is money keeping a maga punk out of prison?

important report by will carless at 'usa today,' please read it all at link but here's an excerpt:

The security footage is among videos released during the trial of another Jan. 6 participant, a member of the Proud Boys prosecuted for seditious conspiracy. In it, and in other photos from the day, his face remains partly concealed behind the mask.

But all signs point to Oliver Krvaric, a young Republican star and scion of a powerful GOP family from San Diego. Krvaric is most notable for his job at the time of the riot.

A USA TODAY review of arrests concluded Krvaric would be the first full-time employee of the Trump administration identified entering the Capitol in the insurrection. On Jan. 6, 2021, Krvaric was working for the Office of Personnel Management on a short-lived Trump executive order that sought to rid federal agencies of certain diversity and inclusion training.  

By then, the 22-year-old had built a public persona as an up-and-coming student GOP leader. Even earlier than that, his name had been used to create an identity on a site for white supremacists.  

Asked whether he was at the Jan. 6 riot, Krvaric initially told USA TODAY he was not. Pressed about the photos that online researchers say show him that day, Krvaric acknowledged he attended former President Donald Trump’s speech, but said he didn’t go inside the Capitol. Asked about images that appear to show him inside the Capitol, he then said he didn’t remember whether he went inside. Sent copies and links to the footage, he stopped responding. 

As for the online persona, an email address in Krvaric’s first and middle names was used in 2016 to create a profile on a neo-Nazi website. That user praised Adolf Hitler, backed deportation of non-white people and expressed disgust of the LGBTQ+ population. 

Kvaric said he did not recall the posts. He did not deny making them, and said he did “not particularly” recognize the email address behind them.

“I don’t know if that’s long in the past, or — I wouldn’t recognize anything,” Krvaric said about the posts, which appeared on the now-defunct white supremacist forum “Iron March.” “I just don’t have a recollection.” 

[. . .]

On Sept. 12, 2016, a new user posted on Iron March. The newcomer used the handle “NeoSvensk.” “Svensk” means “Swedish” in the Swedish language. Tony Krvaric, Oliver’s father, emigrated to the United States from Sweden.

Three years after the post appeared, Iron March was hacked and the site’s data was posted online for all to see. The data reveals that the NeoSvensk account was created by someone using an email address that begins “OllyIvan.” Ivan is Oliver Krvarik’s middle name. The IP address connected to the account was geo-located in San Diego.

The username NeoSvensk was also used to create an account on the instant messaging app Kik. That account’s profile picture is a stylized photograph resembling Krvaric.

In Iron March posts obtained by USA TODAY, NeoSvensk – applying to join the forum and meet like-minded white supremacists – bragged of his Swedish ancestry. He talked openly of his admiration for Hitler and fascism and his disdain for multiculturalism, and used a derisive term for gay men, whom he described as “utterly revolting.” 

Other details from those accounts all show alignment between Oliver Krvarik and the person writing as NeoSvensk: The poster said he was 18 — Krvaric’s age in September 2016; that he was attending university and living in California — Krvaric lived in San Diego at the time and graduated from high school that spring; and that he has a grandmother in Malmö, Sweden — where Krvaric’s father grew up.   

“I understand working from within the current system is frowned upon but it’s the only way I know,” the NeoSvensk account wrote. 

Five years later, Oliver Krvaric was working inside the federal government.

Asked about the posts on Iron March, Krvaric said he didn’t recall making them. But when he was asked directly if he recognized the “OllyIvan” email address used to create the online accounts, Krvaric said, “Not particularly.” 

At San Diego State University, where he was the president of the College Republicans, Krvaric was instrumental in pushing the group to become more conservative.

“In order to mobilize and win the trust of their voters, Republican candidates must increasingly demonstrate their commitment to ‘MAGA,’” he wrote in a July 2020 opinion column in the San Diego Union Tribune.

The same year, Krvaric’s SDSU College Republicans penned a letter to President Trump asking him to cancel all temporary worker visas for foreign nationals. The controversial letter earned Krvaric an interview on Tucker Carlson Tonight and on a local news station.

he needs to be prosecuted.  he thinks he can hide behind his father's money.  that's not how the u.s. justice system is supposed to work.  he took part, he needs to face time.

"Among GOP state lawmakers," Lahut explains, "plenty today can boast that they participated in January 6 events. And boast they do. Michigan State Rep. Angela Rigas described being on the Capitol grounds that day as a 'highlight of my life.' David Eastman, an Alaska state representative, called it 'an immense privilege' to be in Washington for Trump's last-ditch effort to stay in power. And for the true MAGA climbers, like Arizona State Sen. Anthony Kern, moving past police barricades at the Capitol and allegedly using campaign funds to attend the insurrection were far from career-ending scandals."

Lahut elaborates, "In fact, a little J6 cred, it turns out, can go a long way; Kern recently announced a 2024 congressional bid. Nearly three years on, the January 6 insurrection and Trump's efforts at thwarting the peaceful transfer of power remain deeply entrenched in the GOP — not just in Trumpworld or at the national level, but all the way down to the state houses where future results could be challenged in a repeat scenario of 2020."

According to Lahut, the January 6 insurrection is still "deeply entrenched in the GOP" — a fact that isn't lost on the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC).

The DLCC, Lahut reports, has shared a "new tally" exclusively with the Daily Beast — and it shows that "there are still 15 state lawmakers serving in office or about to be sworn in who traveled to D.C. for January 6 activities."

let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'

Thursday, December 28, 2023.  As the assault on Gaza continues, efforts continue to silence those who speak out but the Samantha Powers of the world willingly silence themselves.

Think the horrors in Gaza can't get worse?  Brett Wilkins (COMMON DREAMS) reports:

Israeli troops on Wednesday allegedly stabbed and assaulted wounded Palestinian victims of an Israel Defense Forces drone strike that killed six people in a refugee camp near Tulkarem in the illegally occupied West Bank.

Dr. Radwan Blaibla, head of Tulkarem Medical Syndicate, toldAndalou Agency that Israeli troops forcibly stopped and boarded ambulances rushing Palestinians injured in the airstrike on Nur Shams refugee camp to a hospital in Tulkarem.

"One injured was stabbed in his neck by a soldier while in the ambulance, posing danger to his life," Blaibla said. "Two others were forcibly taken out from an ambulance and were subject to kicking and beating by the rifles' buttstocks on their injuries." 

  The Israeli soldiers allegedly told their victims: "We don't want you to reach the hospital. We will kill you before you get there."

Blaibla called the incident "a flagrant violation of humanitarian law" and urged the international community to hold Israel accountable.

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society told Al Jazeera that occupation forces blocked ambulances from transporting airstrike victims to a hospital for at least an hour-and-a-half, during which time multiple people died of their injuries. 

War Crimes before the world's eyes.  Where are the cries of "not on our watch"?  No where to be found because they were always hollow.  A bunch of hawks posing as doves who just uttered those words to call for the US to go to war on a country.  And now these hawks, these Samantha Powers are silent because it was never about humanity.

A State Department official resigned on October 14, writing in a letter that the U.S. support for Israel’s assault on Gaza “will only lead to more and deeper suffering for both the Israeli and Palestinian people.” The director of the New York office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights resigned on October 31, stating that “once again we are seeing a genocide unfolding before our eyes and the organization we serve appears powerless to stop it.”

With over 20,000 now dead in Gaza, there’s one government official who you’d assume — at least if you take her own words seriously — would join them. That is Samantha Power, current head of the U.S. Agency for International Development. Before that, she was the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. during the Obama administration.

But Power first rose to prominence with her 2002 book “‘A Problem From Hell’: America and the Age of Genocide.” It won the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction, with the citationOpens in a new tab reading, “Samantha Power poses a question that haunts our nation’s past: Why do American leaders who vow ‘never again’ repeatedly fail to marshal the will and the might to stop genocide?”

In the book’s introduction, Power makes this observation: “This country’s consistent policy of nonintervention in the face of genocide offers sad testimony not to a broken American political system but to one that is ruthlessly effective. The system, as it stands now, is working.

There is no sign of Power taking a principled stand on Gaza, however. Rather, she is spending her time proudly tweeting about all the good the U.S. is doing in the world, such as the arrival in Egypt of 147,000 pounds of humanitarian aid. This is approximately one ounce per person in Gaza. 

[. . .]

At the end of the book, Power considers the past century and asks some cogent questions: “How many of us do not believe that the presidents, senators, bureaucrats, journalists, and ordinary citizens who did nothing, choosing to look away rather than to face hard choices and wrenching moral dilemmas, were wrong? And how can something so clear in retrospect become so muddled at the time by rationalizations, institutional constraints, and a lack of imagination? How can it be that those who fight on behalf of these principles are the ones deemed unreasonable?”

How indeed. For now, however, Power shows no signs of asking herself any such questions about the present and her role in it. If she did, she might see herself in these lines from a poem by Joseph Brodsky that she tweeted outOpens in a new tab four years ago:

Time, whose sharp blood-thirsty quill
Parts the killed from those who kill,
Will pronounce the latter tribe
As your type.

Thanks, Sammy.  I've called your lying out for years and you just prove my point every day.  You always were a hawk and you always were a fake ass.  I remember you whining about "the Sammy Power between the knees" fiction piece we did a decade ago.  Nothing we could ever write about you could ever capture how truly craven and uncaring you are.  

