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BeyondGeography's Journal
BeyondGeography's Journal
November 22, 2023

Major AIPAC donor offered MI Dem. Senate candidate $20 mn. to take out Tlaib


Donor allegedly offered $20M to recruit a Tlaib primary challenger

The lucrative proposal to Democratic Michigan Senate candidate Hill Harper arrived on Oct. 16, according to a source with direct knowledge — and got rejected.

A Michigan businessman called Democratic Senate candidate Hill Harper to offer $20 million in campaign contributions if he agreed to drop out and instead mount a primary challenge to Rep. Rashida Tlaib, according to a source with direct knowledge of the call.

The source added that Harper declined the alleged Oct. 16 offer from donor Linden Nelson — which would have split the campaign money between $10 million in bundled contributions directly to Harper’s campaign and $10 million in independent expenditures. Harper declined to comment on the record about the alleged call from Nelson, a Michigan entrepreneur and past donor to candidates in both parties, but he recounted the call in the same terms as the source in a post on X after this story’s publication.

POLITICO reached Nelson briefly to seek comment on the alleged call to Harper, but he ended the call after a few seconds and did not respond to subsequent calls, texts and emails seeking comment… Harper also might not have proven the most ideal recruit to challenge Tlaib with a more pro-Israeli government approach. Harper called for a “humanitarian ceasefire” in Gaza, largely echoing the ceasefire support from a few dozen congressional Democratic progressives; he did so on Nov. 10, well after the alleged call from Nelson…In addition, Harper’s Detroit residence is located in Rep. Shri Thanedar’s (D-Mich.) district, not in Tlaib’s. She has represented her district, which includes Dearborn and its large Arab American population, since 2019. Despite facing multiple past Democratic challengers, she’s handily won her primary elections since then.


Trying to kill two birds with one stone?


November 19, 2023

Maryanne Barry Trump got some parting shots in at her brother yesterday

She had willed that no siblings speak at her funeral so as to avoid a repeat of Fred Trump’s funeral in 1999, where Donald delivered a eulogy devoid of a single mention of his father.

Little Brother was kept off the program in its entirety…unless you don’t count indirect references.

Douglas Purcell, the cantor at St. Ignatius Loyola, said in an interview after the service that the lack of mention of the former president seemed to be in accordance with Judge Barry’s wishes.

“Judges are very careful about the words they choose,” he said. “Between the pastor and the son, they mentioned many of her causes — women, people in need — and that we all should be helping our fellow humans. And you wonder how that was being directed.”

Mr. Purcell, 60, added that Judge Barry had converted to Catholicism as an adult and had been a regular at Mass. Early in the service, he led the mourners in the singing of “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” a hymn composed in the 16th century by the Protestant reformer Martin Luther that has in recent decades become common in Catholic services. Mr. Purcell, who said he had not voted for Mr. Trump, read aloud some of the words printed in the program:

“The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him;

His rage we can endure, For lo! his doom is sure;

One little word shall fell him.”


Here’s the full text of that verse:

And though this world, with devils filled,
should threaten to undo us,
we will not fear, for God has willed
his truth to triumph through us.
The prince of darkness grim,
we tremble not for him;
his rage we can endure,
for lo! his doom is sure;
one little word shall fell him.

November 8, 2023

Lucky Find at Auction Identifies Man on Cover of 'Led Zeppelin IV'

It’s not a painting. It’s a picture of a Victorian artisan taken in the English countryside in 1892.

On Nov. 8, 1971, Led Zeppelin released its iconic fourth studio album, which was untitled but is widely known as “Led Zeppelin IV.” It features the band’s major hit “Stairway to Heaven,” and the wordless cover shows the image of a bearded, older man with a large bundle of sticks on his back against the backdrop of a decaying wall.

Now, 52 years later to the day, a minor mystery about that cover has been solved. Sometimes thought to be a painting, the image, it turns out, was a Victorian-era photograph of a man who made thatched roofs for cottages in Wiltshire, a rural county in southwestern England. His name was Lot Long and he was 69 at the time, according to Brian Edwards, a researcher who found the photo.

