Friday, April 19, 2024

Iraq snapshot

Friday, April 19, 2024.  Protests, deaths and more take a back seat as the media wets itself in excitement over the prospect of war on Iran.

More than 100 students have been arrested after police cleared a camp of pro-Palestinian protesters at Columbia University in New York.

The university's president said that the "extraordinary step" came after multiple warnings and was necessary to provide a safe environment.

Among the participants in the protest was Minnesota politician Ilhan Omar's daughter, who has been suspended.

Protests have rocked US campuses since the Israel-Gaza war began last year. 

Isra Hirsi, the daughter of American Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, said she has been suspended from New York's Columbia University and its associate institution, Barnard College, after participating in a pro-Palestine protest on Thursday.

Writing on X, Hirsi said she is "one of three students suspended for standing in solidarity with Palestinians facing a genocide".

Hirsi said that despite being an organiser with Columbia University Apartheid Divest, she had never been reprimanded or received any disciplinary warnings in her three years at the college. The organisation advocates for the university to divest from "companies complicit in genocide".

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, As Columbia University President Shafik testified before Congress about accusations of antisemitism at the school, Democracy Now! spoke to Columbia and Barnard College students yesterday who set up a Gaza Solidarity Encampment early Wednesday morning with dozens of tents, occupying the South Lawn of the campus outside the main library. As we broadcast, students have been threatened with suspension and discipline action but are still refusing to leave until their demands are met. They spoke about what they’re calling for.

PROTESTERS: Down, down with occupation! Down, down with occupation! Up, up with liberation! Up, up with liberation!

MARYAM ALWAN: My name is Maryam Alwan, and I’m with Columbia SJP, Students for Justice in Palestine. And we are here today to demand that Columbia divest immediately from all stakes in Israeli apartheid. Over 33,000 Palestinians have been killed. And as we speak, our president is testifying in front of the House in a game of political theater that is conflating anti-Zionism with antisemitism. We want to focus the attention on what’s going on in Gaza and tell Columbia that we are not going anywhere. No matter how much government suppression we face, we will keep fighting until they divest.

They have been completely repressive. I mean, we’ve faced police brutality. We have faced countless policy changes. I mean, my group, along with Jewish Voice for Peace, was suspended in the fall semester completely illegitimately. And I filed a lawsuit to counter that action. And it seems like the repression is only getting worse and worse and worse. But the more they repress us, the more we rise up. And that’s why we’ve escalated — that’s also why we’ve escalated here today.

Not only are they not listening to us when we peacefully protest, when we attempt to just pass referendums for student voices to even be heard, they don’t even want to listen to the students. They don’t want to know what the students think. And so, we’re here to tell them that we will take up space and presence on this campus, and they’re not going to be able to erase our support for Palestine.

PROTESTERS: What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now! If Gaza doesn’t get it, shut it down!

SOPH: My name is Soph. I am with Jewish Voice for Peace at Columbia. And I am here today because I will not stand by while thousands and thousands of people are dying because of our tax dollars in this country, as Columbia’s money is going towards a genocide. The money that should be funding our education is going to the bombs that are dropping on Gaza right now. Columbia is a majority share — has massive amounts of shares in various organizations, like Lockheed Martin, that are supplying Israel with bombs right now, and we will no longer be complicit.

In a campus like this that is filled with repression, that is — every day we wake up, and the administration tries to silence us more and more. We are here to say, “The more you try to silence us, the louder we will be.” We will not be complicit. We will stand in solidarity, because we know that we keep us safe.

We refuse to believe that Israel is in any part related to our Judaism. In fact, our Jewish values inform why we’re here, why we’re standing in here — Jewish values of tikkun olam, of love, of appreciation, of respect, of mutual liberation. And so, as Jews, we are here to say that we will always support the liberation of Palestine, because that is what historically Jews have done. We have stood up for other oppressed peoples, because we know that there can be no freedom until we are all free.

PROTESTERS: Free, free Palestine! Free, free Palestine! Free, free, free Palestine! Free, free, free Palestine!

