Muslim voters abandon Starmer’s Zionist Labour party over Gaza

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Zionist Keir Starmer supports Israel's Gaza genocide.
Zionist Keir Starmer supports Israel’s Gaza genocide.

‘Trust is lost’: Muslim voters unhappy with Labour’s stance on Gaza war

“There was never much talk about politics before but now everyone cares, lots of people are speaking up,” he said last week. “We’ve been brought up in an environment where we were blindly supporters of Labour, old and young. But now people are opening their eyes a bit more.”

The issue that has opened the eyes of Muslims in Walsall and elsewhere across the country is Labour’s failure to explicitly demand a permanent ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas. The party’s position has shifted in recent weeks but, with more than 25,000 casualties in Gaza and a growing humanitarian catastrophe, it is too little and too late for many Muslims.

The anguish and anger felt by Muslims in the UK over the Israel-Gaza war could spell trouble for Labour at the next election. An opinion poll carried out in November by Savanta found strong support for Labour among Muslim voters, with 64% backing the party. But more than 40% said Keir Starmer’s response to the war had made them less likely to vote Labour, while 20% said it had made them more likely to do so. One in three Muslim voters rated the conflict among their top three issues in deciding who to vote for.

Continue ReadingMuslim voters abandon Starmer’s Zionist Labour party over Gaza

The War on Gaza and Israel’s Fascism Debate

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https://www.versobooks.com/en-gb/blogs/news/the-war-on-gaza-and-israel-s-fascism-debate

Western critics of Israel’s apartheid policies and far-right government are frequently accused of antisemitism, but leftist and left-liberal Israelis have been decrying the country’s descent into fascism for years. In this article, Alberto Toscano argues that fascism is embedded in the logic of Israel’s colonial project.

Green-lit by Western governments and described by myriad human rights law experts as demonstrating clear ‘genocidal intent’, the State of Israel’s retaliation against Hamas’s Al Aqsa Flood October 7 attack has also elicited talk of fascism in multiple quarters. In a collective statement, the Birzeit University Union of Professors and Employees has spoken of ‘colonial fascism’ and of the ‘pornographic call to death of Arabs by settler Zionist politicians across the political lines’; in their own declaration, the Communist Party of Israel (Maki) and the left-wing coalition Hadash ‘put the full responsibility on the fascist right-wing government for the sharp and dangerous escalation’; meanwhile, Colombia’s president Gustavo Petro described the onslaught on Gaza as the ‘first experiment to deem all of us disposable’ in a ‘global 1933’ marked by climate catastrophe and capitalist entrenchment. Even quoting these lines probably falls foul of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, which has served as an important instrument in efforts to curtail peaceful international solidarity activism against Israeli apartheid, especially in the guise of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. 

And yet the recognition of an incipient fascism in the latest Netanyahu government and even Israeli society at large seems, if not mainstream, certainly prominent in public discourse in Israel itself, not least in the wake of protests against the recent judicial reforms aimed at eviscerating the vaunted autonomy of Israel’s Supreme Court. Four days before the Hamas attack, the newspaper Ha’aretz published an editorial under the heading ‘Israeli Neo-Fascism Threatens Israelis and Palestinians Alike’. One month earlier 200 Israeli high school students declared their refusal to be conscripted thus: ‘We decided that we cannot, in good faith, serve a bunch of fascist settlers that are in control of the government right now.’ In May, a Ha’aretz editorial opined that the ‘sixth Netanyahu government is beginning to look like a totalitarian caricature. There is almost no move associated with totalitarianism that has not been proposed by one of its extremist members and adopted by the rest of the incompetents it comprises, in their competition to see who can be more fully full fascist,’ while one of its editorialists described an ‘Israeli fascist revolution’ ticking off all items in the checklist, from virulent racism to a contempt for weakness, from a lust for violence to anti-intellectualism. 

