Common Grounds

Our Friday News Analysis | What the World Reads Now!

January 12, 2024


What Were the Chosen Free to Choose? To be Good, Bad, or Ugly!


The Hague, The Netherlands 12 January 2024 | If you know of any story that is decisive, tell the world. We're still searching.




Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist and Presbyterian Minister Chris Hedges

Our Friday News Analysis | What the World Reads Now!

Click Here to Watch the Video (6 minutes, 54 seconds)


Israel can fool some of the people some of the time. Israel cannot fool all of the people all of the time. History is on the side of peace, with most of our 8 billion people supporting peace.


A Tortured Soul of an indigenous Palestinian in Israel Palestine bluntly states in a letter addressed to the Hebrew daily Haaretz, published on 5 June 1958:


               “I call on all those who for generations have not known the taste of freedom; all those who have experienced persecution and discrimination in many lands; all those who were victims of Hitler’s crimes.


               It is now ten years since your Government had enforced a regime of oppression and persecution on the Arab population of Israel. For ten years, we Arabs have been living under a regime of military force [Martial Law eds.]. We have been robbed of our freedom of movement and our homes. Our villages are the property of the army rulers.… We are exposed to arbitrary administrative arrests.…


               Our school graduates can find no opportunities for work or positions in the Government. Only a few ready to sell their honor and act as informers are given jobs in the state government bureaus. Oppression and ghetto life from which you, as Jews, have suffered for generations are now being imposed upon us in the State of Israel. We were called hooligans and gangsters when we defended our rights and raised our voices as workers and peasants on the first of May in Nazareth and Um-al-Fahm.


               Raise your voices! Stop the hand of the oppressors! Don’t permit the Government to besmirch the name of Israel and your names as Jews [Children of Abraham eds.] by what it is doing to the Palestinians!”





Israel's self-defense is not on trial – and can't justify breaching any part of the Genocide Convention. Simply put, Israel's defense defense offers little, well, defense.



By Dahlia Scheindlin
Haaretz Israel
11 January 2024


The International Court of Justice held the first day of hearings on Thursday about South Africa's petition that accuses Israel of genocide and immediate measures to halt the war in Gaza. So many viewers worldwide wanted to watch that the United Nations Web TV site sputtered due to overload.


Over three hours, South Africa made its case to the court; Israel will make its arguments on Friday. No one knows just what Israel's legal arguments will be, but its public arguments – hasbara – have been on overdrive this week.


On Wednesday, Israel's Government launched a unique only accessible outside of Israel, showing gruesome photos of atrocities from October 7 so that the world can know about "Hamas' crimes against humanity." In The Hague, the Israeli foreign ministry is organizing a public screening of a documentary film about the Hamas massacre at the Nova festival– to be projected on a building across from the ICJ.


The day before the hearings, Israeli media reported that Ronen Bar, the head of the Shin Bet, Israel's domestic intelligence agency, had recommended that Israel's strategy for the ICJ should be “showing how UNWRA facilities have been implicated in Hamas' activities, including October 7.


At 10:49 PM on Wednesday, Benjamin Netanyahu also posted a video with arguments sure to feature in Israel's case, including that Israel is fighting Hamas, not Palestinians, and that it tries its best to protect civilians "in full compliance with international law."


But in Thursday's hearing, South Africa's delegation seemed intent on dismantling these arguments pre-emptively.


For three months, Israel's most prominent argument has been that Israel is defending itself in response to October 7 – this is a defensive war. But as anyone with knowledge of international law can confirm, the cause of war doesn't matter for accusations of committing genocide. In the early part of its arguments, the South African delegation addressed this point.


After first reiterating South Africa's condemnations of the October 7 attacks (a condemnation repeated in the application itself), Justice Minister Ronald Lamola stated: "No armed attack on a state territory, no matter how serious, even an attack involving atrocity crimes, can provide any justification for, or defense to, breaches to the [Genocide] Convention whether as a matter of law or morality – Israel's response to the 7th of October 2023 attack has crossed this line…"


In other words, Israel's self-defense is not on trial – and can't justify breaching any part of the Genocide Convention. Put simply, Israel's defense defense offers little, well, defense.


Another Israeli argument relates to those nasty, genocidey comments made by various Israeli officials.


