Common Grounds

Our Friday News Analysis | What the World Reads Now!

January 19, 2024


For Millenia, the Israeli-Palestinian Quest to Co-exist

is the Story of Mice and Men


The Hague, The Netherlands 19 January 2024 | If you know of any story that is decisive, tell the world. We're still searching.




Making a Difference – The Means, Methods, and Mechanism for Many to Move Mountains

Our Friday News Analysis | What the World Reads Now!

Photo Credit: Abraham A. van Kempen, our home away from home on the Dead Sea


By Abraham A. van Kempen
Senior Editor
Updated 19 January 2024

Those who commit to 'healing our broken humanity' build intercultural bridges to learn to know and understand one another and others. Readers who thumb through the Building the Bridge (BTB) pages are not mindless sheep following other mindless sheep. They THINK. They want to be at the forefront of making a difference. They're in search of the bigger picture to expand their horizons. They don't need BTB or anyone else to confirm their biases.


Making a Difference – The Means, Methods, and Mechanism for Many to Move Mountains


Accurate knowledge promotes understanding, dispels prejudice, and awakens the desire to learn more. Words have an extraordinary power to bring people together, divide them, forge bonds of friendship, or provoke hostility. Modern technology places unprecedented possibilities for good at our disposal, fostering harmony and reconciliation. Yet its misuse can do untold harm, leading to misunderstanding, prejudice, and conflict.


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The primaries have started. Trump wins easily in Iowa. Haley and DeSantis muddle along. Someone else's affair now shakes up a Trump lawsuit. Speaker Johnson made his first deal with the Democrats.


Trump celebrates his victory on Monday evening in Des Moines, Iowa. Photo Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images via AFP


By Emilie van Outeren, US Correspondent
NRC The Netherlands
16 January 2024


Not even close


Just as the polls depicted and his opponents feared, Donald Trump sled smoothly through the snow of Iowa to victory on Monday. The entirely unrepresentative and often difficult-to-predict primaries in this small and conservative state show how firm Trump's grip is on the Republican Party. No blizzard, criminal case, lie, or desire for revenge will stop his fans from voting for him. Even, or perhaps especially, with a turnout of about 109,000 voters hampered by winter weather, his are the most loyal. More than 50 percent of caucus-goers want him back in the White House. A score is usually only awarded to the sitting president, an incumbent. Ron DeSantis (21 percent) and Nikki Haley (19 percent) are left behind. Vivek Ramaswamy followed Chris Christie and dropped out of the race.


I went to Iowa last week to ask why evangelicals, orthodox Protestants who turned a blind eye to the godless Trump in 2016, love him so much now. It is always good to hear this on the spot from voters themselves and not rely on assumptions. For example, I assumed the blossoming love was mainly due to the three conservative judges that Trump (and Mitch McConnell) appointed to the Supreme Court. Of course, pastors and faithful churchgoers I asked said they are applauding Trump for destroying the nation's right to abortion.


But much more often, they mentioned general concerns of the conservative (white) middle class: about migration over which they have no control, law and order, economic setbacks, and international uncertainty. "When Trump was president, I felt safe," I heard. They still see him as an outsider who fights against the established order. They often do not know what he is being prosecuted for and with what evidence, but they do know that he is innocent anyway. After all, the 2020 elections were not fair. One argument I heard for this: "It can't be that Biden won because I don't know anyone who voted for him." This country is that polarized.


These voters are far from ready for a post-Trump era in which someone like Ron DeSantis uses complicated abbreviations for diversity policy or Nikki Haley wants to become much more intensively involved in conflicts overseas. Both represent a flank of the Republican Party. DeSantis represents the part that wants Trump's policies but not Trump's disorder. Haley represents the part of the party that Trump never liked. Trump's resounding victory in Iowa shows that those two flanks are not enough to prevent him from a new candidacy. Due to DeSantis' relatively good result and Haley's forecasts for the next election rounds, they remain in the race for now.


