Apologists For Israel’s Mass Murder In Gaza Fall Back On “Antisemitism” Claims

By Norman Solomon

If we condemn Hamas for its October 7th attacks in Israel, we’re not accused of anti-Arab bigotry. Nor should we be. Nothing could possibly justify the atrocities that Hamas committed against hundreds of civilians, who were the majority of the 1,200 people killed as a result of the attacks by Hamas forces. And nothing can justify the taking of civilian hostages.

But if we condemn Israel for its actions since then, we might be accused of antisemitism. Meanwhile, nothing could possibly justify the atrocities by Israel in Gaza, where the death toll is now estimated at 32,000, while uncounted thousands of other Palestinian people are buried under rubble. Seventy percent of the victims have been children and women.

The U.S. government continues to make the atrocities possible. As retired Israeli Major General Yitzhak Brick said midway through the second month of the war: “All of our missiles, the ammunition, the precision-guided bombs, all the airplanes and bombs, it’s all from the U.S.” He added: “Everyone understands that we can’t fight this war without the United States. Period.”

Because of federal laws and minimal decency, the U.S. should have cut off all military aid to Israel long ago. A single standard of human rights should apply. But adhering to that simple, basic precept can provoke the virulent epithet of “antisemitism.”

The gist of the trick is to equate Israel with the Jewish religion—and then to equate opposition to Israel with antisemitism.

And so, writing in the New York Daily News last November, an official at the American Jewish Committee declared that a “virus of antisemitism has spread to the U.S., where college campuses and city streets have been taken over by anti-Israel protesters raging, ‘From the river to the sea!’—a call for the mass murder of Israelis, and ‘Globalize the Intifada!’—an appeal to kill Jews worldwide.”

As Peter Beinart pointed out in a 2022 essay, “Under the definition of antisemitism promoted by the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee and the State Department, Palestinians become antisemites if they call for replacing a state that favors Jews with one that does not discriminate based on ethnicity or religion.”

While Israel continues to slaughter children, women and men—no more guilty of anything than a crowd you might see at a local supermarket—the extreme misuse of the “antisemitism” charge often boils down to: Be quiet. Don’t protest. Don’t even speak up.

Of course antisemitism does exist in the United States and the rest of the world, and it should be condemned. At the same time, to cry wolf—to misuse the term to try to intimidate people into silence while Israel’s atrocities continue in Gaza—is an abuse of the word antisemitism and a disservice to everyone who wants a single standard of human rights.

Last week, 17 rabbis and rabbinical students went to Capitol Hill urging a ceasefire and an end to the unconditional U.S. military aid to Israel. Rabbi May Ye said: “We are rabbis representing hundreds of thousands of Jews affiliated with Jewish Voice for Peace Action imploring our leaders to end their complicity in the Israeli military’s genocidal campaign in the name of tzedek (justice) and real safety for all people.”

Are we supposed to believe that those rabbis are antisemitic?

The Jewish American author Anna Baltzer grew up learning about the evils of antisemitism. “Much of my family was killed in the Holocaust,” she wrote. “My grandparents arrived at Ellis Island traumatized by the unfathomable murder of their families in the gas chambers of Auschwitz while the world let it happen.” And she added: “We must get clear that Israel’s wiping out of entire families in Gaza is not simply revenge for October 7th; Israel is continuing its long-existing practice of forcing Palestinians out of Palestine and closing the door behind them.”

Do Baltzer’s words make her antisemitic?

In mid-October, 43 Jewish American writers, academics and artists—including Michael Chabon, Francisco Goldman, Masha Gessen, Judith Butler, Tony Kushner, and V (formerly known as Eve Ensler)—released an open letter to President Biden saying: “We condemn attacks on Israeli and Palestinian civilians. We believe it is possible and in fact necessary to condemn Hamas’ actions and acknowledge the historical and ongoing oppression of the Palestinians. We believe it is possible and necessary to condemn Hamas’ attack and take a stand against the collective punishment of Gazans that is unfolding and accelerating as we write.”

Along with denouncing Israel’s “war crimes and indefensible actions,” the statement added: “We write to publicly declare our opposition to what the Israeli government is doing with American assistance.”

Do those words mean that the signers of the statement are antisemitic?

Or how about the more than 100 Jewish Americans who signed the statement released this week denouncing AIPAC, the Israel-is-never-wrong lobby?

Ten years ago, 40 Holocaust survivors issued a statement condemning Israel for its “wholesale effort to destroy Gaza.” The statement, also signed by 287 people who were descendants of Holocaust survivors or victims, called for “an end to all forms of racism, including the ongoing genocide of Palestinian people” and decried “the extreme, racist dehumanization of Palestinians in Israeli society, which has reached a fever pitch.”

Were the 327 Jewish signers of the statement antisemitic?

For that matter, when I write here that the Israeli government has been committing mass murder and genocide in Gaza, does that mean I’m antisemitic?

There’s a word for seeing—and saying—that Israel is engaged in large-scale crimes against humanity. And that word isn’t “antisemitism.” It’s realism.


Norman Solomon is the national director of RootsAction.org and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His latest book, War Made Invisible: How America Hides the Human Toll of Its Military Machine, was published in 2023 by The New Press. This work was published at progressivehub.net, and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.


Having once marched to war, now they’re walking for peace. Members of Veterans for Peace set out from Ogunquit, Maine, on Tuesday, May 7th, on the first leg of a 600 mile walk to Washington D.C. A little after 5 p.m., they crossed the new Memorial Bridge, dedicated to “the Sailors and Soldiers of New Hampshire who gave their lives in the World War 1917-1918.” As they entered New Hampshire, the peace walkers were accompanied by Portsmouth’s own Leftist Marching Band. The Band then gave a rousing performance in Market Square, the site of their first public performance, twenty years ago this May 22nd.


This Fortnight in 1892

An Early Appearance

The sea serpent has made an early appearance this spring, having been seen by the secretary of the Young Man’s Christian Association, of Nyack, N.Y., this week, leisurely perambulating down the Hudson river.

New Hampshire Gazette, May 19, 1892, pg. 4.


Michigan Wants Fossil Fuel Companies To Pay For Climate Change Damages

By Izzy Ross, Grist

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Thursday that she plans to sue fossil fuel companies for knowingly contributing to climate change, harming the state’s economy and ways of life.

“It’s long past time that we step up and hold the fossil fuel companies that are responsible for all these damages accountable,” she said.

With this litigation, Michigan would join dozens of local, tribal and state governments that have taken similar steps to try to make the industry pay for climate damage.

Nessel said the case is an effort to recover some of what Michigan has lost due to climate change, pointing to severe weather events, risks to agriculture and last winter’s short ski season and canceled sled dog races.*

The department is asking outside lawyers to submit proposals to help with the case, which Nessel said could potentially bring billions to the state to address damages from climate change. Attorneys and law firms can submit proposals through June 5th.

“A case like this is exhaustive in nature,” she told Interlochen Public Radio. “You’re going after Big Oil, so you need to have some support in terms of additional attorneys and support staff.”

Investigations in 2015 from Inside Climate News and the Los Angeles Times showed that companies like Exxon knew about the dangers of greenhouse gas emissions for decades, but minimized those threats.

Last month, the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability referenced that reporting, saying that its own nearly three-year-long investigation gave a “rare glimpse into the extensive efforts undertaken by fossil fuel companies to deceive the public and investors about their knowledge of the effects of their products on climate change and to undermine efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions.”

For instance, ahead of a recent congressional hearing, newly revealed documents showed that BP executives knew natural gas was contributing significantly to climate change but promoted it as a “bridge” fuel to replace coal.

Asked about Michigan’s plans to sue, Ryan Meyers, the American Petroleum Institute’s senior vice president and general counsel, said in an emailed statement that it is part of an “ongoing, coordinated campaign to wage meritless, politicized lawsuits against a foundational American industry and its workers.” Meyers added that climate policy should be handled in Congress, not the courts.

The attorney general’s department is working with state agencies to assess the impacts of climate change in Michigan.

Nessel said the state has successfully pursued similar legal efforts in the past, including against the opioid industry and chemical manufacturers that produce PFAS.

* Could someone please forward this to New Hampshire’s Governor Chris Sununu and Attorney General John Formella? – the Ed.


This work was published at progressivehub.net, and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.


How the Private Equity Firm Wrecking the Herald Helped Trump In Chicago

By Dan Kennedy

A private equity firm that helped destroy local newspapers was also involved in building Donald Trump’s Chicago tower, a fiasco that was the subject of an in-depth investigative report over the weekend produced by The New York Times and ProPublica. The story, published in the Times, found that Trump may owe $100 million because he used “a dubious accounting maneuver to claim improper tax breaks from his troubled Chicago tower.” That conclusion is based on an Internal Revenue Service investigation whose details the two news organizations uncovered.

The tower, built on the former site of the Chicago Sun-Times, was plagued by cost overruns and overly optimistic estimates of the revenues that would be brought in. But this post isn’t about Trump’s problems. It’s about this:

As his cost estimates increased, Mr. Trump arranged to borrow as much as $770 million for the project—$640 million from Deutsche Bank and $130 million from Fortress Investment Group, a hedge fund and private equity company. He personally guaranteed $40 million of the Deutsche loan. Both Deutsche and Fortress then sold off pieces of the loans to other institutions, spreading the risk and potential gain.

Fortress Investment Group is the firm that launched the era of private equity firms’ owning newspapers, described by Margot Susca in her book Hedged: How Private Investment Funds Helped Destroy American Newspapers and Undermine Democracy, which was published earlier this year. I reviewed it for The Arts Fuse. As Susca wrote, Fortress paid $530 million in 2005 to purchase Liberty Group Publishing, which it renamed GateHouse Media.

GateHouse built a nationwide network of community newspapers, taking them in and out of bankruptcy twice and slashing newsrooms in order to goose revenues and fuel the acquisition of still more papers. That culminated in 2019 when GateHouse merged with Gannett, the country’s largest newspaper chain, a $1.1 billion deal that saddled the new Gannett with an enormous pile of debt. Fortress kept right on profiting, Susca wrote, as the firm continued to extract millions of dollars in managment fees. And Gannett kept right on cutting. Susca put it this way in describing what Fortress and other masters of the universe have done to newspapers, and what that has meant for democracy:

Researchers have shown that investments in sustainability, diversity, and community suffer when profit is the only goal; companies involved in those efforts to improve the world around them may actually inspire hedge funds to target them; hedge funds see line items in those businesses that, if eliminated, could lead to more profits….

At a time when government accountability and truth itself are at a crucial nexus, news organizations in the private investment era have failed citizens as these organizations have boosted private investment funds’ bottom lines.

To organizations like Fortress, it makes no difference whether they’re helping to bail out Trump or destroy newspapers. The bottom line is the bottom line, and nothing else matters.


Dan Kennedy is a professor at Northeastern University’s School of Journalism. This article is published under a Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial- Share Alike 4.0 United States License.


The method may have been a bit unorthodox, but it did get the job done.


The Supreme Court Homelessness Case Threatens Our Basic Humanity

By Rakim Brooks           

Is homelessness, in and of itself, a crime? That is the question that has risen to the highest levels of our judicial system. And sadly, the same forces that told you the government shouldn’t be able to force you to buy health care seem poised to say every person must have a landlord—or face imprisonment.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments in the case City of Grants Pass, Oregon v. Johnson, in which the city of Grants Pass enacted an ordinance making it a crime for unhoused people to camp on public property. Grants Pass’s law is particularly insidious. While it purports to prohibit “camping” on public land, its reach is broader. In effect, anyone sleeping in a public place with so much as a makeshift blanket, pillow or even piece of cardboard will be in violation of the law. Given that every human being must eventually sleep, the law bans homelessness.

Rather swiftly, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held that punishing people for having nowhere else to go constitutes “cruel and unusual punishment” under the 8th Amendment. The judges relied on two compelling facts: First, the only shelter in the city is privately run by a Christian nonprofit, which not only doesn’t have nearly enough beds for the city’s estimated 1,200 unhoused people, but also has strict rules that are a barrier for many. Second, the city has tried to actually create solutions that will help the city’s unhoused residents but the housed residents complain in “NIMBY” fashion and prevent any progress from happening—raising potential equal protection concerns for disfavored groups.

Reading that opinion, we’re reminded: “Speak to history and it shall teach thee.”

