Just International

Covering Palestine and Journalists Deaths in GazaCovering Palestine and Journalists Deaths in Gaza

By Phil Pasquini

Reflecting on the unprecedented number of journalists killed in Gaza by the Israeli military along with their intentional killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh two years ago, the Arab Center Washington, DC held an all-day symposium on May 9 at the National Press Club (NPC) delving into the state of press coverage and journalists’ deaths in Palestine and Gaza.

The program, dedicated to the memory of Shireen Abu Akleh, opened with a poignant memorial visual presentation with 100 photos of the over 140 journalists killed in Gaza since October 7.

Arab Center Director Khalil Jahshan, speaking of his friend Shireen, reflected on her as being “candid, composed, precise and substantive with very professional qualities that characterized her journalistic career that followed throughout the following two decades.”

Appearing remotely, keynote speaker Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) revealed the mostly underreported and horrific fact as listed by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) that more journalists have been killed in Gaza in the past seven months than in Mexico over 20 years. Mexico is considered the most dangerous place for journalists in the world.

Wearing a button with Shireen’s picture on it, Laila Al-Arian from Al Jazeera, on the first panel titled “What the Western Media Gets Right and Wrong,” said that reading the names of all 36,000 victims of those killed during the genocide in Gaza would take 20 hours and warned that “We must not lose our humanity and remain silent during all of this.”

Mona Chalabi from The Guardian US reflected on the use of the wrong verbs in western media by using the term “died” instead of “killed” along with “migration” instead of “displacement” when reporting on Gaza which she characterized as “lies driven by ideology and malicious deceit.”

In speaking about western editors involved in the production of articles on the conflict, Chalabi noted that editors mostly unfamiliar with the history and context, use “style books” that are formulated to define the conflict by eliminating such terms as “Palestinian” among others. She went on to talk about journalists being assigned to cover the Middle East who have no previous experience in the area and their being given the title of articles created by editors with fixed agendas, such as “Antisemitism on Campus” around which a journalist would fill in information formulated to support that narrative.

She also cited an article in The New Yorker titled “Hamas’ Propaganda War” implying that “Palestinian journalists who are putting their lives on the line are doing Hamas’ propaganda” for them.

Al-Arian referred to this as “regurgitating Israeli official narratives… that turn out to be lies and propaganda,” noting that many people in the newsroom are troubled by this and unhappy to be a part of the “media bias” favoring Israel and are now speaking out more.

She went on to say that “to be an Arab journalist is to not be believed,” and that she has reviewed and compared how asymmetrical and extensive the coverage is on the number of “Israeli people who have been killed versus the Palestinian people who had been killed.”

TV host and journalist Ayman Mohyeldin, a Palestinian American, speaking with Yousef Munayyer of the Arab Center, related his personal experience of having covered Gaza both on the ground during war and from the anchor’s chair in New York. He eloquently described having worked with Shireen and other Palestinian journalists saying that their reporting had a “very granular” knowledge and context of the stories they covered that western journalists’ reporting lacked.

Having worked with Shireen and learning from her and others who have lived the story of conflict there “day in and day out,” he said, “shapes your coverage as a reporter and changes your entire outlook and the ability to report it. What she has taught me has stayed with me as a journalist throughout my entire career.” He confessed that while being unable to change anything through reporting, he was, however, empowered to be “The voice for the voiceless.”

On the second panel titled, “Journalism under fire: Risking It All to Tell the Story,” Shireen Abu Akleh’s niece Lina Abu Akleh said the family’s journey in “calling for the bare minimum of justice for Shireen” has been difficult and warning that “without justice for Shireen, this will give the green light to kill more journalists.”

Speaking on how Shireen’s widely condemned killing was reported in the media, she said that it was without context covering only basic information making it seem that Shireen somehow had “magically died” based on the lack of context and substantive facts. Saying “she was killed” as reported, neglected to mention how and by whom and that “It was disheartening seeing how fellow journalists covered the killing of Shireen.”

After the killing she went on to say that “Advocating [for justice] should not have been our role as a family, we should have been mourning. They didn’t just kill Shireen, they also attacked the funeral, that was another violation that was another attack on her dignity and our right to put her to rest. We felt it was silencing Shireen twice.”

She characterized the lack of a credible U.S. investigation into Shireen’s killing by saying that “the “Administration has failed our family” and that it was “not a surprise.”

Eman Mohammed, a Palestinian photojournalist from Gaza, spoke about western journalists covering Gaza by saying that “With the genocide happening in Gaza now, I am distraught with the silence, the complicity, the abandonment that my colleagues are experiencing.” Referring to the unprecedented toll of Palestinian journalists being killed in Gaza she admitted, “I don’t know how we got here to this level of inhumanity.”

Reacting to the statement of letting foreign journalists into Gaza, she said “The problem is not in the coverage, the problem is in protecting the coverage, the coverage is top notch. If I was covering, I would just throw the images raw and be like take it.”

“I would love to see, but I would not love to see, how the world would react when white journalists start to drop, because we have seen six aid workers, white foreign aid workers get killed by Israel and we have seen the drastic different reaction.”

“Everyone keeps saying ‘oh we need foreign journalists inside of Gaza’ but not for the coverage to improve we need it for different reasons. I see now that we are all disposable.” She pointed out that “the media is not the same as journalists. The media is clicks, its profits, its views. The journalists are journalists and without you they don’t have content and they don’t have credibility they don’t have anything whatsoever.”

When asked how her colleagues in Gaza react about not getting the same respect as western journalists, she responded by saying that “They are aware but at the same time they have the intelligence to separate the media and their journalists.”

“When we work in Gaza and we have a foreign journalist, no matter who that foreign journalist is, they need an army of us to work with them to make it possible for them to get their story. They need fixers, they need translators, they need drivers, they need us to vouch with the locals to get that story for them to be trusted. They parachute in and we need to work around them to get them that trust even if they stay there for a month, and they think they are more credible than us.”

“Without us they don’t have a story and then we need them to tell our story. It’s kind of not even laughable; it’s insulting. And then when we’re the ones getting killed, they don’t have the words to say ‘Israel killed Palestinian journalists.’ So, I mean it’s complicity and the lack of having a backbone…”

Report and photos by Phil Pasquini

13 May 2024

Source: countercurrents.org

Bassem Yousef and Rethinking Holocaust Exceptionalism

By Sameer Dossani

One of the more frustrating debates I’ve seen on Gaza in the last few months – and I’ve seen a lot of them – was between Bassem Youssef and Konstantin Kisin of the YouTube channel Triggernometry. At the beginning of the interview, Kisin asks a question which he pretends (or perhaps actually believes) to be perfectly reasonable: “If you were in charge of the Israeli government, what would you have done on October 8, 2023?”

Bassem Youssef has been absolutely amazing in responding to these kinds of questions. He’s been doing it for months, starting with his brilliant interview with Piers Morgan and he didn’t do a bad job in this interview in general. But on this question he feels cornered and unable to answer.

In order to understand the problem with Kisin’s question I think it’s important that we break a taboo. Pro-Zionist forces have over the years been able to codify a kind of sacredness around the Holocaust. It was done only to Jews (which is untrue), it was done on a massive and systematic scale (which is true), and therefore nothing can be compared to that (which is a matter of opinion). I suggest we break this taboo.

