Tag Archives: Hamas

Sanders hits back at Netanyahu: ‘It is not antisemitic to hold you accountable’

[Note from BenIndy Contributor Roger Straw – I was a student protester during the anti-Vietnam-war movement, a young professional during the anti-apartheid movement in the U.S., and a protester here in Benicia against George W. Bush’s trumped up war against Iraq. War is almost NEVER a way to peace. Will Israel’s genocidal attack on Gaza and the failure of Israel’s government to move toward a two-state solution generate the next massive peace movement here and around the world? Maybe so, maybe rightly so. Bernie Sanders made a good point this week, defending activists against charges of antisemitism – see below. The world is crying out for innocents in Gaza who are starving and whose homes, hospitals and cities are in ruins. The death count is now over 34,000! The United States MUST stand up to the Israeli Prime Minister, and I would encourage all of us to join in the widespread call for an immediate and lasting ceasefire. Yes, of course the hostages must be freed. And yes, Bibi, I am not an anti-Semite. – Roger]

US senator says Israeli prime minister is using antisemitism to distract attention from ‘extremist and racist government’ policies

Bernie Sanders speaks with reporters on 23 April 2024. Photograph: J Scott Applewhite/AP

The Guardian, by Robert Tait, 27 Apr 2024

Bernie Sanders has hit back fiercely at Benjamin Netanyahu over the Israeli prime minister’s claim that US universities were being overrun by antisemitism on a scale comparable to the rise of Nazism in Germany.

In a video posted on X, the progressive senator from Vermont – who is Jewish – accused Netanyahu of “insult[ing] the intelligence of the American people” by using antisemitism to distract attention from the policies of his “extremist and racist government” in the military offensive in Gaza.

“No Mr Netanyahu, it is not antisemitic or pro-Hamas to point out that, in a little over six months, your extremist government has killed over 34,000 Palestinians and wounded more than 78,000, 70% of whom are women and children,” Sanders said.

The two-and-a-half minute video listed a catalogue of further consequences of the war in the Palestinian coastal territory, including the destruction of infrastructure, hospitals, universities and schools, along with the killing of more than 400 health workers.

Sanders, who sponsored an unsuccessful Senate bill in January to make US aid to Israel conditional on its observance of human rights and international law, said Netanyahu’s government had unreasonably blocked humanitarian aid from reaching Gaza, causing “thousands of children [to] face malnutrition and famine”.

In a blistering conclusion, he said: “Mr Netanyahu, antisemitism is a vile and disgusting form of bigotry that has done unspeakable harm to many millions of people.

“But please, do not insult the intelligence of the American people by attempting to distract us from the immoral and illegal policies of your extremist and racist government. … It is not antisemitic to hold you accountable for your actions.”

Mr. Netanyahu, antisemitism is a vile and disgusting form of bigotry that has done unspeakable harm to millions.

Do not insult the intelligence of the American people by attempting to distract us from the immoral and illegal war policies of your extremist and racist government.

Sanders’ comments were a riposte to a video posted on social media by Netanyahu in which he waded in to protests sweeping American university campuses and claimed not enough was being done to combat a “horrific” rise in antisemitism.

“Antisemitic mobs have taken over leading universities,” Netanyahu said. “They call for the annihilation of Israel. They attack Jewish students. They attack Jewish faculty. This is reminiscent of what happened in German universities in the 1930s.

“It has to be stopped. It has to be condemned and condemned unequivocally, but that’s not what happened. The response of several university presidents was shameful. Now fortunately, state, federal and local officials, many of them, have responded differently. But there has to be more.”

Netanyahu’s comments came against the backdrop of police deployments to break up pro-Palestinian protests at Columbia University and numerous other US campuses. In some universities, faculty members have been arrested, including the chair of the philosophy department and a professor of English and Indigenous studies at Emory University in Atlanta.

Jewish students have reported feeling threatened by the protests and heated atmosphere that followed Hamas’s attack on Israel on 7 October, resulting in the deaths of about 1,200 Israelis and the kidnapping of more than 200 others.

Videos posted on social media have depicted anti-Israel protesters shouting “go back to Poland” and “go back to Belarus”, apparently at Jewish students. A congressional hearing earlier in April into a reported upsurge of antisemitism at Columbia heard allegations that Jewish students had been subjected to taunts of “F the Jews”.

Last October’s attack triggered an overwhelming and continuing Israeli military response that has so far killed more than 34,000 Palestinians – according to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza – and led to a burgeoning humanitarian disaster, accompanied by accusations that Israel is committing “genocide”.