Nikki Haley on the campaign trail in New Hampshire. Photo Charles Krupa/AP


To New Hampshire - and beyond


The following primary could be slightly different in New Hampshire on Tuesday, 23 January. This small, white, northern state also has an above-average level of education, and you do not have to be a registered Republican to vote in the primary. That presents more opportunities for Haley than DeSantis. But, significantly, American media are already speculating who will be Trump's running mate. A vice president is, in any case, quite significant, but with a 78-year-old candidate with several criminal cases under his belt, the stakes are even higher. Will it be (someone like) Haley, a woman of color with a more moderate profile? Or an ever-loyal hardliner who will continue the MAGA agenda if something happens to Trump? He says he already knows. And he shared a piece from a far-right site this week that speculated that Haley's Indian parents would disqualify her from running for president—a similar birther setup as before against Obama.


Before Trump starts campaigning in New Hampshire, he will be back in court in New York on Tuesday. This time, it was for the defamation case brought against him by the writer E. Jean Carroll. She accused him of rape - a previous judge found it sexual abuse - and was already awarded five million dollars in damages. Now, she wants him to stop calling her a liar. A new fine should act as a deterrent for Trump, who tries to verbally destroy everything and everyone he comes into legal contact with. In that regard, he has new ammunition in Georgia: chief prosecutor Fani Willis is said to have had an affair with one of the assistant prosecutors in the election interference case there. It is entirely unclear how that could have affected the case. But Trump loyalist Marjorie Taylor-Greene sees a criminal plot in it, and Willis says it's all racism.


What is more interesting is how things turn out with Trump's claimed immunity for everything he has done as president. Special Prosecutor Jack Smith must first appeal and then go to the Supreme Court to begin his case on 6 January. According to Trump's lawyers, immunity from prosecution goes so far that a president can eliminate his political opponents without suffering consequences.


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


Editor’s Note | False! Trump's lawyer argues that a president can order Seal Team Six to assassinate his political rival if Congress is cool with it.


Former President Donald Trump at the Trump Organization civil fraud trial in New York Supreme Court in Manhattan. Mike Segar/Getty Images


False! Trump's team has claimed he has immunity from criminal prosecution over his actions when he was in office.

True! An appeals court judge stress-tested Tuesday's argument by posing a series of wild hypotheticals.

• False! Trump's lawyer said a president couldn't be prosecuted over an assassination if Congress were OK with it.


Read Matt Taibbi’s analysis, ‘More Lunatic Legal Coverage,’ below.



Media reports say Donald Trump's attorney claimed presidential immunity would "extend to political assassinations." Here's what he said


Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz can’t hear you. He has a banana in his ear


By Matt Taibbi
Racket News –
12 January 2024

Reporters keep plunging to bizarre new lows in coverage of Donald Trump. The new jam: his lawyer argued presidents could assassinate rivals. Except he didn’t at all.

Trump’s “election interference” criminal case is on hold pending an appeal heard by a trio of judges this week. Citing a traditional interpretation of Article II of the Constitution, the former president asserts he must be impeached and convicted in the Senate before being criminally tried for any official act.

MSNBC, in an article by former New York County prosecutor Jordan Rubin, unsurprisingly panned the claim, “Trump’s immunity argument highlights the absurdity of his position.” The relatively restrained Rubin wrote:

Donald Trump didn’t have a strong chance of winning his immunity claim heading into oral arguments Tuesday in Washington, and the argument itself showed why… Judge Florence Pan pointed out that, under Trump’s theory, a president could order SEAL Team Six to murder the president’s political rivals and, so long as they’re not convicted in an impeachment trial, they’re off the hook.

That’s not Trump’s argument highlighting the absurdity of anything, and more like Judge Pan’s doing so, but whatever. Rubin also said Trump is a good bet to lose his argument, adding, “Trump lawyer John Sauer asked the panel to pause any decision against the former president” while “he challenges it on higher appeal.”

I take no position on the strength or lack of Trump’s immunity claim, but I’ve seen Sauer in court in the Missouri v. Biden case. This attorney is an oral argument specialist, in the way Vince Carter stood out a bit as a dunker. So, the idea of him being posterized in court was an eyebrow-raiser.

Even more incredible was a parade of reports claiming that Trump argued the “SEAL Team Six” idea. “Sen. Schatz warns of ‘new turn’ for Trump with ‘Seal Team 6’ claim” was the header for a Chris Hayes interview with Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz. Schatz said it was “one thing” when Trump was “essentially engaging in stochastic terrorism.” Still, here, “the official position of Trump’s lawyers is going to be that he could order a murder of his political rivals using SEAL Team 6.”