…As for how that photo ended up on the album cover: Legend has it that Robert Plant, Led Zeppelin’s vocalist, and his bandmate Jimmy Page were in an antique shop in Pangbourne, a village about 50 miles west of London along the River Thames, where they spotted a colorized version of the photograph that will be on view in the Wiltshire Museum.

Because the photographer, Mr. Farmer, was also a teacher, Mr. Edwards said, one plausible theory is that he used the picture to teach colorizing to his students. One of those versions may have ended up in a frame in an antique shop. That colorized version of the picture seems to have been lost.

More at https://www.nytimes.com/2023/11/08/arts/music/led-zeppelin-iv-album-cover.html?unlocked_article_code=1.80w.ED0Z.hh51OLNV6O9S&smid=nytcore-ios-share&referringSource=articleShare
November 7, 2023

Marshall/TPM: Younger Americans are much less instinctively sympathetic to Israel

Netanyahu’s Game

One of common refrains I’ve read in emails from TPM Readers in recent weeks is how much young people, often the children of readers but sometimes their friends and classmates, get their basic news and impressions of the conflict from TikTok. This comes as no surprise to me because this is the main source of information generally for my two teenage sons. Some of these readers speculate that those messages are being manipulated by foreign actors, perhaps by China, where the company’s ownership is based. Given the stakes and the track record, I would be shocked if this were not happening with various foreign players. But I’m skeptical that it’s a driving factor. For others it’s simply a medium of news, an aesthetic or kind of source which that generation is accustomed to. I’m agnostic on both those questions. But what is more clear is that there is a media and propaganda war about this conflict on TikTok and it is one Israel is losing.

But there’s another dimension of this I want to note.

Younger Americans are much less instinctively sympathetic to Israel and are more sympathetic to the Palestinians. This is a basic generational fact about American politics and culture. There many reasons for this. The Holocaust ended almost 80 years ago. The post-1967 occupation has dragged on for 56 years. For a generation of Americans their impressions of the conflict are not shaped by epic conventional wars, the terrorist campaigns of the 70s and 80s or even the mass casualty terror attacks of the Second Intifada. They are rather of repeated retaliatory bombing campaigns in Gaza and of a long-serving Israeli Prime Minister publicly disrespecting a black, Democratic President on his home turf, doing so in connivance with that President’s domestic opponents. Over the last decade and a half and especially during the Trump years Benjamin Netanyahu more or less openly acted as a foreign auxiliary of the US Republican party. That had vast consequences and consequences many in the US and Israel saw and warned about at the time.

This is not meant to diminish people’s reactions to what they are seeing on television and social media right now. But no one comes to news or imagery or arguments without a set of assumptions about who is right or wrong, who is more friend or foe. This cynical and malign gamesmanship had profound consequences which Israel itself is a paying a price for today.

November 6, 2023

U.S. Officials Fear 24k Assault Rifles Ordered by Israel Could Fuel West Bank Violence

Israel wants 24,000 assault rifles. Itamar Ben-Gvir, a far-right minister overseeing the police, has given rifles to civilians and is forming “security squads.”

An Israeli government request for 24,000 assault rifles from the United States is drawing scrutiny from American lawmakers and some State Department officials who fear the weapons might end up in the hands of settlers and civilian militias trying to force Palestinians from land in the West Bank, where violence has been surging, U.S. officials say.

The three proposed tranches of semiautomatic and automatic rifles are valued at $34 million and are being ordered directly from American gunmakers, but they require State Department approval and congressional notification. Israel says the rifles would be used by the national police force, but has also indicated that they could be given to civilians, people familiar with the weapons orders told The New York Times. The State Department gave informal notification of the sale last week to congressional committees, which ignited concerns and prompted requests for the department to ask Israel tougher questions about how it intends to use the arms. Within the department, officials working on human rights issues have expressed reservations, while those overseeing weapons sales intend to approve the orders and announce them in the coming days, U.S. officials say.