In his video, Netanyahu said Israel was being “falsely accused” of genocide and called it part of an “antisemitic surge”.

“Israel tries to defend itself against genocidal terrorists who hide behind civilians,” he said. “Yet it is Israel that is falsely accused of genocide. Israel that is falsely accused of starvation and sundry war crimes. It’s all one big libel.

“But that’s not new. We’ve seen in history that antisemitic attacks were always preceded by vilification and slander.”

The Joe Biden White House, while resisting pressure to condition or limit weapon supplies to Israel, has voiced frustration over its resistance to allowing more humanitarian aid freely into Gaza and roundly criticised the recent strikes that killed seven workers from celebrity chef Jose Andres’s World Central Kitchen charity.

Protests on campuses across the US continued on Saturday, with some protesting student bodies and universities locked in a standoff that saw demonstrators vowing to keep their movements going at the same time as college authorities moved to close down the encampments.

Police in riot gear cleared protest tents on the campus of Northeastern University in Boston, while students shouted and jeered at them, the Associated Press reported. The university said the protest had been “infiltrated by professional organisers” with no connection to the institution, while some demonstrators had used antisemitic slurs.

The picture of campus antisemitism run amok was lent further credence by Lawrence Summers, a former Harvard president and ex-US treasury secretary, who accused authorities at his former university of failing to act decisively against protesters occupying Harvard Yard.

“This is the predictable culmination of the Harvard Corporation’s failure to effectively address issues of prejudice and breakdowns of order on our campus,” he posted on X. “There can be no question that Harvard is practicing an ongoing double standard on discrimination between racism, misogyny and antisemitism.”

His comments provoked a sharp response from critics of Israel. “Your efforts to portray student demonstrators challenging Israel’s genocidal actions as ‘antisemitic’ are cheap & disingenuous,” wrote Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Democracy for the Arab World Now (Dawn). “These students should be commended for their courage & compassion, risking suspension & smears (like yours), to fight the most heinous crimes underway in Gaza.”

See earlier posts about the Israeli/Hamas war on BenIndy:

Highly recommended: Queen Rania al Abdullah of Jordan on the Food Crisis in Gaza

[Note from BenIndy Contributor Roger Straw – The world is crying out for innocents in Gaza who are starving. Malnutrition and certain death is everywhere. The United States MUST stand up to the Israeli Prime Minister, and I would encourage all of us to join in the widespread call for an immediate and lasting ceasefire. Christiane Amanpour’s interview with the articulate Queen of Jordan, Rania al Abdullah is a call for heart and historical perspective, as well as food for the Palestinian people. – Roger]

Queen Rania al Abdullah of Jordan on the Food Crisis in Gaza

Amanpour and Company on Youtube, Originally aired on March 11, 2024  #amanpourpbs

On Sunday, the United States and Jordan conducted another joint airdrop into northern Gaza. Jordan’s Queen Rania has been outspoken in defense of Gaza civilians. She is urging the United States and other allies of Israel to use all their leverage to end what she calls Israel’s “deliberate effort” to deprive those in need. Christiane speaks with Queen Rania exclusively from King Abdullah II Air Base in Jordan, just ahead of another airdrop.

See earlier posts about the Israeli/Hamas war on BenIndy:

Stephen Golub: Despite the Hamas Horrors, Glimmers of Light Beyond the Unbearable Darkness

Hamas must go. So must Netanyahu.

Benicia resident and author Stephen Golub, A Promised Land.

By Stephen Golub, October 15, 2023

Amidst all the thoughts and feelings I had as 9/11 unfolded, the one that hit hardest was utter dismay at how incredibly cruel and savage people can be to each other.

That’s how I feel this week. Over 1,300 Israelis slaughtered – most of them civilians, many of them babies, children or elderly – with over 150 more taken hostage. Given America’s much larger population, this would be the equivalent of 50,000 people murdered here in a single terrorist attack, or seventeen 9/11s.

In the Hours and Days Ahead…

I won’t deeply delve right now into what’s going on and what’s to come as Israel takes the fight to Hamas in Gaza. There will be time enough for reasoned, complex or bitter debates about who’s to blame for that humanitarian calamity.

And, before seeking to see some light in this situation, I won’t deny that matters will most likely get much worse before they even have a chance of getting better.

More specifically: Within hours of my publishing this post, Israeli tanks and troops may be surging through Gaza. Or Lebanon-based Hezbollah, “the world’s most heavily armed non-state actor,” may open up a second front, raining many of its estimated 130,000 rockets down on Israel. Or the mounting violence and Palestinian deaths on the West Bank – 53 since October 7 – could explode into a full-fledged conflict there. Or some Palestinian citizens of Israel proper could rise up. Or the United States, or Iran, or both, could be drawn into the conflict.