These recent polemics and prognoses were anticipated by prominent intellectuals like the renowned historian of the far Right Ze’ev Sternhell, who wrote of ‘growing fascism and a racism akin to early Nazism’ in contemporary Israel, or the journalist and peace activist Uri Avnery, who escaped Nazi Germany at age ten, and who, not long before his death in 2018, declared that 

the discrimination against the Palestinians in practically all spheres of life can be compared to the treatment of the Jews in the first phase of Nazi Germany. (The oppression of the Palestinians in the occupied territories resembles more the treatment of the Czechs in the “protectorate” after the Munich betrayal.) The rain of racist Bills in the Knesset, those already adopted and those in the works, strongly resembles the laws adopted by the Reichstag in the early days of the Nazi regime. Some rabbis call for a boycott of Arab shops. Like then. The call ‘Death to the Arabs’ (‘Judah verrecke’?) is regularly heard at soccer matches.

But the fascism ‘godfathered’ by Netanyahu cannot just be reduced to fundamentalist settlers and their stratagems of dispossession (including the deep tendrils into the state of Smotrich’s settler NGO, Regavim, and its lawfare against Palestinian land and property rights); it is also firmly anchored in the business interests and legislative maneuvers of billionaires who, in Israel as in India or the US, are happy to combine national-conservative mobilisations against decadent metropolitan ‘elites’ with the ruthless defense of profit and privilege. In a recent interview, the Israeli Holocaust historian Daniel Blatman observed

Do you know what the biggest threat is to the continued existence of the State of Israel? It’s not Likud. It’s not even the thugs who run wild in the territories. It’s the Kohelet Policy Forum [a reference to a conservative, right-wing think tank supported by wealthy U.S. donors]. […]  They are creating a broad social and political manifesto which, if adopted eventually by Israel, will turn it into a completely different country. You say “fascism” to people and they picture soldiers cruising the streets. No. It won’t look like that. Capitalism will still be extant. People will still be able to go abroad – if they are allowed into other countries. There will be good restaurants. But a person’s ability to feel that there is something protecting him, other than the regime’s good will – because it either will or not protect him, as it sees fit – will no longer be there. Israeli society was ripe to receive the present government. Not because of Likud’s victory, but because the most extreme wing pulled everyone after it. What was once extreme right is today center. Ideas that were once on the fringes have become legitimate. As a historian whose field is the Holocaust and Nazism, it’s hard for me to say this, but there are neo-Nazi ministers in the government today. You don’t see that anywhere else – not in Hungary, not in Poland – ministers who, ideologically, are pure racists.

Its insights notwithstanding, this passage also painfully demonstrates what liberal Israeli polemics against the rise of fascism bracket. Namely, Palestinians. Soldiers do cruise the streets in Israel and occupied Palestine. Millions of people ruled by Israel cannot go abroad. Or indeed return home. The ‘pure’ racism voiced without compunction by the likes of Smotrich and Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir is a product of the racism that structures and reproduces colonial domination, for bad faith liberals as much as for giddy fascists. 

https://www.versobooks.com/en-gb/blogs/news/the-war-on-gaza-and-israel-s-fascism-debate

Continue ReadingThe War on Gaza and Israel’s Fascism Debate

Amnesty Says Cutting Off Aid to UNRWA While Arming Israel Is ‘Stark’ Hypocrisy

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Original article by JAKE JOHNSON republished from Common Dreams under under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a press conference in Washington, D.C. on January 29, 2024.  (Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

“Some of the very governments that announced they will cut off funds to UNRWA over these allegations have, in the meantime, continued to arm Israeli forces despite overwhelming evidence that these arms are used to commit war crimes.”

Amnesty International on Monday joined the growing global chorus denouncing Israel’s allies for suspending aid to the United Nations’ Palestinian refugee agency even as they continue to support the Israeli military’s war on the Gaza Strip, risking complicity in genocide.

Agnès Callamard, Amnesty’s secretary-general and the former U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, said that while Israel’s claim that a dozen staffers at the refugee agency played a role Hamas’ October 7 attack is “serious and must be independently investigated,” the “alleged actions of a few individuals must not be used as a pretext for cutting off lifesaving assistance in what could amount to collective punishment.”