Wow. Really? Yes, according to Newsweek, which wrote in its opening paragraph:

Democratic Senator Brian Schatz has claimed “American democracy is at stake” in the upcoming presidential election after Donald Trump’s attorney argued presidential immunity would extend to political assassinations during a Washington, DC court case.

There’s a long list of similar headlines. The Hill: “Trump team argues assassination of rivals is covered by presidential immunity.” Mediaite: “Trump Lawyer Argues Presidents CAN Order Seal Team 6 To Assassinate Rivals In Stunning Appeals Courtroom Exchange.” The Bulwark, semi-humorously: “Trump’s Lawyers Argue Biden Can Assassinate Him.”

Maryland’s Jamie Raskin, gaining fast in the always-heated race for a rep as the dumbest current member of Congress, fretted to fellow gentleman-scholar Wolf Blitzer on CNN:

As a member of Congress, my first thought was, well, then, if the president is going to order out for the assassination of his political rivals and say there’s a narrow margin in the Senate of a two or three vote in the opposition party, what’s to keep him from murdering members of the Senate to make sure that he doesn’t get convicted there to deny a two-thirds majority?

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A newsletter about the history behind today's politics: "I'm a history professor interested in the contrast between image and reality in American politics. I believe in American democracy, despite its frequent failures.”



By Heather Cox Richardson
17 January 2024


[Warning: paragraphs 6–8 talk about rape.]

In yesterday’s Iowa caucus, 51% of Republican caucus-goers chose former president Donald Trump as their preferred candidate for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. Twenty-one percent of Republican caucus-goers chose Florida governor Ron DeSantis. Nineteen percent chose former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley. Seven percent chose technology entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy. These results mean that 20 of Iowa’s 40 delegates will go to Trump, 8 to DeSantis, 7 to Haley, and three to Ramaswamy. Ramaswamy, an apparent Trump surrogate in the primary debates, suspended his campaign after the caucus and endorsed Trump.

Turnout was much lower than expected, with only about 110,000 people voting. That’s about 15% of Iowa’s three-quarters of a million registered Republicans out of a population of just over 3 million people.

On Friday, January 12, in Des Moines, DeSantis blamed right-wing media for Trump’s continued popularity. “He’s got a Praetorian Guard of the conservative media—Fox News, the websites, all this stuff,” DeSantis said, referring to the elite unit of the Roman army that protected the emperor both physically and through intelligence collecting. “They just don’t hold him accountable because they’re worried about losing viewers and don’t want the ratings to go down. And that’s just the reality.”

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Grieving relatives at Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis this month. Credit: AFP


Aeyal Gross
Haaretz Israel
15 January 2024

The hearings held last week at the International Court of Justice in The Hague focused on whether Israel violates the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

The case brought by South Africa reflects the belief of observers worldwide, according to which Israel's extensive killing of Palestinians in Gaza crosses the genocide threshold. Claiming genocide brings with it a distinct shock value, alongside duties from the Convention to prevent genocide and to prohibit incitement to genocide.

But such a claim also has a procedural reason: the International Court of Justice has jurisdiction over contentious cases between states only based on states' consent.

The genocide convention has a jurisdiction clause where member states agree that disputes concerning the Convention will be brought to the Court. As a result of the global discourse and the legal proceedings, and partly because of the jurisdiction question, debate in Israel and around the world became focused on the question of genocide.

As explained here last week, to prove genocide, it is necessary to show both a physical and a mental element: one or more acts have to be done with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group.

The acts that can fulfill the physical element include killing members of the group, causing severe bodily harm or mental harm to members of the group, and deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.

As there is no doubt that Israel has killed many Palestinians in Gaza and caused bodily harm to many others, the issue on which South Africa's claims will rise, or fall is the question of intent: Does Israel want to target Palestinians in Gaza as such, as South Africa claims, or only Hamas members, as Israel claims.

It will take a while until the final judgment is given. But within a few weeks, the Court is expected to render its decision regarding the request for interim measures. To provide such measures, it is enough that it will be convinced that South Africa's claims are plausible.

In the background, there are factual but also interpretive disputes about how to interpret "genocide" today. As expected, the Israeli legal team presented factual and legal arguments to support Israel's argument that the Convention does not apply to the current case.

However, the polarized "genocide – yes or no" debate comes with a price. Genocide is not the only prohibited act in international law. The laws of war prohibit indiscriminate attacks, i.e., ones that do not make the distinction between combatants and civilians.


