new mission, that needs to be created both by the U.N. and the African Union, sent into Sudan with a mission to protect civilians. And at the same time, we need to see an effective arms embargo. Currently there’s an arms embargo in place in the context of Darfur. It’s not being complied with. As you said, there are different states pouring weapons into the country. And that needs to be complied with in order to better protect civilians.

If I may just add one thing, which is there is another city, a city in northern Darfur, which you mentioned, El Fasher. That city, as of this morning, is in flames in the eastern part of the city. We saw satellite imagery from two days ago showing that the RSF has encircled the city and that there are fires developing in civilian neighborhoods. And this is a city that’s been housing tens of thousands of people who have been displaced from fighting in other parts of Darfur.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Belkis, as you mentioned, there is an existing arms embargo. So, if you could say, I mean, how is an arms embargo normally enforced, and why hasn’t it been enforced in this case? And what are the countries that are violating the arms embargo consistently? Outside powers who are involved in this conflict include the United Arab Emirates, Iran, Egypt and, no doubt, others.

BELKIS WILLE: Absolutely. So, you know, I mean, the effectiveness of arms embargoes really comes also from political will to impose those arms embargoes, political will on the sides of states not to send weapons to specific conflict zones, but then also on the side of the international community, the watchdog community, the U.N. Security Council, to hold states accountable when they are breaking that arms embargo. And that’s something that we’re not seeing happening in the context of Darfur specifically.

You mentioned the name of a few states, like the United Arab Emirates and others, that are shipping weapons into this conflict and context. But, as I said, it’s extremely murky. There is limited tracking of what kind of weapons are being brought into the country and how they’re being used by these warring parties — exactly the reason that, indeed, there should be an arms embargo, a complete arms embargo, in place that is being effectively enforced by the U.N. and the global community.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Belkis, if you could say, you know, just outline what the scale of the crisis is for refugees and internally displaced people in Sudan. A new report from the International Organization for Migration has found 20,000 people are forced to flee their homes in Sudan every day — 20,000 people every day, half of them children. What do you think needs to be done to help these people get to a place that’s safe?

BELKIS WILLE: As you say, I mean, the scale of the conflict really can’t be understated. We have areas in the country that are approaching famine. We have areas of the country, like Darfur, where the violence and the conditions have been so bad and the violence so acute that over half a million people have had to flee across the border into Chad. We’ve seen many people have to flee to other neighboring countries, including South Sudan and elsewhere. So, it really speaks to the horrifying situation that civilians are facing.

Unfortunately, as long as the fighting continues and as long as there is no entity to put in place, you know, a civilian protection strategy, we’re going to continue to see the conditions that you’re describing. There are so many areas that are completely outside of the access of aid groups and aid workers. So those are areas where there’s no way to bring food or medicine or water in. And that’s because of the warring parties. The RSF and the Sudanese Armed Forces are blocking access for aid workers into these areas. They’re blocking civilians from fleeing from certain areas. And that’s really the context of the conditions you described.

AMY GOODMAN: Belkis Wille, we want to thank you so much for being with us, associate director with the Crisis, Conflict, and Arms Division at Human Rights Watch, speaking to us from the capital of Ukraine, from Kyiv.

And speaking of international human rights, the International Court of Justice today is hearing from South Africa, their request over the Israeli assault on Gaza’s southern city of Rafah. We’ll have more on that tomorrow. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh, for another edition of Democracy Now!

Israeli Human Rights Lawyer Attacked While Documenting Settler Raid on Gaza Aid Convoy

Israeli Human Rights Lawyer Attacked While Documenting Settler Raid on Gaza Aid Convoy 3

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Aid agencies are running out of food in southern Gaza amid Israel’s ongoing offensive in Rafah. The World Food Programme says it’s run out of stocks in Rafah and has suspended food aid distributions there for several days. No food has entered the two main border crossings in southern Gaza for more than a week, since the Israeli assault on Rafah began and Israeli forces seized control of and closed the border crossing with Egypt. Some 1.1 million Palestinians are on the brink of starvation, according to the U.N., while a full-blown famine is taking place in the north. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said today, quote, “The impact is devastating for over 2 million people.”

AMY GOODMAN: This comes just days after Israeli settlers blocked aid trucks headed to Gaza through the occupied West Bank from Jordan. Footage of the incident shows settlers raiding the aid trucks, throwing food into the road and setting fire to vehicles at the Tarqumiyah checkpoint near Hebron in the occupied West Bank. Palestinian truck drivers say they fear for their lives after the attack.

ADEL AMER: [translated] We went to the checkpoint, and after the check, we were surprised to see settlers on the roundabout of the checkpoint. They damaged the cars. They tore the tires off the trucks. They threw the contents of the truck on the ground. We gathered some of the products and sent some of those products on to a bulldozer and sent them to sheep farms. Around 15 trucks were damaged. Their haul was damaged. Windows of the trucks were broken. Some drivers were beaten. Some of the products were thrown away, and the whole loss for Hebron is around $2 million.

AMY GOODMAN: At a White House press briefing Monday, U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan was asked by reporters about the attack on the aid convoy.

JAKE SULLIVAN: It is a total outrage that there are people who are attacking and looting these convoys coming from Jordan, going to Gaza to deliver humanitarian assistance. We are looking at the tools that we have to respond to this, and we are also raising our concerns at the highest level of the Israeli government. And it’s something that we make no bones about. This is completely and utterly unacceptable behavior.

AMY GOODMAN: The attack on the aid convoy was the culmination of weeks of Israeli settlers attempting to block aid trucks from reaching Gaza.

For more, we’re going to Tel Aviv to speak with Sapir Sluzker Amran, an Israeli human rights lawyer and peace activist who documented the attack on the aid convoy right near Hebron. She’s the co-director of Breaking Walls, an intersectional feminist grassroots movement.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Sapir. It’s so good to have you with us. If you can describe exactly what took place, how you ended up there when the Israeli settlers attacked the aid convoy, and what exactly they did to the convoy and to you?

SAPIR SLUZKER AMRAN: Thanks, and thank you so much for having me. Before we get into details, just to say from Tel Aviv that we are calling for ceasefire and safe return of the hostages, and hope to see this war ending as soon as possible and not seeing another one.

So, I came on Monday. It was after a few months where they’re organizing those kinds of actions, those looting actions. Settlers and their supporters, they are organizing in those WhatsApp groups, getting notifications from inside information, actually, to know where the trucks are going and coming from, and then trying to block them or to loot and destroy the entire food on the trucks. And when I came on Monday, it was to — I wasn’t sure. It was trying to document — it was after seeing those footages, those videos that they published a few months now, trying to organize groups. But people were afraid. And they should be afraid, because they’re coming with guns and knives and axes even. And the police and the IDF is totally on their side and not protecting us. But when I was there, I came to document and to understand a bit what’s going on.

