Peter Myers Digest: Is/Pal Dec 5

(1) Israel dropped bombs on Gaza equivalent to 3 Hiroshima bombs in 89 days
(2) Survivors of the Nova rave massacre sue IDF for not warning them that Gaza breakout was imminent
(3) John Mearsheimer endorses South Africa submission to ICJ on Gaza Genocide
(4) Universities crack down on Palestinian students but not Jewish students – Philip Giraldi
(5) Genocide narratives in the Bible – now we see what they mean. Time to repudiate the Old Testament
(6) Bible narrative drives the Genocide – Jeffrey Sachs. Time to repudiate the Old Testament

(1) Israel dropped bombs on Gaza equivalent to 3 Hiroshima bombs in 89 days

January 4, 2024 at 7:19 am
Israel dropped 65,000 tonnes of bombs on Gaza in 89 days

‘The weight of the explosives dropped by the army on the Gaza Strip exceeded 65,000 tonnes, which is more than the weight and power of three nuclear bombs like those dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima.’

January 4, 2024 at 7:19 am

(2) Survivors of the Nova rave massacre sue IDF for not warning them that Gaza breakout was imminent

42 survivors of the Nova rave massacre sue defense establishment for negligence

NIS 200 million suit says party should not have been approved so close to border and should have been dispersed immediately, when military discovered threat of potential attack

By[MICHAEL HOROVITZ]( January 2024, 9:59 pm[59]

In the first civil suit of its kind, a group of injured survivors of the Supernova rave massacre on Monday sued Israel’s security forces for damages over their alleged negligence leading up to the October 7 Hamas onslaught, claiming that the tragedy could have largely been averted.

The 42 plaintiffs filed the claim for NIS 200 million ($56 million) at the Tel Aviv District Court against the Shin Bet security service, the Israel Defense Forces, the Israel Police, and the Defense Ministry, alleging multiple instances in which they failed in their duties.

“A single phone call by IDF officials to the commander responsible for the party to disperse it immediately in view of the expected danger would have saved lives and prevented the physical and mental injuries of hundreds of partygoers, including the plaintiffs,” the lawsuit said. “The negligence and the gross oversight is beyond belief.”

Loss of earnings, pain and suffering, loss of life’s pleasures, loss of future earnings, and medical expenses were among the claims included in the lawsuit.

The festival, near Kibbutz Re’im, was among several locations where Hamas-led terrorists rampaged on October 7, killing some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapping some 240 people others to Gaza.

The plaintiffs noted that violent atrocities were carried out against revelers, some of whom were raped and murdered and burnt alive, while survivors hid underneath corpses and bomb shelters, in the massacre, which began at 6:30 a.m. and continued until around 12 p.m.

“Hamas murdered 364 partygoers, and kidnapped 40 to Gaza, some of whom were released, and some of whom are missing. Many were injured physically or mentally, including the plaintiffs,” the lawsuit read.

The claim cited reports following the massacre, which said senior officers in the Gaza Division expressed concerns over the party, and that the operations commander opposed it being held. It also noted that Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar held consultations the night before, and even sent a special operations team to the border the night before the onslaught.

“On the night between October 6 and October 7, at least two IDF assessments were held due to unusual incidents on the Gaza Strip border, one near midnight and another assessment close to 3 a.m., several hours before the Hamas attack,” the lawsuit read.

The plaintiffs expressed disbelief that despite the fear among security officials that a day of [fighting could break out]

(, including attempts to capture soldiers and civilians, no immediate order was given to disperse the event.

They said that the IDF was unable to provide adequate security for the event since many soldiers were at home over the Simchat Torah holiday. Only 27 police officers were stationed at the party, most of them not in possession of long arms, as required when based near the border, the claimants said.

Attorney Shimon Buchbut, a retired Air Force commander cited as an expert in the lawsuit, said that the IDF was negligent in giving approval for the party and that any reasonable official would not have allowed it to go ahead.

“The event was held a small distance from the Strip’s border. The noise from the party was heard by Gazan residents and revelers were an easy target for the terror attack,” he said in the claim.

The lawsuit also cited testimonies of plaintiffs who experienced the horrific scenes of the massacre.

One of the plaintiffs described escaping from the scene to a shelter at the entrance of Kibbutz Re’im, where terrorists fired shots and threw grenades. The plaintiff covered himself with body parts while terrorists attempted to burn down the shelter.

Another plaintiff “escaped with his friend under massive fire. They were exposed to horrific scenes, including bodies lying on the road, and even had to run over them to escape. In the end, they arrived at a factory in Ofakim, where they hid for 12 hours under fire.”

Anat Ginzburg and Gilad Ginzburg, the plaintiff’s attorneys, said in a statement that “the disaster could have been very easily prevented.”

(3) John Mearsheimer endorses South Africa submission to ICJ on Gaza Genocide

Genocide in Gaza


5 JAN 2024

I am writing to flag a truly important document that should be widely circulated and read carefully by anyone interested in the ongoing Gaza War.

Specifically, I am referring to the 84-page “application” that South Africa filed with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on 29 December 2023, accusing Israel of committing genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza.<> 1 It maintains that Israel’s actions since the war began on 7 October 2023 “are intended to bring about the destruction of a substantial part of the Palestinian national, racial and ethnic … group in the Gaza Strip.” (1) That charge fits clearly under the definition of genocide in the Geneva Convention, to which Israel is a signatory.<> 2

The application is a superb description of what Israel is doing in Gaza. It is comprehensive, well-written, well-argued, and thoroughly documented. The application has three main components.

