Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, December 15, 2023


End All Complicity with Genocide—Stop Arming Israel! 

#LaborShutItDown4Palestine, December 15-16, 2023


We welcome growing union calls for a permanent ceasefire to end the U.S.-backed Israeli genocide in Gaza. Now, we call on our labor bodies to take the next step of fully embracing the Urgent Call from Palestinian Trade Unions: End all Complicity, Stop Arming Israel, and of standing in solidarity with the struggle for Palestinian liberation and return, by:


·      Demanding an immediate end to the siege on Gaza and to all U.S. military aid for Israel.


·      Following the example of Block the Boat, ILWU West Coast dockers, and workers around the world who refuse to build or transport weapons destined for Israel.


·      Respecting the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) picket line by severing ties with Israel’s racist labor federation, the Histadrut and its US mouthpiece, the Jewish Labor Committee, and by divesting from Israel Bonds and industries connected with Zionist settler colonialism and occupation.


From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will be Free!





"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 December 15, 2023the total number of Palestinians killed by Israel is now over 18,608* (over 900 killed Dec. 2-5 alone)—50,594 wounded, and more than 262 Palestinians have been killed by Israel in the occupied West Bank. 

*Please note that the U.S. media has been reporting the death toll in Gaza as "over 15,000" since at least November 27th, yet Israel has continued bombing northern Gaza, and renewed and expanded its bombing and ground assault on southern Gaza since Dec. 2nd, killing hundreds more every day. Thousands are still missing, buried under the rubble. This figure was confirmed by Gaza’s Ministry of Health on December 12. Due to breakdowns in communication networks within the Gaza Strip, the Ministry of Health in Gaza has not been able to regularly and accurately update its tolls since mid-November. Some rights groups put the death toll number closer to 20,000.

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.




Eric Clapton performing in London for Medical Aid to Gaza, December 11, playing a guitar painted with the colors of the Palestinian flag.



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!






Stand With Palestinian Workers: Cease the Genocide Now—Stop Arming Israel!

Labor for Palestine Petition

“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-plus million per day) in bipartisan U.S. 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 Black, Indigenous, people of color (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). 

Please sign and forward widely!

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


To endorse as other, please click here:


 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.)

The list of signers will be updated periodically.



The Labor for Palestine model resolution can be found at:




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) The W.H.O. chief calls Gaza’s health care situation ‘catastrophic.’

By Nick Cumming-Bruce reporting from Geneva, Dec. 10, 2023

Several patients on rolling stretchers outside of a hospital building.
Injured Palestinians arriving last month at a hospital in Khan Younis, southern Gaza. Credit...Samar Abu Elouf for The New York Times

The war in Gaza has been “catastrophic” for health care there, the head of the World Health Organization told an emergency session of the agency’s executive board.


Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the W.H.O.’s director general, said only 14 of the enclave’s 36 hospitals were even partially able to treat the sick and injured.


“Gaza’s health system is on its knees and collapsing,” he told the board.


The number of hospital beds available has dropped to 1,400 from 3,500, and the two hospitals in providing surgical care in southern Gaza were operating at three times their capacity, Dr. Tedros said.


“The work of the health workers is impossible, and they are directly in the firing line,” he added, citing 449 W.H.O.-verified attacks on health care facilities in Gaza and the West Bank since Oct. 7, as well as 60 in Israel.


Dr. Tedros warned that disease was spreading among the 1.9 million Gazans forced from their homes by the fighting — and would likely get worse given the massive overcrowding of areas where civilians are seeking shelter. At least 20,000 Gazans were in need of acute psychiatric care, he added, and many more were expected to suffer severe trauma from the weeks of conflict.


A United Nations vote demanding a permanent cease-fire in the enclave last week failed because the United States cast the sole vote against it. The board meeting came as Israel pushed ahead with intense ground operations around southern Gaza’s city of Khan Younis over the weekend, with the United Nations reporting continued heavy bombardment from the air, land and sea.


Israel has agreed to allow the delivery of aid through the Kerem Shalom crossing point, which before Oct. 7 was the main conduit for supplies into Gaza with up to 500 trucks a day entering, but operations there have yet to start. The United Nations reported that 100 aid trucks entered Gaza from Egypt on Saturday, but the intense conflict limited distribution of relief supplies to a small area around the southern city of Rafah.


The World Health Organization’s executive board is set to vote later Sunday on a resolution calling for the agency to monitor and report on Gaza’s health crisis and to strengthen technical and material support for Gaza’s health system.


“I must be frank with you,” Dr. Tedros said. “These tasks are almost impossible in the current circumstances.”


Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Meirav Eilon Shahar, noted that the W.H.O. had never before convened a special board meeting to address a particular conflict.


Israel says that Hamas, the armed group that rules Gaza and launched the devastating Oct. 7 attacks in Israel, has concealed bases inside hospitals, and Ms. Shahar on Sunday rebuked the W.H.O. for “turning a blind eye” to Hamas’s abuse of health facilities for military purposes. Even after the Oct. 7 attack on Israel, she said, the agency and others in the international community had continued “to give Hamas a free pass.”



2) Is Anti-Zionism Always Antisemitic? A Fraught Question for the Moment.

From the halls of Congress to America’s streets and universities, a once largely academic issue has roiled national discourse, inciting accusations of bigotry and countercharges of bullying.

By Jonathan Weisman, Published Dec. 10, 2023, Updated Dec. 11, 2023

A large group of people, many of them wearing black T-shirts that read, “Jews Say Cease Fire Now” stand crowded together outside. The Manhattan skyline is visible in the background.

Activists with Jewish Voice for Peace called for a cease-fire in Gaza at a rally in front of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor last month. Credit...Dave Sanders for The New York Times

The brutal shedding of Jewish blood on Oct. 7, followed by Israel’s relentless military assault on Gaza, has brought a fraught question to the fore in a moment of surging bigotry and domestic political gamesmanship: Is anti-Zionism by definition antisemitism?


The question deeply divided congressional Democrats last week when Republican leaders, seeking to drive a wedge between American Jews and the political party that three-quarters of them call their own, put it to a vote in the House. It has shaken the country’s campuses and reverberated in its city streets, where pro-Palestinian protesters bellow chants calling for Palestine to be free from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.


It surfaced in Wednesday’s Republican presidential debate, when Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor, said, “If you don’t think Israel has a right to exist, that is antisemitic.” The following night, lighting the national menorah behind the White House, Vice President Kamala Harris’s husband, Doug Emhoff, who is Jewish, warned, “When Jews are targeted because of their beliefs or identity, and when Israel is singled out because of anti-Jewish hatred, that is antisemitism.”


Zionism as a concept was once clearly understood: the belief that Jews, who have endured persecution for millenniums, needed refuge and self-determination in the land of their ancestors. The word still evokes joyful pride among many Jews in the state of Israel, which was established 75 years ago and repeatedly defended itself against attacks from Arab neighbors that aimed to annihilate it.


If anti-Zionism a century ago meant opposing the international effort to set up a Jewish state in what was then a British-controlled territory called Palestine, it now suggests the elimination of Israel as the sovereign homeland of the Jews. That, many Jews in Israel and the diaspora say, is indistinguishable from hatred of Jews generally, or antisemitism.


Yet some critics of Israel say they equate Zionism with a continuing project of expanding the Jewish state. That effort animates an Israeli government bent on settling ever more parts of the West Bank that some Israelis, as well as the United States and other Western powers, had proposed as a separate state for the Palestinian people. Expanding those settlements, to Israel’s critics, conjures images of “settler colonialists” and apartheid-style oppressors.


So for some Jews, the answer to the question is obvious. Of course anti-Zionism is antisemitism, they say: Around half the world’s Jews live in Israel, and destroying it, or ending its status as a refuge where they are assured of governing themselves, would imperil a people who have faced annihilation time and again.


“There is no debate,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, which has been defining and monitoring antisemitism since 1913. “Anti-Zionism is predicated on one concept, the denial of rights to one people.”


Many Palestinians and their allies recoil just as fiercely: The equating of opposition to a Jewish state on once-Arab land — or opposition to its expansion — with bigotry is to silence their national aspirations, muffle political dissent and denigrate 75 years of their suffering.


Laila el-Haddad, a Palestinian activist and author, called it “a chilling attempt to punish and silence voices critical of Israeli policies.”


But perhaps nowhere is the question more fraught than among Jews themselves. Younger, left-leaning Jews, steeped in the cause of antiracism and terms like “settler colonialism,” are increasingly searching for a Jewish identity centered more on religious values like the pursuit of justice and repairing the world than on collective nationalism tied to the land of Israel.


Many older liberal Jews have also struggled with the Israeli government’s lurch to the far right, but they see Israel as the centerpiece and guarantor of continued Jewish existence in an ever more secular world.