“Some of the very governments that announced they will cut off funds to UNRWA over these allegations have, in the meantime, continued to arm Israeli forces despite overwhelming evidence that these arms are used to commit war crimes and serious human rights violations,” said Callamard. “Rushing to freeze funds for humanitarian aid, based on allegations that are still being investigated, while refusing to even consider suspending support for the Israeli military is a stark example of double standards.”

“Instead of suspending vital funding to those in need,” Callamard added, “states should be working to halt arms transfers to Israel and Palestinian armed groups and pushing for an immediate and sustained cease-fire and full humanitarian access to help alleviate devastating suffering.”

“The humanitarian crisis has reached catastrophic levels, and any additional limitations on aid will result in more deaths and suffering.”

The United States announced last week that it would temporarily cut off UNRWA funding as it reviews Israel’s allegations against the low-level agency employees—a decision that came just hours after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that Israel must ensure the provision of humanitarian aid to Gazans, tens of thousands of whom have been killed or wounded by Israeli bombs and shells in less than four months.

Francesca Albanese, the U.N. special rapporteur for the occupied Palestinian territories, said that “defunding UNRWA at this critical time overtly defies” the ICJ’s ruling.

Médecins Sans Frontières, also known as Doctors Without Borders, similarly warned Monday that “the consequences these cuts in funding will have on the ground contradict the provisional measures issued by the International Court of Justice.”

“The humanitarian crisis has reached catastrophic levels,” the group added, “and any additional limitations on aid will result in more deaths and suffering.”

Just over a week before the Biden administration decided to suspend its UNRWA contributions, a spokesperson for the U.S. State Department described the agency’s work as “invaluable” and “lifesaving.”

On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken acknowledged that the UNRWA “has played and continues to play an absolutely indispensable role in trying to make sure that men, women, and children who so desperately need assistance in Gaza actually get it.”

“And no one else can play the role that UNRWA’s been playing, certainly not in the near term,” he added. “So that only underscores the importance of UNRWA tackling this as quickly, as effectively, and as thoroughly as possible, and that’s what we’re looking for.”

At least a dozen countries—including the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands—have joined the U.S. in suspending aid to the UNRWA, the most critical humanitarian aid organization in the famine-stricken Gaza Strip.

The moves have put the UNRWA’s operations in jeopardy, with the U.N. chief warning that the agency’s current funding levels won’t be enough to meet all of its requirements in February. The agency has no strategic financial reserves.

Amnesty said the countries that have suspended aid to the UNRWA thus far provided more than half of the agency’s budget in 2022.

Several major nations, including Norway and Spain, have refused to join the U.S.-led freeze of aid to the UNRWA, which the Israeli government has been targeting for years and is hoping to push out of Gaza entirely. The UNRWA quickly fired nine of the 12 workers that Israel accused of taking part in the October 7 attack and has launched an investigation.

On Monday, Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares said his country will not suspend UNRWA funding, which he said helps “alleviate the terrible humanitarian situation in Gaza.”

Albares also pledged to continue pushing for an end to Israel’s assault on Gaza, the release of hostages, and a lasting diplomatic solution.

“We will not resign ourselves to watching more innocent women, men, and children killed in Gaza and more suffering of Palestinian families,” he said. “We will not resign ourselves to keep watching the suffering of the families of hostages. The violence must stop.”

Original article by JAKE JOHNSON republished from Common Dreams under under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

Continue ReadingAmnesty Says Cutting Off Aid to UNRWA While Arming Israel Is ‘Stark’ Hypocrisy

Rule-of-Law Western Style’: Israeli Assassination Squad Kills Three in Jenin Hospital

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Original article by JAKE JOHNSON republished from Common Dreams under under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

Security footage shows Israeli forces disguised as civilians and medical staff during a raid on Ibn Sina hospital in Jenin, a city in the occupied West Bank, on January 30, 2023.  (Photo: Screengrab via CNN)

Ibn Sina hospital’s medical director said the Palestinian men were “executed in cold blood.”

A team of Israeli forces disguised as civilians and medical staff raided Ibn Sina hospital in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday and assassinated three Palestinians, claiming without providing evidence that they were using the facility as a hideout and planning an attack inspired by the Hamas-led October 7 assault.