Or all of the above.

Hamas Unveiled

Against this backdrop, why in the world speculate about something positive possibly springing from this horrific situation?

Because, despite the intense despair we all feel, we need to think about what happens to Gaza after the havoc ends.

So, even though it’s massively, monstrously outweighed by the October 7 massacre, what good could conceivably come of this? Two things.

First, Hamas has discredited and disgraced itself as a savage terrorist organization that cannot be trusted and must be crippled to the extent possible.

This seems painfully clear today. But up until October 7, and despite its many bouts of combat with and rocket attacks against Israel, certain experts and Israeli officials entertained the notion of a “pragmatic Hamas” that had evolved past its genocidal 1988 Covenant, a document that channels the notoriously fake Protocols of the Elders of Zion and other antisemitic attacks. These officials included the former national security adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Will Hamas necessarily vanish from the scene in the wake of Israel’s likely onslaught? We’ll see. Its ideology will live on after many of its leaders and members are killed. What’s more, the New York Times’ Thomas Friedmanand other observers wonder whether Israel will walk into a trap if it launches a full-fledged invasion of Gaza. Hamas and its ally Iran may well welcome such an attack, valuing the propaganda victories that could flow from the potentially massive Palestinian and Israeli deaths to which they’re indifferent.

Regardless, it’s crucial to at least and at last clearly see Hamas for what it is. In the words of one Palestinian human rights activist: “The world knows Hamas now as terrorists who have committed depraved atrocities that would even make ISIS blush. But the people of Gaza already knew them…[as] monsters for years.”

Netanyahu’s Demise

Second, the atrocious intelligence, preparedness and response failures by the Netanyahu government – which, to be clear, I’m in no way equating with the Hamas butchery – could well result in his political demise after this war’s deadly dust has settled. As an Israeli former deputy national security adviser puts it, “The only good news is that the magnitude of the debacle will likely hasten the downfall of the criminally negligent and fundamentally illegitimate government in office in Israel today.”

Over the course of his many years dominating the country’s political landscape, starting long before he launched his current assault on Israeli democracy, Netanyahu has inundated the West Bank with settlements that undercut the relatively moderate Palestinian Authority there and sabotage the possibility of Palestinian statehood. He has explicitly vowed to block such statehood; he tolerated and even propped up Hamas in certain respects in pursuit of that goal.

In the interest of his evading justice and jail, last year Netanyahu brought into his government far-right religious zealots who prioritize West Bank domination over human rights, national security and national unity. They include his national security minister, previously convicted of supporting a terrorist organization, incitement to racism and many other charges.

Given that so much blood was spilled barely a week ago, is it too soon to point a finger at Netanyahu and his ilk? The brother of an Israeli soldier killed battling the Hamas invasion does not think so: “The bunch of imbeciles leading the country we live in, the country where my beloved little brother was killed protecting the homeland that forgot us — not because it was inevitable but because this disgraceful government is involved in everything it should not be involved in. My beloved brother was murdered by hate-filled terrorists, but those who disgracefully opened the door for them are the Israeli government, from the minister of national security and his messianic friends — clowns who busy themselves creating violent, idiotic slogans — to the prime minister, who is doing everything in his power to disintegrate the State of Israel.”

Could a peaceful two-state solution emerge in partnership with the Palestinian Authority, which recognizes Israel but is corrupt and ineffective? Quite possibly, though not inevitably. And for at least the near future, that possibility weakens in the wake of massive Israeli and Palestinian trauma. But until Netanyahu and his messianic allies lose control of the government, we may never know.

No Equivalence. But Both Must Go.

Let me again be clear: Like that slain soldier’s brother, I’m not equating the Hamas mass murder with the Netanyahu government’s conduct and policies, as execrable as they are. Hamas shows how horrifically low humanity can go.

Moreover, I’ll readily admit that in these unbearably dark days, the possible glimmers of light I’m pointing to lie way beyond the horizon, if they’re there at all.

But after the death and destruction are done or at least diminish, we must seek whatever good, whatever solutions, can emerge from the ashes.

We don’t have any alternative.

. . .

In the name of love, I’ll share a couple of post-October 7 U2 concert videos honoring the October 7 victims. If you’re able to access the first, you may need to go to your downloads to actually view the clip, along with the tear-inducing message and photos associated with it. The second lacks that additional information. But it is easier to access, and the band’s moving words and music are still worth viewing.

