Peter Myers Digest: Columbia faculty walk out over Gaza

(1) NATO tries to ward off defeat in Ukraine by deploying Western ‘advisors’ (troops, in uniform)
(2) Columbia faculty walk out. Anti-Genocide protests erupt; Universities suppress them
(3) Columbia Faculty Walk Out Over Student Suspensions & Arrests For Gaza Protests
(4) Justice Kavanaugh asks, What Obama’s drone strikes? Why prosecute Trump but not Obama?
(5) Biden changes his mind about sanctioning IDF’s Settler battalion for violence against Palestinians

(1) NATO tries to ward off defeat in Ukraine by deploying Western ‘advisors’ (troops, in uniform)

NATO starts deploying troops as Russia races to win

NATO starts deploying troops as Russia races to win

The plan to try and ward off disaster seems to be to fill in gaps in Ukraine’s forces by importing ‘advisors’


Dutch Minister of Defense Kasja Ollongren on April 17, 2024, tries out the cockpit of a Dutch F-16s, three of which were delivered to the European F-16 training center in Romania. Training of Ukrainian pilots reportedly is going slowly, suggesting that experienced non-Ukrainian pilots may be needed to fly the sophisticated planes against the Russians in the Ukraine War. Photo: X

NATO is starting to deploy combat troops to Ukraine. Soldiers from Poland, France, the UK, <>Finland and other NATO members are arriving in larger numbers.

Although <> Russia says there are over 3,100 mercenaries in Ukraine, these newly arriving troops are not mercenaries. They are in uniform, home country proclaimed via insignia. They mostly are concentrated in the western part of the country, although in some cases they are close to the actual fighting in the east.

NATO is <>putting out the word these are not combat soldiers but are in Ukraine to operate sophisticated western hardware. But if they are firing at the Russians the only proper way to interpret their presence is that they are playing an active part in the shooting war.

More or less this is the same pattern that the US used when it sent “advisors” to Vietnam. In fact, they were US Special Forces who engaged in combat.

The Biden administration, at least for public consumption, says it opposes sending NATO soldiers to Ukraine. But Biden in truth may be waiting for his reelection before he gives the order for US soldiers to fight in Ukraine. After Biden is reelected, he will have a free hand. The recent passage of the $60 billion air bill for Ukraine signals that Congress will go along with whatever the Biden administration wants to do “fighting the Russians.”

The national security establishment fears a Russian victory in Ukraine. It would constitute a major setback in America’s security strategy and would be a blow, even a fatal one, to NATO.

Reportedly the Russian army is now 15% bigger than it was before the Ukraine war. It is also far more experienced, and the Russians have found ways to deal with US high tech systems, such as jamming and spoofing.

Meanwhile NATO is far behind Russia in weapons, manpower and industrial might. Furthermore, stockpiles of weapons are very low and equipment supposedly for national defense has been sent to Ukraine, leaving defenses wanting.

The <>consensus opinion in the US National Security establishment is that Ukraine is losing its war with the Russians and could potentially face the collapse of its army.

There already are reports that some brigades in the Ukrainian armed forces refused orders from their commanders. Those include the 25th Airborne Assault Brigade; the 115th Brigade; the 67th Mechanized Brigade (which abandoned positions in Chasiv Yar) and the 47th Mechanized (which demanded rotation after more than a year on the front lines). These are top Army brigades and not territorial defense units.

The Russians know what is going on and they are<> targeting foreign forces while also grinding down Ukrainian fighting units, inflicting heavy casualties. The Russians say Ukraine has already lost almost 500,000 troops in the war, and the numbers destroyed in combat grow on a daily basis.

Ukraine is desperate to find new recruits, and it is getting some help from countries where Ukrainian draft-age refugees are hiding out. Lithuania is <> planning to send Ukrainian draft-age men home. So is<> Poland.

(2) Columbia faculty walk out. Anti-Genocide protests erupt; Universities suppress them

Columbia faculty members walk out after pro-Palestinian protesters arrested

Hundreds of members of teaching staff demonstrate in solidarity with arrested students as protest tents put back up on campus

Gloria Oladipo and Erum Salam New York

Tue 23 Apr 2024 11.14 AEST

Hundreds of faculty members at Columbia University in New York held a mass walkout on Monday to protest against the school president’s decision to have police arrest students at a pro-Palestinian encampment protest last week.

