#1623 Burning American Credibility on Support for Israel's Genocidal War in Gaza (Transcript)

Air Date 4/20/2024

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JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: [00:00:00] Welcome to this episode of the award winning Best of the Left podcast in which we realize that old habits die hard and the American establishment's unquestioning support for Israel is a very old habit indeed. As Israel's government drifted farther and farther to the right, culminating in a genocidal push into Gaza, President Biden, standard bearer of the old establishment, seems destined to be the very last Democrat to see the need for a change. Sources today include The Daily Show, Al Jazeera English, The Humanist Report, Democracy Now!, Deconstructed, and The Majority Report, with additional members only clips from Doomed and Democracy Now!

Jon Stewart Interrogates America's Support of Israel & 2024 Solar Eclipse Mania - The Daily Show - Air Date 4-8-24

JON STEWART: The war in Gaza is now six months old. I think time for a wellness check. But as the war has grinded on, justice is beginning to seem more like cruelty. But not to worry! America, the shining city on a hill, is on the case with our universal values.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: In the great battle for freedom between a rules-based order and one [00:01:00] governed by brute force, in this battle we need to be clear eyed. 

JON STEWART: And just to clarify, we are the freedom folks. We're the rules people. We're not the brute force ones. I think we all know who the brute force ones are. In this case, Vladimir.

And know that America will call you out when you violate the basic tenets of humanity. 

ANTONY BLINKEN: Weaponizing food, using it as a tool, as a weapon in its war against Ukraine, it's unconscionable, Uh, should not happen. 

JON STEWART: It's unconscionable. Weaponizing food in Ukraine is not kosher, nor halal.

Sorry if I'm both sides-ing this. Speaking of which, there is a literal famine in Gaza caused by the war. I assume America will also consider this unconscionable.

JOHN KIRBY: Absolutely, we're concerned about that, no question about it. 

JON STEWART: Well, you can't spell "unconscionable" without "concern," [00:02:00] or at least part of it, the C-O-N part. You can reuse the C-O--you get the point. How about the free press? Ordinarily, we are strongly in favor of free press. 

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: We also condemn the Russian government's continued targeting and repression of journalists. 

JON STEWART: You hear that, Russia? We condemn! In no uncertain terms, any repression of a free press.

Uh, I think you all know what's coming next. More journalists have been killed in Gaza in six months than anywhere else in the world. And a new Israeli law says they can ban media outlets they consider a threat. 

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: So as it relates to Al Jazeera specifically, we've seen the reports. If it is true, if it is true, a move like this is concerning.

JON STEWART: Doh, we're concerned again. 

How about: if it's true, we condemn it. And by the way, is it true? Like, it feels like you could probably just call someone and be like, Is this true? And if they're like, Yeah, it's true, you could be like, That's [00:03:00] concerning. Not condemning, but concerning. Well, you know what, perhaps these are just peripheral issues.

What about the bedrock rule of international law? No taking land by force. When Russia does it, we're pretty clear. 

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: The entire world has a stake in making sure that no nation, no aggressor, is allowed to take a neighbor's territory by force. The American people will never waver in our commitment to those values.

JON STEWART: Eh. Ish. See, this is where Israel's actions get interesting. Because you might say Israel's war is different than Ukraine's. Israel's responding to an attack and a hostage crisis. But in the midst of that, they pulled a little something in the West Bank on March 22nd that might be notable. 

CNN CLIP: As the U. S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken made his latest visit to Israel, the Israeli government announced that it was declaring [00:04:00] state land, nearly 2, 000 acres of land, in the occupied West Bank. 

This latest Israeli appropriation is the largest land transfer since the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993. 

JON STEWART: 1993?! And that's not even Gaza, that's the West Bank!

So you can't say it has anything to do with defending yourself against Hamas! Let's see if America upholds its rule against taking land. 

ANTONY BLINKEN: I haven't seen the specifics of this, but anyone taking steps that makes things more difficult, more challenging this time, is something that, uh, we, uh, we have a problem with.

JON STEWART: You don't know about it, they did it the day you f*ing visited! Why do we tiptoe around on eggshells? They slap America in the face, and our response is, Well, if anyone slapped us in the face, it'd be concerning, that's for sure. I mean, raising a hand to a delicate body part of the face. If true....

The verbal gymnastics that the American government must undertake so as not [00:05:00] to offend the delicate sensibilities of a country we provide most of the weapons for is GAH!

Every time America tells the world that there's something we won't allow, Israel seems to say, Challenge accepted! Are they willfully trying to provoke us? Or perhaps they're just reading our principles from right to left. It's ups--over.... 

It's really, to be honest, it's kind of a bar mitzvah joke, but.... 

Over 30, 000 have died in Gaza since the war started. Some of them Hamas soldiers, 13,000 of them children. Our response:

JOHN KIRBY: Since the early hours, we've been urging our Israeli counterparts to act with as much precision as they can in their targeting. Our constant efforts to urge the Israelis to be as precise and careful as possible. We can still continue to urge Israel to be more careful and more precise. The need for [00:06:00] the Israeli defense forces to act with precision. We continue to work with the Israelis to make sure that they are as precise as they can be. 

JON STEWART: See, they're not listening. Have you tried synonyms for precision? 

JOHN KIRBY: We continue to stress to our Israeli counterparts that they be as discriminant and careful in their targeting as possible. Be as cautious and deliberate and as careful as they can. To be more careful and more deliberate. Be very deliberate. In the most discreet, deliberate, careful, cautious way possible. The utmost care. A special burden. To be mindful.

JON STEWART: What is this? F*ing hot yoga? We just, you know, we've seen the bombing and

we are urging Netanyahu to be present. What the f* are we doing here? The subtext of all this is, America knows this is wrong. But it [00:07:00] apparently doesn't seem to have the courage to say it in a straightforward manner. America and Israel both know that you cannot bomb your way into safety. We learned that lesson in Iraq and Afghanistan. They learned it in southern Lebanon. They laid siege there, occupied the southern area for 20 years. All it did was birth and strengthen Hezbollah. And they're about to do it all over again, and we are letting them. 

Real friends take the f*ing keys because friends don't let friends bomb that much. And after this recent week, with so much horror, perhaps America finally finds the need for a new approach with Israel, with more justice and less cruelty.

CNN CLIP: The U. S. and Israel are closing in on what would be their largest weapons deal since the war in Gaza began. 

JON STEWART: Well, I don't know about you, but if that's true, I find it concerning.

Biden’s 'double talk' on Gaza: Cynical election politics? | The Bottom Line - Al Jazeera English - Air Date 3-31-24

STEVE CLEMONS - HOST, THE BOTTOM LINE: So what's going [00:08:00] on with President Biden? Recently, there was a fundraiser in New York. That fundraiser had former president Obama, former president Clinton, Joe Biden there. They raised about $26 million for the Democrats. It was disrupted several times by pro-Palestine protesters. 