Israeli soldiers operate in the Gaza Strip in a picture released on Sunday. Credit: IDF / Reuters

It requires that states take precautionary measures to prevent damage to civilians. Attacks are also prohibited if they were launched intentionally, knowing they will cause incidental loss of life to civilians in a way excessive to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated from them.

Violating some of these rules may reach the level of war crimes, even without the more complex to prove the unique intent required in the crime of genocide.


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Despite proceedings at the International Court of Justice, Benjamin Netanyahu made clear Israel has no intention to relent in its genocidal attack on Gaza: “Nobody will stop us – not The Hague, not the axis of evil, and not anybody else.”


Benjamin Netanyahu


By Jonathan Ofir
January 15, 2024


Jonathan Ofir is an Israeli musician, conductor, and blogger/writer in Denmark.

The South African legal team argued its case against Israel’s genocide in Gaza at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague last Thursday. It was a breathtaking three-hour session, with several exquisite, morally astute speeches, like that of Irish barrister Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh. I was awestruck at the detail and the overview. These speeches must be preserved for posterity as some of the most important in history. Their summation rang like a bell meant to shake the entire world, such as when Ní Ghrálaigh intoned,


               “The world should be outraged… There is no safe space in Gaza, and the world should be ashamed”.


But Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is not ashamed. If he is outraged at anything, it is about the “hypocritical onslaught at The Hague against the state of the Jews.”

On Saturday, in a nine-minute live speech (in Hebrew) on Israeli Channel 14, Netanyahu once again evoked the “war of the sons of light against the sons of darkness,” the same imagery he used back in October. He also directly defied the ICJ:

               “Nobody will stop us – not The Hague, not the axis of evil, and not anybody else.

It requires sheer gall to refer like this to the International Court of Justice, the highest legal authority of the UN, which represents the highest international consensus on international law.

To suggest that its rulings will have no consequence is blatantly offensive. In addition, Netanyahu also lied in his speech, claiming that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called Hamas the “new Nazis” when in fact it was Netanyahu himself who said that. But Netanyahu doesn’t care about the truth or tarnishing the ICJ. He was speaking in Hebrew to his crowd. And while his scandalous dismissal of the ICJ made headlines, Netanyahu’s speech included other chilling warnings that Israel has no plans to relent in its genocidal attack.

The conclusion of his speech, which has not been widely reported on, included yet another biblical reference that subtly hints at divine revenge on Israel’s enemies, similar to his infamous Amalek reference (where that ancient nation was to be eradicated down to babies and animals).

“As said in the week’s bible episode,” Netanyahu said,

               “Then they will live in their land, which I gave to my servant Jacob. They will live there in safety and will build houses and plant vineyards.”

The quote is from Ezekiel 28:25, 26. On its face, it seems benign, but the quote continues. Netanyahu omitted the full quote in his speech, but those who know their bible, like the religious-nationalist base that Netanyahu heavily relies upon, will understand the message.

The quote continues:

               “They will live safely when I punish all their neighbors who maligned them. Then they will know that I am the LORD their God.”

After the biblical citation, Netanyahu ended the speech by saying: “Together we will fight, and together, with the help of God, we will win.”


Editor’s Note | Who’s been maligning whom?

               25 “‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: When I gather the people of Israel from the nations where they have been scattered, I will be proved holy through them in the sight of the nations. Then they will live in their own land, which I gave to my servant Jacob.

               26 They will live there safely, build houses, and plant vineyards; they will live safely when I punish all their neighbors who maligned them. Then they will know that I am the Lord their God.’”

               __ Ezekiel 28:25, 26

Who are they who will live on their own land? Aren’t many Palestinians more Israelite – genetically linked to Jacob – than most ‘Jews’ who wandered into the land from Eastern Europe and elsewhere? Just look at them! Many European Jews who colonized the land don’t even look like they’re from the land. Conduct a DNA test! It will show that most European Jews are more European, and most Palestinians are more Middle Eastern with direct genetic links to the ancient Israelites, the seed of Abraham.

Click on the 5-part series, A Shared Identity:

Our Friday News Analysis | 29 December 2023, 'A Shared Identity (Part 5 of 5): Cut from the Same Cloth.'.

Our Friday News Analysis | 22 December 2023, 'A Shared Identity (Part 4 of 5): Defiling God’s Covenant of Righteousness and Justice.'.