The solidarity protest came as students put protest tents back up on campus. They had been torn down last week when the New York police department arrested more than 100 students, who were also suspended by the university.

Bassam Khawaja, a lecturer at Columbia law school and supervising attorney at the school’s human rights clinic, said he was “shocked and appalled that the president went immediately to the New York police department”.

“It didn’t seem like any kind of measures were taken to de-escalate,” Khawaja said. “It also just seems completely unnecessary. This was by all accounts a non-violent protest. It was a group of students camping out on the lawn in the middle of campus. It’s not any different from everyday life on campus.”

<> ‘Media firestorm’: Israel protest at professor’s home sparks heated free-speech debate
Read more

As Columbia announced it would be holding classes remotely, students on campuses across the US launched their own protests. At Yale University in Connecticut, police arrested more than 40 pro-Palestinian protesters, according to the student newspaper, the <> Yale Daily News.

Students have called for their universities to back a ceasefire in Gaza and divest from companies with ties to <> Israel.

On Monday, Columbia’s president, Nemat Minouche Shafik, said that school leaders would be convening to discuss the “crisis”, <> NBC News reported.

Shafik also claimed that antisemitic language and intimidating and harassing behavior towards Jewish students had taken place on campus recently: “The decibel of our disagreements has only increased in recent days. These tensions have been exploited and amplified by individuals who are not affiliated with Columbia who have come to campus to pursue their own agendas … We need a reset.”

Student demonstrators, including Jewish students, have denied accusations that their protests are antisemitic, blaming “inflammatory individuals who do not represent us” and describing the protests as peaceful and inclusive.

“We firmly reject any form of hate or bigotry and stand vigilant against non-students attempting to disrupt the solidarity being forged amount students – Palestinian, Muslim, Arab, Jewish, Black, and pro-Palestinian classmates and colleagues who represent the full diversity of our country,” read a statement from student organizers <> posted to Instagram.

The Columbia and Barnard chapters of the American Association of University Professors decried Shafik’s crackdowns on protests in a statement on Friday, saying: “We are shocked at her failure to mount any defense of the free inquiry central to the educational mission of a university.”

Journalism professor Helen Benedict, who was on campus when the NYPD began arresting students, said in an interview that sending “riot police with guns” on to campus was an “overreaction”.

<> View image in fullscreen
NYU faculty and students protest on Monday. Photograph: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis/Getty Images

“There’s been a huge miscalculation, [at] every step,” Benedict said. “The safety of the campus for our students has been violated and the students are actually made less safe by this … This is a learning environment in which students learn to debate disagreement and have to learn sometimes to be made uncomfortable, and that instead of punishing that, we should be mediating and teaching from it so that students can learn from it.”

On Monday, long lines formed outside the gates of Columbia as students had to wait to have their IDs scanned at security checkpoints. Some faculty members were at the gates advocating for reporters who had been denied entry.

The protests have prompted national attention, with political leaders of both parties condemning university leadership.

In Virginia, Joe Biden denounced antisemitism on college campuses in a statement marking Passover, which began on Monday.

He said: “This blatant antisemitism is reprehensible and dangerous – and it has absolutely no place on college campuses, or anywhere in our country.”

Speaking before Biden at the Virginia event, the progressive New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez appeared to reference the campus demonstrations in her remarks, saying: “It is especially important that we remember the power of young people shaping this country today of all days.”

One of the suspended students at Columbia was Isra Hirsi, the daughter of the Democratic congresswoman <> Ilhan Omar. Omar, of Minnesota, and her fellow progressive Rashida Tlaib of Michigan also condemned punishments against Hirsi and other student protesters, <> the Hill reported.

Omar <> said university protests were being “co-opted and made to look bad so police and public leaders would shut them down”, similar to other movements in the past: “The Columbia protesters have made clear their demands and want their school not to be complacent in the ongoing genocide in Gaza. Public officials and media making this about anything else are inflaming the situation and need to bring calmness and sanity back.”