But during his talk there, he said Israel's very existence is at stake. And I pay a lot of attention to President Biden's comments. And it wasn't until a meeting with the King of Jordan here in Washington, D. C., King Abdullah, That Joe Biden ever talked at length about Palestinian victims. But here he's talking about Israel, a superpower, and wondering about its very existence. What are your thoughts? 

KENNETH ROTH: You know, it's hard to psychoanalyze Joe Biden. I mean, it's first noting that Israel's existence is not at stake. It's incredibly powerful. October 7th was traumatic because Israelis didn't think that Hamas had the capacity even to reach its border and clearly did enormous damage, but it was 1 days worth of damage. It never threatened the Israeli [00:09:00] state.

But I think with Biden, there are 2 things. One is personal: I think he very much identifies with Israel. He still thinks of Israel from the early days. This is where his age shows, when Israel was really David against the Goliath of the combined Arab nations. And that's just not the current situation of the superpower Israel that continues for decades to occupy Palestinian territory.

But I think there also has been a political calculation on Biden's part. He's always been focused on the movable middle, the handful of independents that will likely decide November's presidential election. And I think he took for granted his base, the progressive side of the Democratic Party, figuring they're not going to vote for Trump, I don't have to worry about them. I'm just going to focus on the movable middle. And what he clearly didn't count on--and I think the Michigan primary, the uncommitted vote there demonstrates this--is that some progressive Democrats are just so upset by Biden's greenlighting of Netanyahu's killing and starvation in Gaza that they may just abstain. They're not going to vote for Trump, [00:10:00] but they may just not vote, which is an effective vote for Trump. 

And so, Biden is beginning to focus on that more. I think that's why he allowed the UN Security Council resolution to pass earlier this week. But he then undercut himself and immediately his ambassador at the UN, the White House spokesperson said, oh, this is a non-binding resolution. Now, that's legally untrue, but the real point is political. He's signaling immediately to Netanyahu, don't worry about this. We had to do this for political reasons, but keep doing what you're doing. And that's utterly cynical. I think he hoped that his constituents, the progressives, wouldn't really notice this technicality about whether a Security Council resolution is binding or not, they would just focus on the resolution. But people are not that stupid.

They see that this is just virtue signaling, but in fact, the reality is Biden is still greenlighting and, worse, really aiding and abetting these war crimes by continuing to provide the military [00:11:00] aid and the arms sales. 

STEVE CLEMONS - HOST, THE BOTTOM LINE: In one sense, the question I have is whether or not America will have standing in the future to weigh in on human rights, to weigh in on values, to look at China and Xinjiang, look at various abuses in it, or is it in its apparent complicity with some of the arrangements now in this Israel conflict in Gaza, has it lost standing to be a human rights commentator versus other nations in the future? 

KENNETH ROTH: Well, I think, frankly, even before October 7th, Biden's human rights policy was just filled with exceptions. And that is because even though, early in his term, he said I'm going to be guided by human rights and democratic principles, in fact, for the last year, year and a half or more, he's been focused foremost on building global coalitions against China and Russia. And in that process, he's been willing to just close his eyes to terrible atrocities, so he embraces the Saudi crown prince, [00:12:00] even though he's utterly ruthless at home. He embraces Egypt President Sisi, even though he's presiding over the most repressive state in Egypt's modern history. He embraces Modi, even though he's shutting down democracy in India. 

And so, we've already seen elements of this. Now, I think that, if you take a Kissingerian realist approach, one possible way to get through to Biden is that if he continues--which I think he does--to care about the competition with China and Russia, he continues to care about Ukraine, he is hurting himself by this unequivocal embrace of Israel as it pummels Gaza. Because governments of the global South that he needs for things like United Nations votes or to enforce sanctions, they're saying, I want nothing to do with this. And if this has nothing to do with values, nothing to do with principles, and it's just a geopolitical competition, I'm going to sit this one out. Why is it so important to defend Ukraine, if [00:13:00] the principles that are at stake there, you're just jettisoning them when it comes to Gaza? 

And so I think that there is a realist argument for why these values matter, because the nations of the world are not dumb. They see through this hypocrisy. And the lack of any principle, any even adherence to the so-called "rule-based order" when it comes to Israel, is going to harm US credibility on other things that Washington cares about. 

STEVE CLEMONS - HOST, THE BOTTOM LINE: Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, Francesca Albanese, recently told the U. N. Human Rights Council that there were reasonable grounds to believe that Israel is committing genocide with intent. Very, very powerful statement from her. And there was a remarkable statement from the State Department spokesman, Matthew Miller. Let's listen to it. 

MATTHEW MILLER: We have long for longstanding, for a longstanding period of time opposed the mandate of this Special Rapporteur, which we believe is not productive. And when it comes to the [00:14:00] individual who holds that position, I can't help but note a history of antisemitic comments that she has made. But with respect to the report itself, we have made clear that we believe that allegations of genocide are unfounded, but at the same time, we are deeply concerned by the number of civilian casualties in Gaza. And that's why we have pressed the government of Israel on multiple occasions to do everything it can to minimize those civilian casualties. 

STEVE CLEMONS - HOST, THE BOTTOM LINE: Kenneth, I would love to hear your reactions to Matthew Miller's statement and your view in this kind of tension over classifying what we're seeing unfold on our TV screens as genocide or not.

KENNETH ROTH: Well, I think this is classic Biden administration double talk. On the one hand, they say, oh, we're concerned about civilian casualties. On the other hand, they try to undercut any serious pressure on Israel to stop. And the Special Rapporteur statement is just the latest example of this. 

Now there's a big debate about, is this genocide or not? I should say, first, that I think this is a bit of a sideshow because, while [00:15:00] genocide is a horrible concept, it's a terrible crime, many people think of it as the worst crime, but war crimes are horrible. Crimes against humanity are horrible. And there, it's pretty clear those are taking place.

Jon Stewart & Bassem Youssef Call Out “Performative” Outrage Over Israel’s War Crimes - The Humanist Report - Air Date 4-12-24

MIKE FIGERADO - HOST, THE HUMANIST REPORT: The question is, why even bother with the performative outrage that Bassem Youssef is talking about if the Biden administration doesn't actually believe what they say? And the answer is, This is an election year and the feigned concern is all an attempt to placate voters who are angry with the Biden administration's complicity in genocide.

Democrats think that window dressing and tonal shifts are sufficient when that's no longer the case. It worked before, but it's not gonna work anymore. And it's led to this disconnect between Democrats and their own base, where they don't understand why voters are still outraged over this issue since they've responded to their concerns by saying they're also concerned.

