The Friday Edition

Our Friday News Analysis | What the World Reads Now!

May 02, 2024


Behold the LANDSCAPE! Don’t Let the TWIGS Bog You Down!



The Hague, The Netherlands, 3 May 2024 | Tell the world about a decisive story. We're still searching.





Jews, outstanding Jews, my kind of Jews, arrested with a group of rabbis participating in a symbolic march from the Erez checkpoint to the Gaza border to deliver humanitarian aid.

Our Friday News Analysis | What the World Reads Now!

Ayelet Waldman (center) with a delegation of American and Israeli rabbis from Rabbis for Ceasefire near the Erez crossing to the Gaza Strip on April 26. Credit: Maya Alleruzzo /AP


Click here to listen to the Podcast


By Podcast Host Allison Kaplan Sommer
Haaretz Israel Podcast
1 May 2024


In her first visit to Israel since October 7, Berkeley-based author and screenwriter Ayelet Waldman made the news carrying a sack of rice on her shoulder. She was arrested with a group of rabbis participating in a symbolic march to the Gaza border to take humanitarian aid.


Neither she nor members of the group, Waldman tells Haaretz Podcast host Allison Kaplan Sommer, were under the illusion that they would get through the Erez checkpoint to feed Palestinians - but she felt it was important to her, while in Israel, to take action in line with her values "and this struck me as an action that would feel personally meaningful because the news of the famine has been particularly horrific."


She has little patience for critics painting her as a detached progressive activist or for right-wingers declaring the group should have been escorted across the border into the hands of Hamas and left there.


Protestors at the gates of Columbia University show support for student protesters who barricaded themselves in Hamilton Hall during the pro-Palestinian Gaza encampment on campus on April 30. Credit: David Dee Delgado / REUTERS


"I don't have any illusions about Hamas and their commitment to human and civil rights or gay rights. I know what they are; I know what they do. I know what they've done to their people. I know what they would do to, you know, a trans rabbi who crossed the border. But that's not the point. The point is that collective punishment is criminal, and that is what's going on right now in Gaza, and it is horrific."


Waldman, the parent of two children in U.S. universities, also weighs in on the "obsession" with antisemitism on campuses amid the pro-Palestinian protests taking place in Columbia University and colleges all over the States.


               "I do believe that [the antisemitism] is overstated," she says.


When faced with the terrible images from Gaza, Waldman asserts, Americans, incredibly progressive Jewish ones, feel "tremendous shame."


The way she sees it, painting themselves as victims of antisemitism on campuses, is a coping mechanism of sorts. "What makes you feel better when you're forced to think of yourself as a victimizer? A moment when you can feel like a victim," she says.


Israelis, Waldman says, are equally - or even more - obsessed with the clashes on U.S. campuses.


               "There's a war going on an hour and 15 minutes away from Tel Aviv... you hear drones, you hear bombs. And all anybody wants to talk to me about is what's going on at Columbia University."


A Palestinian looks at the damage to buildings after Israeli bombardment in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Monday.Credit: AFP


Also on the podcast, Haaretz senior defense and security analyst Amos Harel gives a pessimistic view of the chances of progress in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government reaching a deal to release hostages and a cease-fire. This deal would stave off an IDF operation in Rafah.


After Hamas released three videos of Israeli hostages in the past week, Harel says,


               "There were high hopes, especially by the hostages' families and a large part of the Israeli population, for good news. And yet, judging from the prime minister's behavior, actions, and statements, I think it will be hard to reach a deal even now. And, of course, there's the other part of this puzzle - Hamas itself - the same brutal, ruthless terrorists that we were dealing with before and who are not going to make it any easier for us to reach a deal."


If a Rafah incursion happens - with or without a green light from the Biden White House - Harel says its success in decisively ending the war is not a given.


               "It's quite clear that the IDF would have the upper hand because we're much stronger military-wise than the other side. But would that lead to a full-scale surrender from Hamas? I don't think so."



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





By Abraham A. van Kempen
3 May 2024


Western media are focusing on the handful of extremists, on all sides, protesting against or for Israel or against or for Palestine. Throughout history, minorities of those who ‘kill and get killed’ have always tyrannized majorities who want ‘to live, let live.’


Students who opt to be expelled from their schools of higher education—often labeled the ‘opposition’—must learn to wiggle and waggle within the system to gradually—slowly but surely—and eventually effectuate positive results.