We have criminalized homelessness before. Poorhouses existed in this nation well into the 20th century, punishing people for the same reasons as Grants Pass: for lacking the means to support food, clothing and shelter. According to the dictates of the time, punishing people for being “dependent” would disincentivize people from being poor—essentially combining anti-poverty stigma with the capitalist myth that anyone can lift themselves up with their own bootstraps. But that never worked. All that these facilities and their squalid conditions produced was ever-greater misery and despair while trampling the constitutional rights of those without shelter.

That experience should be instructive and lead the Court to affirm the 9th Circuit’s holding. But predictably, the conservative majority wants a free pass to repeat our errors and inflict new harm. Chief Justice John Roberts, in particular, was desperate to find a way to fault unhoused individuals for their own circumstances, suggesting there must be some “choice” they made that left them homeless. He even compared them to bank robbers, engaging in a rather soulless bout of victim-blaming.

In the Chief’s approach, you could hear echoes of the worst pseudoscience on homelessness. Take for example Judge Glock, a researcher at the notoriously conservative Manhattan Institute, who told USA Today that Grants Pass’s law is important because “these encampments are an incredible danger to the homeless themselves.” So dangerous that it would be better to have the state use armed force to imprison them?

While there is no “silver bullet” for solving homelessness, every effective solution has focused on how to actually help unhoused people out of their current situation. Helping them find shelter for more than just a night at a time and providing other forms of support is key to creating the stability they need to escape their current circumstances. Punishment just creates a vicious cycle leading to more homelessness and, in Grants Pass, more punishment.

So, if the question is whether cities like Grants Pass are engaging in “cruel and unusual” behavior, this should be an open-and-shut case. But for the Court, nothing is ever as it should be.


Rakim Brooks is a public interest appellate lawyer and the president of Alliance for Justice. As a contributor to Democracy Docket, Brooks writes about issues relating to our state and federal courts as well as reforms to our judicial systems.

This Fortnight in 1892

The Thief’s Eye

It Gives Detectives Great Assistance in Identifying a Suspect

The eye always indicates the character of the man. This is practically true of thieves, for the expert detective can tell in almost every case whether or not a man is a thief by looking him squarely in the eyes. A well-known Allegheny detective, in speaking of this matter the other day, said:

“Yes sir, I can pick a thief out every time. I can’t tell you what it is that gives the man away except that it is the expression of the eye. In the first place there are few thieves that will look you squarely in the eye unless they are obliged to. …

“…In many cases this peculiarity is a result of bashfullness. A little close observation will enable the observer to put the person in the class in which they belong. The man whose eye is almond-shaped is almost always dishonest at heart, if not in overt act. …”

New Hampshire Gazette, May 19, 1892, pg. 1.


Smiling Citizens

Mr. Editor: A broad smile goes over the faces of citizens who look at the engineering work on the west-end sewer, where they see a sewer with the outlet five feet higher than the bottoms of the cellars that were to be drained into it. It is a pretty costly business for the tax payer, however. – West End

New Hampshire Gazette, May 19, 1892, pg. 5.


A Clergyman’s Error

The clergyman who was seen to enter and hastily come out of the “Gem” on Daniel Street the other day, was not a disciple of the Rev. C.H. Parkhurst of New York, hunting for vice, but simply made a mistake in the doorway, and was bound for Mr. Billings’ door and window store down the street.

That’s Enough, Now

The Italian itinerant orchestra which has been in town for three days past have wrung the changes on “Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay” until the public are decidedly wearly of it.

New Hampshire Gazette, May 19, 1892, pg. 6.


North Kittery

The case against Fred Shaw by the town of Kittery, for non-support of his alleged illegitimate child, will probably come to trial at this term of the supreme judicial court, which convenes in Alfred today (Tuesday). The case has been put over by counsel for the defense from every every term of court during the past year, probably with the hope that the town would get disgusted and fail to appear against Shaw, but the selectmen are determined to have the case come to trial.

 – Harry


The “Brandy Brow” house was opened again on Saturday last for business by Barney Brickett, who just got out of jail at Portsmouth. He probably thinks he can run it unmolested, as he has been out of town for some time, but he will discover his error before he is proprietor for a week, as the police and citizens are determined to close these road houses and will give all the time and money that is needed to reach that result. He ordered his beer, but had it put off at Haverhill, and sent over the road in a job wagon in the evening, but the police got onto the “little game,” and were there long before the beer arrived.

New Hampshire Gazette, May 19, 1892, pg. 7.

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