And then, after they had this, like, first round of looting the convoy there, they started to go to another crossing in order to see if there was more trucks there, because they got an inside information again that there might be other trucks a few minutes’ drive from that crossing. I was there with another activist, and we went to the drivers of the trucks to see if we can help. And they were very surprised. They didn’t understand why there were Jewish people, Israelis, that want to help them. It took them a minute to understand that we are Arabs, but not Palestinians, we are Arab Jews, and we are with them. So, we started to pack everything again on one of the trucks. And we almost finished, and then they came back, more people — I think there were around few dozens, and then it became almost 150 people. At that time, they did whatever they want.

So, I want to be specific. This event, I got a message on WhatsApp that this event’s starting, and they’re asking people to come around 9:30 in the morning. They were there on their way. So they were there at 10 a.m. I came at 12:00. I left, though, for my own safety. Around 3 p.m., there were dozens of people, and people kept coming. So, it happened for hours. There were a few soldiers there without a supervisor. They didn’t know what to do. They were just going around, maybe two policemen, and that’s it. And what the settlers did is tearing up the entire food that was there. There were bags of rice, bags of sugar and instant noodles in bags. And they did it in a way that we cannot repair it. They did it in a way that they were tearing everything down, jumping on the instant noodles so we cannot save it. And, yeah, that was the situation.

We saw a lot of families there. I think that the youngest person that was there was maybe 3 years old, a kid with his father, like it was like a fun day, a festival day, and more teenagers that were there. And they did whatever they want. They laughed, they enjoyed, and they said it was the best action that we had ’til now. It was in Tarqumiyah crossing. And I think many came because it’s in the area of the settlers, so it was very easy for them just to be first and to hold those trucks.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: So, Sapir, could you talk about what the settlers did specifically to you, what happened to you? And then explain who the settlers are and what their justification is for doing that, for disrupting the aid convoys and destroying all the aid. They say that the aid is helping Hamas, and they want to obstruct its delivery until the hostages are released. Who are the settlers? And do they have any connection to the government?

SAPIR SLUZKER AMRAN: Yeah. So, I think, just to say, I’m not the story here. Yes, I will share that I was injured. One of the settlers — so, I was — I’m not sure how, but I couldn’t stand aside when I saw them running again, going on the trucks with sugar bags, going on the trucks with their knives and weapons and axes and all kinds of sharp objects and tearing down everything. And I couldn’t. And I started to run towards them and document it and tell them, “Please, stop. Stop. What are you doing? This is food. This is food. Like, you have to understand, inside of ’48, inside Israel, we have more than 2 million people that are under the poverty line. This is food. We have, an hour from now, people that are hungry. They can be your family that are hungry an hour from here.” And they didn’t care about it.

So I went on the truck and tried to stop them. And I called and I screamed on the IDF. There were like very young soldiers. I told them, “Come! Come and help me! This is your role! This is not my role! Come and help me! I can’t do it on my own!” And my friend was documenting it and trying also to talk with them and trying to stop them while they were doing it. And they tried to prevent her to photograph. And she managed to do it anyway.

So, when I was on the truck, yeah, one of the settlers, in front of an IDF that was right next to us, he kind of slapped me extremely hard, and then he was trying to escape. The police was there. The police took him. I told them, “I want to press charges.” They said, “No,” and they hid him so I couldn’t document him, even though I have his photo and the video. And then, after 10 minutes, he came back, like nothing was happened. So they took him only to protect him, not for something else.

And I was the only one that the government, that the IDF, the police, asked for to see an ID. All that time, they didn’t ask anyone from them, from the settlers, to get out of this area, that it was like a parking lot — only us, only the two of us, just the two of us. And they were just sitting there or standing there while I was telling them, “You’re standing right here. You see someone with a knife. That person, a teenager, took a knife at me.” I told them, “You see him. At least take the knife. At least take the knife so, like, he won’t attack me.” And they didn’t care about it. They were just standing aside like there is nothing that they can do, like it’s normal, what’s happening.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Sapir, we only have a few minutes left —


AMY GOODMAN: — and we want to know: Who are these Israeli settlers? Who are the people that destroyed the aid truck?

SAPIR SLUZKER AMRAN: Yeah, so, those are the people, settlers, that are, you know, living in the settlements. They’re Orthodox Jews. They’re from the national Zionist Jewish stream, Zionist stream. They have many supporters in government. They are the government. It’s not that they’re supporters.

And we know that yesterday — I want to say something like that right now I can show you — I can add you right now, Amy, to a WhatsApp group, because they’re organizing right now to do it again. So, they have this information. No one is trying to stop them. I think maybe it’s not clear that nothing has changed from Monday. They are still doing it. I don’t know what is showing on the international media, what the Israeli government is publishing. But they are doing it right now, with their names, with their numbers, and they don’t care about presenting even theirselves and documenting theirselves, because they know that nothing is going to happen to them, no circumstances, no objects, and nothing will happen at all.

So, they are connected to the government. We know that some of them are working with the government. We know that some of them — I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re funded from the government. We have MKs, members of the parliament, the Israeli parliament, that are supporting it and coming to those actions. We have someone that is a CEO of a right-wing organization that just got, a few months ago got — he has a photo with one of the MKs, the chairman of the Knesset, giving him a diploma to thank him for his service to Israel. OK? So, they are — last week, it was the mayor of one of the big cities in the south of Israel. They are the blood, and they are part of it. What you are doing is just, we can call it, privatization, privatization of the violence, which means that the government know. They hide because of the U.S. They have to pretend that they are obeying international law. But, in fact, they don’t want to. So they have these kids, they have these settlers, they have their supporters, that they are part of their political parties, and also they’re also funding them, to tell them, “Go to this crossing and handle it.”


SAPIR SLUZKER AMRAN: So, that’s why the police is not intervening, because the police belongs to Ben-Gvir and those kinds of people. So, yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: Sapir Sluzker Amran, I want to thank you so much for being with us, Israeli human rights lawyer and peace activist, who went to the Tarqumiyah crossing in Hebron to document the attack on a Gaza-bound aid convoy by Israeli settlers. She’s also the co-director of Breaking Walls, an intersectional feminist grassroots movement.

We had this in The Times of Israel: Israeli extremists mistook, on Wednesday, two days after the attack on the convoy she described — they mistook a regular commercial truck traveling in the West Bank for a convoy carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza and attacked the vehicle. The vigilantes set a fire in the road, dumped the truck’s contents onto the pavement and assaulted the Palestinian driver. Video from the scene showed the driver lying on the street bloodied.

When we come back, we’ll talk with Human Rights Watch about their new report on Israeli forces attacking humanitarian aid convoys in Gaza. The group has also documented Russian forces executing surrendering Ukrainian soldiers. We’ll go to Kyiv to speak with the HRW representative, and we’ll look at ethnic cleansing in Sudan. Back in 20 seconds.


AMY GOODMAN: Voices of some the hundred university professors and faculty and their allies from higher education institutions across New York, gathering yesterday at Grand Central Station during rush hour to sing and read out a joint letter from faculty across a number of schools calling for an end to genocide in Gaza.