This post was produced by Benicia resident Stephen Golub. Steve blogs about domestic and international politics and policy, including lessons that the United States can learn from other nations, at A Promised Land: America as a Developing Country. If interested, you may sign up for future posts by subscribing to the blog.

Read more from Steve by visiting his blog or clicking any of the links below.


Israel’s Revenge Would Be Better Served Cold

Hamas is going nowhere…

[Note from BenIndy contributor Roger Straw: After the heartbreaking and unforgiveable slaughter of Israeli innocents, now there is heartbreak and unimaginable devastation in Gaza.  This Washington Post analysis is spot on….]

GAZA CITY, GAZA – OCTOBER 13: Palestinians displaced from their homes as a result of Israeli raids on October 13, 2023 in Gaza City, Gaza. Israel has sealed off Gaza and launched sustained retaliatory air strikes, which have killed at least 1,400 people with more than 300,000 displaced, after a large-scale attack by Hamas. On October 7, the Palestinian militant group Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel from Gaza by land, sea, and air, killing over 1,300 people and wounding around 2,800. Israeli soldiers and civilians have also been taken hostage by Hamas and moved into Gaza. (Photo by Ahmad Hasaballah / Getty Images)

Analysis by Marc Champion | Bloomberg, October 13, 2023

Israel’s 24-hour notice for more than 1 million civilians to evacuate Gaza City by midnight, dubbed impossible by the United Nations, suggests a ground invasion is imminent. Why the rush?

Hamas is going nowhere. It is by now clear that the purpose of Saturday’s attack and its haul of at least 97 hostages was designed precisely to draw Israel into a massive response on Gaza’s densely populated urban battlefield. There’s time to prepare Hamas’s destruction, rather than dance to its tune. The terror group has had years to prepare its defenses, so let it wait a little longer; they won’t improve. The pressure to move in quickly is political.

The slaughter of Israeli civilians last weekend ensured that Hamas lost, as my colleague Bobby Ghosh has written, the war of images. The group has forever been consigned to the same murderous category as Islamic State. But as in all other aspects of warfare, such early losses and victories can be overturned and the risk for Israel is that its ground invasion succumbs to exactly that.

Supplies of water, power and food to the territory’s 2 million-plus inhabitants have been cut, a crime against humanity, according to Francesca Albanese, the UN’s special rapporteur on the Occupied Palestinian Territories. As of Thursday, the Israel Defense Forces said it had dropped more than 6,000 bombs on Gaza. Human Rights Watch says it has confirmed the use of white phosphorous, an imprecise weapon that can cause horrific burn injuries. Already, more than 1,500 people have been killed and over 6,000 injured in Gaza since the air strikes began, according to the local health authority. The toll from a ground invasion with the city’s population still in place would be much, much higher.

This is what Hamas wants and planned for. The consequences of Israel losing the information war would be huge, perhaps as significant as anything it can achieve on the battlefield. It would enrage popular opinion in the so-called Arab Street, pressuring otherwise friendly governments to break ties with Israel and take sides against it. It would, equally, ignite Palestinian feeling on the West Bank, Jerusalem and even within Israel, potentially opening a second, internal front. It would increase pressure, too, on Hezbollah — which objectively can’t afford a war right now — to open a third front from Lebanon. That, in turn, would increase the risk of a regional war that includes Iran, something that its foreign minister threatened on Friday, while on a tour of allies in Iraq, Lebanon and Syria.

There are no winners in this scenario, other than the Iranian regime, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (he’d enjoy the distraction of Western attention from Ukraine) and Islamist terror organizations across the Middle East. Nor can it leave other parts of the world untouched. Already, France has announced a ban on protests involving Palestinian flags, for fear they lead to pitched battles with police. In the UK, a charity said anti-Semitic incidents quadrupled in the four days after Saturday’s attack, compared with the same period a year ago.

Israel has no good choices. The border crossing from Gaza to Egypt remains closed, with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi saying Palestinians should “stay steadfast and remain on their land.” Hamas also has told Gaza City residents to stay put, fully aware that “victory’’ in this conflict depends on expanding it beyond Gaza, which in turn requires a blunt Israeli invasion to deliver large-scale civilian casualties and the images that go with them.

The cynicism of Hamas is breathtaking. These are fanatics. The Israeli government can’t afford to give its enemies what they need in order to portray it as equivalent. It will count for nothing to say an invasion’s civilian casualties are collateral damage — as opposed to the deliberate murder of more than 1,000 Israeli civilians by Hamas — if the time and preparations needed for a credible attempt to reduce them aren’t taken.