Organizers are expecting over 500 people to attend the event as Israel’s assault enters its third month.
A coalition of Jewish groups are planning to flood Columbus Circle in Manhattan on Thursday evening in a protest for an Israeli ceasefire in Gaza to kick off a planned Hanukkah “week of action” for Palestinian rights.
Organizers are expecting over 500 Jewish New Yorkers and allies to attend the protest, which falls on the two-month anniversary of Israel’s current genocidal assault of Gaza and Hamas forces’ attack on October 7, as well as the first night of Hanukkah.
The protest is being led by Rabbis 4 Ceasefire, an ad hoc group organized to oppose Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, and is co-organized by Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, Jewish Voice for Peace, IfNotNot and Shoresh. Organizers are encouraging people to bring their own menorahs for the protest at 5pm Eastern time.
Protesters will gather to mourn lives lost, pray, fight for Palestinian liberation and light the first candles of Hanukkah, according to a news release from organizers. They are calling for an end to Israel’s massacre of Palestinians, the release of all hostages, Palestinian or Israeli, and an end to Israel’s apartheid.
“Tonight marks the first night of Chanukah. What is supposed to be a holiday falls exactly two months after Hamas’ horrific October 7th attack, meaning it also marks two months of Israel’s ongoing horrific assault on Gaza, which escalates every day,” said Sophie Ellman-Golan, communications director for Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, in a statement to Truthout. “It has been too much to bear, watching the death toll rise daily — in our name, funded by our tax dollars. It feels impossible to celebrate, and essential that we come together as a Jewish community, with our neighbors and allies.”
Activists and well-known figures and faith leaders are slated to join, including actor Wallace Shawn, Jewish writer Peter Beinart, activist Linda Sarsour, and Rabbi Abby Stein. New York City Council Members Tiffany Cabán and Shahana Hanif are also expected to participate.
The protest is one of numerous actions across the country over the past weeks calling for a ceasefire, with massive demonstrations drawing hundreds of thousands of Americans together in calls for an end to the genocide. There has also been an outpouring of support for Palestinian liberation in the form of letters signed by thousands of activists, Biden administration officials and workers, all calling on President Joe Biden to support a ceasefire.
With the first night of Hanukkah on Thursday, some Jewish advocates and faith leaders have been calling on the community to hold space for Palestinians in their celebrations; some figures in the community have been calling for such solidarity with Palestinians for many years.
“When we look at the horrifying, ongoing death and destruction in Gaza or address the massacre of Israelis on October 7, we can see all the ways in which dehumanization feeds dehumanization. But seeing the divine in everyone allows us to fully access our own humanity,” said Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster, a member of Rabbis 4 Ceasefire, in a statement to Truthout. “As we bring the light of Chanukah into the world, may we see the divine in all human beings and may we fight for the dignity of all Palestinians and Israelis.”
House Republicans have unveiled a resolution to formalize the impeachment inquiry that began earlier this year against President Joe Biden.
The resolution directs three committees, which have already been investigating Biden for several months now, to “continue their ongoing investigations…into whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to exercise its Constitutional power to impeach Joseph Biden.”
The document, if passed by the House, would give greater strength to subpoena requests and the scheduling of hearings made by the committees to investigate possible wrongdoings by Biden or his family members.
The impeachment inquiry itself is an extraordinary action — typically, more concrete evidence of a president’s wrongdoing is needed before leadership in the House agrees to move forward on impeachment. In the past, an inquiry was opened into former President Bill Clinton in light of evidence that he had lied under oath about an extramarital affair, and an investigation was opened into former President Donald Trump after he withheld military aid from Ukraine in order to procure political “dirt” on Biden from Ukraine to help his 2020 presidential campaign.
Technically, the House can impeach for any reason it believes falls into the category of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” which, when it was written into the Constitution more than two centuries ago, broadly referred to abuse of office, not actual crimes. However, it is typically seen as improper for Congress to seek impeachments for political reasons — indeed, there is evidence that suggests Republicans’ investigation into the president is simply an attempt to help Trump defeat Biden in the 2024 presidential election next year.
Notably, Republicans have failed to introduce any hard evidence within their present inquiry into Biden.
Multiple House members have said that the Biden impeachment resolution will be voted on sometime next week. The resolution will have to be passed by the House Rules Committee, likely on Tuesday, which means the earliest it could be heard and voted on by the full House would be Wednesday.
Earlier this week, while discussing the possibility of an impeachment resolution vote, Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana) expressed confidence that the vote would take place and said it was necessary, claiming that the Biden administration and his family members were “stonewalling” the inquiry in its present form.
“The House has no choice, if it’s going to follow its constitutional responsibility, to formally adopt an impeachment inquiry on the floor so that when the subpoenas are challenged in court we’ll be at the apex of our constitutional authority,” Johnson said.
Johnson believes there are enough Republican votes to pass the resolution. In the narrowly divided House, if all members take part in the vote, 218 of the GOP conference’s 221 lawmakers would have to vote for the measure, assuming that all Democrats vote against it and no member of the House votes “present.” That would mean that only a few moderate Republicans — including those who won districts that went for Biden in 2020 — could vote against it.