Drop the Charges: Demands for CUNY to Divest from Israel Met by Violent Police Repression & Felony Charges

Drop the Charges: Demands for CUNY to Divest from Israel Met by Violent Police Repression & Felony Charges 4

This post was originally published on this site

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.

We end today’s show here in New York, where last night students and workers at CUNY, the City University of New York, peacefully occupied the school’s Graduate Center in solidarity with Palestine, renamed its library “The Al Aqsa University Library.”

PROTESTERS: We are louder than your lies! CUNY, we’re outside! CUNY, we’re outside! We are louder than your lies!

AMY GOODMAN: Al-Aqsa was Gaza’s oldest public university, destroyed by Israel’s bombardment. The students ended their occupation after a few hours, when they said they reached an agreement with the interim president at CUNY Grad Center to share their demands with upper administrators, including calls to divest from all financial ties to the Israeli military, remove New York police from campus and drop all the charges against the protesters, including those arrested last month, when NYPD violently raided a peaceful Gaza solidarity encampment on the City College campus in Harlem.

Over 500 faculty and staff at CUNY have signed a letter to the chancellor, Félix Matos Rodríguez, demanding that the charges be dropped against at least 173 people who were detained at City College, compared to 109 at Columbia, quote, “a predominantly white, private institution,” the letter says.

For more, we’re joined by a signatory to this letter. Alex Vitale is professor of sociology, coordinator of the Policing and Social Justice Project at CUNY’s Brooklyn College, author of The End of Policing, his piece for The Nation, “Campus Police Are Among the Armed Heavies Cracking Down on Students.” And we’re joined by Musabika Nabiha, a CUNY alum and Palestine organizer, took part in the Gaza encampment at City College. We’re keeping her location private for security reasons.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Let’s talk about the disparity in the treatment of the much more diverse CUNY university campus. Alex Vitale, you’ve looked at this.

ALEX VITALE: Yes. I think, on the one hand, you have very restrictive protest rules put in place by the CUNY administration, which just harbors a deep fear and kind of disregard of its own students, faculty and staff. And then you have CUNY putting forward much more serious charges towards their students than the Columbia administration or the NYU administrations did towards their own students. And this really raises some questions about CUNY’s views about their own students and their deep intolerance of student dissent on campus.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And I’d like to ask Musabika Nabiha — you took part in the Gaza encampment at CCNY. Your thoughts on the administration’s refusal to negotiate on divesting from companies complicit in the Israeli apartheid state?

MUSABIKA NABIHA: Yes. The administrations, both the CCNY administration and the CUNY administration, which includes Chancellor Matos, have refused to negotiate with us, and instead chose to send in armed policemen to brutalize and violently arrest our protesters. And we know that the reason for this is that the demands that the students and workers are making are a threat to the university’s profit motive.

So, the encampment put forward five demands. The first one was for CUNY to divest its $8.5 million from weapons and surveillance technology that perpetuates the colonization of Palestine. The second demand was for CUNY to institute an academic boycott of Israeli universities that are complicit in this genocide and in the broader colonization of Palestine. The third demand was for CUNY to express solidarity with the Palestinian resistance struggle. So, this includes both uplifting and affirming the Palestinian people’s moral and legal right to resist their colonization by any means necessary, as well as ending the repression and retaliation of pro-Palestine CUNY students and workers. The fourth demand was for CUNY to demilitarize its campuses, so to get IOF members, cops, policemen and the U.S. military off of our campuses. And finally, the fifth demand was for CUNY to return to being a fully funded, tuition-free people’s CUNY that offers a fair contract to all of its workers.

And we know that the violent repression that we saw, you know, was not because of the tents or the flags or the banners or just because of the political education, the free food that we had at our encampment. It wasn’t because of that. It was because the encampment’s demands themselves proved a threat to the constant accumulation of profit and profiting off of genocide that CUNY is engaged in.

AMY GOODMAN: And are the charges being dropped? Is there any discussion of the charges being dropped against those who were involved in the encampment, Musabika?

MUSABIKA NABIHA: Mm-hmm, yes. So, we know that some of the misdemeanors and summons have been dropped thus far by the DA. None of the felony charges have been dropped so far from the encampment itself. And we know that the DA cannot prosecute, or would have a really hard time, you know, upholding these charges, if CUNY administration refused to meaningfully participate in the prosecution. So we’re calling on the administration to refuse to participate in the prosecution. And this is, again, why one of our demands is that CUNY stop retaliating and repressing its pro-Palestine students and workers. I mean, this is really the most egregious example we’ve seen of violent repression of pro-Palestinian organizing and views.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Professor Vitale, we only have about 30 seconds, but could you talk about the Cops Off Campus Coalition and the significance, for instance, of Portland State students successfully getting a disarmament of their campus police?

ALEX VITALE: CUNY is spending millions of dollars for a security apparatus that fails to address the real security needs of students and is really there in moments like this to be a tool, a kind of private army, for the administration to suppress student dissent. Campuses should quit wasting educational dollars on producing their own police forces that just reproduce the same violence and the same kinds of overt control of protest activity that we see from the NYPD and other local police departments around the country. So, this is part of a national movement of young people saying, “We don’t feel safe just because you put a bunch of armed police officers on our campus. We want real services that meet our real needs.”

AMY GOODMAN: We want to thank you both for being with us, Alex Vitale, professor of sociology, coordinator of the Policing and Social Justice Project at CUNY’s Brooklyn College, author of The End of Policing, and Musabika Nabiha, a CUNY alum and Palestine organizer. We’ill link to the 500-professor letter at democracynow.org. That does it for our show. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González, for another edition of Democracy Now!

“A Racist, Criminal Project”: Palestinian Historian on 1948 Nakba, Israel’s War on Gaza & U.S. Complicity

"A Racist, Criminal Project": Palestinian Historian on 1948 Nakba, Israel's War on Gaza & U.S. Complicity 5

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

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

A far-right march to Gaza was part of the events this week marking Israel’s Independence Day and the 76th anniversary of its founding. On Tuesday, a group of far-right Israelis, including a number of government ministers, marched in Sderot, in southern Israel, calling for the resettlement of Gaza and expulsion of Palestinians living there. Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir said, quote, “First, we must return to Gaza now. We are coming home to the Holy Land. And second, we must encourage migration, encourage the voluntary migration of the residents of Gaza,” unquote.

This comes as Palestinians across the globe are marking the 76th anniversary of the Nakba, which means “catastrophe” in Arabic, when some 700,000 Palestinians fled from or were violently expelled from their homes as Israel also carried out massacres upon its founding. Many Palestinians say they’re facing a second Nakba today in both Gaza and the occupied West Bank.

For more, we go to Amman, Jordan, where we’re joined by professor Abdel Razzaq Takriti, a Palestinian historian, endowed chair in Arab studies at Rice University in Houston, Texas. He’s published widely on the history of colonialism and anti-colonialism in Palestine and the broader Middle East. Most recently, he co-created Thawra, a political education project on Arab and Palestinian history on The Dig podcast. He’s also active with Scholars Against the War on Palestine.

Professor, welcome to Democracy Now! It’s great to have you with us. If you can talk about the significance of this day?