If we consider what seems to have taken place on October 7, 2023 – an organised prison break that took out the leadership of those doing the imprisoning that unfortunately seems to have lead to mass killing of civilians (some of which was undoubtedly done by the prison wardens themselves) – what does it look like? Are there historical parallels we can find to explain to someone in language that Konstantin Kisin would understand?

Imagine if Bassem had asked Kisin this question in reply: “Imagine you were Adolf Hitler on 20 April, 1943, the day after the Warsaw Ghetto uprising began. What would you do?” Given that Gaza has been declared an “open air prison” even by mainstream human rights organisations, the analogy to the Warsaw ghetto is at least viable. Like any historical analogy it won’t hold up 100% – nothing does, that’s what it means to use a comparator. Suppose Bassem had posed this question. How would his interviewers have responded?

Of course there is no right answer to this question. If there is a right answer, it is precisely what Bassem seems to say at several points, namely that if I were in charge there wouldn’t be a ghetto therefore the ghetto uprising would have never happened. And with that analogy, Kisin would have immediately understood what he seemed to be too thick to understand during the interview. This is not a battle of equals; this is a settler colonial state engaged in an illegal occupation and a blockade. To the extent that there are armed Palestinians resisting, that should actually be something to be celebrated just as we celebrate the heroes of the ghetto uprisings in Nazi Germany. Posing the question as if it were France invading England is to concede that one has no understanding either of history or of the daily lives of people in the Occupied Territories.

The reason I like the Nazi analogy is that people immediately get it. I don’t think Piers Morgan or Konstantin Kisin are stupid. I just think they’re stuck in some fictitious world where Palestinians have as much power as Israelis and the two groups have been fighting each other since the time of King Herod. Jews fleeing Europe to live with Muslims during the Inquisition, the Balfour Declaration, the Nakba, the 1967 war, the 1971 war, even the details of the 1994 Oslo agreement (which Israel started violating immediately) – these are all either unknown or irrelevant for colonial apologists. The fact – that Bassem brings up – that Israel was killing Palestinians both in the West Bank and in Gaza in the weeks and months before October 7 is also deemed irrelevant. But of course it’s not irrelevant. If I punch you, that’s a crime. But it might not be a crime if I punched you because you had your boot on my neck. Context is everything.

By comparing these actions with those of a regime everyone agrees is terrible – the Nazis – people may begin to understand.

Many years ago, someone I consider a good friend tried to corner me on this issue. Referring to the far-right in Israel I had used the term “Nazi”. He violently disagreed with the use of the term, even though he conceded that these particular people were genocidal – they were calling for the extermination of Palestinians. “The term “Nazi” should be a synonym for “Jew killer”” was what his argument boiled down to (in fact I think that’s a direct quote from that discussion).

The problem here is one of history as well as theory. From a historical perspective it’s not clear to me that the killing of as many as 7 million people (mostly, but not exclusively, of the Jewish faith) is more worthy of recognition than the killing of 10 million people in the Congo or the killing of 100 million people in India. The common thread is that all of these atrocities were committed by Europeans – Germans, Belgians and British Europeans to be precise. The Holocaust is one of many terrible atrocities that one could cite by way of analogy when faced with a current example of a militarised population murdering civilians.

Out of all of these examples, only the Holocaust has been universally recognised in our culture as an act of unspeakable evil. If I write a science fiction book about a guy who comes to power and starts killing people, I don’t compare my character to King Leopold or Winston Churchill (though those would be perfectly reasonable analogies). If I want to explain to someone in an instant that my character is a very bad person, I compare him to Hitler.

If you ask anyone – even someone as thick as Konstantin Kisin seems to be in this interview – what was bad about the Nazis, they’ll have the right answer. The Nazi engaged in the systemic oppression and murder of entire categories of people (Jews, SocialistsRomaniqueer people, etc). They not only committed those atrocities, they declared their intent to “rid Europe of its Jews” to paraphrase some of the language of the “Final Solution”. So when we have similar language from Israeli officials – “We will eliminate everything”“Erase them, their families, mothers and children. These animals can no longer live.” – not to mention the killing of tens of thousands of women and children, is it not time to make the obvious analogy without fear?

Ultimately those who argue for the sacrosanct status of the Holocaust are guilty of creating the circumstances by which the Holocaust can be repeated. Is the lesson from the Holocaust a particular lesson or a universal one? Does it only apply to European Jews who were living in Europe in the 1930s and 40s? If so, then there is no lesson of the Holocaust. The exact circumstances of 1930s Europe will never be repeated; therefore there’s nothing to learn from the holocaust if you believe that all of those circumstances must be in place in order to justify an analogy.

The only way in which there is anything to learn from the Holocaust is if we take it as a universal principle – no group should be targeted and killed just because they are members of that group. The universality of the Holocaust underlies the entire human rights framework (which was largely written in response to the Holocaust). The group in question doesn’t matter – those who have devoted their lives to human rights often cite atrocities committed against Armenians and people from East Timor as some of the worst atrocities ever. Both of those groups happen to be Christians who were persecuted by Muslims. So the cries of antisemitism make no sense either – those who are fighting against genocide fight against all of them, especially those that their own government is complicit in.

If we do not universalise the lessons from the Holocaust, if we accept that there’s something that’s sacrosanct about it, what is that thing that is sacrosanct? It’s not the number of people killed – those numbers have been exceeded in Africa and in Asia. Is it the religion of those who were murdered? Given the long history of antisemitism in Europe that seems unlikely. So what is it that gives the Holocaust this unique status?

I don’t have an answer to this question, but I do have a guess. I fear that what makes the Holocaust against European Jews sacrosanct is the fact that they were European. African and Asian genocides don’t have the right sort of victims. Black people dying we can live with, but white people dying? Never Again (repeated over and over, and repeated by the exact same people who are simultaneously justifying the murder of thousands of Palestinian children).

The preoccupation with one particular genocide above all others may or may not be due to racism. But it is a preoccupation that does exist. We make (mediocre) movies about escaping the Nazis, we write (and read) novels about the Nazis, and so on. It’s the one example of genocide that firmly ensconced in the public imagination. Those [of us who are actually in favour of universal human rights have an obligation to use this example – the only example that the public really gets – as part of our effort to end the current genocide.

Bassem Youssef was essentially asked what he would do if he was put in the situation of being in charge of an ongoing genocidal occupation. His answer is absolutely the right one – he would end that occupation and the genocide. But in order to get this point through the thick heads of those who seem intent on insisting that this war is like any other, we should not shy away from historical analogies, including the analogy to World War 2 when appropriate.

Sameer Dossani is co-director of Peace Vigil, an organisation dedicated to Peace Education. They are online at peacevigil.net

13 May 2024

Source: countercurrents.org

“Where Should We Go From Here?” Displaced Palestinians Pleads

By Dr Marwan Asmar

People have become a pawn on the ‘bloody’ chessboard, being ordered to move around according to the whims of the Israeli army

The Israeli troop onslaught on the eastern part of Rafah created a fresh exodus of displaced Palestinians who came to assemble here in the last eight months because of Israeli army dictates.

The mass fleeing of Palestinians started soon after Israeli troops entered the eastern part of the city and quickly came to control the Rafah and Karem Abu Salem crossings beginning 7 May. They immediately stopped all aid from entering the city.