Our Friday News Analysis | 15 December 2023, 'A Shared Identity (Part 3 of 5): Defying the Priesthood of Memory.'.


Our Friday News Analysis | 8 December 2023, 'A Shared Identity (Part 2 of 3).'.

Our Friday News Analysis | 1 December 2023, 'A Shared Identity (Part 1 of 3).'.




Back to Jonathan Ofir

We should take these words very seriously. This is Israel’s prime minister. And yet, some are still trying to explain away these repeated calls for genocide as exceptions. Incredibly, even liberal outlets like Haaretz are counseling that Israel’s best defense at the ICJ would be for Netanyahu to fire the extremist ministers who utter such things – when he is saying these things all the time!


And then there is Fania Oz-Salzberger, Amos Oz’s daughter, who suggested that these genocidal calls are all just examples of “wild freedom of speech,” and “loudmouths crying Genocide and Amalek” who are “not aware of the profound dissonance, the huge damage, the justified outrage.” In line with Haaretz and the New York Times, she suggests it’s just about bad apples: “Only a small minority wants actual genocide in Gaza and are morally crippled enough to carry it through: the extreme national-religious right.” And “No, Israel is not conducting genocide… But its ongoing rant about ‘flattening Gaza’ is no longer a quaint side effect of our argumentative heritage.”


This is absurd – Oz-Salzberger is attempting to outdo her father when it comes to peddling hasbara.


An overwhelming majority of the Israeli population supports the genocide. They just call it something else, like self-defense. Most of them think too little firepower is being used, and most of them support the “voluntary emigration” plan (ethnic cleansing if one is in doubt).


All of these words, both Netanyahu’s as well as those of liberal propagandists, are part of the same genocidal reality. Israel is committing genocide, and the world has a responsibility to protect the Palestinians. Netanyahu has announced he will stop at nothing, even if the highest court in the world says he must.

So, we must stand with the Palestinians against this Israeli axis of evil.


So, we must stand with the Palestinians against this Israeli axis of evil.




Editor’s Note | Excerpts from my book


Quoting the Bible and using terror to spread panic were ancient devices for ‘redeeming’ a ‘Promised Land’ and cleansing out the native population.

By Abraham A. van Kempen


From David Ben-Gurion and Menachem Begin to Peres and Shamir to Lieberman and Netanyahu, they only had to look up the Book of Joshua before applying the old methods of terror in Palestine at Deir Yassin on April 9, 1948, at Qibya on October 14– 15, 1953, and in countless – too many to mention – subsequent massacres, haunting the indigenous Palestinians to this day.


Ben-Gurion is known for his artful tactics of leaning on and quoting the Bible, as reported by The New York Times on October 14, 1956, in its Sunday Magazine section:


               “On the corner of the Premier’s glass-topped desk lie two books he always has within reach, a copy of the Old Testament and a big, thick Biblical Concordance, to help him find passages he seeks. Ben-Gurion’s fierce attachment to the Bible sometimes seems paradoxical. He hardly speaks without quoting biblical passages. Yet, he does not feel bound by Biblical Laws.” 4


Parenthetically, David Green, aka David Ben-Gurion, once beheld many Palestinians as ‘cousins,’ an admixture of ancient Israelites, a sort of blending of earlier Semites, Indo-Aryans, and Hittite conquerors and settlers, and God knows what else, the details of which were eclipsed by his grander ambitions.


Systematically and mercilessly, Israel perpetrates crimes against humanity by displacing and dispossessing the Palestinians from their homes, seizing their properties, and rounding them up to be caged behind iron curtains in concentration camps.


Whenever I give a talk on Israel – Palestine I start by quoting Yasser Arafat:


               “Their causes do not stem from conflict between two religions or nationalisms. Neither is it a border conflict between neighboring states. It is the cause of a people deprived of their homeland, dispersed and uprooted, and living mostly in exile and refugee camps.” 5


How does one explain the obsession to possess, the ecstasy, the deification of the Jewish state, their Golden Calf, as an end in itself at this late hour in the history of the Jewish people and in the history of the world?


How much of historical Judaism – how deep, how old, how Jewish – is there behind the newfangled ‘Jewish’ radical ultra-nationalism? 6


van Kempen, Abraham. Christian Zionism ... Enraptured Around a Golden Calf, Stuck Between Morality and Idolatry,' and 'Evangelicals – Rediscovering New Testament Revelations, 2nd Edition, (Kindle Locations 2032-2047).






As another showdown with Trump looms, Biden’s record abroad is his most significant liability


President Biden participates in a service event at Philabundance, a non-profit food bank, to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Philadelphia on Monday. / Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images.


By Seymour Hersh
17 January 2024

Donald Trump won big in Iowa this week, as anyone with an ounce of sense knew would happen, despite days of dishonest and tedious wishful thinking from CNN and MSNBC, and some print media, about the possibility of a Haley surge in Iowa that could carry over to New Hampshire.

Forget about that. The Republican nominee will be Donald Trump unless the courts stop him, and at this point, the odds are that he, if untethered, will sweep to victory this November and could bring the House and Senate with him.

The Democratic response, with a few exceptions, has been to enter a state of denial. In my Washington world, the looming disaster is swept aside by loyal Democrats who insist that Biden beat Trump once before and he can do it again. Those who complain, or duty note, the lack of political viability of Vice President Kamala Harris are told they are racist or a misogynist.

Biden’s initial accomplishments—legislation that improved the daily lives of millions of Americans in desperate need—have been etched away by a series of foreign policy blunders that stem from ignorance and the visceral Russophobia that made him. His foreign policy aides refused to assure Russian President Vladimir Putin before he pulled the trigger that the United States would never support Ukraine’s entry into NATO, with fuller elaboration that might have been enough to keep the Russian ruler from launching a war that was far from necessary.

Last November, an analysis by Michael von der Schulenburg, a retired United Nations official, Hajo Funke, a political scientist, and General Harald Kujat, the highest-ranking German officer of the Bundeswehr and at NATO before his retirement, concluded that a settlement of the war was possible in March 2022, one month after Russia began its invasion of Ukraine. The paper, whose findings were widely reported in Europe but not in the United States, said that the talks were sabotaged by objections from NATO as well as the Biden administration and the British government then headed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Nonetheless, secret peace talks are still ongoing between the leading generals of Russia and Ukraine, with an agreement about an exchange of prisoners on the verge of being worked out. It was the release of American prisoners of war by North Vietnam that was the critical factor in ending that war. It’s not clear where the Biden administration stands on such a deal. It’s also not known whether Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is in any way involved with the talks. At this point, it seems unlikely.

Biden’s support for Israel and its wildly disproportionate response—the heavy bombing that still goes on—to the horrors of the Hamas’ October 7 raid is on the record: “We’ve got your back,” he famously told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, referring to the bombs and other arms that continue to flow to Israel, most recently without Congressional approval, as mandated by law. The president talks about a ceasefire but has made no specific on-the-record demand to Tel Aviv for such. Millions around the world, including untold thousands in America, have been protesting America’s support for Israel’s war, but the president hangs on. The best defense he can muster is his claim that he has raised the issue of a ceasefire with the Israelis.

The most explicit expression of Biden's view of American responsibilities after October 7 came in a televised speech on October 19, after his second, very brief visit to Tel Aviv, when he and Secretary of State Antony Blinken sat in on an Israeli national security meeting. It was a time when the ferocity of the Israeli bombing attacks on the homes and apartment buildings throughout Gaza City, with their many thousands of civilian casualties, had just begun raising questions. Israel was responding to the Hamas attack by targeting everything standing in Gaza.

“I know we have our divisions at home,” Biden said. “We have to get past them. We can’t let petty, partisan, angry politics hinder our responsibilities as a great nation. We cannot and will not let terrorists like Hamas and tyrants like Putin win. I refuse to let that happen.” He asked Congress for a $100 billion foreign aid appropriation that included funding for both Israel and Ukraine.

The last two weeks have seen Biden decide to order the US Navy to attack the Houthis of Yemen, who have been firing missiles for weeks in a successful effort to force some of the world’s largest shipping companies to avoid the ten-day shortcut between the West and the Far East by no longer risking to sail via the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. The missiles will not stop, the Houthis say, until Israel ends its bombardment and permits the flow of needed food, water, medicines, and other life-saving aid to the terrified civilians of Gaza. As of this writing, there have been three rounds of attacks, by sea and air, by American and British ships and aircraft. The Houthis, revolutionary Shiites whose launchers are mobile and can be easily hidden, are still at it. The New York Times reported this week that the continuing Houthis campaign has “made clear how difficult it might prove to remove the threat posed to shipping in and around the Red Sea.”