It's the Sammy Powers that do nothing to stop genocide.  

An 18-year-old Israeli teenager who refused to enlist in the Israeli army has been sentenced to 30 days in prison. Tal Mitnick spoke out against Israel’s assault on Gaza before his sentencing on Tuesday.

Tal Mitnick: “I am standing today in Tel HaShomer base, and I am refusing to enlist. I believe that slaughter cannot solve slaughter. The criminal attack on Gaza won’t solve the atrocious slaughter that Hamas executed. Violence won’t solve violence. And that is why I refuse.”

Look at that, Samantha Power, that's actual bravery.  You wouldn't know it because you've never done a brave thing in your life, but that's actual bravery.

Gaza remains under assault.  Binoy Kampmark (DISSIDENT VOICE) points out, "Bloodletting as form; murder as fashion.  The ongoing campaign in Gaza by Israel’s Defence Forces continues without stalling and restriction.  But the burgeoning number of corpses is starting to become a challenge for the propaganda outlets:  How to justify it?  Fortunately for Israel, the United States, its unqualified defender, is happy to provide cover for murder covered in the sheath of self-defence."   CNN has explained, "The Gaza Strip is 'the most dangerous place' in the world to be a child, according to the executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund."  ABC NEWS quotes UNICEF's December 9th statement, ""The Gaza Strip is the most dangerous place in the world to be a child. Scores of children are reportedly being killed and injured on a daily basis. Entire neighborhoods, where children used to play and go to school have been turned into stacks of rubble, with no life in them."  NBC NEWS notes, "Strong majorities of all voters in the U.S. disapprove of President Joe Biden’s handling of foreign policy and the Israel-Hamas war, according to the latest national NBC News poll. The erosion is most pronounced among Democrats, a majority of whom believe Israel has gone too far in its military action in Gaza."  The slaughter continues.  It has displaced over 1 million people per the US Congressional Research Service.  Jessica Corbett (COMMON DREAMS) points out, "Academics and legal experts around the world, including Holocaust scholars, have condemned the six-week Israeli assault of Gaza as genocide."   The death toll of Palestinians in Gaza is now well over  20,000. NBC NEWS notes, "The vast majority of its 2.2 million people are displaced, and an estimated half face starvation amid an unfolding humanitarian crisis."  ABC NEWS notes, "In the Gaza Strip, at least 20,915 people have been killed and more than 54,900 others have been wounded by Israeli forces since Oct. 7, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry and the Government Media Office."  Actually, that figure has already been updated.  This morning THE GUARDIAN notes, "Israeli military action has killed 21,110 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip since Israel began its campaign against Hamas on 7 October, according to figures released on Wednesday by the Hamas-controlled health ministry in the territory. The ministry reported that 55,243 people had been wounded. It said 195 people were killed and 325 injured in the last 24 hours."  In addition to the dead and the injured, there are the missing.  AP notes, "About 4,000 people are reported missing."  And the area itself?  Isabele Debre (AP) reveals, "Israel’s military offensive has turned much of northern Gaza into an uninhabitable moonscape. Whole neighborhoods have been erased. Homes, schools and hospitals have been blasted by airstrikes and scorched by tank fire. Some buildings are still standing, but most are battered shells."  Kieron Monks (I NEWS) reports, "More than 40 per cent of the buildings in northern Gaza have been damaged or destroyed, according to a new study of satellite imagery by US researchers Jamon Van Den Hoek from Oregon State University and Corey Scher at the City University of New York. The UN gave a figure of 45 per cent of housing destroyed or damaged across the strip in less than six weeks. The rate of destruction is among the highest of any conflict since the Second World War."  Max Butterworth (NBC NEWS) adds, "Satellite images captured by Maxar Technologies on Sunday reveal three of the main hospitals in Gaza from above, surrounded by the rubble of destroyed buildings after weeks of intense bombing in the region by Israeli forces."

US President Joe Biden is assisting in War Crimes.  Harry Davies and Manisha Ganguly (GUARDIAN) reported this week:

 Their precise location is classified, but somewhere in Israel there are multiple closely guarded warehouses that contain billions of dollars’ worth of weapons owned by the US government.

Long shrouded in secrecy, the warehouses are part of an extensive but previously little-known stockpile now facing scrutiny as pressure mounts on the Biden administration over its support for Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.

The stockpile was first established in the 1980s to rapidly supply US forces for any future Middle East conflicts. However, over time, Israel has been permitted in certain situations to draw from its extensive supplies.

Israel now appears to be receiving munitions from the stockpile in significant quantities for use in its war on Gaza, yet there has been little transparency about transfers from the arsenal.

In interviews with the Guardian, multiple former US officials familiar with American security assistance to Israel have described how the stockpile enables expedited arms transfers to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). It can also shield movements of US weapons from public and congressional oversight, they said.

“Officially it’s US equipment for US use,” a former senior Pentagon official said, “but on the other hand, in an emergency, who’s to say we’re not going to give them the keys to the warehouses?”

Since the emergency of the Hamas massacre on 7 October, Israel has dropped tens of thousands of bombs in Gaza, and it has been open about its demand for large amounts of US-supplied munitions.

There are widely held concerns that Israel’s bombing of Gaza has been indiscriminate. And with close to 20,000 people dead in Gaza, according to local authorities, the US is facing questions about the quantities and categories of bombs it is providing to Israel and the proportion being made available through the secretive pre-positioned stockpile.

For more on the US government's efforts to stir up chaos, let's note this from yesterday's DEMOCRACY NOW!

AMY GOODMAN: We had hoped we’d begin today’s show in Gaza, where the Health Ministry says the overall death toll now tops 21,000, including over 8,000 children, but communications in Gaza are now down for the umpteenth time, and neither we nor our colleagues with the Associated Press can reach our guest in Rafah in southern Gaza.

As we reported in headlines, the Pentagon is saying it intercepted and shot down 12 drone attacks, three anti-ship ballistic missiles and two land attack cruise missiles launched by Houthi forces in the Red Sea during a 10-hour period on Tuesday, as concerns grow over a wider regional war in the Middle East. The Yemen-based Houthis have vowed to keep carrying out attacks on ships in the Red Sea to show solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza.

This comes as the Pentagon said it carried out three strikes on Iraqi territory Monday at President Biden’s direction in response to a drone attack on an air base in Erbil, Iraq, that wounded three U.S. service members, one of them critically. Iraq’s government said the U.S. attacks killed one member of the Iraqi security forces and wounded 18 people, including civilians. It condemned the Pentagon’s, quote, “unacceptable attack on Iraqi sovereignty.”

Meanwhile, Turkey’s military launched airstrikes in northern Iraq and Syria over the weekend, targeting bases, shelters and oil facilities operated by the Kurdish PKK militia. The attacks came after the Turkish Defense Ministry said 12 of its soldiers were killed in northern Iraq in battles with PKK fighters.

Elsewhere, an Israeli airstrike on northern Syria on Monday killed Sayyed Razi Mousavi, a senior adviser in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps responsible for coordinating Iran’s military alliance with Syria. Iran’s Foreign Ministry condemned the attack, saying, quote, “Iran reserves the right to take necessary measures to respond to this action at the appropriate time and place.”

For more on all of this, we’re joined in Boston by Rami Khouri, Palestinian American journalist, senior public policy fellow at the American University of Beirut. His new piece for Al Jazeera is headlined “Watching the watchdogs: Why the West misinterprets Middle East power shifts.”

Well, why don’t you tell us why the West misinterprets these power shifts, Rami Khouri? And do you see what’s happening in Gaza and the West Bank as leading to a wider Middle East war?

RAMI KHOURI: Thank you for having me, and thanks for the great work you do every morning.

The second part of your question, I can pretty surely say that I don’t expect the wider war. But wider wars don’t usually happen by planning. They often happen by accident. So it could happen. But I don’t think so, because, first of all, a wider war isn’t going to solve anything; second of all, people, generally, on all sides, don’t want to fight a wider war, and certainly civilian populations are against it.

Your first question, the short answer of why the mainstream media in the U.S. and most of the Western world doesn’t follow, analyze, acknowledge what I think are the biggest geostrategic changes taking place in this Middle East region in the last maybe 30, 40 years — the short answer is that the U.S. and Israel are joined in a kind of settler colonial assault on Palestinian rights. They have been for half a century. The British and the Zionists started this in the 1910s, and then Israel was created. And after '67, the U.S. became the main supporter of Israel. So this is a centurylong conflict that has pitted Israel, Zionism and Western supporters against Palestinian rights. Other Arabs got involved, but it's essentially a Palestinian-Israeli, Palestinian-Zionist struggle.

And the U.S. doesn’t want to acknowledge anything — the U.S. mainstream media, broadly, doesn’t want to acknowledge anything that doesn’t fit the script that the United States has a righteous policy, that the Israelis have a moral army, that what they’re doing is legitimate defense, and that all the other people in the region who challenge them or fight them are either terrorists or just, you know, violence-loving Muslims and Arabs beyond any help that anybody can give them — they just love to kill Jews and Americans. So, this is the kind of nonsense that permeates so much of the mainstream media.