Well, first of all, I want to note that the numbers that are used by Palestinian historians now about the numbers of Palestinians that were expelled are at least 900,000. The Nakba witnessed the destruction of Palestinian society, the destruction of Palestinian urban life. The two most important cities, the cultural and economic capitals of Palestine, Haifa and Yaffa, were lost during the Nakba. A host of other cities were lost during the Nakba. Five hundred and thirty villages were completely depopulated during the Nakba. And out of a population of 1.4 million, you had the vast majority being displaced.

So this is a very significant event in Palestinian history. It’s a horrific event. And what’s very shocking about it is that it was an internationally sanctioned event in many ways. It was the byproduct of a policy that was created by the so-called international community during the mandate period, when they instituted the mandate system under the League of Nations. And they did something very unique in world history, which is to sanction the establishment of a settler-colonial presence in Palestine. So, it’s a very late settler colonialism, but it was a settler colonialism that led to the expulsion of the native population 30 years after the Balfour Declaration that instituted the settler-colonial program in 1917.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Professor Takriti, the basis for the Nakba was laid by the British, who held that mandate. Could you talk about their role in the repression of the Palestinians, especially in the 1930s?

ABDEL RAZZAQ TAKRITI: Yes. So, the British had actually been repressing the Palestinians from the very beginning. The main rule that was applied in Palestine was to arm the settler and disarm the native and to punish the native for developing any ability to conduct self-defense. So you had a very aggressive settler-colonial movement develop in Palestine under British rule. And it was armed under British rule. It was trained under British rule.

The British, like Biden today, were claiming that they were even-handed. They were claiming that they took the interests of both sides. You know, they were talking in these bothsideist terms. But in reality, they were determined to establish a settler-colonial project in Palestine. And they did succeed in doing that, in horrific ways, actually. So, yes, Britain self-projects as an empire that was trying to do the right thing, in the same way that Joe Biden today tries to project this U.S. role as being fair and even-handed, but, in reality, of course, they were pursuing this objective, which structurally led to the destruction of our people.

Luckily, however, we have survived, despite the fact that they repressed us during the 1936 revolt, which you were referring to. Although they destroyed the Palestinian countryside during that period and they incurred heavy losses on us, that did not mean that our people did not continue. And even later on, when the settler-colonist forces that were to establish the state of Israel expelled our population, our people continued to insist that they shall live. And today we’re witnessing the same level of resilience and insistence on resisting the reality of the Nakba, even today when we’re facing the second Nakba unfolding in Gaza.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And also, could you talk about the efforts of the Israeli government to even prevent Palestinians from mourning what occurred in 1948, the Nakba, the Nakba law that is in effect?

ABDEL RAZZAQ TAKRITI: Yeah. So, this is a criminal trying to hide their crime. They’ve committed the crime. By the way, the current Israeli government, they’re the descendants of the people that created the Nakba. And I’m talking here individually. So, Netanyahu’s father was a member of the Irgun, Benzion Netanyahu. That was a terrorist organization that carried out the ethnic cleansing of Yaffa. It bombarded the city of Yaffa, besieged it mercilessly, put its inhabitants under ruthless danger. And, you know, somebody like Yoav Gallant, who is currently engaging in major ethnic cleansing and genocide in Gaza, his father named him after Operation Yoav, which led to the depopulation and the expulsion of the majority of southern Palestine and its cornering into Gaza. So, these people who are the children of those that committed this crime are trying to engage in Nakba denialism by banning the commemoration of the Nakba. They’re trying to hide the crime so as to be able to continue committing similar crimes in the present.

And this is a very important point. You know, I’ve been engaged in Nakba education for a long time, and I always say we have to apply four principal rules to Nakba education. One, the Nakba happened. We must reject Nakba denialism in all its forms, including, by the way, the forms that are promoted by Israeli historians that are sometimes presented as reasonable on the Nakba. In this show, you’ve hosted people like Benny Morris before. Well, Benny Morris is a Nakba denialist, not because he disputes the idea that Palestinians were expelled from their villages, but because he denies that it was actually part of a plan, in the same way that now in Gaza what we’re witnessing is a plan unfolding. It’s intentional. We must insist on intentionality. So, the first point when we’re dealing with Nakba education is to insist that the Nakba happened and to reject denialism in all its forms.

Secondly, we need to insist on the fact that the Nakba is continuing. We have to understand that this is a colonial continuum. This is a structural process. It is not an event. And what we’re seeing now in Gaza is very much connected to what happened in 1948.

Thirdly, the Nakba must be stopped. So, it’s not enough to commemorate. It’s not enough talk about it. We have to stop it right now. And that means the first step to doing that is to stop the genocide in Gaza.

And fourthly, it must be reversed. The Nakba must be reversed. And that means restoring Palestinian political and national rights, not only dealing with this as a humanitarian question, despite the gravity of the humanitarian situation. The humanitarian situation is a byproduct of the denial of the Palestinian political and national rights from the beginning of British colonialism to this very, very day.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Professor Abdel Razzaq Takriti, you have the Israeli Knesset member Ariel Kallner calling for a second Nakba, saying, “Right now, one goal: Nakba! A Nakba that will overshadow the Nakba of 48.” On the one hand, you have Knesset members like these in Israel denying the original Nakba, but, on the other hand, calling for a second Nakba. And in the United States, people like Congressmember Tim Walberg are suggesting Gaza should be bombed, quote, “like Nagasaki and Hiroshima,” while at the same time these Republicans insist no genocide is underway. Your final comment in this last 60 seconds?

ABDEL RAZZAQ TAKRITI: Well, this is actually classic genocidal thinking. And it’s also classic, classic engagement with different audiences. On the internal audience front, the Israelis actually talk about genocidal plans openly, and they advocate them. And this has been happening for a long time. By the way, this is not just a byproduct of the Zionist right. It existed in the — the Nakba was committed by the Zionist so-called left. It was the labor Zionism that committed the Nakba. They were presenting an image of self-defense to the external world, but they were actually engaging in very aggressive ethnic cleansing action and advocating it internally.

The same is happening now. And we must understand that this is, again, an international process. The Israeli project is very much intertwined with American foreign policy towards the Palestinian people. They don’t see us as human beings. They want to destroy us. But they know that they have to present it in self-defense terms so that it’s palatable to the broader public. So, in reality, however, this is just a racist, criminal project that is leading and causing immense pain and suffering. And as a descendant of Nakba survivors, it hurts me. It pains me to hear this discourse.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Abdel Razzaq Takriti, we want to thank you so much for being with us, Palestinian American historian and chair in Arab studies at Rice University in Houston, Texas, speaking to us from Amman, Jordan.