SARAH BORUS: My name is Sarah Borus. I’m a student at Barnard College. And I’m here because I was raised as an anti-Zionist Jew. It is important for me to stand with Palestine. I go to a university that is actively profiting off of the genocide of Palestinians and then is hiding behind Jewish students by saying that they want to crack down on us because of antisemitism. But as an anti-Zionist Jew, I know that that is the farthest thing from the truth. They are doing that because they know that we are on the right side of history, that they are doing something that is profoundly wrong. And it is our job during this genocide to come out and resist.

There were Jews protesting against this genocide who were harassed and then attacked with a chemical weapon. That is not being addressed. This is — quite frankly, we’re seeing McCarthyism once again. And our administrators need to be aware of the experience of anti-Zionist Jews, the way that antisemitism is being weaponized in order to crack down on this movement.

AMY GOODMAN: Voices from the South Lawn of Columbia University, where students have set up a Gaza Solidarity Encampment. Special thanks to Democracy Now!’s Hana Elias and Tey-Marie Astudillo and Eric Halvarson for that report.

When we come back, we go to Tel Aviv, Israel, to speak with a senior Israel analyst for the International Crisis Group about why Israel-Iran war is a lifeline for Prime Minister Netanyahu. Back in 20 seconds.

Columbia students were right in 1968. History proved it. Columbia students are right today. The university has no good answers to their demands that the school stop investing in genocide. Calling in the NYPD proves it.

+ Abbie Hoffman: “The only reason you should be in college is to destroy it.” In Columbia’s case, the administration is doing the job for the students.

+ Columbia Professor Rebecca Jordan-Young: “The faculty who are supporting the students do not all agree on the issue of Israel and Palestine, [but] we are astonished and disgusted with the way the university has cracked down on the students.”

+ From Wednesday’s House interrogation of Columbia University’s President, Minouche Shafik…

+ God also wanted Abraham to slit his son Isaac’s throat, which is pretty much what Shafik did when she called the NYPD goon squad on the kids in her care. Giordano Bruno she’s not…In fact, Shafik is a former Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, and also enjoys a life peerage in the House of Lords.

Antony Blinken has been asked why he's refusing to comment on the apparent Israeli attack on Iran in the early hours of this morning. 

He responds: "I am going to be incredibly boring and not make your day by saying again I am not going to speak on what's been reported."

He also reiterates the line he's been saying throughout the conference: "The United States has not been involved in any offensive operations." 

I am not Secretary of State Antony Blinken.  But I'm also not going to spend time this morning on Israeli's attack on Iran.  Sunday, as we noted Sunday, you couldn't find news of Gaza -- protests over it, deaths caused by the Israeli government, not even a death toll -- because the media was foaming over the thought of a bigger war.  We're there again today and it's not just western media, it's the Arab media as well.

We cover Gaza, we cover Iraq, we cover feminism, we have a scope here.  The world doesn't need more wars -- or actually any wars.  

World leaders reacted to Friday’s strike with calls to avoid further escalation. Egypt expressed its “deep concern about the continuing escalation between Israel and Iran,” calling for “the highest levels” of restraint and warning against expanding “conflict and instability in the region.”

 European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said, “It is absolutely necessary that the region stays stable and that all sides refrain from further action.” China’s Foreign Ministry also said it opposed any actions that escalated tensions, Reuters reported.

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry in a statement also called for restraint from “all parties,” but it pointed the finger at Israel. “It is becoming increasingly evident that the tensions that were initially caused by Israel’s illegal attack on the Iranian Embassy in Damascus risk turning into a permanent conflict,” the ministry said.

  As the United Nations Security Council prepares to vote Thursday on Palestine's bid to become a full U.N. member, the Biden administration—which claims to support Palestinian statehood—is lobbying UNSC nations in an effort to wrangle enough "no" votes so that the United States can avoid resorting to a veto.

Leaked cables obtained by The Intercept show U.S. pressure on Security Council members including Malta—which currently presides over the body—and Ecuador.

  While claiming that President Joe Biden backs "Palestinian aspirations for statehood," one of the cables asserts that "it remains the U.S. view that the most expeditious path toward a political horizon for the Palestinian people is in the context of a normalization agreement between Israel and its neighbors."

"We therefore urge you not to support any potential Security Council resolution recommending the admission of 'Palestine' as a U.N. member state, should such a resolution be presented to the Security Council for a decision in the coming days and weeks," the document advises.