Today, 300,000 displaced people have moved out of Rafah and the number is said to increase even higher as the days go by, bearing in mind the city has come to host 1.5 million refugees who came here because they were originally told by the Israelis it is one of the safe areas.

Like before however, since many of these people came from the north and center of the Gaza Strip, the UN states the new forced displacement is the result of the new and fierce Israeli bombardment of the different areas of Rafah.

Go to Al Mawasi!

The Israeli military now wants the displaced Palestinians of Rafah to relocate to Al Mawasi, up north, near Khan Younis to start its military operations on the small city.

Contrary to altercations in his government Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insists his army invades Rafah because he says it still holds four Hamas brigades and must be finished off. But many people, including members of his own government, don’t believe him.

The social media is full of videoclips showing Palestinians, displaced for the third, fourth and fifth time and are on the move again to Al Mawasi with their ragtag belongings and mattresses packed in trucks and with people lounging, exhausted and hungry in search of an elusive safe place.

Their situation is well described by Liala Kafarna:  “They moved us from Gaza and told us to go to the south, after the south to go to Khan Younis, after that we came here to Nuseirat [Camp] and then they brought us to Deir Al Balah and then to Rafah, they said it’s a safe place, it wasn’t safe, we keep moving from one place to another. This child was born during the war. What is his fault?”

Frustration continue to be rife with a sense of hopelessness. “Things are very difficult we don’t know what to do, this is heathenism, [in reference to Israeli actions] were should we go from here,” said Nidal, a displaced person about to leave Rafah on another bleak journey up north.

Men, women, children, old and people in wheelchairs have been moving in the past few days out of the city in a bid to beat the Israeli bombardment. It’s another endless human tragedy.

Most of the displaced people say these are war times and add such a displacement will keep recurring.  “We are in time of war, there is no area that is safe, the bombardment is distributed everywhere,”  says displaced person Mohammad Abu Al Qass.

The Israeli army is now telling Palestinians that Al Mawasi is a safe area they should go to. As they pack their belongings, they know in their heart, this is not true for Rafah and now Al Mawasi are being repeatedly bombed.

Many experts worry that Al Mawasi will not fit the 1.5 million that are expected to come here. Situated on the Mediterranean its length is 12 kilometer and one kilometer wide while it lacks the infrastructure for a mass human flock since it’s a predominantly undeveloped agricultural area.

“Even before today’s evacuation orders, Al-Mawasi was uninhabitable. Our team members report tents stretched endlessly under scorching sun with no relief in sight and no electricity, water or aid,” Tjada D’Oyen McKenna, CEO of the charity Mercy Corps, according to HuffPost.


Sumaiya Shabaan says she came here with her family from Rafah. “There is no place for us here, nobody is prepared to meet us and we can’t find a piece of land here to sit on,” she said.

“Me and my family have been here for the last three days sleeping under the open skies,” she added.

Amani Al Fayoumi, also another displaced person from Rafah said she and her family been here for the last four days sleeping in the open cold weather and have no space to hoist our tent. “Where are we and the other people supposed to go,” she asked.

Experts say Al Mawasi can only hold a limited capacity of 100,000 people, yet the Israeli military wants to move more than a million people to the area but this is physically impossible.

“There is nothing here, I hope the specialized authorities will support us, support our kids, look at our situation; we have no roof over our heads, there are no toilets, no health committee, we are without anything that would sustain life,” Shabaan said.

Voices from Gaza continue to be heard, its shocking news from people who once lived in homes that were quickly turned into rubble with the mantal state of the people best summed up by Sanaa Al Kafarna:  “We’re tired. Our mental well-being has been destroyed. There is no mental well-being. Even young ones have been destroyed. My children were not like this before the war. No education. No food. No drink. Nothing, we have no money, no one sends us any aid, we’re are we to go?”

Dr  Asmar, based in Amman, covers Middle East affairs

12 May 2024

Source: countercurrents.org

70 Years of US Covert War Against Eritrea

By Thomas C. Mountain

It has been 70 years, at least, since the USA began it’s covert war against Eritrea. You could say it started when one of the infamous Dulles brothers, two of the founding fathers of the US National Security Establishment back after WW2, and at the time US Secretary of State, said that “Eritrea deserves independence but it is in the US national interest to give them to Ethiopia”. The US wanted Ethiopia as its policeman on the beat in the strategically critical Horn of Africa and what better way then to give them not one but two ports on the Red Sea.

Thus began the US covert war against Eritrea that is still being fought today. The US did its best to deny Eritrea’s very existence by denying the Eritrean peoples right to self determination, the right to their own country. Today the US continues to sabotage Eritrean independence by punishing the Eritrean people with all of the tools of economic warfare it has at it disposal.

To start with, the US has banned Eritrea from the SWIFT international financial transfer network so Eritreans cannot wire transfer funds to their country.

The US and its lackeys in the western governments  continues to try and prevent Eritreans from paying their 2% income tax from abroad to their government, something all US citizens living abroad are required to do.

The western banksters know very well how important this 2% tax has been for the survival of Eritrea with hundreds of millions of dollars every year maintaining the Eritrean economy through some very tough times.

The US has been particularly intent on sabotaging Eritrea’s mining industry, first ramming through the UNinSecurity Council sanctions against its very first mine, the Bisha gold mine. Next Eritrea’s potash mine, the next big one internationally in the Danakil depression in Afar was targeted and successfully delayed for a decade what will be a multi-billion dollar revenue stream for Eritrea for decades to come. In 2015 and again in 2016 at the Eritrean demonstrations in Geneva, Switzerland I spoke on the intent of the LiarsForHire at the UN Human Rights mob in slandering Eritrea was to delay this economic game changer for the country. More covert warfare by the US behind the scenes.

But the really serious US covert war against Eritrea started a few years after Eritrean independence in 1991 when starting in 1998 the the US National Security Establishment a.k.a the CIA began the aid to arms financial diversion scheme that provided the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) that seized power after the Eritrean lead overthrow of the Col. Mengistu regime of Ethiopia with the billions of dollars they needed to re-arm, with the intent of invading Eritrea and reclaiming Ethiopia’s former colony. As in the US “national interest” Eritrea was deemed to belong to Ethiopia

In 1993 Eritrea was internationally recognized as an independent nation with a seat at the UN General Assembly, something that really pissed off the recalcitrant Ethiopian imperialists, as well as the new wannabe colonialists in the TPLF ruling Ethiopia.

In 1997 Eritrea issued its own currency and the TPLF regime got serious about preparing for a new war. In 1998 they declared war against Eritrea and attempted an invasion. Their army was decisively defeated and with the secret support of the CIA they began a serious rearmament campaign.

The CIA had recruited TPLF Godfather Meles Zenawi sometime as early as 1980 and with their support he rose rapidly from a mid rank cadre to the head of the TPLF, then still a guerrilla army fighting the Soviet supported Mengistu regime. Throughout the 1998-2000 TPLF war against Eritrea, Meles, a documented coward, sent his press ganged army of mainly Oromo youth, to charge the Eritrean trenches in human waves, a tactic the remaining TPLF leaders have continued to this day. The result was the sort of mass slaughter seldom seen since the trench warfare of the first World War.