The Israeli police are seeking to bolster their weapons arsenal after officials pledged to supply thousands of weapons to Israeli civilians in at least 1,000 towns and cities, including Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank…“It’s a very dangerous step,” said Rula Daood, a co-director of Standing Together, a grass-roots movement that promotes equality between Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel. “They are using this war to give civilians what they call protection from danger. But when they say danger, they mean the Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel. The people receiving these guns are extreme right-wing people who believe there should be first-class and second-class citizens.”

Those fears have heightened because the process has been overseen by Mr. Ben-Gvir, who was barred from serving in the Israeli military as a teenager in the 1990s because of concerns in the security services about his extremist views. Until 2020, Mr. Ben-Gvir displayed a large photograph in his living room of a Jewish mass murderer who killed 29 Palestinians in a West Bank mosque in 1994. Mr. Ben-Gvir’s ministry and Mr. Netanyahu’s office did not respond to queries about how many weapons would be provided to Israeli settlers in the West Bank.

More at https://www.nytimes.com/2023/11/05/us/politics/israel-us-weapons-west-bank.html?unlocked_article_code=1.8Uw.3A_F.ZPQDkQVTG_87&smid=nytcore-ios-share&referringSource=articleShare

November 5, 2023

Half a World Away, Thais Pray for Loved Ones Caught in Hamas Attacks

Dozens of migrant farm workers were seized or killed in the Oct. 7 raids on Israel, and their relatives are pleading for answers: “We have nothing to do with their war.”

…In the impoverished northeast of Thailand, past cassava fields and cows dozing in the heat, Watsana Yojampa has her son’s new house almost ready for his return. There is a room for his daughter, soon to be painted purple because that’s her favorite hue of Care Bear. There will be fancy light fixtures and air-conditioning. In less than two years, her son Anucha Angkaew, 28, had saved enough as an avocado farmhand in Israel to pay for the construction. On Oct. 6, Ms. Watsana showed him tile options for the bathroom over a video call. He was very particular about his “modern house” and promised to get back to her on his preferred shade of gray, she said.

A day after that call, Hamas attackers besieged Israeli communities near the border with Gaza. By the time the bloodletting stopped, 32 Thai agricultural workers had been killed and at least 22 taken hostage, according to the Thai Foreign Ministry. Another accounting puts the total number of Thais who were killed, kidnapped or are missing but feared dead at 80. Either way, Thais, who have no connection to Israel except as a destination for a few years of hard work, are the second-largest group of victims in the Oct. 7 attack, after Israelis. Mr. Anucha was among a group of Thai hostages whose photos were released on social media, their faces terrified as a masked man aimed an assault rifle at them. His 7-year-old daughter still does not know what happened in Israel. The family has told her his phone is broken and that’s why Daddy has halted his daily check-ins.

…Thailand is the largest source of foreign farm labor in Israel, with about 30,000 citizens working there before the Hamas attack. Nearly a month later, the plight of Thai farmworkers remains caught up in a haze of bureaucratic mystery and diplomatic ambiguity. Families of those who are missing or believed to be held hostage say they have received no communication from Thai or Israeli government officials.

Many family members in Thailand say they have no idea whether their loved ones are dead or alive — or how to find out. Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara, the Thai foreign minister, flew to the Middle East and said on Friday that Iran, Egypt and Qatar were acting as intermediaries with Hamas to try to free the hostages. An earlier Israeli count of the Thai hostages put the number at 54, out of more than 220 people thought to have been taken to Gaza. On Wednesday, Ms. Watsana received a call from a local Thai official saying that she needed to submit a DNA sample. Is it because her son has died or is it a routine collection process? She does not know. The local official said he did not know, either.

More at https://www.nytimes.com/2023/11/05/world/asia/thailand-hostages-hamas-israel.html?unlocked_article_code=1.8Ew.J5gP.7qJHZNA0nKA-&smid=nytcore-ios-share&referringSource=articleShare

Mr. Anucha’s 7-year-old daughter still does not know what happened in Israel. The family has told her his phone is broken and that’s why her father has stopped calling.
November 3, 2023

An Unarmed Teen Was Shot During a Cease-Fire. Israel Was Never Held to Account.