A White House spokesperson has called the inquiry “baseless” and notes that many allegations made by Republicans alleging misdeeds by Biden “have already been thoroughly fact-checked and debunked.” The latest “findings” by House Oversight chair Rep. James Comer (R-Kentucky) seem to confirm the administration’s stance.
Comer claimed this week that the committee had obtained bank records indicating that the president’s son, Hunter Biden, received payments from companies linked with the Chinese government, after which he made direct payments to Joe Biden. Comer alleged that these actions amounted to a funneling of money from the Chinese government to the president.
However, the three payments the committee has found — $1,380 each — occurred in the fall of 2018, when Biden wasn’t in any public office. The payments have also been found to have been repayments for a loan Joe Biden had made to Hunter Biden for a vehicle he wanted to purchase that year but couldn’t due to having bad credit following a bout with drug addiction.
“Hunter’s father helped him when he was struggling financially due to his addiction and could not secure credit to finance a truck,” Hunter Biden’s attorney Abbe Lowell said about Comer’s allegations. “When Hunter was able to, he paid his father back and took over the payments himself.”
Several news agencies have reviewed emails between the Bidens confirming that the payments were for repayment of the car loan.
The Los Angeles Times (LAT) has banned 38 journalists from covering Gaza for at least three months after they signed an open letter criticizing Western newsrooms for their biased reporting on Israel’s genocide of Palestinians.
“The urgency of this moment cannot be overstated. It is imperative that we change course,” the open letter says.
LAT management claimed that signing the open letter violated the paper’s ethics policy, but the policy contains no explicit prohibition against open letters. While the ethics policy does prohibit staff members from engaging in political advocacy and says that staff should avoid public expressions of their political views, LAT staff have asserted that demanding that newsrooms engage in unbiased coverage is not political.
“This is an issue that has popped up across several newsrooms represented by our local, and our members have, among many issues, raised strong concerns about confusing, inconsistent, opaque and unequal interpretation and enforcement of the rules, especially at LAT,” Matt Pearce, president of the LAT’s parent union, Media Guild of the West, told LA Public Press.
The open letter advocates for media to describe Israel’s actions in Gaza using terms that have been employed by experts, including “ethnic cleansing,” “apartheid” and “genocide.”
“We also hold Western newsrooms accountable for dehumanizing rhetoric that has served to justify ethnic cleansing of Palestinians,” the letter states. “This is our job: to hold power to account. Otherwise we risk becoming accessories to genocide.”
The letter also demands that Western media condemn Israeli forces for killing journalists. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CJP), at least 64 journalists and media workers have been killed in Israel’s war on Gaza since December 7, mostly by Israeli airstrikes.
“Journalists across the region are making great sacrifices to cover this heart-breaking conflict,” Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, said in a statement. “Those in Gaza, in particular, have paid, and continue to pay, an unprecedented toll and face exponential threats. Many have lost colleagues, families, and media facilities, and have fled seeking safety when there is no safe haven or exit.”
Out of fear of retaliation from their employers, more than 30 journalists have asked to have their signatures removed since the open letter was published on November 9. As of November 13, 1,484 current and former journalists have signed the letter.
Media workers and unions have been outspoken advocates for unbiased coverage of the genocide in Western media, demanding that media companies condemn the targeted killing of Palestinian journalists.
On October 13, the National Writers Union condemned the actions of the Israeli military “and its specific assault on the press,” and urged the Western media to “cover this war in a factual, unbiased way, and with proper historical context.” In November, media workers calling themselves the “Writers Bloc” staged a sit-in at The New York Times lobby. The media workers read the names of thousands of Palestinians killed in Gaza since the start of Israel’s current military campaign, and scattered editions of a mock newspaper charging the media with “complicity in laundering genocide.”
“It is incredible to see hundreds of writers and journalists take part of this — in this action, because it’s telling us that journalistic malpractice, such as omitting facts and passive voice and denying war crimes and treating the lives of Palestinians as though they are less than, and demonizing and vilifying and dehumanizing Palestinians and Palestinian resistance, is completely unacceptable, if we are going to be truthful and if we are going to be loyal to the rules of this profession we call our own,” said Palestinian journalist and poet Mohammed El-Kurd.
Media workers have faced an unprecedented level of retaliation for speaking out. In October, BBC News Arabic took six of their reporters off the air for liking or publishing pro-Palestine posts on social media, and in November, the media giant Hearst instituted a new social media policy that bans its employees from expressing “personal political opinions” online. Editors at Artforum and eLife have also been fired for supporting Palestinian liberation.
Despite the retaliation media workers have faced, many have refused to back down.
“We are U.S. journalists and media makers calling for a permanent ceasefire, freedom for all Palestinian political prisoners including journalists, and a complete end to the military occupation of Palestine and the system of apartheid in Israel,” reporters wrote for Truthout. “This is a defining political moment of our lives.”
“[N]either Jewish safety nor Palestinian liberation can be achieved if they are pitted against one another.”
Over 500 workers for over 140 U.S. Jewish organizations are calling for President Joe Biden to support an immediate end to the violence in Gaza, in a new letter effort announced Thursday.
The staffers write in an open letter that freedom for Jewish and Palestinian communities can only come by pursuing lasting peace in Palestine, rather than allowing Israel to continue its genocide in Gaza that has killed over 17,000 Palestinians in just two months.