And this is why I mentioned in this column that this tremendously important sign that we had just last week really needs to be appreciated. And that sign was that the Yemeni Ansar Allah group, but people call them the Houthis — you know, one sign of good reporting is to use the people’s proper name. So, Hezbollah, Hamas, Ansar Allah, that makes a difference. And so, these three groups, Hezbollah, Hamas, Ansar Allah, are part of a regional network of groups, Arab groups, nationally anchored, one in — Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Palestine, Ansar Allah in Yemen, who coordinate very closely with each other and coordinate and get assistance from Iran, just as Israel coordinates closely and gets huge amounts of assistance from the U.S. This is how, you know, the world works. But the difference is that Hezbollah and Hamas have already shown that they can develop technical, military and other capabilities that can check the Israeli-American assault on Palestinian rights.

The U.S. and Israel can wipe out the entire Middle East if they want, the entire Arab region, with their nuclear weapons and — sorry — other facilities. But this wouldn’t solve anything. But the U.S. and Israel at some point need to acknowledge that the Palestinian people have rights that are equal to the Israeli people, and the two should live side by side, or if they want to live in one state, that’s up to them, but probably two adjacent states.

The Hezbollah-Hamas-Ansar Allah combination brought us last week to a situation where at one moment — and it’s kind of still going on — the U.S. and/or Israel were exchanging military fire with Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza, some other Palestinian groups in the West Bank, Ansar Allah in Yemen, the Popular Mobilization Forces, Iranian-backed militant groups, in Iraq, and the Syrian government, which is supported by Iran. So the U.S. and Israel were actively engaged, small levels, low levels, but actively engaged in military action against six opponents on six different fronts. But those opponents were all coordinating together.

And the more important point is that — not just that they coordinate together, but we’ve seen in Hezbollah and Hamas now and others that they are increasing their technical capabilities steadily and significantly. The Israeli government, with its massive attack against Palestine, using over 500 2,000-pound bombs — was reported yesterday — and other, you know, massive ethnic cleansing, everything they’ve done, they haven’t made any significant gains on their three strategic goals, which is to eliminate Hamas, release the hostages and to bring about a new political situation in Gaza. So this is quite extraordinary. When you get two of the most powerful militaries in the world, Israel and the United States, with a lot of other militaries supporting them, unable to achieve basic goals after two-and-a-half months of barbaric attacks, that’s pretty significant.

And the last point I make here is that one of the reasons they’re not able to make significant gains is that these other groups, who are these Arab groups who are close to Iran, they work together in something called the “axis of resistance.” And this axis of resistance is starting to become much more effective in deterring or checking the Israeli-American military assaults and/or the political demands that they want. And we’ll see this now in the negotiations that will happen. What are happening now, they’re negotiating another exchange of prisoners and hostages and other things. And if there’s a peace negotiation that might happen later, you will see the power of this resistance axis manifesting itself politically rather than just militarily. This is a huge, huge development.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Rami Khouri, I wanted to ask you — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had an op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal in the past few days, and one of the points that he raised there in terms of the goals of Israel in the assault on Gaza is, to me, a completely new point that he’s raised here. He said that not only do they want to destroy Hamas and demilitarize Gaza, but that they want to deradicalize the Palestinians. In essence, that sounds to me, is to stamp out all potential opposition to Israel in the future. Nothing about a long-term settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. I’m wondering your — how you reacted to that opinion piece.

RAMI KHOURI: I don’t take it very seriously. I don’t take anything Benjamin Netanyahu says these days very seriously. This is a guy on the run. He is running from the law, his own law in Israel. And the only way that he can stay out of jail is to keep fighting, make himself indispensable by being a tough guy. And all it’s doing is killing more Israelis, killing more hostages. The death level among Israeli soldiers in the fighting in Gaza is getting higher and higher. Ten, 15 die on some days now. So, I don’t take anything he says very seriously. Neither should anybody else. He is the prime minister of Israel, and he does head this barbaric coalition of right-wing fascists that’s been let loose now in the West Bank and in Gaza and other places.

But I would also make the more important point that when he says that he wants to deradicalize Palestine, this is in keeping with a century of Zionist lies and propaganda and PR and spin, which the Israelis now do through their government — they have a ministry for international propaganda. And one of their key propaganda techniques, nonstop since the 1920s or '30s, has been to associate any of their foes in the region, whether it's Palestinians or Iranians or it’s Gamal Abdel Nasser or Saddam Hussein or al-Qaeda or anybody who they might not like in the region, they link them with the most awful person or group that is most awful for people in the West. So, with the Palestinians, Netanyahu has compared them to ISIS, to al-Qaeda, to Hitler, to, you know, any — he didn’t compare them to the Khmer Rouge, but he probably will if you give him time — to any group that does terrible things around the world. He says that’s what the Palestinians are like. And the reality is, if you go to any place in Palestine, including Gaza, and you sit with ordinary people, you see that this is a bunch of nonsense. But this is their strategy.

One of the critical things that’s happening now — and I’m working on a long article on this that will come out soon — is that along with the ability of the resistance axis and other — and popular support, by the way, that they have a lot of popular support in the region, as polling shows us, including 90% of people in Saudi Arabia don’t want to make peace with Israel until the Israelis make peace with the Palestinians. And Hamas’s popularity has risen.

But along with this major development which I mentioned, the second one, which I think is absolutely critical and explains a lot of the stuff that’s happening not just in the region but here in the United States, where Palestinians are, you know, thrown out of their jobs because of a tweet they did two years ago or for wearing a scarf that is part of their identity or for calling for a ceasefire, people are — Palestinians are punished for this. This is because this centurylong legacy of Zionist and then Israeli government public relations spin, diversion, lies, exaggerations, distortions, it’s still going on, but it doesn’t work as well. They don’t fool the world like they used to, because everything they do is out in the open. And you go to your social media, and you see everything that the Israelis are doing. It’s all now being documented. Files are being prepared for the International Criminal Court.

So, this is why the Israelis become extremely more violent and more outrageous in their political statements. And it also explains why I believe that they’ve focused heavily on the antisemitism accusations, which, of course, antisemitism and the Holocaust are seen as like the worst human crimes in modern history, even though antisemitism goes way back. So, they’re focusing a lot on antisemitism, they accuse people of being antisemitic or terrorists, because most of their other arguments don’t work anymore.

So this is a really important moment. That’s why it’s so important now for a credible group of people — not the United States government, which is not credible in this, but a credible group of people that includes the U.S., but not run by the U.S. — put together some kind of serious proposal to stop the fighting, get the prisoners and hostages exchanged and released, and start a serious political negotiation that can move the Palestinians and the Israelis and the whole region towards a negotiated permanent peace agreement. It’s very hard to do with the existing governments.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to ask you — you mentioned Saudi Arabia and the 90% support for the axis of resistance within the country. Could you comment on Saudi Arabia’s role right now, for instance, declining to join the coalition that the United States is trying to set up to protect shipping in the Red Sea? What do you make of Saudi Arabia’s stance right now?

RAMI KHOURI: Well, Saudi Arabia waged war against Yemen for five years with American and British technical support, refueling and intelligence and all this stuff. And they lost. They were driven out. The Saudis had to get out of Yemen. The Emiratis got out before, because they’re even less efficient at warfare. And the Emiratis are hunkered down in south Yemen trying to set up some kind of new country or something there. We don’t know what they’re doing. The Saudis got out. So, they understand the capabilities of Ansar Allah and the Yemeni people. Over time, the Yemenis have defeated almost every single person who has tried to come into their country and dominate them or occupy them or order them around. So, that’s one fact.

The second fact is the United States is radioactive politically in the Middle East and in most of the Global South. I would say about 80% of the population of the entire world wants nothing to do with Joe Biden or his amateur, you know, State Department and Defense Department leaders. And even the Defense Department of the U.S. is hesitant to get into any kind of military interaction in Yemen, because they understand how difficult it is. So, the Saudis understand this, as well. They don’t want to be sucked into some cockamamie American plan drawn up in some underground bunker in Iowa or Kansas — I don’t know where these things are — where they come up with these incredible ideas.

I’m old enough to remember the 1960s and '70s, when I was in college, and until today. The U.S. has tried four or five times over the last 60 years that I've been a journalist to come up with coalitions of Israelis, Americans and Arabs against some bad guy in the region. It could be Iraq. It could be Iran. It could be al-Qaeda, could be Nasser, could be the communists. It changes over time. Every time they’ve tried to do this, it doesn’t work, because the people running American foreign policy do not have the fundamental decency or strategic knowledge to understand that you can’t go into an Arab country, where 90% of the people support the Palestinians and want the Palestinians to live peacefully with an Israeli state. We are not against an Israeli Jewish-majority state, but it has to live with Palestinians peacefully. Ninety percent of people across most of the region want Palestinian rights to be resolved, and they don’t want 25 American bases all around the region, which is one reason people in Iraq are shooting at American bases in Iraq and Syria. And you can’t get Arab governments to just run roughshod over their people and say, “The hell with you. We’re going to make an alliance with Israel. We’re going to make an alliance with the U.S.”

They’ve learned the hard way that the populations in the Arab countries are not perpetually docile. We’ve had 10 years of uprising, from 2010 to 2020, and there are still things happening in many Arab countries. But there is no realistic way that you can get serious Arab governments to go into an alliance with the U.S. and Israel, whether it’s to protect shipping or to do anything else. The way you protect shipping in the Red Sea is you stop the assault on Gaza. That’s what the Yemenis have made clear. They’re only doing this, they’re only firing at Israeli-linked ships, because of what Israel is doing in Gaza. They said, “Stop the assault, the genocide on Gaza. We will stop shooting.” It’s in Yemen’s interest to have the ships come and go.