By Rabea Eghbariah
Mr. Eghbariah is an affiliate human rights lawyer with Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel.

On the afternoon of his 15th birthday, Attiya Nabaheen was walking home from his school in Gaza when an Israeli soldier shot him in the neck. It was November 2014, and Mr. Nabaheen was on his family’s land, situated about 500 meters from the militarized Green Line demarcating the Gaza Strip. In court proceedings, a lawyer representing the Israeli government claimed that Mr. Nabaheen was too close to the fence and didn’t heed warning shots before he was hit. Neither his age nor the fact that he was unarmed stopped the soldier from firing at the boy. The injury left Mr. Nabaheen permanently paralyzed and wheelchair bound for the rest of his life. This all happened during a cease-fire, a time of supposed peace, or status quo, in Gaza.

I’m a human rights lawyer from Haifa, now completing my doctorate studies in the United States. I also litigate Palestinian civil and political rights cases, and Mr. Nabaheen was my client. I represented him as part of a landmark case that sought civil remedies for his life-changing injuries through the Israeli court system. The case didn’t go how we had hoped it would: It ended with the Israeli Supreme Court upholding the constitutionality of a 2012 law under which residents of the Gaza Strip are effectively banned from claiming civil remedies against Israeli actions, including unlawful actions with no connection to active situations of armed conflict. Put simply, Mr. Nabaheen’s case set a chilling precedent such that no one in Gaza can seek compensation for any damages caused by Israel.

I say Mr. Nabaheen was my client because last month I received word that he, along with 12 of his family members, 10 of them children, was killed in an Israeli airstrike on his family’s building the day after Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel. Mr. Nabaheen, who was 24 at the time of his death, had survived five major attacks on Gaza. This was the one that finally killed him. His short life is emblematic of the policies and practices that the Israeli regime imposes on Palestinians in Gaza. Without meaningful avenues to make a claim against injustice, Palestinians are effectively left with no place to turn. But the people of Gaza, like all people, deserve to enjoy full civil rights, including the right to compensatory damages. Without those rights, what can we expect them to do with their pain?

…Mr. Nabaheen’s life and death encapsulate the Palestinian search for undelivered justice, an ongoing nakba, meaning “catastrophe,” that has only intensified in the last month. So many Palestinians continue to suffer a similar fate to that of Mr. Nabaheen, falling victim to the arbitrary brutality of Israeli shelling. As I write this, more than 9,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, according to the Gazan health ministry. Many of them, like Mr. Nabaheen, had already survived several wars before finally succumbing to this one. And like Mr. Nabaheen, there will likely be no recognition or recourse for their tragedies. There will be no meaningful avenues through which their families can seek justice.

More at https://www.nytimes.com/2023/11/03/opinion/unarmed-teen-israel-gaza.html?unlocked_article_code=1.7kw.RW2w.CSL7wHj6O-lN&smid=nytcore-ios-share&referringSource=articleShare

October 30, 2023

"In Gaza there's nothing but sand and children."

For those of you who might wonder why there are so many kids in such a desperate place as Gaza—I have to say I was looking for some perspective on this myself—Amira Hass, an Israeli journalist who lived in Gaza for many years, addresses this topic in her book Drinking the Sea at Gaza and her take on this makes a lot of sense to me. This book was written in the 90s when the population of Gaza was only a little over half of what it is currently:

“In Gaza there’s nothing but sand and children,” I was told by A., a Jabalia native doing sociological research. He complained that even the younger, modern couples went on having one child after another. Along with my growing wonder at Gazans’ staying power, I began to understand an underlying reason for their extraordinary familial devotion. They clung steadfastly to family, to respect for elder members, and to having large numbers of children as a bulwark—like religion—against the instability and lack of continuity in their lives.

Since 1948, they have been subject to upheaval, to sweeping political changes over which they have no control, and to the constant shadow of sudden, violent death, especially once the intifada began in 1987. Much has been said about how the intifada undermined adult authority, but it is also true that the crushing oppression and daily violence heightened the need to seek consolation among family members, and to use the home to counterbalance the crumbling social framework outside.
October 29, 2023

Palestinian civilians 'didn't deserve to die' in Israeli strikes, US chief security adviser says

Thousands of Palestinians killed in Israel’s attacks on Gaza over the past three weeks “did not deserve to die”, according to the US national security adviser, in a marked softening of the Biden administration’s hardline support of Israel. In an interview with ABC News on Sunday, Jake Sullivan, the White House’s chief security adviser, said Hamas is “hiding” behind civilians but that doesn’t lessen Israel’s “responsibility under international humanitarian law and the laws in war to do all in their power to protect the civilian population”.

“There have been deaths of thousands of Palestinian civilians in this conflict and that is an absolute tragedy … Those people did not deserve to die. Those people deserve to live lives of peace and safety and dignity,” Sullivan told ABC’s This Week.

At least 8,000 Palestinians including more than 3,300 children and more than 2,000 women have been killed by Israeli’s military bombardment of Gaza, according to Gaza’s health ministry. The toll is expected to rise as Israel continues with its ground offensive – in addition to ongoing aerial attacks. Israel’s current offensives were launched in retaliation for the surprise cross-border attack on 7 October in which Hamas, which has run Gaza since 2007, killed about 1,400 people in Israel and took more than 200 hostages.

“Israel has a right – indeed a duty – to defend itself against terrorists. Israel also has a responsibility to distinguish between terrorists and ordinary civilians,” said Sullivan.

More at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/oct/29/hamas-israel-war-palestinian-civilians-jake-sullivan-comments?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

October 28, 2023

NYT column: I Fought for the I.D.F. in Gaza. It Made Me Fight for Peace.

By Benzion Sanders

When my Israeli infantry unit arrived at the first village in Gaza, in July 2014, we cleared houses by sending grenades through windows, blowing doors open and firing bullets into rooms to avoid ambush and booby traps. We were told Palestinian civilians had fled. I realized this wasn’t true as I stood over the corpse of an elderly Palestinian woman whose face had been mutilated by shrapnel. She had been lying on the sand floor of a shack, in a pool of blood.

…Like the invasion that the Israeli military has said is imminent, that campaign was precipitated by atrocities carried out by Hamas terrorists. On June 12 of that year, Hamas kidnapped and murdered three Israeli teenagers; soon after, Israelis murdered a Palestinian teenager. The horrific exchange escalated into a larger conflict; ultimately some 70 Israelis and 2,250 Palestinians were killed over seven weeks. Then, as now, Israelis were told that we were going in to deal a decisive blow to Hamas.

…Those three fateful weeks inside the Gaza Strip transformed me from a deeply religious, Modern Orthodox yeshiva student and West Bank settler into an activist with the movement opposing the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, first with the antiwar veterans organization Breaking the Silence and now with Extend, a group that connects Palestinian and Israeli human rights leaders with American Jewish audiences. All our casualties and the suffering brought on Palestinians in Gaza accomplished nothing since our leaders refused to work on creating a political reality in which more violence would not be inevitable. While I believe in self-defense, fighting in Gaza taught me that if my government doesn’t change its approach from crushing Palestinian hope to committing to Palestinian independence, not only will this war kill an untold number of Israelis and Palestinians in addition to the thousands who already have died, but it also will not decisively end terror. A ground invasion is doomed to failure.

…These periodic episodes of killing and destruction, which Israeli commentators and politicians cynically call “mowing the lawn,” have been a price Israel was willing to pay to avoid being pushed toward a two-state solution. We chose to “manage” the conflict through a combination of brute force and economic incentives, instead of working to solve it by ending our perpetual occupation of Palestinian territory. Many of my Palestinian human rights partners who organize nonviolent protests are targeted and harassed by the Israeli military. I believe these policies have the goal of preventing pressure for a Palestinian state and permitting Israeli settlement development and creeping annexation in the West Bank.

More at https://www.nytimes.com/2023/10/28/opinion/international-world/gaza-idf-israel-veterans.html?unlocked_article_code=1.6Ew.-fUH.vR98CQ9kPakx&smid=nytcore-ios-share&referringSource=articleShare

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