Journalists on the ground report that there was no apparent attempt to arrest the three individuals, whom the Israeli military identified as Mohammed Jalamneh, Mohammed Ghazawi, and his brother Basel Ghazawi. Ibn Sina’s medical director said the three men were “executed in cold blood.”

Al Jazeera reported that “Hamas confirmed that Jalamneh was one of its members.”

“The Jenin Brigade, which includes a number of Palestinian armed resistance groups, said in a statement that two of the three men were members of Islamic Jihad,” the outlet added.

A hospital spokesperson told The Associated Press that 18-year-old Basel Ghazawi “had been a patient in the hospital since October with partial paralysis.”

Security footage from the hospital shows Israeli forces dressed as civilian women and medical workers moving through a facility hallway and waiting area with assault rifles drawn.

Citing Palestinian officials, AP reported that the Israeli forces “opened fire inside the wards” of the hospital, located in the West Bank city of Jenin.

Palestinian health officials “condemned the raid and called on the international community to pressure Israel’s military to halt such operations in hospitals,” AP added. “A hospital spokesperson said there was no exchange of fire, indicating that it was a targeted killing.”

Hospitals have special protections under international law, but Israel has treated them as legitimate targets for military operations since October 7, endangering wounded patients and medical personnel by raiding and shelling the facilities at will.

Yanis Varoufakis, the former Greek finance minister and co-founder of the Democracy in Europe Movement 2025, sardonically described the Israeli forces’ Jenin hospital raid as “rule-of-law Western style” and rejected the notion that “you can kill anyone you like on a land that you are illegally occupying, brand him/her terrorist, and then vilify as antisemites the ancestors of everyone who questions your right to kill anyone you like on a land that you are illegally occupying.”

Al Jazeera‘s Charles Stratford, reporting from Ramallah, said Tuesday that “the Israeli army often surrounds and in some instances has attacked the three Palestinian hospitals in Jenin during nightly raids on the city.”

“But this is the first time they have entered a civilian medical facility in what seems to have been a well-planned, targeted assassination operation that Palestinian authorities are calling another violation of international law,” said Stratford.

Original article by JAKE JOHNSON republished from Common Dreams under under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

Continue ReadingRule-of-Law Western Style’: Israeli Assassination Squad Kills Three in Jenin Hospital

Government has blown pretence of climate leadership with ‘max out’ fossil fuels pledge say Greens

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The Climate Change Committee (CCC) has accused the UK government of giving ‘mixed messages’ at the COP28 climate summit held in Dubai in December.

The CCC said: “The international perception of the UK’s climate ambition suffered from mixed messages following announcements on new fossil fuel developments and the prime minister’s speech to soften some net zero policies. The committee urges a continued visible presence at future Cops and even greater domestic climate ambition to reinforce the UK’s international standing.”

Image of the Green Party's Carla Denyer on BBC Question Time.
Image of the Green Party’s Carla Denyer on BBC Question Time.

Responding, co-leader of the Green Party, Carla Denyer, said:

“Through its drive to ‘max out’ on North Sea fossil fuels, the UK government has blown any pretence of global leadership on tackling the climate crisis. Ministers have been forced into admitting that their energy security defence of the Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill was nonsense because oil and gas corporations sell to the highest bidder on the open market.

“So at odds with the government’s target of reducing emissions is this dangerous Bill that it has led to the resignation of Chris Skidmore who chaired the government’s Net Zero Review.  

“We need to call time on all new licences for fossil fuel exploration, accelerate the move towards renewable energy and implement a large scale home insulation programme. That is how the UK can show climate leadership.”

Rishi Sunak offers huge fossil fuel subsidies to develop fossil fuel extraction in UK.
Rishi Sunak offers huge fossil fuel subsidies to develop fossil fuel extraction in UK.
Continue ReadingGovernment has blown pretence of climate leadership with ‘max out’ fossil fuels pledge say Greens

‘Relentless Hate’: Late 2023 Saw Surge in Anti-Muslim Crimes, Discrimination

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Original article by JESSICA CORBETT republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

A young boy watches as people pray during a funeral service for 6-year-old Palestinian American Wadea Al-Fayoumi at the Mosque Foundation on October 16, 2023 in Bridgeview, Illinois.  (Photo: Joshua Lott/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

“The way to stop the hate is to end the apartheid, occupation, and genocide occurring in Palestine,” said one CAIR leader.

Nearly four months into Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip, the largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy group in the United States on Monday highlighted that the U.S. saw a dramatic rise in Islamophobic hate during the final three months of 2023.

In line with data released last month, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) revealed that it received 3,578 complaints from October through December—a 178% jump from a similar three-month period the previous year.

The highest reported categories last quarter were employment discrimination (19%), hate crimes and incidents (13%), and education discrimination (13%), according to CAIR, which plans to release a full analysis and dataset in the months ahead.

Victims of high-profile incidents have included six-year-old Wadea Al-Fayoume, who was stabbed to death in Illinois; three university students shot and wounded in Vermont; and a New York City food cart vendor harassed by a former U.S. State Department official.

“Despite this disturbing wave of bias targeting the Muslim, Arab American, and Palestinian communities, we are witnessing an impressive resilience in the face of bigotry.”

“Despite this disturbing wave of bias targeting the Muslim, Arab American, and Palestinian communities, we are witnessing an impressive resilience in the face of bigotry,” said CAIR national executive director Nihad Awad in a statement.

CAIR’s Monday release comes as the death toll in Gaza has topped 26,600 people—including at least 11,500 children—with over 65,300 others injured and thousands more missing. The vast majority of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents are displaced and hungry.

Despite the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Friday ordering Israel to “take all measures within its power” to prevent genocide in Gaza, the U.S.-backed Israeli assault on the besieged enclave continues, and fears of a wider regional war keep mounting.

The ICJ’s initial ruling last week also emboldened supporters of a cease-fire, who have repeatedly taken to the streets around the world since Israel launched its current military campaign against Gaza in retaliation for a Hamas-led attack on October 7.

“In the face of relentless hate and bogus smears, American Muslims, Arabs, and a broad coalition of Jewish, Christian, African American, Asian Americans, and others continue calling for justice for Palestine,” CAIR research and advocacy director Corey Saylor said Monday. “This coalition knows the way to stop the hate is to end the apartheid, occupation, and genocide occurring in Palestine.”

As Common Dreams reported earlier this month, since Israel declared war, there has also been a significant rise in antisemitism in the United States and worldwide—though reliable figures have been hard to come by, as some individuals and groups conflate protests against the war or criticism of the right-wing Israeli government with hostility toward Jews.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said in the early weeks of the war that the Department of Justice was monitoring the increase in threats against Jewish, Muslim, and Arab communities nationwide and the Department of Homeland Security last month released resources to help houses of worship and faith-based groups enhance their security.

However, the United States also gives Israel $3.8 billion in annual military aid, and since October 7, U.S. President Joe Biden has sought a new $14.3 billion package while also bypassing Congress to arm Israeli forces—degrading many Arab and Muslim Americans’ trust in the Democrat, who is seeking reelection in November.

As a federal court on Friday held a hearing for a case accusing Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin of complicity in genocide, some local leaders in Michigan—a key swing state with the nation’s biggest Arab American populationrefused to meet with a delegation from the president’s campaign.

Dawud Walid, the executive director of CAIR’s Michigan chapter, told CNN on Saturday: “There is no possibility of repair while he is supporting an act of genocide. So, there is no reason to have communication.”

Original article by JESSICA CORBETT republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

dizzy: I’ve been considering Islamaphobia recently. The term doesn’t do it justice – it’s more of a relentless hatred as the title of this article suggests than a fear or similar. It appears to be a form of Neo-Fascism with Muslims as the scapegoat with the classic German Fascist concept of untermensch applied to them.

Opposition to or criticism of Zionism is not anti-semitism of course, they are obviously and clearly distinct. The Zionist UK Labour Party claims that they are equal.

Continue Reading‘Relentless Hate’: Late 2023 Saw Surge in Anti-Muslim Crimes, Discrimination

20+ NGOs Condemn ‘Reckless’ Decision to Cut Off UNRWA Aid

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Original article by BRETT WILKINS republished from Common Dreams under under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

United Nations workers and volunteers unload aid from a truck at a school housing displaced Palestinians on the 29th day of fighting between Israel and the armed Palestinian factions in Khan Yunis on November 8, 2023.  (Photo: Ahmed Zakot/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

“Countries must reverse these funding suspensions, uphold their duties towards the Palestinian people, and scale up humanitarian assistance for civilians in dire need in Gaza and the region.”

More than 20 humanitarian aid organizations on Monday condemned the decision by the United States and a growing list of nations to suspend funding for the United Nations agency that provides vital services to Palestinians suffering through a genocidal Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip.

Following Israeli claims—reportedly extracted from Palestinian prisoners in an interrogation regime rife with torture and abuse—that 12 of the more than 13,000 United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) workers in Gaza were involved in the October 7 Hamas-led attacks on southern Israel, the United States and nine other nations cut off funding to the largest humanitarian aid organization operating in the besieged coastal enclave.

UNRWA has fired several employees in the wake of the Israeli allegations, while the U.N. Office of Internal Oversight Services, the world body’s highest investigative authority, has launched a probe of the matter.

“We welcome UNRWA’s swift investigation into the alleged involvement of a small number of U.N. staff members in the October 7 attacks. We are shocked by the reckless decision to cut a lifeline for an entire population by some of the very countries that had called for aid in Gaza to be stepped up and for humanitarians to be protected while doing their job,” the 21 NGOs said in a statement.

“This decision comes as the International Court of Justice ordered immediate and effective action to ensure the provision of humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza,” the groups continued, referring to last week’s ICJ interim ruling in a South African-led case that found Israel is “plausibly” perpetrating genocide. “The countries suspending funds risk further depriving Palestinians in the region of essential food, water, medical assistance and supplies, education, and protection.”

“We urge donor states to reaffirm support for the vital work that UNRWA and its partners do to help Palestinians survive one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes of our times,” the statement added. “Countries must reverse these funding suspensions, uphold their duties towards the Palestinian people, and scale up humanitarian assistance for civilians in dire need in Gaza and the region.”

According to UNRWA chief Phillipe Lazzarini, more than 2 million of Gaza’s 2.3 million people depend upon UNRWA for their “sheer survival.” With more than 90% of Gazans displaced by Israel’s bombardment and invasion, over 1 million Palestinians are living in UNRWA-run shelters. As Gaza teeters on the brink of famine and hundreds of thousands of its residents suffer infectious diseases, the agency is providing critical food, medicine, and healthcare. It also runs hundreds of schools in the strip.

All this while working under relentless Israeli bombardment that’s sometimes targeted UNRWA convoys, schools, shelters, and other facilities. The agency says at least 152 of its employees have been killed by Israeli bombs and bullets since October 7. Overall, more than 26,600 Palestinians have been killed and over 65,300 others wounded during Israel’s 115-day onslaught, according to Gaza officials. Most of these casualties have been women and children.

“We urge donor states to reaffirm support for the vital work that UNRWA and its partners do to help Palestinians survive one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes of our times.”

This isn’t the first time the U.S. has suspended funding for UNRWA. The Trump administration did so in 2018, describing the agency as “irredeemably flawed.” In 2021, U.S. President Joe Biden restored funding for UNRWA as it reeled from a crisis caused largely by the loss of around $360 million in American financial contributions.

U.S. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) on Monday urged the Biden administration to “immediately” restore UNRWA funding, which came a day after U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said that while the alleged complicity of a few UNRWA employees in the October 7 attacks “must have consequences,” the “tens of thousands of men and women who work for UNRWA, many in some of the most dangerous situations for humanitarian workers, should not be penalized.”

“The dire needs of the desperate populations they serve must be met,” he added.

Helen Clark, a member of the Elders and a former prime minister of New Zealand, on Monday praised countries—including New Zealand, Norway, Spain, and Ireland—that “have shown a better approach” by continuing to financially support UNRWA.

“Gazans cannot suffer further collective punishment through suspension of UNRWA funding,” Clark said on social media.

Norway’s Representative Office to Palestine affirmed on social media that “the situation in Gaza is catastrophic, and UNRWA is the most important humanitarian organization there.”

“Norway continues our support for the Palestinian people through UNRWA,” the office added. “International support for Palestine is needed now more than ever.”

Original article by BRETT WILKINS republished from Common Dreams under under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

Continue Reading20+ NGOs Condemn ‘Reckless’ Decision to Cut Off UNRWA Aid

Morning Star: US troops would not be targets if they left a region where they are not welcome

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https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/editorial-us-troops-would-not-be-targets-if-they-left-region-where-they-are-not-welcome

President Joe Biden speaks at South Carolina’s First in the Nation dinner at the South Carolina State Fairgrounds in Columbia, S.C., January 27, 2024

THE killing of three US soldiers along the Jordan-Syria border is inseparable from the war in Gaza.

It risks a spiralling Middle East war, a risk heightened by the reflex blaming of Iran and the clamour for revenge driven by hawkish US politicians in an election year.

Attacks on US forces will always be presented in mass media as unprovoked. British politicians too will depict them as acts of illegal terrorism which need to be punished to shore up the “international rules-based order.”

We should therefore be clear: US troops would not be under attack in the Middle East if they were not stationed in the Middle East, often against the wishes of the host countries.

Stationing your troops in a country against its wishes is not upholding an “international rules-based order” — it is an act of contempt for international law.

https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/editorial-us-troops-would-not-be-targets-if-they-left-region-where-they-are-not-welcome

Continue ReadingMorning Star: US troops would not be targets if they left a region where they are not welcome

US Hawks Demand War With Iran After Attack on American Troops in Jordan

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Original article by Jake Johnson republished form Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) walks through the Senate subway after a vote in the U.S. Capitol on January 9, 2024.  (Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images)

“After years of working to block and undermine diplomatic alternatives, these people may be closer than ever to realizing their dream of war with Iran.”

Warhawks in the United States wasted no time agitating for direct military conflict with Iran after a drone attack on a military base just inside Jordan’s border with Syria on Sunday killed three American troops and injured dozens more.

Both Republican and Democratic members of Congress called on U.S. President Joe Biden to quickly respond with strikes inside Iran, which denied any connection to Sunday’s attack.

“The only answer to these attacks must be devastating military retaliation against Iran’s terrorist forces, both in Iran and across the Middle East,” said Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), a longtime supporter of war with Iran. “Anything less will confirm Joe Biden as a coward unworthy of being commander-in-chief.”

Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.) called Iran “an existential threat to the U.S. and our allies in the region” and said Tehran “must be held accountable for the murder of three U.S. soldiers.”

That sentiment was echoed by a number of lawmakers, including Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) and Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

United Against Nuclear Iran, a group chaired by former Sen. Joseph Lieberman, also demanded “a decisive U.S. military response against targets inside Iran.”

“The U.S. should attack and destroy Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) military and intelligence targets in Iran, as well as missile and drone bases where the Iranian regime’s proxies are trained,” the group said.

“Those who have consistently counseled only violence to address the crisis unleashed on October 7 should be ashamed of the disastrous outcomes they have so far reaped.”

Biden claimed in a statement Sunday that “radical Iran-backed militant groups operating in Syria and Iraq” were responsible for Sunday’s drone attack, but acknowledged that the U.S. is “still gathering the facts.”

“Have no doubt—we will hold all those responsible to account at a time and in a manner [of] our choosing,” the president said.

U.S. forces stationed in the Middle East have faced increasingly frequent attacks since Israel launched its large-scale war on the Gaza Strip following the deadly Hamas-led assault on southern Israel on October 7. Sunday marked the first time since October that American troops have been killed in a Middle East attack.

The Biden administration has blamed the attacks on Iran-aligned militias and responded with airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, intensifying concerns that the U.S. is fueling a regionwide conflict. The administration has also launched a series of unauthorized strikes in Yemen in response to Houthi attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea.

Despite the above, the Pentagon continues to insist that the U.S. is “not at war in the Middle East.”

Contrary to the growing calls for a military response to attacks on U.S. troops, analysts and progressive lawmakers have argued that the only way to halt the escalating violence in the region is to secure a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, where Israeli forces armed by the U.S. have killed more than 26,000 people in less than four months. The Biden administration has repeatedly stonewalled international efforts to secure a cease-fire.

“I am heartbroken by the loss of the servicemembers killed in Jordan,” Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), a U.S. Senate candidate, wrote in a social media post on Sunday. “Like I feared, the violence is spiraling out of control. President Biden must demand a cease-fire in Gaza now.”

Jamal Abdi, president of the National Iranian American Council, warned in a statement Sunday that “the U.S. and Iran are now closer to the brink of being pulled into a full-blown regional war by the vortex of violence that was unleashed by Hamas’ attack on Israel on October 7th and Israel’s assault on Gaza.”

“Those who have consistently counseled only violence to address the crisis unleashed on October 7 should be ashamed of the disastrous outcomes they have so far reaped,” said Abdi. “We are disgusted by calls for more escalation from opportunists like Senators Lindsey Graham, Tom Cotton, and John Cornyn who are urging yet again for the U.S. to directly attack Iran. After years of working to block and undermine diplomatic alternatives, these people may be closer than ever to realizing their dream of war with Iran.”

“President Biden must show leadership and recognize that there is no military solution to this crisis that has only been expanded and prolonged by military escalation and a dearth of diplomacy,” he continued. “The president must calibrate his response so as not to condemn the U.S. and region to an intractable war and instead work to end this conflict. The most impactful thing Biden can do to prevent further deaths across the region and prevent a full-blown war is to secure an immediate cease-fire between Israel and Palestine.”

Trita Parsi, executive vice president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, similarly argued that “to truly protect our troops and avoid both war and more needless American deaths, Biden should begin withdrawing troops from Iraq and Syria and press Israel for a cease-fire, since its slaughter in Gaza is fueling four fronts that put the U.S. at risk.”

“There will be understandable calls for revenge and counterstrikes,” Parsi said. “Biden will almost certainly go down that path. Know that this is how America gets dragged into endless war. Retaliations, which in the moment may feel justified by the unacceptable attacks of these militias, put us on a path toward a war that doesn’t serve our interests and that we cannot afford—one whose victory we cannot define and whose exit we cannot envision.”

Original article by Jake Johnson republished form Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

Continue ReadingUS Hawks Demand War With Iran After Attack on American Troops in Jordan

Tory MPs jet off to Israel on lobby-funded ‘solidarity trips’ during Gaza bloodshed

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https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/tory-mps-jet-off-to-israel-lobby-funded-solidarity-trips-during-gaza-bloodshed

Israeli soldiers overlook the Gaza Strip from a tank, as seen from southern Israel, January 19, 2024

NINE Tory MPs have jetted off on “solidarity trips” to Israel since the country began its war on Gaza in October, Declassified UK revealed today.

The MPs received £19,857 in donations from Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) and the European Leadership Network (Elnet), according to the investigative site.

MPs eagerly accepted Israel’s handouts, using the donations to fund “solidarity visits” — while Gaza’s death toll soars past 26,000.

Six other visits, paid for by the CFI, were made by MPs Stephen Crabb, Michael Ellis, Nicola Richards, Greg Smith, Theresa Villiers and former immigration minister Robert Jenrick.

The group was hosted by Israeli president Isaac Herzog — the man who said that the “entire nation” of Gaza was responsible for Hamas’s attack on Israel. His statement was cited by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as plausible evidence of incitement to genocide.

Mike Cushman from Jewish Voice for Labour said the main purpose of the trips was to “try to bolster support for Israeli genocide.”

https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/tory-mps-jet-off-to-israel-lobby-funded-solidarity-trips-during-gaza-bloodshed

Continue ReadingTory MPs jet off to Israel on lobby-funded ‘solidarity trips’ during Gaza bloodshed