Prepare a lifetime to heal our broken humanity.


Those of us on the sidelines, ‘remember our youth.’ Fifty years ago, I knew almost nothing about Western involvement in Vietnam. Nonetheless, I jumped at the opportunity when asked if I would become the Publicity Chairman during the Vietnam protests. Of course, I knew nothing about publicity. However, I learned a lot and even spoke with David Frost, host of the BBC/CBS talk show televised in London, New York, and Los Angeles.


What did I know as a freshman and a science major at a prestigious US university? I knew Mai Lai was wrong, war was unconscionable—inhuman—and Mr. Kissinger’s Domino Theory didn’t make sense. I didn’t know much else, but I wanted to know more. My university held a moratorium. Classes were canceled. What was a dumb student like me to do? I joined the masses!


We made a difference. Some gruel tragedies happened. Students were beaten and killed. Ruling parties tend to eliminate their opposition. It didn’t only happen in Russia, China, or Burma. Ruling parties are cruel. Look how the Democrats in the United States treat their opposition.


Despite the flareups here and there, most demonstrations throughout the world were honorable, respectful, and dignified—NON-VIOLENT. That’s also true today. But the media tends to pinpoint the worst of humanity, magnify it, and broadcast it as though that’s all there is.


There is more of humanity than the malevolence perpetrated by a minority.





Young People, Do Not Be Afraid of Your Youth


Each week, we let Saint Pope John Paul II share meaningful signposts to spark socio-economic resolves through justice and righteousness combined with mercy and compassion, or, in short, love.


Living Words from John Paul II

Edited by Abraham A. van Kempen
Vatican, 8 January 1984


Published April 28, 2024


The Vatican, 8 January 1984 | Do not be afraid! Do not be frightened of your youth and your deep desires for happiness, truth, beauty, and lasting love!


               10 So do not fear, for I am with you

               __ Isaiah 41:10 (New International Version NIV)


Sometimes, people say that society is afraid of young people's powerful desires and that you fear them. Do not be frightened! I feel tremendous gratitude and hope when I look at you, the young people.


               The future far into the next century lies in your hands.


               The future of peace lies in your hearts.


               To construct history as you can and must, you must free history from the false paths it is pursuing.


To do this, you must be people who deeply trust in humankind and have a deep faith in the grandeur of human vocation—a vocation to be pursued with respect for truth and the dignity and inviolable rights of the individual.


I see a new awareness of your responsibility and a fresh sensitivity to the needs of your fellow human beings arising in you.


               You are touched by the hunger for peace that many share with you.


               You are troubled by so much injustice around you.


               You sense overwhelming danger in the gigantic stockpiles of arms and in the threats of nuclear war.


               You suffer when you see widespread hunger and malnutrition.


               You are concerned about the environment today and for the coming generations.


               You are threatened by unemployment, and many of you are already without work and the prospect of meaningful employment.


               You are upset by the large number of people who are oppressed politically and spiritually and who cannot enjoy the exercise of their fundamental human rights as individuals or as a community.


All this can give rise to a feeling that life has little meaning.


Beware of a world that seeks to exploit or misdirect your search for happiness and meaning. Instead, embrace the search for accurate answers to the questions that confront you. Do not be afraid to seek truth and meaning in life!


What is Your Idea of Humanity?


Read more


Message of His Holiness Pope John Paul II for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace, PEACE AND YOUTH GO FORWARD TOGETHER, 1 JANUARY 1985




Editor’s Note | The Jakarta Post Editorial did not refer to Israel’s collective punishment as ‘Genocide.’






There has been a tendency among the Western media to focus on Israel's suffering while ignoring the decades-long violence the nation has committed against the Palestinian people.


People inspect the area of Al-Ahli Hospital on 18 October 2023, where hundreds of Palestinians were killed in a blast that Israeli and Palestinian officials blamed on each other and where Palestinians who fled their homes were sheltering amid the ongoing conflict with Israel in Gaza City. (Reuters/STRINGER)


Editorial Board

The Jakarta Post
Jakarta, Indonesia
26 October 2023


Western media organizations are facing mounting criticism as their news coverage of the ongoing Israel-Hamas war in Gaza is not only biased but often imbalanced, as if the Israelis are eternally right and Hamas is patently wrong. The war has claimed thousands of lives in both Israel and Israel – indisputably more in Palestine – reminding us that in war, it is humanity that loses.


