2/22/2024

Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, February 22, 2024




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Saturday, February 24, 2024, 12:00 Noon

ILWU Local 10

400 North Point St., San Francisco

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Gaza Strip Access Restrictions.pdf since 2007

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gaza_Strip_Access_Restrictions.pdf

Palestinians killed and wounded by Israel:
As of February 22, 2024the total number of Palestinians killed by Israel is now over 29,410,* 69,333+ wounded, and more than 380+ Palestinians have been killed by Israel in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.  The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) and the Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs Commission released a new tally of Palestinians detained by "Israel", revealing that the number of Palestinian prisoners in the West Bank has risen to more than 6,115.


*This figure was confirmed by Gaza’s Ministry of Health on Telegram channel. Some rights groups put the death toll number at more than 36,500 when accounting for those presumed dead.


FROM THE RIVER TO THE SEA  PALESTINE WILL BE FREE!
END ALL U.S. AID TO ISRAEL!
FOR A DEMOCRATIC, SECULAR PALESTINE!

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Free Speech Teach-In: Drop the Charges Against the Uhuru 3! Free Leonard Peltier!

Fight for Free Speech: Anti-Colonial Teach-In

Saturday, February 17th, 2024, 2 to 4pm

Tamarack, 1501 Harrison Street, Oakland, 94612

Uhuru Solidarity Movement

(510) 603-6150, oakland@uhurusolidarity.org

 

“Fight for Free Speech,” teach-in features Mwezi Odom, chair of the Hands-Off Uhuru Fight-Back Coalition, Penny Hess, Chairwoman of the African People’s Solidarity Committee and Dawn Lawson of the Leonard Peltier Ad Hoc Defense Committee.

·      Hess is one of the “Uhuru 3” facing 10 years in prison under a bogus DOJ indictment attacking her free speech rights to support black liberation.

·      Lawson will speak on the campaign to free Leonard Peltier, an Indigenous leader unjustly imprisoned for 46 years.

·      Odom leads the Hands Off Uhuru Fight-back Coalition to fight the US government’s attempt to silence the anti-colonial freedom struggles. 

 

“No More Genocide in Our Name” Uhuru Solidarity National Conference

March 9-10, 2024,  9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Akwaaba Hall, 4101 W. Florissant Ave., St. Louis, MO. 63115 and online

NoMoreGenocide.eventbee.com

 

White people: go beyond protest and build the movement of anti-colonial solidarity with the African Revolution, under the leadership of the African People’s Socialist Party.  

Oppose U.S.-backed genocidal wars in Occupied Palestine, Africa, Haiti, Latin America and within the colonial borders of the U.S. 

Take action to demand the U.S. government drop the bogus charges against the Uhuru 3 - Uhuru Movement founder/leader Chairman Omali Yeshitela and Uhuru Solidarity leaders Penny Hess and Jesse Nevel - who face 15 years in prison for fighting for reparations to African people. 

Defend anti-colonial free speech!  

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We are all Palestinian

Listen and view this beautiful, powerful, song by Mistahi Corkill on YouTube at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQwuhbLczgI

Greetings,

Here is my new song and music video, We are all Palestinian, linked below. If you find it inspiring, please feel free to share with others. All the best!

Mistahi

Thousands at stadium sing, "You'll Never Walk Alone," and wave Palestinian flags in Scotland.


We are all Palestinian


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Labor for Palestine

Thousands of labor representatives marched Saturday, December 16, in Oakland, California. —Photo by Leon Kunstenaar

Video of December 16th Labor rally for Palestine.

 

Bay Area Unions and Workers Rally and March For Palestine In Oakland

https://youtu.be/L9k79honqIA


For More Information:

bayarealabor4palestine@gmail.com

Production of Labor Video Project

www.labormedia.net

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W0ad3mEylwY

Just Like The Nazis Did

By David Rovics

 

After so many decades of patronage

By the world’s greatest empire

So many potential agreements

Were rejected by opening fire

After crushing so many uprisings

Now they’re making their ultimate bid

Pursuing their Final Solution

Just like the Nazis did

 

They forced refugees into ghettos

Then set the ghettos aflame

Murdering writers and poets

And so no one remember their names

Killing their entire families

The grandparents, women and kids

The uncles and cousins and babies

Just like the Nazis did

 

They’re bombing all means of sustaining

Human life at all

See the few shelters remaining

Watch as the tower blocks fall

They’re bombing museums and libraries

In order to get rid

Of any memory of the people who lived here

Just like the Nazis did

 

They’re saying these people are animals

And they should all end up dead

They’re sending soldiers into schools

And shooting children in the head

The rhetoric is identical

And with Gaza off the grid

They’ve already said what happens next

Just like the Nazis did

 

Words of war for domestic consumption

And lies for all the rest

To try to distract our attention

Among their enablers in the West

Because Israel needs their imports

To keep those pallets on the skids

They need fuel and they need missiles

Just like the Nazis did

 

They’re using food as a weapon

They’re using water that way, too

They’re trying to kill everyone in Gaza

Or make them flee, it’s true

As the pundits talk of “after the war”

Like with the Fall of Madrid

The victors are preparing for more

Just like the Nazis did

 

But it’s after the conquest’s complete

If history is any guide

When the occupying army

Is positioned to decide

When disease and famine kills

Whoever may have hid

Behind the ghetto walls

Just like the Nazis did

 

All around the world

People are trying to tell

There's a genocide unfolding

Ringing alarm bells

But with such a powerful axis

And so many lucrative bids

They know who wants their money

Just like the Nazis did

 

There's so many decades of patronage

For the world's greatest empire

So many potential agreements

Were rejected by opening fire

They're crushing so many uprisings

Now they're making their ultimate bid

Pursuing their final solution

Just like the Nazis did

  Just like the Nazis did

    Just like the Nazis did


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Free Julian Assange




Immediate Repeated Action Needed to Free Assange

 

Please call your Congressional Representatives, the White House, and the DOJ. Calls are tallied—they do count.  We are to believe we are represented in this country.  This is a political case, so our efforts can change things politically as well.  Please take this action as often as you can:

 

Find your representatives:

https://www.congress.gov/members/find-your-member

 

Leave each of your representatives a message individually to: 

·      Drop the charges against Julian Assange

·      Speak out publicly against the indictment and

·      Sign on to Rashida Tlaib's letter to the DOJ to drop the charges: 

           202-224-3121—Capitol Main Switchboard 

 

Leave a message on the White House comment line to 

Demand Julian Assange be pardoned: 

             202-456-1111

             Tuesday–Thursday, 11:00 A.M.–3:00 P.M. EST

 

Call the DOJ and demand they drop the charges against Julian Assange:

             202-353-1555—DOJ Comment Line

             202-514-2000 Main Switchboard 



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Mumia Abu-Jamal is Innocent!

FREE HIM NOW!

Write to Mumia at:

Smart Communications/PADOC

Mumia Abu-Jamal #AM-8335

SCI Mahanoy

P.O. Box 33028

St. Petersburg, FL 33733


Join the Fight for Mumia's Life


Since September, Mumia Abu-Jamal's health has been declining at a concerning rate. He has lost weight, is anemic, has high blood pressure and an extreme flair up of his psoriasis, and his hair has fallen out. In April 2021 Mumia underwent open heart surgery. Since then, he has been denied cardiac rehabilitation care including a healthy diet and exercise.

Donate to Mumia Abu-Jamal's Emergency Legal and Medical Defense Fund, Official 2024

Mumia has instructed PrisonRadio to set up this fund. Gifts donated here are designated for the Mumia Abu-Jamal Medical and Legal Defense Fund. If you are writing a check or making a donation in another way, note this in the memo line.

Send to:

 Mumia Medical and Legal Fund c/o Prison Radio

P.O. Box 411074, San Francisco, CA 94103

Prison Radio is a project of the Redwood Justice Fund (RJF), which is a California 501c3 (Tax ID no. 680334309) not-for-profit foundation dedicated to the defense of the environment and of civil and human rights secured by law.  Prison Radio/Redwood Justice Fund PO Box 411074, San Francisco, CA 94141


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We are saddened to announce the passing of Leonard Peltier’s sister, Linda.

 

Leonard is humbly requesting help with funeral expenses.

 

Even a dollar or two would be greatly appreciated.

 

https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-leonard-peltier-family-bury-his-sister-linda?utm_campaign=p_cp+fundraiser-sidebar&utm_medium=copy_link_all&utm_source=customer

 

Respect,

Dawn Lawson

Personal Assistant Leonard Peltier

Executive Assistant Jenipher Jones, Esq.

Secretary Leonard Peltier Ad Hoc Committee

800-901-4413

dawn@allfiredup.blue

www.freeleonardpeltiernow.org





Leonard Peltier Update - Not One More Year

 

Coleman 1 has gone on permanent lockdown.

The inmates are supposed to be allowed out two hours a day. I have not heard from Leonard since the 18th. 

The last time I talked to Leonard, he asked where his supporters were. He asked me if anyone cared about these lockdowns.

Leonard lives in a filthy, cold cell 22 to 24 hours a day. He has not seen a dentist in ten years. I asked him, “On a scale of 1 to 10, is your pain level at 13?” He said, “Something like that.” Leonard is a relentless truth-teller. He does not like it when I say things that do not make sense mathematically. 

That is why Leonard remains imprisoned. He will not lie. He will not beg, grovel, or denounce his beliefs. 

Please raise your voice. Ask your representatives why they have abdicated their responsibility to oversee the Bureau of Prisons and ensure they adhere to Constitutional law.

Uhuru, The African People’s Socialist Party, has stepped up for Leonard. NOT ONE MORE YEAR.

 

Fight for Free Speech – YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FM8GDeGv90E

 

Leonard should not have spent a day in prison. Click “LEARN” on our website to find out what really happened on that reservation: 

www.freeleonardpeltiernow.org


A Plea for the Compassionate Release of 
Leonard Peltier

Self Portrait by Leonard Peltier


Write to:

Leonard Peltier 89637-132

USP Coleman 1

P.O. Box 1033

Coleman, FL 33521

Note: Letters, address and return address must be in writing—no stickers—and on plain white paper.

Video at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWdJdODKO6M&feature=youtu.be


Sign our petition urging President Biden to grant clemency to Leonard Peltier.

 

https://www.freeleonardpeltier.com/petition

 

Email: contact@whoisleonardpeltier.info

Address: 116 W. Osborne Ave. Tampa, Florida 33603


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Updates From Kevin Cooper 

A Never-ending Constitutional Violation

A summary of the current status of Kevin Cooper’s case by the Kevin Cooper Defense Committee

 

      On October 26, 2023, the law firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP wrote a rebuttal in response to the Special Counsel's January 13, 2023 report upholding the conviction of their client Kevin Cooper. A focus of the rebuttal was that all law enforcement files were not turned over to the Special Counsel during their investigation, despite a request for them to the San Bernardino County District Attorney's office.

      On October 29, 2023, Law Professors Lara Bazelon and Charlie Nelson Keever, who run the six member panel that reviews wrongful convictions for the San Francisco County District Attorney's office, published an OpEd in the San Francisco Chronicle calling the "Innocence Investigation” done by the Special Counsel in the Cooper case a “Sham Investigation” largely because Cooper has unsuccessfully fought for years to obtain the police and prosecutor files in his case. This is a Brady claim, named for the U.S. Supreme court’s 1963 case establishing the Constitutional rule that defendants are entitled to any information in police and prosecutor's possession that could weaken the state's case or point to innocence. Brady violations are a leading cause of wrongful convictions. The Special Counsel's report faults Cooper for not offering up evidence of his own despite the fact that the best evidence to prove or disprove Brady violations or other misconduct claims are in those files that the San Bernardino County District Attorney's office will not turn over to the Special Counsel or to Cooper's attorneys.

      On December 14, 2023, the president of the American Bar Association (ABA), Mary Smith, sent Governor Gavin Newsom a three page letter on behalf of the ABA stating in part that Mr.Cooper's counsel objected to the state's failure to provide Special Counsel all documents in their possession relating to Mr.Cooper's conviction, and that concerns about missing information are not new. For nearly 40 years Mr.Cooper's attorneys have sought this same information from the state.

      On December 19, 2023, Bob Egelko, a journalist for the San Francisco Chronicle wrote an article about the ABA letter to the Governor that the prosecutors apparently withheld evidence from the Governor's legal team in the Cooper case.

      These are just a few recent examples concerning the ongoing failure of the San Bernardino County District Attorney to turn over to Cooper's attorney's the files that have been requested, even though under the law and especially the U.S. Constitution, the District Attorney of San Bernardino county is required to turn over to the defendant any and all material and or exculpatory evidence that they have in their files. Apparently, they must have something in their files because they refuse to turn them over to anyone.

      The last time Cooper's attorney's received files from the state, in 2004, it wasn't from the D.A. but a Deputy Attorney General named Holly Wilkens in Judge Huff's courtroom. Cooper's attorneys discovered a never before revealed police report showing that a shirt was discovered that had blood on it and was connected to the murders for which Cooper was convicted, and that the shirt had disappeared. It had never been tested for blood. It was never turned over to Cooper's trial attorney, and no one knows where it is or what happened to it. Cooper's attorneys located the woman who found that shirt on the side of the road and reported it to the Sheriff's Department. She was called to Judge Huff's court to testify about finding and reporting that shirt to law enforcement. That shirt was the second shirt found that had blood on it that was not the victims’ blood. This was in 2004, 19 years after Cooper's conviction.

      It appears that this ongoing constitutional violation that everyone—from the Special Counsel to the Governor's legal team to the Governor himself—seems to know about, but won't do anything about, is acceptable in order to uphold Cooper's conviction.

But this type of thing is supposed to be unacceptable in the United States of America where the Constitution is supposed to stand for something other than a piece of paper with writing on it. How can a Governor, his legal team, people who support and believe in him ignore a United States citizen’s Constitutional Rights being violated for 40 years in order to uphold a conviction?

      This silence is betrayal of the Constitution. This permission and complicity by the Governor and his team is against everything that he and they claim to stand for as progressive politicians. They have accepted the Special Counsel's report even though the Special Counsel did not receive the files from the district attorney that may not only prove that Cooper is innocent, but that he was indeed framed by the Sheriff’s Department; and that evidence was purposely destroyed and tampered with, that certain witnesses were tampered with, or ignored if they had information that would have helped Cooper at trial, that evidence that the missing shirt was withheld from Cooper's trial attorney, and so much more.

      Is the Governor going to get away with turning a blind eye to this injustice under his watch?

      Are progressive people going to stay silent and turn their eyes blind in order to hopefully get him to end the death penalty for some while using Cooper as a sacrificial lamb?


An immediate act of solidarity we can all do right now is to write to Kevin and assure him of our continuing support in his fight for justice. Here’s his address:

Mr. Kevin Cooper

C-65304. 4-EB-82

San Quentin State Prison

San Quentin, CA 94974

 

Call California Governor Newsom:

1-(916) 445-2841

Press 1 for English or 2 for Spanish, 

press 6 to speak with a representative and

wait for someone to answer 

(Monday-Friday, 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. PST—12:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. EST)


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The writers' organization PEN America is circulating this petition on behalf of Jason Renard Walker, a Texas prisoner whose life is being threatened because of his exposés of the Texas prison system. 


See his book, Reports from within the Belly of the Beast; available on Amazon at:

https://www.amazon.com/Reports-Within-Belly-Beast-Department-ebook/dp/B084656JDZ/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

Petition: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/protect-whistleblowers-in-carceral-settings


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Sign the petition:

https://dontextraditeassange.com/petition/


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Tell Congress to Help #FreeDanielHale

 

I’m pleased to announce that last week our client, Daniel Hale, was awarded the Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence. The “Corner-Brightener Candlestick” was presented to Daniel’s friend Noor Mir. You can watch the online ceremony here.

As it happens, this week is also the 20th anniversary of the first drone assassination in Yemen. From the beginning, the drone assassination program has been deeply shrouded in secrecy, allowing U.S. officials to hide significant violations of international law, and the American Constitution. In addition to the lives directly impacted by these strikes, the program has significantly eroded respect for international law and thereby puts civilians around the world in danger.

Daniel Hale’s revelations threw a beam of light into a very dark corner, allowing journalists to definitively show that the government's official narrative was a lie. It is thanks to the great personal sacrifice of drone whistleblowers like Hale that public understanding has finally begun to catch up to reality.

As the Sam Adams Associates note:

 “Mr. Hale was well aware of the cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment to which other courageous officials have been subjected — and that he would likely suffer the same. And yet — in the manner of his famous ancestor Nathan Hale — he put his country first, knowing what awaited him at the hands of those who serve what has become a repressive Perpetual War State wreaking havoc upon much of the world.”


We hope you’ll join the growing call to pardon or commute Hale’s sentence. U.S. citizens can contact your representatives here.

Happy new year, and thank you for your support!

Jesselyn Radack
Director
Whistleblower & Source Protection Program (WHISPeR)
ExposeFacts

Twitter: @JesselynRadack

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Resources for Resisting Federal Repression

https://www.nlg.org/federalrepressionresources/

 

Since June of 2020, activists have been subjected to an increasingly aggressive crackdown on protests by federal law enforcement. The federal response to the movement for Black Lives has included federal criminal charges for activists, door knocks by federal law enforcement agents, and increased use of federal troops to violently police protests. 

 

The NLG National Office is releasing this resource page for activists who are resisting federal repression. It includes a link to our emergency hotline numbers, as well as our library of Know-Your-Rights materials, our recent federal repression webinar, and a list of some of our recommended resources for activists. We will continue to update this page. 

 

Please visit the NLG Mass Defense Program page for general protest-related legal support hotlines run by NLG chapters.

 

Emergency Hotlines

If you are contacted by federal law enforcement, you should exercise all of your rights. It is always advisable to speak to an attorney before responding to federal authorities. 

 

State and Local Hotlines

If you have been contacted by the FBI or other federal law enforcement, in one of the following areas, you may be able to get help or information from one of these local NLG hotlines for: 

 

Portland, Oregon: (833) 680-1312

San Francisco, California: (415) 285-1041 or fbi_hotline@nlgsf.org

Seattle, Washington: (206) 658-7963

National Hotline

If you are located in an area with no hotline, you can call the following number:

 

National NLG Federal Defense Hotline: (212) 679-2811


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Articles

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1)Amazon Tries to Disrupt the American Labor Movement

By David Firestone, Deputy Editor, the Editorial Board, Feb. 21, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2024/02/20/opinion/thepoint#amazon-labor-board-unconstitutional

People carrying signs reading “Amazon workers on strike” walk near a building emblazoned with Amazon logo.

Erik S Lesser/EPA, via Shutterstock


It’s been clear for a while that Amazon doesn’t want unions at its warehouses. The company has fought every attempt to organize its workers, targeting union supporters, holding anti-union meetings and challenging union elections. But last week Amazon went a big step further and tried to upend the whole American labor movement.

 

In a legal filing on Thursday, the company argued that the National Labor Relations Board, which supervises and enforces labor law, was unconstitutional. It came up with various spurious reasons for this argument — the board violates the Constitution’s separation of powers, its actions violate Amazon’s Fifth Amendment rights, it violates Article III by acting like a court, etc. — but the upshot was that it doesn’t think any federal agency has the right to oversee its relationship with its employees.

 

And if there’s no agency to enforce labor law, there won’t be much of a labor movement left. Companies would have a much easier time essentially doing whatever they wanted to their employees with little fear of oversight. (Which sometimes happens during Republican administrations, but at least the board is there to protect the most fundamental rights.)

 

Its filing puts Amazon in the company of Elon Musk, whose SpaceX outfit made a similar argument in a lawsuit last month. But the issue really goes back to the New Deal. Many tycoons were furious when the National Labor Relations Act was passed in 1935, but the Supreme Court clearly upheld the legality of the board in a 1937 case. That doesn’t seem to matter to a new breed of mogul like Musk and Jeff Bezos, who want to return to the Herbert Hoover era.

 

“Some of these tech-bro types are getting increasingly ready to flex their muscles and push back against the regulatory resurgence that’s underway,” Robert Hockett, a law professor at Cornell, told me. “And they’re emboldened by some of these Trump-era judicial appointments, which include some crazy right-wing pre-New-Dealer types.”

 

Essentially, the tech bros are hoping a different Supreme Court might give the business world a gift that the 1937 court took away. Amazon isn’t content to just disrupt American retailing; now it wants to disrupt the hard-won rights of millions of American workers.


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2) 1 in 4 New York City Children Now Lives in Poverty

By Stefanos Chen, Feb. 21, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/21/nyregion/nyc-poverty.html

An empty playground in New York City.

An empty playground in New York City.


Nearly two million New York City residents, including one in four children, lived in poverty in 2022, an increase of 500,000 people that amounted to the biggest single-year jump in a decade.

 

Overall, 23 percent of the city’s residents lived in poverty, defined as not being able to afford basic needs like housing and food, according to a new report by a research group at Columbia University and Robin Hood, a large philanthropic organization. In 2021, that number was 18 percent.

 

Driving the Increase: The End of Pandemic-Era Relief

 

The biggest reason for the surge in poverty, both nationally and in New York, was the end of several pandemic-era government policies, like the expanded child tax credit, enhanced unemployment insurance and cash payments that helped low-income families keep up with rising costs, said Christopher Wimer, the director of the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University and a co-author of the report.

 

“It’s dispiriting,” Dr. Wimer said. After several years of reducing poverty in the city, he added, “we’re going in the wrong direction.”

 

The researchers used a metric called the supplemental poverty measure, which considers both income and noncash support like food stamps, as well as the local cost of living. It differs from the U.S. census’s official poverty measure, which only counts cash resources, but the supplemental measure is also widely used by the government.

 

In 2022, under the supplemental measure, a family of New York City renters with two children was considered below the poverty line if it made less than about $44,000. The poverty threshold for a single adult renter was $20,340.

 

Why It Matters: The City’s Economic Recovery Is Uneven

 

The rise in poverty underscores wide disparities in New York.

 

Black, Latino and Asian New Yorkers were roughly twice as likely as white residents to live in poverty, and women were more likely than men to be unable to afford their basic needs, according to the report.

 

A major reason for the disparities is the lopsided jobs recovery, said James Parrott, the director of economic and fiscal policy at the Center for New York City Affairs at the New School.

 

While the city said in October that it had recovered all the jobs lost during the pandemic, the positions that have returned have mostly been in low-paying industries, like home health care, which pays workers an average $32,100 a year. The median household income in New York City is about $75,000.

 

At the same time, the retail sector, a higher-paying industry that disproportionately employs Black, Latino and Asian workers, shed more jobs than any other industry, Dr. Parrott said.

 

Charles Lutvak, a spokesman for the mayor’s office, said that “Covid-19 took a disproportionate toll on our most vulnerable neighbors,” but pointed to a number of initiatives, including a summer youth employment program and the expansion of the city’s earned-income tax credit, as signs of progress.

 

But the average unemployment rate in 2023 among Black New Yorkers was 9.3 percent, more than three times higher than among white residents, according to Dr. Parrott.

 

Background: Childcare Costs Are Pushing Poverty Up

 

A full 25 percent of children in New York City lived in poverty in 2022, the highest rate since 2015, according to the report.

 

It was a sharp reversal from 2021, when the expansion of the federal child tax credit program cut child poverty in New York City by 30 percent, said Chloe Sarnoff, the director of policy research at Robin Hood.

 

The program temporarily increased the annual tax credit to $3,600, up from $2,000, for qualifying children under 6 years old, and up to $3,000 for older children. But Congress failed to extend the benefits.

 

The need for public aid is clear at Grand Street Settlement, a nonprofit social services group in Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn that has seen its food pantry lines swell to 2,800 people a month, up from 500 before the pandemic.

 

A growing child care crisis is fueling the rising poverty rate. “If we’re going to reduce poverty in the City of New York, we have to invest in child care,” said Robert Cordero, the group’s chief executive, adding that dwindling support from the city for its free preschool program is making it harder for parents to make ends meet.

 

Shavon Johnson, 30, who is studying to become a medical assistant, enrolled her 4-year-old son in a free day care program offered by Grand Street, and said she could not imagine what she would do without the support.

 

“I would be homeless” if not for the program, she said.

 

What’s Next: A Push for More Aid

 

The report recommended permanently expanding public benefits such as the federal child tax credit and New York’s Empire State Child Credit, a tax credit for New York State residents first passed in 2006.

 

Robin Hood recommends expanding the Empire State Child Credit to a maximum benefit of $1,000 a year, per child, up from $330, and eliminating income criteria that disproportionately leave out Black and Hispanic families.

 

The changes could lift up to 76,000 children out of poverty, according to an analysis by Columbia University.

 

The report also supported zoning reforms that would increase the supply of affordable housing, and expanding rental assistance vouchers to help keep low-income residents in their homes.


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3) As Gaza Death Toll Mounts, Israel’s Isolation Grows

A worsening humanitarian crisis has brought a wave of condemnation against Israel’s ongoing military operation, and is testing the support of even its staunchest ally, the United States.

By Mark Landler, Reporting from London, Feb. 22, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/22/world/middleeast/gaza-death-toll-israel.html

A man sitting on a bench cradles a child size body bag.

People mourning the victims of an Israeli strike on Wednesday in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip.Credit...Ahmad Hasaballah/Getty Images


When David Ben-Gurion, one of Israel’s founding fathers, was warned in 1955 that his plan to seize the Gaza Strip from Egypt would provoke a backlash in the United Nations, he famously derided the U.N., playing off its Hebrew acronym, as “Um-Shmum.”

 

The phrase came to symbolize Israel’s willingness to defy international organizations when it believes its core interests are at stake.

 

Nearly 70 years later, Israel faces another wave of condemnation in the United Nations, the International Court of Justice, and from dozens of countries over its military operation in Gaza, which has killed an estimated 29,000 Palestinians, many of them women and children, and left much of the territory in ruins.

 

The huge swell in global pressure has left the Israeli government and its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, deeply isolated, if not yet bowed, largely because it still has the support of its staunchest ally, the United States.

 

This time, though, Israel faces a rare break with Washington. The Biden administration is circulating a draft resolution in the United Nations Security Council that would warn the Israeli military not to carry out a ground offensive in Rafah, near Egypt, where more than a million Palestinian refugees are sheltering. It would also call for a temporary cease-fire as soon as practical.

 

“It’s a big problem for the Israeli government because it has previously been able to hide behind the protection of the United States,” said Martin S. Indyk, a former American ambassador to Israel. “But now Biden is signaling that Netanyahu can no longer take that protection for granted.”

 

“There is a broader context of condemnation by international public opinion, which is unprecedented in breadth and depth, and which has spread to the United States,” Mr. Indyk said. “The Democratic Party’s progressive, youth and Arab American constituencies have all become angry and harshly critical of Biden for his support of Israel.”

 

Until now, President Biden has not allowed international or domestic pressure to sway him. On Tuesday, the United States defaulted to a familiar role, invoking its veto in the Security Council to block a resolution, sponsored by Algeria, calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza. It was the third time during the Gaza war that the United States vetoed a resolution putting pressure on Israel.

 

Since the United Nations was established in 1945, three years before the State of Israel, the United States has used its veto more than 40 times to shield Israel from the Security Council. In the U.N. General Assembly, where the Americans are just another vote, resolutions against Israel are commonplace. Last December, the assembly voted 153 to 10, with 23 abstentions, for an immediate cease-fire.

 

“As far as Israelis are concerned, these organizations are stacked against us,” said Michael B. Oren, a former Israeli ambassador to the United States, said of the United Nations, the International Court of Justice, and other bodies. “What they do doesn’t impact us strategically, tactically, or operationally.”

 

But Mr. Oren acknowledged that any break with the United States, its largest supplier of weapons, powerful political ally, and principal international defender, would be a “a whole different kettle of fish.”

 

While Israel has been under heavy pressure since the opening days of its offensive in Gaza, the chorus of voices from foreign capitals has grown thunderous in recent days. In London, the opposition Labour Party called for an immediate cease-fire on Tuesday, shifting its position from that of the governing Conservative Party, under pressure from its members and from other opposition parties.

 

Even Prince William, the 41-year-old heir to the British throne, called “for an end to the fighting as soon as possible,” a rare intervention into geopolitics by a member of a royal family that usually steers clear of such issues. “Too many have been killed,” William said in a statement on Tuesday.

 

Perhaps the most striking display of Israel’s isolation is at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, where representatives of 52 countries are lining up to this week offer arguments in a case examining the legality of Israel’s “occupation, settlement and annexation” of Palestinian territories, including the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Most have been scathingly critical of Israel.

 

South Africa likened Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to an “extreme form of apartheid.” The South African government has brought a separate case at the court accusing Israel of genocide in Gaza.

 

On Wednesday, the United States once again came to Israel’s defense, imploring the court not to issue a ruling that Israel must withdraw unconditionally from these territories. A State Department lawyer, Richard C. Visek, argued that this would make a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians even more elusive because it would not take Israel’s security into account.

 

But America’s was a lonely voice, with only Britain offering a similar argument.

 

“The truth is the very opposite,” said Philippe Sands, a human rights lawyer who spoke on behalf of the Palestinians. Noting that the court had already confirmed the Palestinian right to self-determination, he said, “The function of this court — of these judges, of you — is to state the law: to spell out the legal rights and obligations that will allow a just solution in the future.”

 

A ruling  by the International Court of Justice would be advisory only, and Israel has declined to attend these proceedings. But Israel’s defiance of international bodies does not mean it completely ignores them.

 

The Israeli government initially dismissed South Africa’s genocide claim as “despicable and contemptuous.” There were reports that Mr. Netanyahu wanted to send Alan M. Dershowitz, the lawyer who defended Donald J. Trump and the financier and sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein, to present Israel’s case — a choice that some said would have turned the hearing into a circus. In the end, it sent a high-powered legal team, led by a respected Australian-Israeli lawyer, Tal Becker, who argued that South Africa had presented “a sweeping counterfactual description” of the conflict.

 

In an interim ruling in early February, the court ordered Israel to prevent and punish public statements that constitute incitements to genocide and to ensure humanitarian aid gets into Gaza. But it did not grant a key South African request: that Israel suspend its military campaign.

 

Even with the United Nations itself, the Israeli impulse to say “Um-Shmum” only goes so far. Israel frequently maneuvers to torpedo or water down Security Council resolutions because it recognizes that they could open the door to sanctions.

 

In December 2016, Israeli officials lobbied Mr. Trump, who had just been elected president, to pressure the departing president, Barack Obama, to veto a Security Council resolution condemning Israel for Jewish settlements in the West Bank (the United States abstained, and the resolution passed).

 

“They understand that you have to keep global opposition at the level of rhetoric,” said Daniel Levy, a former Israeli peace negotiator who now runs the U.S./Middle East Project, a research group based in London and New York. “You can’t allow it ever to enter the realm of costs and consequences.”


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4) Strikes flatten a mosque in Rafah as residents report a heavy night of bombardment.

By Hiba Yazbek reporting from Jerusalem, Feb. 22, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2024/02/22/world/israel-hamas-war-gaza-news

People carry a body in a blanket in an area covered with debris.

A body recovered from the rubble of a destroyed house in Deir Al Balah in central Gaza on Thursday. Credit...Mohammed Saber/EPA, via Shutterstock


Deadly strikes hit several homes and flattened a mosque in Rafah, residents and the Palestinian Authority’s official news agency said on Thursday, delivering more misery to Gaza’s southernmost city, which Israel has said is the next target of its ground invasion.

 

“It was a very hard night,” said Akram al-Satri, who is sheltering in Rafah, where more than half of Gaza’s population has sought refuge amid heavy fighting elsewhere. “They destroyed Al-Farouk mosque, which is one of the largest mosques in the area,” he added in a voice message on Thursday.

 

Video published by the Reuters news agency shows a large pile of debris at the site of the mosque and extensive damage to several surrounding buildings. A New York Times analysis of the video indicates that the mosque was brought down in a structural collapse that is consistent with an airstrike. Only Israel carries out airstrikes in Gaza; the Israeli military did not respond to a request for comment on the strikes in Rafah.

 

The bombardment heightened fears among residents who said it was the heaviest since 10 days ago, when Israeli forces raided Rafah to free two hostages and launched a wave of attacks that health authorities said had killed dozens of Palestinians.

 

Wafa, the Palestinian news agency, reported that at least seven Palestinians were killed overnight in Rafah and dozens more wounded.

 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has described the city as a Hamas stronghold and says the goal of Israel’s campaign is to eliminate the militant group.

 

International alarm has grown over the fate of civilians in Rafah if Israel presses on with its ground invasion there. Dr. Richard Brennan, the regional emergencies director for the World Health Organization, said the agency foresaw a “massive, further degradation of the humanitarian situation if the ground offensive into Rafah proceeds in the coming weeks.”

 

Since the Rafah raid and Mr. Netanyahu’s announcement of the planned ground advance, some people there — many of whom had already been displaced several times — have begun packing up and moving north.

 

On Thursday morning, after a night of fear as drones buzzed and airstrikes boomed, more displaced families from Rafah began arriving at Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al Balah, a city in central Gaza, said Beirut Hana, a lawyer who is sheltering there. They set up tents in and around the hospital and on empty plots of land, she said.

 

“Since the Israeli army announced their plans for a ground invasion of Rafah, people became scared and started moving,” Ms. Hana said in a phone interview. “Every day since then, large crowds of people have been arriving in Deir al Balah and Nuseirat,” another city in central Gaza.

 

Ms. Hana said that although some people were returning to their homes in Deir al Balah, others who were not from the city came in search of safety. But heavy bombardment has also continued in central Gaza, residents said.

 

“So many people are fleeing Rafah and coming here thinking they would be safer, only to get killed here,” said Ms. Hana, referring to the central strip.

 

People are also fleeing to Al-Mawasi, a coastal area Israel has unilaterally designated as a humanitarian zone, Jamie McGoldrick, a senior U.N. humanitarian official who recently returned from a visit to the enclave, told reporters. But there is little space left there as well, and neither Al-Mawasi nor Deir al Balah is truly safe, he said.

 

“If there was to be a massive exodus from Rafah to flee the incursion, I’m not sure where people would go,” Mr. McGoldrick said. “Some people have gone back to Deir al-Balah and Khan Younis, areas where there’s demolished buildings and unexploded ordnance.”

 

“There’s a keen sense of desperation,” he added. Lawlessness is rampant in southern Gaza, he said, and aid convoys ferrying vital supplies for Palestinians have been attacked by organized gangs who have stripped the trucks and threatened drivers. Some appear to lie in wait to ambush convoys after coordinating on social media, he said.

 

Gazan health authorities say that more than 29,000 people have been killed in Gaza since Israel’s bombardment and invasion began on Oct. 7, after the Hamas-led attacks that killed 1,200 people in Israel.

 

Adam Sella, Aaron Boxerman and Nader Ibrahim contributed reporting.


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5) Scientists’ worst-case model for Gaza over the next 6 months: 85,000 deaths from war and disease.

By Stephanie Nolen Stephanie Nolen covers global health, Feb. 22, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2024/02/22/world/israel-hamas-war-gaza-news

An aerial view of a tent camp sheltering displaced Palestinians in the southern Gaza Strip. Smoke rising from another community on the horizon.

Displaced Palestinians in Rafah, in southern Gaza, as smoke rises over the nearby city of Khan Younis last month. Scientists tried to estimate the future death toll in Gaza under three situations. Credit...Bassam Masoud/Reuters


An escalation of the war in Gaza could lead to the deaths of 85,000 Palestinians from injuries and disease over the next six months, in the worst of three situations that prominent epidemiologists have modeled in an effort to understand the potential future death toll of the conflict.

 

These fatalities would be in addition to the more than 29,000 deaths in Gaza that local authorities have attributed to the conflict since it began in October. The estimate represents “excess deaths,” above what would have been expected had there been no war.

 

In a second scenario, assuming no change in the current level of fighting or humanitarian access, there could be an additional 58,260 deaths in the enclave over the next six months, according to the researchers, from Johns Hopkins University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

 

That figure could climb to 66,720 if there were outbreaks of infectious disease such as cholera, their analysis found.

 

Even in the best of the three possibilities that the research team described — an immediate and sustained cease-fire with no outbreak of infectious disease — another 6,500 Gazans could die over the next six months as a direct result of the war, the analysis found.

 

The population of the Gaza Strip before the war was 2.2 million.

 

“This is not a political message or advocacy,” said Dr. Francesco Checchi, professor of epidemiology and international health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

 

“We simply wanted to put it at the front of people’s minds and on the desks of decision makers,” he added, “so that it can be said afterward that when these decisions were taken, there was some available evidence on how this would play out in terms of lives.”

 

Dr. Checchi and his colleagues estimated the projected excess deaths from health data that was available for Gaza before the war began and from that collected through more than four months of fighting.

 

Their study considers deaths from traumatic injuries, infectious diseases, maternal and neonatal causes, and noncommunicable diseases for which people can no longer receive medication or treatment, such as dialysis.

 

Dr. Checchi said the analysis made it possible to quantify the potential impact of a cease-fire in lives. “The decisions that are going to be taken over the next few days and weeks matter hugely in terms of the evolution of the death toll in Gaza,” he said.

 

The projected 6,500 deaths even with a cease-fire is predicated on the assumption there will not be epidemics of infectious disease. With an outbreak of cholera, measles, polio or meningitis, that figure would be 11,580, said Dr. Paul Spiegel, director of the Hopkins Center for the Humanitarian Health and an author of the research, which has not been peer-reviewed.

 

While it is obvious that a military escalation would bring additional casualties, he added, policymakers should be cognizant of the range in the number of deaths that these scenarios indicate.

 

“We hope to bring some reality to it,” Dr. Spiegel said. “This is 85,000 additional deaths in a population where 1.2 percent of that population has already been killed.”