First, it describes in detail the horrors that the IDF has inflicted on the Palestinians since 7 October 2023 and explains why much more death and destruction is in store for them.

Second, the application provides a substantial body of evidence showing that Israeli leaders have genocidal intent toward the Palestinians. (59-69) Indeed, the comments of Israeli leaders – all scrupulously documented – are shocking. One is reminded of how the Nazis talked about dealing with Jews when reading how Israelis in “positions of the highest responsibility” talk about dealing with the Palestinians. (59) In essence, the document argues that Israel’s actions in Gaza, combined with its leaders’ statements of intent, make it clear that Israeli policy is “calculated to bring about the physical destruction of Palestinians in Gaza.” (39)

Third, the document goes to considerable lengths to put the Gaza war in a broader historical context, making it clear that Israel has treated the Palestinians in Gaza like caged animals for many years. It quotes from numerous UN reports detailing Israel’s cruel treatment of the Palestinians. In short, the application makes clear that what the Israelis have done in Gaza since 7 October is a more extreme version of what they were doing well before 7 October.

There is no question that many of the facts described in the South African document have previously been reported in the media. What makes the application so important, however, is that it brings all those facts together in one place and provides an overarching and thoroughly supported description of the Israeli genocide. In other words, it provides the big picture while not neglecting the details.

Unsurprisingly, the Israeli government has labelled the charges a “blood libel” that “has no factual and judicial basis.” Moreover, Israel claims that “South Africa is collaborating with a terror group that calls for the destruction of the state of Israel.”<> 3 A close reading of the document, however, makes it clear that there is no basis for these assertions. In fact, it is hard to see how Israel will be able to defend itself in a rational-legal way when the proceedings begin. After all, brute facts are hard to dispute.

Let me offer a few additional observations regarding the South African charges.

First, the document emphasizes that genocide Is distinct from other war crimes and crimes against humanity, although “there is often a close connection between all such acts.” (1) For example, targeting a civilian population to help win a war – as occurred when Britain and the United States bombed German and Japanese cities in World War II – is a war crime, but not genocide. Britain and the United States were not trying to destroy “a substantial part” of, or all the people in those targeted states. Ethnic cleansing underpinned by selective violence is also a war crime, although it is also not genocide, an action that Omer Bartov, the Israeli-born Holocaust expert, calls “the crime of all crimes.”<> 4

For the record, I believed Israel was guilty of serious war crimes–but not genocide—during the first two months of the war, even though there was growing evidence of what Bartov has called “genocidal intent” on the part of Israeli leaders.<> 5 But it became clear to me after the 24-30 November 2023 truce ended and Israel went back on the offensive, that Israeli leaders were in fact seeking to physically destroy a substantial portion of Gaza’s Palestinian population.

Second, even though the South African application focuses on Israel, it has huge implications for the United States, especially President Biden and his principal lieutenants. Why? Because there is little doubt that the Biden administration is complicitous in Israel’s genocide, which is also a punishable act according to the Genocide Convention. Despite his admission that Israel is engaged in “indiscriminate bombing,” President Biden has also stated that “we’re not going to do a damn thing other than protect Israel. Not a single thing.”<> 6 He has been true to his word, going so far as to bypass Congress twice to quickly get additional armaments to Israel. Leaving aside the legal implications of his behavior, Biden’s name – and America’s name – will be forever associated with what is likely to become one of the textbook cases of attempted genocide.

Third, I never imagined I would see the day when Israel, a country filled with Holocaust survivors and their descendants, would face a serious charge of genocide. Regardless of how this case plays out in the ICJ – and here I am fully aware of the maneuvers that the United States and Israel will employ to avoid a fair trial – in the future Israel will be widely regarded as principally responsible for one of the canonical cases of genocide.

Fourth, the South African document emphasizes that there is no reason to think this genocide is going to end soon, unless the ICJ successfully intervenes. It twice quotes the words of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on 25 December 2023 to drive that point home: “We are not stopping, we are continuing to fight, and we are deepening the fighting in the coming days, and this will be a long battle and it is not close to being over.” (8, 82) Let us hope South Africa and the IJC bring a halt to the fighting, but in the final analysis the power of international courts to coerce countries like Israel and the United States is extremely limited.

Finally, the United States is a liberal democracy that is filled with intellectuals, newspaper editors, policymakers, pundits, and scholars who routinely proclaim their deep commitment to protecting human rights around the world. They tend to be highly vocal when countries commit war crimes, especially if the United States or any of its allies are involved. In the case of Israel’s genocide, however, most of the human rights mavens in the liberal mainstream have said little about Israel’s savage actions in Gaza or the genocidal rhetoric of its leaders. Hopefully, they will explain their disturbing silence at some point. Regardless, history will not be kind to them, as they said hardly a word while their country was complicit in a horrible crime, perpetrated right out in the open for all to see.