The automatic response here in Israel is that these were just silly things said by insignificant politicians in the heat of the war. But it wasn't hard for South Africa's lawyers to present quotes from Netanyahu (speaking of the biblical orders to wipe out all traces of the enemy Amalek), or from Defense Minister Yoav Gallant ("human animals"), or then-Minister of Energy, Israel Katz (now foreign minister) calling for sweeping denial of essential supplies for the civilian population.


Israel's president, Isaac Herzog, not only argued that the whole population of Gaza was responsible for Hamas but signed bombs for good measure, and all before mentioning the steady stream of hate from Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel's minister of national security.


South Africa was unimpressed by putative backtracking: "These statements are not open to neutral interpretations or after-the-fact rationalizations or reinterpretations by Israel…it is simple, if the statements are not intended, they would not have been made." Soldiers on the ground took these sentiments seriously, said South Africa's counsel, showing a video of Israeli soldiers singing feverish chants of "Wipe out the seed of Amalek" and "There are no bystanders!"


Next, Israel is depending heavily on its claim that it aims to protect civilian lives. Netanyahu said yesterday: "The IDF is doing its utmost to minimize civilian casualties, while Hamas is doing its utmost to maximize them by using Palestinian civilians as human shields."


Israel might well point to its mass evacuation of the entire north of Gaza to prove that it has tried to get them out of harm's way. But South Africa's Adila Hassim took direct aim at this argument. She told the court that Gazan civilians are facing death not only by direct military action but by "starvation, dehydration and disease" wherever they are since Israel has created obstacles to the distribution of what scant aid has gotten through.


As for the military campaign, she argued, "The level of Israel's killing is so extensive that nowhere is safe in Gaza." As evidence, she submitted that people had been bombed in schools, hospitals, mosques, and churches. Most damning, "They have been killed if they failed to evacuate, in the places to which they have fled, and even while they attempted to flee along Israeli-declared safe routes."


A final Israeli argument damaged today was Israel's axiomatic belief that the ICJ, all arms of international justice, and the UN itself are anti-Israel "by definition," as a news anchor said this week on Israeli radio.


The heart of this argument is that these bodies "single out" Israel for accusations that everyone else in the world gets away with. Then, how to explain South Africa's repeated reference to earlier ICJ rulings, such as in Gambia's case accusing Myanmar of the genocide of the Rohingya?


The South African delegation stated, "The detailed material before the court is marshaled to show a case for provisional measures based firmly on this court's prior decisions, and South Africa advances its case on the basis that Palestinian rights are equally as worthy of protection…[as] the victim groups that this honorable court has previously protected by its issuance of provisional measures in the past." The same Court also ruled against Russia in 2022, ordering an immediate suspension of its military operations against Ukraine.


Unfortunately, it didn't much help.


Read more about Israel's war against Hamas:


■ Palestinians in Gaza are being held hostage by Israel and Hamas

■ US wants a 'new Palestinian Authority' to rule Gaza. In exchange, Abbas wants statehood

■ Daughter of soldier missing since 1986 Ron Arad: Israeli politicians must negotiate for hostages release

■ Qatar close to finalizing deal with Hamas to transfer medicine to Israeli hostages in Gaza

A war with Hezbollah is inevitable. But should Israel initiate it?

 Fighting in '720 degrees' in Khan Yunis, where the outcome of the Israel-Hamas war could be decided

■ Qatar denies Hamas leaders exile clause as Israel responds to new hostage release proposal

World court unlikely to order cease-fire in Gaza genocide hearing, Israeli officials tell Haaretz



Editor’s Note | What Were the Chosen Free to Choose?


Last Sunday, during one of our Zoom sessions, David asked, “How does the Book of Exodus define the ancient Israelites (the Hebrews) and the nation of Israel today?”


The question stirred profound discourse. One of the participants steered us toward ‘obedience.’ Some Hebrews obeyed. Most preferred ‘freedom.’ They preferred dancing around the Golden Calf, which culminated with the orgies behind the bushes.


I mentioned to the group that, not too long ago, during better times, I had a similar discussion with a group of Israeli friends – die-hard atheists – in Tel Aviv. We had plenty of time. We were having coffee, not at a Star Bucks on Dizengoff.


               “We’re called to be the light among nations – and look at us? Four thousand years down the pike. We’re not even close.”




               “God liberated us from Egypt and guided us to the Promised Land, and what became of us?”