So, these are fundamental, commonsense elements of foreign policy, which, for some odd reason, do not pertain in Washington. Washington doesn’t know how — broadly speaking, doesn’t know how to engage in foreign policy. They use their warfare capabilities. They use sanctions. They veto stuff at the U.N. They make threats. They try to come up with these grandiose coalitions. And most of these have failed, since Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen today. They don’t work. And they keep trying them. It’s very puzzling. This is really one of the great puzzles that American political scientists and psychiatrists need to study. Why does the U.S. refuse to see realities around the world, until they’re defeated, and they get out, and then they, you know, negotiate with the Viet Cong, they negotiate with the Taliban? And they’ll negotiate with Hamas, as they negotiated with Arafat and the PLO. You’re going to see American officials sitting with Hamas, I would say six, eight months down the road probably. They start quietly meeting in cafes in Vienna and stuff, and then…

So, there’s something about American foreign policy, that’s formulated in the public sphere, that is both irrational and ineffective. And it’s largely because the people doing it do not understand how the world works, and respond to political, financial, electoral pressures in their own constituencies. The political leaderships in the U.S. are highly deficient in conducting a moral foreign policy, but they’re highly efficient at conducting a profitable mercantile electoral policy, where they get votes, where they get support for advertising, where they get favorable media. And this is a tragedy for the United States, which tries to tell the world that it is for human rights and decency, equal rights. And the world believed this for 30, 40, 50 years, but don’t believe it anymore. And Gaza is the kind of the exclamation mark on this, where the U.S. actively supports this genocide, will not do a ceasefire, and therefore this is the consequence. And the Saudis don’t want anything to do with this.

AMY GOODMAN: Rami Khouri, I want to thank you for being with us, Palestinian American journalist, senior public policy fellow at the American University of Beirut. We’ll link to your piece in Al Jazeera headlined “Watching the watchdogs: Why the West misinterprets Middle East power shifts,” speaking to us from Boston.

This is Democracy Now! When we come back, we’ll go to James Bamford, who has a new piece in The Nation magazine, then a professor at Columbia University, and we’ll hear from a student at Barnard talking about what’s happening and censorship on college campuses. Stay with us.

In a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his "deepest concern" at the "very heavy civilian toll and the absolute humanitarian emergency facing the civilian population of Gaza." Macron also stressed "the need to work towards a lasting ceasefire, with the help of all regional and international partners," an Elysée Palace readout said. 

Dozens of civilians were killed and injured outside of the al-Amal hospital in Khan Younis on Wednesday, the Palestine Red Crescent Society said in a post on X.

The organization said it was the fourth time the hospital was targeted in the last week, blaming Israel for the attack in a post on X. Hamas also blamed Israel for casualties outside of the hospital in a statement.

The IDF did not immediately have a response to a request for comment and NBC News has not been able to verify the the claims that the IDF was responsible. 

Israel’s murderous aerial bombing of the Maghazi refugee camp—which killed 100 people on Christmas Eve—underlined the scale of the carnage in Gaza and pointed to those responsible.

It was a “massacre committed on a crowded residential square”, said Gazan health ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qudra.

Israel says it issues evacuation orders so civilians can get to safety before military attacks. But people living in Maghazi said there was no such warning. And Israeli troops followed up the bombing with artillery shelling.

The camp’s population of 33,000 in more normal times had risen as people fled other parts of Gaza under attack. Maghazi, established in 1949, exists because of the first wave of slaughter and mass ethnic cleansing as Zionists founded Israel in 1948. That horror, known as the Nakba, is now being repeated.  

On the day of the Maghazi massacre, Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu proclaimed his Christmas message. He reinforced the racist and genocidal logic of the assault. “This is a battle, not only of Israel against these barbarians, it’s a battle of civilisation against barbarism,” he said.

The day after the killings, Netanyahu visited troops in Gaza. He expressed his pride in their work, telling them that he was “unusually impressed.” 

He went on, “Don’t stop. The war continues to the end. Until they are finished, no less than that.”

To suppress speaking out and to distort reality, a lot of attacks take place.  It's amazing that people in the US who supposedly believe in free speech have been perfectly happy to allow a foreign government to terrorize and attack US students.  From yesterday's DEMOCRACY NOW!

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to end now with a Barnard professor and student, as we continue to look at what some are calling the “Palestine exception” to free speech and academic freedom on college campuses across the United States. A New York Times story this past weekend noted, quote, “a sustained antiwar protest like the one against the Gaza invasion has not been seen for decades,” unquote. But many schools have tried to shut down students and teachers who comment on Gaza or call for a ceasefire.

In one of the latest developments, professors at Syracuse University say upper-level administrators surveilled, harassed and intimidated undergraduates peacefully gathering for a study-in in support of Palestine earlier this month. So they issued a “Statement of Solidarity in Opposition to the Repressive Climate on US Campuses.” That’s what the letter was called, signed by more than 900 educators at this point nationwide, and the list is growing.

In a minute, we’ll be joined by a professor from Barnard College, sister school to Columbia. New York Civil Liberties Union recently sent a letter to the president of Barnard to protest a new policy that requires departments to submit content for their websites for approval by the Office of the Provost. Democracy Now! spoke with Safiya O’Brien, a Barnard College student and student organizer with Columbia University chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine.

SAFIYA O’BRIEN: The most prominent discrimination and harassment on campus has been through not only other students and faculty on campus, but the administration’s vilification of Palestinians through these university-wide emails that they’ve been sending. This is not only vilifying us as student groups that are advocating for an end to the violence as it ensues, but even allowing professors and adults that have very prominent positions in the university to speak so harshly against us and call for harm against students of color that are advocating for Palestine, and with impunity. We have documented hundreds of harassment complaints, because the administration hasn’t helped us at all with these harassment cases.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Barnard College student Safiya O’Brien, organizer with the Columbia University chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine.

For more, we’re joined by Premilla Nadasen, a professor of history at Barnard College, also co-director of the Barnard Center for Research on Women and author of the recent book, Care: The Highest Stage of Capitalism.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Professor Nadasen. We just have a minute. Then we will do a post show interview and post it at democracynow.org. But if you can talk about what’s happening on campus and why you signed this letter?

PREMILLA NADASEN: What we’ve seen, Amy, over the past couple of months is a whole series of strategies that universities have deployed, including Barnard College and Columbia University, to censor student and faculty speech and curtail academic freedom. This includes the suspension of Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace on campus, the cancellation of events, the policing of content on departmental websites, as you’ve mentioned, the presence of NYPD on campus. And this relates back to what you started with, and that is a Palestine exception.

What Barnard College has been doing is actually writing new policy as a way to then retroactively decide that events are unauthorized or, in fact, do not follow procedure. And I think there are some really critical issues here, and one of the critical issues is how are decisions at the university made. A lot of these have been made unilaterally, without consultation by faculty or students, and is, in fact, a violation of the university’s own conduct guidelines. And clearly, there’s a tremendous amount of influence by trustees, administrators, alumni and donors, who are making decisions about what kinds of speech ought to take place on college campuses and what can and cannot be posted.

AMY GOODMAN: You signed a statement headlined “Solidarity in Opposition to the Repressive Climate on US Campuses.” Professor Nadasen, if you could start off by talking about what’s happening at Barnard and Columbia University around the groups like Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace, and then what you’re being told to do as a professor in dealing with this crisis?

PREMILLA NADASEN: Yeah. Thanks for having me, Amy.

So, what we’ve seen at Barnard College — and Barnard is a sister college of Columbia University — is where the college and the university are really creating an infrastructure of rules and regulations in order to censor speech and curtail academic freedom. We’ve seen this in a number of instances — the suspension of two student organizations, Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine, presumably because they arranged an unauthorized walkout and rally, because there was supposedly threatening rhetoric and intimidation. However, when pushed, the administration is not able to identify the specific instances of this intimidating behavior. Threatening letters have been sent by deans to students.

We’ve seen the cancellation of events. I direct the Barnard Center for Research on Women. We had organized an event in sponsorship with Students for Justice in Palestine, which the university canceled the night before the event, claiming that Students for Justice in Palestine is an outside organization, even though it’s a Columbia organization, and Barnard students are members of that. They claim there was now a new five-week prior approval policy for co-sponsored events. And then there was an event that the Columbia Law Students for Palestine organized with Omar Shakir, who’s with Human Rights Watch. And so, all of these events have been canceled on, presumably, procedural grounds. And what the university and the college are doing is they’re using procedure and codes of conduct as a way to cancel events and silence students and faculty.

The other example, which you mentioned in your opening, is the control of faculty websites, departmental websites and center websites. Our Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Department wrote a statement in solidarity with Palestine that was posted on October 22nd — on October 21st, sorry. It was removed on October 22nd by the Provost’s Office. And just a few weeks later, the college created a new policy saying that any website content on departmental pages must be reviewed and approved by the Provost’s Office prior to posting.