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How Joe Biden Became America’s Top Israel Hawk

(4) Universities crack down on Palestinian students but not Jewish students – Philip Giraldi

Are We Losing Free Speech in America?
Israel is the catalyst for a major loss of freedom

JANUARY 4, 2024

There is little appreciation inside the United States for the grave damage being inflicted on our country by President Joe Biden’s foreign policy being conducted through the mechanism of starting or sustaining a new war every year. The justifications provided by the White House, State Department and Pentagon are so vacuous that they have succeeded in creating a new low standard for the art of government lying. The country is burdened by unsustainable debt yet we have the so-called Secretary of the Treasury Janice Yellen <> declaring in October that another war beyond Ukraine, presumably to directly intervene supporting Israel in destroying Gaza, can “certainly” be afforded. And with the current US military build-ups near China and in the Middle East to confront Iran there presumably is enough gas in the tank to pick up on another conflict or two before Genocide Joe stands for reelection later this year.

But in spite of the damage to our economy, which is quite real, some of the gravest threats come from within, from the attacks delivered by special interest groups directed against our fundamental liberties. The most significant assaults have of late been directed against the First Amendment, freedom of speech, which is the bedrock of all the rights and which is currently being assailed continuously by that most protected of all protected groups, America’s Jewish and Israeli Lobby.

Hardly a minute of the day passes without a new article in the mainstream media about “surging antisemitism.” The journalists involved, most of whom are Jewish, hardly ever observe that Israel’s slaughtering of 30,000 Gazans, mostly women and children, just might have something to do with how the public is beginning to regard the behavior of the Jewish state and its leaders. What actually fuels public outrage that groups like the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) choose to regard as antisemitism is Israel slaughtering ten thousand children under a flag displaying the Star of David and stating its intention to continue the massacre until all the Palestinians have fled to other countries or been killed. We are talking of 2 million plus people but Israel’s friends in the US regard them as little more than “sub-humans” or “terrorists.”

The Jewish/Israel lobby in America does not forgive and forget. Witness the continuing attacks on America’s universities for not rolling over and purging all suspected antisemites among faculty and students. Liz Magill, the President of the University of Pennsylvania, resigned almost immediately after being interrogated by the US Congress and the multiple attacks began. Poor Claudine Gay, president of Harvard, hung on but eventually also resigned after she <> was subjected to near continuous harassment by Israel’s friends, including in the US Congress, because she, like her presidential colleagues, had not accepted that nearly all criticism of Israel in the context of Gaza is based on Jew-hatred, which she was apparently expected to assert. To no one’s surprise, in her <> resignation letter she was not even honest about who had brought her down, blaming it instead mostly on racism. The letter did not even include the words “Congress” or “Gaza” or “antisemitism” or even “Israel.” To be sure, Gay is <> not a top level academic and probably was an affirmative action hire but has anyone ever heard of a Congressional committee going after an academic for the sin of plagiarism before? The involvement of the phony claims of antisemitism and the desire to protect Israel are what has made the difference in this case and led to the intensity and persistence of the attacks.

Indeed, the ADL’s revolting director Jonathan Greenblatt <> is demanding that there be more “consequences” for “antisemites on campus” and the media is hot on the story. Sally Kornbluth, President of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), who has not resigned after the ridiculous encounter of the three presidents with Congress is still being <“> hotly pursued by that body. Also engaged in the hunt are the many US Government entities whose sole task is to root out antisemites and holocaust deniers. The Department of Justice, headed of course by Jewish Attorney General Merrick Garland nee Garfinkel, is <> reportedly investigating a number of leading universities including Tulane and Rutgers for failure to “protect the civil rights of Jewish students.” It is a typical pattern where Jewish officials investigate alleged crimes against other Jews and come up with a predictable conclusion.

The universities are scrambling to comply with the government demands to get tough with alleged antisemites. At Columbia University, for example, certain slogans and chants used by Palestinian students have been banned and blocked, but there is no corresponding interference with Jewish student activities. Professor Rashid Khalidi <> has written a response to the university administration saying “Our deans state that the Columbia community should acknowledge ‘that hearing chanted phrases such as ‘by any means necessary,’ ‘from the river to the sea,’ or calls for an ‘intifada’—irrespective of intentions and provenance—is experienced by many Jewish, Israeli, and other members of our community as antisemitic and deeply hurtful. They have thus unilaterally decided that no one should rise up [the actual meaning of ‘intifada’] against 56 years of illegal military occupation; that Palestine should remain unfree from the river to the sea; and that the oppressed should take permission from the oppressor as to the means to relieve their oppression. They have come to this decision because hearing otherwise is ‘antisemitic and deeply hurtful’ to some. This statement amounts to a new norm that prohibits using or learning about these terms and their histories, in favor of the privileging of a politics of feeling. While perhaps appropriate to a kindergarten, it is hard to imagine an approach more contrary to the most basic idea of a university. This statement is characteristic of a university that picks a task force nearly devoid of expertise on antisemitism and on Palestine/Israel (much of which exists among the faculty), but packed with outspoken advocates for Israel, a university that has decided that faculty expertise on freedom of speech or on language to be proscribed should be rigorously excluded from deliberations on such issues. With complete disregard for the principle of faculty governance, crucial matters like these are being decided upon by administrators, presumably with hefty input from trustees, donors and politicians, who have negligible expertise, but robust and one-sided opinions.”