“We’re living in an increasingly post-religious age, and any Jewish community that walks away from the Jewish people, and its most articulate expression of our times — the Jewish state, the state of Israel — is walking away from their own future,” said Ammiel Hirsch, the senior rabbi of Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in Manhattan and the founder of Amplify Israel, which seeks to emphasize the Jewish state in Jewish worship.


For Republicans, the issue is simple and convenient. The raising of anti-Zionism in the debate over antisemitism amid the Israel-Hamas war pushes aside the presence of white-nationalist bigots on the fringes of the Republican coalition — like Nick Fuentes, the avowed neo-Nazi who dined with Kanye West and former President Donald J. Trump last year — and instead forces Democrats to defend the pro-Hamas demonstrators on their own coalition’s fringes.


So on Tuesday, when G.O.P. leaders led by Representative David Kustoff of Tennessee, one of the House’s two Jewish Republicans, put to a vote a resolution condemning all forms of antisemitism and flatly stated “that anti-Zionism is antisemitism,” the 216 Republicans who voted yes included two who have been accused of antisemitism and white-nationalist flirtations, Representatives Paul Gosar of Arizona and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia. (The one Republican who voted no, Representative Thomas Massie of Kentucky, has now been labeled antisemitic by the White House.)


For the broader Democratic community, by contrast, the debate has been wrenching, pitting allies against one another, splintering more conservative Jewish Democrats who absolutely believe anti-Zionism is antisemitic from progressive Democrats, especially Democrats of color, who argue just as strongly for the latitude to criticize Israel, and leaving a huge middle unwilling to draw bright lines.


Thirteen Democrats voted no, including Israel’s fiercest critics in Congress, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. Ninety-five voted yes, but 92 Democrats voted “present,” among them prominent Jews like Jerrold Nadler of New York, Jamie Raskin of Maryland and Jan Schakowsky of Illinois.


“Folks, this isn’t complicated: MOST antizionism — the type that calls for Israel’s destruction, denying its right to exist — is antisemitic. This type is used to cloak hatred of Jews,” Mr. Nadler wrote on social media after the vote. “Some antizionism isn’t that. Thus, it’s simply inaccurate to call ALL antizionism antisemitic.”


In fact, it is complicated. Jonathan Jacoby, the director of the Nexus Task Force, a group of academics and Jewish activists affiliated with the Bard Center for the Study of Hate, said the group had wrestled with the issue for several years now, seeking a definition of antisemitism that captures when anti-Zionism crosses from political belief to bigotry. He warned that shouting down any political action directed against Israel as antisemitic made it harder for Jews to call out actual antisemitism, while stifling honest conversation about Israel’s government and U.S. policy toward it.


The definition of antisemitism as drafted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and embraced by the Trump White House includes phrases that critics say squelch political — not hate — speech:


Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, such as by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.


Applying double standards by requiring of Israel behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.


Comparing contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.


The Nexus definition agrees that holding Jews around the world responsible for Israeli government actions, as pro-Palestinian protesters did last week outside an Israeli restaurant in Philadelphia, is Jew hatred. It also holds that it is antisemitic to reject the right of Jews alone to define themselves as a people and exercise self-determination, as some on the left do in arguing that Jews are a religion, not a nation.


But Nexus pushes back sharply on some aspects of the I.H.R.A. definition, stating, “Paying disproportionate attention to Israel and treating Israel differently than other countries is not prima facie proof of antisemitism” and “Opposition to Zionism and/or Israel does not necessarily reflect specific anti-Jewish animus.”


Yehuda Kurtzer, the president of the Shalom Hartman Institute, a Jewish research organization, said that Judaism had always contained elements of religion and nationhood, and that Jewish identity had toggled between the two over the millenniums. It is unsurprising that the two strains can seem baffling, he said.


Since the rise of violent white supremacy that accompanied the political movement of Mr. Trump, Jewish intellectuals have viewed right-wing antisemitism “as dangerous to Jewish bodies,” Mr. Kurtzer continued. The 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue massacre that took 11 Jewish lives was perpetrated by an adherent to the “great replacement” theory, a conspiratorial fiction designed to create race hatred by holding that Jews are importing Black and brown people to supplant white Americans.


Amid such carnage, left-wing antisemitism, driven by opponents of the Jewish state, was seen as more academic, a threat to Jewish identity, but not to Jewish safety, he said.


But Mr. Kurtzer said those distinctions disappeared with the massacre of some 1,200 Jewish Israelis in October — because Hamas’s actions were the end result of denying Israel’s right to exist. “Oct. 7 should have the effect of saying absolute hatred of Judaism for our national claims is violent and legitimizes violence,” he said.


In other words, virulent anti-Zionism and virulent antisemitism ultimately intersect, at a very bad address for the Jews.


Still, Democrats worry that the debate is blurring the line between political speech and hate speech. Tibetans pressing for freedom from the Chinese are considered unserious or even repugnant in Beijing, just as Native American activists demanding to reclaim parts of the United States might be to the owners of that land. But are they bigoted?


Ms. Omar said the Republican resolution that she opposed “conflates criticism of the Israeli government with antisemitism” and “paints critics of the Israeli government as antisemites.”


To the young Jewish activists of left-wing groups like IfNotNow and Jewish Voice for Peace, which have themselves been accused of antisemitism, the search for a Jewish identity unrooted in the land has not been complicated. Jews, after all, survived without a state for nearly 2,000 years after the Romans destroyed the Second Temple in Jerusalem and scattered the inhabitants of the Holy Land to the four corners of the earth.


Eva Borgwardt, the 27-year-old political director of IfNotNow, said she graduated high school wanting to be a rabbi. Now she speaks of a renaissance of Jewish identity in the United States, a “diasporic” chicken farm, queer Talmudic studies and a Judaism based on good works — including the securing of equal rights and protections for Palestinians.


“For Jews questioning Zionism, the issue is protecting the rights of a minority from a state determined to eliminate them,” she said. “What could be more Jewish than that?”


Mr. Greenblatt, of the Anti-Defamation League, reacted angrily to that argument.


“Please don’t tell me my grandfather, whose entire family was incinerated in Auschwitz, wanted to go back to the diaspora,” he said.


To which younger, leftier Jews might respond by asking what it even means to suggest that American politics should be focused on securing a safe haven for Jews abroad when the First Amendment ensures that the United States is such a safe haven.


In all of this, a generational divide is palpable. Older Jews lived through the trials and triumphs of the early Jewish state. Middle-aged Jews remember the hope of a peace that recognized the legitimate aspirations of the Jewish and Palestinian people, embodied in the Oslo accords of the 1990s, and a diplomatic process that was pursued vigorously until the early years of the 21st century.


The young Jews joining pro-Palestinian demonstrators in the last two months know only an Israel they see as powerful, violent against Palestinians and ruled by leaders far to their right.


“I was born after the Oslo accords had fallen apart,” Ms. Borgwardt said. “I’ve never known any kind of actual hope for a Zionism that does not demand occupation, apartheid and the oppression of Palestinians to fulfill the identity of the Jewish state.”


The prevalence of that view has prominent Jews and mainline rabbis extremely worried. Labeling Jews who question the centrality of Zionism antisemitic will do nothing to keep them from abandoning Judaism altogether, said Ms. Schakowsky, a veteran congresswoman.


“I think there is a contempt for active, engaged American Jews who think it’s not just about Israel existing,” she said, “but Israel existing in a context that does include the Palestinians.”



3) Record Rent Burdens Batter Low-Income Life

More tenants than ever spend half or more of their income for shelter, leaving less for everything else, taking an emotional toll and leaving some without a place to call their own.

By Jason DeParle, Dec. 11, 2023

Jason DeParle, who has covered poverty for three decades, reported from the Charleston, S.C., area, where he spent weeks observing how the lives of families were affected by their difficulties in making rent payments.


Latoyia Cruz-Rivas leans on the top of her car while her son and dog sit inside.

Latoyia Cruz-Rivas and her son, Jevon, spent months living in a car with their dog. Credit...Elizabeth Bick for The New York Times

To understand how rising rents punish families of modest means, look no further than the queen-size bed that Jessica Jones and her three children share in her mother’s living room, where each night brings a squirming, turning tussle for space in a house with no privacy.


Ms. Jones and her daughter Katelen, 14, anchor the sides like human bed rails, with two younger girls tucked in between. Joy is a 4-year-old featherweight, but Destaney, at 6, kicks so much that Ms. Jones binds her in a mermaid blanket. The day’s tensions lie beside them, and midnight sneezes are shared events.