Defense Attorney Ron Kuby on Trump Criminal Trial & Representing Climate & Pro-Palestinian Protesters

Defense Attorney Ron Kuby on Trump Criminal Trial & Representing Climate & Pro-Palestinian Protesters 6

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We begin today’s show with the criminal hush money election interference trial of former President Donald Trump. New York prosecutors are wrapping up their case that alleges Trump falsified business records in an illegal effort to influence the 2016 presidential election, when he allegedly hid the reimbursement of a hush money payment to his lawyer Michael Cohen made to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

On Tuesday, Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen admitted he misled the Federal Election Commission about hush money payments made to Daniels. Cohen said he did so in order to, quote, “demonstrate loyalty to Mr. Trump,” unquote, and described a February 2017 meeting with President Trump in the Oval Office at the White House about the hush money repayment. Cohen also recalled Trump trying to stop him from cooperating with federal investigators. In cross-examination, Trump’s defense attorneys tried to suggest Cohen was motivated by vengeance against Trump.

House Speaker Mike Johnson, Senator J.D. Vance, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum and others were among a number of allies of President Trump who visited the courthouse Tuesday to bash the — to bash Michael Cohen. This is Speaker Johnson.

SPEAKER MIKE JOHNSON: This is the fifth week that President Trump has been in court for this sham of a trial. They are doing this intentionally to keep him here and keep him off of the campaign trail. And I think everybody in the country can see that for what it is.

AMY GOODMAN: This comes as a New York appeals court rejected Trump’s request to overturn a gag order against him in the case.

For more, we’re joined by Ron Kuby, criminal defense and civil rights lawyer based here in New York, closely following all Trump’s cases.

Welcome back to Democracy Now!, Ron.

RON KUBY: Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about the significance of this week. You had Stormy Daniels testifying last week. Now you have Michael Cohen. The prosecutors began, and then he has been grilled by Trump’s defense attorneys.

RON KUBY: Michael Cohen, essentially, is the narrator of the entire case. He’s the person who has come forward. He’s tied all the disparate pieces together — the documents, Stormy Daniels and everything else the prosecution has introduced. And he is the one who has firsthand knowledge of the actual deal that he and Donald Trump struck in order to pay the hush money, create a phony retainer, and ultimately falsify the business records.

And while his credibility is important — and I think that most people can agree that he’s a loathsome lackey — he was a loathsome lackey for Donald Trump, and he’s just like every other mob underboss who gets called in a criminal trial, although he’s not as bad as the average mob underboss. He didn’t actually kill anybody, arsonate anybody on behalf of his boss. But he is a guy who would have taken a bullet for the boss, did all these things for the boss. Then the boss betrayed him. And now he, indeed, is out for revenge.

Unfortunately for Donald Trump — and I hate to start a sentence like that — but, unfortunately for Donald Trump, the story that Michael Cohen tells is an eminently believable story and is corroborated in significant respects, so the defense is going to have a hard time with him, all the more so because Trump’s lead lawyer has never tried a criminal case in state court and has only defended two criminal cases in his entire life. This is not the on-the-job training, learning case that you really want sort of starting out in the world of New York criminal defense.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Ron, first of all, greetings. It’s been a long time since we’ve talked. But I wanted to ask you about two things. One is this — you’re a veteran of decades of criminal cases. Have you ever — do you ever recall political leaders from Washington coming to a local criminal case like this, like the speaker of the House and these other members of Congress, and publicly criticizing the prosecution in the midst of a trial? And secondly, you’ve had a lot to say about the media coverage of this trial. So, I’m wondering if you could comment on both the politicians involved in this case and also the way the media have covered it.

RON KUBY: Unfortunately, Juan, I have seen this before. It’s the advantage or disadvantage of being around as long as I’ve been around. We saw it, for example — and I don’t know how many people even remember this — the Bernhard Goetz case, a deranged white man, carrying around a handgun, shot down four Black youth who he encountered in the subway, the subway vigilante. He had huge support. We had people like Senator Alfonse D’Amato coming to his defense, showing up at his trial; of course, Rudy Giuliani showing up, and other political leaders. When there is a high-profile case and you see elements that are attractive to, really, one side or the other — usually the right wing — they tend to show up and use the trial as a background to posture for their views.

Mike Johnson, it was kind of remarkable in the sense that he did one of the things that Trump specifically was doing: He attacked the judge’s daughter, which was kind of amazing. And as for Mike Johnson, remember, he’s the guy who publicly announced that he and his son are internet buddies. They monitor each other’s internet traffic to make sure that none of them are looking at porn or off-color websites. I wonder how Mike and Mike Jr. dealt with Stormy Daniels. Was anybody tempted to google her body of work there, or did they just stay on the straight and narrow? It was pretty disgusting show all around from Mike Johnson.

The media coverage of the case, they tend to view this as a sporting event — “The defense had a good day,” “The prosecution scored heavily here.” The danger with that is we have no idea who’s ahead or who’s behind, until the jury speaks. In a sporting event, you can say, “OK, the Yankees are up by nine runs in the seventh inning. They have never lost with this much of a lead. And you can confidently predict, happily, the Yankees will win.” But you can’t do that with a criminal trial. So, so much of the speculation is just uninformed, because it can’t be informed. And, of course, the next body of uninformed speculation will be: Will Donald Trump testify? Donald Trump will not testify. I think we should speculate on the reasons he’s going to use to explain why he’s not testifying. And I have, you know, my own selection on my bingo card. But, of course, he’s not going to testify.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And Judge Merchan, I wanted to ask you: If he is convicted, your sense of the likelihood of him imposing a jail sentence?

RON KUBY: Judge Merchan is notoriously harsh on white-collar criminals. Judge Merchan is one of these judges who seems to think that the more you have, the more you’ve accumulated, the more advantages and privilege you’ve had in your life, the more you should really follow the rules, because the rules make it easy enough for you to become wealthy. Like, if you’re violating them out of greed or personal motivation, you will be sentenced to jail. So I have no doubt that Judge Merchan will impose a prison sentence. I also have no doubt that that prison sentence and the conviction will be stayed while Donald Trump pursues a whole plethora of multiple appeals.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you about where you’re going today, to court, to represent the climate activists arrested on Earth Day in front of Citibank headquarters — many are now appearing in court — and also to ask you about the pro-Palestinian student activists at Purchase. I think 68 were arrested. This is State University of New York. Westchester DA said many of the charges will be dropped against them — as well as the students arrested at Fordham. You’re representing all of these people.

RON KUBY: OK. So, from the top, this morning in criminal court, in the summons appearance part, the climate protesters who were part of the New York Communities for Change set of actions, “it’s getting hot out there,” “it’s going to be a hot summer” actions, young people, for the most part, climate protesters, desperately trying to get into people’s consciousness about the existential need to save this planet, which has always been a difficult thing, because people tend to look at the crisis of today and tomorrow rather than the crisis of a year from now. Unfortunately, today is now. The future is now. And so, they are all charged with criminal trespass. I expect those charges will be dismissed.