And so, this is really crucial, because I think what it suggests is that decisions are being made unilaterally by the university officials, by college officials, without consultation with faculty and without through proper procedure, which includes going through the University Senate. Trustees, administrators, alumni and donors are the ones who are actually having undue influence in what — in the kinds of decisions that are being made around academic freedom and freedom of expression.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Professor Nadasen, I wanted to —

PREMILLA NADASEN: And, you know, the —

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yeah, I wanted to ask you, several — about a decade ago, the University of Chicago initiated a whole new movement among administrators at American universities, which they called the “Chicago Principles,” that supposedly, quote, said that, quote, “the University’s overarching commitment to free, robust, and uninhibited debate.” And then they got universities all around the country to sign on to this. Columbia signed on in 2016. How does the university reconcile its commitment to these Chicago Principles while at the same time shutting down unpopular speech, as far as they’re concerned, that has to do with Palestine?

PREMILLA NADASEN: What Barnard College has done is that it has actually rewritten its political activity guidelines. It rewrote it on November 13th. And what the new policy suggests is that specific actions, statements or positions taken by public officials or governmental bodies is off limits to faculty or is not protected by academic freedom. We cannot attempt to influence legislation or the outcome related to actions by the legislator. Previously, political activity was understood in terms of electoral or partisan politics. But clearly what the college is doing is expanding this notion of political activity and suggesting that faculty and students are in fact in violation of its policy.

But the Chicago Principles are extremely important. And what it says is that there, in fact, should be free and open inquiry, debate, discussion around all sorts of political issues, even if those are difficult and perhaps uncomfortable for people. Our faculty voted just a few weeks ago in favor of the Chicago Principles, because what we have seen now is, in fact, the administration using the power it has as a way to suppress any kind of debate and discussion, especially around Palestine.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Nadasen, are you concerned about speaking out? And do you need any prior approval? And what kind of discussions are you having among the professors at Columbia and Barnard? And talk about your decision to sign on to this letter, which speaks out against censorship and repression on college campuses, started by these Syracuse University professors, that has now close to a thousand signatures.

PREMILLA NADASEN: Students — faculty and staff at Barnard and Columbia formed a Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine shortly after the suspension of JVP and SJP on campus. So, we believe it’s extremely important for faculty and staff to be able to speak out on this issue, partly as a way to protect students. Students have been bearing the brunt of the intimidation and the threatening tactics on the part of the administration. They are the ones who have been suspended, who have been threatened with suspension individually.

And there are always risks. There are always risks in speaking out. I am on the Canary Mission website, and I have been for a very long time, because this is not a new issue for me. But I do think that there is really too much at stake right now. There’s too much at stake around what is happening in Gaza and in Palestine. There’s too much at stake in terms of what we need to be able to do on college campuses.

This is not the first time this has happened at Barnard. In 2015, the college changed its banner policy. It used to be that students could put banners up announcing events that were happening. In 2015, during Israeli Apartheid Week, students put up a banner. Shortly after that, the college changed its policy, and students are no longer to put — are no longer allowed to put banners up.

And so, I think we have to think about the meaning, really, of a liberal arts education and how we want to be able to create a climate that is for — that is one that allows academic debate, allows discussion, allows people to disagree with ideas, where we can have students challenged and give students a space to voice their opinions and faculty the space to teach very difficult topics.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to ask you: In terms of the impact on the student movement, overall, on student organizations, what has been the response of the organizations, given the fact that this is not government censorship? This is basically censorship imposed by donors, in essence, through their dollar contributions or the withholding of money to these universities.

PREMILLA NADASEN: Right. Students have been leading the way in the struggle. So, after JVP and SJP were suspended on the campus, 80 student organizations came together and formed CU Apartheid Divest as a way to represent the pro-Palestinian issue and to incorporate a lot of the agenda of JVP and SJP. Students on campus are currently calling for a tuition strike in the spring and trying to build support for that. So students are leading the way despite the threatening and intimidating behavior on the part of the college administration.

AMY GOODMAN: And I wanted to ask you about the congressional hearing where Elise Stefanik went after these three female college presidents — right? — the president of MIT, the president of Harvard and the president of University of Pennsylvania, who ultimately resigned. The president of Harvard got support from students, from professors, and she did not resign, Claudine Gay, but is under enormous, withering attack right now. Now they’re saying she’s guilty of plagiarism and has to step down. If you can talk about whether you’re following that, and the effect that that has had at Barnard and Columbia and around the country as college presidents are taken down, the most vulnerable, women and women of color? She was the first Black woman president of Harvard. And, of course, UPenn was President Magill, who is a female president of UPenn.

PREMILLA NADASEN: That’s right, Amy. And, in fact, many of the students who have been targeted on the campus here at Barnard and Columbia are largely students of color, and women of color, as well. So we’re seeing this across the board. It’s hard.

You have to place what’s happening at Barnard and Columbia right now in this larger national context. And the House subcommittee that you’re talking about, the hearings on antisemitism on college campuses, the Biden’s administration issuing of guidelines around antisemitism on campus, I think the core issue here — oh, and I will also add the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, that is investigating a number of schools around the country. I think part of the problem with this is the creation or the assumption that any criticism of the state of Israel is, in fact, antisemitic, and the ways in which, as you mentioned, donors, trustees and alumni are having undue influence on the ways in which there is space to critique the state of Israel on college campuses.

The AAUP has principles of academic freedom that state very clearly that the purpose of academic freedom is to protect the academe as a space for the production and dissemination of knowledge, that serves the public irrespective of governmental, corporate or institutional interests. And so, what we’re seeing right now is a violation of that, at Barnard, at Columbia, at Harvard, at Brown, and Penn, and a shutting down of debate, particularly around Palestine. And this is precisely why the New York Civil Liberties Union wrote this open letter to the Barnard administration about control of websites.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Nadasen, I want to end by asking about your own background. You said you have been outspoken on Palestinian issues for quite some time. You said your profile is on the Canary Mission website. We just spoke to the investigative journalist James Bamford about the Canary Mission and what it has been doing around profiling students and professors in the United States. People go to democracynow.org. But why you are interested in this issue? Can you talk about where you were born, and what that means for your analysis of the situation in the Middle East?

PREMILLA NADASEN: I was born in South Africa under apartheid. I lived there as a child and moved to the United States, but went back periodically. So I was deeply impacted by apartheid in South Africa and became active in the anti-apartheid movement in high school, and then in college, and knew about what was happening in Palestine, but don’t think I fully understood.

I did go on a delegation to Palestine for the first time. My first time in the region was in 2011 on a women of color delegation. And, Amy, I will just have to say I was shocked by what I saw. And I was shocked mostly with the parallels I saw to apartheid South Africa — the gates, the control of roads, the control of movement, the checkpoints, the use of military force, threatening military force, soldiers with guns. The areas we went to were essentially a militarized state. And even though I had spoken out about Palestine prior to that, I think traveling there and seeing for myself what is happening in Palestine had a real impact on how I could understand and see the issue there. And so I made a commitment at that point to continue to speak out, and to speak out whenever I could, because I think it’s unconscionable. I think what has been happening for decades in Palestine is unconscionable.

And I think what we’re really seeing now is a collective punishment and mass starvation in Gaza and unprecedented attacks in the West Bank. And it’s something that’s being supported by U.S. dollars. So I think it’s very important that we, as Americans who are paying tax dollars that are going to support the Israeli state, speak out about the things that we think are morally just, morally right, and to try to have — and to vote — and to vote as a way to make our voices heard.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Premilla Nadasen, we want to thank you so much for being with us, professor of history at Barnard College, co-director of the Barnard Center for Research on Women, one of close to 1,000 educators who have signed a statement, the headline, “Solidary in Opposition to the Repressive Climate on US Campuses.” The list is growing.

The following sites updated:

  • 'fargo' - dot tells her story

    'fargo' airs tuesdays on 'fx' and can be streamed on 'hulu.'  episode 7 aired this week -- meaning there are 3 more to go.  i'm grabbig dot's story - stan'll grab the other part of the episode.

    so dot wasn't on last week.  she'd left to try to fix things.  and where did she end up?  camp utopia.  she arrives and a punch & judy type puppet show is going on but it's not funny, it's a story of abuse that seems real and ugly.  she's there to see linda.  but all the women there are named 'linda.'  linda tillman is the linda she wants to see.  the other women are there seeking shelter from abuse and they all use the 1st name linda. 

    dot wants linda tillman to travel with her to the cops and tell them what roy is really like so they can arrest him.  linda won't until dot makes her puppet and tells her story in front of the others'.

    which dot does.

    she was in a grocery store, 15 years-old and stealing some chocolate.  linda tillman comes up when the store owner's threatening her and helps dot.  she takes her home.  linda is married to ... roy.  he says that she's not going to get a free ride.  linda says she's smart and that roy needs to teach her math.  roy does that and cops a feel during.  dot's puppet show reveals that there was no way that linda didn't know what was going on but linda still chose to leave dot with roy when she went out of town. 

    oh, linda is gator's mother.  yes, roy beat linda and dot.  turns out he also beat his son gator.  that's why gator is not really 100% behind roy as an adult.

    so linda goes out of town and roy tells dot that she's the woman of the house and has to do all of linda's duties while linda's gone.  then he comes into her bedroom and - reeking of tobacco and sweat - forces himself on her.

    everyone approves of dot's puppet show.  even linda tillman who notes she didn't come off well in it.

    but she'll now go to the police with dot.

    they leave.  they get to a diner.  dot's at the table and we realize ... it was all a fantasy or a dream.

    dot gets back into her car and starts to drive when a car plows into her.

    she wakes up in the hospital - still a little confused.  where's linda?  who? the friend she was with?  she's told she was brought in by herself.

    but her husband's been here the whole time waiting for her to come to.

    wayne? wayne's here?  she's so happy.

    but that vanishes when she looks over and roy's the 1 entering her room.

    let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'

    Wednesday, December 27, 2023.  The assault on Gaza continues, the continued assault bleeds out across the region.