When this didnt work Meles turned to his godfathers at the CIA, in particular to Gayle Smith (see “Obama’s Quiet Consigliere”), the person who had personally recruited him. Gayle Smith had subsequently risen to be senior Capo in the US National Security Establishment and Meles turned to her for the funds he needed to beef up his military. This launched the largest covert arms supply campaign since the US backed the religious fanatics in Afghanistan against the socialist Afghan government supported by the Soviet Union.

Billions of dollars in what was supposed to be food and development aid from the US and its lackeys at the UN were “allowed” to be handed over to Meles Zenawi in the form of hard currency transfers to Ethiopian government bank accounts  which subsequently ended up in arms purchases, much of which was from former Soviet Union member Ukraine.

Thousands of tanks, heavy and light artillery, dozens of fighter bombers and hundreds of attack helicopters were shipped to the TPLF military and in 1999 a new attempt to invade Eritrea was launched. And once again this invasion was quickly crushed by the Eritrean Defense Forces with tens of thousands of Ethiopian youth left dead in front of Eritrean trenches.

Infuriated by another crushing defeat the TPLF under the CIA’s “boy” Meles Zenawi turned once again to their masters in the CIA and another surge in aid to arms diversion was launched culminating in the “3rd Offensive” launched in 2000. This time the CIA has invested considerable human resources into trying to make sure the TPLF was successful in its war against Eritrea including satellite intelligence analysis of Eritrea defenses that pinpointed just where the TPLF should concentrate their forces. In June of 2000 the TPLF succeeded in breaking through the Eritrean defenses and ultimately driving some 40% of the Eritrean population from their homes with little more than the clothes on their backs, fleeing what would have certainly been a genocide if they hadn’t. 1.4 million Eritreans were turned almost overnight into internally displace persons (IDP’s).

In spite of the critical situation in their country the Eritrean Defense Forces again crushed the “3rd Offensive” in June 2000 in the battle of Tsorona, wiping out some 20,000 of the best TPLF fighters in one day. After this the TPLF desperately demanded the UN provide “peacekeepers” as a part of keeping Eritrea from launching a planned counteroffensive and completely overrunning the TPLF. Behind the scenes the US moved an aircraft carrier into the Red Sea and threatened to bomb Eritrea if it launched a counterattack. The UN, ever a US lackey, sent their “peacekeepers” to occupy Eritrean soil and a peace “final and binding” peace treaty and border demarcation was signed, the reason the TPLF supposedly went to war against Eritrea, in Algiers in 2002. Of course none of the “guarantors” enforced the peace treaty or border demarcation which gave Eritrea all the contested territory the TPLF claimed was theirs.

After this the war developed into a “no war, no peace” situation that forced Eritrea to maintain a large national service army on its borders to prevent the TPLF from attempting another invasion though the TPLF did launch multiple division scale attacks on Eritrea over the next 18 years. The US supported this “no war, no peace” as a part of their covert war on Eritrea, attempting to cripple the Eritrean economy and  refusing to honor the Algiers Peace Agreement that they promised to enforce as a part of supposedly ending the conflict between the TPLF and Eritrea. It wasn’t until the final withdrawal of the TPLF from national power in 2018 when Eritrea caught the CIA a sleep at the wheel in the deal that brought Abiy Ahmed, todays Prime Minister of Ethiopia to power.

When Eritrean President Issias Aferwerki so famously said “Game Over” for the TPLF during his Martyrs Day address in June 2018 a major step towards peace between the Ethiopian and Eritrean people took place. The TPLF was forced to withdraw from national power in Ethiopia and retreat to their home province of Tigray. More importantly it laid the foundation of the permanent basis for friendship between the Eritrean and Ethiopian peoples, something only reinforced by the next round of US covert war against Eritrea, and now, Ethiopia.

When the eyes of the world were distracted by the US election in November 2020 the TPLF launched their first coup attempt against the Ethiopian government of Abiy Ahmed. This was a CIA operation from the get go, with its built in “deniability factor”, the TPLF, doing the dirty work. The US could see itself losing control of the Horn of Africa with the new Ethiopian-Eritrean alliance and had to strike quickly. With the withdrawal of the TPLF fighters from the Ethiopian Army back to their home province of Tigray the Ethiopian Army was just a shell of its former self and the CIA/TPLF foresaw a quick and relatively painless coup bringing the US back into the drivers seat in Ethiopia.

This time Eritrea knew it couldn’t sit back and allow the rebirth of the TPLF and at the invitation of Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed, who knew all to well that his army would not be able to stop the TPLF from marching into and taking over Addis Ababa, Eritrean Defense Forces attacked the TPLF army and destroyed the bulk of their main fighting forces. According to the TPLF 50,000+ regular army soldiers were wiped out in a matter of weeks. By the end of December, about of month and a half after the TPLF/CIA coup attempt, Eritrean and Ethiopian troops had captured the TPLF capital of Mekele and most of the senior TPLF leadership were dead, captured or on the run shortly after.

Though this was a major blow to the US imperialists and was an important step foretelling the beginning of the end for the US in the strategically critical Horn of Africa, through which the trade between Europe and Asia passes, the CIA regrouped and moved to buy off PM Abiy Ahmed and his Capos.

Africans know full well that a wounded hyena is a more dangerous animal and the CIA, after licking its wounds, provided much needed “aid” to the TPLF allowing them to regroup, press gang a new round of cannon fodder in the form of Tigrayan children, and launch another attempt to seize power in Ethiopia.

With PM Abiy secretly betraying his people and their sacrifices in defeating the TPLF, the Ethiopian army treacherously withdrew from Tigray and war was “born again” from its grave. The TPLF was, with not so secret UN/US support, including 500,000 liters of fuel “stolen” by the TPLF to use for critical transport for the their army, able to launch another two offensives, taking the lives of a whole generation of Tigrayan children, sent in human waves to be slaughtered, this time on Ethiopian soil.

After three failed attempts the remaining TPLF leadership was exhausted and demoralized, and the TPLF was forced to sue for peace, something the US was determined to prevent. A “deal” brokered by the US was made in Pretoria, South Africa, and more time was bought for the TPLF by their masters in the US National Security Establishment.

The major condition for this new “peace deal” was the disarmament of the TPLF, including handing over their heavy weapons. Of course this didnt happen for the US wasn’t going to allow it.

The reality today is that the US proxy against Eritrea and the rest of the Horn of Africa, the TPLF, is no longer a serious threat. PM Abiy in Ethiopia may try to ally with them and raise them from the dead, something the US obviously supports but the Abiy gangster regime in Ethiopia is clinging to power and its a matter of when not if his days running Ethiopia will be over.

In the meantime, the US continues to do what it can to punish Africa’s “Threat of Good Example”, Eritrea with economic sanctions, both official and unofficial, though its ability to do so it being eroded fairly rapidly due to the expansion of BRICS and the growing Chinese and Russian support for Eritrea. Still the 70 years long US covert war against Eritrea continues, and Eritrea continues to resist. As it is said by Eritreans at home and abroad, “Awet N’Hafash”, “victory to the masses” and this coming May 24 marks 33 years of Eritrean independence and success against the US covert war.

Thomas C. Mountain is an historian and educator with over 40 years background in matters African.

10 May 2024

Source: countercurrents.org

Whatever happened to the Israeli Psyche?

By Dr Marwan Asmar

The slaughter of Gaza has shown the world that Israel, those circle around Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, no longer function rationally. Their daily acts of ordering mayhem and destruction on a defenseless people in Gaza to get to Hamas, is surely signs of deep psychological disturbances. If not stopped, such atrocious behavior will lead to unforeseen instability in the region and the world. After all, Israel has the nuclear bomb and everybody knows it.

I see the Israeli government and the war cabinet on my television set daily, in fact at least few times a day. I see Netanyahu and his ministers and military officers around the table nonchalantly discussing the war on Gaza.

Unbelievable is the fact, and over the past eight months, they have assembled in unison, as if this is a series of business meetings discussing among themselves which parts of Gaza they should bomb today, what type of American missiles they should use and which homes harm should be inflicted on.

These are supposedly top Israeli leaders reduced to a genocidal state of atrophy and political degeneration. Up till now they have not been able to get to the crux of the Hamas fighters and/or their whereabouts.

So, one can imagine them talking about which communities, blocks of flats, housing areas their so-called top brass and elite soldiers would bomb on that particular day. Is it fathomable? Its like George Orwell’s 1984 but in deadly style; here its Big Brother with flying machine guns, tanks on innocent civilians and so-called soldiers with pointed rifles ready to shoot men, women, children and babies.

Its madness, but statistics show it. The number of children that have been killed through Israeli barrel-bombing stands at 15,000 according to international statistics provided by the United Nations.

And the Israeli cabinet meetings go on today, next day, the next and the next, plotting what madness to carry out and follow. it’s a parody of massacres, while the world cheers on and justice is served. Its an odd form of confused chaos, staring from Israel to the White House and different capitals of the world. Who is playing the tune and who is listening to it?

But it’s willful, wonton, determined destruction and bloody killings, all for the sake of ending shady, terrorism and ghost-like terrorists.

How do these people feel about themselves. Can they be called people, maybe humanoids in suits, shirts, slacks, shoes. How do these so-called politicians look at each other when they order the bombing of a row of houses in downtown Gaza, Khan Younis, Dier Al Balah, Beni Suhaila or Rafah. Where are the Hamas operatives. They are starving children and women, the mighty Israeli war machine is bombing at full speed and with no compunction!

Don’t they watch their Godless bloody-infested handiwork? Surely, Israeli government leaders, if such an expression can be used, must see television images of those sprawled devastating photos and videoclips on the social media.

Human hatred per excellence. Maybe they are so blinded by rage and are prepared to see the worst kind of genocidal atrocities even if they are innocent babies. This war on Gaza has shown the distorted Israeli psyche of the mad people in power which means their indifference to human lives, including Israeli, is just a matter of collateral damage.

Human lives become worthless and with a machine-gun in one’s hand, they become mere figments to be shot at.  Israeli soldiers have seen it as their moral duty to kill Palestinians running on the Gaza beaches in search of food dropped from the skies to block their insatiable hunger.

We see horror of death everybody, bodies and torn limbs amidst debris and wreckage. We see women and children pulled from under concrete blocks in cement and blood with gashed heads and torn torsos and legs.

I think to myself, isn’t Netanyahu moved. The passion to bomb and destroy has become irrevocable. There is a twist in the mind of a man who gets up every morning and sees his bloody objectives can only be achieved by bombing more, displacing more, setting Palestinian on a circle of movements to be dictated by his vicious army in an opiate terror-mode.

Then there is his agent Herzi Halevi, the so-called Israeli Chief of Staff who willingly obeys a sinister man in power. What kind of a person is a man who tells his soldiers to bombs houses regardless of who is in them: men, women, children, the old, sick and the infirm?

Israel has lost all sense of direction. The people in power have no interest in political deals. Today, it’s about the perpetuation of war that is becoming permanent because the stomping out of Hamas and the Palestinian resistance lies in the realm of imagination than reality.

Marwan Asmar is an Amman-based writer covering Middle East affairs.

10 May 2024

Source: countercurrents.org

Civilizational Unity, Not Clash: How Gaza Challenged Samuel Huntington’s Fantasies

By Dr. Ramzy Baroud

Identity is fluid, because concepts such as culture, history and collective self-perceptions are never fixed. They are in a constant state of flux and revision.

For hundreds of years, the map of the Roman Empire seemed more Mediterranean and, ultimately, Middle Eastern than European – per the geographic, or even geopolitical demarcation of today’s Europe.

Hundreds of years of conflicts, wars and invasions redefined the Roman identity, splitting it, by the end of the fourth century, between West and East. But, even then, the political lines constantly changed, maps were repeatedly redrawn and identities fittingly redefined.

This applies to most of human history. True, war and conflict have served as drivers of change of maps – and of our collective relationship with these maps – but culture is also shaped and remodeled by other factors.

The permeation of the English language, for example, as a main tool of communication in the post-Cold War era, resulted in an invasion by US, and to a lesser extent, British entertainment – films, music, sports, etc. – of many parts of the world. This incursion has disrupted the natural cultural development of many societies, widening the generational gap and redefining social conceptions, values and priorities.

Such a sudden change in cultural flow is hardly conducive to the health of a nation, whose sense of self is the outcome of hundreds, if not thousands of years of social conflicts, struggles and, often, growth.

Thus, identity, as a permanent political signifier, cannot be trusted, since this vague concept is in a constant state of motion and because of the unprecedented connectivity among peoples all over the world. While such connectivity can lead to slow ethnocide, which is difficult to detect, let alone avoid, it can also help beleaguered, oppressed nations fight back.

Once upon a time, such self-serving theories as that of an impending ‘clash of civilizations’, was all the rage among many US-western academics.

Samuel Huntington’s division of the world into “major civilizations” whose relationships will be defined by conflict was a convenient addition to a history of such racist tropes, going as far as the early phases of western colonialism.

Such thinking was propelled forward by political expediency, not rational thought, as it was marketed heavily following the collapse of the Soviet order, the first Iraq war and the emboldened western militarism across Asia, the Middle East and the rest of the Global South.

Linking violent endeavors with such lofty words as civilizations – some driven by universal values, while others, supposedly by extremism – was a mere reintroduction of old mantras as Europe’s ‘mission civilisatrice’ and the American ‘manifest destiny’.

All of it failed, anyway, or, more accurately, could not produce the desired outcome of keeping the world hostage to the west’s definition of civilization, identities and human relations, thus the supposedly inevitable ‘clash’.

Currently, there are signs of a new world that is emerging. It is not one that is shaped by civilizational quests or impulses, but by the same old historical paradigm: those who are seeking power that can widen and protect their economic interests, and those fighting back, seeking freedom, justice, equality, rule of law and the like.

Those pursuing power can, and are uniting beyond their supposed civilization inclinations, religious values, racial orientations and geography.

Even prior to the Russia-Ukraine war, a new cold war was already emerging, between a declining empire, the US, and a rising one, China.

Both countries, according to Huntington, would serve as textbook examples of ‘western civilization’ vs. the ‘Sinic civilization’ – lumped with others under the ‘Eastern world’.

Yet, neither the refined approach of Barack Obama nor the populist style of Donald Trump succeeded in deepening this presumed civilizational clash. The rest of the world’s relations with China continue to be governed by economic interests.

Even Washington’s European allies, who rely heavily on Chinese trade and technological advancements, are not entirely persuaded in joining the trade war on Beijing in the name of common western values and other such rhetoric.

As for those fighting back, the war on Gaza was an unexpected rallying cry for unity. Indeed, the war has resulted in a whole new formation of international relations that hardly existed prior to October 7.

Those speaking out for the Palestinians are neither governed by religious, racial, geographic or even cultural boundaries. From Namibia to South Africa, from Brazil and Colombia to Nicaragua, and from China, to Russia to the Middle East, solidarity with Gaza is hardly defined from a narrow ‘civilizational’ perspective.

This includes the mass protests across the world, including throughout Europe and North America, where people from every color, race, age group, gender, religion and more are united in a single chant: ceasefire now.

Of course, there will always be those invested in dividing us, around whatever lines that may serve their political agendas, which are almost always linked to economic interests and military might.

Yet, the global resistance to such delusional academics and chauvinistic politicians is stronger than ever before. Gaza has proven to be the ultimate unifier, as it has drawn a line that bonds all of Huntington’s civilizational groups, not around imminent conflict, but global justice.

Dr. Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle.

10 May 2024

Source: countercurrents.org

Unfurling Love from the Window

By Kathy Kelly

A banner and a name remind student protesters for whom they are fighting.

On April 30, when Columbia University student protesters took over Hamilton Hall, they renamed it “Hind’s Hall,” dropping a large banner out the windows above the building’s entrance. This was a hall famously occupied by students in the 1968 protests against the Vietnam War and against Jim Crow racism in the United States. The students are risking suspension and expulsion, and a very real blacklist has already been generated against them, with Congress joining in to define criticism of genocide as a form of antisemitism that state universities and state-linked employers will not be allowed to tolerate.

I believe their love for Hind Rajab guides the movement so desperately needed to resist militarism. Hind was six years old when Israel used U.S.-supplied weapons to kill her.

If our civilization survives a looming ecological collapse that is helping to drive catastrophic nuclear brinkmanship, I hope future generations of students will study the “Hind’s Hall” occupation in the way that students of the civil rights movement have studied the Edmund Pettus Bridge and the story of Emmett Till. Hind’s story is tragically emblematic. Her cruel murder has befallen many thousands of children throughout the decades of Israel’s fight to maintain apartheid. Just in our young century, from September 2000 to September 2023, Israel’s B’tselem organization reports that 2,309 Palestinian minors were killed by Israelis and some 145 Israeli minors were killed by Palestinians, with these numbers excluding Palestinian children dead from deliberate immiseration via blockade or traumatized as hostages in prisons. We hear reports that thirty-eight Israeli children and some 14,000 Palestinian children have been murdered since October 7, deaths which can all be laid on the doorstep of the ethnostate project so lethally determined to keep one ethnicity in undemocratic governance.

No six-year-old poses any threat to anyone. Like the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children starved to death during the U.S. imposition of economic sanctions against Iraq, none of these children could be held accountable for the actions of their government or military.

Hind Rajab committed no crime, but she was made to watch her family die and wait for death surrounded by their corpses. When the ambulance crew asked safe passage to come rescue her, she was used as bait to kill them as well. Her story must be remembered and told over and over.

As Jeffrey St. Clair writes, Hind was a little girl who liked to dress up as a princess. She lived in the neighborhood of Tel al-Hawa, an area south of Gaza City.

“Hind Rajab was in her own city when the invaders in tanks came,” St. Clair notes. “What was left of it . . . Hind’s own kindergarten, from which she’d recently graduated, had been blown up, as had so many other schools, places of learning, places of shelter and places of safety in Gaza City.”


On January 29, when the Israelis ordered people to evacuate, her mother, Wissam Hamada, and an older sibling set off on foot. Hind joined her uncle, aunt, and three cousins who traveled in a black Kia automobile.

The uncle placed a call to a relative in Germany which initiated the family’s contact with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS). After the initial connection with the PRCS switchboard, the car was targeted and hit, killing Hind’s uncle, her aunt, and two of her cousins.

Hind and her fifteen-year-old cousin, Layan, were the only survivors.

Switchboard operators handling the phone contact with Layan had immediately notified ambulance workers that the little girls needed to be rescued.

But it would have been suicidal for a rescue crew to enter the area without first working out coordinates with the Israeli military.

Similar to the World Central Kitchen workers killed on Monday, April 1, they waited hours for the coordinated rescue plan.

On the audio tape shared by the PRCS workers, Layan’s petrified voice can be heard. The tank is coming closer. She is so scared. A blast is heard and Layan no longer speaks. PRCS workers call back and Hind answers.

She pleads, “Please come and get me. I’m so scared.”

St. Clair writes, “The [PRCS] dispatched an ambulance crewed by two paramedics: Ahmed al-Madhoon and Youssef Zeino. As Ahmed and Youssef approached the Tel al-Hawa area, they reported to the Red Crescent dispatchers that the IDF was targeting them, and that snipers had pointed lasers at the ambulance. Then there was the sound of gunfire and an explosion. The line went silent.”

The tank-fired M830A1 missile remnant found nearby had been manufactured in the United States by a subsidiary of the Day and Zimmermann Corporation. Day and Zimmermann prides itself on having once received the U.S. National “Family Business of the Year” award—an Internet search for the award chiefly produces references to this company. The company states that it believes in civic and community service, with core values of safety and integrity; emphasizing their success as a team that hits its targets. But since last October, their business has been killing families like Hind’s.

Although Israel predictably insists that Layan and Hind, and the additional slain paramedics, were all lying with their final breaths and that no IDF tanks were present to attack them, Al Jazeera’s analysis of satellite images taken at midday on January 29 corroborates the victims’ accounts and puts at least three Israeli tanks just 270 meters (886 feet) from the family’s car, with their guns pointed at it.

When rescuers were finally allowed to approach the remains of Hind and her family on February 10, the car was riddled with bullet holes likely coming from more than one direction.

Hind’s mother couldn’t go to the site until February 12.

On May 5, Israel raided the offices of Al Jazeera at the Ambassador Hotel in Jerusalem and moved to shut down the television network’s operations in Israel.


To remember Hind’s story is an act of resistance. Commemorating her short life builds resolve to confront profiteers who benefit from developing, manufacturing, storing, and selling the weapons that prolong wars—robbing children of their precious right to live.

Universities should, in theory, be places to learn things of importance, and we can learn from the students of Hind Hall to throw comfort and ambition out the window while keeping hold of love, as the students clung to that banner and to the name of Hind Rajab. We can learn to keep hold of our humanity. We learn by doing, as these students are learning to do, drawing wisdom from people like Phil Berrigan who famously said, “Don’t get tired!”

The list of Gaza solidarity encampments grows each day. Conscious of increasing famine in Gaza, students at Princeton University launched a water-only fast on May 4 as they continue to call for their University to divest from corporations selling weapons to Israel. The United Nations warns of a potential collapse of aid delivery to Palestinians with Israel’s May 7 closure of the two main crossings into Gaza. These crossings are critical entry points for food, medicine, and other supplies for Gaza’s 2.3 million people. The disruptions come at a time when officials say northern Gaza is experiencing a “full-blown famine.

With thousands of innocent lives in the balance, promoters of peace should take advantage of this crucial opportunity to follow the young people, learning alongside the students whose hunger for humanity reveals stunning courage.


Kathy Kelly (kathy.vcnv@gmail.com) is board president of World BEYOND War and a co-coordinator of the Merchants of Death War Crimes Tribunal

9 May 2024

Source: countercurrents.org

Who Can Make Netanyahu Not Enter Rafah?

By Dr Marwan Asmar

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be committing suicide if he orders his army to enter Rafah. This is because the military objectives would be too high and nefarious. This bloody slaughter in Gaza has come at a great cost not only for the Palestinians but for the Israelis as well.

In this war, there are only losers but Netanyahu and his extreme rightwing wing ministers refuse to believe that, saying Hamas must be eliminated at whatever cost. But this is far from the truth.   

All he would be achieving is creating a mass civilian bloodbath, taking into account that 1.5 million displaced Palestinians are already tight-packed into the small city. In this Israeli mass war on Gaza, it is he, who ordered Palestinians to move to the southern-most city from all over Gaza, in the first place.

If he orders the Israeli troops into the city all he would be doing is putting the civilians in the forefront of Israeli bombs and mass fire because of the clogged-up terrain of Rafah despite’s the fact his army is now telling displaced Palestinians to move back to Al Mowasi which is up further north to the east of Khan Younis.

In effect, and in this war, Israel has only been playing with the Palestinian civilians, ordering them around and then shooting them and bombing them through freely-supplied American weapons.

Netanyahu is playing musical games with the internally displaced many of whom have been forced to move several times to get here and now many are on the move again through the dictates of a murderous army. However, a large number of Palestinians say they are not moving for there is nowhere else to go and despite the danger of being killed.

Death and survival have become an issue of martyrdom since the two percent of the Gazan population have already been killed in this war.

All Netanyahu would be doing is creating more anger against Israel from the international community many of whom are warning him not to invade Rafah. Already the Biden despite administration, and despite being the main military backer of Israel are telling Netanyahu not to invade because of the higher number if civilian deaths.

Many experts also say if Netanyahu orders his troops in – some are already in different parts of the eastern part of the city and have taken control of the Rafah Crossing – he would be putting the lives of the hostages held by Hamas, now down to a 100, even in greater danger. This is because of the incessant air and sea bombings that would entail any ground troops operation inside the city.

Further, Israeli entry into the small city would be like a wild goose chase because nobody knows where the hostages are located in. They are likely separated and put in deep underground tunnels all around Gaza. Experts say up till now, and eight months into this bloody carnage, Israeli has only managed to destroy only 10 percent of the tunnels while the vast majority remain intact deep underground.

The other Netanyahu objective of crushing Hamas and the Palestinian resistance movement is proving a failure. In the eastern part of the city, Israeli troops are being met with tough resistance from Islamic Jihad fighters, just as elsewhere in the Gaza Strip. Hamas operatives are still launching missiles on the so-called Gaza envelope of Israeli settlements which means that their military capability remains intact.

This bloody war has been destructive for the Jewish state as many of the Israeli War Cabinet and military officers recognize and openly say the country has lost its way and should go for a peace deal to secure the release of the rest of the hostages because getting rid of the Palestinian resistance is by no means an easy task. However, Netanyahu is still to be convinced.

While his military machine is today striking different parts of the city and resulting in more deaths, his men are carefully talking on the negotiating table. But they don’t have any teeth because they need to get back to him on every point they make, despite the presence of their friends, the Americans and at the behest of the Qataris and Egyptian mediators.

They are at the final end of clenching a deal but they are not quite there yet because of the consternation of Netanyahu and his foot-dragging, leading many to suggest the Israeli prime minister is not interested in any solution but wants a perpetual war for his own domestic ends, and regardless of whether Hamas is gone or not.

It is a break or make time! The war can end now because Hamas has accepted the deal put by the mediators but Netanyahu is playing for more time. The only country that holds the trump card and can make him stop the war is America. In a bid to force his hand and not enter Rafah the White House is starting to scale down on providing military shipments to Israel. If there is enough squeeze on him, he will be forced to accept a deal and stop the bloody carnage in Gaza.

Dr Asmar is a political commentator from Amman, Jordan

9 May 2024

Source: countercurrents.org

The Troubled Halls of Academia: Erosion of Rights and the Stifling of Dissent in American Universities

By Dr. Zaid Mustafa Alavi

American universities have long been celebrated as bastions of free speech, fostering open discourse and intellectual exploration. However, recent events paint a concerning picture where these very institutions are becoming battlegrounds for erosion of human rights, suppression of peaceful protest and violation of free speech. This article delves into this complex issue, using pro-Palestinian protests at Columbia University and the broader context of US foreign policy as the backdrop.

A Chilling Effect: The Case of Columbia University and the “Palestine Exception”

In April 2024, Columbia University witnessed a peaceful protest by students in solidarity with Palestinians. The students pitched tents on campus, demanding university divestment from companies profiting from the Israeli occupation and condemning the violence in Gaza. This action, however, was met with a harsh response from the university administration. Citing safety concerns and policy violations, Columbia suspended the protesting students, revoked their campus access, and called upon the NYPD to dismantle the encampment. (https://apnews.com/article/columbia-yale-israel-palestinians-protests-56c3d9d0a278c15ed8e4132a75ea9599)

This incident sparked widespread criticism. The university’s actions were seen as a blatant violation of free speech and the right to peaceful protest. The Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute, faculty members, and free speech organizations like the Knight First Amendment Institute condemned the university’s decision. (https://apnews.com/article/columbia-yale-israel-palestinians-protests-56c3d9d0a278c15ed8e4132a75ea9599)

The Columbia case is not an isolated incident. There’s a growing trend of universities stifling dissent on issues deemed politically sensitive, particularly regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict. This phenomenon, known as the “Palestine Exception,” refers to the suppression of criticism towards Israel and advocacy for Palestinian rights on college campuses. Critics argue that universities fail to uphold the principles of free speech and open debate when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Pro-Palestinian student groups, speakers, and faculty often face pressure, disciplinary actions, and disinvitations. (https://www.democracynow.org/topics/palestine)

The stifling of dissent raises crucial questions about the role of universities in a democracy. These institutions should be platforms for robust debate and critical thinking, especially on sensitive issues. Suppressing dissent undermines this core function and creates an atmosphere of fear and self-censorship.

The Geopolitical Calculus: US Foreign Policy and its Impact on Free Speech

The US government’s unwavering support for Israel plays a significant role in the dynamics on American campuses. The perception that the US condones human rights violations at the hands of a key ally creates a chilling effect on free speech. Critics argue that a more balanced approach to the US-Israel relationship could foster a more open environment for discussion on college campuses.

US military aid to Israel is a crucial element of this relationship. The United States has historically been a staunch ally of Israel, providing billions of dollars in military aid annually. The Biden administration has continued this policy, justifying it as a means to maintain regional stability and deter aggression from Iran. Critics argue that this unconditional support emboldens Israel’s actions and ignores human rights violations against Palestinians. (https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/RL/RL33222/44)

The dominance of a pro-Israel narrative in US foreign policy creates a ripple effect that reaches university campuses. Universities, often dependent on donor funding, may be hesitant to host speakers or events critical of Israel for fear of alienating potential benefactors. This indirect pressure further undermines the principles of free speech and open discourse.

Finding a Path Forward: Reinvigorating Free Speech and Human Rights

The current situation at American universities raises serious concerns about the future of free speech, human rights, and a just peace. There are definitely no easy answers. However, by fostering open dialogue and upholding democratic principles, we can work towards a future where universities remain true beacons of learning and critical thought, and human rights are respected on a global scale. Here are some potential steps forward:

  • Universities must uphold their commitment to free speech. They should establish clear and consistent policies that protect the right to peaceful protest and dissent. These policies should be applied fairly and transparently, regardless of the topic at hand. Universities should also foster a culture of open debate and critical thinking, where all viewpoints are respected and considered.
  • The US government should reassess its Middle East policy. A more balanced approach that prioritizes human rights and a peaceful resolution to Israeli-Palestine conflict is the need of the hour. This could involve conditioning military aid to Israel in adherence to international law and human rights principles. The US government should also encourage dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians and support international efforts to achieve a two-state solution.
  • Students and faculty should continue to exercise their right to free speech. Peaceful protests and open debates are crucial components of a healthy democracy. Students and faculty should engage in civil discourse, educate themselves on complex issues, and advocate for what they believe in. They should also hold their universities accountable for any instance of discouraging free speech and academic freedom.
  • International organizations should play a more active role. The United Nations and other international bodies have a responsibility to uphold human rights standards and promote a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestine conflict. They should investigate allegations of human rights abuses, hold perpetrators accountable, and provide support for Palestinians.
  • The media has a crucial role to play. Media outlets should strive to provide balanced and objective reporting on the Israeli-Palestine conflict. They should also give voice to a wider range of perspectives, including those critical of Israel or supportive of the Palestinian cause.

By taking these steps, we can work towards a future where human rights are respected, free speech is protected, and universities remain bastions of knowledge and critical thinking. The situation in the Middle East is complex, but by fostering open dialogue, promoting accountability, and upholding democratic principles, we can create a path towards a more just and peaceful future.

Conclusion: A Beacon Reignited

American universities have a critical role to play in nurturing informed citizens and fostering a vibrant democracy. The recent erosion of free speech and the stifling of dissent threaten to dim the light these institutions have traditionally cast. Yet, the path forward is not shrouded in darkness.

By recommitting to the core values of open discourse, critical thinking, and the protection of human rights, universities can reclaim their place as bastions of knowledge and progress. This requires a multifaceted approach, demanding action from universities, governments, students, and international organizations. Only through a collective effort can we ensure that the halls of academia once again resonate with the lively exchange of ideas, and that the flame of free speech burns ever bright.

Dr. Zaid Mustafa Alavi holds a PhD in Political Science from Aligarh Muslim University’s esteemed Department of Political Science, specializing in the intricate dynamics of international relations with a focus on human rights.

8 May 2024

Source: countercurrents.org

The fierce and unbending spirit of the pro-Palestine campus protests in the US

By Umang Kumar

Major newspapers and newssites are slowly relegating pro-Palestinian campus protest news to less visibility. The encampments on campus are being cleared, one by one, and protest sites are being swarmed by riot-police. The accusations of anti-semitism are roaring from all corners, with President Biden also joining in the chorus.

Yet, the fire of resistance to the injustice in Gaza continues to glow. There are still several encampments standing on campus. Some protesters are reclaiming the encampments they were ordered out of, like at MIT.

Right now, as graduation ceremonies are occurring across several campuses in the US, the show of pro-Palestine protests continues by attending students. Several students who are speakers at such events are making their voices heard and speaking out about the continued injustice in Gaza. Several ceremonies have been cancelled also, including the one at Columbia.

The wave of student protests on US educational campuses, from coast-to-coast, has scared the college administrators out of their wits, disturbed politicians and even moved Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to label them “horrific.”

If the (political) state had done its job properly and fairly, the students would not have had to rise up in protest in the manner they have done, in the face of unconscionable loss of life in Gaza and the continued threat to those surviving.

On April 23, President Biden signed a bill to provide nearly USD 17 billion in weapons aid to Israel.

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, more than 34,000 Palestinians have perished in Gaza since the current hostilities began, as noted by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.

But on account of the utter failure of the state to act responsibly and to minimize human suffering in Gaza, the students have had to “step up to the plate,” as the American expression goes. In doing so they have been subject to brutal state repression by heavily armed law enforcement.

There are a large number of images of students and faculty being tackled to the ground by burly, helmeted, heavily armed security forces. We see them being pushed, shoved, zip-tied and marched away. Such images have been coming in from almost all campuses in the US, but especially from Emory University, University of Texas (Austin), Emerson College and Northeastern University, and of course from Columbia University, where the police crackdowns have been employing disproportionate force.

Faculty members of at least two prominent universities, Emory and Dartmouth, both in their 60s, were slammed to the ground and later arrested.

And at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), counter-protestors repeatedly attacked the Palestinian encampment till riot police were called in.

Even in southern states like Florida, where the Republican governor Rob DeSantis openly threatened expulsion for protesting students, the students still braved the threats and have carried on protesting.

While the Palestinian students are leading the protests, as they should, a gamut of protestors from all races and backgrounds have joined in and put their academic careers on the line as well. Jewish students are also part of the student solidarity movement for Palestine. It is by-and-large the so-called digital generation, the Gen Z, that is on the forefront of the protests.

Organizing for Palestine is well-established on US campuses. Some form of a student group, like Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), exists on many campuses. Most of such groups are run by undergraduate students, so they become involved in the fight against injustice in Palestine quite early on in their college careers.

On many US campuses, student activism on various issues of justice also intersects with the struggles of campus staff. From 1998 to 2002, Harvard University students waged a struggle for “living wages” on their campus. Similar collaborative struggles for workers’ rights take place on other campuses too.

The US campuses have a history of activism over a wide variety of causes. In the 1960s, there were protests over issues of free speech, the Vietnam war and against issues of racial discrimination, especially at Columbia and colleges in west coast towns like Berkeley and Oakland. It was at Merritt College in Oakland that the Black Panther Party saw its beginnings. In 1970, four students were killed when police opened fire on anti-war demonstrators at Kent State University in Ohio.

The anti-apartheid movement in South Africa again saw widespread demonstrations and calls from divestment on US campuses. The Occupy Wall Street Movement of 2011 and later the Black Lives Matter movement had their effects on campuses.

Thus, the spirit of resistance and organizing runs deep despite a general apathy towards public protests in the US.

The protests, then, are occurring against a background of sweeping state repression and public censure. Added to this, there is a political establishment deeply committed to supporting Israel, come what may.

There have been missteps and overreach, probably, by the passion of some of the protesters. Many progressives have questioned the tactics adopted by some of the protesters, especially at Columbia. Yet, despite some instances of foolhardiness, one cannot discount the moral courage and a sense of outrage that the protesters have demonstrated.

The US campus protests played a big role in the anti-apartheid struggle. This time too the pushback is coming from the belly of the beast, so to say, with the US brazenly supporting Israel’s aggression.

One has to tip one’s hat to the students who took it upon themselves, despite all odds, to at least speak up against the continuing gross injustice in Gaza.

As one survivor from the deadly Kent State shootings in 1970 said recently, “If not a college campus, where else in our society, in this democracy, can we count on large groups of people to do exactly what these college students are doing: paying attention to the world, looking at what is being done in the world…”

Umang Kumar is a writer based in Delhi NCR

8 May 2024

Source: countercurrents.org