               “Yes, but …”


               “In the Book of Exodus, God chose us to choose our ways, truths, and lives. Each day, God grants us the freedom to choose for ourselves, to be good, bad, or ugly. God wants us to choose good. Most don’t want God to tell us what to be or do. Let’s be frank.”


               “The last thing we want to be is a sucker, a ‘freier,’ in Yiddish.”


               “We Jews don’t want to be seen as freiers. We don’t want God to sucker us into what he wants us to be. We want to do it our way. We want God to do it our way, not vice versa.”


               “Is that what Jews have become.”


               “We’ve always been that way; well, most of us.”


               “So how has the Book of Exodus defined Jewry – from the beginning to now?”


               “Yahweh never leaves us. We leave Yahweh; well, many of us.”


Whether it is Ancient Israel or Modern Israel, historically and hysterically, Israel tends to shoot itself in both feet. Ancient Israel has shot both of its feet until there are no more feet left. If Modern Israel doesn't change for the better, it too will lose both feet.


Immediately after King Solomon's death around 927 BCE, the United Kingdom of Israel broke up into two quarreling and fighting independent kingdoms: the larger one, Israel, consisting of ten tribes, lasted until 722 BCE; the smaller one, Judah, lasted until 586 BCE.


Moshe Menuhin: "It was during this period that the glorious, severe, and despairing prophets tried to lift the standards of applied justice and moral decency one notch higher, as proclaimed by Moses many years before in the wilderness of Sinai. Outside of David and Solomon, we can hardly look back on any of the many kings and priests with much admiration or pride.


But the world will forever remember the names of Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, and Yeshua with the greatest admiration and reverence. It is the immortal spirit of dauntless moral independence that we revere in the prophets, not the old political independence fought over endlessly, sometimes in self-defense, and sometimes in offensive wars to carve out more territory, to rule over more enslaved people, to be richer at the expense of neighbors; and eventually, Israel itself. 63


Everyone deserves to be happy. “Today’s status quo, to a certainty, I promise you 100 percent, cannot be maintained. It’s not sustainable,” says former Secretary of State John Kerry. I cannot be more long-winded and persuasive.


Our only choice is to build the bridge and come together.


van Kempen, Abraham. Christian Zionism ... Enraptured Around a Golden Calf, 2nd Edition (Kindle Locations 2518-2552).




TED Explains the World with Ian Bremmer – January 2024



 Click Here to Watch the Video (42 minutes, 55 seconds)


TED Ideas worth spreading
Recorded on 8 January 2024


2024 will be a dangerous year for the world, says Ian Bremmer, president and founder of Eurasia Group and GZERO Media. Forecasting the top geopolitical risks set to play out in the months to come, he untangles what's in store for the war in Ukraine, the state of the Israel-Hamas conflict, and the tensions putting democracy in the United States to the test — all while AI continues to evolve faster than governments can regulate it.


Ian Bremmer helps business leaders, policymakers, and the general public make sense of the world around them.


Ian Bremmer is the president and founder of political risk research and consulting firm Eurasia Group and GZERO Media, a company dedicated to providing intelligent and engaging coverage of international affairs. He teaches at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs.


Bremer works as an independent voice on critical issues around the globe, offering insights through speeches, written commentary, and even satirical puppets. He serves as foreign affairs columnist and editor-at-large for TIME Magazine hosts GZERO World with Ian Bremmer, which airs weekly on US national public television and is a frequent guest on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and many other networks worldwide. He also created Wall Street's first global political risk index (GPRI) and established political risk as an academic discipline.


A prolific writer, Bremmer is the author of eleven books, including Us vs. Them: The Failure of Globalism, which examines the rise of populism across the world, and The Power of Crisis: How Three Threats—and Our Response—Will Change the World, which discusses how health emergencies, climate change, and the technological revolution will impact global prosperity.


What is the Side of the Story that is Not Yet Decisive? Edited by Abraham A. van Kempen.



Voters keep rejecting the colonial project, but institutional America won't take no for an answer.


Niall Ferguson about town


By Matt Taibbi
2 January 2024


Niall Ferguson, Scottish historian and Hoover Institution Fellow, published a Bloomberg column yesterday mourning the death of the imperial project.