The letter calls for a ceasefire, the release of all hostages and a commitment to pursuing a long-term diplomatic solution. The letter was first reported by NBC.
“Our hearts are heavy for Israelis and Palestinians who have suffered brutal loss of life, for whole communities that have been destroyed and displaced, for millions of children who deserve so much more than this,” the letter says. “The price is too high to pay, the burden too much to bear. This violence must stop.”
The letter writers cite their faith as a reason for their advocacy, raising Jewish teachings about the significance of individual lives.
“We know there is no military solution to this crisis. We know that Israelis and Palestinians are here to stay — neither Jewish safety nor Palestinian liberation can be achieved if they are pitted against one another,” the letter says. “We know that freedom for one people cannot be reached through the oppression and killing of another. We know that Israeli and Palestinian safety is deeply intertwined and that no one wins a forever war. The only way to lasting peace and security is through diplomatic means that move us towards an equal and just future for all.”
One letter signer, a worker for a Jewish museum in Washington who remained anonymous out of fear of retaliation, told NBC that he was risking his job by signing the letter but signed it nonetheless. “If I lose my job over this, well, I honestly don’t want to work at an institution that wants to fire me over my views of Israel,” he told the outlet. “These people who are helping run and keep alive our Jewish community are taking a stand at great risk by signing this letter. It has made me both incredibly hopeful and fearful.”
The worker, who had grown up attending Jewish schools and youth organizations and spent his career working for Jewish groups, noted that there is a generational divide between younger and older Jewish people in terms of Israel. This echoes a generational divide on the subject across the country, with a recent NBC poll finding that 70 percent of voters aged 18 to 34 disapprove of President Joe Biden’s handling of Israel, compared to 56 percent of voters overall.
“If you are isolating an entire generation of American Jews, who is going to be the next generation of leaders and donors and members?” the museum worker said.
The letter comes as antisemitism and Jewish identity have become a focus of debates on Israel’s relentless bombing of Gaza; as many Jewish people have spoken up against Israeli leaders’ genocide, political leaders have sought to equate anti-Zionism with antisemitism, a move that anti-Zionist advocates say is dangerous and risks sidelining actual antisemitism that is growing across the U.S., especially among the right.
At the same time, the movement for Palestinian liberation has undergone a massive resurgence in response to the horrors in Gaza, with groups like Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine organizing massive protests for a ceasefire and an end to the Israeli occupation.
The bill would force hedge funds to sell all of their single-family home stock over the next 10 years.
Democrats have introduced bicameral legislation this week to take a step toward getting Wall Street out of the housing market amid a crisis during which house prices have soared to record highs.
The bill would ban hedge funds from buying and owning single-family homes. The legislation would require hedge funds to sell off their stock of single-family homes over the next 10 years and would then implement an outright ban. For every single-family home a hedge fund owns over a certain limit each year, it would be subject to a tax penalty, the revenues from which would be used for down payment assistance programs for those seeking to buy their first home from a hedge fund.
The End Hedge Fund Control of American Homes Act of 2023 was introduced by Rep. Adam Smith (D-Washington) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon). The lawmakers say that the only purpose for hedge funds to own homes is to make profits and that such investing has only made it more difficult for working class Americans to afford to buy a home.
“In 1971, my father was able to buy the house I grew up in for $15,000 on the salary he earned as a baggage handler at SeaTac Airport. That same house would cost nearly $500,000 today yet wages for workers like my father have not kept up,” Smith said in a statement. “Congress must take action to crack down on corporate greed and get hedge funds out of the single-family home market.”
The bill, if passed, could provide some rare relief to people seeking to buy a home. According to National Association of Realtors data, the median price of a single-family home in November 2019 was $271,300 — while, in November of this year, the median home price was $400,000.
Skyrocketing home prices are due in part to an increase in investor purchases of homes that have squeezed out would-be homeowners, especially during the hot housing market shortly after the pandemic began. As house prices rose over the past years, so did the share of houses being bought by investors, hitting an all-time high in 2022. Similarly, rents have been rising in part due to corporate-driven housing shortages and corporate profit-seeking.
“The housing in our neighborhoods should be homes for people, not profit centers for Wall Street,” said Merkley. “Yet, in every corner of the country, giant financial corporations are buying up housing and driving up both rents and home prices.”
The lawmakers cite research by the Urban Institute done earlier this year that found that, as of June 2022, hedge funds and institutional investors owned an estimated 574,000 single-family homes in the U.S. And, while no single group owned more than 1,000 single-family rental units in 2011, large institutions are projected to own more than 40 percent of all single-family rental units in the U.S. by 2030, according to a MetLife Investment Management estimate.
The End Hedge Fund Control of American Homes Act has been cosponsored by Representatives Linda Sánchez (D-California) and Nikema Williams (D-Georgia) and Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minnesota). It also has the support of a number of housing and consumer rights organizations, many of whom emphasized that corporate investors are making it ever harder for individuals to buy a home.
“Very large private equity companies are buying up thousands of affordable houses that traditionally are the homes for first-time-homebuyers, and converting them to long term and high priced rentals,” said National Housing Resource Center Executive Director Bruce Dorpalen in a statement. “Homeownership is one of the best ways to build wealth in the United States and these private equity investment companies are shutting that out for too many of our families.”