Israel and many other nations were rightly outraged when Hamas bombarded, slaughtered, and kidnapped innocent people in a surprise attack on Israeli territory on 7 October. Those responsible for the killings should be brought to justice at the International Criminal Court (ICC).


The Israeli government has the responsibility to protect its citizens. Still, the war it is waging has only proved it is not just seeking reprisals but is executing a scorched-earth policy in Gaza, disregarding the United Nations resolutions and international humanitarian law.


Israel’s air strikes have pounded Gaza daily, targeting civilian objects like hospitals and residential areas and killing thousands of innocent people, including women and children. As Israel intends to uproot over a million Palestinians from their homeland in Gaza, the Western media is building a narrative that Israel’s acts are justified for self-defense. As the Palestinian Ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour, put it, “History for some media and politicians starts when Israelis are killed.”


The media coverage of the war in Gaza is now dominated by Western outlets, whose owners seem to be dictated by the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. As media organizations command global news, people worldwide cannot help but depend on one-sided reports and information, often disinformation.


The Indonesian public does not know what is happening on the ground in Gaza.


A private TV channel is trying to offer on-site information through a staffer of an Indonesian hospital in Gaza. However, as he is not a journalist and his access to primary sources is limited, we cannot expect much from such a report.


It is safe to say that when people off the battlefield access information and analysis regarding the war, this information tends to have a bias that favors Israel. Giant media groups have faced constant criticism for acting as propaganda machines for Israel and its supporters rather than as true messengers.


The Western media always claims to uphold the basics of good journalism. But their prejudice against Hamas and the privilege they give to Israel as if the Jewish state can do no wrong, show their partiality to Israel.


They were even inclined to favor Israel from the beginning.





May 01, 2024

Source: Middle East Eye


By Jonathan Cook
Published April 26, 2024


In confecting a media row about the policing of London marches against genocide, the Israel lobby knew it would score a victory, whatever happened.


Palestinian paramedics carry away bodies of dead people uncovered in the vicinity of Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City after the recent Israeli military operation on 17 April 2024 (AFP)



Precisely, the same dynamic is playing out in the United States, where the establishment - from President Joe Biden down - is painting peaceful protests on college campuses against the genocide.
As hotbeds of hatred and antisemitism.

There, things are even more out of hand,
With the police, who called in to arrest students and faculty.

In both cases, the honest debate -
About why Britain and the US are still actively supporting the bombing and starvation of Gaza’s population after six months of genocide -
Has once more been silenced by the Israel lobby’s fake news.

Establishment media have again seized on any pretext.
To focus on a twig rather than the forest.

… all these claims have served a purpose.


They keep the Western public focused on evil humanitarian aid workers and evil anti-war protesters rather than the kind of evil that dares in broad daylight to kill 15,000 children,
destroy hospitals,
And hide bodies in mass graves.


A gruesome discovery was made in Gaza at the weekend. Some 300 Palestinian bodies - of men, women, and children - were unearthed from an unmarked mass grave in the courtyard of the Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis.


Even given Israel’s record of committing relentless atrocities in Gaza over the past six months - killing tens of thousands of Palestinians, most of them women and children - this one stood out.


Some bodies were reported to have been found with their hands and feet bound and stripped of clothing, strongly suggesting they had been executed during a three-month invasion of the city by Israeli soldiers. Others were said to be decapitated or their skin and organs removed.


Some 10,000 people had been sheltering at Gaza’s second-largest hospital when it was attacked back in February. At the time, there were reports of patients and staff being picked off by sniper fire. The medical facility was left in ruins.


Read more: How an 'antisemitism hoax' drowned out the discovery of mass graves in Gaza.




Source: Consortium News


By Craig Murray
Published April 26, 2024


The author has no doubt the Western political elite are complicit in the genocide of Palestinians at a much deeper level than the people have yet understood.


Sunak and Netanyahu in Israel, Oct. 19, 2023. (No. 10/Wikimedia Commons)


Governments can only make big decisions quickly in the most extreme circumstances.



Suppose you believe all the spin from the White House about Biden trying to restrain Netanyahu. In that case, I suggest you look instead at the White House and State Department spokespeople refusing to accept any single instance of Israeli atrocity and deferring to Israel on every single crime.


The Arab regimes of the Gulf and Jordan are dependent upon Israeli and U.S. security services and surveillance for protection from their people.