Following that, there are three Palestinian protesters at 100 Center Street today who disrupted the Easter vigil at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in a respectful but firm protest against the slaughter in Gaza. Yesterday, the Purchase students began their series of appearances, and they are, for the most part, taking a three-hour course called “Fresh Start” — sounds nice — and all of those charges will be dismissed. And the Fordham students are due on Monday also in the summons part, where they face trespass charges. And it is likely those cases will ultimately be dismissed, as well. I don’t think I missed anybody.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you, Ron Kuby, for —

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Ron, I wanted to —

AMY GOODMAN: Oh, go ahead, Juan.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yeah, I just wanted to ask, Ron, you — for decades, of course, you have been one of the go-to lawyers in New York for social protesters, and especially during your period of partnership with the late, great William Kuntsler. I’m wondering: Have you seen over these years this kind of upsurge of young people protesting like you’ve seen in the last couple of years?

RON KUBY: It’s a great question. I tend to view these struggles, very much the way William Kuntsler did, as perennial struggles with each generation kind of rising up to do their part. We saw that in Occupy Wall Street. We see it now. And I just have mad respect for the young people who are literally risking their education, their careers and their futures to stand up for the planet, to stand up against the slaughter in Gaza. And it’s so impressive to see them. And I’m always happy to serve those movements in any small way that I can.

AMY GOODMAN: Ron Kuby, criminal defense and civil rights lawyer based here in New York.

Next up, we go to Gaza to speak with an American doctor who saved the life of Senator Tammy Duckworth 20 years ago when she was injured in Iraq. He’s now part of an American medical volunteer delegation at European Hospital in Khan Younis who’s trapped. Stay with us.

“Unbuild Walls”: Detention Watch’s Silky Shah on Debunking Immigration Myths & Embracing Abolition

"Unbuild Walls": Detention Watch's Silky Shah on Debunking Immigration Myths & Embracing Abolition 7

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

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

We end today’s show looking at the intensifying crackdown on asylum seekers on the U.S.-Mexico border, as many polls show immigration is number one or number two issue for voters, above inflation and the economy in many cases, ahead of a likely rematch between President Biden and Donald Trump in November. The Biden administration is preparing new measures that could expedite the deportation of some asylum seekers deemed unlikely to qualify for protection in the early stages of the process. Immigrant rights advocates warn the new rules will further erode due process rights for migrants and disproportionately impact Black asylum seekers, who already face bias and racism from U.S. officials conducting credible fear interviews. President Biden has faced mounting criticism for supporting similar anti-immigrant policies as President Trump before him, leading to mass deportations and the separation of immigrant families.

Meanwhile, despite reports of physical and psychological violence in ICE detention and demands to shut the facilities down, President Biden in March signed a federal spending bill that dramatically increased funding for ICE and Customs and Border Protection. Rights groups also link deteriorating conditions at ICE jails to a mental health crisis among jailed immigrants. Earlier this year, a 61-year-old man from Trinidad and Tobago was found unresponsive after he was held in solitary confinement for at least 811 consecutive days at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, run by the private prison company GEO Group — believed Charles Leo Daniel died of suicide. An immigrant from El Salvador named Christian Dueñas described to immigrant rights activist Maru Mora Villalpando how he witnessed authorities retrieve Daniel’s body.

CHRISTIAN DUEÑAS: [translated] When the alarm went off at around 10:45 a.m., I was in the library, and I was told that someone in solitary confinement was found unresponsive. I was brought back to my cell at around 11:30 a.m., and I saw a lot of people running around everywhere. The police arrived, and the fire department. I saw that a man, who was Black, appeared as if he had hung himself.

MARU MORA VILLALPANDO: [translated] Did you see him?

CHRISTIAN DUEÑAS: [translated] I saw him as he was being taken out.

AMY GOODMAN: For more, we’re joined by Silky Shah, executive director of Detention Watch Network and the author of a new book, just out. It’s called Unbuild Walls: Why Immigrant Justice Needs Abolition.

Silky, welcome back to Democracy Now! I want to take on all the new issues, the directives that President Biden is issuing and what’s happening in the ICE jails and the amount of money they’re getting. But I want to start with your thesis in Unbuild Walls: Why Immigrant Justice Needs Abolition. Why? And what does abolition mean? And how are you linking it to — that’s what’s really new in this book, how you’re linking it to the whole immigration-industrial complex.

SILKY SHAH: Yeah. Thanks so much. It’s so wonderful to be here.

I think, in so many ways, what this book is trying to do is debunk the idea that immigration is a public safety issue. And, in fact, so much of the conversation becomes about a moral panic around immigration and around, you know, what’s people coming to the border, when, in actuality, what’s happening is that there’s mass social inequality in the U.S., and immigrants become a scapegoat. And so, the conversation becomes about public safety and criminalization and border militarization and ways to deter, deter, deter, when, actually, immigration is about family relationships, it’s about labor, it’s, of course, about seeking refuge. And what I’m trying to do is say, “Let’s stop that frame, so that we can actually get to the core of the issue.”

AMY GOODMAN: And what does abolition mean?

SILKY SHAH: Abolition, for me, I think it’s — you know, I think, in 2020, so many people sort of started to understand it as a goal. And what I’m trying to say with this book is, actually, we need to embrace abolition, partly because we need a lens. And, you know, for so many years I worked on this issue. I came to Detention Watch Network in 2009, when Obama had just taken office. And what we saw is, through all these reforms, actually, detention and deportation went up. And we had some of the highest levels. Obama, of course, was coined “deporter-in-chief.” And it was those reforms that actually made the system more efficient and effective at targeting people and brought the numbers up. It actually led to even more use of the private prison industry to try to improve conditions. And so, reformist tactics led to the system getting worse. And I think abolition helps us not just vision where we want to go, but really actually helps us understand and gives us a lens by which we can call for changes to the system.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to ask you — you mentioned the Obama years. Between 2010 and 2017, roughly the Obama period in office, the U.S. deported 1.3 million noncitizens who were previously convicted of what they called aggravated felonies. But they weren’t really aggravated felonies; a lot of them were minor offenses. But these 1.3 million people were sent back to their homelands. And of those deported, 93% came from just four countries — Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — even though people from those countries represent only about a third of all U.S. foreign residents. Was this an ethnically or racially targeted deportation process that occurred here?

SILKY SHAH: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, since the beginning of the modern immigrant detention system, there’s no question that racism has played a huge role in the formation of the system. We’ve seen, you know, in 1980, when the system started to take shape, it was actually targeting of Black migrants, Haitians in particular, calling them economic migrants not deserving of refuge. You know, detention started expanding in that context. And when it was called out for actually being racist in the targeting of Haitians, the U.S. government decided to apply the policy to broad categories of people. And at that time, it was really those coming from Central America that were fleeing U.S.-backed wars in the region. And so, similarly, as we’ve seen over and over again, the targeting of immigrants, it becomes a sort of “good immigrant versus bad immigrant” frame, where there is this sort of supposed proxy of, like, criminalization, when in actuality it’s about really removal of people who are believed to be unproductive or disposable for whatever reason, and often race is an unequivocal factor.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And you’ve been — you’re critical, to some extent, of how the immigration movement has responded to this attacking and veering of Democratic and Republican administrations in terms of immigration policy. Could you talk about that a little bit?