One critic decried Ramaswamy’s spreading of conspiracy theories as “irresponsible depravity.”
During the Republican presidential debate Wednesday night, pharmaceutical entrepreneur and former hedge fund manager Vivek Ramaswamy spread a number of discredited conspiracy theories, including one falsely purporting that the attack on the U.S. Capitol building on January 6, 2021, was an “inside job” by government leaders loyal to Democrats.
Ramaswamy, who was criticized by other candidates on the debate stage as being an “obnoxious blowhard,” rattled off several false claims in defense of former President Donald Trump, who is also running for president next year; although Trump is leading other Republicans in the polls by wide margins, he has yet to appear at any of the GOP-sponsored debates.
“If you want somebody who is going to speak truth to power, then vote for somebody who’s going to speak the truth to you,” said 38-year-old Ramaswamy.
He then launched into a tirade of false, far right fantasies, drawing applause from the Republican audience members who attended the event.
“Why am I the only person, on the stage at least, who can say that January 6 now does look like it was an inside job?” Ramaswamy asked.
Many far right commentators have wrongly contended that supposed “deep state” government actors initiated the attack on the U.S. Capitol building, thereby motivating Trump loyalists to join in, or that the attack was a “false flag” event entirely orchestrated by government actors. Those claims are false, and many of the people who have been charged by the Justice Department for their violent actions that day say they were motivated by Trump’s incendiary rhetoric in the moments before they attacked.
Ramaswamy also discussed “Great Replacement Theory,” alleging that it was “not some grand right-wing conspiracy theory, but a basic statement of the Democratic Party’s platform.”
That theory alleges that global elitists — who are often portrayed as Jewish — are implementing a plan to migrate people of color around the world to traditionally white-majority countries to diminish the latter group’s power and threaten their existence. The racist and antisemitic conspiracy theory is frequently invoked by white supremacists, and has been cited by mass shooters in their manifestos explaining why they targeted people of color.
Ramaswamy doubled down on his false claims about the theory, reposting social media commentary from noted neo-Nazi Nick Fuentes, who praised the presidential candidate for discussing the topic. In his reaction video to Ramaswamy’s comments, Fuentes’s jaw drops at the mention of the theory and he says, “Let’s go!”
Others on social media blasted Ramaswamy for making the conspiracy theory more mainstream.
“Black, Latino and Jewish people were murdered here in the US because of this dangerous conspiracy theory. Vivek Ramaswamy is a bigot and unfit to be President of the United States,” Joel Rubin, a former State Department official in the Obama administration and a candidate for Congress in 2024, said in a post on X.
“Vivek Ramaswamy just falsely claimed that January 6 was an inside job and the Great Replacement theory (which has been cited verbatim in multiple white supremacist terrorist manifestos) is valid,” said journalist Ahmed Baba. “Just absolute, irresponsible depravity.”
We speak with celebrated Palestinian poet Mosab Abu Toha for his first interview after he was jailed and beaten by Israeli forces, when he was detained at a checkpoint in Gaza while heading to Rafah with his family. He was rounded up with scores of other Palestinians. “I felt humiliated. I felt terrified and terrorized by this army because they were ordering us to do everything at gunpoint,” says Toha, now in Cairo. He calls on Western leaders to stop supporting the violence against Palestinians. “If you can’t stop the war, if you can’t stop the carnage, the genocide, just stop financing it.”
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres has invoked Article 99 of the U.N. Charter for the first time in decades to press the Security Council to support a ceasefire in Gaza as Israel intensifies its assault, which began two months ago today, on October 7th, after Hamas attacked Israel.
In a letter, Guterres wrote, quote, “Amid constant bombardment by the Israel Defense Forces, and without shelter or the essentials to survive, I expect public order to completely break down soon due to the desperate conditions,” he wrote.
He went on to write, quote, “We are facing a severe risk of collapse of the humanitarian system. The situation is fast deteriorating into a catastrophe with potentially irreversible implications for Palestinians as a whole and for peace and security in the region. Such an outcome must be avoided at all cost.”
We begin today’s show with the celebrated Palestinian poet Mosab Abu Toha, who was recently jailed and beaten by Israeli forces. He was detained at a checkpoint in Gaza as he was headed toward Rafah with his family. He was rounded up with scores of other Palestinians. After he was released from an Israeli jail two days later, Abu Toha posted a message on social media, writing, quote, “I’m safe but still have pain in nose and teeth after being beaten by Israeli army. I gave them all my family’s passports, including my American son’s but they didn’t return anything. Also my clothes & my chlidren’s were taken and not returned to me. No wallet, money, credit cards,” he wrote.
AMY GOODMAN: Mosab Abu Toha’s detention sparked global outcry from the literary community and beyond. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Progressive and other publications. He founded the Edward Said Library in Gaza. His first book of poetry, Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear, won the American Book Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. The poetry collection was published by City Lights Books.
On Sunday, Mosab Abu Toha managed to leave Gaza with his wife and three children through the Rafah border. He joins us now from Cairo, Egypt, for his first interview since he was jailed.
Welcome to Democracy Now!, Mosab. Thank you so much for being with us. I’m sorry for all you have gone through. Can you describe what happened, where you were detained, where you were jailed, what happened to you when you were in Israeli prison?
MOSAB ABU TOHA: Thank you so much for having me.
I made it from the north of Gaza to the south of Gaza, but I was jailed by the Israeli army. I was trying to cross and reach the Rafah border crossing. Our names were listed by the American — by the Department of State, because my youngest son, 3 years and a half, was born in America. He’s an American citizen. So I was trying to cross from the north of Gaza, where I spent the past two months, I would say, to the south of Gaza, where Rafah is, and where we were advised to go. But at the checkpoint, I was picked by the Israeli army, along with about 200 other people. I was picked by the Israeli soldier. He called me by describing me. He said, “The man with the black backpack and the red-haired boy, put the boy down and let him go, and come to me.” So, I mean, I took our passports, my son’s and also my wife’s and two other children, thinking that I would show the passports and also my American son to them, so that they would just let us go. But I was surprised, because he ordered me, very aggressively, to put the son down and come to join the queue of other people who were kidnapped with me.
I mean, there was a young — a younger man. He was so scared, and he said, “I wanted my mother. I want to be with my mom. Oh, my mom, come help me,” etc. I tried to calm him down, telling him, “Oh, don’t worry. Maybe they are going to ask us some question, and then we would go.” But that was not the case.
I was then summoned by another Israeli soldier who was sitting next to another soldier who was pointing his gun at us. They asked us to recite our names and our ID numbers, and then I was led to another Israeli Jeep, in front of whom — I mean, there were three Israelis soldiers — I was forced to take off all my clothes. I just took off my pants and my shirt, etc., and I kept my boxer shorts on. But I was surprised when they asked me to just also take off my boxer shorts. So I was naked. And I felt humiliated. I felt terrified and terrorized by this army, because they were ordering us to do everything at gunpoint. And then I was beaten in my face. I was beaten in my stomach. And I still have pain in my face.
And later, I realized they were taking us to Bir As-Saba, or Be’er Sheva, about two hours away from Gaza, without knowing what they were going to do to us. I had little clothes to warm my body during the cold weather. And so, I mean, they took me for interrogation, and I did tell them all my story. And I wasn’t aware that the whole world, especially in America, were just writing about me and asking for my release. I think this was one reason — I mean, I didn’t do anything in my life; I didn’t harm any person, although I lived under occupation all my life. And I was wounded when I was 16. I got a piece of shrapnel just a few centimeters away from my windpipe, so I was harmed. My house was bombed. But I myself didn’t harm anyone. But I was harmed again. And I am still harmed by the fact that my family and my neighbors are still in Gaza. And the last time I was in touch with my mother and my sisters and also my brothers and their children was five days ago, the same day I left Gaza. So I have no single piece of news whether they are alive or dead.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: So, Mosab, I’d like to ask you — I mean, of course, you mentioned very soon after you arrived in Egypt that you remain very, very concerned because your parents and your siblings are in Gaza. You have not been able to reach them for five days. Are you able to reach others in Gaza? I’d just like to read very briefly what a leading military analyst from the U.S. has said, drawing an analogy between the Second World War’s bombardment of German cities like Dresden and Cologne and the contemporary present bombardment of Gaza by Israel. This is Robert Pape, writing, “Dresden, Hamburg, Cologne — some of the world’s heaviest-ever bombings are remembered by their place names. Gaza will also go down as a place name denoting one of history’s heaviest conventional bombing campaigns.” So, Mosab, if you could talk about that and what you know now about what’s going on in Gaza since you left?
MOSAB ABU TOHA: Well, I mean, the situation, I think, is different than the other place names that you mentioned. For your information and your respected audience, I still have friends whose houses were bombed a few weeks ago and whose bodies are still not retrieved. And I wrote in one of my posts that not only are Gazans, are we and Gazans concerned about being killed under the rubble of our house, but also of being — maybe of being alive under the rubble and no one coming to rescue us. So, there are no fire trucks. There are no civil defense staff. There is no fuel. There are no equipment — there is no equipment to retrieve the bodies of those who might be still alive under the bombing of their house — after the bombing of their houses. So I don’t think Gaza could be compared to any other place on Earth.
And now with social media and all the world watching us, I mean, it’s different from maybe Second World War. I mean, people would hear the news of the bombing of a house or something maybe later. But people are just watching us live, and no one can step in to stop their carnage, the genocide that is committed against my family, my neighbors, my friends, my students, my fellow writers and artists.
So, during the truce a few weeks ago — I think two weeks ago there was the truce. I was in Deir al-Balah in the second — in the other half of the Gaza Strip, while my brother Hamza, who is a father of three children and whose wife is pregnant and is about to give birth — so, that’s another issue that no one talks about, I mean, the reality and the circumstances with which women in Gaza are living. I mean, they are talking about sexual violence against Israeli women, but no one talks about the violence against our lives. No one talks about pregnant women. No one talks about women themselves buried under the rubble with their families. So, this is not called violence? So, you just care about sexual violence? That’s all you care about? [inaudible] how this world is really thinking.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Mosab, so, could you talk about that? Could you say —
MOSAB ABU TOHA: And this needs to stop. And you need to —
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Mosab, I was saying —
MOSAB ABU TOHA: Yes.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: — if you could elaborate on that?
MOSAB ABU TOHA: Hello?
NERMEEN SHAIKH: What the situation of Palestinian women, in particular, as you pointed out, Palestinian women who are pregnant, given what the situation in hospitals is? You’ve said a little bit about this in the past. If you could elaborate?
MOSAB ABU TOHA: Well, I mean, you know, women, just like other women in the world — I mean, women in Gaza have their own needs. I men, there are no clean bathrooms. There are no clean toilets. And they need their own things. You know, when a woman gets the period, I mean, there are no — you know, there are no stuff for them to take care of their bodies. And there are also the other pregnant women. So, many hospitals in Gaza are out of service right now, not only for the wounded but also for pregnant women. No one talks about this. You need to talk about this. Where can my sister-in-law, my brother’s wife, where can she give birth? And is there enough clothes for the newborn baby? So, you don’t care about this violence committed against parents? How they are going to manage their lives? No one talks about this.
This is violence in itself, not only killing us, but about — so it’s also about the lack of water, the lack of food. You know, so, before the start of this carnage, we used to buy 25 kilo of wheat flour for 40 shekels, which is about $12. Yesterday, my wife’s uncle messaged me, and he said, “I paid 500 shekels,” which is about $130. So he paid $130 to get 25 kilograms of flour wheat — wheat flour — and if you could find it, of course, because there is lack in respect to wheat flour and other basic things. But so, if he had the money to buy it, there are other people who have not been able to get any money because they are jobless. Most people in Gaza depend on daily jobs — farmers, sellers, etc. So, there are — the majority of people in Gaza don’t have money, so they are sometimes begging other people to give them money. So, no one talks about this. They are just talking about sexual violence, about October 7th. But this has been going on, even before October 7th, by the way.
AMY GOODMAN: Mosab Abu Toha, we are reporting on everything, the horrific stories we’re hearing from October 7th, but also what happened before October 7th to Palestinians and after. And I wanted to get your response to the World Health Organization calling the assault on Gaza humanity’s “darkest hour.” The U.N.’s top humanitarian relief coordinator said Israel’s attack on southern Gaza has been as devastating as in the north, with the apocalyptic conditions preventing the delivery of aid, some 85% of the population now displaced. And particularly, if you could talk about your conversations with doctors and nurses in Gaza? You tweeted, “Just imagine yourself as a father watching your child not only having his/her leg amputated, but also dying of pain. Do you still feel you are a father? That there are still humans in the world?” Talk about the hospitals.
MOSAB ABU TOHA: Mm-hmm. So, the first hospital I was able to enter was Shuhada al-Aqsa Hospital, which is in Deir al-Balah. And I went there — I mean, I don’t like to go to hospitals, because, first of all, there is no space for me to enter. I mean, beds are full of patients and wounded people. And at the same time, the corridors, the inner hallways are just full of people lying there. I mean, wounded people are getting treated, getting surgeries while on the floor. So, but I had to go to the Shuhada al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah to get some treatment for my face and my bleeding nose. So, there are not enough doctors to treat the patients and the wounded people. And there are just bodies everywhere. People even — I mean, they would just go and bury people without their relatives around, because their relatives have died with them, which is really, really heartbreaking. And people are turned into numbers and names. They would just put a body in a piece of cloth and just write their names, and that’s it. They would just take them to the cemetery.
So I was able to talk to some doctors and nurses at the hospital. And I was shocked. I mean, I knew that there were not enough medications, but I was told by one nurse about the case of a child who had her leg amputated. And because there was no anesthesia, no painkillers, the child died while she was having her leg amputated. And I’m wondering, I mean: How would I feel as a father if my child had to have her leg or arm amputated, while she is watching her arm or leg amputated, and then she would continue to bleed, and then she would die because of the pain? And I’m asking all the people in the world just to put themselves in my place as a father. And I’m asking them: Are you really ready in the future when a Gazan child meets you maybe in the street or when you come visit Gaza or visit the cemeteries in Gaza? What would you say to this child? What have you done to protect his family? So, you are living in the Western world —
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Mosab, finally —
MOSAB ABU TOHA: — and you are, in some way or another, supporting Israel — yes.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: No, please go ahead. Finish.
MOSAB ABU TOHA: I mean, you are — in some way or another, you are supporting Israel, not — I mean, you know, you are paying taxes, which is going to — I mean, most of the taxes are going to Israel. And I’m really shocked by the American administration, and I hope that my voice would reach the American administration people. So, when October 7th happened, you went to Israel. You showed your support. You offered weapons, and you offered money. So you were able to do everything. But now you are asking Israel to protect — to minimize the casualties among the civilians. Can you do anything to protect the civilians? So, you are calling Israel to minimize the casualties, OK? So, what can you do as an American administration to force Israel to abide by the world law? Is it really hard for you to stop the carnage, to protect the civilian people, to protect hospitals, to protect shelters, UNRWA schools?
NERMEEN SHAIKH: So, finally, Mosab, what is your message to the U.S., to President Biden, and to European leaders?
MOSAB ABU TOHA: Well, I think if you can’t stop the war, if you can’t stop the carnage, the genocide, just stop financing it. Stop providing more weapons to Israel. Because these weapons are just killing children who are just like your other children. I mean, your children and you, as an American or a European parent, you could be born here in my place in Gaza. Your child could be living in an UNRWA school, in a shelter. They could be bombed in a classroom. Instead of studying and, you know, continuing education, your child could be just sheltering in a classroom with no teacher, with no books. They are just being educated how to survive, if they could.