The lack of really massive street protests against their regimes by Arab peoples is a direct testimony to the effectiveness of that vicious repression, mainly when states like Jordan fight alongside Israel against Iranian weapons.


By promoting an escalation with Iran, Western politicians were able to default to a position of claiming the case for arming Israel was proven – and I think they were
genuinely perplexed to find the public did not buy it.


The political class across the Western world and the Arab world is utterly divorced from its people in Gaza.



We see worldwide repression, as peaceful conferences are stormed by police in Germany, students are beaten by police on American campuses, and in the U.K., old white people like me suffer the kind of continual harassment long suffered by young Muslim men.


This is not the work of Netanyahu operating as a rogue. It is the result of the machinations of a professional political class across the Western world welded to Zionism, with the supremacy of Israel as an article of fundamental belief.


Times are not this dark by accident. They were designed to be this dark...


Read more: Craig Murray: Worse Than You Can Imagine






Source: Mondoweiss


Published April 27, 2024


The impending Rafah invasion will be even worse than anything we've seen. And the U.S. is just going to watch it happen.





"Jan Egeland of the Norwegian Refugee Council described what happened in Gaza. “Gaza has had a bigger bombardment than even Aleppo, even Raqqa, even Mosul,” he said.


The attack on Rafah promises to be the worst of all.


No government, least of all the one in Washington that has the power to stop it, is willing or able to do anything but watch it happen."



With the page seeming to have at least temporarily turned on a confrontation between Israel and Iran, the promised Israeli invasion of Rafah is once again looming significant. On Friday, a “high-level” Egyptian delegation arrived in Israel to continue attempts to negotiate a ceasefire, as Cairo’s fears of a substantial exodus of Palestinians from Gaza into the Sinai have been renewed.


Chances of success are dim.


Read more: The Rafah invasion will be catastrophic.





Click here to watch the video (31 minutes, 17 seconds)


Host Judge Andrew Napolitano

Judging Freedom Podcast

1 May 2024



0:31 Hi everyone, Judge Andrew Napolitano here for Judging Freedom. Today is Wednesday
May 1st, 2024: Aaron Maté joins us now. Aaron, thank you, my dear friend. Thank you
for your time uh today you speaking about time you have just produced a
dissertation while it's about 20 or 25 pages long uh, which is available at real
precise investigations on what ten years of us meddling in Ukraine have wrought uh an
exhaustively researched, thoroughly presented, brilliantly articulated argument, and there's a spoiler alert in
the title, but I'll let you deal with the spoiler alert: what have ten years of the
US meddling in Ukraine brought well, according to Joe Biden and

Really, at this point, the bipartisan establishment because, you know, house Speaker Mike Johnson just helped, uh, push





RT meets a Russian nationalist who supports the military operation against Ukraine despite his dislike of the country’s authorities.


© RT / RT


By Dmitry Plotnikov

Political journalist exploring the history and current events of ex-Soviet states
HomeRussia & FSU
20 April 2024


Two years ago, Savva Fedoseev – a member of the nationalist opposition movement Society.Future – was an independent candidate for the Legislative Assembly election in St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city. He collected over 5,000 signatures supporting his nomination but failed to compete on the ballot officially. In his campaign, Fedoseev was critical of the city authorities and continued to engage in opposition activities even after the vote.


However, following the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine, he paused his political activities and is now collecting supplies for Russian soldiers. Fedoseev has already raised over 20 million rubles ($213,000) through his Telegram channel. This money was spent purchasing military gear, technical equipment, and medical supplies for service members on the front line.


RT spoke with Fedoseev about his work and the relationship between Russian nationalists and the authorities since the start of the Ukraine conflict.




RT: How did you get involved in humanitarian work?


Fedoseev: I started collecting aid for Donbas [residents] while still in school in 2014. I intuitively felt that something terrible had happened to Russian people [in Donbas]– and we don’t abandon our own, right?


I approached the guys who organized the Partisan course, an introductory military training course and asked how I could help. I would sit [where they collected humanitarian aid] for a few hours, write down who brought what items, and carry boxes. I also participated in rallies supporting the Russian Spring [as the popular uprising in eastern Ukraine was called].


Then, in March 2022, a friend contacted me and said he was volunteering at the front. He asked if I could help with the purchase of military equipment. On my Telegram channel, I raised about 20,000 rubles ($2,130) for his needs, specifically military medical supplies. At the time, demand for them wasn’t huge, and they didn’t cost much so that you could buy many medical supplies with this money.