After two years of doubling up, Ms. Jones longs for a place of her own. But even though she works full time for the state government, a modest apartment would consume more than half her income, a burden most landlords find disqualifying and one she could not sustain.


With $41,000 a year in earnings and child support, she is, by government definition, not poor — just homeless.


“My anxiety is through the roof,” she said. “I feel almost hopeless.”


Unaffordable rents are changing low-income life, blighting the prospects of not only the poor but also growing shares of the lower middle class after decades in which rent increases have outpaced income growth.


Nearly two-thirds of households in the bottom 20 percent of incomes face “severe cost burdens,” meaning they pay more than half of their income for rent and utilities, according to the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies.


Among working-class renters — the 20 percent of people in the next level up the income scale — the share with severe burdens has nearly tripled in two decades to 17 percent.


For both groups, the proportion with severe cost burdens has reached record highs.


“More people, higher up the ladder, are facing impossible trade-offs,” said Whitney Airgood-Obrycki, a researcher at the Harvard Center.


The federal government deems shelter affordable if it takes 30 percent or less of household income, a goal that only about half of the nation’s 44 million renter households meet.


In consuming half or more of a family’s income, severe rent burdens steal from essential needs like food and medicine. They destroy the ability to save. They force frequent, destabilizing moves, unsettling parents at work and children in school. They flood fragile households with stress.


“Housing insecurity ripples through every domain of family life,” said Stefanie DeLuca, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University. “It’s this constant mental and emotional tax.”


The growing burdens coincide with the declining reach of federal housing aid. Since 2004, the number of households served by the main programs for the poorest renters — public housing, Section 8 and Housing Choice Vouchers — has fallen by 6 percent, the Harvard analysis found, while the number eligible has soared.


Ms. Jones, who moved in with her mother after her landlord did not renew the lease on a subsidized apartment, said the displacement had wreaked family havoc. Her mother complains that rambunctious children fill the house with noise. Katelen’s moods darkened and her grades dived. Sleepless and anxious, Ms. Jones took a medical leave, then passed out and suffered a concussion.


“I felt like I was going to die, I was so stressed out,” she said.


Similar stories abound in Charleston, which illustrates the forces that have raised housing costs nationwide. The problem is not that poverty has grown but that prosperity has spread in unequal fashion, bidding up rents and leaving behind families of modest means as federal aid declined. Jacqueline Drayton, a longtime Verizon worker, skipped meals to rent a suburban house that exhausted more than 60 percent of her income, then got laid off. Latoyia Cruz-Rivas thought she could handle an apartment that consumed more than half her income as a school bus driver. After an eviction proved her wrong, she lived in her car with her son and their dog.


As the Joneses’ crisis stretches into its third year, Katelen’s singing has become a source of daily conflict. As a performer at church and an arts charter school, she considers singing her greatest joy, but her grandmother calls it noise. As doors slam and tempers flare, the housing crisis spills into the driveway, where her big voice fills a parked car and she forgets how long her family has waited for shelter it can afford.


“I feel so stuck,” she said. “But singing helps me feel free.”


No Buffer


People who spend half their income for shelter have no room for error. A few canceled work shifts or an unexpected car repair can leave them short. That poses special peril in South Carolina, where landlords can evict any tenant who pays even a single month’s rent more than five days late.


Ms. Cruz-Rivas discovered the risk.


A school bus driver from Greensboro, N.C., Ms. Cruz-Rivas, 42, moved to Charleston during the coronavirus pandemic, drawn by significantly higher wages and a desire to distance her teenage sons, Jevon and Amon, from troublemaking friends. She did not realize that rents were higher, too. With utilities, her apartment took more than half of her income, but, she said, “I figured, ‘I’ll make it work.’”


For a while she did, if barely. But her hours shrank as more drivers returned to work after the pandemic, and Jevon’s job at Pizza Hut did not fill the gap. Federal pandemic aid staved off one eviction threat. Then came the kind of cascading misfortune that can put tenants on the street.


Her sons totaled her car. The state suspended her commercial driver’s license. In the weeks it took to reinstate it, she lacked an income, and her landlord moved to evict her.


Amon moved in with his girlfriend. A school social worker who serves homeless families, Sonya Jones, arranged motel stays and a donated car. When the motel money ran out, Ms. Cruz-Rivas and Jevon began living in the car with their dog, Koffi.


Ms. Cruz-Rivas, who takes pride in her lack of self-pity, faced the ordeal with odd cheerfulness. “There’s people in worse situations than us,” she said. They slept in a parking lot and used the restroom at the all-night convenience store where Jevon found a job.


Having survived childhood sexual abuse, she added, “I can train my mind to accept anything.”


Reclining in the car one night this fall, Ms. Cruz-Rivas scrolled through social media while Jevon watched football on his phone with Koffi at his feet.


“We just lay back and chill,” Ms. Cruz-Rivas said.


“We talk, laugh, joke,” Jevon said.


Their matching tattoos read “family first.” It would have made a homey scene if home wasn’t an old Toyota.


Ms. Cruz-Rivas switched jobs to a limousine service, where her clientele of businesswomen and bachelorettes had no idea their upbeat driver slept in her car.


An eviction record makes Ms. Cruz-Rivas a pariah in the rental market, but Jevon, now 20, joined a waiting list for subsidized housing. After months of homelessness, he landed an apartment where they can sleep without hitting the steering wheel.


‘Rent Has an Effect on Your Mental Health’


Thirty miles from the parking lot where Ms. Cruz-Rivas slept, Jacqueline Drayton has a four-bedroom house in suburban Summerville, where traffic stops for geese crossings and residents car-pool in golf carts.


But she grapples with the same affordability crisis. With shelter costs consuming most of her income, Ms. Drayton, the former Verizon worker, said the burden depresses everything from her food budget to her psychological health.


“It’s nerve-racking,” she said. “Sometimes I don’t know if I’m going to make it.”


The shortage of affordable housing may seem perennial, but the problem has changed. In 1960, shelter took 28 percent of the average renter’s income (though some was so bad it lacked indoor plumbing). Now it takes 41 percent of income — and for poor renters, 75 percent.


Ms. Drayton’s father, James Earl Drayton, was one of nine firefighters honored as heroes after their deaths in a 2007 fire. But she notes that he gave his life for a city with little housing she can afford.


Concerned about violence, Ms. Drayton left the city eight years ago when she was married and two incomes covered suburban rent. Divorce changed the math. With earnings of about $42,000 and little child support, she moved with four children to a house that consumed roughly two-thirds of her income.


Suddenly everything revolved around rent. She skipped meals to pay it. She used tax refunds to pay it in advance. She felt anxious before she paid the rent and depleted afterward. Her post-divorce depression deepened.


“Rent definitely took over everything,” she said. “Rent has an effect on your mental health.”


Needing back surgery this year, Ms. Drayton scheduled an unpaid leave around her tax refund, but recovery took longer than planned. She deferred other bills, borrowed from her sister and tapped retirement funds, but still fell behind.


Among the forces that may be raising rents nationwide is the emergence of large corporate landlords. Ms. Drayton rented from AMH, a public company with 60,000 homes that asked a court to put her out. Most tenants in housing court lack attorneys, but a pro bono lawyer negotiated a deal to let her move without an eviction on her record. Yet her next rental was even more expensive and owned by Cerberus Capital Management, a private equity giant, through its property company, FirstKey Homes.


After 18 years at Verizon, she was laid off amid the move, with seven months of severance pay.


Ms. Drayton’s daughter, a high school freshman, wanted to join cheerleading this fall, but the $650 fee ended the conversation. It was not a close call.


“To be honest, I go without food sometimes — just having milk and cereal,” Ms. Drayton said. “Sometimes I couldn’t even get that.”


A Consequence of Poverty, and a Cause


As a midsize city in a low-cost state, Charleston may not seem like a place with impossible housing math. But it has long drawn new residents with big housing budgets attracted to its beaches, history and food, and a surge of manufacturing jobs has swelled their ranks.


Higher housing prices at the top mean higher prices below as land values rise and gentrification quickens. Mount Pleasant, an affluent suburb, compounded the shortage of affordable shelter by banning new apartments.


“Charleston County has become a victim of its own success,” the county’s housing plan warns.


Even after adjusting for inflation, the cost of a basic two-bedroom apartment rose by a third over the past decade, according to federal estimates called fair-market rents, taking $4,600 a year from tenants of modest means.


Civic pride suffered a blow in 2018 when Princeton researchers found the city of North Charleston had the country’s highest eviction rate, a product of high rents and weak tenant-protection laws.


“Most of them are working, but it just takes one unfortunate event — ‘I was sick’ or ‘my car broke down,’” said Taylor Rumble, a lawyer with Charleston Legal Access, a nonprofit law firm that expanded its tenant work. “It’s heartbreaking, but ‘heartbreaking’ isn’t a legal defense.”


The county set aside $20 million in federal stimulus funds for affordable housing. But that is only 4 percent of the investment the plan said is needed.


Budget-busting rents are not just an urban problem. Three-quarters of Charleston’s low-income households (those in the bottom fifth) pay more than half their income for shelter. But the same holds true in tiny Bladen County, N.C. (population 29,000), where low rent is offset by low pay. The share of low-income households with severe rent burdens ranges from 73 percent in big cities to 50 percent in rural areas.


Standard measures, used by the government and scholars, modestly overstate the problem because the Census Bureau’s definition of income omits some forms of aid, including food stamps and tax credits. At the request of The New York Times, Danielle Wilson and Christopher Wimer of Columbia University and Ms. Airgood-Obrycki of Harvard re-estimated rent burdens counting that aid.


For 2019, that lowered the share of households in the bottom quintile who are paying half or more of their income for shelter to 52 percent, from 60 percent. “You still have more than half the low-income population with severe burdens,” Ms. Wilson said.


Housing burdens are a consequence of poverty but also a cause. Research has shown that high rent burdens can harm cognitive development, increase delinquent behavior and reduce spending on health care and food, while evictions worsen mental and physical health and force families into worse neighborhoods.


Hope Harvey, a University of Kentucky sociologist, emphasized how much “cognitive bandwidth” housing instability consumes. “It permeates every aspect of family life,” she said. “There’s little left for anything else.”


‘A House for the Family’


It certainly permeates the life of Ms. Jones, the state worker who shares a bed with three children in her mother’s packed home. She finds it impossible to honor her mother’s demands for quiet without leaving her children feeling caged.


“It’s like walking on eggshells,” she said. “I feel like I’ve failed my kids.”


A former beautician, Ms. Jones has spent four years doing community outreach for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC. “I love, love, love my job,” she said.


But even with child support and occasional hairdressing jobs, her $41,000 income offers few options to house a family of four in Charleston.


A four-bedroom home, at fair-market rents, would deplete 70 percent of her income. Three bedrooms would take 56 percent and two bedrooms 45 percent. She does not think she can pay even the least of those sums, and her low credit score decreases the odds a landlord would take the chance.


Ms. Jones reached an emotional breaking point last year after she and the children caught Covid and Destaney was hospitalized. Ms. Jones took a medical leave, developed migraines and got a concussion from passing out. She is taking medication for anxiety, which she blames on the overcrowding.


“I’ve not been able to sleep — at all,” she said.


Mature beyond her 14 years, Katelen, the singer, is a co-parent of sorts, a patient caretaker of her younger siblings. But she is also an adolescent who lost her privacy at an age when it is especially prized. And the fights with her grandmother over her singing leave her both furious and tinged with self-reproach.


“I’m trying not to lash out at her because I know it’s disrespectful,” she said.


On a recent evening she escaped to the car and conjured a song of longing from “The Little Mermaid,” then switched to a gospel romp about the transformative power of the Holy Spirit.


I feel your Spirit


All over me


It’s in my hands, in my soul, down in my feet


From the back seat, Destaney supplied hand claps, backup vocals and nodding affirmation that she felt the Spirit, too. Then she fished a drawing from her first-grade backpack. It captured on paper what had eluded her in life: a house with four people and four beds.


“A house for the family,” she said.


Kitty Bennett contributed research.



4) Minneapolis Man Is Freed After Serving 19 Years on Murder Charge

Marvin Haynes has long maintained he was wrongfully convicted in a 2004 homicide. Prosecutors recently concluded he was right.

By Ernesto Londoño, Dec. 11, 2023, Reporting from St. Paul.

Marvin Haynes seated wearing an orange prison suit.
Marvin Haynes, who was sentenced in 2005 to life in prison, maintained that he was wrongfully convicted after a deeply flawed investigation by the Minneapolis Police Department. Credit...KMSP-TV/FOX 9

Moments after a Minneapolis jury found Marvin Haynes guilty of the May 2004 killing of a flower shop clerk, he cried out in protest.


“I didn’t kill that man!” Mr. Haynes, who was a teenager at the time, yelled as he faced the jury. “They’re all going to burn in hell for that.”


Mr. Haynes, who was sentenced in 2005 to life in prison, has maintained that he was wrongfully convicted after a deeply flawed investigation by the Minneapolis Police Department.


His lawyers have argued that detectives threatened witnesses to pressure them to implicate Mr. Haynes in the killing, overlooked exculpatory evidence and acted improperly when they showed the sole witness an array of suspects.


On Monday, the prosecutor’s office that tried Mr. Haynes did something unusual: It asked a judge to toss out his conviction after concluding that Mr. Haynes did not receive a fair trial and the killer most likely remained at large.


“There was a terrible injustice done in this case,” Mary Moriarty, the Hennepin County attorney, said in an interview. “We can’t give Mr. Haynes back these past 19 years in prison, but we can do our best to make it right for him today.”


On Monday morning, prosecutors and Mr. Haynes’s defense lawyers jointly submitted a petition asking William H. Koch, a Hennepin County district judge, to vacate the conviction. Judge Koch agreed, setting Mr. Haynes free.


The New York Times obtained a copy of the court filing before a news conference to announce the decision, which is scheduled to take place on Monday afternoon.


Mr. Haynes, 36, was set free days before he was set to appear in court as part of a bid to secure a new trial based on new information about the police investigation.


“I always knew I was going to find a way to get justice,” Mr. Haynes said in a phone interview from prison early Monday shortly before being released. “I knew God was going to lead me through this.”


Mr. Haynes’s release comes as the Minneapolis Police Department is embarking on an era of sweeping court-enforced changes after a pair of damning reports by state civil rights investigators and by the Justice Department.


The investigations began after the May 2020 killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. They found that the Police Department unlawfully discriminated against Black people for years and committed a torrent of abuses that went unpunished because of systemic deficiencies in training and accountability.


When Mr. Haynes, who is Black, was tried, the top prosecutor in Hennepin County was Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat, who is now the state’s senior senator. In early 2020, when she was running for president, Ms. Klobuchar faced questions about another flawed homicide investigation from that era after a report by The Associated Press. The defendant in that case, Myon Burrell, was released in December 2020 after the Minnesota Board of Pardons commuted his life sentence.


Ms. Moriarty said prosecutors seldom vacated a murder conviction while a judge was considering a petition for a new trial. But after a thorough review of the police investigation, the trial transcript and new evidence, Ms. Moriarty, a former public defender, said she concluded that setting Mr. Haynes free was the right thing to do.


Mr. Haynes was charged with murder soon after a gunman walked into Jerry’s Flower Shop in Minneapolis on May 16, 2004, and demanded cash from the two employees inside, siblings Randy Sherer and Cynthia McDermid. The gunman killed Mr. Sherer, 55, as Ms. McDermid fled the store.


Ms. McDermid told police the gunman was a Black male with cropped hair who appeared to be between 19 and 22 years old and weighed around 180 pounds. At the time, Mr. Haynes was 16, had a long Afro and weighed around 130 pounds.


After detectives showed Ms. McDermid a photo lineup of suspects that excluded Mr. Haynes, she selected one and said she was 75 to 80 percent certain he was the killer. The man in the photo, however, had a solid alibi.


After being shown a second photo lineup, she identified Mr. Haynes as the suspect. But there was a major problem: The photo of Mr. Haynes the police provided was two years old and showed him with cropped hair.


The police presented no physical evidence linking Mr. Haynes to the crime.


The case against Mr. Haynes was bolstered by two other witnesses. One was Ravi Seeley, a 14-year-old who told detectives he was near the flower shop when he heard gunshots and saw someone fleeing the scene. The teenager identified Mr. Haynes in a lineup of suspects.


The second witness was Isiah Harper, a cousin of Mr. Haynes, who was 14 at the time. The cousin told detectives he heard Mr. Haynes bragging about having committed a robbery the morning of the killing.


In 2022, the lawyers with the Great North Innocence Project, which represents people who assert they were wrongfully convicted, obtained affidavits from Mr. Seeley and Mr. Harper that called into question the integrity of the police investigation.


Mr. Seeley said in a sworn affidavit that he had not gotten a clear view of the person fleeing the flower shop and that “police officers pressured me into making potentially inaccurate identifications and telling the officers what I believed they wanted to hear.”


Mr. Harper’s sworn declaration said that he initially told detectives he knew nothing about the killing. But Mr. Harper said he later implicated his cousin after the police “threatened me with criminal charges if I did not cooperate.”


During the trial, Mr. Harper said he tried to recant the accusation on the witness stand, but relented after prosecutors warned he could go to prison. “It was all lies that I believed I had to give the police to avoid going to prison myself,” he wrote in the 2022 affidavit.


Ms. Moriarty said that detectives violated their policy on suspect lineups by showing witnesses a photo of Mr. Haynes that did not reflect what he looked like when the crime occurred. While suspect lineups are supposed to be handled by officers who are not directly involved in the investigation to ensure impartiality, detectives involved in the case conducted some of the lineups, making them “unnecessarily suggestive,” according to the court filing.


Marvina Haynes, one of Mr. Haynes’s sisters, spent years fighting for his freedom. The effort to overturn the conviction wiped out the family’s savings and has been a source of torment for nearly two decades, she said in an interview.


“These types of things don’t only affect a family, they affect a community,” she said. “When a person is wrongfully convicted, it means a killer is still on the loose.”



5) We Are No Strangers to Human Suffering, but We’ve Seen Nothing Like the Siege of Gaza

By Michelle Nunn, Tjada D’Oyen McKenna, Jan Egeland, Abby Maxman, Jeremy Konyndyk and Janti Soeripto, Dec. 11, 2023

Ms. Nunn is president and C.E.O. of CARE USA. Ms. McKenna is C.E.O. of Mercy Corps. Mr. Egeland is secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council. Ms. Maxman is president and C.E.O. of Oxfam America. Mr. Konyndyk is president of Refugees International. Ms. Soeripto is president and C.E.O. of Save the Children U.S. 


Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

We are no strangers to human suffering — to conflict, to natural disasters, to some of the world’s largest and gravest catastrophes. We were there when fighting erupted in Khartoum, Sudan. As bombs rained down on Ukraine. When earthquakes leveled southern Turkey and northern Syria. As the Horn of Africa faced its worst drought in years. The list goes on.


But as the leaders of some of the world’s largest global humanitarian organizations, we have seen nothing like the siege of Gaza. In the more than two months since the horrifying attack on Israel that killed more than 1,200 people and resulted in some 240 abductions, about 18,000 Gazans — including more than 7,500 children — have been killed, according to the Gazan health ministry. More children have been reported killed in this conflict than in all major global conflicts combined last year.


The atrocities committed by Hamas on Oct. 7 were unconscionable and depraved, and the taking and holding of hostages is abhorrent. The calls for their release are urgent and justified. But the right to self-defense does not and cannot require unleashing this humanitarian nightmare on millions of civilians. It is not a path to accountability, healing or peace. In no other war we can think of in this century have civilians been so trapped, without any avenue or option to escape to save themselves and their children.


Most of our organizations have been operating in Gaza for decades. But we can do nothing remotely adequate to address the level of suffering there without an immediate and complete cease-fire and an end to the siege. The aerial bombardments have rendered our jobs impossible. The withholding of water, fuel, food and other basic goods has created an enormous scale of need that aid alone cannot offset.


Global leaders — and especially the United States government — must understand we cannot save lives under these conditions. A significant change in approach from the U.S. government is needed today to pull Gaza back from this abyss.


For a start, the Biden administration must stop its diplomatic interference at the United Nations, blocking calls for a cease-fire.


Since the pause in fighting ended, we are again witnessing an exceptionally high level of bombardment, and at increasing ferocity. The few areas left in Gaza that are untouched by bombardment are shrinking by the hour, forcing more and more civilians to seek safety that does not exist. Over 80 percent of 2.3 million Gazans are now displaced. The newest Israeli offensive is now forcing them to cluster in a tiny sliver of land.


The bombardment is not the only thing brutally cutting lives short. The siege of — and blockades surrounding — Gaza have led to a critical food scarcity, blocks on medical supplies and electricity, and a lack of clean water. There is barely any medical care to be found in the enclave and few medications. Surgeons are working by the light of their mobile phones, without anesthetics. They are using dishcloths as bandages. The risk of waves of waterborne and infectious disease will only grow in the increasingly overcrowded living conditions for the displaced.


One of our colleagues in Gaza recently described their struggle to feed an orphaned infant who had been rescued from the rubble of an airstrike. The baby had not eaten for days after her mother’s death. Colleagues could only scrounge up powdered milk — not formula, not breast milk, and not a nutritionally suitable infant food — to help stave off her starvation.


Before the war, hundreds of truckloads of aid were needed each day to support Gazans’ daily existence. Only a trickle of that required aid has made it into Gaza in the two months since the war began. But even if more were allowed in, our work in Gaza is dependent on ensuring our teams can move safely to set up warehouses, shelters, health clinics, schools, and water, sanitation and hygiene infrastructure.


Today our staff members are not safe. They tell us they’re making the daily choice of staying with their families in one place so that they can die together or go out to seek water and food.


Among leaders in Washington, there is constant talk about preparing for the “day after.” But if this relentless bombardment and siege continues, there will be no “day after” for Gaza. It will be too late. Hundreds of thousands of lives hang in the balance today.


So far, American diplomacy in this war has not delivered on the goals President Biden has conveyed: protection of innocent civilians, adherence to humanitarian law, more aid delivery. To stop Gaza’s apocalyptic free fall, the Biden administration must take tangible measures like it does in other conflicts to up the ante with all parties to the conflict and bordering countries.


Secretary of State Antony Blinken once said of the war in Ukraine that the targeting of heat, water and electricity was a “brutalization of Ukraine’s people” and “barbaric.” The Biden administration should acknowledge that the same holds true in Gaza. While it has announced measures to deter violence against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank, Blinken and his colleagues should apply similar pressure to stop violence against civilians in Gaza, too.


The harrowing events unfolding before us are shaping a global narrative that if unchanged, will reveal a legacy of indifference in the face of unspeakable suffering, bias in the application of the laws of conflict and impunity for actors that violate international humanitarian law.


The U.S. government must act now — and fight for humanity.



6) Israel’s Evacuation Decrees Leave Gazans Confused

Even Gazans who can get access to Israeli directions online say they sometimes make no sense, which could be a matter of life or death.

By Yara Bayoumy, Lauren Leatherby and Iyad Abuheweila, Reporting from Jerusalem, London and Cairo, Dec. 12, 2023

A boy carrying goods as he walks amid rubble on an urban street.
Salvaging materials on Saturday from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Khan Younis, Gaza. Credit...Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The WhatsApp group members had advantages many fellow Gazans lacked: working cellphones and a way to communicate with one another to avoid deadly Israeli strikes.


But snippets of their conversations about the besieged southern city of Khan Younis show how even they were flummoxed by Israel’s sometimes contradictory evacuation warnings, which they described as confusing.


“How do you know which blocks are under threat? Where do you get the news from,” read one of the snippets seen by The New York Times.


“Is block 49 under threat?”


“People, if anyone understands the map, please clarify it to us.”


For the many Gazans without reliable cellphones or access to social media, the options for obtaining accurate information to navigate Israel’s evacuation orders are even more challenging — especially since the Israeli military this month intensified its offensive aimed at Hamas militants in southern Gaza.


The United States has put pressure on Israel to change the nature of its southern campaign to ensure that it minimizes civilian casualties, does not decimate infrastructure and allows for the delivery of humanitarian aid. Israel says it is addressing the humanitarian concerns, pointing to the directions it has been issuing to Gazans — but on the ground, where a wrong turn can mean the difference between life and death, there remains widespread confusion.


Since the pause in fighting ended and the focus on southern Gaza began, an Israeli military spokesman, Lt. Col. Avichay Adraee, has posted a series of Arabic-language maps on social media showing which areas people should leave because of danger, accompanied by text about which blocks to evacuate.


The block numbers correspond to an interactive map of the zones that the military published on Dec. 1. The Israeli military has also dropped fliers in Arabic, among other methods, in various regions advising civilians to evacuate. The United States, Israel’s closest ally, has said the maps represent an improvement on Israel’s part to protect civilians.


But it quickly became clear that Gazans are having a hard time understanding the evacuation orders. Communication networks are unreliable and spotty in Gaza, so many people cannot gain access to the online maps and instructions. Electricity is also scarce, which makes it difficult to keep mobile phones charged. Some Gazans say they have not even seen the maps.


Moreover, the Israeli military’s evacuation announcements have at times seemed to contradict themselves.


In one post on Dec. 2, for example, Israel published a map that highlighted the area east of Khan Younis bordering Israel and directed those staying in the highlighted area to move south to Rafah. However, the text of the post listed block groups to be evacuated that were not shown on any map in the same post — and some were on the opposite side of Gaza, on the coast.


In a post on Dec. 3, the map with an evacuation order told Gazans in dozens of specific blocks to leave. However, the text, contradicting the order, omitted several of them. Blocks 55, 99 and 103-106, for example, were marked for evacuation on the map but not in the text.


The posts from Dec. 2 and Dec. 3 — the Dec. 3 map was posted again on Dec. 4 — were the last maps of southern Gaza available on the X account of Colonel Adraee before he posted a new map on Dec. 9, which showed a small area of central Khan Younis to evacuate. On that map, block 103 was the only discrepancy between the text of the post and the map.


When asked to clarify which parts of Gaza were under evacuation orders, the Israeli military directed The Times to Colonel Adraee’s social media account.


The Israeli military told The Times, when asked about the discrepancies, that the maps in the social media posts were intended to provide “general guidance graphics.”  Israel says that in its battle against Hamas terrorists, it takes precautions to limit casualties among civilians, casting them as a regrettable but unavoidable part of war.


Even when Gazans do make it to areas Israel has designated as safe, the danger is often far from over.


“Families are aware that such zones do not offer safety in terms of lifesaving services — such as water and sanitation,” said James Elder, a spokesman for UNICEF, the U.N. Children’s Fund. “They know they are at risk when they are on the move. They know locations change. And they know that in the past, so-called safe zones have been hit. So they are confused, scared and perpetually under attack.”


Last Wednesday, in the Shaboura area of Rafah, the southern Gaza city bordering Egypt, was attacked despite Israeli military advisories that Gazans could shelter safely there. The attack in Al Shaboura, described by three witnesses in voice mail recordings heard by The Times, was previously reported by The Washington Post. In a statement about the attack, the Israeli military said that in its effort to dismantle Hamas’ military and administrative capabilities, it followed international law and took “feasible precautions to mitigate civilian harm.”


The Israeli agency that oversees policy for the Palestinian territories, COGAT, said that it was using various methods to communicate to Gazans when and where they needed to evacuate.


“We are also monitoring continuously to see whether our advance warning is efficient,” said Col. Moshe Tetro, head of coordination and liaison at COGAT. “We see if the message was received, and not only if it was received but also whether the people actually act according to the message.”


“It’s not only about giving the warning,” he said.


Since the first week of the war, Israel has ordered the evacuation of more than half of the Gaza Strip.  The United Nations says that nearly 1.9 million people, or more than 80 percent of Gaza’s population, have been displaced. More than 15,000 Palestinians have been killed, according to the Gazan health authorities.


As Gazans cram into smaller areas, shelters have become so overcrowded that hundreds of people are forced to share a single toilet. The United Nations has warned that in Rafah, “there is no empty space left for people to shelter, not even in the south and other open areas.”


Maisa al-Jarar, a 32-year-old mother of five, said she and her family had been forced to flee to Khan Younis from Gaza City at the start of the war. Now, she says, Israeli forces have warned them to find somewhere else.


“They left fliers — people are terrified,” she said.


“We don’t even know which block we’re in, which area. We don’t know which zone, which number,” Ms. al-Jarar said via Facebook Messenger. “My husband went to Rafah to find a place for us, but it’s all disgusting. People are forced to relieve themselves on the streets. The stench is awful, disease is spreading.”


Choking back tears, Ms. Al-Jarar described a litany of misery: being forced to give her children salty water, her husband desperately searching for food that’s grown increasingly expensive and scarce, an inability to find medicine for her sick children.


“We want to live a life of dignity,” she said. “I wish they’d drop a nuclear bomb on us. I swear, it would be more comfortable than this life we’re living.”


Ameera Harouda contributed reporting from Doha, Qatar, and Abu Bakr Bashir from London.



7) Israel Admits to “Immense” Amount of “Friendly Fire” on October 7

By Asa Winstanley

—The Electronic Intifada, December 12, 2023


Drone footage released by the Israeli military last month shows the extent of the destruction of the cars fleeing the Supernova rave on October 7, likely inflicted by Israeli drones and helicopters. (RT/Israeli military)

Israel’s army on December 12, 2023, admitted that an “immense and complex quantity” of what it calls “friendly fire” incidents took place on October 7.

The key declaration was buried in the penultimate paragraph of an article by Yoav Zitun, the military correspondent of Israeli outlet Ynet.

It is the first known official army admission that a significant number of the hundreds of Israelis who died on October 7 were killed by Israel itself, and not by Hamas or other Palestinian resistance factions.

An Israeli police source last month appeared to admit that some of the Israelis at the Supernova rave taking place near Gaza that day were hit by Israeli helicopters. A second police source later partially walked back the admission.

Citing new data released by the Israeli military, Zeitun wrote that: “Casualties fell as a result of friendly fire on October 7, but the IDF [Israeli military] believes that … it would not be morally sound to investigate” them.

He reported that this was “due to the immense and complex quantity of them that took place in the kibbutzim and southern Israeli communities.”

The Ynet article also reported that “at least” one fifth of the Israeli army deaths in Gaza since the ground invasion began were also due to “friendly fire” incidents.

Israel has in recent weeks faced increased internal pressure to investigate the failings of October 7.

On Monday in Tel Aviv, family members of those Israelis who died on October 7 established a new group calling for an official Israeli government investigation into the events of that day.

One of the speakers accused the government of a “cover-up.”

Israel does indeed appear to be covering up a lot of the evidence.

The Jerusalem Post reported recently that cars containing the blood stains or ashes of Israelis who died on October 7 would be crushed and—in what the paper said was a first—buried in a cemetery.

The paper provided a religious pretext for all this. Nonetheless, this is a worrying development which amounts to a state-sanctioned coverup of what could potentially be some of the most important forensic evidence from October 7.

Since that day, there has been a steadily growing mountain of evidence that many—if not most—Israelis killed that day were killed by Israel itself.

This evidence has been reported in English almost entirely by independent media, including The Electronic IntifadaThe GrayzoneThe Cradle and Mondoweiss.

In one of the most recent revelations, an Israeli air force colonel admitted to a Hebrew podcast that they blew up Israeli homes in the settlements but insisted they never did so “without permission.”

Colonel Nof Erez also said that October 7 was a “mass Hannibal” event—a reference to a controversial Israeli military doctrine.

Named after an ancient Carthaginian general who poisoned himself rather than be captured alive, the Hannibal Directive allows Israeli forces to take any means necessary to stop Israelis being captured alive—even at the cost of killing the captives.



8) War Against Hamas Will Last ‘Months,’ Israel’s Defense Minister Says

By Aaron Boxerman reporting from Jerusalem, Dec. 14, 2023

A man holds a listening device to his left ear.
Jake Sullivan, President Biden’s national security adviser, in Seoul on Saturday. Credit...Pool photo by Chung Sung-Jun

Israel’s defense minister said on Thursday that the war against Hamas “will last more than several months,” signaling determination to carry on with the bombardment of Gaza even as the White House national security adviser arrived in Tel Aviv to discuss a timetable for ending the fighting.


Before meeting with the U.S. national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant repeated Israel’s arguments that destroying Hamas, the armed group that carried out the devastating Oct. 7 attacks in Israel, was essential to Israel’s security and was difficult because Hamas has built an extensive underground infrastructure in Gaza.


“It will require a long period of time — it will last more than several months, but we will win and we will destroy them,” Mr. Gallant said in brief remarks before meeting with Mr. Sullivan.


The comments suggested that Israel’s government was not likely to be swayed by international condemnation of the war’s enormous civilian toll in Gaza. Mr. Sullivan had said before his visit — which will include a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — that one of the topics of discussion with Israeli officials would be “how they are seeing the timetable of this war.”


Gaps between the United States and Israel have widened over Israel’s conduct of its war against Hamas and a postwar settlement for the Gaza Strip.


On Tuesday, President Biden made some of his bluntest criticism yet of Mr. Netanyahu’s government, which he said had no interest in allowing the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. Israel was beginning to lose international support, he added, because of the “indiscriminate bombing” of Gaza.


But the White House appeared to play down Mr. Biden’s comments on Wednesday, with a spokesman, John F. Kirby, saying the president was only expressing concern about rising civilian casualties in the war.


Top Israeli officials were publicly unruffled by Mr. Biden’s remarks, insisting that they would not be deterred from continuing the military onslaught in Gaza until Hamas’s armed wing is destroyed and its leaders are killed. “We are continuing to the end,” Mr. Netanyahu wrote on social media. “It is not even a question.”


Mr. Netanyahu’s government and the Biden administration have mostly sought to paper over their divides since Hamas killed at least 1,200 people in southern Israel on Oct. 7. Israel has responded with more than two months of bombardment and a ground invasion of Gaza that have killed at least 15,000 people, and likely thousands more, according to Gazan health officials, and forced most of the territory’s 2.2 million people to flee their homes.


Amid an international outcry over the toll on Gazans, Mr. Biden has said Israel must do more to protect civilians, but he has been steadfast in supporting its right to respond to the Oct. 7 attack.


The United States and Israel have also differed over who should control Gaza after the war. American officials have said the Palestinian Authority, which has international support, should control the enclave, while Mr. Netanyahu has appeared to rule that out for now.



9) Displaced Gazans put pressure on Egypt’s border.

By Ben Hubbard, Dec. 14, 2023


The main reason Israel’s heavy bombardment of Gaza for nine weeks has not pushed hundreds of thousands of Palestinians into Egypt is that country’s heavily fortified border and Cairo’s ironclad determination to keep it closed.


But pressure is building. Israel has been pushing Gaza’s 2.2 million residents relentlessly south as its forces seek to destroy Hamas’s military wing and its infrastructure, and about 85 percent of the population has been displaced. Hundreds of thousands of displaced people are now living in squalid, cramped conditions in Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost region, right along the border with Egypt.


The bleak conditions have increased fears that the border with Egypt could be breached, allowing large number of Palestinian refugees to enter Egypt, potentially destabilizing an Arab ally of the United States.


Israeli officials have said they have no intention of pushing Gazans into Egypt, and Egypt’s government has long opposed letting Gazans seek refuge in the Sinai Peninsula, fearing that Israel will never let them return home, and that Hamas and other militant groups, who are no friends of the government in Cairo, might set up operations there.


Satellite imagery released this week put the number of people near the border in stark relief, showing large numbers of makeshift shelters in the area of Tel al-Sultan in the Rafah region. Comparisons with photos of the same area taken last month show that the density of displaced Gazans has skyrocketed since Israel began issuing evacuation orders this month for parts of Khan Younis, a larger city six miles to the north.


The images correspond with reports from officials of relief organizations, who have warned that southern Gaza is not equipped to provide even basic services to the hundreds of thousands of displaced people who have ended up there.


Many people have only crude, improvised shelters to protect them from the elements as winter sets in, and each day is a struggle to get adequate food and clean water. Toilets are scarce. Though Rafah is one of the few cities in Gaza to receive aid shipments in recent weeks, hunger and communicable disease are still spreading rapidly, aid groups and U.N. officials say.


Israel launched its bombardment and ground invasion after Hamas, which has ruled Gaza for 16 years, carried out a surprise assault on towns in southern Israel, killing about 1,200 people, mostly civilians. Since then, at least 15,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli airstrikes other military operations in Gaza, according to Gaza health officials.


Early in the war, Israel declared the entire northern half of Gaza an evacuation zone, sending people streaming to the south where they thought they would be safe. Then Israel ordered the evacuation of parts of the south, too, forcing many people who had already fled the north to move again.


Rafah was home to a few hundreds of thousands of people before the war, and its population has skyrocketed in recent weeks. People fleeing the air campaign in the north arrived early in the war, even though the Israel has continued to bombed targets in Rafah as well. Tens of thousands more have arrived this month, aid groups say, clustering the areas of Tel al-Sultan, and al-Mawasi, farther west on the Mediterranean coast.


The long history of Palestinians being displaced during their 75 years of conflict with Israel has left their leaders and their Arab neighbors worried that an exodus of Gazans into Egypt would become permanent.


To protect itself from such a scenario, and to forestall an influx of Hamas and other Gaza militants, Egypt has spent years fortifying its 7.5 mile border with Gaza.


Over the last decade, Egyptian forces have flooded and destroyed a network of smuggling tunnels under the border and have strengthened the barrier that runs along it. In some places, that barrier now consists of a towering metal wall with fencing on top to keep people from climbing over it, in addition to underground barriers to prevent the digging of new tunnels.


Between 2013 and 2015, Egypt also evicted thousands of people from their homes and destroyed more than 3,000 structures along its side of the border to create a buffer zone, according to a report by Human Rights Watch. Since the current war began, the Egyptian army has added more fortifications, erecting sand barriers and stationing tanks and other miliary vehicles near the border, according to local residents.


At the same time, on the Gaza side, Hamas, whose militants are busy fighting Israel, has largely abandoned border security.


So far, Egypt’s fortifications appear to be strong enough to keep Gazans from slipping over the border. But security at the crossing is light, and a large, angry crowd might able to push through, according to people who have gone through the crossing recently. Another risk is that new holes are opened in the barrier, either by errant Israel strikes or by Gazan militants or residents with explosives seeking a way out.


That is not without precedent. In 2008, Hamas blew holes in the barrier and tens of thousands of Gazans rushed through, using their visit to stock up on everything from cigarettes to satellite dishes before heading back to their besieged territory.


Lauren Leatherby contributed reporting.



10) How the Israel-Hamas War Tore Apart Public Defenders in the Bronx

The Bronx Defenders is one of the most influential public defense organizations in the United States. But allegations of antisemitism have dogged it and have grown louder since Oct. 7.

By Santul Nerkar and Jonah E. Bromwich, Dec. 14, 2023

The Bronx criminal court in severe shadow.
The Bronx Defenders, who represent the borough’s most vulnerable in court, have been mired in furious debate over a faraway conflict. Credit...Jonah Markowitz for The New York Times

Four weeks before Hamas attacked Israel, a group of public defenders packed a bright, airy room in the Bronx for mandatory antisemitism training.


The hourslong gathering was the consequence of a legal settlement stemming from an ugly dispute that had festered at the Bronx Defenders, one of the country’s most influential organizations providing legal services to those who cannot pay. But many of the lawyers objected to the very notion of the required session.


One interrupted to reject the idea of Jews and Palestinians living side by side in two nations, declaring “No Israel.” After that, a chant broke out, one that pro-Palestinian activists consider a cry for liberation but that many Jews see as calling for Israel’s destruction: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”


That September confrontation was just a prelude. After the Oct. 7 attack, the union representing the Bronx Defenders staff issued a statement. It referred to Israel’s assault on Gaza, which has now killed more than 18,000 people, as genocidal, voiced support for “Palestinian liberation and resistance under occupation” and did not mention the 1,200 Israelis killed in the Hamas attack.


The fallout has threatened the future of the publicly funded organization. The fight in the Bronx about a faraway war could have concrete consequences for the nearly 20,000 clients whom the Defenders represent annually in eviction proceedings, child custody matters and criminal cases, among other matters.


The union’s statement has provoked condemnation from the mayor, fury from the lawyers who face Bronx Defenders in court and an outcry in the broader legal community of New York City, where other public defense organizations have experienced similar upheaval.


The rancorous politics of the Israel-Hamas war have put immense pressure on leaders to issue statements on the conflict, even if such statements have little effect. The conflict has roiled Ivy League universities, forcing the University of Pennsylvania’s president to resign. It has divided Democrats, split Hollywood and caused an uproar at nonprofits whose focus ranges from free speech to women’s health.


The statement of the Bronx Defenders union was the product of a furious debate within the organization itself. One side saw it as an extension of the mission, a global struggle for social justice and human rights. The other saw it as inflammatory and detrimental to the group’s more immediate task: defending New York City’s most vulnerable.


Many Bronx Defenders employees said that the uproar has become a daily distraction. This article is based on interviews with 16 current and former members of the organization who requested anonymity to discuss its inner workings, as well as internal documents and recordings obtained by The New York Times.


Two weeks after the union’s statement on Oct. 20, Justine Olderman, the Bronx Defenders executive director, told her staff of more than 400 lawyers, social workers and others that it had “caused grave risk to the organization and our ability to serve the people who need our representation.” (Ms. Olderman declined an interview request, and the organization declined to respond to questions.)


But for some who voted to release the statement — including a number of the organization’s Jewish lawyers — the decision was obvious: Side with Palestinians, who, they said, were like their clients in facing incarceration, eviction and violence.


“As public defenders defending the most demonized and oppressed communities in the United States, we are familiar with how the U.S. political establishment legitimizes state violence,” said Yosmin Badie, a Bronx Defender working on immigration cases.


The Bronx Defenders introduced an expansive vision of public defense. It was founded in 1997 by Robin Steinberg, who saw that her clients’ legal problems extended well beyond court.


“The problem was rarely the criminal case itself, but rather the very real threat of losing public housing, getting deported, having their public benefits cut off or having their children placed in foster care,” she wrote, adding that the host of problems “demanded an entirely new model.”


Ms. Steinberg called it “holistic defense,” and it has been credited with revolutionizing the field. Holistic defense in the Bronx reduced the numbers of days that detainees were held in jail by more than one million over 10 years, saving the city more than $160 million, according to a 2019 study from the RAND Corporation and the University of Pennsylvania law school. Over the years, government funding for public defense, including for the Bronx Defenders, has increased substantially. The organization reported having received more than $48 million in government grants in the fiscal year that ended in June 2022.


Many of the Bronx Defenders consider the work a calling; they chose public service over lavish salaries at private firms. But as the group’s influence has grown, it has attracted criticism. In 2014, two of its lawyers appeared in a video for a song with lyrics that called for killing police officers. They were forced to resign.


And over the past two years, calls to defund the organization have grown as it has faced accusations of antisemitism, starting with an ugly internal fight two years ago.


‘Our Struggle for Freedom Is International’


Debbie Jonas joined Bronx Defenders in 2013 to represent parents in danger of losing custody of their children. “I was interested in the social justice aspect of law,” she said in an interview. “Which was kind of ironic, considering what happened.”


Ms. Jonas, now 65, was an outlier. Significantly older than many peers, she is an observant modern Orthodox Jew, married to a Newark businessman who donates millions of dollars a year, mainly to Jewish causes. Two of her nine children served in the Israel Defense Forces.


For most of Ms. Jonas’s eight-year tenure, that had nothing to do with her job. She liked her colleagues and loved the work.


“We represent people who are accused of doing terrible things,” she said. “And our job is to show judges that you shouldn’t judge somebody by their worst moment. You should look at the whole person.”


When the pandemic arrived, family court went virtual, and Ms. Jonas began working remotely from Israel. She was there in 2021, when Israeli police raided a holy site in Jerusalem, the Aqsa Mosque, injuring hundreds of Palestinians. In reprisal, Hamas fired rockets at the city for the first time in seven years.


Ms. Jonas was in a bomb shelter when she received an email from work.


It came from Shannon Cumberbatch, the director of equity and institutional transformation, who was responsible for educating employees and mediating conflicts related to “race, class, power and privilege.” Ms. Cumberbatch drew a parallel between Black protesters against police abuse in America and Palestinians.


“Our struggle for freedom is international and our liberties are intertwined,” she wrote.


Ms. Jonas asked Ms. Olderman, the executive director, to issue an addendum, saying the email had told just one side of a complex story. Ms. Olderman declined. So Ms. Jonas reached out to Dov Hikind, a longtime New York assemblyman who is vocally pro-Israel. He sent Ms. Cumberbatch’s email to The New York Post.


The Post’s coverage set off a furious email battle within Bronx Defenders. Employees demanded that the “snitch” come forward. Eventually, Ms. Jonas acknowledged that she had corresponded with Mr. Hikind.


Dozens of colleagues attacked her, calling her “Karen,” a “snake in the grass,” “disgusting.” “YOU ARE WORSE THAN THE DIRT FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY SHOES,” one woman wrote.


Ms. Jonas resigned immediately. “I experienced it as being profoundly antisemitic,” she said. “To the Bronx Defenders, I’m just an evil person because I support Israel.”


After about six months, she hired a law firm that threatened a suit and demanded, among other things, an apology from the Bronx Defenders and mandatory antisemitism training. After negotiations, she received everything that she had asked for.


News of the agreement arrived in March, infuriating many employees. Their anger intensified after they learned the training would be administered by the Brandeis Center, an organization they said equates anti-Zionism with antisemitism.


At the Sept. 7 training, those lawyers — many of them Jewish — did not hide their anger.


‘It Has Become Unbearable’


Four weeks later, the Gaza conflict erupted.


The management of Bronx Defenders had little interest in revisiting the politics of the Middle East. But a few union members drafted a fiery statement blaming Israel; one sent it to the full 283-member group on Oct. 18.


Some recipients — including many who are critical of the Israeli government — expressed misgivings. One lawyer, who called the Israeli government “fascist,” said it was nonetheless disturbing that the Oct. 7 attack, which she said had been carried out by “religious fanatics,” went unmentioned.


Those who objected were outnumbered. One staff attorney called Hamas “freedom fighters” and said calling them fanatics was “racist and Islamophobic.” Another called the Oct. 7 attack an “act of resistance.” Ultimately, 52 percent of the union voted to issue the statement; while only 30 members voted against it, more than 100 abstained. All camps included Jewish employees.


The statement about Gaza immediately began causing chaos in the Bronx.


In civil court, it is important for lawyers to maintain cordial relationships with their adversaries to win their clients the best possible deals. But some lawyers began shunning the Bronx Defenders.


In family and housing court, where public defenders often represent clients at risk of losing their children or their homes, opposing lawyers have told Bronx Defenders that they won’t negotiate, according to emails of exchanges viewed by The New York Times.


“No courtesies for antisemitic Jew hating Nazis,” said one landlord’s lawyer in an email to a Bronx Defender in housing court, denying a client information that could have helped remedy a dispute.


Rina Mais, a Jewish lawyer who often faces members of the organization in Bronx Family Court, said in an interview that she could hardly stomach working with them now.


“It has become unbearable,” she said, adding that she was eager to see the organization defunded.


In November, after weeks of turmoil, the Bronx Defenders’ leaders issued a statement repudiating the one that their union released, which they said had failed to “recognize the humanity of both Palestinians and Israelis.”


The Bronx Defenders is paid through city and state contracts, and three are up for renewal at year-end: contracts that fund immigration, housing and family defense. The managing director of the family defense practice, Emma Ketteringham, warned in a recent meeting that some of her division’s funding — and the organization’s future as a whole — could be at stake.


“There are people in the City Council and the State Legislature and the mayor’s office who very much want us gone,” she said, according to a recording of the session.


A petition for Mayor Eric Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul to defund the Bronx Defenders has received nearly 2,000 signatures. A spokesman for Mr. Adams, Fabien Levy, declined to comment on the organization’s funding, but the mayor condemned the union’s Oct. 20 statement.


“The rhetoric in the statement by the Bronx Defenders union in October was hateful and included serious factual misstatements,” Mr. Adams said in response to a request for comment. “That kind of language is completely unacceptable.”


But some Bronx Defenders lawyers view the defunding threat as another example of the powerful seeking to silence the powerless. Sophia Gurulé, an immigration lawyer and union member, said she and her peers were being pushed into a false choice.


“How is it that the only way to fund legal services for poor, Black and brown communities in New York City is by silencing solidarity with Palestinians?” she said.



11) Satellite Imagery and Video Shows Some Gazan Cemeteries Razed by Israeli Forces

The laws of armed conflict consider the intentional destruction of religious sites without military necessity a possible war crime.

By Christoph Koettl and Christiaan Triebert, Dec. 14, 2023


A still frame from a video showing vehicle tracks leading into a cemetery in Gaza, with visible destruction of graves along the path.

In Jabaliya, Gaza, vehicle tracks lead into Al-Faluja cemetery. It is one of at least six cemeteries that The New York Times identified as having been damaged or destroyed during the Israeli military advance. Credit...Reuters

A satellite image showing swaths of dark brown earth in a densely built area.

A satellite image captured on Sunday of a bulldozed cemetery in Beit Hanoun, in northern Gaza, shows the remains of earthen fortifications often used by Israeli forces in Gaza. Credit...Planet Labs

Israeli ground forces have damaged or destroyed at least six cemeteries during their advance into the northern Gaza Strip, most of them in recent weeks, according to an analysis of new satellite imagery and video footage by The New York Times.


In Gaza City’s Shajaiye neighborhood, where heavy combat raged in recent days, Israeli forces razed part of the Tunisian cemetery to set up a temporary military position. A satellite image from Sunday shows armored vehicles and earthen fortifications on what were intact graves days earlier.


The Israeli military did not respond to questions by The Times about its reason for razing the cemetery and whether it has taken any precautions to protect religious sites in Gaza. The laws of armed conflict consider the intentional destruction of religious sites without military necessity a possible war crime.


Much of the damage was inflicted this month, as Israeli forces advanced toward what Israeli officials believe are remaining Hamas strongholds in densely built-up areas of Gaza City. Israel appears to be using at least one cemetery as a temporary base for military vehicles.


Israeli military vehicles destroyed dozens of graves at a smaller cemetery in early December, next to an existing Israeli position half a mile to the northwest of the Tunisian cemetery. A video published by the Israeli military on Sunday shows soldiers apparently engaged in combat in the area.


On the same day, in the Jabaliya neighborhood of Gaza City, satellite imagery showed new tracks and possible military vehicles at Al-Faluja cemetery. Later video footage shows damage to gravesites but no established military positions.


A possible military position was set up at a cemetery in Beit Hanoun, also in northern Gaza.


No military vehicles are seen on the satellite image from Sunday, but similar earthen fortifications are comparable to those set up by Israeli forces at dozens of places in Gaza. These protective positions have been used only for a limited period of time as the ground offensive moves deeper into Gaza.


The other cemeteries The Times identified as razed by Israeli forces were in Sheik Ijlin, a neighborhood of Gaza City, and Beit Lahia, a city in Gaza’s far north.