    Yesterday, we ended on Iraq, today we start there.  REUTERS reports, "Iraq's government condemned on Tuesday overnight U.S. air strikes on Iraqi military positions that it said killed one serviceman and wounded 18 other people, calling them a 'clear hostile act'."  The strikes took place Monday night and left at least three US service members injured.  Sarah Fortenisky (THE HILL) wrongly types that the attacks are "credited to a militia group backed by Iran."  Nope.  As we've noted repeatedly, several years ago the militias were folded into Iraqi army.  They are not "Iran-linked," they are members of the Iraqi military.  This did not happen yesterday, it happened December 19, 2016 (that's when the November 2016 law passed by Parliament was approved).  Seven years ago.  You'd think the US press would try to get the facts right.  Then again, as Ava and I just noted in "," CBS NEWS gets their 'facts' from WIKIPEDIA -- yes, that's what passes for research in the news division of a major network.

    CBS NEWS will never correct their story because facts really don't matter in what passes for news which explains this nonsense from Ellie Cook (NEWSWEEK):

    The Iraqi government has condemned U.S. airstrikes against Iranian-backed militants in the country as a "clear hostile act" after three U.S. personnel were injured in a drone strike.

    The U.S. carried out precision strikes on three facilities in Iraq used by Iranian-backed militia groups in Iraq, U.S. officials said on Monday.

    No, liar, it's used used by the Iraqi military.  You're drawing a line between the militias and the Iraqi military  that no longer exists, that hasn't existed for seven years.  Do you feel good about being stupid or you proud that you lie daily?  I  have no idea but you're not instilling a sense of trust in the media among Americans when you regularly lie.

    Yes, the Iraqi government is offended.  Their military was attacked.  You're only surprised by their offense if you've swallowed the lies of the US press.

    The Iraqi government said that its security forces are dedicated to safeguarding diplomatic missions in the country and that Baghdad has previously defined the attacks against them as “hostile acts,” but stressed that the US airstrikes are “unacceptable” and a “violation” of the country’s sovereignty.

    “The Iraqi government condemns what transpired early this morning, Tuesday, December 26, 2023, during which Iraqi military sites were targeted by the American side justifying the act as a response… This constitutes a clear hostile act. It runs counter to the pursuit of enduring mutual interests in establishing security and stability, and it opposes the declared intention of the American side to enhance relations with Iraq.,” read a statement from the government, adding that the 18 people who were injured in the attacks also included civilians.

    "Iraqi military sites."  Get it?  The Iraqi government is not drawing the line that idiot reporters in the US are.  The attack was on the Iraqi military.  For seven years now the militias have been folded -- officially and legally -- into the Iraqi military.

    The spillover from the ongoing slaughter of Gaza is inflaming the region and is putting the globe at the risk of another world war.  THE NATIONAL notes, "American naval forces shot down attack drones and missiles launched by Yemen's Houthis at vessels in the Red Sea, US Central Command said on Tuesday."  Bethan McKernan (GUARDIAN) adds, "Israel is engaged in a 'multi-front war', its defence minister has said, hinting at military operations across the Middle East as the war in Gaza showed new signs of a dangerous regional escalation."  Last week at THE GUARDIAN, Christopher S. Chivvis noted, "A broader war could span Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Israel and Iran itself. It would come at an already precarious moment in global security when the US is struggling to supply more aid to Ukraine and manage rising tension in east Asia over Taiwan and the South China Sea. Regional and global effects would be unavoidable and could last decades, plunging the US back into large-scale Middle East conflicts it can ill-afford."  Few in the US seem to be aware of that and certainly the better part of media prefers remain uninformed.

    At WAR ON THE ROCKS, founder Ryan Evans shares his analysis of what's taking place:

    What took America about two-and-a-half years from the smoldering ruins of the World Trade Center to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Israel accomplished in weeks. In the wake of the attack, President Joe Biden flew to Israel, where he delivered a strident message of support to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders, while cautioning them to avoid the mistakes that the United States made after the 9/11 attacks. But that advice fell on deaf ears amidst the rage, shame, and political maneuvering in the wake of Hamas’ bloody rampage. Despite America’s considerable leverage, Biden has not yet been willing to do what it takes to restrain Israel. The result has been a horror show for Palestinians in Gaza, as well as for the hostages held in Gaza and their families.

    Israel’s military operation in Gaza is both strategically and morally unrecoverable. The legacy of this maximalist assault will haunt Israel for years. Its costs have cascaded around the world and acutely affect Israel’s closest partner, the United States. U.S. policy ought to reflect these realities, first by threatening to withhold further material and political support to Israel unless it announces an immediate ceasefire to allow humanitarian aid to flow, complies with the laws of war should combat resume, and commits to a positive political program on Palestinian governance of Gaza. 

    Yesterday on DEMOCRACY NOW!, Amy Goodman noted, "Meanwhile, human rights groups are demanding an investigation after video reportedly taken by an Israeli photojournalist appeared to show hundreds of Palestinians civilians, including children, held by Israeli soldiers in a Gaza stadium at gunpoint, stripped to their underwear, bound, and forced to sit on open ground."

    Gaza remains under assault.  Binoy Kampmark (DISSIDENT VOICE) points out, "Bloodletting as form; murder as fashion.  The ongoing campaign in Gaza by Israel’s Defence Forces continues without stalling and restriction.  But the burgeoning number of corpses is starting to become a challenge for the propaganda outlets:  How to justify it?  Fortunately for Israel, the United States, its unqualified defender, is happy to provide cover for murder covered in the sheath of self-defence."   CNN has explained, "The Gaza Strip is 'the most dangerous place' in the world to be a child, according to the executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund."  ABC NEWS quotes UNICEF's December 9th statement, ""The Gaza Strip is the most dangerous place in the world to be a child. Scores of children are reportedly being killed and injured on a daily basis. Entire neighborhoods, where children used to play and go to school have been turned into stacks of rubble, with no life in them."  NBC NEWS notes, "Strong majorities of all voters in the U.S. disapprove of President Joe Biden’s handling of foreign policy and the Israel-Hamas war, according to the latest national NBC News poll. The erosion is most pronounced among Democrats, a majority of whom believe Israel has gone too far in its military action in Gaza."  The slaughter continues.  It has displaced over 1 million people per the US Congressional Research Service.  Jessica Corbett (COMMON DREAMS) points out, "Academics and legal experts around the world, including Holocaust scholars, have condemned the six-week Israeli assault of Gaza as genocide."   The death toll of Palestinians in Gaza is now well over  20,000. NBC NEWS notes, "The vast majority of its 2.2 million people are displaced, and an estimated half face starvation amid an unfolding humanitarian crisis."  ABC NEWS notes, "In the Gaza Strip, at least 20,915 people have been killed and more than 54,900 others have been wounded by Israeli forces since Oct. 7, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry and the Government Media Office."  Actually, that figure has already been updated.  This morning THE GUARDIAN notes, "Israeli military action has killed 21,110 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip since Israel began its campaign against Hamas on 7 October, according to figures released on Wednesday by the Hamas-controlled health ministry in the territory. The ministry reported that 55,243 people had been wounded. It said 195 people were killed and 325 injured in the last 24 hours."  In addition to the dead and the injured, there are the missing.  AP notes, "About 4,000 people are reported missing."  And the area itself?  Isabele Debre (AP) reveals, "Israel’s military offensive has turned much of northern Gaza into an uninhabitable moonscape. Whole neighborhoods have been erased. Homes, schools and hospitals have been blasted by airstrikes and scorched by tank fire. Some buildings are still standing, but most are battered shells."  Kieron Monks (I NEWS) reports, "More than 40 per cent of the buildings in northern Gaza have been damaged or destroyed, according to a new study of satellite imagery by US researchers Jamon Van Den Hoek from Oregon State University and Corey Scher at the City University of New York. The UN gave a figure of 45 per cent of housing destroyed or damaged across the strip in less than six weeks. The rate of destruction is among the highest of any conflict since the Second World War."  Max Butterworth (NBC NEWS) adds, "Satellite images captured by Maxar Technologies on Sunday reveal three of the main hospitals in Gaza from above, surrounded by the rubble of destroyed buildings after weeks of intense bombing in the region by Israeli forces."

    ABC NEWS notes, "Gaza is facing another telecommunications blackout, according to the Palestine Red Crescent Society. 'This presents a significant challenge for emergency medical teams in reaching the wounded and injured,' the organization warned."  REUTERS adds, "The Palestinian Red Crescent reported a complete loss of communication with its teams working in the Gaza Strip due to the disruption of telecommunications and internet services."  What's going on?  Among other things, what Rebecca ("liars try to distract us from the genocide") and Elaine ("Gaza") pointed out last night -- the Israeli government doesn't want reality getting out.  It's why the Israeli government is attempting to keep United Nations workers from getting into Gaza.

    FACEBOOK is also trying to hide reality.  Doha Madani (NBC NEWS) reports:

    Human Rights Watch has accused Meta of stifling pro-Palestinian content on its Instagram and Facebook platforms in what it described as a “pattern of undue removal and suppression,” in a 51-page report.