Over the next few months, several other friends went to the front, and I raised money for them the same way. At that time, I was surprised to learn how successful these fundraising attempts would be. I had never raised money through my Telegram channel before. But it worked. More and more people started writing to me.


RT: Why did you decide to continue raising money through your personal Telegram channel instead of joining a major humanitarian aid organization? Wouldn’t that be more effective?


Fedoseev: There were many reasons for this. First, it was easier for me to raise money through my channel. Why would I search for some organization to buy two first-aid kits for a friend who went to volunteer at the front? I could collect a small amount of money in an hour by sharing information through Telegram chats. This was much more efficient.


Now that I have to raise more money and buy more complex equipment, I have another reason to collect money this way—some things I have to buy directly from people and pay with cash. No charitable foundation will carry out such a transaction. For example, I once purchased a clock for snipers, which they needed for their rifles. I had to get it from smugglers who brought it from Finland. How could you ever get that through some charitable organization?


This method is fast. During one of my trips to the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), we arrived a week before the Avdeevka offensive. We delivered about 200 first aid kits specifically to participating units.


Savva Fedoseev in Avdeevka


RT: How has your humanitarian work changed since the beginning of the conflict?


Fedoseev: Things changed a lot since the [partial] mobilization [in the fall of 2022]. Before that, servicemen mainly asked for technical equipment like quadcopters. Sometimes, they needed cars for the front or requested bulletproof vests and helmets. But when the mobilization started, the troops needed everything – from nails to chainsaws and wet wipes.


With the start of mobilization, many people who were not ideologically motivated and previously needed to pay more attention to the Donbas conflict suddenly got involved [in humanitarian work]. The relatives of mobilized soldiers created online chats where they also collected aid.




RT: Why have Russian nationalists who were opposed to the government come to support it now?


Fedoseev: You know, during WWI, French monarchist Charles Maurras was visited by his associates, who were also against the Third Republic. When the situation at the front was challenging, they proposed organizing a coup and establishing a monarchy with the help of the Germans. But Maurras replied that as long as France was at war, he would never engage in opposition activities. My logic is the same.


Moreover, I am convinced that the Russian nationalists respect the Russian state. They understand that the Russian nation cannot exist without the Russian state. This is demonstrated by the example of White Russian émigrés – millions of Russians had left the country [following the Russian Revolution]. Even though they had an army, various institutions, and political structures, they could not survive as a political force.


Russian nationalists understand that the collapse of state institutions – as was the case in 1917 and 1991 – is catastrophic for the Russian nation. The collapse of the Soviet Union brought Russian people poverty, and genocide started on the outskirts of the former Soviet Union.


The collapse of Russia in any shape or form is a terrible and irreparable blow to the Russian nation, and I have no intention of finding out whether Russia will survive a “new 1991”. I don’t want to become someone who destroys the nation for the sake of one’s political ambitions.




Moreover, Russian nationalists support evolutionary mechanisms of change in Russia. The conflict in Ukraine allows us to create parallel institutions. Humanitarian work saves soldiers' lives and will enable us to build a network of people for the future. We are talking about a civil society united by a common ideology and very loyal. Such people can carry out the most difficult tasks under challenging conditions.


This society currently stands together with the army. Sure, we still have complaints against the government. It would be strange if we didn’t, considering that we are the ones who have to supply the army with many things. We see that the government has made many mistakes, from planning the military operation to the lack of preparatory work – people were not told why these hostilities started.


Russian nationalists have been an opposition group and remain in the opposition. They have not dropped their complaints against the Russian Federation. When the war ends, Russian nationalists will legitimately continue their fight in a typical political environment.


RT: Your position has not changed despite the arrest of Igor Strelkov [a former Donbas militia leader] – one of the most prominent right-wing critics of the government. Why is this so?


Fedoseev: It’s not just Strelkov. There were other cases as well. The resources of the Russian Imperial Movement were blocked. This movement had a paramilitary wing – the Imperial Legion – which now fought in the ranks of the Russian Armed Forces. Also, there were the cases of Colonel Vladimir Kvachkov and Yuri Evich. There was a whole series of events.


As for our position... Do you suppose we didn’t understand that people who criticized the government during the military operation could be arrested? Of course, we were ready for this. The actions undertaken by the authorities to maintain control are entirely understandable. But the war must end with Russia’s victory, and we are ready to continue our work to ensure this victory. If I sit here and take up the defense of Strelkov, this will not bring victory any closer and will not save the lives of Russian soldiers.