The U.S. argument essentially is that the U.N. should not create an independent Palestinian state by fiat—even though that's precisely how the world body voted in 1947 to establish the modern state of Israel.

The renewed push for Palestine's U.N. membership comes as Israel wages a genocidal war on the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian Authority, which hasn't controlled Gaza for nearly two decades, rejected the Biden administration's requests to hold off on seeking full membership.

"We wanted the U.S. to provide a substantive alternative to U.N. recognition. They didn't," one unnamed Palestinian official toldAxios on Wednesday. "We believe full membership in the U.N. for Palestine is way overdue. We have waited more than 12 years since our initial request."

As The Intercept's Ken Klippenstein and Daniel Boguslaw noted:

Since 2011, the U.N. Security Council has rejected the Palestinian Authority's request for full member status. On April 2, the Palestinian Observer Mission to the U.N. requested that the council once again take up consideration of its membership application. According to the first State Department cable, U.N. meetings since the beginning of April suggest that Algeria, China, Guyana, Mozambique, Russia, Slovenia, Sierra Leone, and Malta support granting Palestine full membership to the U.N. It also says that France, Japan, and Korea are undecided, while the United Kingdom will likely abstain from a vote.

Along with the United States, China, France, Russia, and the United Kingdom are permanent members of the UNSC, so they also have veto power.

 Read Brett in full. 

Gaza remains under assault. Day 196 of  the assault in the wave that began in October.  Binoy Kampmark (DISSIDENT VOICE) points out, "Bloodletting as form; murder as fashion.  The ongoing campaign in Gaza by Israel’s Defence Forces continues without stalling and restriction.  But the burgeoning number of corpses is starting to become a challenge for the propaganda outlets:  How to justify it?  Fortunately for Israel, the United States, its unqualified defender, is happy to provide cover for murder covered in the sheath of self-defence."   CNN has explained, "The Gaza Strip is 'the most dangerous place' in the world to be a child, according to the executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund."  ABC NEWS quotes UNICEF's December 9th statement, ""The Gaza Strip is the most dangerous place in the world to be a child. Scores of children are reportedly being killed and injured on a daily basis. Entire neighborhoods, where children used to play and go to school have been turned into stacks of rubble, with no life in them."  NBC NEWS notes, "Strong majorities of all voters in the U.S. disapprove of President Joe Biden’s handling of foreign policy and the Israel-Hamas war, according to the latest national NBC News poll. The erosion is most pronounced among Democrats, a majority of whom believe Israel has gone too far in its military action in Gaza."  The slaughter continues.  It has displaced over 1 million people per the US Congressional Research Service.  Jessica Corbett (COMMON DREAMS) points out, "Academics and legal experts around the world, including Holocaust scholars, have condemned the six-week Israeli assault of Gaza as genocide."   The death toll of Palestinians in Gaza is grows higher and higher.  United Nations Women noted, "More than 1.9 million people -- 85 per cent of the total population of Gaza -- have been displaced, including what UN Women estimates to be nearly 1 million women and girls. The entire population of Gaza -- roughly 2.2 million people -- are in crisis levels of acute food insecurity or worse." Yesterday, THE NATIONAL noted "The death toll in Gaza rose to 33,970 on Thursday after Israel killed 71 Palestinians in the previous 24 hours, the health ministry announced. More than 100 others were wounded, taking the total number of injured to 76,770 since the war began on October 7."  Again, no one has a death toll today, they're all frothing in delight over the prospect of war on Iran. Months ago,  AP  noted, "About 4,000 people are reported missing."  February 7th, Jeremy Scahill explained on DEMOCRACY NOW! that "there’s an estimated 7,000 or 8,000 Palestinians missing, many of them in graves that are the rubble of their former home."  February 5th, the United Nations' Phillipe Lazzarini Tweeted:

April 11th, Sharon Zhang (TRUTHOUT) reported, "n addition to the over 34,000 Palestinians who have been counted as killed in Israel’s genocidal assault so far, there are 13,000 Palestinians in Gaza who are missing, a humanitarian aid group has estimated, either buried in rubble or mass graves or disappeared into Israeli prisons.  In a report released Thursday, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor said that the estimate is based on initial reports and that the actual number of people missing is likely even higher."