    “Human Rights Watch found that the problem stems from flawed Meta policies and their inconsistent and erroneous implementation, overreliance on automated tools to moderate content, and undue government influence over content removals,” the group said today on Instagram.

    Instead of reality, we gets distortion and distraction from many outlets.  Like THE DAILY MAIL which served up this nonsense:

    Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been slammed for her Christmas post that called Israel a violent occupying force and likened Jesus to the Palestinians. 

    Posting on Instagram on Christmas Eve, AOC shared a photo of a child lying on a pile of rubble surrounded by wooden nativity scene icons. 

    Accompanying the photo, the New Yorker wrote: 'In the story of Christmas, Christ was born in modern-day Palestine under the threat of a government engaged in a massacre of innocents.'

    She went on to compare Jesus being hunted by King Herod to the 'right-wing forces' currently 'violently occupying Bethlehem.'

    Her post sparked a fierce backlash online with some accusing her of 'Jew hate.'

    Really?  A backlash?  Because the Pope said the same thing that the U.S. House Representative did.  Did they miss this:

    Pope Francis said in his Christmas messag eon Monday (December 25) that children dying in wars, including Gaza, are the "little Jesuses of today," and that Israeli strikes there were reaping an "appalling harvest" of innocent civilians.


    AMY GOODMAN: We begin today’s show in the occupied West Bank in the city of Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus. City and church leaders canceled all Christmas festivities in the Holy Land this year to mourn the more than 20,000 Palestinians killed in Gaza. The landmark Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem created a nativity scene with the figure of baby Jesus in a keffiyeh, surrounded by rubble.

    Later in the show, we’ll be joined by the church’s pastor, the Reverend Munther Isaac, but we begin by airing his Christmas sermon, which he delivered on Saturday.

    REV. MUNTHER ISAAC: Christ Under the Rubble.

    We are angry. We are broken. This should have been a time of joy; instead, we are mourning. We are fearful.

    More than 20,000 killed. Thousands are still under the rubble. Close to 9,000 children killed in the most brutal ways, day after day. One-point-nine million displaced. Hundreds of thousands of homes destroyed. Gaza as we know it no longer exists. This is an annihilation. This is a genocide.

    The world is watching. Churches are watching. The people of Gaza are sending live images of their own execution. Maybe the world cares. But it goes on.

    We are asking here: Could this be our fate in Bethlehem? In Ramallah? In Jenin? Is this our destiny, too?

    We are tormented by the silence of the world. Leaders of the so-called free lined up one after the other to give the green light for this genocide against a captive population. They gave the cover. Not only did they make sure to pay the bill in advance, they veiled the truth and context, providing the political cover. And yet another layer has been added: the theological cover, with the Western church stepping into the spotlight.

    Our dear friends in South Africa taught us the concept of the “state theology,” defined as “the theological justification of the status quo with its racism, capitalism and totalitarianism.” It does so by misusing theological concepts and biblical texts for its own political purposes.

    Here in Palestine, the Bible is weaponized against us — our very own sacred text. In our terminology in Palestine, we speak of the empire. Here we confront the theology of the empire, a disguise for superiority, supremacy, chosenness and entitlement. It is sometimes given a nice cover, using words like “mission” and “evangelism,” “fulfillment of prophecy,” and “spreading freedom and liberty.”

    The theology of the empire becomes a powerful tool to mask oppression under the cloak of divine sanction. It speaks of land without people. It divides people into “us” and “them.” It dehumanizes and demonizes. The concept of land without people, again, even though they knew too well that the land had people — and not just any people, a very special people. Theology of the empire calls for emptying Gaza, just like it called for the ethnic cleansing in 1948, a “miracle,” or “a divine miracle,” as they called it. It calls for us Palestinians now to go to Egypt, maybe Jordan. Why not just the sea?

    I think of the words of the disciples to Jesus when he was about to enter Samaria: “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” they said of the Samaritans. This is the theology of the empire. This is what they’re saying about us today.

    This war has confirmed to us that the world does not see us as equal. Maybe it’s the color of our skins. Maybe it is because we are on the wrong side of a political equation. Even our kinship in Christ did not shield us. So they say if it takes killing 100 Palestinians to get a single “Hamas militant,” then so be it. We are not humans in their eyes. But in God’s eyes, no one can tell us that.

    The hypocrisy and racism of the Western world is transparent and appalling. They always take the word of Palestinians with suspicion and qualification. No, we’re not treated equally. Yet, on the other side, despite a clear track record of misinformation, lies, their words are almost always deemed infallible.

    To our European friends: I never ever want to hear you lecture us on human rights or international law again. And I mean this. We are not white, I guess. It does not apply to us, according to your own logic.

    In this war, the many Christians in the Western world made sure the empire has the theology needed. It is thus self-defense, we were told. And I continue to ask: How is the killing of 9,000 children self-defense? How is the displacement of 1.9 million Palestinians self-defense?

    In the shadow of the empire, they turned the colonizer into the victim, and the colonized into the aggressor. Have we forgotten — have we forgotten that the state they talk to, that that state was built on the ruins of the towns and villages of those very same Gazans? Have they forgot that?

    We are outraged by the complicity of the church. Let it be clear, friends: Silence is complicity. And empty calls for peace without a ceasefire and end to occupation, and the shallow words of empathy without direct action, all under the banner of complicity.

    So here is my message: Gaza today has become the moral compass of the world. Gaza was hell before October 7th, and the world was silent. Should we be surprised at their silence now?

    If you are not appalled by what is happening in Gaza, if you are not shaken to your core, there is something wrong with your humanity. And if we, as Christians, are not outraged by the genocide, by the weaponization of the Bible to justify it, there is something wrong with our Christian witness, and we are compromising the credibility of our gospel message.

    If you fail to call this a genocide, it is on you. It is a sin and a darkness you willingly embrace. Some have not even called for a ceasefire. I’m talking about churches. I feel sorry for you.

    We will be OK. Despite the immense blow we have endured, we, the Palestinians, will recover. We will rise. We will stand up again from the midst of destruction, as we have always done as Palestinians, although this is by far maybe the biggest blow we have received in a long time. But we will be OK.

    But for those who are complicit, I feel sorry for you. Will you ever recover from this? Your charity and your words of shock after the genocide won’t make a difference. And I know these words of shocks are coming. And I know people will give generously for charity. But your words won’t make a difference. Words of regret won’t suffice for you. And let me say it: We will not accept your apology after the genocide. What has been done has been done. I want you to look at the mirror and ask, “Where was I when Gaza was going through a genocide?” …

    In these last two months, the psalms of lament have become a precious companion to us. We cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken Gaza? Why do you hide your face from Gaza?”

    In our pain, anguish and lament, we have searched for God and found him under the rubble in Gaza. Jesus himself became the victim of the very same violence of the empire when he was in our land. He was tortured, crucified. He bled out as others watched. He was killed and cried out in pain, “My God, where are you?”

    In Gaza today, God is under the rubble.

    And in this Christmas season, as we search for Jesus, he is not to be found on the side of Rome, but our side of the wall. He’s in a cave, with a simple family, an occupied family. He’s vulnerable, barely and miraculously surviving a massacre himself. He’s among the refugees, among a refugee family. This is where Jesus is to be found today.

    If Jesus were to be born today, he would be born under the rubble in Gaza. When we glorify pride and richness, Jesus is under the rubble. When we rely on power, might and weapons, Jesus is under the rubble. When we justify, rationalize and theologize the bombing of children, Jesus is under the rubble.

    Jesus is under the rubble. This is his manger. He is at home with the marginalized, the suffering, the oppressed and the displaced. This is his manger.

    And I have been looking and contemplating on this iconic image. God with us precisely in this way, this is the incarnation — messy, bloody, poverty. This is the incarnation.

    And this child is our hope and inspiration. We look and see him in every child killed and pulled from under the rubble. While the world continues to reject the children of Gaza, Jesus says, “Just as you did to one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it to me.” “You did it to me.” Jesus not only calls them his own, he is them. He is the children of Gaza.

    We look at the holy family and see them in every family displaced and wandering, now homeless in despair. While the world discusses the fate of the people of Gaza as if they are unwanted boxes in a garage, God in the Christmas narrative shares their fate. He walks with them and calls them his own.

    So this manger is about resilience. It’s about sumud. And the resilience of Jesus is in his meekness, is in his weakness, is in his vulnerability. The majesty of the incarnation lies in its solidarity with the marginalized. Resilience because this is very same child who rose up from the midst of pain, destruction, darkness and death to challenge empires, to speak truth to power and deliver an everlasting victory over death and darkness. This very same child accomplished this.

    This is Christmas today in Palestine, and this is the Christmas message. Christmas is not about Santas. It’s not about trees and gifts and lights. My goodness, how we have twisted the meaning of Christmas. How we have commercialized Christmas. I was, by the way, in the U.S.A. last month, the first Monday after Thanksgiving, and I was amazed by the amount of Christmas decorations and lights and all the commercial goods. And I couldn’t help but think: They send us bombs, while celebrating Christmas in their lands. They sing about the prince of peace in their land, while playing the drum of war in our land.

    Christmas in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, is this manger. This is our message to the world today. It is a gospel message. It is a true and authentic Christmas message about the God who did not stay silent but said his word, and his word was Jesus. Born among the occupied and marginalized, he is in solidarity with us in our pain and brokenness.