For example, let's go back to Nancy Pelosi and listen to her defense of Joe Biden. 

NANCY PELOSI: The president has been advocating for humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians. The Republicans in the House [00:16:00] of Representatives have held it up. And yet, to hear these people go out there and say, Oh, Genocide Joe, all that, not to repeat what they said, but nonetheless, he's the one who's been advocating for it.

MIKE FIGERADO - HOST, THE HUMANIST REPORT: That clip is so insightful because it demonstrates how Democrats just don't get it. It's not clicking for them, right? Voters want the genocide to end. You are not going to satisfy voters with your advocacy for certain things. So long as you are in a position of power, and you assist Israel with their genocide, your advocacy means shit.

We are past the days where you can dupe voters into thinking that you're listening by saying the right thing. They want action, and the Democratic Party's unwillingness to change has jeopardized their chances of winning in November. For example, CNN actually spoke to a couple of first- and second-time voters who previously backed Biden in 2020, but now they're not gonna vote for Biden because he's not listening to them, and their demands are pretty clear.

VOTER 3: If I were to vote tomorrow, I [00:17:00] wouldn't vote, period. Ideally, I would like to vote third party. 

VOTER 4: I will vote for an independent candidate. 

I'm considering either voting for Claudia de la Cruz or Cornel West at this point. If there is no substantive policy change when it comes to the genocide in Gaza, then there's not really a discussion for me.

CNN REPORTER: When we met at this barbecue restaurant in Atlanta, all four told me they were raised and originally registered as Democrats. But this year, the president's handling of the Israel Gaza war has turned them away. 

VOTER 3: I think what Biden has done in aiding and abetting a genocide is just something I cannot stand for.

CNN REPORTER: You're willing to withhold your vote in the presidential election unless there is a ceasefire?

VOTER 3: Yes. 

CNN REPORTER: And it's implemented. 

VOTER 3: Yes. 

CNN REPORTER: Not voting could mean Donald Trump gets into office. Do you think he'll be better on Gaza? 

VOTER 3: Trump would probably say flatten Gaza and make it into a golf course. I have absolutely no faith in him.

CNN REPORTER: Would you not say that also the people who are not [00:18:00] voting for one of the two people who are the likely people to really be in this race have a role to play in giving the race to Donald Trump in a state like Georgia where it's going to be, like, razor thin?

VOTER 4: Yeah, no, I'll do you one better actually. I think that just means that's why the Democrats should listen. We are holding their election in the palm of our hands and they're not listening. 

VOTER 3: We're tired of just hearing him say these things, these empty promises. We have no trust in Joe Biden. 

CNN REPORTER: What could President Biden do to change your mind as far as how you'll vote in November?

VOTER 3: Call for a permanent ceasefire and actually implement it. 

VOTER 2: I would like us to stop giving aid to Israel. 

VOTER 1: If he doesn't get elected, that is his fault. That's not our fault. That's not the black voters here. That's not X, Y, and Z. No, it's not. It's on him. 

MIKE FIGERADO - HOST, THE HUMANIST REPORT: Exactly. You are not going to bullshit these voters.

They're telling you what they want and you're not doing it. You're not listening to them. And Democrats just can't comprehend how their flowery rhetoric isn't sufficient any [00:19:00] longer. They're like, we've said what you wanted us to say, why aren't you taking yes for an answer? It's because they're demanding actual policy concessions. They don't want more feigned concern or calls for Israel to do X, Y, or Z. They want the bloodshed to stop. 

These voters are tapped in, and they know bullshit when they see it. And Biden has the power to end this by cutting off weapons to Israel. That's what these voters want. And they know that Biden can do that, but he's choosing to allow this to continue.

Again, this is what former presidents have done. Ronald Reagan called up a former Israeli Prime Minister and demanded that they end their actions in Lebanon, and they did it 20 minutes later. Why? Because he threatened to cut off munitions to them. Biden can do what Reagan did, but he's chosen to not do that.

He's continuing to sell them weapons, and that's just not acceptable. Anything short of stopping the sale of weapons to Israel and being complicit directly with their genocide, that is going [00:20:00] to lose him votes. They're not going to vote for Trump, as they stated. They're either going to stay home, or vote third party. 

And even though that is a small sample size that we saw in that clip, these voters are echoing what others have already said: stop supporting genocide, or you lose our votes. 

It's not like the Democrats haven't gotten the message because they're being protested at every fucking event. But again, the problem is that they're choosing to not listen, and they think that the rhetoric is enough, when it's not.

“Empty Words”: Kenneth Roth on Biden’s Criticism of Israel While U.S. Keeps Weapons Flowing - Democracy Now! - Air Date 4-9-24

AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW!: Lawyers representing Germany at the International Court of Justice delivered their concluding remarks at The Hague today in a case brought by Nicaragua, which has accused Germany of facilitating the commission of genocide in Gaza by providing military and financial aid to Israel. Nicaragua has asked the U.N.'s top court for emergency measures ordering the German government to halt its support to Israel. Germany is Israel's second-largest arms supplier after the U.S. In [00:21:00] 2023, Germany approved arms exports to Israel valued at over $353 million, roughly 10 times the sum approved the previous year.

For more, we’re joined by Kenneth Roth, visiting professor at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, served for nearly 30 years as the executive director of Human Rights Watch. He’s joining us now in New York.

 Can you explain why Nicaragua is simply taking on Germany, and the significance of this case, another case being brought to the U.N.’s top court?

KENNETH ROTH: Obviously, the United States would have been the ideal target. The U.S. is the principal armer of the Israeli military, but the U.S. has a much more limited acceptance of the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice. It basically has to consent to every suit, and it was not going to consent to this suit. Germany has a much more open-ended acceptance of the jurisdiction, so Germany being the second-largest armer of the Israeli military, it was the target.

Now, in [00:22:00] terms of the significance, the court has already found that this is a plausible case of genocide, and Nicaragua is saying, “Germany, you are arming potential genocide.” They also have added that Germany is arming actual war crimes, violations of international humanitarian law, which it clearly is. 

Now, there is a precedent for this. If you remember back to Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia, he was convicted of aiding and abetting war crimes in neighboring Sierra Leone, and is actually currently serving a 50-year prison term in Britain for that crime. So, the International Court of Justice is a civil court. It’s not a criminal court, but Nicaragua is basically pursuing the same theory, saying, “This is at least war crimes. It’s plausible genocide. You’re arming it. That’s aiding and abetting. You should stop.” That’s the essence of the case.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW!: I wanted to ask you, Kenneth — there were 40 Democratic members of Congress, [00:23:00] including former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who have written to President Biden, urging him to halt new arms transfers to Israel in the wake of the killing of the World Central Kitchen aid workers. What’s your sense of the prospects for possibly halting or at least significantly reducing U.S. arms shipments to Israel?

KENNETH ROTH: Well, you Juan, that has been the line that Joe Biden has been unwilling to cross. He has spoken, at this point quite eloquently, pushing Israel to stop bombing civilians, to allow more food and humanitarian aid into Gaza, but these, from Netanyahu’s perspective, are just empty words, because Joe Biden never backs them up with consequences. And the obvious consequence, the obvious huge leverage that the U.S. government has, is the $3.8 billion in annual military aid it gives Israel and the regular shipment of arms almost every week in [00:24:00] the course of this conflict. And Biden has not been willing to explicitly condition that aid, those arms sales, on ending the bombing and starving of Palestinian civilians.

Now, we heard last week that in the private phone call with Netanyahu, Biden suggested that at some point in the future this might be conditioned, that U.S. relations will depend on how Israel responds. But it was all very vague. And, of course, Netanyahu responded with equal vagueness. He says, “OK, at some point I’ll open up the new crossing into northern Gaza to allow more food aid in, but that will take a few weeks, and I’m not saying anything about whether I’ll impose the same kind of obstructions in the north as I’ve imposed in the south. And I won’t say anything about Israel’s shooting at Palestinian police officers so that there’s chaos when you try to distribute the food. None of that is on the table.”

So, in essence, Biden is not using this huge leverage, despite the pleas of an increasing number [00:25:00] of lawmakers in Washington, despite rapidly changing U.S. opinion polls saying Americans are tired of the U.S. actively supporting these war crimes, this plausible genocide in Gaza.

AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW!: Why is he doing this? It is amazing to see the split in the Democratic establishment. I’m not just talking about the protesters on the streets, who definitely are driving this split. But you have now Senator Warren of Massachusetts saying she believes Israel’s assault on Gaza meets the legal definition of genocide. You have Christopher Coons, who I consider a Biden whisperer, who is now talking about halting weapons sales to Israel. But you have Biden resisting, though he has talked about a ceasefire. Why is this so difficult for him? What do you think it would take, especially now that you have Netanyahu saying that he’s set the date certain for an invasion of Rafah?

KENNETH ROTH: He just won’t tell us what that date is, yes. Amy, that’s the big psychoanalytic question, and we just [00:26:00] don’t know. I mean, part of it, I think, is that Joe Biden, who is an older man, as we know, thinks of Israel back in 1967, when it was the David surrounded by the Goliath of all the Arab states attacking Israel. He doesn’t think of Israel today, the regional superpower, a nuclear-armed state, a state that has been occupying Palestinian territory for decades and is imposing apartheid. That’s just not in his mind.

More to the point, he seems to be making a political calculation. And he’s always been focused on the movable middle, the handful of independent voters who could go either way in the six swing states. And what he seems to be discounting is the progressives. And clearly, the Michigan primary was a bit of a wake-up call, suddenly the large number of “uncommitted” votes in a swing state. And so, we’ve seen him being more attentive. But I think he still calculates that progressives have no place to go. They’re not going to vote for Trump, and abstaining is effectively a vote for Trump, so when push comes to shove in November, they’re going to have to hold their nose and vote for Biden. And that seems to [00:27:00] be what is pushing him at this stage.

No to Biden, No to Trump: Insights From Swing-State Voters - Deconstructed - Air Date 4-5-24

RYAN GRIM - HOST, DECONSTRUCTED: As I think about it—and tell me if you think I’m wrong here—I think about five threads running through this election, and I’m curious if that’s what you see showing up in your focus groups and in the polling.

Like, three issues: abortion, the genocide in Gaza, and immigration/the border. And then overlaid over all of that, you’ve got Biden’s age, and then you’ve got just Trump as a phenomenon, what people think of him, and just Trumpism and MAGA-ism. Is that right? 

I have spent so much time the last five months reporting on what’s going on Gaza. I wonder sometimes if I’m in something of a bubble of people who care about this ongoing genocide. Because I can’t tell, if I walk outside of it, how much it’s resonating with a [00:28:00] typical voter.

So, first of all, I’m curious: how much of an actually-caring-about-this-genocide bubble am I in? How much do you see it among the voting public?

ANAT SHENKER-OSORIO: It is a bit of a bubble. You’re right to ask that question, in terms of, for whom is this, not meaningful, I would say, but salient. By which I mean, not that people don’t feel that this is, to use the lightest possible term, distasteful, horrific, horrible, not OK, all those things, but, rather, whether or not it rises to the level of their daily thought patterns, their electoral calculus, etc. So, that’s what I mean by saliency. That is a bit of a bubble. You are sort of existing among outliers, if we’re just looking at statistics.

We even purposely did [00:29:00] focus groups in Dearborn, Michigan among young disaffected voters of color, because we wanted to go into where we thought the bubble would be most highly concentrated, because we wanted precisely to look at that. I mean, a focus group is an idiosyncratic thing, and it’s anecdotal, especially when I’m talking about that one single focus group. We were surprised to not get more of that coming at us initially, in terms of people volunteering that as being core to their calculus. Definitely aware of it, but there’s a difference between aware and core to the calculus.

I think the thing to say about the bubble that is really important is that we tend to forget—or political campaigns, to their peril, tend to forget—that it’s not just about how many people, it’s about which people this upsets. And why I say that is because the people that it upsets—and rightly so—are, in many places like [00:30:00] Michigan, an important part of the choir. They are, if you will, the lead tenor, lead alto, etc.

And so, if the people that you rely upon to knock on doors, to drive voters out, to speak about this, to get their friends and family to be paying attention to this election, and to be wanting to participate, even if it’s relatively few in numbers, it’s not just the how many, it’s the who, and that’s where it does matter as a political calculus, not to mention that it matters just as a moral question, which I would argue is more important.

RYAN GRIM - HOST, DECONSTRUCTED: Yes. And I want to underline that, that this is ultimately, first and foremost and lastly, a moral question, but here we’re talking about the election, and so, we’ll just have to muscle through the discomfort associated with talking about it in those terms.

But I think you’re right, in my experience, that the types of people who are going to go out and vote uncommitted or [00:31:00] uninstructed are also the types of people who, in their friend group, are the ones—and in their family—are the ones that people are going to for advice. Now, that might be more relevant on a congressional or senatorial level than on a presidential level, where everybody has their own opinion of Trump and Biden, but it does seem like those are your workers, those are your messengers. If the messengers aren’t just not unwilling to canvas, but actively hostile to you, that’s a significant problem.

This week, in Wisconsin, roughly 50,000 people voted uninstructed, with a very tiny budget for a campaign, one that’s not intuitive at all, yet still managed to get one-and-a-half times the margin between Biden and Trump in 2020; I think Biden won it by about 20,000 votes.

So, to see 50,000 Democrats voting uninstructed does seem concerning, but what is your sense of what the Democratic Party’s plan is for this? It [00:32:00] doesn’t seem like any policy change is on the horizon. And, absent that, I can’t imagine that there’s any— Messaging has its limits, I would imagine.

ANAT SHENKER-OSORIO: True story. Messaging does have its limits. You cannot solve a policy problem with a message.

So, I’m going to answer in two ways. The first is, what do I think from my own perch is their plan, and then, what do I think, as a messaging answer, as opposed to a policy answer, because I’m in full agreement. The answer is that the policy has to change. That’s the answer, period, the end.

I think that probably their calculus is that one of two or both things will happen. And, to be honest, I certainly hope for moral reasons that there is a leadership spill within Israel. It’s poised to happen. I don’t know how closely you observe politics happening there. I’m actually Israeli. There are growing demonstrations, over the last weekend there were the largest demonstrations, I [00:33:00] believe, to date. And it was a merging of a demonstration movement that’s been led by a group called Omdim Beyachad—Standing Together—which is co-led by Palestinians and Jews.

RYAN GRIM - HOST, DECONSTRUCTED: Oh, yeah. I saw the Standing Together duo when they came to D.C., actually. A really, really interesting organization.

ANAT SHENKER-OSORIO: Yeah. I am not objective, because they are friends. So.

RYAN GRIM - HOST, DECONSTRUCTED: Oh, actually, I noticed some of your rhetoric on their website, now that I think about it. Some of your messaging.

ANAT SHENKER-OSORIO: Oh. That’s very kind.

RYAN GRIM - HOST, DECONSTRUCTED: Yes, your kind of Anat approach to, they’re highlighting our differences so that they can enrich themselves and dominate.

ANAT SHENKER-OSORIO: Yeah. Basically ascribing motivation to the villains in order to explain how they use this divide and conquer strategy that’s actually bad for all of us. Yes. They’re great.

So, big protests, and a merging of ceasefire protests within Israel, with the hostage families very much in the lead, as they’ve always been, and rightly so. [00:34:00] And protest to demand that Netanyahu step down, or that there be a sort of reconfiguration of what we already know to be a very precarious coalition. I know this is hard for a lot of American listeners to understand, because we don’t have a parliamentary system and, so, if you’re not used to it, it sort of seems like gobbledygook, but there can be leadership change without an election within a parliamentary system. 

So, I think that part of the hope—and like I said, my very naked hope—is that Netanyahu begone, for reasons that I think would just be beneficial to humanity, not to the U.S. election. And that change, and a change in policy, because I think the person poised to lead a new coalition—I’m not saying he’s a shining star of humanity, but he is much, much better than Netanyahu, which is a low bar—that there will just be a change within Israel, and that of reflect, and it will help the situation, and so on. So, that is, perhaps, calculation number one.[00:35:00] 

I think calculation number two is something that you’ve already intuited, which is that November is a long way away. Most people are not paying attention to politics, and that is actually the bigger divide than even partisanship that I’ve spoken about before. It’s really a divide between people who are following all the machinations and the news and what’s going on, and people who are like, "huh, there’s an election in November?" And, believe it or not, there are many people who are, "huh, there’s an election in November." I know if you’re listening to this podcast, that sounds like I made that up, but trust, that’s most people.

So, I think that the calculation is probably that something will change internally with time in the region, and this just isn’t going to be what people are focused on. 

State Dept Official Resigns Over Gaza | Annelle Sheline - The Majority Report w/ Sam Seder - Air 4-6-24

EMMA VIGELAND - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: When you're looking at United States diplomacy and standing in the world, what does this support for Israel do for [00:36:00] American credibility in the region, and internationally, just more broadly? And if you could compare that to the degradation of international standing that the United States saw happen to it in the wake of the Iraq war. What are your observations there about U. S. standing in the Middle East from a diplomatic perspective? 

ANNELLE SHELINE: I think you're very right to highlight the effects of the Iraq war and, you know, the illegal means that the U. S., that the Bush administration used to invade Iraq. I do think that this administration had tried to really reestablish some of, like I was saying, America's participation in international institutions. I think the many people, especially within the State Department, saw U. S. support for Ukraine as a means [00:37:00] to sort of re-establish American credibility, standing up for a democracy, you know, a civilian population undergoing an illegal invasion and assault, and, you know, I think the Ukraine/Gaza juxtaposition just really highlights the hypocrisy here. And I think that has been a, that was something that came up frequently with State Department colleagues that when Ukraine happened, they talked about how they were encouraged to support Ukraine, even if they weren't working on Ukraine, just, you know, wear a Ukraine flag pin or like, put up a poster or something, whereas with Gaza, the message people were getting was, This isn't your area. You don't work on this. You don't know what you're talking about. 

And, I think the American self-image was so ready to grab on to this support for Ukraine as a means of reestablishing [00:38:00] America's self-respect in kind of the aftermath of the war on terror. And I think that the ongoing support for Israel has just really reaffirmed the extent to which that self-image is false. And although I personally would really welcome if the U.S. government were to try to adopt policies that did affirm human rights and all of these ideas about American exceptionalism and standing up for the rule of law and the world, you know, the liberal international order. But in general, we don't see that happening, and I do think it has been a huge blow to American credibility. You know, it's made a mockery of the U. N., the U. N. Security Council. You know, the U.S. abstained on that vote, but then immediately came down and said it was a non-binding resolution. 

EMMA VIGELAND - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: Which is a lie because U. N. Security Council resolutions by definition are supposed to be binding. 

ANNELLE SHELINE: Exactly. This was a question I [00:39:00] asked. You know, the State Department has held open fora about Gaza, which I really welcome that they were, you know, inviting people to speak about this, many, many people were concerned and devastated, and continue to be. But this was a question I asked of a senior official, which was, it seems that this policy, this U.S. support for Israel, is being treated as more important than the question of China—which this administration likes to talk about—the question of Ukraine—which, again, big priority—Russia, climate change, human rights, participation in international institutions, a foreign policy for the middle class—whatever that's supposed to mean—just all of these priorities the administration campaigned on and claimed to be governing in the name of, or making decisions to support.

Why is the U.S.-Israel relationship seen as more important than all of these other questions, many of which are existential? You know, climate [00:40:00] change, a great power war with China, I mean, that would be, it could be nuclear annihilation. I mean, like, these are huge issues and yet the ongoing support for this far right wing government in Israel, for some reason, is seen as more important. And, you know, the official didn't have a good answer to that question. I still don't have a good answer. 

EMMA VIGELAND - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: Can you give us a sense of how unique the relationship is within, you know, diplomatic channels between the United States and Israel? Other relationships maybe within the purview of your office or your colleagues might be treated within the normal kind of day to day work of the State Department versus the very top down—and let's be clear, this is from Biden himself, this is clearly ideological for him, as he's a Zionist, and he has said so—um, how unique that is from [00:41:00] the other work of the State Department and how that kind of feels within the work in the State Department. 

ANNELLE SHELINE: Certainly. That's a good question. I think that, you know, so like with my office, which focuses, or my former office, focuses on human rights, it's very easy to criticize Iran or Syria, rightly. These are governments that engage in horrific human rights violations. But so does Saudi Arabia, and so does Israel. So does the UAE. And yet those countries are routinely not called out for their human rights violations. In terms of your question of the uniqueness of Israel, my previous work at Quincy focused primarily, a lot of it focused on the Saudi war on Yemen, and in particular things like the U. S. saying they were going to cut off offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia, which initially they sort of did. It remains the official policy. 

EMMA VIGELAND - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: [00:42:00] We talked about this, actually, I'm remembering now, because offensive weapons were categorized in this very broad sense, uh, or offensive weapons was quite specific, and defensive could mean anything, basically.

ANNELLE SHELINE: Definitely, definitely. And, so just to highlight there, that even though the U.S.-Saudi relationship is extremely important in terms of the way it has been understood for decades, but Biden still was willing to take that step of cutting off offensive weapons as wobbly, although there was some wiggle room there, they still publicly took this step. And until the notorious fist bump with MBS, you know, initially Biden was maintaining a degree of distance from the Saudi throne, which was new. That is not what we've seen with Israel. [00:43:00] There have been no willingness to cut off weapons. Even when Netanyahu, you know, cancelled the visit to just come ask for more weapons, and now he's rescheduling the visit to talk about the impending invasion of Rafah, which is going to be, as I mentioned in the op ed, it's... I don't even, I can't even talk about it. And, you know, Biden isn't doing anything different. He's just continuing to support what this government is doing. I think what I'm also really concerned about is the war expanding, and, sorry... 

EMMA VIGELAND - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: It's okay, I've cried a million times on this show about this, so. It's good to have another soft hearted woman around to cry with me. 

ANNELLE SHELINE: Yeah, you [00:44:00] know, I really worry about the U. S. getting dragged into another war in the Middle East. I know many, you know, the majority of Americans, when you poll them, are really tired of sending young people to go die in the Middle East. And I think that this administration is not doing enough, or really much of anything, significant to insist to Israel that if Bibi invades Lebanon, the U. S. is not going to back him up. I think, in contrast, Bibi knows the U. S. would back him up if he did that, and that's why he's preparing to do so.

EMMA VIGELAND - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: The bombing of the Iranian embassy in Syria overnight, I mean, yesterday, that is also a major escalation that I'd imagine is extremely concerning to you. 

ANNELLE SHELINE: Absolutely. And it's because [00:45:00] Netanyahu's political interests are best served by keeping all the violence going as long as possible. I mean, I feel like there's been insufficient attention to the fact that the Israeli hostages are sort of held up as like, well, Hamas just has to get back the hostages, which they do, but Bibi's not interested in that because then he wouldn't be able to continue to justify all this violence. I mean, if that was actually his primary goal, that could have happened months ago, I mean that could have happened within the first few weeks. But that's not his goal. And I think, you know, the families of the hostages who are just desperate to get their family members back are not... you know, they're protesting. There have been huge protests in Israel against the fact that the government of Israel is prioritizing bombing and starving the people of Gaza and now likely expanding this war into, like, a regional, what could become a nuclear conflagration. [00:46:00] And, and yet criticism of Israel continues to be tarred as antisemitic when this government is not listening to their own people. It's so...it's just so... I don't understand why this continues to be the policy that the U. S. government just continues to support. There are all these questions about American credibility and other governments crossing red lines and, you know, like this is going to send a signal that China can invade Taiwan. You know, there's all this like analysis about how the U.S. has to stand firm on what it says it's committed to, what the red lines are. And yet, you know, Bibi keeps crossing all of these red lines. And, you know, where are all those people shouting about, you know, the U. S. has to maintain credibility on these issues? It's... 


Rafah, Gaza, Palestine (w/ Mohamad Habehh of American Muslims for Palestine) - DOOMED with Matt Binder - Air Date 4-13-24

MOHAMAD HABEHH: Does our American citizenship stop mattering when we speak Arabic, when we have a [00:47:00] Palestinian identity? This is something that Palestinian-Americans, Arab-Americans, Muslim Americans are starting to see, that this administration does not care about us. Does not care about us. And when John Kirby goes out and he says things like, This is war. War has rules. War has rules. And the U.S. has rules for people who go to war with their money. Unfortunately, it seems that they forget those rules. They forget those rules when Israel decides to start bombing refugee camps, hospitals, mosques, and churches. 

MATT BINDER - HOST, DOOMED: Right. Right. I mean, you know, there are Palestinian-Americans who've been killed here in the U.S. and the reaction to that has just been so blasé from the administration as well. Just, like they don't seem to even care how they present [00:48:00] themselves, and how they put forth how they feel about Palestinian lives, spreads and foments among people who have terrible intentions and thoughts and go out and act upon them. It's been really, you know, I don't want to say stunning 'cause, you know, I guess at the end of the day, none of this is too surprising, being that Joe Biden is a 80-some-odd-year old White guy in the United States of America, who's basically been in politics his entire life and has, and honestly, the Joe Biden we're seeing now is probably the most left-leaning Joe Biden's ever been. I mean, this is a guy who was a very right wing Democrat, who's gone left on a number of positions, I don't want to say, he's not "left", but has moved left on many positions, but his support of Israel has been unwavering since day one. This is like the one... you know, there couldn't have been a worse [00:49:00] Democratic president for this to happen under. It's really amazing the unfortunate scenario how this played out. Like even... and again, these two are responsible for a lot of atrocities, but when it comes to this issue, they would have certainly been better than Biden because of what we've heard previously, their position on this have been, even Obama and Hillary Clinton would have been better on this issue than Joe Biden. Again, bar extremely low, but that's how low we are. Like, we're below that. 

MOHAMAD HABEHH: Yeah. It's interesting that you say that because there are a few articles that came out that talked about how in the Obama administration, Biden was shut out on all policy discussions regarding Israel. Even though he had a relationship with Bibi Netanyahu, he was shut out of a lot of conversations. A lot of people within the White House, within the Obama administration, would look at him and be like, Yeah, you're a little out of touch there, [00:50:00] buddy. Biden was not someone who was allowed to talk about Israel. And there have been numerous articles that have come out that talked about some of the stances he had that had people just staring at him in these meetings. 

MATT BINDER - HOST, DOOMED: He would undermine—and I've read some of those articles you're referring to—he would actually, with Israeli politicians, or when he was visiting with Netanyahu, he would actually undermine what the Obama administration position was. I remember there was some speech apparently where Hillary Clinton, who was Secretary of State at the time, threw down a red line for Israel, told them not to do something or there'd be consequences, and Biden's there in Israel with Netanyahu assuring him, Eh, don't worry, they're just bluffing you. They're not going to do nothing. 

MOHAMAD HABEHH: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. He did that to Hillary. He did that to Hillary. And it's important to note that within the Obama administration, the relationship with Netanyahu soured. You know, Israel as a country, [00:51:00] as an apartheid state, as a state built on racism, built on subjugation, you know, they, uh, they're also racist. So, it wasn't surprising that they didn't really get along with Obama. And it led to this sort of split within politics where the Democrats started to not like Netanyahu because of the way he treated Obama. And it's still today, right now, you'll see even the Democrats who are coming out—and there were a few senators who came out today condemning aid to Israel, including Senator Welch and Senator Merkley—even they, in their statements, said this Netanyahu-led government, as if Netanyahu is the problem in Israel. But 'til now you see that that relationship has soured between the Democrats and Netanyahu over that relationship. And the fact that Biden not only undermined President Obama at the time, but at this moment is showing why he was cut out is [00:52:00] fascinating.

I do think, I agree, I think that Biden is the worst possible Democrat to be in charge. And there are rumors coming out of the White House that many people within the administration, his own staff, have come out and openly spoken against him, whether it's in the White House or in the State Department or the Department of Defense. There were rumors coming out of the Department of Defense that when they were like really worried about some of the stuff that the Israelis were pulling off and that they were trying to get away with. 

So, all across the board, everyone is against this. Everyone is against this. It doesn't take someone special to be against ethnic cleansing and genocide. But Biden is the one holding it up. Biden is the one holding it up. And why is that? Because he's told the Israelis he's not going to enforce anything against them. You know, they say we don't want you to go into Rafah until we see a real plan. Well, reporters start asking them, Well, what are you going to do if they go into Rafah? We were having [00:53:00] conversations with them about that. No teeth, nothing. They don't want to put anything in. And it's interesting, in September, August, of last year, there was an article that came out, that talked about how President Biden would be the last Democratic president who supports Israel, or is this close to Israel. And they're milking that for everything they can right now. 

Protesters Disrupt Record $25 Million Biden Fundraiser in NYC as Thousands March Against Gaza War - Democracy Now! - Air Date 3-29-24 

AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW!: Pro-Palestine protesters disrupted the largest one-night fundraiser in presidential campaign history here in New York yesterday. The star-studded event at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan featured President Biden alongside former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, raised a record $25 million for Biden’s reelection campaign. More than 5,000 people paid to attend, with tickets costing up to half a million dollars each. For $100,000, guests could get a picture with the three U.S. presidents taken by renowned photographer Annie [00:54:00] Leibovitz. Celebrities in attendance included Queen Latifah, Mindy Kaling, and Lizzo.

The main event was an onstage conversation with the three U.S. presidents moderated by late-night talk show host Stephen Colbert. But just 10 minutes into their conversation — Biden was talking — protesters began disrupting the event, calling on the president to stop arming Israel and to call for a ceasefire in Gaza.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: We had no president on January the 6th. [inaudible] There was an insurrection.

PROTESTER 1: Shame on you, Joe Biden! Shame on you! Shame on you! You are supporting genocide in Palestine! And no amount of false concern that you do will change the billions that you are doing!

SECURITY GUARD: Out the door.

PROTESTER 1: You have blood on your hands! [00:55:00] Blood on your hands!

BILL CLINTON: They create the policies. But I do believe —

STEPHEN COLBERT: For people watching at home — 

BILL CLINTON: Do you want to say anything?

STEPHEN COLBERT: Excuse me. Excuse me, Mr. President.

PROTESTER 2: You are all complicit in genocide!

STEPHEN COLBERT: The people who are watching, who are watching at home on TV, may not be able to hear the protesters here, who — hold on a second here.

PROTESTER 2: You have killed 32,000 Palestinian people!

PROTESTER 3: How dare you talk about the innocent death of Palestinians! How dare you talk about the innocent death of Palestinians! Palestinians are dying right now because of your actions! Palestinians are dying right now because of your actions!


PROTESTER 3: Because of what you’re doing! Because of the things that you’re doing! Blood is on your hands!

PROTESTER 4: Shame! Shame! Stop brutalizing him!

PROTESTER 3: Blood is on your hands!

PROTESTER 4: Stop brutalizing him!

AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW!: The protesters were all physically escorted outside. The event disruption was organized by a coalition including Adalah Justice Project, Palestinian Youth Movement, and Jewish Voice for Peace, and the Sunrise Movement.

Meanwhile, [00:56:00] outside the event, thousands took to the streets to protest President Biden’s support for Israel’s assault on Gaza. Protesters gathered at Bryant Park and marched up to Radio City Music Hall. Democracy Now! was there and spoke to some of the protesters about why they were there.

PROTESTERS: From the belly of the beast, hands off the Middle East!

PROTESTER 5: Currently we are working on the Leave It Blank New York campaign for the upcoming primary happening April 2nd, on Tuesday. We are asking people to leave it blank, because there is no “committed” or “uncommitted” option in New York City. So, we, rather, tell them to scan their ballot as is, and that will then count as “uncommitted,” to show Genocide Joe that we are not going to stand while we watch our brothers and sisters being genocided.

JENNA: My name is Jenna. I am a first-generation American Palestinian. And we have had enough. My family has voted Democrat for as long as we’ve lived in the U.S. It’s heartbreaking. [00:57:00] We feel guilty, and we feel awful. I feel like I voted for my own people’s genocide. And I’m done letting Democrats get away with it just because we’re scared of the alternative.

KARINA GARCIA: My name is Karina Garcia. I’m running for vice president of the United States with my comrade Claudia De la Cruz. And we’re running with the Party for Socialism and Liberation. And we’re here today, as we’ve been through all of these protests for Palestine, because we understand that our government is orchestrating this genocide, that without their support, without their financing, Israel could not be doing what they’re doing to the Palestinian people. And it’s important for us to come together and not allow these war criminals, like Biden or Clinton or Obama, to just use these moments to be in New York City to raise money. The people are waking up, and they’re seeing that the Democratic Party is where hope goes to die, and that the people have to build a new government for the working class, for the people of this country, that we cannot allow them to drag us [00:58:00] into the 1800s, drag us into a nuclear war.