Americans are incorrigible in their selfishness, it seems, insisting on domestic investment when they should be volunteering to die in faraway deserts and jungles with smiles on their faces, like 19th-century Britons:


               Most Americans are not enthusiastic about spending much of their lives in far-flung, hot, poor, and dangerous countries…

               Today, 57% of Republican voters and 51% of Independents say, "US interests are better served by using our resources to improve life for ordinary Americans at home.”

               A third agrees that “US interests are best served by supporting freedom and democracy worldwide when they are under threat.” I am with the minority on this question…

Ferguson lustily supported the War on Terror and never forgave George W. Bush for failing to commit enough lives to colonize Iraq, which in our combat-squeamish hands became, he lamented, “a Haiti on the Tigris.”

Now he’s beside himself that a population not even being asked to send its sons and daughters to death refuses to back the open-ended war in Ukraine. America’s “attention deficit disorder,” he complains, “is now so severe that the public expresses impatience with wars it is merely being asked to support with money and material.”

Ferguson reads like a parody of a UK imperialist, like Colonel Mustard reading The White Man’s Burden on an endless loop.

The tone of recent columns suggests he’s never interacted socially with someone worth less than two million dollars. In September, he conceded the US made commitments to Ukraine totaling $76.8 billion, and “like anything involving the word ‘billion,’ that sounds like a lot of money.” However, he wrote, that paltry sum “amounts to just 0.33% of US GDP,” a pittance compared to wars in Vietnam (five times that percentage) or Iraq (four times).

Never mind that Vietnam and Iraq were historic lessons in the futility of doubling down in the face of moral and strategic defeat.

The notion that $76.8 billion isn’t a lot of money was so wonderfully stupid that Paul Krugman of the New York Times immediately appropriated it. Krugman changed the bare minimum of words for his cut-and-paste job, like a “Biggest Loser” contestant expending just enough effort to reach the remote:

               In the 18 months after the Russian invasion, US aid totaled $77 billion. That may sound like a lot… But… Ukraine aid accounts for less than 1 percent of federal spending (less than 0.3 percent of GDP).

New York Times Opinion Columnist and Economist Paul Krugman couched the unwillingness to spend 1% of the budget as “Why MAGA wants to Betray Ukraine,” then quoted the American Enterprise Institute’s Michael Strain in saying this betrayal was a “Seinfeld Shutdown,” i.e., a revolt “about nothing.” Venturing into the unfamiliar waters of literary invention, Krugman then said he preferred the concept of a “Network shutdown, as in people shouting ‘I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!’”

Michael Strain’s Seinfeld metaphor made rhetorical sense. Still, the point of the brilliantly prescient Network was that ordinary people tend to boil over with justified rage when fed bullshit daily by mass-media hacks like, well, Paul Krugman. A “Network shutdown” is the opposite of a revolt “about nothing.”

The Nobel-winning columnist concluded of the unwillingness to spend on Ukraine, “Nothing short of a coup can satisfy this inchoate rage.” Voters, he said, object to war spending because “They want Putin to win” and are “enemies of democracy, both abroad and at home.”

Ferguson and Krugman represent a widening bubble of establishment buffoons who, like Scooby-Doo villains, really do regard voters as meddling kids gumming the works of empire.

Ferguson’s buddies at the Hoover Institution have been hammering the need for shows of force across the board: not just Ukraine but also Gaza and Taiwan. Visiting National Security fellow Jakub Grygiel took to the Wall Street Journal to rip the “illusion” that “greater trade and wealth produce peace,” arguing, as Hoover put it in last month’s national security briefing, that “only military power can defend and advance the interests of the US and its allies.” Former Deputy National Security Advisor Nadia Schadlow likewise complained that “the US and its allies have forgotten the central goal of geopolitics: to maintain the balance of military power.”

These people won’t be convinced that American voters have reasons to object to their policy ideas. It’s a trifle that the people asked to fight their Middle Eastern wars were told — by another Hoover/Stanford creature, incidentally, in Condoleezza Rice — they were doing so to protect America because we “don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” Just a year after Condi nearly scared the beard off Wolf Blitzer with that 2003 interview, Ferguson whined in the New York Times about America’s obsession with Vietnam and “quagmires,” offering a scolding reminder that Britain’s 19th-century experience taught that “colonial rule” will “require severity.”