Khalidi might also have observed how pro-Israel groups at colleges are compiling and blacklisting names of student-critics of the Gaza situation so they can be denied jobs after they graduate. And beyond the damage done to freedom of speech and critical thinking at the universities there are already plenty of other possible consequences for those who are choosing to speak up about the atrocities that are underway but they only appear to apply to Palestinian and antiwar groups that are demonstrating against Israel’s ethnic cleansing of the Gazans. Ambitious politician wannabe Ron DeSantis, governor of Florida was one of the first to respond, <> banning Palestinian groups at all state universities due to their alleged “antisemitism.” He did not ban or even criticize a single Jewish group for cheerleading the slaughter of the Palestinians. And this has been the pattern elsewhere with the banning or denying of facilities to Palestinian and antiwar groups, but leaving Hillel and other Jewish groups alone no matter what they do. Is that freedom of speech? Of course not, but it is a measure of who has power in the United States and who does not. Speak ill of whomever you choose but leave Israel alone or you will be in real trouble!

And protecting Israel also extends to the punishing of supporters of completely nonviolent action, like boycotting or divesting from Israeli products to put pressure on the Benjamin Netanyahu regime. If you belong to a group that opposes Israeli policies you could be denied goods and services for that fact alone. In more than thirty states one can be compelled, for example, to sign an agreement not to support <> any action against Israel if one wants a job or government services. This special arrangement is unique to Israel and there are also special trade missions often manned by American Jews or Israelis, including <> in my state Virginia, which create special investment opportunities for Israel that do not exist for any other country.

But perhaps the most insidious attempt to complete America’s falling under the control of Israel-think is what is taking place in lower-to-mid level public education. Many school districts and even state educational boards require courses in the horrors of antisemitism and the so-called holocaust. The courses are, of course, being pushed most ardently by Jews and by select Evangelicals who are sitting around waiting for the Second Coming, a prophecy that involves in their minds the return of Jews to the Holy Land as a prerequisite. Senator Jacky Rosen of Nevada, who is, of course, Jewish, <> has just introduced legislation called the “Never Again Education Act,” which has an impact nationwide. The “Never Again Education Act” was first <> introduced in July of 2019 <> before passing in the House in January 2020 with 300 co-sponsors and in the Senate in May 2020. As it is set to expire in 2025, Senator Rosen is looking to have the Act reapproved to extend it to 2030 to “provide funding for training and lessons on the ethnic cleansing of Jews.”

The problem with the Act is that it rests on a contrived narrative that is essentially political in nature, including as it does many non-historical and even fabricated assertions about what took place in the 1930s and 1940s. The Act is intended to bestow on Jews a special victimhood that in turn conveys on them and on Israel exemption from normal rules regarding their behavior. It, of course, is part of the narrative that is giving Netanyahu and his rogues a more-or-less free pass from the US for their crimes against humanity against the Palestinians.

So the America we once knew is under siege. Free speech is being eroded and will soon be subject to criminal penalties if one says the wrong thing about Israel. This is intolerable and one prays that the American people will have its own “intifada” and wake up to the new infamy and put an end to it.

Sachs Israeli politics has become dominated by extremists who mix religious fervor with murderous violence against the Palestinians

(5) Genocide narratives in the Bible – now we see what they mean. Time to repudiate the Old Testament

Netanyahu declares a Holy War of Annihilation on Civilians of Gaza, Citing the Bible



Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – In his speech on Saturday, October 27, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu <> made reference to the Bible’s instructions about the Amalekites, a favorite trope of his when he has argued that Israel is under existential threat and must respond with lethal and devastating force. He has talked about Iran this way, as well.

According to the Bible, the Amalekites were a southern Canaanite tribe that attempted to block the Israelites from coming out of Sinai into the land of Canaan.

The incident to which Netanyahu referred occurs in 1 Samuel 15. In the eleventh century BCE, Saul has become Israel’s first king, and there is a good deal of tension over this rise of monarchy. It is clear that the Jewish priests and prophets were critics of the new institution.

The prophet Samuel tells Saul that God wants him to take revenge on the Amalekites for their earlier actions:

15 1 Samuel said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore listen to the words of the Lord. 2 Thus says the Lord of hosts: I will punish the Amalekites for what they did in opposing the Israelites when they came up out of Egypt. 3 Now go and attack Amalek and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.”

4 So Saul summoned the people and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand foot soldiers and ten thousand soldiers of Judah. 5 Saul came to the city of the Amalekites and lay in wait in the valley. 6 Saul said to the Kenites, “Go! Leave! Withdraw from among the Amalekites, or I will destroy you with them, for you showed kindness to all the Israelites when they came up out of Egypt.” So the Kenites withdrew from the Amalekites. 7 Saul defeated the Amalekites, from Havilah as far as Shur, which is east of Egypt. 8 He took King Agag of the Amalekites alive but utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.

The passage goes on to say that Saul initially spared King Agag along with many sheep and other animals, and that God became angry with him for this less than total elimination of the enemy, and expressed regret at having made Saul king.

This text is one of a number of “genocide narratives” in the Hebrew Bible where the Israelites were ordered to wipe out other peoples, including the Canaanites (Psalm 83:4; Isaiah 19:1–10; exodus 17:8–16, Joshua 8:24–25). In Hebrew the technical term for this sort of total holy war was herem, which is cognate to the Arabic haram, a sacred space.