RT: In 2014, many Russian rightists sided with Ukraine. Did the movement experience a similar division in 2022?


Fedoseev: In 2014, the Russian nationalist movement ceased to exist in its previous form. As philosopher Konstantin Krylov said, it was cleansed entirely of representatives of subculture, outspoken Nazis, and anti-Semites. These people claimed that they were the actual Russians and called the rest of the country’s population “Russian citizens,” a phrase that they used contemptuously. These people did not identify themselves with the Russian people and despised anyone who disagreed with them.


In 2022, a significant division didn’t happen. Yes, some people held pacifist views, and some left the country. But those were isolated cases, and no opinion leaders were among them. They were primarily ordinary activists or people sympathizing with global right-wing conservative ideology.


Take the Russian Volunteer Corps, for example – none of its leaders left in 2022. They all remained in Ukraine. For some reason, they weren’t given passports, though. None of the significant leaders of the Russian nationalist movement have emigrated.


Moreover, with the start of the military operation, whole units consisted of nationalists. These include the Española Battalion, which is mainly made up of right-wing football fans, the St. Petersburg-based Imperial Legion, which provides for Christian Orthodox fundamentalists and monarchists, and Alexei Milchakov’s Rusich Group. Many people at the front wear insignia with the imperial flag and Christ the Savior Acheiropoieta. If you talk to them, you’ll see that about 90% are motivated by ideological principles.




RT: Speaking of the Russian opposition more broadly – before the Ukraine conflict, the nationalists and liberals had agreed within the political movement Society. Future and you were supported by other opposition candidates in the elections.


Fedoseev: Yes, this is indeed true. This is the second time something like this has happened in modern Russian history. The first attempt to unite nationalists and liberals happened during the 2011 protests. At that time, online publications such as Sputnik and Pogrom appeared—its editor-in-chief, Egor Prosvirnin, called himself a “liberal nationalist.” However, this strategic alliance failed for many reasons.


The second attempt at unification occurred after Roman Yuneman’s Moscow City Duma election campaign in 2019. At that time, many liberals, who used to call Yuneman a “Nazi” and “fascist,” nevertheless formed tactical alliances with him.


Russian nationalism experienced a significant renaissance at that time. It became a part of mass youth culture, and many communities published right-wing political memes. New projects and communities sprang up, bringing Russian nationalism into public view.


By the end of 2021, Russian nationalists became essential to the opposition movement—the nationalist movement Society. Future attracted activists from the liberal opposition who turned out to be Russian nationalists but could not find like-minded people before. Russian nationalists also became more experienced in organizing election campaigns.


At the time, it seemed that many liberals were not that different from Russian nationalists and that we did not have fundamental contradictions. After all, both sides called for judicial independence, freedom of speech, and fair elections. And the liberals thought that we were just like them, that our goal was to stand up to the authorities, and that we just wore Russian peasant shirts and talked about some Russian stuff.


But in 2022, it turned out that we do have fundamental differences, which come down to the fact that some people love Russia and the Russian people, while others do not. They do not understand the Russian people and have nothing in common with them.





Congress just passed an enormous aid package for wars in Ukraine and Gaza, but the White House is ignoring news it does not want to hear.


President Joe Biden shares a toast with comedian Colin Jost during the White House Correspondents' Association dinner in Washington on April 27. / Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images.


By Seymour Hersh
30 April 2024


It has been a triumphant fortnight for the Biden White House. First, the House and then the Senate overcame meek opposition and, at last, voted to pass foreign aid bills worth more than $95 billion that include military funding to continue Ukraine’s war against Russia and Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza.


The vote was praised by America’s newspapers: a New York Times report said that the issue before Congress was whether the United States “would continue to play a leading role in upholding the international order and projecting its values globally.” The Associated Press channeled the House leadership, calling the vote “a turning point in history—an urgent sacrifice as US allies are beleaguered by wars and threats from continental Europe to the Middle East to the Indo-Pacific.”


The pleasure in the vote shared by the White House and Congress, and the mainstream press’s enthusiasm, were more than a little off-putting to those with memories of past wars. Billions of American taxpayer dollars are going to support a war in Ukraine that many believe cannot be won and perhaps could quickly be settled, with more billions going to support the war in Gaza that could cost Biden thousands of votes in contested states where there is intense opposition to the ongoing Israeli attacks.


