While the far right Israeli regime escalates its repression of Palestinians, the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to disturb an Arkansas law that requires government contractors to certify they are not boycotting Israel or “Israeli-controlled territories.”
The high court didn’t specifically uphold Arkansas’s anti-boycott law. However, the court declined to review the case because there were not four “justices” who agreed to hear it. So Arkansas’s anti-Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) law remains in effect.
As the new right-wing Israeli regime ramps up its oppression of Palestinians, the Biden administration has taken its capitulation to Israel to a new and absurd level. After nominating an independent expert to serve on a human rights commission, the U.S. State Department withdrew the nomination because the expert accurately called Israel an apartheid state. A week later, the United States prevented the United Nations Security Council from voting to condemn Israel’s illegal settlements in Palestinian territory.
On February 10, the State Department nominated Professor James Cavallaro as an independent expert on the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). Cavallaro is “a leading scholar and practitioner of international law with deep expertise in the region as well as the Inter-American human rights system,” the State Department declared. Cavallaro, executive director of the University Network for Human Rights (UNHR), was a member of the IACHR from 2014-2017 during the Obama administration and even served as its president.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s religious Zionist coalition, which was sworn in on December 29, 2022, declared in its manifesto that Jews have the “exclusive and inalienable right to all parts of the Land of Israel.” To that end, in a little over a month, the Israeli regime has killed Palestinians, demolished their homes, mounted incursions into occupied Palestinian territory and endeavored to change laws and policies to accelerate the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians from Palestine.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Nakba — the Arabic word for “catastrophe.” In 1948, Israel assumed control over more than three-quarters of Palestine. Upwards of 700,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes or forced to flee and Israel confiscated much of their land.
Now, Israel’s new extremist regime — the most anti-Palestinian in Israeli history — aims to finish the job by incorporating all of the occupied Palestinian territories into Israel.
The Memphis police officers who killed Tyre Nichols were members of a unit called SCORPION — the Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in our Neighborhoods. But far from “restoring peace,” these officers turned the streets of Memphis into a violent scene of torture that led to the death of Nichols.
SCORPION was modeled after the bogus theory of “broken windows policing ”: the thoroughly debunked idea that if cops make arrests for minor offenses, it will prevent the commission of serious ones. But it didn’t work out that way. Under the guise of enforcing a traffic law, the officers who murdered Nichols committed much more serious crimes. After Nichols was killed, SCORPION was disbanded.
Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg joined other leading journalists, attorneys and human rights defenders to call on the Biden administration to drop its extradition request and indictment against journalist and WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, citing the grave threat Assange’s prosecution would pose to journalism worldwide.
“Every empire requires secrecy to cloak its acts of violence that maintain it as an empire,” Ellsberg testified during the Belmarsh Tribunal held on January 20 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The tribunal is named after London’s high-security Belmarsh Prison, where Assange has been held for nearly four years, fighting extradition to the United States. The Belmarsh Tribunal, inspired by the Russell-Sartre tribunal of the Vietnam War, was sponsored by Democracy Now!, Defending Rights & Dissent, Courage Foundation, DiEM25, The Intercept, The Nation and PEN International.
Assange is charged with violations of the Espionage Act for exposing evidence of U.S. war crimes and faces 175 years in prison if convicted.
The right to strike is on trial in the Supreme Court. At stake is a 64-year-old precedent that shields workers and unions from state lawsuits while they pursue unfair labor practice claims in the federal National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). If unions have to defend against costly lawsuits, it will likely discourage them from going on strike.
On January 10, the high court heard oral arguments in Glacier Northwest, Inc. v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local Union No. 174. The case involves a 2017 strike called by a Teamsters local against Glacier Northwest, a ready-mix concrete company in Seattle. Eighty-five truck drivers walked off the job. Sixteen of them whose trucks had been loaded with cement but hadn’t made their deliveries returned the trucks to the employer, leaving the trucks running to prevent the concrete from hardening. Glacier was unable to deliver all of the concrete and had to dispose of it. The trucks, however, were not damaged.
“The current U.S. government, the one of Joseph Biden, of all those that the Cuban Revolution has known, is the one that has most aggressively and effectively applied the economic blockade,” Carlos Fernández de Cossío, vice minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba, declared in a speech on December 14. “It is the one that punishes the most, the one that causes the most damage to the daily life of Cubans and the economy as a whole.”
Fernández de Cossío cited the disruption of Cuba’s fuel receipt by sea, and economic depression resulting in the “extraordinary flow of Cuban migrants” as examples of the severe harms that Cubans have faced due to the Biden administration’s implementation of the blockade.
In his address at a conversation series on “Cuba in the Foreign Policy of the United States of America,” held on December 14 at the Higher Institute of International Relations in Havana, Fernández de Cossío took aim at the Biden administration’s enforcement of the blockade against Cuba, stating, “there can be no doubt that the economic blockade is the defining factor in the bilateral relations” between the United States and Cuba.
Benjamin Netanyahu has been sworn in for his sixth term as prime minister of Israel. While his prior tenures resulted in the commission of war crimes against the Palestinian people, Netanyahu’s new regime promises to be the most right-wing and religiously conservative in Israel’s history.
Netanyahu won reelection despite facing criminal charges for bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
In order to secure a sixth term, Netanyahu made a devil’s bargain with the extreme right-wing religious elements in Israel. Aside from Netanyahu’s largely secular Likud Party, all other parties in his new coalition are religious, with two of them representing ultra-Orthodox Jewish Israelis, or Haredim.
For the first time in the history of the United States, a committee of Congress has recommended to the Department of Justice that it prosecute a former U.S. president. The bipartisan Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol unanimously referred four federal criminal charges against Donald Trump to the Justice Department.
One of the charges — “Incite,” “Assist” or “Aid and Comfort” an Insurrection — has not been used since the Civil War. It would lay the groundwork to disqualify Trump from running for president. Section 3 of the 14th Amendment prohibits anyone who has committed “insurrection or rebellion” or “given aid or comfort to the enemies of the United States” from holding elected office.
The select committee also urged the Justice Department to charge Trump with Conspiracy to Defraud the United States, Obstruction of an Official Proceeding and Conspiracy to Make a False Statement.
Nearly two years have passed since the International Criminal Court (ICC) began investigating war crimes committed in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza. But the ICC has yet to take concrete steps to move the investigation forward.
Frustrated with the glacial pace of the ICC’s investigation and the lack of clarity about how and when the investigation will proceed, three Palestinian human rights organizations issued a joint statement to the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute (the management body of the ICC) on December 6, saying, “We have not seen any concrete step in this investigation, no action by the Prosecutor to break the vicious cycle of impunity.”
They added, “The situation on the ground is deteriorating year after year, month after month, day after day. We feel that we have been left alone in our struggle. And Palestinian victims are losing hope.”