    This message is our message to the world today, and it is simply this: This genocide must stop now. Why don’t we repeat it? Stop this genocide now. Can you say it with me? Stop this genocide —

    CONGREGATION: Stop this genocide now.

    REV. MUNTHER ISAAC: Let’s say it one more time. Stop this genocide —

    CONGREGATION: Stop this genocide now.

    REV. MUNTHER ISAAC: This is our call. This is our plea. This is our prayer. Hear, O God. Amen.

    AMY GOODMAN: The Reverend Munther Isaac, the pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem, delivering his Christmas sermon on Saturday. He titled it “Christ in the Rubble.” Coming up, Reverend Isaac will join us from Bethlehem in occupied West Bank. Stay with us.


    AMY GOODMAN: “Song to the World,” a version of the popular Christmas song “Little Drummer Boy” sung by the Ramallah Friends School in the West Bank. The three Palestinian college students who were shot in Burlington, Vermont, last month are graduates of the Ramallah Friends School and met there in the first grade. The three students who were shot now go to Haverford, Trinity and Brown in the United States. In the video shared by the school, current students sing in Arabic with English subtitles. The school wrote, “Our hearts come together in prayer for the safety of the children in Gaza. May our shared prayers echo for peace and justice, weaving a tapestry of hope that goes beyond borders, embracing the shared humanity we all hold dear.”

    AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman in New York, with Juan González in Chicago.

    “Christ in the Rubble.” That was the name of the Christmas sermon we just heard from the Reverend Munther Isaac, the pastor of the landmark Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem. Reverend Isaac’s church gained international attention for creating a nativity scene with the figure of baby Jesus in a keffiyeh, surrounded by rubble.

    Over the Christmas weekend, Israel carried out raids across the West Bank, including in Bethlehem, in Jenin, Nablus, Jericho and Ramallah. The Reverend Munther Isaac joins us from Bethlehem, where Christmas festivities were canceled this year to mourn the more than 20,000 Palestinians killed in Gaza.

    Reverend, welcome to Democracy Now! I wish I could wish you happy holidays, but they are far from happy this year. I’m wondering if you can talk about the message we just heard. It was clear it was not just for your congregation in Bethlehem, not just for the Occupied Territories and Israel, but you were really sending out a message to the world, and particularly talking about the United States. Why you feel where we are talking to you from, where you just recently were, is so important when it comes to the almost 21,000 Palestinians dead since October 7th, since the Hamas attack on Israel?

    REV. MUNTHER ISAAC: Yeah. Good morning. Thank you for having me.

    This was a service we held the day before Christmas for Gaza, and it was Jesus under the rubble, from Bethlehem to the world. And as I said in the introduction, we are broken, as Palestinians, by the magnitude, the horrific killing of our people in Gaza. But I also wanted to speak not just for the people of Gaza, for all Palestinians, who are appalled by the silence of the world and the dehumanization that has been taking place of the Palestinian people, especially those in Gaza, the dehumanization that allows such atrocities to take place with the world watching, and with Gazans themselves filming their own execution.

    We are really tired and troubled from seeing, day after day after day, images of children and families being pulled from under the rubble. We can’t understand how the world is OK with this. And as a pastor who regularly speaks with churches around the world, I can’t understand how we can preach the gospel of love and justice, while ignoring and, in some cases, justifying what is happening in Gaza. It’s unfathomable to me and to many Palestinians.

    And as such, I felt the need to deliver such a message with very direct and clear language. This is not the time for soft diplomacy, especially with the genocide still happening day after day after day. And I’m grateful for those who enabled us to broadcast this service to the world. And I am grateful that it is reaching. It’s not that we’re going to stop what’s happening in Gaza. I wish we could. We’re trying all we can through messaging and lobbying. But I hope that people will feel the weight of responsibility that they have. And I’m talking about not just Western government. Many churches, they have enabled what is happening right now in Gaza. And I felt we need to send this message.

    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Reverend Isaac, you mentioned that you were recently in the United States. You went to Washington, D.C., with a group of Christian leaders from Bethlehem. You spoke to congressional leaders. And you also delivered a message to the White House — a letter to the White House. What was your sense of how the political leaders in this country are regarding what’s going on there right now in the — with the Israeli attacks on Gaza?

    REV. MUNTHER ISAAC: We received a mixed reaction. But I left really depressed. And clearly, back then, we saw the intention and that as if everybody has given in to the idea this war is going to last for long.

    I left with several impressions. A lot of it has to do with how unwilling to even have a good conversation some congressmen — I’m talking about their staff — are willing, you know, to do. I mean, you share from the heart of our suffering and pain, and then you just get the response, “Well, Congressman so-and-so or Senator so-and-so has made it clear that this war wants to continue.” And they speak with so much distance from the fact and also almost with lack of empathy whatsoever.

    When we met in the State Department and the White House, to be honest, you know, they understand the details of what’s happening. When I told them that this war is definitely not bringing any results other than killing innocent people, you know, they seemed to agree. But they seemed to have, as I said, given in to the idea that this war must continue. And I was — you know, I challenged them: “How do you allow such a government in Israel, such leaders, to drive you into committing a genocide?” I can’t understand it, especially with some of the, quote-unquote, “ideals” many of these American politicians keep bragging about or calling for. Yet when it comes to the Palestinians, it seems no one is willing to extend these human rights and international principles to us.

    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And could you lay out the significance of Palestine for the Christian faith? It’s not only the birthplace of Christianity, but also the site of several key events described in the Old and New Testaments.

    REV. MUNTHER ISAAC: Yeah, Palestine is where it all started. And in addition to the sites themselves that church fathers have called the fifth gospel, meaning that the geography speaks about what happened here over the years, I think we have to realize that Palestine also hosts the oldest Christian tradition in the world. Christianity started here and never ceased to exist here. So, not only is this the land where it all started, this is the land that continued to witness nonstop and give the Christian message.

    We always emphasize that Palestine without the witness of its people means nothing. And I hate to see Palestine one day turned into a museum of holy sites for these Western pilgrims who come and visit only interested in certain sites that relate to the Scriptures, without acknowledging the presence of people, without acknowledging the presence of a church that has long carried the Christian witness in Palestine for 2,000 years. But, sadly, we continue to be ignored.

    And I think even Palestine, apart from being the destination for pilgrimage, is somehow — you know, people view the biblical land as somehow a mythical land, a land from another universe. You know, we just celebrated Christmas, and millions sang about Bethlehem and read about Bethlehem. I wonder if they know that Bethlehem is a real city, in Palestine, with people, with a long cry for justice. But it seems that, you know, for some reason, people don’t make that connection and are not as much concerned with the plight of Palestinian Christians and even Middle Eastern Christians.

    AMY GOODMAN: Reverend Isaac, can you describe for us — half of our audience is television; they see the nativity scene. Half is radio; they cannot see it. Can you describe the nativity scene that was right next to you as you delivered your Christmas sermon? Describe it in detail and why you chose to do this this year, as Christmas celebrations were canceled in your city of Bethlehem.

    REV. MUNTHER ISAAC: So, we created this nativity scene earlier this month, in the beginning of the Advent season, from rubble, bricks, that resemble a destroyed house. So it’s a pile of bricks that resemble a house that was bombed. And on top of it, surrounded by bricks, we had baby Jesus. And the characters in the — usually in the manger, the shepherds and the magis, are all outside, surrounding the rubble, watching in as if they’re looking for any sign of life, looking for Jesus. And we’re sending a message that Jesus is under the rubble.

    We created it because this is what Christmas looks like in Palestine today. But we created it because, you know, there is a strong message we wanted to send from it, which is that in a time when the world continues to justify and rationalize the killing of our children, we see the image of Jesus in every child pulled from under the rubble.

    These have been very difficult times for us as Palestinians. We ask difficult questions, including: Where is God in the midst of suffering? And I’ve been saying God is under the rubble. God is with those who suffer. God suffers with us. So, with Christmas coming, the connection to me was natural: Jesus as a baby who survived a massacre, Jesus as a baby who became a refugee with his family to Egypt, identifies with us in our suffering. He was born with the marginalized. So the connection was natural.

    And we created this manger to send a message to the world: This is what Christmas means to us as Palestinians. It was a message to our people. I know that everyone saw it in the international media, and it resonated with — I mean, it created maybe a shock to many. But for the Palestinians, it sent a very strong message. And many, many Palestinians reached out to us, to our church and to myself, thanking us for explaining the true meaning of Christmas, for sending a message of comfort and hope in the midst of very, very difficult times.

    And so I spoke even in my sermon that this manger somehow resembles our resilience as Palestinians. From the midst of destruction, we will rise. And I’m convinced of that. It sounds so dark right now. We’re traumatized. I mean, honestly, we’re traumatized as a people. And I can’t even think of the people of Gaza. But I know that we will rise.

    And I’m pleased that this manger was able to bring a small sense of hope to our people, but that it also sent a powerful message to the world about the reality in Palestine. This is what Christmas is in Palestine: displaced families, destroyed homes and children under the rubble.

    AMY GOODMAN: Reverend Munther Isaac, I want to thank you for being with us, Palestinian Christian theologian, pastor at the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem. He titled his Christmas sermon “Christ in the Rubble: A Liturgy of Lament.”

    When we come back, we look at how a growing number of U.S. labor unions are calling for a Gaza ceasefire. Back in a minute.

    The following sites updated: