Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, November 30, 2023




"The Rock" on top of Bernal Hill overlooking downtown San Francisco re-painted October 26, 2023, after pro-Israeli Zionist's destroyed it. 

Palestinians killed and wounded by Israel:
As of November 30, 2023the total number of Palestinians killed by Israel is now over 15,000 (over 6,150 are children and 36,000 are wounded)and more than 235 Palestinians have been killed by Israel in the occupied West Bank in the past month. 
The U.N. humanitarian affairs office estimates that about 2,700 people, including 1,500 children, are missing and believed buried in the ruins. 
8,300 Palestinians are being held in Israeli prisons. More than 2,000 Palestinians have been arrested since Oct. 7.

Since October 7, one in every 57 Palestinians living in Gaza has been killed or injured in Israel’s airstrikes and ground invasion.

Israelis killed and abducted by Hamas: 
A total of 1,200* Israelis killed by Hamas (30 of them children) and 239 abducted on October 7, 2023.
Israel has revised its official estimated death toll of the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks, lowering the number to about 1,200 people, down from more than 1,400, a spokesman for the country’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday night.








Ann Boyer’s Powerful New York Times Resignation Letter

November 17, 2023

Read: The War Turns Gaza Into a ‘Graveyard’ for Children, By Raja Abdulrahim, Photographs by Samar Abu Elouf and Yousef Masoud, Nov. 18, 2023


According to Literary Hub[1], "[Early on November 16, 2023], the news broke that Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, essayist, and poetry editor of the New York Times Magazine, Anne Boyer, has resigned from her post, writing in her resignation letter that 'the Israeli state’s U.S.-backed war against the people of Gaza is not a war for anyone...'"


The letter in full is written below:


"I have resigned as poetry editor of the New York Times Magazine.

"The Israeli state’s U.S-backed war against the people of Gaza is not a war for anyone. There is no safety in it or from it, not for Israel, not for the United States or Europe, and especially not for the many Jewish people slandered by those who claim falsely to fight in their names. Its only profit is the deadly profit of oil interests and weapon manufacturers.

"The world, the future, our hearts—everything grows smaller and harder from this war. It is not only a war of missiles and land invasions. It is an ongoing war against the people of Palestine, people who have resisted throughout decades of occupation, forced dislocation, deprivation, surveillance, siege, imprisonment, and torture.

"Because our status quo is self-expression, sometimes the most effective mode of protest for artists is to refuse.

"I can’t write about poetry amidst the ‘reasonable’ tones of those who aim to acclimatize us to this unreasonable suffering. No more ghoulish euphemisms. No more verbally sanitized hellscapes. No more warmongering lies.

"If this resignation leaves a hole in the news the size of poetry, then that is the true shape of the present."

—Anne Boyer

[1] https://lithub.com/read-anne-boyers-extraordinary-resignation-letter-from-the-new-york-times/



Viva Fidel!







To endorse the following statement as a trade unionist, please click here:



To endorse as other, please click here:



The list of signers will be updated periodically

Contact: info@laborforpalestine.net

Website: laborforpalestine.net


Stand With Palestinian Workers: 

Cease the Genocide Now—Stop Arming Israel!

Labor for Palestine


“We need you to take immediate action—wherever you are in the world—to prevent the arming of the Israeli state and the companies involved in the infrastructure of the blockade.” An Urgent Call from Palestinian Trade Unions: End all Complicity, Stop Arming Israel (October 16, 2023)


The undersigned U.S. workers, trade unionists, and anti-apartheid activists join labor around the world in condemning the Israeli siege on Gaza that has killed or maimed thousands of Palestinians—many of them children—and stand with Palestinians’ “right to exist, resist, return, and self-determination.”


The latest Israeli attacks reflect more than a century of ongoing Zionist settler-colonialism, dispossession, ethnic cleansing, racism, genocide, and apartheid—including Israel’s establishment through the uprooting and displacement of over 750,000 Palestinians during the 1947-1948 Nakba. Indeed, eighty percent of the 2.3 million people in Gaza are refugees from other parts of historic Palestine.


Israel’s crimes are only possible because of more than $3.8 billion a year (or $10+ million per day) in bipartisan US military aid that gives Israel the guns, bullets, tanks, ships, jet fighters, missiles, helicopters, white phosphorus and other weapons to kill and maim the Palestinian people. This is the same system of racist state violence that, through shared surveillance technology and police exchange programs, brutalizes BIPOC and working class people in the United States and around the world.


In response, we demand an immediate end to the genocide, and embrace the recent Urgent Call from Palestinian Trade Unions: End all Complicity, Stop Arming Israel:


1.     To refuse to build weapons destined for Israel. To refuse to transport weapons to Israel. 


2.     To pass motions in their trade union to this effect. 


3.     To take action against complicit companies involved in implementing Israel’s brutal and illegal siege, especially if they have contracts with your institution. 


4.     Pressure governments to stop all military trade with Israel, and in the case of the U.S., funding to it.


We further reaffirm the call on labor bodies to respect previous Palestinian trade union appeals for solidarity by adopting this statement, and/or the model resolution below to divest from Israel Bonds, sever all ties with the Israel’s racist labor federation, the Histadrut, and its US mouthpiece, the Jewish Labor Committee, and respect the Palestinian picket line for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS). 


Initial Signers on behalf of Labor for Palestine

(organizational affiliations listed for identification only)

Suzanne Adely, Labor for Palestine, US Palestinian Community Network, Arab Workers Resource Center; Food Chain Workers Alliance (staff); President, National Lawyers Guild; Monadel Herzallah, Arab American Union Members Council; Ruth Jennison, Department Rep., Massachusetts Society of Professors, MTA, NEA; Co-Chair, Labor Standing Committee River Valley DSA; Delegate to Western Mass Area Labor Federation; Lara Kiswani, Executive Director, Arab Resource & Organizing Center (AROC); Block the Boat; Michael Letwin, Former President, Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW Local 2325; Jews for Palestinian Right of Return; Corinna Mullin, PSC-CUNY International Committee; CUNY for Palestine; Clarence Thomas, Co-Chair, Million Worker March; Executive Board, ILWU Local 10 (retired.)



Jewish Doctor Speaks Out on Israel and Palestine

Dr. Gabor Maté, Hungarian-Canadian physician and author describes his own life experience and expresses his view on the situation in Israel and Palestine.

“I’m personally a Holocaust survivor as an infant, I barely survived. My grandparents were killed in Auschwitz and most of my extended family were killed. I became a Zionist; this dream of the Jewish people resurrected in their historical homeland and the barbed wire of Auschwitz being replaced by the boundaries of a Jewish state with a powerful army…and then I found out that it wasn’t exactly like that, that in order to make this Jewish dream a reality we had to visit a nightmare on the local population.

“There’s no way you could have ever created a Jewish state without oppressing and expelling the local population. Jewish Israeli historians have shown without a doubt that the expulsion of Palestinians was persistent, pervasive, cruel, murderous and with deliberate intent—that’s what’s called the ‘Nakba’ in Arabic; the ‘disaster’ or the ‘catastrophe.’ There’s a law that you cannot deny the Holocaust, but in Israel you’re not allowed to mention the Nakba, even though it’s at the very basis of the foundation of Israel.

“I visited the Occupied Territories (West Bank) during the first intifada. I cried every day for two weeks at what I saw; the brutality of the occupation, the petty harassment, the murderousness of it, the cutting down of Palestinian olive groves, the denial of water rights, the humiliations...and this went on, and now it’s much worse than it was then.

“It’s the longest ethnic cleansing operation in the 20th and 21st century. I could land in Tel Aviv tomorrow and demand citizenship but my Palestinian friend in Vancouver, who was born in Jerusalem, can’t even visit!

“So, then you have these miserable people packed into this, horrible…people call it an ‘outdoor prison,’ which is what it is. You don’t have to support Hamas policies to stand up for Palestinian rights, that’s a complete falsity. You think the worst thing you can say about Hamas, multiply it by a thousand times, and it still will not meet the Israeli repression and killing and dispossession of Palestinians.

“And ‘anybody who criticizes Israel is an anti-Semite’ is simply an egregious attempt to intimidate good non-Jews who are willing to stand up for what is true.”

—Independent Catholic News, October 16, 2023






the French word

for rabies


la rage -

rage or outrage



the French have a saying -

a man who wants to get rid of his dog

accuses it of spreading rabies


the people of Gaza

treated as inhuman animals

worse than dogs

are charged

with terrorism


come to think of it

what an honor !


world war two's resistance

against nazi extermination

was designated

as terrorism

by the Axis allies


what an honor !



was monitored

as a terrorist

by the CIA


What an honor !



peacefully meditating

near Israeli-funded cop city

was executed

in cold blood

on suspicion

of domestic terrorism 


What an honor !


in the spirit of Mandela

in the spirit of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising

in the spirit of Tortuguita

in the spirit of Attica

may the anti colonial outrage

of the People of Palestine

contaminate us all -

the only epidemic

worth dying for


 (c) Julia Wright. October 17 2023. All Rights Reserved To The family of Wadea Al- Fayoume.



The ongoing Zionist theft of Palestinian land from 1946 to now.

77 years of brutal oppression must end!

End all U.S. aid to Israel now!

For a democratic, secular Palestine!



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:



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: 


             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 



Mumia Abu-Jamal is Innocent!


Write to Mumia at:

Smart Communications/PADOC

Mumia Abu-Jamal #AM-8335

SCI Mahanoy

P.O. Box 33028

St. Petersburg, FL 33733

Poetic Petition to Genocide Joe Before He Eats His Turkey 

By Julia Wright


Mr Genocide Joe

you have helped broker

a Thanksgiving truce

in Gaza

where your zionist partners

in war crimes

say they will stop

slaughtering "human animals"

for four days



Mr Genocide Joe

closer to home

you have your own hostages

taken in the cointelpro wars

who still languish

in cages

treated worse than animals




as you pardon

two turkeys

in the White House today

as you get ready to eat your military turkey

and have it too

it would at last be time

to unchain

at least two of your own "human animals" -

Mumia Abu-Jamal


Leonard Peltier


(c) Julia Wright. November 25, 2023. All Rights Reserved to Mumia Abu-Jamal and Leonard Peltier.



A Plea for the Compassionate Release of 

Leonard Peltier

Self Portrait by Leonard Peltier

Leonard Peltier’s Letter Delivered to Supporters on September 12, 2023, in Front of the Whitehouse


Dear friends, relatives, supporters, loved ones:


Seventy-nine years old. Mother Earth has taken us on another journey around Grandfather Sun.  Babies have taken their first breath. People have lived, loved, and died. Seeds have been planted and sent their roots deep below red earth and their breath to the Stars and our Ancestors.


I am still here.


Time has twisted one more year out of me. A year that has been a moment.  A year that has been a lifetime. For almost five decades I’ve existed in a cage of concrete and steel.  With the “good time” calculations of the system, I’ve actually served over 60 years.


Year after year, I have encouraged you to live as spirit warriors. Even while in here, I can envision what is real and far beyond these walls.  I’ve seen a reawakening of an ancient Native pride that does my heart good.


I may leave this place in a box. That is a cold truth. But I have put my heart and soul into making our world a better place and there is a lot of work left to do – I would like to get out and do it with you.


I know that the spirit warriors coming up behind me have the heart and soul to fight racism and oppression, and to fight the greed that is poisoning our lands, waters, and people. 


We are still here.


Remember who you are, even if they come for your land, your water, your family. We are children of Mother Earth and we owe her and her other children our care.


I long to turn my face to the sky. In this cage, I am denied that simple pleasure. I am in prison, but in my mind, I remain as I was born: a free Native spirit.


That is what allows me to laugh, keeps me laughing. These walls cannot contain my laughter – or my hope.


I know there are those who stand with me, who work around the clock for my freedom. I have been blessed to have such friends.


We are still here and you give me hope. 


I hope to breathe free air before I die. Hope is a hard thing to hold, but no one is strong enough to take it from me. 


I love you. I hope for you. I pray for you. 


And prayer is more than a cry to the Creator that runs through your head.  Prayer is an action.


In the Spirit of Crazy Horse



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:


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




Email: contact@whoisleonardpeltier.info

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



Updates From Kevin Cooper 

March 23, 2023 

Dear Friends and Comrades, 

This is Kevin Cooper writing and sending this update to you in 'Peace & Solidarity'. First and foremost I am well and healthy, and over the ill effect(s) that I went through after that biased report from MoFo, and their pro prosecution and law enforcement experts. I am back working with my legal team from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP.

'We' have made great progress in refuting all that those experts from MoFo came up with by twisting the truth to fit their narrative, or omitting things, ignoring, things, and using all the other tactics that they did to reach their conclusions. Orrick has hired four(4) real experts who have no questionable backgrounds. One is a DNA attorney, like Barry Scheck of the innocence project in New York is for example. A DNA expert, a expect to refute what they say Jousha Ryen said when he was a child, and his memory. A expect on the credibility of MoFo's experts, and the attorney's at Orrick are dealing with the legal issues.

This all is taking a little longer than we first expected it to take, and that in part is because 'we' have to make sure everything is correct in what we have in our reply. We cannot put ourselves in a situation where we can be refuted... Second, some of our experts had other things planned, like court cases and such before they got the phone call from Rene, the now lead attorney of the Orrick team. With that being said, I can say that our experts, and legal team have shown, and will show to the power(s) that be that MoFo's DNA expert could not have come to the conclusion(s) that he came to, without having used 'junk science'! They, and by they I mean my entire legal team, including our experts, have done what we have done ever since Orrick took my case on in 2004, shown that all that is being said by MoFo's experts is not true, and we are once again having to show what the truth really is.

Will this work with the Governor? Who knows... 'but' we are going to try! One of our comrades, Rebecca D.   said to me, 'You and Mumia'...meaning that my case and the case of Mumia Abu Jamal are cases in which no matter what evidence comes out supporting our innocence, or prosecution misconduct, we cannot get a break. That the forces in the so called justice system won't let us go. 'Yes' she is correct about that sad to say...

Our reply will be out hopefully in the not too distant future, and that's because the people in Sacramento have been put on notice that it is coming, and why. Every one of you will receive our draft copy of the reply according to Rene because he wants feedback on it. Carole and others will send it out once they receive it. 'We' were on the verge of getting me out, and those people knew it, so they sabotaged what the Governor ordered them to do, look at all the evidence as well as the DNA evidence. They did not do that, they made this a DNA case, by doing what they did, and twisted the facts on the other issues that they dealt with.   'more later'...

In Struggle & Solidarity,

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)



Letter from Kevin “Rashid” Johnson

November 6, 2023

      I’m back at Red Onion. I have no lines of communication. They have me in the B-3 torture cellblock again where there is no access to a kiosk and they’re withholding my tablet anyway. Even if I had it, it’s no use with no kiosk to sync it to and send/receive messages.

      This was a hit. Came from DOC HQ in response folks complaining about my being thrown in solitary at Sussex and the planted knife thing. Kyle Rosch was in on it. The warden and AW here said he’s having me sent back out of state. In any case I don’t want be in this racist trap.

      They cut all my outstanding medical referrals to send here cuz there’s no major medical facility in this remote region. I was pending referral to the cardiac clinic at MCV hospital (Medical College of Virginia), which is on the other side of the state. Also was pending referral to urology there. They were supposed to do testing for congestive heart failure and kidney problems related to my legs, feet, and ankles chronic swelling, and other undiagnosed issues: chronic cough, fluid weight gain, sweats, fatigue, chest pain. They just cut these referrals all of which I have copies of from my medical files.

      They’ve been removing documents from my file too. Like the order I had for oversize handcuffs—which I was gassed the morning I was transferred here for asking the transferring pigs to honor. They took the order out of my file to try to cover their asses. I and others have copies of that too. At this point things are hectic. I’m back in old form now. I was somewhat in hiatus, trying to get the medical care I needed and not provoking them to avoid the bs while that was going on. But the bs has found me once again : ). I need all possible help here. At a level a bit more intense than in the past cuz I need that diagnostic care they cut the referrals for and it’s not available in this remote area. They’d have to send me back to Sussex or another prison near MCU in the VDOC’s Central or Eastern Region. I’m in the most remote corner of the Western Region. My health is not good! And they’re using the medical quack staff here to rubber stamp blocking my referrals.

      Although that lawyer may have given you a message from me, she is not helping me in any way. So no-one should assume because a lawyer surfaced that she is working on anything to aid me. Just have to emphasize that cuz past experience has shown that folks will take a lawyer’s seeming presence as grounds to believe that means some substantial help is here and their help is not needed. Again, I need all possible help here….My health depends on this call for help in a more immediate sense than the cancer situation. I’m having breathing and mobility problems, possibly cardiac related.


      All power to the people!



We need to contact these Virginia Department of Corrections personnel to protest:: 


VADOC~ Central Administration; USPS—P.O. Box 26963; Richmond, VA 23261

David  Robinson Phone : 804-887-8078, Email~david.robinson@vadoc.virginia.gov

Virginia DOC ~ Director, Chadwick S Dotson, Phone~ (804) 674-3081 Email~Chadwick.Dotson@.vadoc.virginia.gov


Virginia Department of Corrections Interstate Compact Liaison

Kyle Rosch, Phone: 804-887-8404, Email: kyle.rosch@vadoc.virginia.gov


VADOC ~Central Administration

Rose L. Durbin, Phone~804-887-7921Email~Rose.Durbin@vadoc.virgina.gov


Red Onion~ Warden, Richard E White, USPS—10800 H. Jack Rose Hwy., Pound, VA 24279

Phone: (276) 796-3536;(or 7510)  Email~ rick.white@vadoc.virginia.gov


Red Onion State Prison, Assistant Warden

Shannon Fuller Phone: 276-796-7510  Email: shannon.fuller@VADOC.virginia.gov


Write to Rashid: 

Kevin “Rashid” Johnson #1007485 

Red Onion State Prison

10800 H. Jack Rose Hwy

Pound, VA 24279




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:


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



Sign the petition:




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
Whistleblower & Source Protection Program (WHISPeR)

Twitter: @JesselynRadack



Resources for Resisting Federal Repression



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






1) ‘We Went Back to the Stone Age’

Life in besieged Gaza revolves around a daily struggle to find food and water. With practically no fuel or coal, families are burning doors and window frames to cook what they can scrounge.

By Matina Stevis-Gridneff, Hiba Yazbek, Abu Bakr Bashir and Ameera Harouda, Photographs by Samar Abu Elouf and Yousef Masoud, Nov. 26, 2023

A person standing in the water carries a white bucket toward people gathered on the beach. Another person, partly bent down, stands on the sand near two yellow containers.

Filling containers with seawater at a beach in Deir al-Balah for washing and cooking. Since Israel imposed a siege on Gaza, clean water for drinking has also been hard to come by. Credit...Samar Abu Elouf for The New York Times

Namzi Mwafi, 23, has one job, day in and day out: find water for his family.


Dozens of his extended family members are sheltering together in a two-bedroom apartment in Rafah, a city in southern Gaza near the territory’s border with Egypt, he says. The oldest, his grandmother, is 68; the youngest, a cousin, is 6 months old.


To keep them alive, Mr. Mwafi says he wakes up at 4 a.m., spending hours waiting for water at a crowded filling station. Sometimes, he has to fight to keep his place in line and sometimes there is nothing left when his turn comes.


When he is lucky, he pushes his heavy trolley home through the sand and the family rations the haul to about a glass a day each.


There is practically no gas or other fuel left in Gaza, according to the United Nations agencies operating there, so some people are building makeshift clay or metal ovens to cook. Firewood and coal have also largely run out, so families are burning stripped-down doors, shutters and window frames, cardboard and grasses. Some simply do not cook, eating raw onions and eggplants instead.


“We went back to the Stone Age,” Mr. Mwafi said.


In response to the devastating Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas, the group that controls the Gaza Strip, Israel imposed what it called a complete siege — cutting off almost all water, food, electricity and fuel for the more than two million Palestinians living in Gaza. It also launched thousands of airstrikes on the enclave and sent in ground forces to try to root out Hamas.


A brief cease-fire, the first since the war began seven weeks ago, began to take hold on Friday, and as part of a hostage agreement between Israel and Hamas, dozens of trucks with water and other vital humanitarian aid crossed into Gaza.


Still, it was far less than what typically came into the territory before the war, and there was no indication that the freer flow of aid would last beyond the four-day agreed truce.


Before the cease-fire, little humanitarian aid — far short of what Gazans need — had been trickling in. And so, from the north to the south, in tented camps, apartments, schools and hospitals, residents crammed together in ever-shrinking spaces have been struggling every day to meet their most basic needs.


Surviving has become a full-time, perilous undertaking.


Days start well before dawn. Tasks seem simple: Fetch water. Bake bread. Buy diapers. Stay alive.


But people do not always succeed.


Mineral water trucked into the territory in aid convoys has been enough for only 4 percent of the population, according to the United Nations World Food Program. Some desalinated water is still being distributed in the south, but the north has no potable water sources left, according to the U.N. People who cannot access the scarce mineral and desalinated water rely on brackish water from wells, which the U.N. has said is not safe for human consumption.


Flour, too, is running out and most wheat mills have been bombed, according to the United Nations. Humanitarian agencies have managed to deliver bread, canned tuna and date bars to about a quarter of the population since Oct. 7, but distribution is hampered by fighting and the siege, the World Food Program said. Some farmers are slaughtering their animals, trading their future livelihoods for the emergency at hand.


The World Food Program has warned that only 10 percent of the food Gaza needs has entered the territory since the war began, creating “a massive food gap and widespread hunger.”


“Wheat flour, dairy products, cheese, eggs and mineral water have completely disappeared,” in the market, Alia Zaki, a spokeswoman for the World Food Program, said this month.


The virtual collapse of the sewage system and displacement of about 1.7 million Gazans, who have poured into camps and crowded into relatives’ homes, have also brought on a hygiene crisis and illnesses that the World Health Organization warns could get much worse.


Diarrhea, scabies and lice are ripping through the population, hitting younger children particularly hard.


Shops Are Empty. Banks Are Closed. Power Is Out.


Mr. Mwafi said he graduated from college with a degree in computer engineering a month before the war. He dreamed of a life in Canada as a videographer and had just started dabbling in content creation. His social media before Oct. 7 shows a young man with a bright smile at his graduation, surrounded by friends and family.


His posts were unreservedly upbeat, full of Quranic quotes and pop culture affirmations about positive living, love, friendship and hope. Now they are all about staying alive.


“Our strategy right now is how to survive for the longest period possible,” he said.


“If before I had ambitions and hopes for a good future and fulfilling the dreams I had as a child,” he said, “now my utmost ambition is to be able to eat, drink water and sleep.”


Before the war began, Gaza had been blockaded by Israel and Egypt for 16 years, and the humanitarian situation there deteriorated quickly, with stocks depleting just days after the siege began in early October.


“Even before Oct. 7, 70 percent of the people in Gaza were relying on humanitarian aid of some form or another,” said Ms. Zaki, the World Food Program spokeswoman. “And the strip had some of the highest poverty and unemployment rates in the world.”


The vast majority of shops are now shut or empty, and people are mostly buying and selling goods informally, according to the United Nations. With electricity out and most banks closed, the few who do have funds cannot get them. Even if they could, there is not much to buy.


A Hygiene Crisis Grows


In May, Lujayn al-Borno, 35, her husband and their four children — between 1½ and 14 years old — fled Sudan, then a month into a civil war, for their native Gaza. They knew that returning to their homeland would be hard after 13 years of prosperity and relative stability in Sudan. But they had cash and family in Gaza, so they figured they were better off than most.


They quickly settled in an apartment in the upscale Gaza City neighborhood of Rimal in the north.


Then, on Oct. 7, hours after the Hamas-led attack on Israel, Ms. al-Borno said the family received a call from the Israeli military to evacuate their building because it was going to be hit in one of the war’s first airstrikes. They fled for the southern city of Khan Younis and sheltered with extended family in a small apartment that was still under construction.


Ms. al-Borno visits a nearby shop every day, but usually it’s empty.


“I go look for food for my children on foot, and I find nothing,” she said. “I cry the whole way back home.”


But her persistence and the cash she still has occasionally pay off. Recently, she said she managed to secure two packs of diapers for Jameel, her toddler, but only after a long trek to another part of Gaza.


Ms. al-Borno also bought blankets off a displaced family that had received them for free as humanitarian aid, she said. They were so desperate for food that they were prepared to go cold.


Aya Ibrahim, 43, is sheltering with her children in a U.N.-run school in the Nuseirat camp in central Gaza.


“The bathrooms here are very bad. They are all blocked up because we have no water at all,” Ms. Ibrahim said. The men and boys, including her two teenage sons, sleep near the toilets, the women in a classroom one floor up.


“The smell is killing us,” she said. Some women prefer to relieve themselves in nylon bags in a bucket behind a makeshift curtain in the classroom where they sleep.


Ms. Ibrahim said the United Nations distributed one pack of sanitary pads for the 30 women sharing the classroom with her.


Amal, another woman in the same shelter, said she was so desperate because of the lack of sanitary pads that she had started taking birth control pills to stop her period altogether.


‘All Children Are Sick Here’


When his siblings fled northern Gaza, Ahmed Khaled said he stayed behind to keep his mother, who is unable to walk, alive. The Israeli military had warned Gazans to go south, but he said his mother was too frail to move.


“I can’t leave her alone,” he said by phone earlier this month. “Plus, nowhere is safe.”


So, as Israeli shells and bombs landed nearby, he said he moved his mother, his wife and his three daughters into a U.N. school complex in the city of Beit Lahiya, alongside thousands of other displaced people.


Mr. Khaled, 39, said he had been trying to make peace with that decision as the war intensified around him and life became increasingly untenable.


The family was surviving on rice and dirty water, he said, and the only shop still open had mostly bare shelves. Still, Mr. Khaled said, he had to go out and try to find food.


“I either walk or cycle to the shop, not knowing whether I’ll be back,” he said.


“All children are sick here,” he added. “Diarrhea and stomachache. It’s very dirty.”


He mentioned the hunger and illnesses almost as afterthoughts, considering the fierce warfare raging around him in northern Gaza.


“Bombardment is all around us all the time,” he said.


The day after the interview, on Nov. 18, the school where Mr. Ahmed was sheltering was bombed along with another U.N. school in northern Gaza. The U.N. secretary general said he was “deeply shocked” that two U.N. schools where families had sought shelter were struck in less than 24 hours, adding that dozens of people were killed and injured.


The Israeli military said it was reviewing the episode.


New York Times reporters have not been able to reach Mr. Khaled since.



2) Israeli October 7 posterchild was killed by Israeli tank, eyewitnesses reveal

By Max Blumenthal, November 25, 2023


Eyewitnesses to the October 7 hostage standoff in Kibbutz Be’eri have exposed Israel for misleading the world about the killings of 12-year-old Liel Hetzroni, her family and her neighbors.

In a desperate bid for international sympathy, the Israeli government has sought to stir outrage over the killing of a 12-year-old girl during the Hamas-led attack on southern Israel on October 7. 


“This little girl’s body was burned so badly that it took forensic archeologists more than six weeks to identify her,” the Israeli Foreign Ministry declared on its official Twitter/X account. “All that remains of 12 year old Liel Hetzroni is ash and bone fragments. May her memory be a blessing.”


Aviva Klompas, a former speechwriter for Israel’s United Nations mission and one of the country’s top English language social media propagandists, claimed on Twitter/X, “The terrorists massacred all of [the Hetzroni’s], then torched the building.”


Naftali Bennett, the former Israeli Prime Minister, chimed in to proclaim that “Liel Hetzroni of Kibbutz Beeri was murdered in her home by Hamas monsters… We’re fighting the most just war: to ensure this can never happen again.”


Liel Hetzroni was among the noncombatants killed in Kibbutz Be’eri when the small southern Israeli community was momentarily taken over by Hamas militants seeking captives to spur a prisoner exchange. During the standoff that ensued, she was killed instantly alongside twin brother, great-aunt and several other residents of Be’eri.


However, the 12-year-old Hetzroni was not slain by Hamas. According to new testimony by an Israeli eyewitness to the girl’s death, she was killed by an Israeli tank shell alongside several neighbors.


The revelation of Hetzroni’s friendly fire death came as the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanhahu attempts to shut down the Israeli newspaper Haaretz for reporting that Israeli Apache helicopters killed Israeli citizens fleeing the Nova electronic music festival on October 7. Haaretz’s reporting confirmed a viral Grayzone investigation which highlighted disclosures by Israeli helicopter pilots and security officials of friendly fire orders throughout the fateful day. 


One came from a member of the security team for Kibbutz Be’eri, who told Haaretz that “the commanders in the field made difficult decisions – including shelling houses on their occupants in order to eliminate the terrorists along with the hostages.”


A tank battalion commander recalled receiving the same orders when he arrived on the scene, stating in a video interview, “I arrived in Be’eri to see Brig. Gen. Barak Hiram and the first thing he asks me to do is to fire a shell into a house [where Hamas members were sheltering].”


The decision to use heavy weapons on the small homes of Be’eri wound up costing many Israeli lives. Among them was the girl whose death has been weaponized to justify Israel’s brutal assault on Gaza. And for the first time, an eyewitness to the attack has come forward with the uncomfortable truth about the killing.


“when those two shells hit, [Liel] stopped screaming”   


Yasmin Porat was among the Israelis taken hostage by Hamas militants in Be’eri on October 7. She had fled the Nova electronic music festival and sought shelter in the community when the militants arrived. In a November 15 interview with the Israeli national broadcaster, Kan News, Porat provided exclusive details of the standoff which badly undercut her government’s official narrative.


Under the mistaken impression that they were surrounded by Israeli troops, who were actually largely absent at the time and in a discombobulated state, the Hamas gunmen sent hostages outside the home and phoned the Israeli police in an apparent attempt to negotiate their own exit. 


“You see that most of the kidnappings occurred in the morning, at 10, 11, 12,” Porat said. “By 3 [in the afternoon], every [Israeli] citizen thought the army was already everywhere. [The Hamas militants] could have taken us out and back [to Gaza] ten times. But they didn’t believe that was the situation, so they asked for the police.”


When the Israeli special forces finally arrived on the scene, Porat said, a “ceasefire” ensued between Hamas and Israeli forces, and her own captor decided to surrender. To ensure his own safety, he stripped himself naked and used her as a human shield as he made his way toward the Israeli soldiers.


After Porat was freed and her captor surrendered, she said 14 Israelis remained hostage under the guard of 39 Hamas militants. Among those left behind, she said, were twin girls, Liel and Yanai Hatroni, along with their great-aunt and guardian, Ayala Hatroni. 


“I sat there with the commander of the unit,” Porat recalled, “and I described to him what the house looks like, and where the terrorists are, and where the hostages are. I actually drew it for him: ‘Look, here, on the lawn there are four hostages that are lying this way on the lawn. Here are two that are lying under the terrace. And in the living room there is a woman lying like this, and a woman lying like this.” 


Porat explained, “I told [the Israeli commander] about the twins (Yanai and Liel Hatzroni) and their great-aunt (Ayala), I didn’t see them. You know what, when I left, they were the only ones I didn’t see. I heard Liel the whole time, so I know for certain that they were there.. I tried to explain to [the commander] that from somewhere near the kitchen, that’s where I heard the screams coming from. I didn’t see her, but I heard her, and I heard where the screams were coming from. I tried to explain to them where all the hostages were.”


Underscoring the shoddy Israeli intelligence that made the October 7 Hamas operation possible, Porat said the soldiers did not believe that so many militants could be inside one home, or that such a large force could have penetrated the high-tech siege walls Israel had constructed around Gaza. “The first time I told [the Israeli special forces] that there are about 40 terrorists, they told me, ‘It can’t be. It seems like you’re exaggerating’… I told them, ‘There’s more of them than you.’ They didn’t believe me! It was still the naiveté of our army, as well.”


By 4 PM, a gun battle began to rage between the militants inside the home and the Israeli special forces stationed across the street. After failing to dislodge the Hamas fighters, the Israelis called in a tank at 7:30 PM. 


Porat described a sense of panic as she watched the tank trundle into the small community: “I thought to myself, ‘Why are they shooting tank shells into the house?’ And I asked one of the people that was with me, “Why are they shooting?’ So they explained to me that it was to break the walls, in order to help cleanse the house.”


From across the street, Porat heard two loud explosions. The tank had fired a couple of shells into the home. Laying down outside the house was her partner, Tal, another man named Tal, and the couple who owned the house, Adi and Hadas Dagan. There were also the 12-year-old twins, Liel and Yanai Hatsroni, along with their great-aunt. 


When the dust cleared, only Hadas Dagan emerged from the house alive.


Porat said Dagan later told her, “‘Yasmin, when the two big booms hit, I felt like I flew in the air… It took me 2-3 minutes to open my eyes, I didn’t feel my body. I was completely paralyzed. When I opened my eyes, I saw that my Adi [Dagan] is dying… Your Tal also stopped moving at that point.”


Dagan confirmed that the tank shells killed Liel Hatsroni: “‘The girl did not stop screaming for all those hours,” she told Porat, referring to Liel. “She didn’t stop screaming… [but] when those two shells hit, [Liel] stopped screaming. There was silence then.”


Porat concluded, “So what can you take away from that? That after that very massive incident, the shooting, which concluded with two shells, that is pretty much when everyone died.”


Dagan emphasized to Porat that none of the hostages had been intentionally killed by the Hamas fighters. “There were no executions, or anything like that. At least not the people with her,” Porat said.


In a separate interview on October 15, Porat insisted the Palestinian militants “did not abuse us. They treated us very humanely.” 


It is impossible to know if the standoff between Israeli and Hamas forces at the Dagan home could have been resolved without bloodshed. But it is clear that the Israeli decision to shell the home with tanks wound up killing almost everyone inside, including the child who has become a centerpiece of Israel’s international anti-Hamas propaganda campaign. All the Israelis left behind, Porat said, was “a house full of corpses.”



3) Vermont police arrest a suspect in the shooting of 3 Palestinian students.

Emma Bubola, Amanda Holpuch and Rebecca Carballo, Nov. 27, 2023


The police in Burlington, Vt., have arrested a suspect in the shooting of three students of Palestinian descent that the city’s mayor said was being investigated as a possible hate crime.


The suspect, identified by the police as Jason J. Eaton, 48, was expected to be arraigned Monday in connection with the shooting of the students, three men in their 20s who attend American universities. They were shot and wounded on Saturday by a white man with a handgun while they were walking near the University of Vermont, the police said. Two of the victims were wearing Palestinian kaffiyehs, a traditional headdress.


The young men told family members they were speaking a hybrid of English and Arabic before the man shot at them four times without saying anything before the attack, according to a family spokeswoman.


Two of the victims were in stable condition, the authorities said. The third sustained much more serious injuries.


In a statement after the arrest, the police said authorities had conducted a search of Mr. Eaton’s residence, adding that the shooting occurred in front of his apartment building.


No other details were available, but earlier on Sunday, the chief of the Burlington police, Jon Murad, said that, “In this charged moment, no one can look at this incident and not suspect that it may have been a hate-motivated crime.”


Mayor Miro Weinberger of Burlington added in an earlier statement that the possibility that the shooting could have been motivated by hate was “chilling” and that the investigation was focusing on that.


It was unclear early Monday whether Mr. Eaton had legal representation. The Burlington police said earlier Sunday that other than the fact that the students are of Palestinian descent and that two of them were wearing a kaffiyeh, they had “no additional information to suggest the suspect’s motive.”


And Mr. Murad earlier had urged the public to avoid drawing conclusions.


The Burlington police did not release the names of the victims but said that two of them are American citizens and the third is a legal resident. The families of the men identified them in a statement as Hisham Awartani, Kinnan Abdalhamid and Tahseen Ahmed.


The Ramallah Friends School, a private school in the West Bank, said in a Facebook post that all three men had been students there. They are now juniors in college. Mr. Awartani studies at Brown University, Mr. Abdalhamid at Haverford College in Pennsylvania and Mr. Ahmed at Trinity College in Connecticut.


The three were walking to the house of Mr. Awartani’s grandmother for dinner, according to Marwan Awartani, a great-uncle and a former education minister of the Palestinian Authority. He said that the three took a picture together and sent it to Hisham’s parents minutes before they left for dinner.


Marwan Awartani added that the bullet that hit Hisham touched his spinal cord and that he lost feeling in the lower part of his body. He remained hospitalized on Sunday evening and was “expected to survive his injuries,” according to a statement from Christina H. Paxson, the president of Brown University.


Mr. Ahmed was shot in the chest, and Mr. Abdalhamid had minor injuries, according to a statement from the families of the victims.


The families urged authorities to investigate the shooting as a hate crime.


“Why would anyone shoot kids who were wearing Palestinian kaffiyeh?” Marwan Awartani said in an interview.


Nikolas P. Kerest, the U.S. attorney for the District of Vermont, said in a statement that his office would work with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division to determine if the shooting constituted a federal crime.


The Council on American-Islamic Relations said that its offices have seen a huge rise in reports of anti-Muslim or anti-Arab bias since Oct. 7, the day that Hamas attacked Israel. The Anti-Defamation League said in late October that there also had been a considerable increase in reported cases of antisemitic harassment, vandalism and assault compared with the year before.


“This has to stop,” Husam Zomlot, head of the Palestinian Mission to the United Kingdom and a friend of the families, said in a phone call on Sunday, pointing to the 6-year-old boy who was fatally stabbed last month in Illinois in what authorities said was an anti-Muslim attack.


The federal government opened discrimination investigations this month at half a dozen universities following complaints about anti-Muslim and antisemitic harassment. The Biden administration opened the investigations as part of “efforts to take aggressive action to address the alarming nationwide rise in reports of antisemitism, anti-Muslim, anti-Arab and other forms of discrimination.”


The White House said on Sunday that President Biden was briefed on the students and would continue to receive updates.


On X, the platform previously known as Twitter, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont said it was “deeply upsetting that three young Palestinians were shot here in Burlington, VT. Hate has no place here, or anywhere. I look forward to a full investigation.”


Livia Albeck-Ripka contributed reporting.



4) Russian Women Get a Fresh Warning About Their Rights

By Vasilisa Kirilochkina, Nov. 27, 2023

Ms. Kirilochkina is an independent journalist based in New York City covering social issues and a former chief editor of Forbes Life Russia.

An illustration of a raised fist behind bars.

Illustration by Vanessa Saba. Photograph via Getty Images

It has been more than six months since the Russian playwright Svetlana Petriychuk and the theater director Zhenya Berkovich were arrested and jailed for their work on “Finist, the Bright Falcon,” an acclaimed play sympathetic to women recruited by ISIS.


The charge? “Justifying terrorism.”


The plaintiffs have appealed being held in pretrial detention three times; each time, the court has denied it. The prosecution, on the other hand, has asked the court three times to postpone the trial “to interview important witnesses”; each time, the court has granted the request.


Being a feminist is not against the law in Russia. But if Ms. Berkovich and Ms. Petriychuk are found guilty, that could change, lawyers say. As President Vladimir Putin’s crackdown on civil society continues, this case has sent a fresh warning — both to artists, who could be persecuted directly for their art, and to women. Expressing feminist views in Russia has become an increasingly dangerous thing to do.


The play at the heart of the case is based on the true stories of Russian women who were recruited by ISIS terrorists. (There were, at one point in 2018, some 7,000 of them in Syria, according to one human rights activist who has been documenting their cases.) The play’s title refers to a folk tale about a woman named Maryushka who fell in love with Finist the Bright Falcon, a prince in the body of a magical bird living in a faraway kingdom.


But unlike the fairy tale, in which Maryushka rescued Finist from captivity and brought him to her home to live with her happily ever after, these women found themselves in the midst of a war, deceived and abused. Those who managed to escape back to Russia were met with public insults and prison sentences.


In “Finist, the Bright Falcon,” Ms. Berkovich and Ms. Petriychuk, who have both advocated women’s rights in their work, mixed this folklore with the dry language from real interrogations to tell the back stories of these modern Maryushkas, who left their homes and families to unite with “Finists” they met online.


The play premiered in Moscow in 2021 to rave reviews, which also widely noted its antiterrorism message. Ms. Berkovich’s production, which was funded by the Ministry of Culture, won prestigious theater awards. The play was widely discussed on social media and workshop productions ran around the country, including a reading at a women’s prison.


But the play’s success ran afoul of another phenomenon unfolding in Russia: the Kremlin’s crusade against feminism, a campaign that has been gaining traction alongside the state’s broader suppression of dissent since the invasion of Ukraine.


The Kremlin has never been especially fond of feminist ideas. More than a decade ago, members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot were sentenced to two years in prison for performing an anti-Putin song in a Moscow church. But pressure against feminist thought and activity has been ratcheting up. A domestic abuse law introduced in the State Duma in 2019 went nowhere. The next year, authorities designated the prominent Russian nonprofit Nasiliu.net, which supports domestic violence victims, as a foreign agent, a label regularly applied to critics of Mr. Putin’s politics. (Nasiliu.net’s founder, Anna Rivina, was personally deemed a foreign agent.) In 2021, they shut down a major national feminist festival, Moscow FemFest. “They didn’t refer to any laws but simply said, ‘We need to clear the space,’” the festival’s founder, Lola Tagaeva, told me.


When Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, the Feminist Antiwar Resistance quickly formed and became one of the loudest protest movements in the country. More than 100 of its activists have faced various forms of persecution, the organization says. In one of the most high-profile cases, the artist Alexandra Skochilenko was recently sentenced to seven years in prison for swapping price tags in a St. Petersburg supermarket with statements highlighting civilian deaths in the conflict. Other political and social women’s initiatives have gained momentum since then, including mothers worrying about their sons being sent to war.


This summer, Russia’s health minister, Mikhail Murashko, criticized women putting their education and careers ahead of having children as “improper” and announced a national initiative to control the circulation of abortion-inducing drugs in pharmacies. At least two Russian regions have already outlawed “coercing” women into abortion, and in two other places, annexed Crimea and Kursk, private clinics have nearly stopped providing abortions altogether. Women nationwide have been panic-buying emergency contraception pills amid fears of a national ban.


Until now, the Russian state has typically opposed women’s groups by blocking their efforts to change laws or by issuing “black marks,” such as the foreign agent designation, designed to complicate lives bureaucratically. But a month before Ms. Berkovich and Ms. Petriychuk were arrested, a Russian lawmaker, Oleg Matveychev, claimed he had drafted a bill recognizing feminism as “an extremist ideology.” The bill has not advanced in the Duma.


Officially, the pair have been accused of violating a Russian law that forbids “public calls for terrorist activities, public justification of terrorism or propaganda of terrorism,” an offense punishable by up to seven years in prison. The state’s case against them is based on a document whose authors include the historian Roman Silantiev. He and his co-authors wrote that the play contained “signs of ISIS ideology” and “radical feminist ideology”; the document was presented as evidence the play supported terrorism.


Konstantin Dobrynin, a Russian lawyer based in Britain, said that under that law, it is possible that an official charge of radical feminism might stick, given “the darkest times we live in today.” If that happens, he said, it could very likely lead to the criminalization of feminism as an ideology in Russia. It would be, he said, “a witch hunt and the Holy Inquisition in the most literal form.”


Despite growing government suppression, Russian women persevere in their fight. Ms. Tagaeva of Moscow FemFest has since started Verstka, a media outlet that is gaining attention for its investigative work. Ms. Rivina, the nasiliu.net founder, countered receiving foreign agent status by starting a new national help line for domestic violence victims. Behind bars, Ms. Skochilenko has defiantly declared her own freedom. “I am freer than you,” she said in court on Nov. 11. “I can make my own decisions and speak my mind.”


As for Ms. Berkovich and Ms. Petriychuk, their trial is now set for Jan. 10. Regardless of whether it is postponed again, their defense lawyers say they are confident they will win. “We will prove to them that we are in the right,” Ms. Berkovich’s attorney, Ksenia Karpinskaya, told me. “Even if not right away, we will prove it.”



5) BBC Comes Under Fire for Mistranslating Ex-Palestinian Prisoner as Praising Hamas

By Middle East Monitor, November 27, 2023


The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has come under fire for mistranslating an interview of one of the Palestinian prisoners released by Israel last week in the prisoner exchange deal and temporary truce with the Resistance group, Hamas, misquoting her as supporting the group.

In the interview of the released prisoner, the BBC showed her as saying in Arabic with English subtitles that “no one helped us. Only Hamas cared. Those who felt our suffering, I thank them very much”. The account of Respond Crisis Translation – a collective of language activists – on X revealed, however, that she instead said “they [Israelis] imprisoned us for a month. As winter came, they cut off the electricity. We almost died from the cold weather.”


She was also quoted as saying “and we love them [Hamas] very much”, but that was corrected by Respond Crisis Translation as “they [Israelis] sprayed us with pepper spray and left us to die inside the prison.”


The group stated that “She never mentioned Hamas or a word like it”, condemning the BBC’s clip as an “egregious mistranslation” that is not only an error but “a racist fabrication that fans the flames of the war” in Gaza. “Mistranslations such as these – intentional or not – are exacerbating the ongoing genocide of Palestinians in Gaza.”


Following the criticism, as well as outcry by many other users and activists, the BBC admitted this morning that the clip had inaccurate subtitles but claimed that it was “due to an error in the editing process”. It also updated it and posted a longer clip which it said “does include reference to Hamas”.



6) Fearful, Humiliated and Desperate: Gazans Heading South Face Horrors

Tens of thousands of Gazans are making the most difficult of choices, leaving their homes behind to survive.

By By Yara Bayoumy, Samar Abu Elouf and Iyad AbuheweilaPhotographs by Samar Abu Elouf, Cairo, Reporting from Jerusalem, Khan Younis, Gaza and Cairo, Nov. 28, 2023

A stream of people walking, some carrying bags or pushing loved ones in strollers or wheelchairs, with ruined buildings in the background.
Palestinians evacuating the northern Gaza Strip on Sunday, a fraught decision

They walked for hours, raising their hands when they encountered Israeli troops with guns trained on them to display their I.D. cards — or wave white rags. All around them was the sound of gunfire and the incessant buzzing of drones. Bodies littered rubble-filled streets.


For the tens of thousands of Gazans who have fled the northern part of the enclave where the heaviest fighting has been taking place, evacuating to the south has been a perilous journey, according to at least 10 Gazans that The New York Times spoke to on the ground and by phone. Even though a tenuous cease-fire in place since Friday has brought temporary relief from the bombardment, they face an uncertain future — and the threat the strikes will return, leaving them displaced yet again.


The Israeli military launched a deadly bombing campaign of the Gaza Strip after an attack on Israel by Hamas on Oct. 7 in which, Israeli officials say, 1,200 people were killed and 240 taken hostage. In the seven weeks since, Israel has pounded the tiny coastal enclave with the aim of destroying Hamas’s military capabilities. So far, more than 13,000 Palestinians have been killed as of Nov. 21, according to the Gazan health authorities.


For weeks, Israel has been urging Gazans living in northern towns to flee along Salah al-Din Street, the strip’s main north-south highway.


Those lucky enough or with means fled early, but some Gazans who spoke to the Times said they could not leave earlier because they do not have relatives or anyone they know in the south, cannot leave older family members behind or don’t have the resources. Instead, many sheltered in increasingly dangerous and desperate conditions at schools or hospitals in the north. But at some point, they made the difficult decision to leave.


Even that decision was fraught. In the weeks leading up to the cease-fire, Israel has also bombed the southern part of the Gaza Strip, and some Gazans feel uprooting themselves further with no guarantee of shelter in the south is not worth it.


The United Nations says 1.7 million of the 2.3 million residents in the Hamas-controlled enclave have been displaced.


The Gazans who spoke to The Times said they felt shame, loss of dignity and anger at finding themselves struggling for their lives in the latest war between Israel and Hamas. The journey — which takes Gazans hours depending on where in the north they are leaving from — is usually done on foot or on a donkey cart.


Aya Habboub, 23, remained in northern Gaza earlier this month, heavily pregnant with her third child. She gave birth in a hospital under intense bombardment but was forced to evacuate when the baby, whom she named Tia, was just four days old.


Barely able to walk, Ms. Habboub tried to rest by the side of the road, but her husband urged her to keep going. Israeli soldiers, she said, stopped her mother-in-law and ordered the woman to stand for half an hour and raise her hands.


“Then they were firing,” Ms. Habboub said, “and we started running.” Ms. Habboub was speaking in a hospital in Deir al-Balah, a city in central Gaza, where many are sheltering. In her lap, Tia, cocooned in a white cloth, was sleeping peacefully.


“I dropped my baby,” she said. “I was crying and screaming.”


Several Gazans whom The Times spoke to described similar scenes of soldiers firing in the general vicinity of those fleeing. It was not possible to verify independently such claims.


The Israel Defense Forces did not comment on the specific allegations. In a statement responding to questions about them, the military said it had taken “significant precautions to mitigate civilian harm.” It added that it had issued warnings of airstrikes ahead of time, when it can do so, and told civilians when to make use of “safe corridors” to evacuate.


It reiterated its assertion that Hamas has embedded itself within “civilian infrastructure” and uses civilians as human shields. “The I.D.F. is determined to end these attacks, and as such we will strike Hamas wherever necessary,” it said.


In the few days since a temporary truce between Israel and Hamas took hold, some Gazans have continued moving south. Others have tried to return north to check on loved ones and their homes, but Israeli troops have prevented that.


Mohammed El-Sabti said he began a trek from the Zeitoun neighborhood in Gaza City on a recent morning with 15 family members, including his elderly mother. He saw another older woman screaming by the side of the road. She begged him for help, but Mr. El-Sabti was struggling with the load he was already carrying while he pushed his mother on a cart.


Mr. El-Sabti, who is now sheltering at a college building in the southern city of Khan Younis, rejected Israeli assertions about the safety of the so-called humanitarian corridor that Gazans are being urged to use to flee from the north.


“The corridor is not humanitarian, and it’s unsafe,” he said. “It’s an area of horror.”


After weeks of enduring intense airstrikes, smelling corpses and losing their homes and relatives, they speak with numbness about the horrors they’ve witnessed in their hometowns and on the road south.


“I had two boys and five girls,” said Malak El-Najjar, 52, who used to live in the Mukhabarat area in Gaza City and is now sheltering in Khan Younis. “Two of the girls are dead,” killed in an airstrike before they left, she said, aged 18 and 20.


Iman Abu Halima, 33, who first fled from Beit Lahiya in the north before taking shelter temporarily in Jabaliya and then carrying on south after it got too dangerous, described seeing “bloated bodies, flies on them,” next to scattered body parts.


“We saw many dead bodies,” said Mazen Abu Habil, a 52-year-old father of eight, who eventually made it to Khan Younis, which has become a teeming place of refuge for displaced people. There, Gazans cram into hospitals and U.N. shelters, living in substandard conditions — chasing a meal a day, sleeping with barely any blankets, wearing the clothes they fled with.


Mr. Abu Habil used to live in Jabaliya, a neighborhood north of Gaza City that Israel says is a Hamas stronghold and has been pummeling with airstrikes. He fled to Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City once his house was destroyed, and then, when it was no longer safe there, to Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis. Israel has recently produced video and photographs that it says shows Al-Shifa, a sprawling complex, conceals an underground military base used by Hamas. The militant group has denied it is operating from beneath the hospital.


“I saw a little girl who was killed on the ground,” Mr. Abu Habil said. With an eye on Israeli soldiers patrolling nearby, he said, he tried to cover the girl with a small cloth. “As I did that, they suddenly started shooting,” he said.


He described how the Israeli soldiers, many of whom spoke in Arabic, ordered him to undress and detained him for about 90 minutes. Eventually they let him go.


But that was not the case for everyone. Zahwa Al-Sammouni, 58, said she was fleeing south with her family when Israeli soldiers detained her three sons, all of them young men.


“What can we do?” Ms. Al-Sammouni said. “We’re too scared to yell or cry. We just want to know where did our kids go?”


She added: “We are farmers, we have nothing to do with weapons, with Hamas or with Fatah.” She added: “We are just looking for a piece of food because we have children to feed.”


She was squatting at the hospital in Deir El-Balah with more than a dozen members of her extended family.


Ms. Al-Sammouni and the people with her spoke in a stream of consciousness, recalling harrowing details of their journey. They talked about Israeli troops yelling profanities at them; about how the chaos of Gaza had become a matter of survival of the fittest in which people’s humanity extended only to immediate families; about desperately searching for even salty water to drink.


Some Gazans’ journeys had several false starts. Hamada Abu Shaaban, 33, a foreign exchange trader, fled on foot after Israeli strikes hit near his home in Gaza City. With his mother and aunt, and a suitcase full of cash, he began his journey, before clashes broke out. Mr. Abu Shaaban and his family hid for 16 hours in a nearby garage until the violence subsided. They managed to get home and tried again the next day. It was not easy.


“I do not understand how I went through all of these scenes without losing my mind,” he said in Al Maghazi, a community built up from a refugee camp established decades ago, in central Gaza.


Imad Ziyadeh, who fled south to Khan Younis from near Beit Lahia, described his journey as one of “suffering, torture, terrifying fear.”


He said people were able to take the barest minimum of possessions: clothes, identification cards and the rags they used as white flags.


Israeli soldiers, he said, yelled at them constantly. And on the road were horrific scenes. “Bodies all around us,” he said. “You look to the right, you see body parts.”


The comparison to the Nakba, or the displacement of Palestinians during the wars surrounding the founding of Israel, were not far from people’s minds, he said. “In 1948, we were displaced, and now in 2023 we are being subjected to a forced displacement,” Mr. Ziyadeh said. “I’m not expecting to go back to north Gaza, but if they do make us go back, what will we go back to?”


Abu Bakr Bashir contributed reporting from London, and Samar Hazboun from Bethlehem, the West Bank.



7) Netanyahu faces pressure from some members of his own government to reject a longer cease-fire.

By Sheera Frenkel, Nov. 29, 2023

Itamar Ben-Gvir, all in black, surrounded by security workers.
Israel’s national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, center, in Jerusalem earlier this month. Credit...Ammar Awad/Reuters

As international pressure grows to extend a temporary cease-fire with Hamas, some right-wing members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government are threatening to bring it down if he does not resume fighting in Gaza.


The far-right national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, said on Wednesday that if Israel did not continue its war with Hamas, his political faction would leave the government coalition.


“Stopping the war = breaking apart the government,” said Mr. Ben-Gvir in a written statement.


While Mr. Ben-Gvir’s departure alone would not topple the government, it would give Mr. Netanyahu a very slim majority to keep his hold on power.


In a statement released after Mr. Ben-Gvir’s, Mr. Netanyahu insisted that the war would continue.


“There is no situation in which we do not go back to fighting until the end,” the prime minister said. “This is my policy. The entire Security Cabinet is behind it. The entire Government is behind it. The soldiers are behind it. The people are behind it — this is exactly what we will do.”


On Monday, Israel and Hamas agreed to prolong their cease-fire to six days from four, under a deal that would see the ongoing exchange of Palestinian prisoners for Israeli hostages, and mediators are trying to hammer out another extension. The longer pause was largely cheered by the Israeli public, which has been watching round-the-clock news coverage documenting the return of Israeli civilians who were kidnapped from their homes on Oct. 7.


But far-right members of Mr. Netanyahu’s government have been critical of the cease-fire, arguing that Israel should continue its military assault on Gaza. Mr. Ben-Gvir, who went from being a fringe figure in the Israeli settler movement to his current role in Mr. Netanyahu’s government, has been especially vocal, at times calling for Israel to “eliminate” anyone who supports Hamas.


Mr. Netanyahu can ill afford to alienate Mr. Ben-Gvir, who is part of a right-wing coalition of parties who give the prime minister a slim majority in the parliament. If he fails to hold a majority of the 120 seats, he would need to try to form a new coalition, or face another national election.


Two members of Mr. Netanyahu’s staff, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters, said the Israeli prime minister wanted to avoid elections at any cost.


Mr. Netanyahu’s approval ratings have steadily declined since the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel. In a poll conducted by Israel’s Bar-Ilan University earlier this month, trust in Mr. Netanyahu was at 4 percent. In another poll, conducted by the Israeli Maariv newspaper last week, 57 percent of Israelis said they would vote for Benny Gantz, a moderate member of Mr. Netanyahu’s war cabinet, for prime minister, over the 27 percent who said they would vote for Mr. Netanyahu.


Mr. Netanyahu has also been conducting his own polling, said the two staff members, and felt he would not fare well in a national election if it were held in the coming months.



8) In the West Bank, Release of Prisoners Deepens Support for Hamas

Some people in the West Bank, where frustration with the Palestinian Authority has been simmering for years, believe Hamas and other armed groups are the only ones they can trust to protect them.

By Christina Goldbaum and Hiba Yazbek, Nov. 29, 2023

A large crowd of people in a street, many waving Palestinian flags and green Hamas flags with Arabic script on them.
Freed Palestinian prisoners, exchanged for Israeli hostages on Sunday, were paraded through the streets of Ramallah. Credit...Daniel Berehulak/The New York Times

The two cousins spotted each other on the bus leaving the prison, as shocked to see the other as they were by their sudden freedom. “Pinch me,” Anwar Atta, 18, told his younger cousin. “I need to know if this is a dream.”


Then, early Sunday morning, the bus pulled out of Ofer Prison in the West Bank and into a throng of cheering Palestinians. Before the cousins’ feet could touch the ground, they were hoisted into the air and carried through the streets of Ramallah, surrounded by people waving Palestinian and Hamas flags, revving their motorcycle engines and whistling in excitement.


“This is thanks to the resistance in Gaza,” Anwar said hours later from his family’s home on the outskirts of the city.


Anwar and his cousin, Mourad Atta, 17, are among the 180 Palestinian teenagers and women freed from Israeli prisons in recent days, the largest such release of prisoners and detainees in more than a decade. Their freedom is part of a deal in which the Palestinians were traded for 81 hostages, many of them children, captured during the Hamas-led terrorist attack in Israel on Oct. 7. The deal also included a temporary cease-fire in the war in Gaza, which has killed more than 13,000 people, according to Gazan officials.


Israel’s bombardment of Gaza and the elation over the prisoners’ release have deepened support for Hamas in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority has administered cities and towns for more than two decades. Gaza, the other Palestinian enclave, has by contrast been controlled since 2007 by Hamas, a militant group.


Now, as many in the West Bank fear the war could spread to the occupied territory, some believe Hamas and other armed groups are the only ones they can trust to protect them.


The Palestinian Authority — which is controlled by the Fatah political faction — is deeply unpopular and widely seen as a subcontractor to the Israeli occupation. Long-simmering frustrations with the authority’s leadership and accusations of corruption have been exacerbated in the past year by an uptick in violence by Israeli settlers.


For some Palestinians living under military occupation in the West Bank, the freed prisoners have become a potent symbol of Hamas’s ability to achieve tangible results and its willingness to fight for the Palestinian cause. Each night in Ramallah, as new batches of prisoners were released, one refrain echoed across the crowds: “The people want Hamas! The people want Hamas!”


Pollsters and analysts caution that support for the group is limited to a minority of residents and tends to rise temporarily during conflicts in Gaza. But with fears that a wider war could break out in the West Bank, many say the growing support for Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organization by the United States, Israel and other countries, has taken on a new dimension.


There is a growing sense that people need protection and they “don’t have any alternative,” said Ghassan Khatib, director of the Jerusalem Media and Communication Center, which specializes in research and opinion polling. “The only game in town is Hamas.”


Hours after his release, Anwar Atta and his cousin Mourad sat outside their families’ homes in Deir Abu Masha’al, a village of around 4,000 people on the outskirts of Ramallah. A steady stream of neighbors and relatives came to welcome them home, smoking cigarettes and drinking small cups of coffee.


“Where have you been, it’s been a while,” Anwar’s aunt, Halima Atta, chided him as she held him in her arms. “Are you going to keep making trouble?”


“I’m done, OK? I’m done,” he replied.


“No, you have a beard now — you’re a man,” Halima joked.


The reunion was years in the making. Anwar was arrested in June 2021, which he says was for throwing stones at Israeli soldiers — an act of resistance spurred by an Israeli military offensive in Gaza a month earlier. The Israeli authorities say he threw an “incendiary device.”


Over the more than two years he spent awaiting trial, Anwar had come to accept that most of his early adulthood would be spent behind bars — a price he was willing to pay to defend his land, he said.


After the Oct. 7 attack, which Israeli officials say killed an estimated 1,200 people, news of Hamas taking hostages spread between the cells at Ofer Prison — sparking hope that a prisoner release could follow. Inmates clapped and cheered, crying “God is great” and praising the armed resistance, Anwar recalled.


The weeks that followed, he said, were the harshest of his time in prison. Anwar, other recently released prisoners and human rights groups say that prison officials rationed water and electricity. They confiscated TVs and radios, and barred relatives from visiting — effectively creating an information blackout. And as prison officials stepped up their searches for contraband, they forced inmates to kneel on the floor and beat them, released prisoners and rights groups said.


The Israeli prison service has said that it has imposed tighter restrictions in prisons in recent weeks — including confiscating electronics, canceling family visits and carrying out hundreds of searches — in connection with the war effort. Officials say that prisoners are able to file complaints that would be examined by the authorities.


Hundreds of new inmates also flooded into the prison — some of the more than 2,000 Palestinians arrested since Oct. 7 — and shared news of the war in hushed whispers, Anwar said. The inmates devoured each morsel of new information, both stunned at the sheer devastation in Gaza and wondering if the war could also bring their freedom.


Then last week, the moment Anwar had been praying for arrived.


Early Sunday morning, Mourad’s mother was sitting on the sagging couch in their living room, watching the news on TV and agonizing over whether her son would be among those released. When she saw Mourad and Anwar’s faces flash across the screen waving from the bus of prisoners, she leaped from her seat.


“We were screaming and jumping and crying — we couldn’t believe it,” his mother, Amal Atta, 35, said.


Mourad was arrested after throwing stones at Israeli soldiers in August 2022, prompted by a days-long military offensive in Gaza by Israel earlier that month, he said. Israeli authorities accused him of throwing an explosive device. Like his cousin, he, too, was never tried.


The teenagers’ return to the village has been celebrated for days; young children have run around their houses devouring sweets while older relatives have pulled Anwar and Mourad in for hugs.


“Why do you think he was in prison? It’s because of everything he’s seen here, everything he’s exposed to — it made him want to go out and fight back,” Anwar’s uncle, Omar Atta, 45, said, sitting among their relatives Sunday evening.


As his relatives hugged nearby, Omar looked out over the hillside, a crisp breeze rattling the branches of the olive trees below. Since the war began, Israeli soldiers have erected a new barricade blocking the only paved road leading to their village. Israeli security forces have raided homes in the village and arrested around a dozen of his neighbors, he said. Frustration and anger has swelled.


“Israel thinks they are suppressing or destroying the resistance,” Omar explained. “But look at what they are doing. They are only making it stronger.”


Rami Nazzal contributed reporting from Ramallah.



9) Henry Kissinger, the Hypocrite

By Ben Rhodes, Nov. 30, 2023

Mr. Rhodes is a former deputy national security adviser.

A black and white photo of Henry Kissinger looking up, as if to the heavens.
Michael Avedon/August

Henry Kissinger, who died on Wednesday, exemplified the gap between the story that America, the superpower, tells and the way that we can act in the world. At turns opportunistic and reactive, his was a foreign policy enamored with the exercise of power and drained of concern for the human beings left in its wake. Precisely because his America was not the airbrushed version of a city on a hill, he never felt irrelevant: Ideas go in and out of style, but power does not.


From 1969 to 1977, Mr. Kissinger established himself as one of the most powerful functionaries in history. For a portion of that time, he was the only person ever to serve concurrently as national security adviser and secretary of state, two very different jobs that simultaneously made him responsible for shaping and carrying out American foreign policy. If his German Jewish origins and accented English set him apart, the ease with which he wielded power made him a natural avatar for an American national security state that grew and gained momentum through the 20th century, like an organism that survives by enlarging itself.


Thirty years after Mr. Kissinger retired into the comforts of the private sector, I served for eight years in a bigger post-Cold War, post-Sept. 11 national security apparatus. As a deputy national security adviser with responsibilities that included speech writing and communications, I often focused more on the story America told than the actions we took.


In the White House, you’re atop an establishment that includes the world’s most powerful military and economy while holding the rights to a radical story: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” But I was constantly confronted by the contradictions embedded in American leadership, the knowledge that our government arms autocrats while its rhetoric appeals to the dissidents trying to overthrow them or that our nation enforces rules — for the conduct of war, the resolution of disputes and the flow of commerce — while insisting that America be excused from following them when they become inconvenient.


Mr. Kissinger was not uncomfortable with that dynamic. For him, credibility was rooted in what you did more than what you stood for, even when those actions rendered American concepts of human rights and international law void. He helped extend the war in Vietnam and expand it to Cambodia and Laos, where the United States rained down more bombs than it dropped on Germany and Japan in World War II. That bombing — often indiscriminately massacring civilians — did nothing to improve the terms on which the Vietnam War ended; if anything, it just indicated the lengths to which the United States would go to express its displeasure at losing.


It is ironic that this brand of realism reached its apex at the height of the Cold War, a conflict that was ostensibly about ideology. From the side of the free world, Mr. Kissinger backed genocidal campaigns — by Pakistan against Bengalis and by Indonesia against the East Timorese. In Chile he has been accused of helping to lay the groundwork for a military coup that led to the death of Salvador Allende, the elected leftist president, while ushering in a terrible period of autocratic rule. The generous defense is that Mr. Kissinger represented an ethos that saw the ends (the defeat of the Soviet Union and revolutionary Communism) as justifying the means. But for huge swaths of the world, this mind-set carried a brutal message that America has often conveyed to its own marginalized populations: We care about democracy for us, not them. Shortly before Mr. Allende’s victory, Mr. Kissinger said, “The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves.”


Was it all worth it? Mr. Kissinger was fixated on credibility, the idea that America must impose a price on those who ignore our demands to shape the decisions of others in the future. It’s hard to see how the bombing of Laos, the coup in Chile or the killings in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) contributed to the outcome of the Cold War. But Mr. Kissinger’s unsentimental view of global affairs allowed him to achieve consequential breakthroughs with autocratic countries closer to America’s weight class — a détente with the Soviet Union that reduced the escalatory momentum of the arms race and an opening to China that deepened the Sino-Soviet split, integrated the People’s Republic of China into the global order and prefaced Chinese reforms that lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.


The fact that those reforms were initiated by Deng Xiaoping, the same Chinese leader who ordered the crackdown on protesters in Tiananmen Square, speaks to the ambiguous nature of Mr. Kissinger’s legacy. On the one hand, the U.S.-Chinese rapprochement contributed to the outcome of the Cold War and improved standards of living for the Chinese people. On the other hand, the Chinese Communist Party has emerged as the principal geopolitical adversary of the United States and the vanguard of the authoritarian trend in global politics, putting a million Uyghurs in concentration camps and threatening to invade Taiwan, whose status was left unresolved by Mr. Kissinger’s diplomacy.


Mr. Kissinger lived half of his life after he left government. He blazed what has become a bipartisan trail of ex-officials building lucrative consulting businesses while trading on global contacts. For decades, he was a coveted guest at gatherings of statesmen and tycoons, perhaps because he could always provide an intellectual framework for why some people are powerful and justified in wielding power. He wrote a shelf of books, many of which polished his own reputation as an oracle of global affairs; after all, history is written by men like Henry Kissinger, not by the victims of superpower bombing campaigns, including children in Laos, who continue to be killed by the unexploded bombs that litter their country.


You can choose to see those unexploded bombs as the inevitable tragedy of the conduct of global affairs. From a strategic standpoint, Mr. Kissinger surely knew, being a superpower carried with it a cavernous margin of error that can be forgiven by history. Just a few decades after the end of the Vietnam War, the same countries we’d bombed were seeking expanded trade with the United States. Bangladesh and East Timor are now independent nations that receive American assistance. Chile is governed by a millennial socialist whose minister of defense is Mr. Allende’s granddaughter. Superpowers do what they must. The wheel of history turns. When and where you live determines whether you get crushed or lifted by it.


But that worldview mistakes cynicism — or realism — with wisdom. The story, what it’s all about, matters. Ultimately, the Berlin Wall came down not because of chess moves made on the board of a great game but rather because people in the East wanted to live like the people in the West. Economics, popular culture and social movements mattered. Despite all our flaws, we had a better system and story.


Ironically, part of Mr. Kissinger’s allure stemmed from the fact that his story was uniquely American. His family narrowly escaped the wheel of history, fleeing Nazi Germany just as Hitler was putting his diabolical design into effect. Mr. Kissinger returned to Germany in the U.S. Army and liberated a concentration camp. The experience imbued him with a wariness of messianic ideology wedded to state power. But it didn’t leave him with much sympathy for the underdog. Nor did it motivate him to bind the postwar American superpower within the very web of norms, laws and fidelity to certain values that was written into the American-led postwar order to prevent another world war.


Credibility, after all, is not just about whether you punish an adversary to send a message to another; it’s also about whether you are what you say you are. No one can expect perfection in the affairs of state any more than in relations among human beings. But the United States has paid a price for its hypocrisy, though it’s harder to measure than the outcome of a war or negotiation. Over the decades, our story about democracy has come to ring hollow to a growing number of people who can point to the places where our actions drained our words of meaning and “democracy” just sounded like an extension of American interests. Similarly, our insistence on a rules-based international order has been ignored by strongmen who point to America’s sins to justify their own.


Now history has come full circle. Around the world, we see a resurgence of autocracy and ethnonationalism, most acutely in Russia’s war against Ukraine. In Gaza the United States has supported an Israeli military operation that has killed civilians at a pace that has once again suggested to much of the world that we are selective in our embrace of international laws and norms. Meanwhile, at home, we see how democracy has become subordinate to the pursuit of power within a chunk of the Republican Party. This is where cynicism can lead. Because when there is no higher aspiration, no story to give meaning to our actions, politics and geopolitics become merely a zero-sum game. In that kind of world, might makes right.


All of this cannot be laid on Henry Kissinger’s shoulders. In many ways, he was as much a creation of the American national security state as its author. But his is also a cautionary tale. As imperfect as we are, the United States needs our story to survive. It’s what holds together a multiracial democracy at home and differentiates us from Russia and China abroad.


That story insists that a child in Laos is equal in dignity and worth to our children and that the people of Chile have the same right of self-determination as we do. For the United States, that must be a part of national security. We forget that at our peril.



10) How a ‘Goon Squad’ of Deputies Got Away With Years of Brutality

They barged into homes in the middle of the night, then held people down while they beat and choked them, witnesses said. For years, signs of the violence went ignored

By Brian Howey and Nate Rosenfield, Photographs by Rory Doyle for The New York Times, Nov. 30, 2023

Brian Howey and Nate Rosenfield investigated dozens of arrests made by Rankin County deputies to report this article, which is part of a series by The Times’s Local Investigations Fellowship examining the power of sheriffs’ offices in Mississippi.

Six square headshots of the deputies who pleaded guilty. All of them are wearing prison uniforms.
Top row: former Rankin County sheriff’s deputies Hunter Elward, Christian Dedmon and Brett McAlpin; bottom row: former deputies Jeffrey Middleton and Daniel Opdyke, and former Richland police officer Joshua Hartfield. All pleaded guilty this year to federal and state charges. Credit...Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

For nearly two decades, a loose band of sheriff’s deputies roamed impoverished neighborhoods across a central Mississippi county, meting out their own version of justice.


Narcotics detectives and patrol officers, some who called themselves the Goon Squad, barged into homes in the middle of the night, accusing people inside of dealing drugs. Then they handcuffed or held them at gunpoint and tortured them into confessing or providing information, according to dozens of people who say they endured or witnessed the assaults.


They described violence that sometimes went on for hours and seemed intended to strike terror into the deputies’ targets.


In the pursuit of drug arrests, deputies of the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department shocked Robert Jones with a Taser in 2018 while he lay submerged in a flooded ditch, then rammed a stick down his throat until he vomited blood, he said.


During a raid the same year, deputies choked Mitchell Hobson with a lamp cord and waterboarded him to simulate drowning, he said, then beat him until the walls were spattered with his blood. That raid took place at the home of Rick Loveday, a sheriff’s deputy in a neighboring county, who said he was dragged half-naked from his bed at gunpoint, before deputies jabbed a flashlight threateningly at his buttocks and then pummeled him relentlessly.


The string of violence might have continued unchecked if not for one near-fatal raid in January.


According to a Justice Department investigation, deputies broke into the home of two Black men, Michael Jenkins and Eddie Parker, shocked them with Tasers and threatened to rape them. Deputy Hunter Elward shoved the barrel of a gun into Mr. Jenkins’s mouth, not realizing a bullet was in the chamber, and pulled the trigger. Mr. Jenkins was grievously injured, the incident was thrust into the national spotlight, and in August five deputies and a police officer pleaded guilty to criminal charges.


Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey said in a press conference this summer that he was stunned to learn of the “horrendous crimes” committed by his deputies. “Never in my life did I think it would happen in this department.”


But an investigation by The New York Times and the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting at Mississippi Today reveals a history of blatant and brutal incidents stretching back to at least 2004.


Reporters examined hundreds of pages of court records and sheriff’s office reports and interviewed more than 50 people who say they witnessed or experienced torture at the hands of the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department. What emerged was a pattern of violence that was neither confined to a small group of deputies nor hidden from department leaders.


Many of those who said they experienced violence filed lawsuits or formal complaints, detailing their encounters with the department. A few said they had contacted Sheriff Bailey directly, only to be ignored.


The Times and Mississippi Today identified 20 deputies who were present at one or more of the incidents — many assigned to narcotics or the night patrol — but also several high-ranking officials: a former undersheriff, former detectives and a former deputy who is now a local police chief.


Brett McAlpin, former chief investigator for the department, was involved in at least 13 of the arrests and was repeatedly described by witnesses as leading the raids. He was named in at least four lawsuits and six complaints going back to 2004. Even so, Sheriff Bailey named him investigator of the year in 2013. This year, he pleaded guilty to criminal charges for his role in the January raid.


Taken together, the reporting shows how Rankin deputies were allowed to operate with impunity, while racking up arrests for relatively minor drug infractions and leaving entire neighborhoods in fear of violent raids.


Among the dozens of allegations reviewed, The Times and Mississippi Today were able to corroborate 17 incidents involving 22 victims based on witness interviews, medical records, photographs of injuries and other documents.


In nearly half the cases, Taser logs obtained from the department through a public records request helped corroborate the allegations. Electronically recorded dates and times of Taser triggers lined up with witness accounts and suggested that deputies repeatedly shocked people for longer than is considered safe.


The Taser logs also suggest that the scope of the violence may extend much farther.


At least 32 times over the past decade, Rankin deputies fired their Tasers more than five times in under an hour, activating them for at least 30 seconds in total — double the recommended limit. Experts in Taser use who reviewed the logs called these incidents highly suspicious.


“This is not typical Taser use,” said Seth Stoughton, faculty director of the Excellence in Policing & Public Safety program at the University of South Carolina. “There’s just no justification for that.”


It is impossible to tell from the logs alone whether a series of shocks were aimed at one target, and whether they all made contact. Incident reports by the deputies offer little clarity, because in nearly every case they failed to mention that a Taser was used at all.


Over the past year, The Times and Mississippi Today have investigated how powerful sheriffs in rural Mississippi have dodged accountability in the face of misconduct allegations. The reporting exposed numerous sexual abuse accusations against two sheriffs in counties near Rankin, along with evidence that Sheriff Bailey obtained subpoenas to surveil his girlfriend’s phone calls.


Sheriff Bailey has faced increased scrutiny since the Justice Department began to investigate his deputies’ conduct this year, and the NAACP and local activist groups have called for his resignation. After 12 years as sheriff, he was re-elected in November when he ran unopposed.


The deputies accused of being involved in violent arrests declined to comment or did not respond to repeated requests for interviews.


It is not always clear what actions individual deputies took during the incidents. Witnesses often did not know their names and many of the deputies did not wear uniforms or name tags during the raids.


Jason Dare, a lawyer for the department, declined to comment on The Times and Mississippi Today’s findings.


During a brief phone interview on Sunday, Sheriff Bailey repeatedly declined to comment. Told that several high-ranking deputies were involved in arrests that had sparked accusations of brutal treatment, he said, “I have 240 employees, there’s no way I can be with them each and every day.”


On Tuesday, the department announced that it had updated its internal policies and that deputies would receive training on federal civil rights laws.


A statement from the department that referred to the January assault without acknowledging a broader pattern said, “Even though the prior actions were abnormal and extreme, we will make every effort to ensure that they do not occur in the future.”


New Problems, Old Tactics


For most of its history, Rankin County was a rural area dominated by farmland and forests.


That began to change when white flight reached the capital city of Jackson in the 1960s and Rankin’s fields gave way to subdivisions and strip malls.


But tucked among the stately homes and manicured lawns, some of the county’s most impoverished residents live in run-down trailers and makeshift shacks, a few without running water or electricity.


These neighborhoods were hit hard in the early 2000s as meth — cheap, highly addictive and easy to manufacture in isolated places — spread across rural America like wildfire.


Local sheriffs, even in small departments, set up special narcotics units and joined state and federal task forces in the War on Drugs. The Rankin County Sheriff’s Department responded by targeting low-income communities and policing them relentlessly.


In an area called Robinhood, residents said home raids became routine and it felt as if they couldn’t go to the corner store without being stopped and searched.


“Once they start picking on you,” said a former resident, Matasha Harris, “they will not leave you alone.”


Though Rankin deputies appear to have targeted people based on suspected drug use, not race — most of their accusers were white — their tactics could have been pulled from the Jim Crow era, when sheriffs and their deputies harassed and beat Black Southerners and civil rights activists.


During that period, deputies coerced false confessions, sometimes using cattle prods or “the water cure”: pouring water into suspects’ nostrils until they complied.


Priscilla Perkins, co-president of the John & Vera Mae Perkins Foundation, a nonprofit based in Jackson, Miss., that promotes racial reconciliation, said the Goon Squad’s acts reminded her of the reign of terror against civil rights activists that often involved law enforcement officers.


“It’s the hidden shame of Mississippi and America,” she said. “People are still trying to cover it up.”


Among the officers of that era accused of beating Black residents was Lloyd Jones, a state trooper who would become sheriff in nearby Simpson County.


A Justice Department investigation long after his death found that he had bragged to a colleague about fatally shooting a Black man, Benjamin Brown, in the back during a 1967 standoff between police officers and civil rights protesters.


In 1970, Mr. Jones participated in the beating of the Rev. John Perkins in the Rankin County jail, which culminated with a deputy jabbing a fork up his nose, according to the pastor and witnesses who testified against the officers.


As sheriff, he gave Bryan Bailey his first job in law enforcement.


“He is on my life’s wall of gratitude and had a huge impact on who I am,” Sheriff Bailey wrote on Facebook in 2015. “Not a day goes by that I don’t think about him or recall something that he taught me.”


Sheriff Bailey called him a mentor. But years before, Simpson County residents had begun calling him something else: “Goon” Jones.


Scope of Abuse


It’s unclear when Rankin County deputies adopted their nickname, but last year, they ordered commemorative coins emblazoned with cartoonish gangsters and the words “Lt. Middleton’s Goon Squad.” Lt. Jeffrey Middleton was the squad’s supervisor. He is among the five deputies who pleaded guilty to criminal charges stemming from the January raid on Mr. Parker and Mr. Jenkins.


A Justice Department investigation this year found that Rankin County deputies chose the name Goon Squad “because of their willingness to use excessive force and not report it.”


The investigation found that Mr. McAlpin, along with a narcotics detective, Christian Dedmon, and Goon Squad members burst into Mr. Parker’s home, tortured and humiliated the men while demanding to know where drugs were, and then disposed of the evidence.


Across the 17 cases for which reporters found corroborating witnesses and evidence, accusers described similar tactics by deputies, almost always over small drug busts.


Deputies held people down while punching and kicking them or shocked them repeatedly with Tasers. They shoved gun barrels into people’s mouths. Three people said deputies had waterboarded them until they thought they would suffocate. Five said deputies had told them to move out of the county.


Many of the targets teetered on the edge of homelessness and were caught with a few grams of meth or with only drug paraphernalia — a glass pipe or used syringe. Several people sat in jail for days or weeks only to have their charges dropped.


The largest bust among the incidents examined was for a $420 heroin sale.


In 2018, a confidential informant arranged an $80 meth deal at Jerry Manning’s home. Mr. Manning, who denies being part of the sale, said he heard deputies burst into his trailer and scream his name.


When he went to investigate, deputies pinned him to the floor. They said they wanted to test their new Tasers on him to see which hurt more, he said.


“They got me in my private parts, they got me in my head,” Mr. Manning said. “They kept tasing and tasing and tasing.”


Taser logs indicate that two of the nine deputies involved that night, James Rayborn and Cody Grogan, together triggered their Tasers at least 15 times during the two-and-a-half-hour raid.


As the deputies ransacked his home looking for drugs, Mr. Manning said, they wrapped a pair of jeans around his head and punched him repeatedly in the face before using a blowtorch to melt a metal nutcracker handle onto his bare leg as he screamed. On Mr. McAlpin’s orders, Mr. Manning said, a deputy then forced him to sit, pulled a belt around his neck and yanked it upward, choking him until he believed he would suffocate.


Three other men in the trailer that night described violent attacks. Garry Curro, a 64-year-old Air Force veteran, said deputies handcuffed, beat and shocked him. Adam Porter says Mr. McAlpin threw him into a glass mirror, then took Mr. Porter’s pocketknife and sliced his pants to ribbons, demanding to know where the drugs were. Mr. Manning’s roommate, James Lynch, said Mr. McAlpin dragged a blowtorch flame across his feet while interrogating him.


People’s accounts of the raids shared striking similarities, beyond the patterns in the violence.


At least 12 of the 17 cases began as Mr. Manning’s did, with a suspect being set up by a confidential informant, someone the deputies had persuaded to stage a drug buy while they waited nearby.


In six cases, people said deputies threatened to continue assaulting them until they disclosed either the name of a drug dealer or the location of drugs. Five people said the deputies ransacked their kitchens and destroyed their food or used it to humiliate them — smashing a cake into a man’s face before arresting him, dumping flour and rice onto a kitchen floor, pouring milk into a freshly cooked dinner. Every Black accuser said deputies had hurled racial slurs at them.


Most of the targets were men in their 30s or 40s with a history of drug use. But in 2009, Mr. McAlpin knocked out 19-year-old Christopher Hillhouse’s tooth with a Maglite, he and his mother say. The next year, deputies beat and shocked Dustin Hale, then 17, until he urinated on himself while his girlfriend watched, he said. When his mother and grandmother went to the county jail to pick him up, they said, they hardly recognized him through the bruises and swelling.


The story of Jeremy Travis Paige, who was targeted in 2018, fits a typical pattern described by the accusers.


Mr. Paige, a 41-year-old with several arrests, was pulling up to his home in a working-class neighborhood outside Jackson when he realized deputies were there waiting for him, he said.


He drove away, hoping they wouldn’t notice. But Mr. McAlpin chased him and pulled him over, then deputies beat him unconscious in the intersection, Mr. Paige alleged in a lawsuit against the county.


The suit claimed that he regained consciousness as the deputies dragged him, handcuffed, into his home. Mr. McAlpin and another deputy then pummeled him in the living room for nearly an hour, according to Mr. Paige and a witness who spoke on the condition of anonymity, fearing retribution from the deputies.


In interviews, Mr. Paige said the deputies pulled him into his roommate’s bedroom and sat him upright on the bed, where he felt someone press a knee into his back and stretch a washcloth across his mouth. Then, he said, deputies poured gallon after gallon of water over his face. As he struggled to breathe, he said, one of them pressed a lit cigarette into his thigh.


All the while, they shocked his groin intermittently with Tasers, Mr. Paige said. Taser logs show that one of the four deputies who reported being at the scene triggered his Taser during the arrest.


Three people, including Mr. Paige, said they had been shocked not only with gun-shaped Tasers — the type issued by the department — but also with small, rectangular ones, suggesting that some deputies used personal stun guns that were not being tracked.


“They had the devil in them,” Mr. Paige said. “I thought they was going to kill me.”


Deputies ordered him to send Facebook messages to friends asking to buy drugs. He struck out, and the deputies took him to jail.


Before leaving, they stuffed the blood- and water-soaked bedding in trash bags and removed them from the house, Mr. Paige said.


The next day, when Mr. Paige was in jail, his son Trace visited the house. He found evidence of the violence, he said, including a bent bed frame where his father had been held down by deputies and a puddle of blood on the floor.


Pictures taken by Mr. Paige’s roommate show the bed stripped of linens and blood spattered on the wall.


Mr. McAlpin wrote in his report that deputies restrained Mr. Paige after he tried to kick them during the arrest, but the detective did not mention the use of Tasers or other force that might explain the blood.


During Mr. Paige’s trial for drug sale charges, Mr. McAlpin testified that deputies might have injured Mr. Paige when they pulled him out of his car, because he was resisting. He denied hurting Mr. Paige in his home.


Mr. Paige was sentenced to five years in prison. When he sued the sheriff’s department, no lawyer would take his case and he resorted to representing himself. He wrote a letter to the judge explaining that he had only a seventh-grade education.


“I don’t know how to present big words or anything like that,” he wrote. “But I do know the truth.”


After he missed several court deadlines, the judge dismissed his case.


Who Knew


Over the years, more than a dozen people have directly confronted Sheriff Bailey and his command staff about the deputies’ brutal methods, according to court records and interviews with accusers and their families.


At least five people have sued the department alleging beatings, chokings and other abuses by deputies associated with the Goon Squad.


The department settled two of those cases. Two others, including Mr. Paige’s, were dismissed over procedural errors by accusers representing themselves.


But the mounting allegations signaled that something was profoundly wrong in the narcotics unit of Sheriff Bailey’s department.


Mr. McAlpin, the department’s former chief investigator who led most of the raids reviewed by reporters, was involved in at least four arrests that prompted lawsuits, court records show.


According to one suit that was settled, Mr. McAlpin kicked 19-year-old Brett Gerhart in the face and pressed a pistol to his temple in 2010 during a mistaken raid at the wrong address. In a 2012 case, tossed out because of missed court deadlines, Gary Michael Frith claimed that he had been beaten and choked in the back of a squad car during a drug bust; records show that Mr. McAlpin was one of the arresting officers.


Mr. McAlpin also figured prominently in complaints lodged with the department. Seven people told reporters they had mailed letters, filed formal complaints or called the sheriff personally to tell him about the abuse they experienced.


Joshua Rushing said he wrote several letters to the department in 2020, after Mr. McAlpin and Mr. Dedmon drove him to an isolated dead-end road and shocked and beat him. He said he never heard back.


Nicole Brock said that when she went to the sheriff’s office to submit a formal complaint against Mr. McAlpin for ransacking her car during a search, he tore up the form, threw it in the garbage and arrested her for a syringe he had found during the car search.


Ms. Brock said she left several messages on Sheriff Bailey’s office phone to report the deputy’s behavior, but he never returned her calls.


Mr. Dare, the department lawyer, declined to provide copies of complaints, saying they were considered personnel records protected by state law. When asked to confirm the existence of the seven complaints described by accusers, he said he could not immediately provide it.


Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, said this long list of complaints and lawsuits should have prompted investigations by the sheriff.


“If you’re getting multiple complaints about the same officers, from different sources, that’s a red flag,” he said. “If you don’t do anything about it, you’re in denial.”


Despite the allegations against him, Mr. McAlpin continued to rise through the ranks of the department, winning Investigator of the Year and eventually being promoted to the top investigator position.


Until this year, the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department did not have anyone assigned full time to handle complaints. Instead, supervisors were responsible for investigating the deputies they oversaw, according to four former employees who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they feared retribution from the department.


Among those supervisors were Mr. McAlpin and Lieutenant Middleton, who both pleaded guilty in August for their roles in the assault of Mr. Jenkins and Mr. Parker.


On Tuesday, Sheriff Bailey announced that the department would allow residents to file complaints against deputies on the department’s website.


Beyond the lawsuits and complaints, there were other obvious signs of the violence, including injuries that would have been visible to jail workers and court officials who saw the injured shortly after their encounters.


Hospital records show that Mr. Hobson was treated for a gash over his eye after a 2018 raid in which he says deputies waterboarded him and punched him repeatedly. His face is bandaged in his jail booking photo.


Robert Jones, the man who said deputies rammed a stick down his throat, arrived at the jail with a swollen and mud-streaked face after deputies beat him and threw him into a ditch.


Many of the mug shots from the Rankin County jail feature bandaged faces, swollen cheeks and black eyes associated with drug-related arrests.


But the most glaring evidence of the violence inflicted by deputies has been collecting in the department’s computer files for more than two decades.


The Taser Logs


Every time a Taser is fired, the device keeps a record of it. In Rankin County, deputies upload this data to a computer, compiling detailed departmentwide logs that allow supervisors to monitor deputy Taser use.


The data, reviewed by The Times and Mississippi Today, contained tens of thousands of Taser triggers stretching back 24 years.


The logs supported the accounts of nine people who described being shocked by deputies while handcuffed or held down. In all but three of these cases, the deputies did not report their Taser use, violating department policy.


“I don’t believe I’ve ever come across an agency in which it would be acceptable for an officer to deploy a Taser and not report it in some way,” said Ashley Heiberger, a retired officer and an expert in police use of force.


After several studies linking prolonged Taser exposure to severe medical problems and even death, the Police Executive Research Forum developed national guidelines advising against shocking a person for more than 15 seconds during an encounter.


The logs contain dozens of instances of Tasers being fired for at least double the recommended time limit over the course of an hour. In April 2016, a device assigned to a deputy who participated in Goon Squad raids was triggered nine times in four minutes, delivering 31 seconds of current.


Several experts in police use of force said the logs showed abnormal Taser use that was hard to explain. Seth Stoughton, from the University of South Carolina, said the frequency of the deputies’ Taser triggers suggested they were not using the weapons for their intended purpose: to quickly subdue a combative person.


“It just doesn’t suggest that the Taser is actually being used to induce compliance,” he said.


By comparing the logs to department records, reporters identified four people who claim they were at the receiving end of Taser shocks recorded in the data.


In 2016, Deputy James Rayborn fired his Taser for 20 seconds over the course of 20 minutes during a raid of Samuel Carter’s home.


Mr. Carter, a 64-year-old Army veteran, had had previous run-ins with Rankin sheriff’s deputies over alleged drug use. On the night of the raid, he said, deputies dragged him to his bedroom, shocked him and demanded that he open a safe where they expected to find drugs and cash.


Instead, deputies found a tub of cake frosting he had stashed in the safe to hide from houseguests with a sweet tooth.


Mr. Carter said they became enraged and shocked him again until his leg began to bleed.


Down the hall, Christopher Holloway, a 26-year-old who had been helping Mr. Carter maintain his property, was beaten and shocked until he defecated on himself, he said. Then they dragged him outside and threatened to push him, handcuffed, into Mr. Carter’s pool.


Mr. Holloway and Mr. Carter were charged with paraphernalia and drug possession — Mr. Holloway for marijuana, Mr. Carter for several grams of methamphetamine.


Like many people targeted by Rankin deputies, Mr. Carter said the first raid was just the beginning. Three months later, deputies arrested him again, this time for drinking in front of his home, Mr. Carter said. He was arrested four more times over the next year, department records show, mostly for drug or paraphernalia possession.


Ballooning legal fees left Mr. Carter unable to pay his bills.


“They had the power,” he said. “And they used it.”


‘I Lost My Life’


The Goon Squad has left a long trail of shattered lives in its wake. Some people who said they were brutalized are jolted awake by nightmares after their encounters with deputies. Four said they fled the county for good. Several are serving lengthy prison terms.


In 2015, Ron Shinstock was struggling with a methamphetamine addiction, even as he raised a family with his wife and ran a mechanic shop with his brother.


Everything changed, he said, after Mr. McAlpin led a violent raid of his home, holding his children at gunpoint and forcing him to strip naked in his backyard. The arrest led to a 40-year prison sentence for a $260 meth sale within 1,500 feet of a church.


Mr. Shinstock’s wife left him. He is scheduled to be released in 2056, two months before his 82nd birthday.


“I lost my family, I lost my home,” Mr. Shinstock said. “I lost my life.”


Andrea Dettore, a former resident of Rankin County, witnessed deputies brutalize three people in two incidents. She said she was there in 2018 when the Goon Squad attacked Mr. Loveday, the former deputy, and Mr. Hobson.


During a raid on her own home in January, she said, she heard deputies beat her friend, Robert Grozier, behind a closed door, and saw a deputy, Christian Dedmon, shove a sex toy into his mouth, threatening to shock him with a Taser if he spat it out.


Ms. Dettore and Mr. Grozier were each fined several hundred dollars, and she has since left Rankin County. Mr. Hobson sat in jail for six months before his charges were dropped, and Mr. Loveday lost his job as a sheriff’s deputy. Court records show he was never convicted of a crime.


After Mr. McAlpin arrested Mr. Loveday and accused him of consorting with drug dealers, he ordered him to leave town. Mr. Loveday fled the state, fearing he would be targeted again. He couldn’t forget that night.


“If they did that to me, how many other people have they done it to?” he wondered.


Before he left Mississippi, Mr. Loveday said, he called Sheriff Bailey personally to warn him about his deputies’ behavior.


But Mr. Bailey wouldn’t listen, he said. He called Mr. Loveday a dirty cop and accused him of secretly recording the call.


Then, Mr. Loveday said, “He hung up on me.”


Jerry Mitchell, Ilyssa Daly, Eric Sagara and Irene Casado Sanchez contributed reporting. Kitty Bennett contributed research. This article was reported in partnership with Big Local News at Stanford University and supported in part by a grant from the Pulitzer Center.



11) Russia Declares Gay Rights Movement as ‘Extremist’

Activists said the designation could put L.G.B.T.Q. people and their organizations under threat of criminal prosecution for something as simple as displaying the rainbow flag.

By Neil MacFarquhar, Nov. 30, 2023

Uniformed officers face off against a crowd waving flags in a square near an ornate building complex.
Russian police officers blocking L.G.B.T.Q. protesters in St. Petersburg in 2019. Credit...Anton Vaganov/Reuters

Russia’s Supreme Court on Thursday declared the international gay rights movement an “extremist organization,” another chilling crackdown on gay and transgender people whose rights have been scaled back drastically since the start of the war in Ukraine.


The court was acting on a lawsuit filed by the Ministry of Justice requesting the designation. When it filed the case on Nov. 17, the ministry said the activities of the international L.G.B.T.Q. movement had exhibited “various signs and manifestations of an extremist orientation, including incitement of social and religious hatred.”


The ruling escalates the threat for gay communities inside Russia. Gay rights activists and other experts say the ruling will put gay people and their organizations at risk of being criminally prosecuted for something as simple as displaying symbols like the rainbow flag or for endorsing the statement “Gay rights are human rights.”


Experts said the decision would make the work of all L.G.B.T.Q. organizations, as well as any political activity, untenable.


It could be used to mete out jail sentences of six to 10 years to gay rights activists, their lawyers or others involved in any kind of public effort.


That prospect has heightened angst and alarm in the country’s already beleaguered gay communities.


“It is not the first time we are being targeted, but at the same time, it is another blow,” said Alexander Kondakov, a Russian sociologist at University College Dublin, who studies the intersection of law and security for the L.G.B.T.Q. communities. “You are already marked as foreign, as bad, as a source of propaganda, and now you are labeled an extremist — and the next step is terrorist.”


President Vladimir V. Putin has sought to portray the troubled, protracted war that he started as a fight to maintain “Russian traditional values.” To that end, the gay communities are often portrayed as a potential Trojan horse for the West.


The court decision comes months before Mr. Putin is expected to use what he calls his defense of Russian values as a pillar of his campaign in the March 2024 presidential elections.


The four-hour court session on Thursday was held behind closed doors because the case was declared secret, according to Russian press reports. Although at least one gay rights organization outside Russia sought to oppose the case in court, no countering arguments were allowed, the reports said.


The judge ruled that the decision would take effect immediately.


Under the ruling, any news organization, blogger or even an individual posting some form of public message that mentions the international L.G.B.T.Q. movement without noting the extremist designation could face a stiff fine.


Soon after the decision, the official RIA Novosti news agency began referring to the movement as an extremist organization in its reports on the ruling.


Ivan Zhdanov, the director of the Anti-Corruption Foundation, an organization founded by the imprisoned opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny, which has already been labeled an “extremist organization,” said the decision was the opening shot in Mr. Putin’s presidential campaign and called it an example of an increasingly isolated Russia emulating the laws of its ally Iran.


“There will be a complete distraction from real problems, the creation of mythical enemies, discrimination of the population on various grounds, this is just the beginning,” Mr. Zhdanov wrote on the social messaging app X, formerly Twitter.


In its initial reaction, Amnesty International said in a statement that the ruling was “shameful and absurd” and called on the Russian government to reverse it.


The way the Ministry of Justice wrote the proposed designation was ambiguous, so it could be exploited by virtually anyone to denounce a gay person as an extremist, such as a provincial law enforcement officer hostile toward gay people or neighbors who covet a gay couple’s apartment, experts said.


Until it becomes clearer how the measure would be carried out, it is difficult to advise gay people in Russia about changing their lives, said Igor Kochetkov, a founder of the Russian LGBT Network, an umbrella organization.


Critics said it is unusual to use a designation meant to target specific organizations against something more amorphous like an international movement. There are a couple of precedents, however, specifically two domestic campaigns seen as encouraging youth violence.


In addition, the Kremlin has increasingly slapped the “extremist” label on organizations that it does not like. Aside from Mr. Navalny’s opposition movement, they include the Jehovah’s Witnesses, whose presence in Russia is opposed by the Russian Orthodox Church; and Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, which the Russian government has accused of spreading Russophobia.


In Russia, measures targeting L.G.B.T.Q. groups started in earnest after 2012, when Mr. Putin returned to the presidency. In 2013, Russia passed a law banning “gay propaganda” directed toward minors and expanded that in 2022 to prohibit anything that, it said, smacked of endorsing “nontraditional relationships and pedophilia” among all Russians.


Last summer, the authorities began issuing fines for what they deemed to be such propaganda in films and television series online. Then, in July, Mr. Putin signed a law banning medical gender transitions or changing genders on official documents.


There is a long tradition of nations at war singling out minority groups, especially gay people, for prosecution, such as Nazi Germany. The effort to build support for the war inevitably involves identifying external and internal enemies, and in Russia the generally negative attitude toward gay people dovetails with this effort, said Alexandra Arkhipova, a social anthropologist who studies the ripple effects of the war on Russian society.


Negative attitudes toward gays are especially prevalent among Russians older than 65, who are also Mr. Putin’s core supporters. They identify with his promise to return to the Russia of 1970, when the idea of gay rights and fluid sexuality did not exist publicly, she said.


Some Russians applauded the latest move.


“Rainbow days are coming to an end,” crowed one commenter on a channel on a Telegram messaging app, Operation Z, a reference to the war in Ukraine. It was accompanied by an emoji of clapping hands.


Despite all the measures, Russia has maintained that it does not target its gay minority. In recent weeks, Mr. Putin has said at a cultural forum in St. Petersburg that gay and transgender people were “part of society,” while mocking what he called a trend in the West to confer public prizes only on those who celebrate the gay community.


Days before announcing the lawsuit, a deputy minister of justice, Andrei Loginov, testified before the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva that, in Russia, “the rights of L.G.B.T. people are protected,” saying that “restraining public demonstrations of nontraditional sexual relations or preferences is not a form a censure for them.”


Milana Mazaeva and Ivan Nechepurenko contributed reporting.