Ralph welcomes Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy to discuss recent attacks by Hamas and the Israeli military in Israel and Palestine. Then, international law expert Bruce Fein speaks with Ralph about the recent violence, America's response, and America's historical culpability.
‘Gideon Levy is a Haaretz columnist and a member of the newspaper's editorial board. He is the author of the weekly “Twilight Zone" feature, which covers the Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza over the last 25 years, as well as the writer of political editorials for the newspaper. He is the author of the book The Punishment of Gaza.
I think that there was something moving in [President Biden’s] speech because he seemed very sincere. But I was really, really missing the other side, the Palestinians, the siege, the occupation, the apartheid, nothing of this exists in his world. It was really a speech of a Zionist…not of a statesman who sees the siege and sees the agony and the suffering of the Palestinians for the last decades. And doesn't see the connection between this barbaric attack on Israel on Saturday and all those preconditions which are all of them criminal and inhuman.
Bruce Fein is a Constitutional scholar and an expert on international law. Mr. Fein was Associate Deputy Attorney General under Ronald Reagan and he is the author of Constitutional Peril: The Life and Death Struggle for Our Constitution and Democracy, and American Empire: Before the Fall.
In the international arena, justice is subordinated to power. And that's what we have here. And when President Biden yesterday says, “Oh, we're all in favor of a rule-based international order,” while he's supporting the very definition of genocide? It shows you how incredibly hypocritical and callous these politicians are. I don't want to single out Biden, because I think politicians in general are that way. And I'm not going to exclude some of those who are Palestinians too. It's a universal sociopathology in the political figures. And it's very, very tragic. 'Cause who loses? the peaceful civilians who want nothing more than a better life and opportunity to develop their faculties and have families.
Given the current events and the destruction of Gaza, Biden should really demand an immediate ceasefire and negotiate to establish a truce. He's got to try to be an honest broker, and instead he's a dittohead bullhorn for more military activity by Israel. This is the low point in presidential positioning on the Middle East conflict since the end of World War II, and there's nobody in government to call him to account.
In Case You Haven’t Heard with Francesco DeSantis
1. First, I must address the situation in Palestine. There is too much to say and the situation continues to develop rapidly, so instead of getting into specific news items I will instead read the October 8th statement released by progressive Palestinian congresswoman Rashida Tlaib. “I grieve the Palestinian and Israeli lives lost yesterday, today, and every day. I am determined as ever to fight for a just future where everyone can live in peace, without fear and with true freedom, equal rights, and human dignity. The path to that future must include lifting the blockade, ending the occupation, and dismantling the apartheid system that creates the suffocating, dehumanizing conditions that can lead to resistance. The failure to recognize the violent reality of living under siege, occupation, and apartheid makes no one safer. No person, no child anywhere should have to suffer or live in fear of violence. We cannot ignore the humanity in each other. As long as our country provides billions in unconditional funding to support the apartheid government, this heartbreaking cycle of violence will continue.”
2. The United Auto Workers strike has notched their first major victory. According to a statement issued by the union on October 6th, “General Motors will include electric vehicle battery production work in the UAW’s national master agreement with the company.” The statement lauded this agreement as a “historic step forward,” which will guarantee “the transition to electric vehicles at GM will be a just transition that brings good union jobs to communities across America.” Another major breakthrough is a whopping proposed 23% pay increase from Ford, with other topics ranging from Cost of Living Increases to profit sharing to retirement security. As union president Shawn Fain remarked “We may be foul-mouthed, but we’re strategic. We may get fired up, but we’re disciplined. We may be rowdy, but we’re organized…We’re not here to start a fight, we’re here to finish one.”
3. Last week, Dr. Cornell West announced that he would drop his bid for the Green Party nomination and instead continue his run as an independent. A statement from his campaign reads “The best way to challenge the entrenched system is by focusing 100 percent on the people, not on the intricacies of internal party dynamics,” per the New York Times. Barring other factors, this will complicate the activist academic’s ability to appear on the ballot in many states. Within the same week, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. announced that he would drop out of the Democratic Party primary and also run as an independent. Semafor reports that the Trump campaign now plans to target, rather than boost, the RFK Jr. campaign as his independent bid is expected to draw more votes from Trump than Biden in a general election.
4. AP reports the Wisconsin Supreme Court voted 4-3 in favor of hearing a challenge to the state’s legislative maps, long regarded as lopsidedly gerrymandered in favor of Republicans. Liberal justice Janet Protasiewicz, under massive pressure from Wisconsin Republicans, refused to recuse herself from this case – setting the stage for a power struggle which could see Republican legislators go so far as to impeach her. Liberals took back a majority on the state supreme court following a 15-year run of conservative control.
5. X, formerly Twitter, has “roll[ed] out [a] new ad format that can't be reported [or] blocked,” per Mashable. The article goes on to note that “the new ad format also doesn't disclose who is behind the ad or that it is even an advertisement at all.” This seems to violate FTC guidelines, which demand that disclosures of advertisements be “clear and conspicuous.”
6. An ominous report in the Washington Post finds that if one asks an Amazon Alexa whether fraud was involved in the 2020 election, it will reply that the election was “’stolen by a massive amount of election fraud,’ citing Rumble, a video-streaming service favored by conservatives.” Amazon claims these responses were limited and that the error has been corrected, but this incident foreshadows a much larger issue of disinformation becoming so plentiful that it overwhelms reliable sourcing in terms of sheer volume online. Others have reported similar issues with so-called AI programs, which cull the internet for their answers to specific questions.
7. Politico reports that, following a DNC meeting this past week, the Iowa caucuses will no longer be first on the presidential primary calendar. The state will now vote with many other, larger states on March 5th, also known as Super Tuesday. Iowa delegates have made clear that they plan to “lobby for an earlier nominating contest in 2028.” On the other hand, New Hampshire has signaled that it will not abide by the Committee’s decision to move their primary, and may hold a “rogue” primary on their chosen date. Elaine Kamarck, a DNC member told Politico “We’ve made our decision about the sequence of these early states and we’re going to stick to that sequence.”
8. Finally, El Pais reports that the “Colombian hitmen who killed presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio [have been] murdered in an Ecuadorian prison.” Sources claim the men were hanged in a cellblock. Just days prior, “the United States offered a $5 million reward for information leading to the arrest of the masterminds behind Villavicencio’s murder.” Outgoing right-wing Ecuadoran president Guillermo Lasso was in New York when the murders occurred, though former leftist president Rafael Correa wrote “If they are the hitmen who killed Villavicencio, it proves that the government was behind the crime.” Ecuador’s contentious presidential election is slated for October 15th.