The New York governor, Kathy Hochul, convened a meeting with Columbia administrators, city officials and police on Monday, and a group of Jewish House Democrats also met Jewish students.

“While the leadership of Columbia may be failing you, we will not,” Josh Gottheimer, a Democratic congressman from New Jersey, <> said during a press conference on campus. If Columbia fails to keep Jewish students safe, Gottheimer warned that the university’s leadership would “pay the price”.

Congressman Dan Goldman, a New York Democrat, said what Jewish students told him they had witnessed <> was “unacceptable at an academic institution of learning”.

Other US colleges and universities have announced extreme measures to punish students who participate in peaceful protests supporting Palestine.

The University of Michigan announced it would draft new rules to punish disruptive behavior after students held a protest during the university’s convocation ceremony on Sunday.

Students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Emerson College, both in the Boston area, have started encampment protests inspired by the demonstration at Columbia. Videos on <> X showed students at New York University in Manhattan erecting a new encampment on their campus, as well as students at the University of North Carolina doing the same.

NYU’s office of global campus safety ordered students to clear their encampments by 4pm on Monday after officials allegedly witnessed “disorderly, disruptive and antagonizing behavior” as additional protesters attempted to participate in the demonstrations.

“You will need to clear the plaza by 4.00pm. If you leave now, no one will face any consequences for today’s actions – no discipline, no police,” according to a post to X from the university. Mass arrests began around 8.30pm, local time.

Prahlad Iyengar, an MIT graduate student studying electrical engineering, was among about two dozen students who set up an encampment of more than a dozen tents on campus on Sunday evening to call for a ceasefire and to protest what they describe as MIT’s “complicity in the ongoing genocide in Gaza”.

“MIT has not even called for a ceasefire, and that’s a demand we have for sure,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed reporting

This article was amended on 23 April 2024 to correct Bassam Khawaja’s title, and to clarify a quotation from Helen Benedict in which she said riot police were called on to campus.

(3) Columbia Faculty Walk Out Over Student Suspensions & Arrests For Gaza Protests

Columbia faculty walk out over student suspensions, arrests for Gaza protests

Columbia Faculty Walk Out Over Student Suspensions, Arrests For Gaza Protests

While expressing gratitude for solidarity actions, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar—whose daughter was suspended—said that “this about the genocide in Gaza and the attention has to remain on that.”


APRIL 23, 2024

[…] Yonah Lieberman, co-founder of IfNotNow, a Jewish-led U.S. group that organizes against Israel’s <> apartheid, declared: “Solidarity with these faculty members. Shame on establishment politicians and agitators who are smearing the anti-war protest at Columbia as anything other than what it is: a courageous stand for freedom and peace.”

Great to see faculty support students from smearing & intimidation tactics meant to stifle an overwhelmingly peaceful protest against war. This is a multi faith & multi racial movement across America. All heavy-handed attempts to quash it are inspiring more young people. <>

— Wajahat Ali (@WajahatAli) <> April 22, 2024

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Naureen Akhter, a founding member of the New York-based group Muslims for Progress, <> said: “Thank you to the professors who stood in solidarity with student protestors, who didn’t give into instigators who are fanning flames of hate and division. Remember the calls are for transparency, divestment, and amnesty for students!”

Congresswoman <> Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.)—a critic of Israel’s war on Gaza whose own daughter, Isra Hirsi, was <> suspended from Columbia’s Barnard College last week for “standing in solidarity with Palestinians facing a genocide,” as the 21-year-old junior put it—also <> noted the faculty walkout and “nationwide Gaza solidarity movement.”

“This is more than the students hoped for and I am glad to see this type of solidarity,” said Omar. “But to be clear, this about the genocide in Gaza and the attention has to remain on that.” …

The walkout in New York City followed 54 Columbia Law School professors <> sending a letter to administrators that states, “While we as a faculty disagree about the relevant political issues and express no opinion on the merits of the protest, we are writing to urge respect for basic rule-of-law values that ought to govern our university.”

“Procedural irregularity, a lack of transparency about the university’s decision-making, and the extraordinary involvement of the NYPD all threaten the university’s legitimacy within its own community and beyond its gates,” they wrote. “We urge the university to conform student discipline to clear and well-established procedures that respect the rule of law.” …

(4) Justice Kavanaugh asks, What Obama’s drone strikes? Why prosecute Trump but not Obama?