Ferguson might have been right, but Americans never consented to fight and die for “colonial rule” and had every right to refuse to do so once it became clear that was the motive. They’ve rejected the colonial project at the ballot at least twice, first in 2008 with Barack Obama, whose “meteoric rise,” according even to Ferguson, was “based on not having supported the war,” then again — this is true. There’s no way around this — in 2016 when Donald Trump began promising to “keep America out of these endless, ridiculous, stupid, foreign wars in countries that you’ve never even heard of.”

Trump wasn’t any traditional antiwar figure, but his running commentary on America’s interventionist plan was hilarious and exactly what the average person would say if shown the ledger of recent Pentagon “accomplishments.”

               He had a talent for puking on Beltway war pieties, saying, “They can do what they want there, frankly” about Iran in Syria, or tweeting that the Kurds fought with us, but “but were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so.”

This behavior inspired fits among foreign policy wonks accustomed to having even their most idiotic pronouncements hailed as Timeless Wisdom. Still, Trump capturing votes of war-weary Americans in 2016 showed how the public felt about such people, and his recent campaign to stall the Ukraine project has been successful for the same reason.

Rather than listen to voters, the Beltway establishment has elected to denounce their judgments as ignorant, baseless, racist, and at least in the mind of Ferguson, grounded in something like cowardice, a lack of Victorian bottle. This is from a Scottish intellectual who’d surely end up dressed like a deer on the hood of an F-150 if he went to any VFW hall and repeated his tweedy lecture about Americans’ fear of “hot, poor, and dangerous” places.


Heading into a historic election season — or non-election season, as it seems after Colorado and Maine — there’s a reason we need to listen to these war party tantrums about voter intransigence. What’s the real motive for the extraordinary amount of anti-democratic intervention on the part of institutional America we’ve already seen in this cycle, not just about Trump, but candidates like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Marianne Williamson, Vivek Ramaswamy, and Cornel West?

The cover story is about fear of right-wing dictatorship, but it feels like the more likely explanation is that the establishment's patience with voters in general has been exhausted.

These people don’t know how to hide what they think. It’s a bit on-the-nose, for instance, that the same empire pimps at Stanford who worked with the National Endowment for Democracy (read: the CIA) to craft a playbook for dealing with “anti-democratic” behavior “to delegitimize elections” abroad also created the Election Integrity Partnership content moderation program at home to deal with posts about “delegitimization.”

You'll find the same language when describing the “inchoate rage” in Serbia or South Carolina.

In the early 2000s, the Fergusons of the world faulted American voters for failing to endorse the need for “severity” in dealing with insurgencies who refused to see the benevolence of empire.

Now, American voters are themselves the insurgency. Who thinks our thought leaders aren’t dumb enough to opt for “severity” at home, too?





"Each of us, in our way, has to find when we're ready to step out of our shiva and see a world of human suffering happening just over the border."


Palestinian women react following an Israeli strike at the European Hospital in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, January 9, 2024. Credit: Arafat Barbakh / REUTERS


Haaretz Israel
9 January 2024

Rabbi Sharon Brous, founder of the IKAR synagogue in Los Angeles, has been progressive Judaism's leading voice over the past decade, speaking out for equality and human rights, as well as the rabbinic figure of choice for the Biden-Harris White House.

Author of the new book "The Amen Effect: Ancient Wisdom to Mend Our Broken Hearts and World," Brous told Haaretz Podcast host Allison Kaplan Sommer that her world changed since October 7 and that, among other realizations, she reached the "painful awareness" that some of her allies on the left "who consider themselves real justice warriors," still "don't see Jews in that utopian anti-racist society that we have been dreaming about together."


Rabbi Sharon Brous Credit: Courtesy of Penguin Random House

At the same time, Brous said she is worried about "absolutist" forces in the US weaponizing the fight against antisemitism to combat "what people call 'woke,' which I believe is very dangerous not only for Jews but for our democracy."

Brous, whose new book focuses on Jewish mourning rituals, said it is understandable that even Jews on the progressive left are currently enmeshed in tribal grief as the war rages on. Her congregation in Los Angeles includes families of those murdered and kidnapped by Hamas.

Still, she said, "Each of us, in our way, has to find when we're ready to step out of our shiva and see that there is a world of human suffering happening just over the border." It is also about the society we want to live in ourselves. "At some point, our humanity is on the line. We Jews, who expect the world to see our pain, have a particular responsibility to see and understand Palestinian human suffering."




Light Outshines Darkness!



Click Here to Watch the Video (7 minutes, 31 seconds)


Chris Hedges
Emir-Stein Center
6 January 2020


Evil, even in the darkest moments, is impotent before the miracle of human kindness.


This miracle defies prejudices and hatred. It crosses cultures and religions. It lies at the core of faith. Take a brief journey through the eyes of American Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges to Jerusalem, Gaza, and Iraq, and discover the sacred bonds that make us human.



© Getty Images / Davide Zanin 



Click Here to Watch the Video (1 hour, 30 minutes, 22 seconds)


A Word from Saint Pope John Paul II


               "The twentieth century leaves us the legacy that warns us: wars are often the cause of further wars because they feed on deep feelings of hatred, create unfair situations, and trample on the dignity and rights of all involved.


               They generally do not solve the problems at the root of the conflicts. Therefore, besides inflicting terror and horror, they are also useless. With war, humanity remains the loser.


               Only in peace can respect for the dignity of men and women and their inalienable rights be ensured."


van Kempen, Abraham. Christian Zionism ... Enraptured Around a Golden Calf, 2nd Edition (Kindle Locations 2553-2557).



Editor’s Note | A Man of All Seasons with a Mission


Mr. Chris Hedges is an all-American. I admire and revere him. He taught me a lot.


Says Chris Hedges:


               “Daniel Berrigan told me that faith is the belief that the good draws to it the good. The Buddhists call this karma.


               But he said for us as Christians, we did not know where it went. We trusted that it went somewhere. But we did not know where.


               We are called to do the good, or at least the good so far as we can determinate it, and then let it go.


Chris Hedges, the son of a Presbyterian minister, was born on September 18, 1956 in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. He grew up in Schoharie, a rural farm town in upstate New York. Hedges was a scholarship student at The Eaglebrook School in Deerfield, Massachusetts, a pre-prep boarding school, and the boarding school Loomis-Chaffee in Windsor, Connecticut. He was the captain and MVP of the Loomis-Chaffee cross-country team. Hedges also wrestled and ran track. He founded an underground newspaper that was banned by the school authorities and saw him put on probation.

Hedges graduated from Colgate University with a B.A. in English Literature and a Master of Divinity (MDiv) from Harvard University. While at Harvard, he lived in the depressed community of Roxbury in Boston, where he ran a small church. He was also a member of The Greater Boston YMCA boxing team. He was awarded an honorary doctorate in 2009 from Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, California.

War Correspondent – Investigative Journalism

Hedges began work as a freelance journalist, writing for newspapers such as The Washington Post and covering the Falkland War from Buenos Aires for National Public Radio (NPR). He covered the wars in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala from 1983 to 1988, working from 1984 to 1988 as The Central America Bureau Chief for The Dallas Morning News.

Middle East Bureau Chief

In 1988, Hedges took a sabbatical to study Arabic. He was appointed the Middle East Bureau Chief for The Dallas Morning News in 1989. In one of his first stories for the paper, he tracked down Robert Manning, the prime suspect in the 1985 bombing death in California of Alex Odeh, head of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee’s Western office, in the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Israel, until Hedges discovered Manning, said it did not know Manning’s whereabouts. Manning, linked to the militant Jewish Defense League and allegedly behind several murders, was extradited to the United States in 1991, where he is serving a life sentence.


The Gulf War


Hedges was hired by The New York Times in 1990. He covered the first Gulf War for the paper, where he refused to participate in the military pool system that restricted the movement and reporting of journalists. He was arrested by the U.S. military and revoked his press credentials, but he continued defying the military restrictions to report outside the pool system. He entered Kuwait with the U.S. Marine Corps. He was taken prisoner in Basra after the war by the Iraqi Republican Guard during the Shiite uprising. He was freed after a week. Hedges was appointed the paper’s Middle East Bureau Chief in 1991. His reporting on the atrocities committed by Saddam Hussein in the Kurdish-held parts of northern Iraq saw the Iraqi leader offer a bounty for anyone who killed him, along with other Western journalists and aid workers in the region. Several aid workers and journalists, including the German reporter Lissy Schmidt, were assassinated, and others were severely wounded.


The Balkan Bureau Chief


Hedges became the Balkan Bureau Chief for The New York Times in 1995, reporting from the besieged city of Sarajevo. He later covered the war in Kosovo. He and his photographer, Wade Goddard, were the first journalists to travel with armed units of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) at the inception of the insurgency mounted against the occupying Serbs.


During 1998-1999, Hedges was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, where he studied classics.

Pulitzer Prize

After 9/11, Hedges was sent to Paris, where he covered Al-Qaeda in Europe and the Middle East. He was part of a team of reporters for The New York Times in 2002 that won a Pulitzer Prize for the paper's coverage of global terrorism. He won an Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism that same year.

Jeering and Booing and Escorted Out

In 2003, shortly after the war in Iraq began, Hedges was asked to give the commencement address at Rockford College in Rockford, Illinois. He told the graduating class, "…we are embarking on an occupation that, if history is any guide, will be as damaging to our souls as it will be to our prestige, power, and security."

He went on to say that "this is a war of liberation in Iraq, but it is a war of liberation by Iraqis from American occupation." As he spoke, several hundred audience members began jeering and booing. The crowd started to sing God Bless America. His microphone was cut twice. Two young men rushed the stage to try to prevent him from speaking, and Hedges had to cut short his address. He was escorted off campus by security officials before the diplomas were awarded.

This event made national news, and he became a lightning rod not only for right-wing pundits and commentators but also for mainstream newspapers. The Wall Street Journal ran an editorial that denounced his anti-war stance, and The New York Times issued a formal reprimand, forbidding Hedges to speak about the war. The reprimand condemned his remarks as undermining the paper's impartiality. Hedges resigned shortly after that.

From 2006 until 2020, he wrote a weekly column for the progressive website Truthdig. He and the entire editorial staff were fired in March 2020 after they went on strike to protest the publisher’s attempt to remove the Editor-in-Chief, Robert Scheer, and demand an end to a series of unfair labor practices and the right to form a union.

Hedges hosts the Emmy-nominated RT America show On Contact. He previously hosted the show Days of Revolt on TeleSur.

Ordained as Presbyterian Minister – Prison Ministry

Hedges was ordained in 2014 as a Presbyterian minister to work in prison ministry. The theologian James Cone preached at the ordination along with Cornel West. The service was oriented toward the victims of mass incarceration. The family and friends of many of the students Hedges taught in the college degree program offered by Rutgers University in New Jersey prisons attended the service.

He became vegan in 2014, writing that “animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than all worldwide transportation combined.”

A Teacher at Heart

Hedges has taught at Columbia University, New York University, Princeton University, and The University of Toronto. He has taught in the B.A. program run by Rutgers University for men and women in the New Jersey prison system since 2013. The Passage Theater in Trenton produced the play Caged in 2018, in which Hedges helped his incarcerated students write about their struggles with poverty, police violence, and mass incarceration. The play was published by Haymarket Books in 2020.

Hedges authored twelve books, including the best-seller War is A Force That Gives Us Meaning (2002), which examines what war does to individuals and societies.

His other books include What Every Person Should Know About War (2003), Losing Moses on the Freeway: The Ten Commandments in America (2005), American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America (2007); another New York Times best-seller, I Don't Believe in Atheists (2008); Collateral Damage (2008), which he co-wrote with Laila Al-Arian; Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle (2009); Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt (2012); which he co-wrote with Joe Sacco and was also on The New York Times best-seller list, The World As It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress (2013); Wages of Rebellion (2015); Unspeakable (2016); where David Talbot and America interviewed him The Farewell Tour (2019).

Hedges was active in 2011 Occupy Wall Street. He and Cornel West held a People's Hearing of Goldman Sachs, culminating in a march on Goldman Sachs where Hedges and other activists were arrested.


Hedges V. Obama

In 2012, after the Obama Administration signed the National Defense Authorization Act or NDAA, Hedges sued members of the U.S. government, asserting that section 2021 of the law unconstitutionally allowed presidential authority for indefinite detention without habeas corpus. He was later joined in the suit, Hedges v. Obama, by activists including Noam Chomsky and Daniel Ellsberg. In May 2012, Judge Katherine B. Forrest of the Southern District of New York ruled that the counter-terrorism provision of the NDAA was unconstitutional. The Obama administration appealed the decision, and it was overturned. Hedges petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case, but the Supreme Court denied certiorari in April 2014.

Hedges is married to the Canadian actor Eunice Wong. They have two children. Hedges has two children from a previous marriage. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey.



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