The Pentagon planners might have done well to check with the Saudis before bombing Yemen. As Princeton professor of Near Eastern studies Bernard Haykel writes in a 2021 essay, the Saudis “somewhat mistakenly” viewed the Houthis as purely an Iranian proxy force akin to Hezbollah. This Shiite militia now plays a prominent political role in Lebanon and is still seen by Israel as a significant threat. “The Houthis are indeed close allies of Iran, but they have a distinctly more radical ideology about transforming society. . . . Indeed, the Houthis’ revolutionary program can be compared to the Vietcong.”

The Viet Cong? Haykel invokes the guerilla fighters that successfully confronted the United States, with much aid from North Vietnam, after more than a decade of brutal fighting that cost America 58,000 dead as well as the deaths of 1.6 million Vietnamese soldiers, 260,000 Cambodian soldiers, and 2 million civilians in the region.

In a war that was initiated in 2015 by then-defense minister Mohammed bin Salman, now the crown prince, and was marked by incessant Saudi bombing of Houthi targets, it took the Saudis only seven years to say uncle and seek a settlement with the Houthis. America was a vital Saudi ally in that war, supplying intelligence, weaponry, and airborne refueling for Saudi fighter jets. One major factor in the settlement was the Houthis’ continued ability, despite the constant barrage of Saudi bombs and strafing, to fire missiles that struck key targets, many related to the production of oil, in eastern Saudi Arabia.


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Credit: Mark Schiefelbein / AP, David Bachar, Itai Ron, Menahem Kahana / AP


Haaretz Podcast Israel
17 January 2024

In a special edition of the Haaretz Podcast, host Allison Kaplan Sommer and the Haaretz editorial team asked subscribers worldwide what they saw as the most urgent questions as the Israel-Hamas conflict passed the 100-day mark.

After going through an overwhelming number of questions, we realized we couldn't answer them all in one 45-minute episode, but we did our best to choose the queries that seemed to be the most popular and intriguing. We then relayed them to the journalists who cover Israel, Gaza, Washington, and beyond daily to get their answers and share them with podcast listeners.

Is there any way to get rid of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu? What do Israelis know and think about the level of death and destruction in Gaza? How does Israel decide when to assassinate a Hamas leader? Should Israel be more worried about progressive Democrats or the possible election of Donald Trump and the rise of the far right? What will the future look like for Israel and Gaza once this conflict is over? Should Israel go out of its way to protect Diaspora Jews?

In this episode, you can listen to the answers given by Haaretz editor-in-chief Aluf Benn, Haaretz English editor-in-chief Esther Solomon, Haaretz analysts Anshel Pfeffer, Yossi Melman, Alon Pinkas, and Dahlia Scheindlin, and Haaretz correspondents Sheren Falah Saab and Ben Samuels.


EDITORIAL | Of Mice and Men


John Steinbeck's ‘Of Mice and Men’ is a parable about being human. Steinbeck's story of George and Lennie's ambition of owning their own ranch and the obstacles that stand in the way reveal the nature of dreams, dignity, loneliness, and sacrifice.


It's an allegory for men and women who dream and have “plans.” Whether it's George's dream of financial stability and life in a modern paradise or Curley's Wife, who thinks she “could have been in movies,” many of the characters in ‘Of Mice and Men’ have a dream, and they are the ones who end up dead or broken-hearted.


In essence, ‘Of Mice and Men’ is as much a story about the nature of human dreams and aspirations and the forces that work against them as it is the story of two men. Humans give meaning to their lives and futures by creating dreams.


Like many of Steinbeck's works, ‘Of Mice and Men’ is about individuals' lack of control over their lives.




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Our Friday News Analysis | 5 January 2024, 'Holier-Than-Thou Missed Opportunities.'.


Our Friday News Analysis | 29 December 2023, 'A Shared Identity (Part 5 of 5): Cut from the Same Cloth.'.


Our Friday News Analysis | 22 December 2023, 'A Shared Identity (Part 4 of 5): Defiling God’s Covenant of Righteousness and Justice.'.


Our Friday News Analysis | 15 December 2023, 'A Shared Identity (Part 3 of 5): Defying the Priesthood of Memory.'.


Our Friday News Analysis | 8 December 2023, 'A Shared Identity (Part 2 of 3).'.


Our Friday News Analysis | 1 December 2023, 'A Shared Identity (Part 1 of 3).'.


Our Friday News Analysis | 24 November 2023, 'Shooting Themselves in Both Feet. Soon, There Won’t Be Any Feet Left.'


Our Friday News Analysis | 17 November 2023, 'We, Too, Choose ONE side – JUSTICE!'


Our Friday News Analysis | 10 November 2023, 'Will Humanity Ever Learn, "You Reap What You Sow?"'


Our Friday News Analysis | 03 November 2023, 'How Do You Love Your Enemies? HAVE NONE!


Our Friday News Analysis | 27 October 2023, 'Tafasta Merube lo Tafasta – If You Grab Too Much, You've Caught Nothing.'


Our Friday News Analysis | 20 October 2023, 'BREAKING NEWS! The NEIGHBORS Want PEACE.'


Our Friday News Analysis | 13 October 2023, 'Will the People of the Region Ever Greet Each Other with, "Welcome Home?"




Our Wednesday News Analysis | 17 January 2024, '‘War on Gaza: The West will stand in the dock alongside Israel at the genocide court'.


Our Wednesday News Analysis | 10 January 2024, '‘Why we have to make the Jewish Ghetto comparison'.


Our Wednesday News Analysis | 3 January 2024, '‘Are we the baddies?’ Western support for genocide in Gaza means the answer is yes'.


Our Wednesday News Analysis | 27 December 2023, 'Our Wednesday News Analysis | Israel-Palestine war: How Gaza changed global politics'.


Our Wednesday News Analysis | 20 December 2023, 'Opinion | Israel Killed Thousands of Children in Gaza. How Can So Many Israelis Remain Indifferent?'


Our Wednesday News Analysis | 13 December 2023, 'Israel-Palestine war: For Netanyahu and his political allies, peace is more dangerous than war.'


Our Wednesday News Analysis | 6 December 2023, 'Israel has a long history of taking Palestinian children captive.'


Our Wednesday News Analysis | 29 November 2023, 'Behind the mask.'


Our Wednesday News Analysis | 22 November 2023, 'Dear President Biden: The Elders' open letter on Israel and Palestine.'


Our Wednesday News Analysis | 15 November 2023, 'Condemn if you wish, but Palestinians will pay a heavy price.'


Our Wednesday News Analysis | 08 November 2023, 'Why Israel wants to erase context and history in the war on Gaza.'


Our Wednesday News Analysis | 01 November 2023, 'Israel's Long-Held Plan to Drive Gaza's People into Sinai is Now Within Reach.'

Our Wednesday News Analysis | 25 October 2023, 'Israel-Palestine war: Israel is caught lying time and again. And yet we never learn.'

Our Wednesday News Analysis | 18 October 2023, 'A Textbook Case of Genocide.'

Our Wednesday News Analysis | 13 October 2023, The West's hypocrisy towards Gaza's breakout is stomach-turning.'

Our Wednesday News Analysis | 04 October 2023, 'Normalization and co-resistance.'




The Evangelical Pope | 'What Constitutes Life?', 15 January 2024


The Evangelical Pope | 'Where East Meets West', 8 January 2024


The Evangelical Pope | 'God is On the Side of Justice: Compassionate and Merciful for the Oppressed and Oppressor', 1 January 2024


The Evangelical Pope | 'The Message of Christmas', 25 December 2023


The Evangelical Pope | 'The Gospel of Life is for Everyone.', 18 December 2023


The Evangelical Pope | 'Let's pause and reason together.', 11 December 2023


The Evangelical Pope | 'The Dream of God, The Dream of All Humankind', 4 December 2023


The Evangelical Pope | 'Don't Get Discouraged So Easily!', 27 November 2023


The Evangelical Pope | 'Mistaken Ideologies Mislead Humanity', 20 November 2023.


The Evangelical Pope| 'The Fullness of Joy,' 13 November 2023.


The Evangelical Pope| 'Where Are the Good Samaritans,' 6 November 2023.


The Evangelical Pope| 'The Word is Reconciliation,' 30 October 2023.


The Evangelical Pope| 'Freedom!,' 23 October 2023.


The Evangelical Pope| 'Suffering for Doing Good,' 16 October 2023.






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