Mr Producer

Should Obama Be Prosecuted Over Drone Strike Against Civilians? Kavanaugh to Jack Smith Attorney Kavanaugh: “How about President Obama’s drone strikes?”

Dreeben: “… The federal murder statute does not apply to the executive branch.”

Should Obama Be Prosecuted Over Drone Strike Against Civilians? Kavanaugh to Jack Smith Attorney
<>4:53 am · 26 Apr 2024

Michael Dreeben

Michael R. Dreeben (born c. 1954) is a former Deputy Solicitor General who was in charge of the U.S. Department of Justice criminal docket before the United States Supreme Court. He is recognized as an expert in U.S. criminal law.
This page was last edited on 12 December 2023, at 01:46 (UTC).

0:11 / 8:45

‘How About Pres. Obama’s Drone Strikes?’: Kavanaugh Brings Up Past Presidents With Trump’s Lawyer

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190,577 views 26 Apr 2024

(5) Biden changes his mind about sanctioning IDF’s Settler battalion for violence against Palestinians

US may not impose sanctions on Netzah Yehuda Battalion – report

Pressure from Israeli politicians appears to have succeeded in pushing the US to step back from issuing sanctions.


APRIL 24, 2024

The US is unlikely to impose sanctions on the[Netzah Yehuda Battalion](, at least not in the meantime, Ynet reported Wednesday afternoon, citing Israeli officials.

However, Reuters foreign policy reporter Humeyra Pamuk reported on Wednesday afternoon that the sanctions are still set to be issued in the coming days, citing official sources.

The expected withdrawal from the plan to issue sanctions comes after intense pressure from Israeli leaders. The fact that Israeli leaders from across the political spectrum, from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Opposition leader Yair Lapid, expressed opposition to the planned sanctions pushed the US to take a step back from the pending decision, according to the report.

“The reasonable assessment is that we will be able to convince the Americans not to impose these sanctions,” said several Israeli sources to Ynet.

A senior Israeli official told Ynet that the[US was surprised]( the harsh reactions from both Israeli politicians and the public in Israel to the planned sanctions. Israeli leaders reportedly promised US officials that the problematic incidents attributed to Netzah Yehuda would be dealt with.

In response to reports that the US intended to sanction Netzah Yehuda, Prime Minister[Benjamin Netanyahu]( said he would “fight with [this decision] all [his power],” calling it ” the height of absurdity and a moral blow” in a statement published on X Saturday night.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid also said in a statement on X that the sanctions are a “mistake” and Israel “must act to cancel them.”

Planned sanctions on Netzah Yehuda Battalion

On Friday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at a press conference that he has made “determinations” on the issue of cutting military aid to specific Israeli army units accused of human rights violations in the West Bank before October 7.

Unnamed US officials told Israeli media on Saturday that Blinken would sanction the Netzah Yehuda Battalion.

The sources stated that the American sanctions would prohibit the transfer of US military aid to the Netzah Yehuda Battalion, will prevent its soldiers and officers from taking part in training with the United States military, and will prevent the soldiers from this unit from participating in activities that receive American funding.

The sanctions are based on a 1997 law by former Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, which prohibits the United States from providing military aid or training to security forces, the military, or the police when there is reliable information about human rights abuses.

On Thursday, the American investigative website ProPublica reported that a special committee of the American State Department, which investigated allegations of human rights violations in the West Bank, forwarded recommendations a few months ago to Blinken to impose sanctions on several units of the IDF and the Israel Police and to prevent them from receiving American funding.

The Netzah Yehuda Battalion was originally established as a special military unit for haredim (ultra-orthodox), in which all of the soldiers and officers were men.

Over the years, in light of the low number of haredim who enlisted in the IDF, the unit also began to include extremist youth who held far-right positions and were not included in other combat units in the IDF.

Journalist Amos Harel reported inHaaretzin September 2022 that the US State Department began an investigation into the Netzah Yehuda Battalion following several incidents in which soldiers from the battalion were involved in violence against Palestinian civilians.

Barak Ravid contributed to this report.