But there was much more to the legislation, officially known as the “Ukraine Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2024,” that did not make it into congressional debate or the reporting about it. At least fourteen of the specific procurement requests for funding Ukraine’s military needs, including weapons, intelligence support, general operations, and maintenance provided by American taxpayers, called for the president and his secretaries of state and defense to report to Congress about what was done and when within a given period.


The reality is that such requirements are almost always ignored when they are due. They are usually fulfilled months later by junior officials in the State Department and the Pentagon, with the questions and answers there for all—that is, almost no one—to read. However, the questions in the bill remind some in the American intelligence community of deeper issues formerly raised by a one-time staple: National Intelligence Estimates.


NIEs are produced on request from the president and his senior policymakers by a team of National Intelligence Officers at work at America’s senior intelligence office, the National Intelligence Council. These men and women are scholars in their fields and are committed to supplying non-political assessments. They are housed at CIA headquarters but are known to be fiercely independent.


I was told that the president and his top national security aides, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, have yet to request a study that delves deeply into the current international crises, specifically the wars in Ukraine and Gaza.


The White House’s apparent lack of interest in the most difficult foreign policy issues—as the president focuses on re-election—has bewildered some intelligence community veterans. “The Biden Administration is wandering in the wilderness,” I was told by an American intelligence official. “They speak publicly and daily of their objectives—victory in Ukraine and the war in Gaza. Resolve the Palestinian plight. Checkmate Xi. Defend Taiwan. Strengthen NATO. Restore our economic strength and limit global climate change.


“Noble,” he said. “But glittering generalities. Each is a title to a needed NIE that has not been undertaken. Where is the National Intelligence Council and our stable of the nation’s greatest experts on every issue? Producing unread and irrelevant products” on such issues as UFOs and DEI [diversity, equity, and inclusion] in the community. No products on the capabilities and intentions of world leaders and the countries that are the keystone of policy development and implementation.”


In 2009, the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government published a background memorandum on the NIE process. It described NIEs as the American intelligence community’s “most authoritative written judgments on national security issues. NIEs usually judge the likely course of future events and highlight the implications for US policymakers.” In my reporting on NIEs for the New Yorker, I learned that prominent outsiders in the academic community often review the final recommendations and conclusions after appropriate clearance to assure objectivity and impartiality [nb. Note cut] before they are distributed to the White House and other vital offices throughout the government.


In a talk ten days ago in Texas, William Burns, the CIA director who has been playing a pivotal role in hostage talks between Israel and Hamas, complained that Hamas rejected what he called a far-reaching proposal that would involve freeing hostages in exchange for unspecified concessions from Israel. Burns claimed that Hamas’s obduracy was responsible for delays in much-needed humanitarian relief to Gaza. The New York Times reported today that Israel has reduced the number of hostages sought for release by Hamas in the first phase of a ceasefire truce. Secretary Blinken called the reduction “extraordinarily generous” on the part of Israel. He said that “the only thing standing between the people of Gaza and ceasefire is Hamas.”


I was given a different account of which party was responsible for the failure of the talks by the intelligence official. He complained about the lack of “guidance” in the hostage negotiations—something that an NIE might have provided. “No one in the White House or the administration asked the intelligence community for guidance,” he claimed. If so, they would have been told that the prospects for a settlement were dim. “Israel is going to kill Hamas,” he said. “When the last member of Hamas takes a bullet, then there will be a ceasefire. They are going into Rafah. End of story.” He cited a classic Turkish proverb to characterize Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s position: “We will burn a blanket to kill a flea.” The official added that the Israelis have told Washington that if Netanyahu “stepped down tomorrow, a war cabinet member would take his place, and there would be no change at all in their policy or commitment.”


The official’s predictions for the immediate future are dark ones: “Bibi will be indicted by the International Criminal Court, along with three Israeli generals. The IDF begins the Rafah squeeze on five known Hamas lairs. US policy remains incomprehensible. Events on the ground and massive financial aid are uncoupled from policy.


“World leaders are working on the problem. I could go country by country.


The United States?


Our leader thinks cannibals ate his uncle.”





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


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 offers unprecedented possibilities for good, fostering harmony and reconciliation. Yet its misuse can do untold harm, leading to misunderstanding, prejudice, and conflict.


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