<> Gill Kugler points out that these passages often troubled Christians, some of whom saw them as allegorical and others of whom saw them as pre-, sub-, and anti-Christ. I fear some of our contemporary Evangelicals may see them as a how-to manual.

There is no archeological evidence for the existence of a people called the Amalekites, who are depicted in the Bible as living in what is now the Negev desert or perhaps in Jordan. <> Bernhard Asen argues that similar notions of the extermination or displacement of enemies are found in the <> Mesha Stele of circa 840 BCE, a Canaanite text of a Moabite king. This may be so, but it doesn’t settle the question of whether boasting of genocide was a rhetorical flourish or reflected a concrete practice.

In fact, although the authors of 1 Samuel 15 have Saul wipe out the Amalekites, other authors have David tangle with them at a later time (1 Samuel 30). So Saul seems to have missed some. Or, Israel’s kings annihilating the Amalekites was a literary image deployed over and over again. The books of Samuel are thought to have been written down around 550 BCE during the Babylonian Exile, under the Iranian Achaemenid dynasty. They tell tales that supposedly occurred hundreds of years before. The authors weren’t historians and were rather reworking oral legends into theological interpretations of history.

Netanyahu has never been accused of being a religious man, and he quotes the Bible the way Donald Trump does, to appeal to fundamentalist voters.

He is using 1 Samuel 15 to cover a secular ideology that underpins his Likud Party. It is the revisionist Zionism of <> Vladimir “Ze’ev” Jabotinsky (1880-1940),

<> MSNBC: “Netanyahu announces IDF will expand ground operations in Gaza”

As the great historian Avi Shlaim <> pointed out, Jabotinsky wrote in the 1920s, “Every indigenous people will resist alien settlers as long as they see any hope of ridding themselves of the danger of foreign settlement. This is how the Arabs will behave and go on behaving so long as they possess a gleam of hope that they can prevent ‘Palestine’ from becoming the Land of Israel.”

It was only by establishing settlements fiercely guarded by Zionist gangs forming an “Iron Wall” that the native Arabs could be made to kowtow to the alien settlers, Jabotinsky held: “Settlement can thus develop under the protection of a force that is not dependent on the local population, behind an iron wall which they will be powerless to break down.”

His followers founded the Irgun Zvai Leumi terrorist group, which blew up the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 1946, killing dozens of civilians, and perpetrated the massacre of Palestinian villagers at Deir Yassin in April, 1948, in an attempt to ethnically cleanse the Palestinians from Palestine.

Netanyahu has openly celebrated the terrorist strike against the King David Hotel, which does not differ in kind, only in the numbers of dead, from the Hamas attack of October 7. He drew a rebuke from the British Parliament 17 years ago, which passed a resolution: “That this House notes that the sixtieth anniversary of the bombing of the King David Hotel fell on 22nd July 2006; recalls that 96 people died in this atrocity, which remains the highest death toll for British subjects in a terrorist attack; further notes that an event was held in Jerusalem to celebrate this event and that prominent members of the Knesset, including former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, attended; condemns terrorism unreservedly; and associates itself with the comments of Her Majesty’s Ambassador in Tel Aviv and the Consul-General in Jerusalem, `We do not think that it is right for an act of terrorism, which led to the loss of many lives, to be commemorated.’”

Netanyahu may have gestured to, and defiled, the Bible by excusing his genocide against the civilians of Gaza with reference to 1 Samuel. But his real bible is Revisionist Zionism with its Fascist and explicitly colonial ideology. The Iron Wall is now advancing into Gaza, doing to small children and pregnant women what the authors of 1 Samuel in prosaic Babylon probably only dreamed of doing to the mythical Amalekites.

(6) Bible narrative drives the Genocide – Jeffrey Sachs. Time to repudiate the Old Testament

Notice that Juan Cole and Jeffrey Sachs are publishing their stuff in the dissident media. Even prominent dissident Jews cannot get thie material into the “mainstream” media. It’s time to repudiate the Old Testament – Peter M.

Saving Israel by Ending Its War in Gaza


JANUARY 1, 2024

The Israeli government argues that it is in a mortal fight for survival against Hamas, and therefore must take every measure, including the very destruction of Gaza, to survive. This is false.

When Congress returns in January, President Joe Biden will push the case to deepen American complicity in Israel’s war in Gaza through another US armaments package for Israel. Americans should raise their voice in a resounding no.

An arms package for Israel is not only against America’s interests but also against Israel’s interests. The only path to real security for Israel is peace with Palestine. The US can help bring this about by ending the supply of munitions for Israel’s brutal war and by promoting the two-state solution as called for by international law.

I spelled out the diplomatic path to the two-state solution in a previous <> column for Common Dreams. That path remains open. It is actively promoted by the Arab and Islamic countries and supported by nearly the entire world.

If Israel ends the genocide, it will end the global opposition it now faces.

Israel’s brutality in Gaza is becoming a true threat to Israel’s survival. Because of Israel’s extraordinary violence, the world is uniting against Israel, while Israel is suffering massive military losses. Incredibly, some Israeli leaders are now openly advocating an even wider war in the Middle East, one that could well spell utter disaster for Israel.

The surging global opposition to Israel’s policies is not antisemitic. It is anti-genocide. It is also pro-peace, pro-Israel, and pro-Palestine. If Israel ends the genocide, it will end the global opposition it now faces.

Defeating Hamas is not Israel’s real aim in Gaza

The Israeli government argues that it is in a mortal fight for survival against Hamas, and therefore must take every measure, including the very destruction of Gaza, to survive. This is false. There is no ethical, practical, legal or geopolitical case for destroying Gaza—killing tens of thousands of civilians, and uprooting 2 million people—to protect Israel against the kinds of preventable and controllable threats that Hamas actually poses.

During the years 2008-2022, Hamas and other militants <> killed around a dozen Israeli civilians per year, while Israel usually killed at least ten times more civilian Palestinians. There was a spike in 2014, when Israel invaded Gaza, with 19 Israeli civilians killed versus 1,760 Palestinian civilians. Hamas launches many rockets, but almost all are intercepted or cause little damage. Israel responds with periodic massacres (as in 2014) and with more regular airstrikes. The Israelis even have a cynical name for their periodic killing, called “<> mowing the grass.” It is <> common knowledge inside Israel that Hamas long served as a “low-cost” political prop used by Netanyahu to “prove” to Israelis that a two-state solution is impossible.

In all the years of Hamas rule in Gaza after 2007, Hamas has never captured Israeli territory, much less remotely threatened Israel’s existence or survival. Simply, it couldn’t do so even if it wanted. Hamas has around 30,000 fighters, compared with more than 600,000 active and reserve personnel in the IDF. Hamas lacks an air force, armored units, a military-industrial base, and any geographic maneuverability outside of Gaza.

On October 7, Hamas fighters made a surprise incursion into Israel that lasted that horrific day. This did not reflect a new super-ability of Hamas to invade Israel but rather a shocking failure of Israeli security. Israeli leaders had ignored extensive warnings of an upcoming Hamas attack and had inexplicably left the Gaza-Israel border severely under-manned. Even more astoundingly, they did so just days after Israeli extremists had <> stormed the al-Aqsa Mosque complex, one of the Islam’s holiest sites. Hamas exploited Israel’s astounding security lapse by breaching the border in an attack that led to around 1,100 Israeli civilian deaths, and Hamas’ taking of 240 hostages, with an unknown number of the Israeli civilian deaths that day caused by Israeli aerial bombing and crossfire in the IDF’s counterattack.

By re-fortifying the border with Gaza, Israel has stopped further ground incursions by Hamas. Netanyahu has ordered the destruction of Gaza not to protect Israel from Hamas, but to make Gaza uninhabitable and thereby to fulfill his longstanding intention to impose permanent Israeli rule over the territory. Netanyahu gets the added bonus of clinging to power despite his grievous other failures.

The Israeli government’s more basic objective is to solidify its total control over “Greater Israel,” meaning all of the land from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. Its objective with the incursion in Gaza is to push the population out of the territory. On October 10, Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant <> stated that “Gaza won’t return to what it was before. We will eliminate everything.” More recently, <> Netanyahu spoke of “voluntary emigration” of the Gazan population—voluntary, that is, after Gaza has been laid to waste and Gazans told to evacuate. Metula Mayor David Azoulai <> declared that “the whole Gaza Strip needs to be empty. Flattened. Just like in Auschwitz. Let it be a museum for all the world to see what Israel can do. Let no one reside in the Gaza Strip for all the world to see, because October 7 was in a way a second Holocaust.” He later clarified that he would like to see the Gaza population “relocated,” not murdered. Most recently, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, <> a self-declared fascist, <> called for Gaza’s population to be cut to 100,000-200,000 from the current population of more than 2 million. Israel aimed from the start of its invasion of Gaza to push the Gazans into Egypt, but Egypt adamantly refused to be a party to ethnic cleansing.

In the 1970s, the aim of dominating Palestine to create Greater Israel as a Jewish state was a fringe belief. Now it rules Israeli policy, in part reflecting the enormous political weight of hundreds of thousands of Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

“Greater Israel,” defined as Israel of pre-1967-War borders, plus Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, is home to roughly seven million Jews and seven million Palestinian Muslims and Palestinian Christians. Israel can rule Greater Israel only by dominating seven million Palestinians, or by driving them out of their homes by war, violence, and extreme discrimination. The quest for Greater Israel in practice leads Israel to commit grave crimes against the people of Palestine. The ongoing crime is Apartheid rule, with its severe injustices and indignities. The graver crime is ethnic cleaning as Israel is attempting in Gaza. The gravest of all is genocide, witnessed in the thousands of deaths of innocent civilians occurring each week now in Gaza.

Israel’s turn towards extremism

The American people need to understand that Israeli politics has become dominated by extremists who mix religious fervor with murderous violence against the Palestinians. This ultra-violent side of Israel is readily apparent in Israel but is still largely unknown to the American public. Israeli brutality in Gaza comes as a surprise to many Americans, yet it has become par for the course in Israel itself, although some Israelis are no doubt in denial of the facts on the ground in the Occupied Territories. The Grayzone has put together <> a shocking compilation of Israeli soldiers and leading personalities celebrating Palestinian deaths.

Israel’s <> genocidal violence towards the Palestinian people appeals to much of the Israeli public for several reasons. First, always lurking in the shadows in Israel is the memory of the Holocaust. Politicians like Netanyahu have long stoked the terror of the Holocaust to argue crudely and falsely that all Palestinians want to kill all the Jews, so that the violent suppression of the Palestinians is a matter of life and death for Israel. Of course, as in any spiral of hatred, there is a self-fulfilling prophecy to Netanyahu’s rhetoric and actions, leading to counter-actions and hatreds from the other side. Yet rather than trying to solve those through dialogue, interaction, diplomacy, and peacemaking, the cycle of hatred is stoked.

Second, orthodox rabbis have expanded upon the security narrative by insisting that Israel has a sacred right to Palestine because God gave all the land from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean to the Israelites.

Third, with 700,000 Israeli settlers living in the Palestinian lands conquered in 1967, Greater Israel has become a fait accompli for a large part of the Israeli people, with a large voice in Israeli politics. These settlers moved into conquered territory and now fervently insist on defending their settlements. The UN Security Council (<> UNSC Resolution 2334) has unequivocally declared Israel’s settlements in occupied Palestine to be in flagrant violation of international law, yet Smotrich himself, in the inner cabinet, is a leader of the settler movement.

The emergence of this violent strand of Judaism dates to the early 1970s, just after the 1967 Six-Day War. The policy question in Israel after 1967 was what to do with the newly occupied Palestinian land. Drawing on <> the proposals of Yigal Allon, a leading Israeli politician, Israeli leaders decided to keep East Jerusalem and to establish settlements in the occupied West Bank and Gaza to put “facts on the ground” to protect Israel’s security. > From the start, Israeli governments defied UN Security Council Resolution 242 (1967), which rejected Israel’s acquisition of territory by war.

What happened next was momentous. Ultra-religious Jews took up the cause of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories as part of a messianic calling to make Israel the “Earthly support of the Lord’s throne,”(<> here p. 69). In 1974, Gush Emunim was launched as an ultra-nationalist religious settler movement by followers of the father-son rabbis Abraham Isaac Kook and Zvi Yehuda Kook, whose teachings combined the land claims of the Book of Joshua, Talmudic law, Chassidic mysticism, nationalism, and political activism.

The religious motivation of Greater Israel is that God gave the Jews all the land from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. In the Book of Joshua, probably completed in the 6th century BC, God instructs the Israelites arriving from Egypt after 40 years in the desert to annihilate the nations of Canaan in order to take the land for themselves. God promises the land extending “from the Negev wilderness in the south to the Lebanon mountains in the north, from the Euphrates River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west, including all the land of the Hittites. (Joshua 1:4, New Living Translation). With God’s backing, Joshua’s armies commit a series of genocides to capture the land.

This extraordinarily violent text and related parts of the Bible (such as the annihilation of the Amalekites in the Book of Samuel), have become <> crucial points of referencefor right-wing Israelis, both religious and secular. As a result, today’s Israel pursues a 6th century BC messianic vision of securing all of Palestine for the Jews. Supporters of Greater Israel often label the opponents of this ideology as anti-Semites, but this is wildly off the mark, as the former Executive Director of the Harvard Hillel <> has eloquently argued. The opponents of Greater Israel are against extremism and injustice, not against Judaism.

The Jewish settler movement led to a murderous disdain of the Palestinian. In his book Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel, Prof. Israel Shahak draws attention to the religious zealotry of Rabbi Eliezer Waldman, a leader of the West Bank settlers:

“Let us say clearly and strongly: we are not occupying foreign territories in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank]. This is our ancient home. And thank G-d that we have brought it back to life … Our responsibility to Jewish faith and redemption commands us to speak up in a strong and clear voice. The Divine Process of uniting our people and our Land must not be clouded and weakened by seeming logical concepts of “security” and “diplomacy.” They only distort the truth and weaken the justice of our cause, which is engraved in our exclusive national rights to our land. We are a people of faith. This is the essence of our eternal identity and the secret of our continued existence under all conditions.” [2002]

In Jewish History – Jewish Religion (2nd edition, 2008), Shahak quotes the Chief Chaplain of the Central Regional Command of the Israeli Army in 1973: “In war, when our forces storm the enemy, they are allowed and even enjoined by the Halakhah (Jewish law) to kill even good [Palestinian] civilians, that is, civilians who are ostensibly good” (p. 76).

The tactic of using violence to provoke mass Palestinian flight has been part of Israel’s playbook from its inception. On the eve of Israel’s independence, during 1947-8, Jewish militant groups used terror to provoke the mass departure of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in a sordid process called nakba by the Palestinians (“catastrophe” in Arabic).

Netanyahu’s government aims to repeat the nakba in the Gaza war by forcing Gazans to flee to neighboring Egypt or other parts of the Arab Middle East. However, unlike in 1947-8, the world is watching in real-time, and is expressing outrage at Israel’s blatant attempt at ethnic cleansing. Egypt told Israel and the US in no uncertain terms that it would not be a party to Israel’s ethnic cleansing, and would not accept a flood of Gazan refugees.

The quest for Greater Israel is doomed to fail

Israel’s attempt to violently create a “Greater Israel” will fail. The Israeli Defense Forces are suffering massive losses in the brutal urban warfare in Gaza. While Israel has killed more than 20,000 Gazans, mostly women and children, it has not destroyed Hamas’s capacity to resist Israel’s invasion. IDF leaders say that the battle against Hamas will require many more months, but well before then, global opposition will likely become insurmountable.

In desperation, Israeli leaders such as Defense Minister Benny Gantz <> want to expand the war to Lebanon and probably to Iran. US hardliners such as Republican US Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have dutifully and predictably chimed in, <> urging a US war with Iran. This Israeli gambit too will likely fail. The US is in no position to fight a wider Middle East war, after having drawn down its stockpile of munitions in Ukraine and Gaza. The American people too strongly oppose another US war, and their opposition will be heard in an election year, even by a Congress <> in the pocket of the military-industrial complex.

Israel’s diplomatic setbacks, unless reversed, will prove devastating. Israel has hemorrhaged political support worldwide. In a recent UN General Assembly vote, 174 countries, with 94% of the world population, voted in favor of Palestinian political self-determination, while just 4 countries with 4% of the world population – Israel, the United States, Micronesia and Nauru – voted against (another 15 countries abstained or did not vote). Israel’s hardline militarism has united the world against it.

Israeli leaders and diplomats have to stop shouting that critics are all anti-Semites and listen to what the world is actually saying: Israel and Palestine need to live side by side based on international law and mutual security.

Israel counts entirely now on its one remaining supporter, the United States, but <> US support is also waning. By a huge margin, <> 59% for and 19% opposed, Americans support a cease fire. Americans support Israel’s security but not its extremism. Of course, America has its own Christian and Jewish zealots who base their politics on biblical literalism/orthodoxy, but they are a minority of public opinion. American support for Israel depends on the two-state solution. Biden knows it and has reiterated US support for the two-state solution, even as the US supplies munitions for Israel’s war on Gaza.

While American Jews generally support Israel, they do not support Israel’s religious messianism. In <> a 2020 Pew Survey only 30% of American Jews believed that “God gave the land that is now Israel to the Jewish people.” 63% believed in the feasibility of peace between Israel and Palestine through the two-state solution. Only 33% believed as of 2020 that the Israeli government was making sincere efforts towards peace with the Palestinians.

Even Orthodox US Jews are divided on the question of Greater Israel. Some orthodox Jewish communities such as the Chabad are believers in the biblically motivated Greater Israel, while others such as the Satmar community (also known as Naturei Karta) are anti-Zionists and <> outspoken critics of Israel’s war on the Palestinian people stating that Judaism is a religion not a nation concept. The Satmar community believes that the revival of the Jewish homeland must follow God’s timeline, and not a Zionist timeline.

Supporting Israel’s extremism is not in America’s interest

The US has been providing the munitions for Israel’s brutal war. This complicity has led to a <> lawsuit by Palestinian plaintiffs charging the US Government with violations of the Genocide Convention. As part of this legal effort, the US-based Center for Constitutional Rights has methodically documented the genocidal statements by Israeli leaders <> here and <> here.

The US is also facing severe and costly diplomatic isolation as it defends Israel’s indefensible actions. In recent votes of the US Security Council and the UN General Assembly, the US has stood almost alone in backing Israel’s hyper-violent and unjust actions. This is hurting the US in countless other areas of foreign policy and global economics.

The US federal budget is also under tremendous stress from military-related spending, which will reach around $1.5 trillion in total in 2024. The American people have had enough of the bulging military spending, which has been a central factor in raising the public debt from around 35% of GDP in 2000 to around 100% of GDP today. With soaring debts and the rise in interest rates on mortgages and consumer loans, the public is resisting Biden’s calls for more deficit spending to fund the wars in Ukraine and Gaza, and will vociferously oppose a wider war in the Middle East, especially one that would draw the US into direct combat.

Of course, US open-ended support for Israel has seemed to be unstoppable in American politics. The Israel lobby—a powerful constellation of Israel politicians and wealthy Americans—has played a huge role in building this strong support. The Israel lobby gave <> $30 million in campaign contributions in the 2022 Congressional election cycle, and will give vastly more in 2024. Yet the lobby is up against the public’s growing opposition to Israel’s brutality in Gaza.

The two-state solution remains Israel’s true chance for peace and it’s security

Israeli leaders and diplomats have to stop shouting that critics are all anti-Semites and listen to what the world is actually saying: Israel and Palestine need to live side by side based on international law and mutual security. The support for a two-state solution is support for the peace and security of the Jewish people in the state of Israel, just as it is support for the peace and security of the Palestinian people in their own state. To the contrary, supporting Israel’s genocide in Gaza and inflaming anti-Israel (and anti-US) sentiment around the world, is antithetical to Israel’s long-term security and perhaps even its survival. The Arab and Islamic states have repeatedly declared their readiness to normalize relations with Israel within the context of the two-state solution. This goes back to the <> 2002 Arab Peace Initiative and includes the important <> Final statement of the extraordinary joint Arab Islamic Summitin Riyadh on November 11, 2023. The US and Arab countries should quickly agree on establishing a joint peacekeeping force to keep both sides safe in the context of implementing the two-state solution.

Many zealous religious settlers will strongly resist a Palestinian state, asserting their right to do so based on ancient biblical texts. Yet the point of Judaism is not to rule over millions of Palestinians or to ethnically cleanse them. The real point is not to provoke global opprobrium but to use reason and goodwill to find peace. As Hillel the Elder declared, “Whatever is hateful and distasteful to you, do not do to your fellow man. This is the entire Torah; the rest is commentary. Go learn.” The real point is to fulfill the ethical vision of the Prophet Isaiah (2:4), who prophesied that “nations shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” So may it be.