AMY GOODMAN: Mosab, we just have 30 seconds, but were you ever told why you were jailed? You were jailed — I think that day about 200 Palestinians in Gaza were jailed. There was a great outcry for you. Do you know if the others were released?
MOSAB ABU TOHA: No. I mean, there are a few other people I knew by name because they are from the same town as me, from Beit Lahia. And now it’s — so, I was kidnapped on November 19th, and now today it’s December 7th. Until now, there are other people who are still detained by the Israeli army, and their families are just contacting me: “Did you — do you know anything about our…” I told them, “I just left. I was just released. I don’t have any news about your family.” So they are still kidnapped.
And the Israelis, by the way, accused me of being a Hamas member. You know, I mean, what a ridiculous accusation. I have been living in America for the past four years. And I’ve been hurt, you know, without — I asked them. I asked the Israeli captain if they have any photograph, if they have any satellite photo of me holding a weapon or being in any place that could cause any harm to you. And he slapped me in the face. He said, “You give me the proof!”
AMY GOODMAN: Mosab Abu Toha, we want to thank you so much for being with us, Palestinian poet and author, jailed by Israeli authorities as he and his family fled Gaza. His son is an American citizen. He is a columnist, a teacher, and founder of the Edward Said Library in Gaza, also author of the American Book Award-winning book of poetry, Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear: Poems from Gaza.
This is Democracy Now! We’re broadcasting from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates at COP28. Our next guest calls this a “Cabal of Oil Producers,” not a climate summit. We’ll speak with the renowned climate scientist Kevin Anderson and find out why he’s not here. Stay with us.
More than 1,000 union members with Workers for a Free Palestine blockaded four weapons factories in the United Kingdom Thursday that make components for planes being used by Israel to bomb Gaza.
The workers, who include teachers and healthcare and hospitality professionals, said they had shut down plants in Bournemouth, Lancashire, Brighton, and Glasgow.
“As healthcare workers, we are tired of mourning the deaths of our colleagues — fellow nurses, doctors, dentists, medical students, and other health workers — along with all of the Palestinians massacred by the Israeli regime,” a participating doctor named Mesh of Health Workers for a Free Palestine told Tribune. “We stand here ashamed that the weapons used in the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestine are partly made on our own doorstep.”
BREAKING: Over 1000 trade unionists at multiple sites across Britain are blockading arms factories that are supplying arms to Israel! 🇵🇸 #ShutItDown4Palestine pic.twitter.com/eaoSx2EEot— Workers for a Free Palestine (@Workers4Pal) December 7, 2023
All of the plants targeted by the workers make components for the F-35 fighter jet. Israel has killed 21,731 people in Gaza since October 7, including 8,697 children, according to Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor. The Geneva-based group said the death toll has risen by 40% since a temporary cease-fire ended last week.
“Our government could only bring itself to advocate for a temporary pause in these atrocities,” Mesh continued from one of the blockades. “Israel has now resumed its violence: turning hospitals into graveyards, using equipment manufactured in this very factory. As health workers, we have a moral responsibility to act and we will not rest until the occupation ends.”
More than 600 workers shut down all three entrances to the Eaton Mission Systems plant in Wimborne near Bournemouth in Dorset, the group said. It added that plant makes in-flight refueling probes for F-35s and that Eaton Mission Systems has an open export license for all F-35-related equipment.
Protesters carried banners reading, “Weapons made here kill in Gaza” and, “This factory arms genocide.”
📍 WIMBOURNE, ENGLANDAll three entrances to Eaton Mission Systems have been SHUT DOWN!The company an open export licence to export goods for the F-35 aircraft.The factory currently being blockaded makes the F-35’s in-flight refuelling probe at its facility in Wimbourne. pic.twitter.com/7enHYCu8At— Workers for a Free Palestine (@Workers4Pal) December 7, 2023
More than 200 trade unionists also blocked two entrances at BAE System’s Samlesbury Aerodrome in Lancashire, which makes rear fuselages for all F-35s, the group said.
📍 LANCASHIRE, ENGLANDOver 200 trade unionists have blockaded two entrances at the Samlesbury Aerodrome in Lancashire.The rear fuselage of every F-35 fighter jet – currently being used in the bombardment of Gaza – is made by BAE Systems at this site. pic.twitter.com/sIWkDD7qLg— Workers for a Free Palestine (@Workers4Pal) December 7, 2023
Workers for a Free Palestine also blockaded the BAE Govan site in Glasgow, which makes components for the F35s and the Mk 38 Mod 2 machine gun system. In coordination, Brighton & Hove Action for Palestine protested the L3Harris Release & Integrated Solutions Ltd factory in Brighton, which equips U.S.-made F-16s and F-35s. Workers for a Free Palestine also said that allied groups were carrying out similar actions in Denmark, France, and the Netherlands. Workers protested Exxelia in Paris and Terma Group in Denmark and the Netherlands, Al Mayadeen Englishreported.
The European and U.K. trade unionists are responding to a call for solidarity from Palestinian trade unions and professional associations.
“Palestinian trade unions call on our counterparts internationally and all people of conscience to end all forms of complicity with Israel’s crimes—most urgently halting the arms trade with Israel, as well as all funding and military research,” Workers in Palestine wrote. “The time for action is now — Palestinian lives hang in the balance.”
Specifically, the Palestinian workers called on the international labor movement to refuse to build or transport weapons for Israel, to pass union-wide motions backing those refusals, and to put pressure on complicit companies and governments.
“We salute all those in the trade union movement taking a stand to disrupt the flow of arms to Israel,” Workers in Palestine said in a statement to Tribune. “Shutting down four factories across the U.K. today, along with several simultaneous blockades in Europe, are critical acts of solidarity, refusing to conduct business as usual in the face of Israel’s relentless bombardment of Gaza and ongoing genocide.”
“As the British government refuses to call for a cease-fire and directly supports Israel’s military attack, a rapidly growing movement of workers are clearly saying ‘not in our name,’” the workers continued.
Workers for a Free Palestine, whose members belong to unions including the National Education Union (NEU); the British Medical Association; the University and College Union (UCU); the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Communications, and Theater Union (BECTU); and the Bakers, Food, and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU), is demanding that the British government stop being complicit in Israeli war crimes, that a permanent cease-fire be enacted immediately, and that Israel end its occupation of Palestine.
Before Thursday’s action, the group had targeted an Elbit Systems subsidiary factory in Kent in October and another BAE Systems plant in Rochester in November, Tribune reported.
Justin Rex/AP Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters. In a historic ruling today, a Texas judge granted a woman’s request for an emergency abortion. Kate Cox asked a Texas court earlier this week to halt enforcement of the state’s near total abortion ban. Judge…Read More
The fake electors admitted they “violated a bedrock principle of our democracy,” the state Democratic Party chair said.
On Wednesday, ten Republicans in Wisconsin who participated in the fake electors scheme in that state — as part of a broader multistate plot to help former President Donald Trump remain in office — declared their actions improper and invalid and recognized President Joe Biden as the legitimate winner of the state, as part of a settlement in a civil lawsuit.
Their agreement to do so means they will no longer be subjected to the possibility of having to pay $2.4 million in damages, and won’t have to participate in a trial set to take place next fall.
The ten Republicans went to the Wisconsin state Capitol building on December 14, 2020, the same day legitimate electors were meeting in statehouses across the country to formally cast their ballots. While Democratic electors were casting votes in the Wisconsin Capitol for Biden, the fake Republican electors who were let into the Capitol by a GOP lawmaker engaged in their own illegitimate vote, which they claimed to have done only in order to serve as backup electors in the event that a state lawsuit recognized Trump as the actual winner — a highly unlikely scenario, as he had lost dozens of such court challenges across the U.S. up to that point.
The document they signed, however, was later transmitted to Washington D.C., intended by Trump and his allies to be counted among the real Electoral College votes in order to disrupt the certification of Biden’s win. The Democratic electors who cast the real ballots in Wisconsin later sued the fake Republican electors.
As part of the settlement, the ten individuals had to acknowledge that their actions were done in order to overturn the election and state that Biden had legitimately won the state in the 2020 contest. The Republicans also had to promise never to serve as electors again in the future, or to take part in the transmission of ballots to the Electoral College.
Within their official acknowledgment, the fake electors wrote that their meeting at the state Capitol was “in compliance with requests from the Trump campaign and Republican Party of Wisconsin.”
“We oppose any attempt to undermine the public’s faith in the ultimate results of the 2020 presidential election,” the statement read. “We hereby withdraw the documents we executed on December 14, 2020, and request that they be disregarded by the public and all entities to which they were submitted.”
Although the fake electors are no longer listed as defendants in the lawsuit, the matter will move forward, as two Republican lawyers are still being sued — including Wisconsin-based lawyer Kenneth Chesebro, who was the originator of the fake electors scheme in various states that Trump falsely contended he had only lost due to fraud. The trial will take place in September.
Chesebro is also charged with similar election interference crimes in Georgia, where he has pleaded guilty and is expected to cooperate with investigators. He may also be cooperating with other state and federal investigations relating to Trump’s attempt to overturn the election, as he has requested to the Fulton County, Georgia, judge overseeing the case to be able to travel to other locations where such inquiries are happening or have already happened, including to Nevada, Arizona and Washington D.C.
After the statement from the fake Wisconsin electors was released, Jeff Mandell, one of the lawyers representing the Democrats in the civil lawsuit, praised the outcome.
“Americans believe in democracy and the idea that the people choose their leaders through elections. … We brought this case to ensure that they are held accountable,” Mandell said.
Ben Wikler, chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, also commented on the announcement from the ten fake Republican electors. Wikler said in a statement posted on social media:
No matter your party or who you voted for, honoring the outcome of a free and fair election is core to American democracy. As these 10 fake electors now admit, their actions violated this bedrock principle of our democracy in an attempt to overturn an election that Donald Trump plainly lost.
“Donald Trump’s plot to overturn the 2020 election very nearly succeeded in Wisconsin. It is critical we recommit ourselves to ensuring Donald Trump never again wields the power he so flagrantly abused in an effort to undermine our democracy,” Wikler added.Read More