As for the area itself?  Isabele Debre (AP) reveals, "Israel’s military offensive has turned much of northern Gaza into an uninhabitable moonscape. Whole neighborhoods have been erased. Homes, schools and hospitals have been blasted by airstrikes and scorched by tank fire. Some buildings are still standing, but most are battered shells."  Kieron Monks (I NEWS) reports, "More than 40 per cent of the buildings in northern Gaza have been damaged or destroyed, according to a new study of satellite imagery by US researchers Jamon Van Den Hoek from Oregon State University and Corey Scher at the City University of New York. The UN gave a figure of 45 per cent of housing destroyed or damaged across the strip in less than six weeks. The rate of destruction is among the highest of any conflict since the Second World War."

Since everyone else appears to be is in war mode -- with no concern for the victims of war -- let's go to a different topic.

I thought Medhi Hasan was trying to do something different.  Thought he was building something different, a media that was going to be real.  Now it appears he's just built another media that attacks women and hides behind a forty-something female with Mommy issues to attack women.  Before we get to that special prize let's review some headlines to provide the context that Mehdi apparently doesn't believe in despite giving one interview after another in recent weeks talking about the importance context. 

Let's start.  October 7th, Hamas carried out an attack in Israel.  

Not content to deal with what took place, liars had to invent claims of beheaded babies.  Claims of gang-rapes soon followed.

No women did.  

And as I've said repeatedly here and at THIRD, it doesn't play.  If you bought a ticket to a film and some bad guy got a woman alone and raped her?  You would buy it.  If the bad guy raped her in front of her family, you'd even buy that.  But the rapist has invaded and is taking time out from the assault -- and risking it being stopped as a result -- so that he and his accomplices can indulge in gang-rape?

It doesn't play.  You hit the targets, you get out.

Could it have happened?  Many believe it or not moments do happen.

But this didn't happen.  

I'm a survivor.  I do not buy that another woman -- let alone many women -- would be raped on October 7th and be so fragile that they couldn't come forward.  It's April 19th.  

So what did Mehdi do?  He published the gadfly Fatima Bhutto.  And her awful column "Gaza Has Exposed The Shameful Hypocrisy Of Western Feminism."

From the title, some may think it belongs to other recent literary fictions such as:

THE TIMES OF ISRAEL, November 23rd, Amelie Botbol, "Global women’s rights groups silent as Israeli women testify about rapes by Hamas"

NBC NEWS,  November 25th, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, "How feminists have failed Israeli victims of sexual violence: The skepticism that met Israeli women’s claims perpetuates traditions of dehumanizing Jews."

SLATE, November 30th, Dahlia Lithwick, Mimi Rocah, Tamara Sepper, Jennifer Taub, Joyce White Vance, and Julie Zebrak, "The World’s Feminists Need to Show Up for Israeli Victims: Solidarity for victims of sexual assault should trump other politics."

THE FORWARD, December 13th, Letty Cottin Pogrebin, "Jew-hating is not a new feminist phenomenon: I refuse to let Hamas’ brutal assault on Israeli women and girls be forgotten in the fog of war"

THE NATION, December 15th, Katha Pollitt "Why Have Feminists Been So Slow to Condemn the Hamas Rapes?" 

THE JERUSALEM POST, January 19th, Carly Pildis, "Why are feminists silent on Hamas's use of rape as a weapon of war?"

WINNEPEG FREE PRESS, January 26th, Jen Zoratti, "The battlefield between feminism and rapes of war"

We could include about forty more articles but hopefully you get the point.  The articles in bold are trashing western feminists for not rushing to endorse and support these mythical rape victims.  

We're such mean western feminists, we don't care about these fictional women. That's what we've endured for months and along with columns there have been speeches and remarks and we've been attacked over and over and over.

I can't support women who are fiction.  Created solely as propaganda to promote war?  Can't support them.  Didn't buy the lie about Iraq tossing babies out of incubators in the 90s either.  Or the WMD lie leading up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.  