 

Patrick Ball, an expert on quantitative analysis of deaths in conflict who was not involved in the research, said it was unusual to see such a rigorous effort to calculate the potential humanitarian cost of an ongoing war.

 

“The paper illuminates this conflict in a way that we haven’t had in any prior conflicts,” said Dr. Ball, who is the director of research for the Human Rights Data Analysis Group, a nonprofit organization. “It illuminates the probable costs in human lives and human suffering of different kinds of future actions that are under human control.”

 

“People are going to make decisions that are going to lead to one of these three scenarios, or some complex mix of them, and this gives us a sense of what the likely outcomes of those decisions are,” he added.

 

The analysis projects that fatalities from traumatic injuries in Gaza over the next six months will be distributed across all ages and genders.

 

“Forty-three percent of the trauma deaths occur among females, and 42 percent are among children under 19 years,” the paper says, which “reflects the intensity and widespread nature of bombardment.”

 

Even with an immediate cease-fire, war-related deaths would continue, according to the analysis. The toll includes deaths of people who succumb to previous injuries or who are hurt by unexploded ordnance, deaths of babies and women for whom complex care in childbirth is not possible, and deaths of undernourished children who are unable to fight off infections such as pneumonia.

 

“I don’t think people realize how long it will take for that to change,” Dr. Spiegel said.


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6) Many Americans Believe the Economy Is Rigged

By Katherine J. Cramer and Jonathan D. Cohen, Feb. 21, 2024

Ms. Cramer is a co-chair of the Commission on Reimagining Our Economy at the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Mr. Cohen is a senior program officer at the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/21/opinion/economy-research-greed-profit.html

A color photo of a cracked sidewalk with a large puddle at its center. There is a reflection of the top of the U.S. Capitol building in the puddle.

Damon Winter/The New York Times


When asked what drives the economy, many Americans have a simple, single answer that comes to mind immediately: “greed.” They believe the rich and powerful have designed the economy to benefit themselves and have left others with too little or with nothing at all.

 

We know Americans feel this way because we asked them. Over the past two years, as part of a project with the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, we and a team of people conducted over 30 small-group conversations with Americans from almost every corner of the country. While national indicators may suggest that the economy is strong, the Americans we listened to are mostly not thriving. They do not see the economy as nourishing or supporting them. Instead, they tend to see it as an obstacle, a set of external forces out of their control that nonetheless seems to hold sway over their lives.

 

Take the perceived prevalence of greed. This is hardly a new feeling, but it has been exacerbated recently by inflation and higher housing costs. Americans experience these phenomena not as abstract concepts or political talking points but rather as grocery stores and landlords demanding more money.

 

Income inequality has been in decline over the last few years. But try explaining that to someone struggling to pay the rent. “I just feel like the underdog can’t get ahead, and it’s all about greed and profit,” one Kentucky participant noted. It is not necessarily the actual distribution of wealth that troubles people. It is the feeling that the economy is rigged against them.

 

There is a clear disconnect between the macroeconomic story and the micro-American experience. While a tight job market has produced historic gains for lower-income workers, many of the low-income workers we spoke with are unable to accumulate enough money to build a safety net for themselves. “I like the feeling of not living on the edge of disaster,” a special-education teacher in rural Tennessee said. “[I am] at my fullest potential economically” right now, but “I’m still one doctor’s visit away from not being there, and pretty much most people I know are.”

 

If there is a singular explanation for dissatisfaction with the economy, it is a lack of financial certainty. While direct government assistance early in the pandemic certainly helped many in 2020 and 2021, millions of households still struggled to get food, and many millions fell behind on rent. These feelings of instability do not dissipate quickly, especially when rising prices make trips to the store adventures in budgetary arithmetic and the threat of an accident or a surprise medical bill looms around every corner. “Uncertainty really affects your well-being. It affects what you do. It affects how you behave,” said a unionized airport worker in Virginia who tutors in the evenings.

 

An absence of economic resilience prevents people from spending time with family, from getting involved in their community and from finding ways to build a safety net. “The way the economy is going right now, you don’t know where it’s going to be tomorrow, next week,” a human resources employee in Indiana said. Well-being “is about being financially stable. It’s not about being rich, but it’s about being able to take care of your everyday needs without stressing.”

 

Stress is a rampant part of American life, much of it caused by financial insecurity. Some people aspire for the mansion on the hill. Many others are looking just to get their feet on solid ground.

 

One does not need to look hard beyond traditional metrics to see the prevalence of insecurity. In June an industry report found that auto loan delinquencies were higher than they were at the peak of the Great Recession. Credit card use has swelled, and delinquencies are at among their highest rates in a decade. After hitting a historic low in 2021 thanks to the expansion of the child tax credit, child poverty more than doubled in 2022 after the tax credit’s expansion expired. Also in 2022, rates of food insecurity reached their highest levels since 2015.

 

Such trends do not affect all Americans equally. Most disproportionately affect Black and Hispanic households, which perhaps helps explain Republicans’ gains in these communities, according to recent polls. Geography plays a major role, too. In some parts of the country — particularly rural areas — many people feel they have been left out of the progress and promise of the high-tech economy. Even if their finances remain in good health, they seem to fear for the future of their community, and they blame the economy.

 

The political system is supposed to make all this better. Instead, even as both major parties have vied to cast themselves as the standard-bearer of the working class, many Americans see politicians as unable or unwilling to do anything to help them. “In my democracy, I’d like to see us get rid of Republicans, Democrats,” one Kentucky participant told us. “Just stand up there, tell me what you can do. If you can do it, I don’t have to care what you are.” Many Americans seem to see Washington as awash in partisan squabbles over things that have little effect on their lives. Many believe that politicians are looking out for their political party, not the American people.

 

It should not be surprising, then, that so many are so pessimistic about a seemingly strong economy. A rising gross domestic product lifts lots of boats, but many Americans feel as if they are drowning.

 

What would make the people we talked to less stressed? The ability to accumulate savings. Low-wage workers have seen their incomes rise only for many of these gains to be wiped out by inflation. And the costs of housing, health care and child care can quickly absorb even a very robust rainy-day fund. Without a safety net that can propel people into security, the threat of these costs will continue to make many Americans feel unstable, uncertain and decidedly unhappy about the economy.

 

A helpful starting point would be to address benefit cliffs — income eligibility cutoffs built into certain benefits programs. As households earn more money, they can make themselves suddenly ineligible for benefits that would let them build up enough wealth to no longer need any government support. In Kansas, for example, a family of four remains eligible for Medicaid as long as it earns under $39,900. A single dollar in additional income results in the loss of health care coverage — and an alternative will certainly not cost only a buck.

 

Reforming these types of cliffs for health care, child care, housing and food assistance programs would allow the millions of households receiving state aid to achieve a sense of stability. Take this mother in Chicago who told us that her income is just above the eligibility cutoffs. The cliff “knocks me out of a lot of the opportunity to qualify for a lot of the programs that could assist in benefiting myself and my child,” she said.

 

The Americans we listened to want resiliency so they can feel that they are in control of their lives and that they have a say in the direction of their community and their nation. They want a system focused less on how the economy is doing and more on how Americans are doing. As one Houston man observed: “We’re so far down on the economic chain that we don’t have nothing. It seems like our voices don’t matter.” But they do matter. The rest of us just need to listen.


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7) Will Biden’s Gaza Stance Hurt Him in 2024? Michigan Is the First Test.

With the state’s primary election set to gauge Democratic anger over the president’s position on Israel, some of his supporters worry about lasting political fallout.

By Reid J. Epstein, Reporting from Ann Arbor, Mich., Feb. 22, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/22/us/politics/biden-michigan-gaza.html

A circle of demonstrators gathered on the University of Michigan campus on Tuesday for a rally to vote “uncommitted” in the state’s Democratic primary election in protest of President Biden’s support for Israel in the war in Gaza.

Demonstrators gathered on the University of Michigan campus on Tuesday for a rally to vote “uncommitted” in the state’s Democratic primary election in protest of President Biden’s support for Israel in the war in Gaza. Credit...Nick Hagen for The New York Times


For months, anger within the Democratic Party over President Biden’s support for Israel in the war in Gaza has been building. Protesters have shouted through his campaign events, marched outside the White House and vilified him as “Genocide Joe” on social media.

 

Now, Michigan’s primary election next week will put that discontent on the ballot for the first time, with Mr. Biden’s liberal detractors urging Democrats to vote “uncommitted” against him. Some of the president’s allies worry that a movement to register disapproval against him now could have lasting effects into the general election — especially if Mr. Biden does not alter his stance toward the conflict.

 

Michigan’s combination of an early primary, a large and politically active Arab American population, progressive students on college campuses and the option of a protest vote have raised the stakes of what has otherwise been a sleepy election in the state.

 

There are warning signs for Mr. Biden that frustration over Gaza has metastasized beyond Dearborn and other Detroit suburbs, which are the heart of Michigan’s Arab diaspora, and onto the state’s college campuses, where students increasingly feel affinity with the Palestinian cause.

 

In some Michigan communities without a large Arab American presence, crowds have demanded that their local governments enact cease-fire resolutions. Last week, The Detroit Metro Times, an alternative weekly newspaper, endorsed voting “uncommitted” in the primary.

 

There is no public polling to indicate how much support the “uncommitted” push might bleed from Mr. Biden, but Democrats at the highest levels of Michigan politics have cautioned — most of them privately — that the president is at risk of losing the state to former President Donald J. Trump if those who disagree with his Israel policy stay home or vote for a third-party candidate.

 

“Every vote that doesn’t support Joe Biden makes it more likely we have a Trump presidency,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, a co-chairwoman of Mr. Biden’s campaign. “Any vote that is not cast, or is cast for a third party, or cast to send a message, makes it more likely that there is a Trump presidency.”

 

The campaign to vote “uncommitted” was announced this month by Layla Elabed, a sister of Representative Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian American progressive who last weekend became the first member of Michigan’s congressional delegation to call for voting against Mr. Biden in the primary.

 

Ms. Tlaib’s endorsement raised alarms among Biden supporters in the state’s congressional delegation, who worry that it will be difficult to persuade voters activated by the “uncommitted” push in the primary to support Mr. Biden in November.

 

Yet in Michigan, few Democratic officials are eager to risk a backlash if they criticize the effort to vote “uncommitted.”

 

“The Muslim community and the Arab American communities are clearly very upset, and understandably so,” said Representative Shri Thanedar, a Detroit Democrat. “You know, 30,000 or so innocent civilians have been killed, including women and children. So the concern is understandable. They are using this time to get attention, and make a point, and make a case. And I really do not blame them.”

 

Mr. Thanedar said he would vote for Mr. Biden, however, because “I’m not a single-issue voter.”

 

Michigan Democrats expressed uncertainty about how many people will vote “uncommitted” in Tuesday’s primary. While the Biden campaign is bracing for Arab Americans and young progressive voters to oppose the president in the primary, Lauren Hitt, a campaign spokeswoman, stressed that union workers, suburban women and Black voters remained supportive.

 

“His investments in infrastructure and green energy have created thousands of union jobs. He walked the picket line with U.A.W. He is standing up for reproductive rights, an issue that motivated hundreds of thousands of Michiganders to flip the statehouse in the midterms,” Ms. Hitt said of Mr. Biden. “He recently met with Black voters in Detroit to talk about his administration’s efforts to create record low Black unemployment. And he is working tirelessly to create a just, lasting peace in the Middle East.”

 

Two weeks ago, Mr. Biden’s White House dispatched a delegation of senior aides to Dearborn to try to ease tensions with Michigan’s Arab American community. Jon Finer, a deputy national security adviser, told the local leaders that the Biden administration had made “missteps” in dealing with Israel and Gaza and had left “a very damaging impression.”

 

The same day, Mr. Biden declared that Israel had gone “over the top” in its response to the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas that killed 1,200 people.

 

But students, Arab Americans and other Michiganders said in interviews that Mr. Biden’s alliance with Israel’s government was unforgivable and would prevent them from voting for him in November if he did not call for a cease-fire and halt American aid to Israel’s war effort. Perhaps more concerning for the president as he tries to win over skeptical young voters, students with no family connections to the Middle East described their advocacy for the Palestinian cause as part of their social identity.

 

Ruthy Lynch, 21, an undergraduate student from Traverse City, Mich., said she had not known much about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before the Oct. 7 attack that sparked the war in Gaza.

 

Ms. Lynch now wears a black-and-white scarf known as a kaffiyeh around campus to demonstrate to friends and others that she sides with the Palestinians.

 

“I’m wearing it as a show of solidarity,” Ms. Lynch said. “It feels good to walk around campus. I see other people also wearing kaffiyehs, and we are sort of trying to normalize it and bring more visibility to solidarity with Palestinians.”

 

Ms. Lynch said that she had voted for Mr. Biden in 2020 but that she would not in November if he did not call for a cease-fire and halt U.S. military aid to Israel. “I’m not sure I can bring myself to do it,” she said.

 

A Fox News poll of registered voters released last week found Mr. Biden narrowly trailing Mr. Trump by two percentage points in a head-to-head matchup in Michigan. With third-party and independent candidates included, Mr. Trump’s lead grew to five points.

 

Abbas Alawieh, a former congressional aide from Dearborn who helped organize the group Listen to Michigan, which is leading the “uncommitted” effort, said it was Mr. Biden, not those protesting his foreign policy, who was putting his electoral prospects in jeopardy.

 

“President Biden has brought risk onto himself in a general election by making it so that his policy on Gaza is indistinguishable from Netanyahu’s most murderous instincts and actions,” Mr. Alawieh said after the Ann Arbor rally, referring to the Israeli prime minister. “He’s already lost people, and what we’re trying to tell him is, if you take a different approach, that is something that people here in Michigan need to see. Help us prevent Trump from becoming president.”

 

Mr. Biden’s political toxicity in Ann Arbor and Dearborn was evident in his campaign’s scheduling this week. Vice President Kamala Harris is expected to visit Grand Rapids on Thursday, and the campaign dispatched surrogates including Mitch Landrieu, the former New Orleans mayor, and Representatives Sara Jacobs of California and Joyce Beatty of Ohio to address voters — but there are no events scheduled in the congressional district that includes Ann Arbor.

 

Instead, Representative Ro Khanna of California is hosting an event on Thursday that posters across the University of Michigan campus call a “cease-fire town hall” and is scheduled to appear alongside Ms. Tlaib in Dearborn on Thursday evening. Mr. Khanna’s role as a Biden surrogate is not mentioned — a conspicuous omission to avoid advertising his affiliation with the president’s campaign.

 

“If we don’t have a change in the situation in Gaza and in our policy approach, there is a risk of losing,” Mr. Khanna said. “Any day that bombs are falling on innocent children and women in Palestine is not a good day for our party and our prospects.”

 

Listen to Michigan has set a public goal of 10,000 votes — slightly less than the margin by which Mr. Trump carried the state in 2016, but about half the number of votes for “uncommitted” in Michigan’s 2016 and 2020 Democratic primaries. Our Revolution, the political group formed by supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders, said it was aiming for 10 percent of the primary vote. (Mr. Sanders has disavowed the effort, a spokeswoman said.)

 

While the “uncommitted” supporters have held events in Dearborn and on Michigan’s college campuses, they have not built a presence in Detroit’s Black neighborhoods. Branden Snyder, the executive director of Detroit Action, a progressive organizing group in the city, said voters there would be more inclined to support a Biden protest effort if the focus were on domestic issues.

 

“There are a ton of Black folks and brown folks who are disgruntled with Biden’s policy and looking at Biden spending resources abroad instead of at home on issues we cared about,” he said. “If messaging really focused on those people, you’d have some serious concerns.”

 

Some Michigan voters say Mr. Biden has already lost their support in the general election.

 

Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, an Iranian American environmental toxicologist from Ann Arbor who has run repeatedly for local office, was distributing business cards on Tuesday highlighting her latest City Council campaign. Her platform includes cleaning the city’s contaminated water, enacting a $15 municipal minimum wage — and telling Congress to “stop funding Israeli wars.”

 

Dr. Savabieasfahani, 64, said she would not support Mr. Biden, even if doing so would help Mr. Trump return to the White House.

 

“We cannot be held hostage between two terrible choices,” she said. “Pick between these two elderly white men who don’t know what you want and don’t agree with what you want.”


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8) The Trauma Experienced in Gaza Is Beyond PTSD

By Yara M. Asi, Feb. 22, 2024

Ms. Asi is an assistant professor at the University of Central Florida’s School of Global Health Management and Informatics.

“To call what is experienced by people in Gaza today PTSD misses that these are not people in a post-trauma situation. Treatment may help a Vietnam veteran recognize that a loud sound is not always a threat. Treatment cannot help convince a child in Gaza that the bombs they hear will not kill them, because they might. It cannot offer comfort to a mother worried her children may starve, because they could.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/22/opinion/gaza-palestinians-mental-health.html

A collage of images from the destruction resulting from the war in Gaza around an eye with a tear being shed.

Ibrahim Azab


“We will die. All of us. Hopefully soon enough to stop the suffering that we are living through every single second.” Those words were sent in a text last week by a physician working for Doctors Without Borders in the southern Gaza Strip. And it is far from an uncommon feeling shared by those struggling to survive and care for one another in Gaza these days.

 

What would we call this feeling from the perspective of Western medicine? Suicidal ideation? Depression? Post-traumatic stress disorder? Whatever it is, we are taught that such thoughts are abnormal and require medical intervention.

 

When the bombing finally stops, the rebuilding of Gaza’s homes, schools, hospitals and essential infrastructure will begin — a process Gazans are extremely familiar with at this point. They will also begin processing trauma many people on Earth cannot understand: the prospect of starving to death; waking up at the hospital and finding out you are one of the last surviving members of your family; watching a child killed by an airstrike being pulled from rubble; displacement for the second, fifth or tenth time.

 

How do we repair the shattered minds and emotions of these survivors? Where do we begin to bring people back from a state of mental anguish where the thought of a quick death is seen as a glimmer of mercy?

 

As a Palestinian from the West Bank, I am no stranger to the trauma faced by Palestinians in the occupied territories, and I have spent my career trying to answer those questions and capture and convey the various injustices faced by Palestinians, specifically as they relate to health. Most current frameworks for mental health are almost totally insufficient to describe and reckon with the war-related trauma Palestinians in Gaza have endured these last several months. And by extension, our traditional methods of providing mental health care will not be enough, either.

 

The aftermath of this war will undoubtedly include a harrowing period of recovery that will require extraordinary financial and political investment. But it’s also a time to rethink mental health in populations that have experienced such devastating collective trauma, as well as what genuine healing may look like to ensure that hope and justice, and not just continued trauma, is passed down to future generations. While military campaigns are being waged, the numbers of dead and physically injured tell us just one story about the entirety of the mental and emotional agony being perpetuated, funded and justified.

 

Some studies suggest PTSD and depression are among the most common mental health disorders observed in populations affected by war, but our understanding of how war affects mental health is fairly new. PTSD itself wasn’t a proper medical diagnosis until 1980, after over a decade of research and treatment of Vietnam veterans who returned home with what we previously called “shell shock,” “war neurosis” or “gross stress reaction.” The tools and questionnaires used to screen for PTSD were generally developed and tested in the West, but these days they are deployed extensively across populations affected by the brutality of war, including Syria, South Sudan and Ukraine.

 

While these tools can be valuable, a growing field of literature critiques the lack of nuance or context in some of these framings, including how people describe trauma differently across cultures and process traumatic experiences based in part on their perception of why the trauma is occurring. Too often we rely only on the relatively simple and straightforward analysis of surveys rather than the time-intensive and more subjective experience of interviews, observations and other methods that account for context.

 

Importantly, we also lack tools to adequately measure trauma that is ongoing and so deeply entrenched in a community. Because of its extensive history of violence, deprivation and other traumatic incidents, Gaza has been a site of many studies about the mental health burden of life in war, including many of children. A 2020 study of students in Gaza between the ages of 11 and 17 found that nearly 54 percent of participants fit the diagnosis criteria for PTSD. A more recent study of Palestinians across the West Bank and Gaza found that 100 percent of participants had been exposed to traumas in 2021. The traumas that Palestinians face can include events as varied as land confiscation, detention, home demolition, loss of loved ones and fear of losing one’s own life.

 

After such persistent and endless trauma, “the effect is more profound,” Samah Jabr, a psychiatrist who works in the Palestinian Ministry of Health, told Quartz in 2019. “It changes the personality, it changes the belief system, and it doesn’t look like PTSD.”

 

When trauma is so normal, it can also become normalized. My own loved ones in Palestine shrug off or even laugh at experiences that would be highly distressing to most. It’s also easy to miss how poor mental health can increase the risk of physical ailments like heart disease and diabetes among the populace. The limitations of our approach to mental health become exceedingly clear in such contexts.

 

What does this tell us about next steps for Gaza? Like all aspects of the health system in the besieged territory, mental health care is underfunded there. Humanitarian aid distributed to Gaza must include resources devoted to providing adequate mental health services. We are already seeing small efforts to offer children art classes or puppet shows at their crowded shelters, to help them cope with the ongoing trauma, but we need to start more massively building up mental health infrastructure. That includes establishing a well-trained health care work force that can offer a wide range of culturally competent mental health treatments to those affected.

 

For such a wide-scale disaster like the current war, however, we cannot stop at mere medical treatments. For adequate mental health, adults need jobs, children need schools, and everyone needs shelter and regular access to food, water and medicines. Eventually, people need to return home. Robust mental health in survivors cannot be restored without stability, security and a repaired community.

 

Significantly, medical practitioners and researchers cannot be limited by the language of medical diagnoses or the treatment that derives from them. To call what is experienced by people in Gaza today PTSD misses that these are not people in a post-trauma situation. Treatment may help a Vietnam veteran recognize that a loud sound is not always a threat. Treatment cannot help convince a child in Gaza that the bombs they hear will not kill them, because they might. It cannot offer comfort to a mother worried her children may starve, because they could.

 

Rather than use the term post-traumatic stress disorder, many have called to reframe the view of such suffering. Some have called it chronic traumatic stress disorder, while others, including Palestinian scholars, have referred to it as “feeling broken or destroyed.” This is not just a matter of semantics. These alternatives show that it is not enough to offer therapeutic options that place the abnormality within the individual and not within the circumstances they are experiencing. Is it not actually quite normal and understandable to feel broken or destroyed when everything you have ever known is reduced to rubble?

 

The scale and scope of suffering in Gaza today remind us that people in war zones need healing, justice and a genuine feeling of physical and mental safety moving forward. Even if a temporary cease-fire is brokered, what is the good of working to recover from such trauma if one is nearly certain they will experience it again? Everyone above the age of 10 in Gaza already has, several times.

 

Until there is meaningful action on the social, political and economic determinants that limit people’s ability to thrive, to experience joy and safety, to merely live, we cannot expect mental health treatments to do what the world’s most powerful actors are unwilling to do.


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