PROTESTER 6: You know, the fact that we had access to watching a genocide in real time and we were able to see for ourselves that these people are liars, that everything that they have told us about Palestine and about the Middle East has been a lie, means that we are able to make — and also we’re able to make the connections — young people are able to make the connections between what’s happening in Palestine, what’s happening to migrants in the U.S., what’s happening to queer and trans people in the U.S. And we are saying, “Free Palestine. People over profit. And an end to U.S. imperialism everywhere.”

PROTESTER 7: Anybody who sees this, no matter where you come from, no matter who you are, you have to take part in this. You cannot be silent. Everyone must become involved. There are lives being lost. There are pregnant women being run over by tanks. This is abominable. We cannot learn about the Holocaust and watch movies about the Holocaust [00:59:00] and then say, “Oh, well, you know, I would have done something then.” You have to do it now. It’s like Aaron Bushnell said, “What would you be doing during those times? You’re doing it now.” So, if you don’t like what you’re doing, if it’s not enough, change it.

AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW!: Voices from outside Radio City Music Hall, where presidents Biden, Obama and Clinton spoke inside in the largest single-night fundraiser in U.S. presidential campaign history. More than $25 million was raised.

Final comments on the words we've heard and the actions we've seen from Israel's government

JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: We've just heard clips today, starting with The Daily Show, interrogating the United States' support of Israel. Al Jazeera English looked at how supporting Israel hurts the U.S. on other foreign policy matters. The Humanist Report examined the perspective of voters willing to withhold their votes from Biden based on his support of Israel. Democracy Now! looked at the disconnect between Biden's words and the lack of actions to back them up. Deconstructed focused on the political danger of alienating your most influential supporters. And The [01:00:00] Majority Report discussed the hit to American credibility our support of Israel brings.

That's what everybody heard, but members also heard bonus clips from Doomed, understanding Biden as most likely the last democratic president to steadfastly support Israel, and Democracy Now!, which spoke with some of the protesters bird-dogging Joe Biden. 

To hear that and have all of our bonus content delivered seamlessly to the new members-only podcast feed that you'll receive, sign up to support the show bestoftheleft.com/support, or shoot me an email requesting a financial hardship membership, because we don't let a lack of funds stand in the way of hearing more information. 

Now to wrap-up, I have a few thoughts. First, I think it's worth taking a look back to compare a bit of what's been said, and some of what's been done, by Israel in the last six months. Starting immediately after the horrific war crime attack by Hamas on October 7th, representatives of Israel began describing the reaction that would be coming, including the war crimes they intended to [01:01:00] commit. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant—apologies for the mispronunciation—on October 9th said, "We are imposing a complete siege on Gaza. There will be no electricity, no food, no water, no fuel. Everything will be closed. We are fighting human animals and we are acting accordingly". 

And since then, headlines like these have been rolling out. In December, from Human Rights Watch, "Israel: Starvation used as weapon of war in Gaza". In January, from Time, "How experts believe Israel utilizes starvation in Gaza". In March, from The New York Times, "UN says Israel may be restricting Gaza aid as a war tactic". So, what we know for sure, whether it is the official policy of Israel to use starvation as a weapon of war or not, there are definitely people in the Israeli government who want to do [01:02:00] that. And the results in the real world look very much like one would expect if a policy like that were being carried out. 

And in conversations about Israel, there's often the accusation that Israel is being unfairly singled out for condemnation, held to a higher standard it's often said, et cetera. My first piece of advice would be for Israel to stop comparing themselves to such a low standard. It's the same rhetorical trick played by right-wing people looking for excuses to act badly everywhere. Anti-gay conservatives in the US like to downplay the need for LGBTQ friendly policies, because we're already better than other countries where people are killed by the government for being gay as a matter of policy. You know, "not as bad as murderous human rights abusers", has a real ring of pride to it. As does "we can commit war crimes because they did it first", a sentiment recognizable [01:03:00] to anyone who's met a child who has not yet reached the age of reason. 

So, unsurprisingly arguments like that aren't being received well by the majority of rational people in the world, which is why it's so predictable that the incredibly vast majority of the world has now turned against Israel, at least in terms of their prosecution of their assault on Gaza. And as a US State Department memo attained by NPR recently warned, Israelis are "facing major, possibly generational, damage to their reputation" as a result of its military conduct in Gaza. 

And there's a lot to be said about explanations, not excuses, but explanations of Israel's actions. We just recorded a whole bonus show for members—it's bonus episode number 300 that'll be coming out soon— discussing some of the extreme, far-right in Israel and the impact of the history of discrimination and attempted extermination the Jews have faced. But one factor we [01:04:00] didn't mention, which is much more immediate than the historical context of the conflict, is the right wing grip on the media in Israel. This is just, real quick, this headline from The Guardian: "The far right infiltration of Israel's media is blinding the public to the truth about Gaza; Proponents of the settler movement, backed by Netanyahu, are ruling the airwaves and skewing coverage of the conflict". 

So, for Israel, it goes beyond the history and the particularly inflamed anger and hurt in the wake of October 7th. It's also an inability to see the actions of their government clearly, and with a government that seems intent on committing war crimes and international standing plummeting, it's possible that not enough of the population will get a clear view of what's going on before it's too late and that reputation is irretrievable. And so if your interest is in the wellbeing and safety of Jews around the world, [01:05:00] and if you are concerned, as I am, about the rise in overt and vocal antisemitism in the past six months, I think the better route is to do away with any of those weak arguments trying to defend or excuse away Israeli actions in Gaza, like the empty and meaningless platitude, Well, they do have the right to defend themselves, [and] explain the history and context ,yes, but clarify that it's not all Israelis, much less all Jews around the world, who support the extremist government of Israel and condemn the actions that must be condemned unreservedly. 

That is going to be it for today. As always keep the comments coming in. I would love to hear your thoughts or questions about this or anything else. You can leave us a voicemail or send us a text at 202-999-3991, or simply email me to [email protected]. Thanks to everyone for listening. Thanks to Deon Clark and Erin Clayton for their research work for the show and participation in our bonus episodes. Thanks to our Transcriptionist Quartet, Ken, [01:06:00] Brian, Ben, and Andrew, for their volunteer work helping put our transcripts together. Thanks to Amanda Hoffman for all of her work behind the scenes and her bonus show co-hosting. And thanks to those who already support the show by becoming a member or purchasing gift memberships. You can join them by signing up today bestoftheleft.com/support, through our Patreon page, or from right inside the Apple podcast app. Membership is how you get instant access to our incredibly good and often funny bonus episodes, in addition to there being extra content, no ads, and chapter markers in all of our regular episodes, all through your regular podcast player. You'll find that link in the show notes, along with a link to join our Discord community, where you can also continue the discussion. 

So, coming to from far outside the conventional wisdom of Washington DC, my name is Jay, and this has been the Best of the Left podcast coming to you twice weekly, thanks entirely to the members and donors to the show, from bestoftheleft.com.

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