And I don't buy that women were gang-raped on October 7th and all these months later can't come forward.  Again, I'm a survivor.  That doesn't mean everyone raped has the same experience I do.  I doubt, for example, they repeatedly stabbed their rapist once he fell asleep.  I doubt that they were in the single-digit years as I was.  But there I was a small child, just raped, and I had the sense to wait for him to fall asleep and then to ensure that he couldn't come back after me and then to figure out where he had taken me and how the hell I got to safety.

So spare me the lie that grown ass women are raped six months ago and are still too traumatized to come forward.

Fatima Bhutto does a list twist though.  She wants to blame western feminists -- remember, we've already been attacked for months for not taking up the cause of these mystical and mythical women -- Fatima wants to blame us for -- well her entire pathetic life, actually, let's be honest.  Her Daddy love for a father who was a failure, her hatred for her aunt that she claims killed her father, her mother who just wasn't there for her and the entire world which really didn't ever want her bad fiction and still doesn't want any novels from her as evidenced by poor sales.  Oh, if only she could 'date' George Clooney again, life might be good for her.

We, western feminists, just aren't doing enough for Fatima or, for that matter, anything. 

This week, I mentioned Matilda Joslyn Gage in a snapshot and noted that, if you didn't know the name, your media was failing you.  I then noted how so few women are guests -- even on left and 'left' public affairs programs and YOUTUBE programs, et al.  I stand by that and I feel the need to repeat it now due to Medhi Hashan's new outlet publishing Fatima Bhutto's "Gaza Has Exposed the Shameful Hypocrisy of Western Feminism."

No, dear, what it's exposed is your shameful ignorance.

I'm a feminist -- a western one.  I've called out the attack on Gaza since it started.  We have largely skipped Iraq coverage to cover this and to cover it daily.  Susan Sarandon spoke out and got dropped by her talent agency.  She's a feminist as well.  Melissa Barrera will not be silenced.  She's a feminist as well.  

Your media is failing you.

I'm also getting damn tired of feminism being stolen from us.

Gloria Steinem?

People still don't get it.

I was Gloria's friend and her friend for years.  I believed her lie about the CIA.  It wasn't until the '00s that I found out differently.  And Ava and I wrote about it repeatedly at THIRD.  Excuse me but people just say "Oh, she was CIA!"  That's Max Blumenthal and all the other lazy asses.  Uh-uh.  She was CIA who ratted out leftists from other countries.  That's why she went overseas.  She was to document dissidents and turn that over to the CIA which then used it to 'barter' with other governments.  She is responsible for deaths so stop saying, "Oh, she was CIA!" and thinking you've said something.  You've said nothing unless your noting that she harmed European activists -- some of whom ended up tortured and some of whom were killed.  Gloria hates it when Ava and I write about this.  And some friends say to me, "Can't you just leave it alone?"  No.  I cannot.  First off, I'm guilty and feel guilty because I believed her lies.  She looked me in the face and told me she was not a part of the CIA.  She'd just, in college, done some work on an international festival.  She lied.  And what's appalling is how long the lie held.  Thanks to YOUTUBE, we can now all see her bragging about being in the CIA because, before she was a feminist, she gave on camera interviews bragging on it.  But I believed her and I defended her.  

I can't be silent now that I know I was wrong.  It's not something I need to bring up every day, no, but when it's appropriate it needs to be brought up and that's why Ava and I have written about it repeatedly.  And done more than that, we've also lobbied -- since we discovered Gloria was lying -- corporate media to stop providing cover for her and you can now go to any mainstream media outlet and find that, yes, she was CIA.  (And that's why it's nothing for Max Blumenthal to tweet that obvious reality.)

Feminism in the west has always railed against media figureheads -- including Gloria and I agreed with that long before I discovered she was lying.

Bhutto knows nothing about Western feminism other than what the corporate media has told her.  First thing any feminist learns is: Don't count on the media to reflect us honestly.

I love how we're ignored by the media over and over.

But Gaza's under assault and suddenly we're the cause and we're the reason and everybody attack us.  

Western feminists have been speaking out against that slaughter in Gaza for months now.  Maybe Fatima doesn't know it because she doesn't understand the real world.

