Tell the Truth About Israel’s Crimes Against Humanity

By Sonali Kolhatkar

Israeli forces killed more than a hundred Palestinians and wounded more than 700 on February 29, 2024 during a distribution of food aid in Gaza city, pushing the Palestinian death toll to 30,000 since October 7, 2023. The food aid massacre was straightforward in its deadliness as armed Israeli forces aimed weapons at desperate, hungry Palestinian civilians and killed many of them. It was also plausible within the context of who has firepower and who doesn’t, and wholly consistent with Israeli atrocities, especially those committed since October 7, 2023.

And yet, Western media headlines went out of their way to obscure and protect the perpetrators of this awful crime. CNN reported there was a “Carnage at Gaza food aid site amid Israeli gunfire,” as if the victims had little to do with the gunfire. The outlet didn’t even bother to mention Palestinians.

The Washington Post was worse, declaring that, “Chaotic aid delivery turns deadly as Israeli, Gazan officials trade blame.” The use of the word “chaotic” suggests things were out of everyone’s control. And, either Israeli or Gazan authorities could be to blame.

The New York Times took a poetic approach, listing a series of events seemingly unconnected, with its headline, “As Hungry Gazans Crowd a Convoy, a Crush of Bodies, Israeli Gunshots and a Deadly Toll.” If sentences had shoulders, this one practically shrugged in helpless ignorance at the curious mystery behind the massacre.

Some news outlets left Israelis and Palestinians out of the headline altogether to seemingly avoid placing blame. Reuters reported, “More than 100 killed while seeking aid in Gaza, overall death toll passes 30,000,” and the supposedly liberal NBC News claimed, “Dozens killed in attack on crowd waiting for aid, Gaza health officials say.” Even PBS couldn’t bring itself to identify the perpetrators or victims with its headline, “More than 100 killed in Gaza while trying to get food from aid convoy.”

The use of the passive voice, of language designed to obscure and give the perpetrator the benefit of the doubt, is a popular trick employed by major news outlets when reporting on Israeli atrocities. When contrasted with how the media reported Hamas’ attack on Israelis in early October 2023 by using the active voice and clearly naming perpetrator and victim, it becomes even more embarrassingly apparent that Western corporate media have a powerful political allegiance to Israel in spite of claims of objectivity.

Take the New York Times as an example. In three reports on three separate days about the same October 7, 2023 incident, the paper’s editors showed that they do indeed know how to write simple and straightforward headlines. “‘We Are at War,’ Netanyahu Says After Hamas Attacks Israel,”(October 7th), “How the Hamas Attack on Israel Unfolded,” (October 8th), and “Hamas Leaves Trail of Terror in Israel,” (October 10th). There is use of the active voice and clear identification of perpetrator and victim.

There is a strong parallel between news coverage of Palestinian victims of Israel and Black and Brown victims of racism, white vigilantism, and policing in the U.S. In my 2023 book, Rising Up: The Power of Narrative in Pursuing Racial Justice, I analyzed the dominant narratives that media outlets perpetuate when covering race and racism. A failure to center the humanity of people of color has been a standard weakness in U.S. media coverage. The Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Wesley Lowery, in a scathing op-ed in the New York Times in July 2020 pointed out that, “the mainstream has allowed what it considers objective truth to be decided almost exclusively by white reporters and their mostly white bosses.”

It’s not surprising that white supremacy, which continues to infect newsrooms, finds common cause with pro-Israel bias. The state of Israel is built on ethnic and religious hierarchy. The added weight of the U.S. government’s long-term political favoritism toward Israel means that we have been in a proxy war against Palestinians. And so, U.S. newsrooms are loathe to identify Israel as an overt perpetrator of death, destruction, and genocide.

The media watchdog group, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), has for years pointed out the media’s double standards on Israelis and Palestinians. Writing in early February, Julia Hollar analyzed the New York Times’s and Washington Post’s coverage of Israel’s war on Gaza, showing exactly how pro-Israel both papers are and how both “leaned heavily toward a conversation dominated by Israeli interests and concerns.”

While the recent Israeli massacre of Palestinians at the food aid distribution is merely one example of how news outlets skew their coverage, research shows that this is indicative of a broad trend. Studies of news media bias, including large-scale surveys conducted using artificial intelligence, point to a persistent anti-Palestinian strain across major outlets. In that sense, not only is the U.S. in a proxy war against Palestinians, but is an active participant in perpetuating genocidal propaganda.

Thankfully the U.S. public is not having it. Hollar wrote in FAIR, “Clear calls for an unconditional ceasefire, while widespread in the real world, were vanishingly rare at the papers.” It is striking that in spite of this clear attempt at skewing the debate, Americans are largely in favor of a ceasefire. Data for Progress’s latest poll found “Around two-thirds of voters (67 percent)—including majorities of Democrats (77 percent), Independents (69 percent), and Republicans (56 percent)—support the U.S. calling for a permanent ceasefire and a de-escalation of violence in Gaza.” The news media are shaped by, and shape public opinion. In the case of Israel’s war on Gaza, media outlets appear to be starkly out of step with the American public.

Lowery wrote in his 2020 op-ed that in order for newsrooms to rise above dehumanizing bias, “it will take moral clarity, which will require both editors and reporters to stop doing things like reflexively hiding behind euphemisms that obfuscate the truth, simply because we’ve always done it that way.”

Just as changing demographics in the nation and its newsrooms have initiated a reckoning in how media outlets cover racial justice, there is a slow sea-change transpiring in media coverage of Palestinians. In December 2023, more than a thousand U.S. journalists signed on to an open letter calling for “moral clarity,” urging their colleagues “to tell the full truth without fear or favor,” and to “use precise terms that are well-defined by international human rights organizations, including ‘apartheid,’ ‘ethnic cleansing,’ and ‘genocide.’”

Obscuring the criminality of elites and giving cover to genocide requires effort and a commitment to the power of elites. How much easier would it be to call a spade a spade and simply tell the truth?


Sonali Kolhatkar is an award-winning multimedia journalist. She is the founder, host, and executive producer of “Rising Up With Sonali,” a weekly television and radio show that airs on Free Speech TV and Pacifica stations. Her most recent book is Rising Up: The Power of Narrative in Pursuing Racial Justice (City Lights Books, 2023). She is a writing fellow for the Economy for All project at the Independent Media Institute and the racial justice and civil liberties editor at Yes! Magazine. She serves as the co-director of the nonprofit solidarity organization the Afghan Women’s Mission and is a co-author of Bleeding Afghanistan. She also sits on the board of directors of Justice Action Center, an immigrant rights organization. This article was produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute.


The world being what it is, it’s hardly surprising that people gather every Sunday in Market Square to register their opposition to injustice. These days, considering the U.S.-supported genocide being conducted against Palestinians, the Sunday protest, while necessary, is insufficient. On Saturday, March 2nd, local Palestinians and supporters joined a global effort to say “Hands Off Rafah—Ceasefire Now—Stop the Genocide.”


Even “Mild” COVID-19 Can Lower IQ and Age Brains Seven Years

by Ziyad Al-Aly

From the very early days of the pandemic, brain fog emerged as a significant health condition that many experience after COVID-19.

Brain fog is a colloquial term that describes a state of mental sluggishness or lack of clarity and haziness that makes it difficult to concentrate, remember things and think clearly.

Fast-forward four years and there is now abundant evidence that being infected with SARS-CoV-2—the virus that causes COVID-19—can affect brain health in many ways.

In addition to brain fog, COVID-19 can lead to an array of problems, including headaches, seizure disorders, strokes, sleep problems, and tingling and paralysis of the nerves, as well as several mental health disorders.

A large and growing body of evidence amassed throughout the pandemic details the many ways that COVID-19 leaves an indelible mark on the brain. But the specific pathways by which the virus does so are still being elucidated, and curative treatments are nonexistent.

Now, two new studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine shed further light on the profound toll of COVID-19 on cognitive health.

I am a physician scientist, and I have been devoted to studying long COVID since early patient reports about this condition—even before the term “long COVID” was coined. I have testified before the U.S. Senate as an expert witness on long COVID and have published extensively on this topic.

How COVID-19

leaves its mark on the brain

Here are some of the most important studies to date documenting how COVID-19 affects brain health:

• Large epidemiological analyses showed that people who had COVID-19 were at an increased risk of cognitive deficits, such as memory problems.

• Imaging studies done in people before and after their COVID-19 infections show shrinkage of brain volume and altered brain structure after infection.

• A study of people with mild to moderate COVID-19 showed significant prolonged inflammation of the brain and changes that are commensurate with seven years of brain aging.

• Severe COVID-19 that requires hospitalization or intensive care may result in cognitive deficits and other brain damage that are equivalent to 20 years of aging.

• Laboratory experiments in human and mouse brain organoids designed to emulate changes in the human brain showed that SARS-CoV-2 infection triggers the fusion of brain cells. This effectively short-circuits brain electrical activity and compromises function.

• Autopsy studies of people who had severe COVID-19 but died months later from other causes showed that the virus was still present in brain tissue. This provides evidence that contrary to its name, SARS-CoV-2 is not only a respiratory virus, but it can also enter the brain in some individuals. But whether the persistence of the virus in brain tissue is driving some of the brain problems seen in people who have had COVID-19 is not yet clear.

• Studies show that even when the virus is mild and exclusively confined to the lungs, it can still provoke inflammation in the brain and impair brain cells’ ability to regenerate.

• COVID-19 can also disrupt the blood brain barrier, the shield that protects the nervous system—which is the control and command center of our bodies—making it “leaky.” Studies using imaging to assess the brains of people hospitalized with COVID-19 showed disrupted or leaky blood brain barriers in those who experienced brain fog.

• A large preliminary analysis pooling together data from 11 studies encompassing almost 1 million people with COVID-19 and more than 6 million uninfected individuals showed that COVID-19 increased the risk of development of new-onset dementia in people older than 60 years of age.

Autopsies have revealed devastating damage in the brains of people who died with COVID-19.

Drops in IQ

Most recently, a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine assessed cognitive abilities such as memory, planning and spatial reasoning in nearly 113,000 people who had previously had COVID-19. The researchers found that those who had been infected had significant deficits in memory and executive task performance.

This decline was evident among those infected in the early phase of the pandemic and those infected when the delta and omicron variants were dominant. These findings show that the risk of cognitive decline did not abate as the pandemic virus evolved from the ancestral strain to omicron.

In the same study, those who had mild and resolved COVID-19 showed cognitive decline equivalent to a three-point loss of IQ. In comparison, those with unresolved persistent symptoms, such as people with persistent shortness of breath or fatigue, had a six-point loss in IQ. Those who had been admitted to the intensive care unit for COVID-19 had a nine-point loss in IQ. Reinfection with the virus contributed an additional two-point loss in IQ, as compared with no reinfection.

Generally the average IQ is about 100. An IQ above 130 indicates a highly gifted individual, while an IQ below 70 generally indicates a level of intellectual disability that may require significant societal support.

To put the finding of the New England Journal of Medicine study into perspective, I estimate that a three-point downward shift in IQ would increase the number of U.S. adults with an IQ less than 70 from 4.7 million to 7.5 million—an increase of 2.8 million adults with a level of cognitive impairment that requires significant societal support.

Another study in the same issue of the New England Journal of Medicine involved more than 100,000 Norwegians between March 2020 and April 2023. It documented worse memory function at several time points up to 36 months following a positive SARS-CoV-2 test.

Parsing the implications

Taken together, these studies show that COVID-19 poses a serious risk to brain health, even in mild cases, and the effects are now being revealed at the population level.

A recent analysis of the U.S. Current Population Survey showed that after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, an additional 1 million working-age Americans reported having “serious difficulty” remembering, concentrating or making decisions than at any time in the preceding 15 years. Most disconcertingly, this was mostly driven by younger adults between the ages of 18 to 44.

Data from the European Union shows a similar trend—in 2022, 15% of people in the EU reported memory and concentration issues.

Looking ahead, it will be critical to identify who is most at risk. A better understanding is also needed of how these trends might affect the educational attainment of children and young adults and the economic productivity of working-age adults. And the extent to which these shifts will influence the epidemiology of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is also not clear.

The growing body of research now confirms that COVID-19 should be considered a virus with a significant impact on the brain. The implications are far-reaching, from individuals experiencing cognitive struggles to the potential impact on populations and the economy.

Lifting the fog on the true causes behind these cognitive impairments, including brain fog, will require years if not decades of concerted efforts by researchers across the globe. And unfortunately, nearly everyone is a test case in this unprecedented global undertaking.

Ziyad Al-Aly is Chief of R&D at the VA Health Care System and Clinical Epidemiologist at Washington University in St. Louis.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


Though it was only the second day of March, last Saturday was warm enough for a bagpiper to roll up his sleeves and put passersby in the proper frame of mind for St. Patrick’s day—just a week from this Sunday.


Portsmouth Democratic Roundtable March 12, 2024

After two years of hibernation, the monthly Portsmouth Democratic Roundtable resumes on 2nd Tuesday of each month, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at a local restaurant in Portsmouth. The next Roundtable will be on March 12th. Call or contact Peter Somssich for the location. The Roundtable is an opportunity to socialize with Democrats and other friends without any agenda or rigid structure. It is an opportunity for new residents of Portsmouth to meet those involved in the Portsmouth Democrats and learn of opportunities to get involved, suggest new ideas, or be supportive of planned initiatives. Contact Peter Somssich at (603) 436-5382 (No texts, please.) or

RiverRun Book of the Fortnight

It finally dawned on us that we could ask Tom Holbrook, of RiverRun Bookstore on Daniel Street, to regularly recommend a book for our readers. Ever accomodating, he agreed. Let’s begin:

I Have Some Questions for You, by Rebecca Makkai. New in paperback, this clever novel, set at a New Hampshire boarding school, deals with memory, cancel culture, and our broken justice system.

RiverRun has been a great help to us since back in its Commercial Alley days. Our volunteers pick up papers there, and deliver them to scores of locations around town, and places more far-flung. We can never repay Tom and the gang at RiverRun for their kindness over the decades—but you, dear reader, can. Just visit, and sign up for a monthly membership. You’ll be supporting a great bookstore, and this paper, too.

Leave a Comment