SILKY SHAH: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, the reality is, is that Democrats have built the system as much as Republicans have, and, in so many ways, have pushed this sort of “good immigrant versus bad immigrant” frame, really focusing on the public safety question and then saying, “Well, these individuals who are not caught up in the criminal legal system, they’re the good immigrant, but people who are are the, quote-unquote, ‘bad’ immigrant.”

And we’ve seen this with the immigrant rights movement repeatedly, as well, where there is this sort of trade-off with comprehensive immigration reform, where we’re going to do everything we can for those people who are, quote-unquote, “relatively innocent” and productive and exceptional in whatever way, but actually dispose of all those individuals who are targeted by the criminal legal system. And that has, unfortunately, only just ceded more and more ground to the Republicans and moved the whole conversation to the right. So, now we see, for years and years the trade-off was mass legalization for more border militarization and criminalization, and what we’ve seen over the last six months or so is, actually, legalization isn’t even on the table, and both the Democrats and Republicans are just saying, “No, we just want more border militarization,” and now these changes to asylum and border policy.

AMY GOODMAN: You write in your Unbuild Walls, “I often look back at the summer of 2018 as a missed opportunity for the immigrant justice movement to advance a vision for immigration that didn’t include detention and deportation.” In 2018, the Pulitzer Prize-winning news outlet ProPublica released audio from inside a U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility in which migrant children estimated between the ages of 4 and 10 are heard crying “Mamá” and “Papi” after being separated from their parents. A warning: The audio, to say the least, is disturbing.

CHILD: [crying] Papi! Papi! Papi! Papi!

BORDER PATROL AGENT: [translated] Well, we have an orchestra here, right? What we’re missing is a conductor.

AMY GOODMAN: In another part of the audio, the Border Patrol agent is heard joking in Spanish, “Well, we have an orchestra here. What’s missing is a conductor.” So, talk about what you think could have happened. Of course, this was during President Trump’s time. It was so highlighted to show the Trump administration’s inhumanity separating children. But talk about what has happened since, and what you feel needs to happen, what gives you hope.

SILKY SHAH: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think what was so important to understand about 2018 and what happened was that, actually, it was the Trump administration using the carceral apparatus at the border. So, as we understand it, really, and many people understand post-9/11 was the time for sort of a boom to immigrant enforcement and the deportation machine. But, really, the way that the domestic war on terror worked was through the criminal legal system, and so we had more and more prosecutions at the border. And that system was being built up by Bush and then Obama, and then it was handed over to Trump. And that was actually the system that was at the border through the Department of Justice, through, you know, U.S. attorneys, and beyond just ICE, actually, where we saw families being separated, immigrant parents being prosecuted and being put in U.S. Marshals jails, and their kids being shipped off to detention camps and shelters.

And so, part of the reason I said that is that I really do think that was a moment where we had to understand that this was beyond — these systems aren’t separate. Actually, you know, a lot of the targeting of immigrants happens through the criminal legal system. And we have to really call for abolition of the whole system and understand those things together, as opposed to this constant sort of framework of innocence, because that sort of reinforces the “good immigrant versus bad immigrant” frame as opposed to saying, “No, actually, these systems of control are meant to just target people who are perceived as disposable.”

But what gives me hope is actually those years both during the Obama administration and also during Trump and what we saw especially in 2020, is that many more people started embracing detention abolition, started understanding the criminal legal system, both because of what Obama was doing but also because of the growing Black Lives Matter movement and seeing sort of those connections with racial justice, and really sort of started breaking up that relationship between ICE and police and moving toward sanctuary policy. And we really started to bring those formal deportations that Juan was talking about down since then. And we have to, like, really understand that, actually, it’s not politically popular to target community members in the way that it was in those years, and that’s because of the movement.

AMY GOODMAN: And we’re going to do a post-show and, in that post-show, talk to you about what are the specific strategies that you think people have used, the whole theory of abolition and more. Silky Shah, executive director of Detention Watch Network, author of the new book, just out, titled Unbuild Walls: Why Immigrant Justice Needs Abolition. She’s speaking tonight at The People’s Forum here in New York City, then headed to Texas on her national book tour.

That does it for our show. A very happy birthday to Erin Dooley! Democracy Now! is produced with Mike Burke, Renée Feltz, Deena Guzder, Sharif Abdel Kouddous, Messiah Rhodes, Nermeen Shaikh, María Taracena, Tami Woronoff, Charina Nadura, Sam Alcoff, Tey-Marie Astudillo, Robby Karran, Hany Massoud. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.

Headlines for May 14, 2024

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Michael Cohen took the stand Monday in Donald Trump’s criminal election interference trial and testified that Trump, his former boss, instructed him to make a $130,000 hush money payment to Stormy Daniels in order to protect his 2016 presidential run. The arrangement, which was made between Cohen, Trump and then-Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, included a plan to reimburse Cohen for the payment, which involved falsifying business documents by classifying them as “legal expenses” — falsely claiming they were payments to Cohen for his services as Trump’s “personal lawyer.”

Michael Cohen, Trump’s former fixer, told the court Trump said, “Women will hate me … This is going to be a disaster for the campaign.” Cohen also said, “He wasn’t thinking about Melania — this was all about the campaign.” According to Cohen, Trump also urged him to drag out negotiations with Daniels past the November election, saying, “If I win, it has no relevance because I’m president, and if I lose, I don’t really care.”

Britfield Counters the Creativity Crisis

Britfield Crest

For Immediate Release

Rancho Santa Fe, CA 7/5/2023. While America is engulfed in a Creativity Crisis, the Britfield & the Lost Crown series has been countering this trend by offering fast-paced adventure novels that inspire the creative mind, promote critical thinking, encourage collaboration, and foster communication. The writing is active and the vocabulary stimulating, with family and friendship as the narrative drivers. This fresh approach not only entertains readers but educates them by weaving accurate history, geography, and culture into every exciting story. Already in thousands of schools across the nation, Britfield is redefining literature and becoming this generation’s book series.

“It is our belief that all children are gifted and have creative talents which are often dismissed or squandered, because they are not recognized or nurtured. Our schools stigmatize mistakes, censure independent thinking, and criticize individualism. Creative opportunities and programs must be introduced and fostered, because everything flows and flourishes from creativity,”
Author C. R. Stewart

Meanwhile, American Creativity Scores Are Declining: After analyzing 300,000 Torrance results of children and adults, researcher Dr. Kyung Hee Kim discovered that creativity scores have been steadily declining (just like IQ scores) since the 1990s. The scores of younger children, from kindergarten through sixth grade, show the most serious decline. While the consequences are sweeping, the critical necessity of human ingenuity is undisputed: children who were offered more creative ideas on Torrance’s tasks grew up to be entrepreneurs, inventors, doctors, authors, diplomats, and software developers.

Since the 1990s, Schools have:

1. Killed curiosities and passions

2. Narrowed visions and minds

3. Lowered expectations

4. Stifled risk-taking

5. Destroyed collaboration

6. Killed deep thoughts and imagination

7. Forced conformity

8. Solidified hierarchy

Founded on outdated models, most current schools are promoting a “dumbed-down” curriculum where creativity is irrelevant, literacy is deplorable, history is misguided, and geography is abandoned. Instead of nurturing future leaders, our educational system is fostering mindless complacency. Conformity is preferred over ingenuity. Meanwhile, parents are aware of a concerted effort to criticize independent thinking and discourage creativity. They are in search of cultural enrichment and educational opportunities. This has opened the door to alternative options, such as homeschooling, which has grown from 5 million to over 15 million in the last three years.

Educator Roger Schank stated,

“I am horrified by what schools are doing to children. From elementary to college, educational systems drive the love of learning out of kids. They produce students who seem smart because they receive top grades and honors but are in learning’s neutral gear. Some grow up and never find their true calling. While they may become adept at working hard and memorizing facts, they never develop a passion for a subject or follow their own idiosyncratic interest in a topic. Just as alarming, these top students deny themselves the pleasure of play and don’t know how to have fun with their schoolwork.”

George Land conducted a research study to test the creativity of 1,600 children ranging from ages three to five who were enrolled in a Head Start program. The assessment worked so well that he retested the same children at age 10 and again at age 15, with the results published in his book Breakpoint and Beyond: Mastering the Future Today. The proportion of people who scored at the creative Genius Level:

  • Among 5-year-olds: 98%
  • Among 10-year-olds: 30%
  • Among 15-year-olds: 12%
  • Same test given to 280,000 adults (average age of 31): 2%

However, Creativity is the #1 most important skill in the world. An IBM poll of 1,500 CEOs identified creativity as the number one leadership competency of the future. According to the World Economic Forum Report, the top three skills in 2022 will be creativity, critical thinking, and complex problem solving. A 2021 LinkedIn report ranked creativity as the #1 most desired skill among hiring managers. An Adobe Survey based on Creativity and Education revealed that 85% of professionals agree creative thinking is essential in their careers, 82% of professionals wish they had more exposure to creative thinking as students, and creative applicants are preferred 5 to 1. Jonathan Plucker of Indiana University reanalyzed Torrance’s data. He found that the correlation to lifetime creative accomplishment was more than three times stronger for childhood creativity than childhood IQ.

As Sir Ken Robinson said,

“We know three things about intelligence. One, it’s diverse. We think about the world in all the ways that we experience it. We think visually, we think in sound, and we think kinesthetically. We think in abstract terms; we think in movement. Secondly, intelligence is dynamic. If you look at the interactions of a human brain, intelligence is wonderfully interactive. The brain isn’t divided into compartments. And three, we can all agree that children have extraordinary capacities for innovation. In fact, creativity often comes about through the interaction of different disciplinary ways of seeing things.”

Our entire educational system is predicated on a questionable hierarchy that places conformity above creativity, and the consequences are that many brilliant, talented, and imaginative students never discover their gifts and therefore fail to realize their true potential. To prepare students for future challenges, education and literature must help children achieve their full potential by learning skills that foster creativity, critical thinking, and independence. The Britfield series is bridging this gap and fulfilling this need.

Lauren Hunter
Devonfield Publishing
Director of Media
[email protected]

Republican prosecutors can subpoena phone data to hunt down 'evidence' of possible abortions

This post was originally published on this site

We are about to see a new wave of anti-abortion terrorism and violence, thanks to a Supreme Court majority that believes individual rights not only ought to flip around according to the whims of each new election but that if the U.S. Constitution makes things awkward, the states can designate private-citizen bounty hunters and evade whatever else the courts might say about it.

Sen. Ron Wyden is dead right when he warns that we’re about to see a new era in which women who seek abortions or who might seek abortions are going to have their digital data hunted down. Much of the hunting will be by Republican-state prosecutors looking to convict women who cross state lines into better, less trashy states to seek abortions that are now illegal in New Gilead. But in states like Texas, it’s likely to be private anti-abortion groups gathering up that data—not just to target women seeking abortion, but as potential source of cash. The $10,000 bounty on Texas women who get abortions after six weeks turns such stalking into a potentially lucrative career.

Sen. Wyden to Gizmodo: “The simple act of searching for ‘pregnancy test’ could cause a woman to be stalked, harassed and attacked. With Texas style bounty laws, and laws being proposed in Missouri to limit people’s ability to travel to obtain abortion care, there could even be a profit motive for this outsourced persecution.”

It’s not just that Republican prosecutors can subpoena data records of pregnant women looking for, for example, evidence that they might have looked up “pregnancy test” or “abortion pills” or “my remaining civil rights.” All of those would constitute “evidence” that woman who had a miscarriage might not have “wanted” her pregnancy—thus paving the way for criminal charges. It’s happened before, despite Roe, and after Roe falls will likely become a rote fixture of red-state prosecutions.

We’re likely to to see such subpoenas become a primary way for conservative state prosecutors to “prove” that American women crossing state lines did so to obtain now-criminalized abortions. “Even a search for information about a clinic could become illegal under some state laws, or an effort to travel to a clinic with an intent to obtain an abortion,” Electronic Privacy Information Center president Alan Butler told The Washington Post.

Republican states have already been examining ways to criminalize such travel. It’s coming, and American women will find that the phones they use to look up reproductive health questions can also be used by prosecutors to hunt them down for asking the wrong questions.

Bounty hunters looking for women to target may not have those same subpoena powers—though heaven knows what the future will bring, in a theocratic state that finds its best legal wisdom from colonial era witch hunters—but they will have the power of extremely amoral data tracking companies on their side. It was revealed just days ago that data broker SafeGraph, slivers of which may be hidden on your own phone inside apps that quietly collect and sell the information they gather on you, specifically offers tracking data for phones visiting Planned Parenthood providers—including the census tracks visitors came from and returned to.

For just $160, SafeGraph has been selling that data to anyone willing to buy it. It’s a trivial investment for bounty hunters eager to cross-reference such clues to find who to next target. It’s also a valuable tool for would-be domestic terrorists, of the sort that are going to be once again emboldened by a Supreme Court nod to their beliefs that not only should abortion be banned, but that activists are justified in attacking those that think otherwise. Nobody can plausibly think far-right violence will decrease, in the bizarre landscape in which they have finally achieved victory in half the states while being rebuffed by the others. It has never happened that way. It never will.


Data collection company sells the information of people who visit abortion clinics

Louisiana Republicans push abortion bill doing exactly what national Republicans deny wanting to do

If SCOTUS kills Roe, many states are poised to swiftly enforce abortion bans, sweeping restrictions

America doesn’t want abortion overturned, does want an expanded Supreme Court

Thursday, May 5, 2022 · 7:15:16 PM +00:00 · Hunter

Another data miner, Placer, tracks Planned Parenthood visitors to their homes and provides the routes they took. Among the apps mining data for Placer is popular tracking app “Life360.”

The maps also showed people’s routes that they took to and from Planned Parenthood clinics. One in Texas showed people coming from schools, university dorms, and visiting a mental health clinic after. The free tier offered tracking to homes — the paid tier offered workplaces.

— alfred 🆖 (@alfredwkng) May 5, 2022