Reading her bad column, I had to drop back two paragraphs to see who Carrie Bradshaw was.  I couldn't find her in the previous paragraphs and then I realized, "Oh, she means Sarah Jessica Parker's character in SEX AND THE CITY."  And that may be SEX IN THE CITY.  If I write of it, I have to look it up because it was not my show and Carrie was not my touchstone.  

Fatima fumes over the 90s TV character.  Way to utilize your space to deal with reality, Fatima.

And we get BARBIE trashed because Fatima hates women.  Mommy issues.  BARBIE is a movie mainly aimed at young children -- girls and boys who love Barbie.  If the scorn and hate that so many of you have aimed at the movie was ever aimed at a GI Joe movie, we might actually be able to end wars.  But you only trash a film, rip it apart, if it's aimed primarily at females.  Then it can be mocked and held accountability for every crime in the world.  But target children with a movie where everyone's shooting each other and it just passed by without comment -- even as school shooting continue to multiply in the US.

Stop it.

We're not all powerful.  If feminists were all powerful, why would we have to constantly point out how we're not given equal seating at the table?

The mainstream media has spent the last six months ripping apart everyone who calls for a cease-fire or just ignoring them outright.  How nice of Mehdi's new outlet to render those of us in the west who are feminists and are calling for a ceasefire invisible.  

At the same time, the biggest nobodies in the world have been treated as voices to listen to.  Julianna Margulies?  No one likes her.  She can't get work because of her image that she made on the set of THE GOOD WIFE.  She was a freak show and a nightmare to work with which is why so many people left that show.  After that? She went slumming to NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC because that's all she could get.  Do you not realize how awful that is?  She starred in a network TV show but is such a nightmare to work with that no one -- no one -- wanted to work with her and she had to go to NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC.

Now she's on APPLE!

Uh, now she's like the eleventh billed in an APPLE show, let's not pretend she's a star because she isn't.

And where are we getting this idea that she's a feminist?  What has she ever done?

Don't give me when the cameras are around and recording her 'good' moments.  What did she do for women?  In season one of THE GOOD WIFE, women directed five episodes.  In season two, they directed six episodes.  That was embarrassing low.  In season three, she becomes a producer.  And the number of women directing episodes increases, right?  Women direct at least 11 of the episodes now each season because Julianna is a woman, right?


The number directed stays the same or dropped.  (It dropped to only four out of 22 episodes directed by a woman in the final season.)  She's not a feminist.

Mayim Bialik?  She was producer of her show CALL ME KAT.  Third season had 22 episodes.  How many women got hired to direct?  Two.  Well one woman, she got to direct two episodes.  

That's not a feminist producing a TV show.  A feminist would be creating equal opportunities.

Stop calling these people feminists when they aren't.

Hillary Clinton is not a feminist.  She's a Me-ist.  It only matters if effects her.  If she's not impacted, she's not there.  Which is why she could and did betray Iraqi women when she was Secretary of State -- as we documented here repeatedly including when her last remaining real friend called her out for it.  Julianna's a Me-ist.  

Stop mistaking these women who give lip service to feminism to advance themselves as feminists.  Just stop it.

There are many different strands of feminism in the west.  And I don't think the term's elastic nor should it be treated as such.  "Oh, it's good because the more women that use it, the better."


Because misusing it means we get blamed as in the Bhutto column.  

If you're not willing to help other women -- I mean real women, not mythical women who supposedly were raped over six months ago but can't come forward and have no evidence or proof -- I guess they're all taking the rest cure, maybe dealing with some YELLOW WALLPAPER (don't get it, then your media has failed you).

The same media that trashes those of us demanding a ceasefire is not your go-to -- or shouldn't be -- for the pulse of the feminist movement.  

The only people who think Julianna is a feminist are the same idiots who didn't realize two decades ago that you weren't seeing her real hair, that it was a wig.  You have to be that stupid to think she's a feminist.

Stop calling those women feminists.  They're false representations and you're ignoring the voices and actions of so many women in the west who actually are feminists.

I don't want to hear any whining about how this or that is distorted when you've got Mehdi's outlet distorting feminism.

When you start calling those genocide apologists "feminists," you silence those of us who are feminists --  just like the corporate media silences all of us calling for a ceasefire.

Mehdi, do better.  And do it quickly.

The following sites updated: