Illustration of a father sitting in an armchair having a conversation with his teenaged daughter as a ten or twelve year old son sits on the floor and plays with a handheld gaming device.

The people of Gaza are being exterminated. Your response is…what exactly?

March 2, 2024

I started this editorial last week. I’d been putting it off and putting it off because I didn’t love the blowback from my last piece on the Israel/Palestine conflict. And then Airman Aaron Bushnell, after explaining, “I will no longer be complicit in genocide,” self-immolated at the entrance to the Israeli consulate in Washington D.C. A message like that is a pretty tough act to follow, him shouting “Free Palestine” as many times as he could before the process of burning to death finally stole his voice. 

If you haven’t seen the footage already, I urge you to bear witness of Bushnell’s statement and sacrifice via this blurred out version of the video he took of himself, explaining his reasons for performing such a singularly selfless act of dedication to an ideal. While police and security agents pointed guns at him and shouted the order to “Git on the ground!” over and over, he stood erect for a remarkably long time while enduring what must have been incomprehensible pain.

I won’t remark further on the event (many other talented thinkers and writers have done good work in that area), except to say that choosing not to watch the video of Bushnell’s self-immolation on the grounds that your psychological make-up would suffer irreparable harm gets no sympathy from me. The airman took this drastic step in a desperate attempt to force people to acknowledge that a genocide is occurring with the weapons, money, and blessing of the United States. And the indifference of too many Americans.

On February 20, President Joseph Robinette Biden blithely vetoed a third United Nations Security Council resolution for a ceasefire in the conflict between Israel and Gaza. Algeria, China, Ecuador, France, Guyana, Japan, Malta, Mozambique, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, and Switzerland all voted yes to a cease fire. Not even the United Kingdom voted with the U.S. — they abstained.

Not twelve hours later, he was seated at a fundraiser for his re-election hosted by The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) where top-tier donors dropped $250,000 to break bread with the Prez.

President Biden has trumpeted his unwavering support for Israel throughout his political career. His administration has described the bond between the two countries as “unshakeable.” Indeed, the financial and military aid continues to flow to Israel, enabling them to execute the destruction of Gaza without humanitarian conditions. The White House has been steadfast in the pronouncement that there are “no red lines” when it comes to supplying weaponry to Israel, the occupying nation.

For Biden’s troubles, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeatedly throws egg on his face. As Biden and his surrogates offer mush-mouthed support for a two-state solution, Netanyahu denounces the idea. When the U.S. meekly suggests to Israel that the Israeli military — the IDF — needs to dial down the attacks on civilians, Israel goes on a tear that it doesn’t take orders from Washington. Biden tells Netanyahu not to launch a ground assault on Rafah, the city at the edge of the razor wire –entangled border with Egypt and the Gazans’ last refuge in the south of the region, without safeguards in place to protect civilians, and Netanyahu responds by saying he’s launching his doctrine of “Total Victory” (which, if you listen to his speech, smells a lot like “Final Solution.”

If your media is mainly MSNBC, CNN, The New York Times, or NPR, your understanding of the humanitarian crisis is going to be heavily towards the side of Israel. Not your fault, exactly, but at some point you should be asking yourself why pretty much the entire world condemns Israel’s actions except for the U.S. And this global condemnation didn’t start in October of 2023 — human rights groups have called for Israel to obey international law and cease its illegal occupation of Gaza and the slow but accelerating annexation of the West Bank for decades. And for some glimpse into the mounting desperation experienced by Palestinians, one only has to look into the damning June 2023 report of the U.N. Special Rapporteur, Francesca Albanese, that describes Israel’s unlawful carceral practices in the occupied Palestinian territory as international crimes and have turned it into an open-air prison. And rather than taking this condemnation as a sign to back off on “administrative detentions,” imprisonment without charge or set trial, Israel doubled down on the practice, breaking its 30-year record of unexplained jailings, including hundreds of women and children. And when detainees die in Israeli custody, it is frequently the policy of Israel to refuse to return the bodies to the families of the deceased.

Despite Israel’s lies about babies having their heads cut off (photos of which Biden continued to claim he saw even after his own White House admitted that the reports were false), lies about Hamas command centers concealed in al-Ahli and al-Shifa Hospitals, lies about Hamas tunnels under graveyards, and failure to present evidence that any mass, systematic rapes of Israeli women  had occurred, and lies that the IDF was taking any efforts whatsoever to protect civilians, the United States immediately cut off aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) the moment Israel claimed that twelve aid workers with the agency participated in the October 7 mass murder of Israeli citizens. The agency, created in 1949 is the main source of international aid to Palestinians who are refugees in their own homeland. 

* During the 1948 Palestine war, over 700,000 Palestinian Arabs, constituting approximately half of the prewar Arab population in Mandatory Palestine, either fled their homes or were forced out by Zionist militias and subsequently the Israeli army. This displacement occurred in the aftermath of the Partition Plan for Palestine.

This accusation literally came just hours after the International Court of Justice handed down it’s decision that Israel is plausibly engaged in genocide in the Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in the Gaza Strip (South Africa v. Israel)

So far, the only evidence of the guilt of this dozen comes in the form of prison confessions supplied by the IDF. Despite increasing doubt as to the veracity of Israel’s claims (Israel’s method of torturing confessions out of its captives are no secret), both the  U.S. president and Congress, continues to advance the IDF line. 

Israel has wanted to eliminate UNRWA for a long time and seems to have rallied U.S. legislators to its cause for year. As recently as 2021, Sen. Risch, James E. [R-ID] introduced S.2479 – UNRWA Accountability and Transparency Act that aimed to withhold:

…funding for the UNRWA unless the Department of State makes certifications concerning the UNRWA’s staff, partners, and funding. Specifically, the State Department must certify that neither UNRWA staff and partners nor its funding and facilities are affiliated with terrorism or engaged in the dissemination of anti-American, anti-Israel, or anti-Semitic ideologies. Additionally, the State Department must certify that the UNRWA is subject to comprehensive financial audits by an independent auditing firm and is unaffiliated with any financial institutions that the United States considers to be complicit in money laundering or terror financing.

Israel is determined to see UNRWA dissolved because, as long as even shreds of nutritional, medical, or educational support for Palestinians exists, they may be able to sustain the will to continue fighting to end the apartheid and occupation. Even more importantly, with the dissolution of UNRWA, the Palestinians’ status as refugees, and particularly the status of the descendants of original refugees, could be a step closer to revocation, imperiling their case for a right of return to the land stolen from them over 75 years ago.

Now that President Biden ended U.S. aid to Palestine, a terrible situation has become completely untenable. One American doctor who volunteered to help patch up Gaza’s civilian casualties could barely describe the atrocities, saying “I’m an American doctor who went to Gaza. What I saw wasn’t war — it was annihilation.”

The hunger crisis has gotten so bad that one out of four Gazans are starving, and will shortly plunge into acute famine. A study published this week by the Global Nutrition Cluster — an aid partnership led by UNICEF — reports that 1 in 6 children below 2 years old in northern Gaza are malnourished, with an estimated 3 percent of this classified as “wasting.” All the time, Israel blocks convoys of trucks bearing aid from reaching the population. When aid trucks have been allowed in, IDF snipers have opened fire on civilians making a bee-line to the the trucks for flour.

Last week, UN special rapporteur on the right to food, Michael Fakhri, judged that Israel is deliberately starving Palestinians. Noting the extreme inhumanity of the denial of food to an entire population, he stated that Israel is committing war crime and an actual ‘a situation of genocide’ for which it should be held accountable. Israel has blocked almost all food aid into Gaza since October, following up on Israeli Defense Minister, Yoav Gallant ordered a “complete siege” on the Gaza Strip. Calling Palestinians “animals,” he announced Israel’s intention to carry out war crimes, “We are putting a complete siege on Gaza… No electricity, no food, no water, no gas – it’s all closed.”

As of now, only two border crossings, both in Egypt, exist. Hundreds of food trucks would be able to pass through to deliver the 46,200,000 pounds of food aid sitting in U.N. World Food Programme warehouses were it not for the intentional bottlenecks created by needlessly thorough inspections.

Today the United States followed the lead of  Jordan, Egypt, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and France in conducting air drops of food and supplies into the Gaza Strip, primarily along the Mediterranean coast. The U.S. Central Command said that 38,000 meals were dropped and that more drops are expected in the coming days in an attempt to slow the famine that is spreading across the enclave, which held approximately 2.3 million people before Israel’s latest offensive. This airdrop represents a meal for just 1.6 percent of a population that has been reduced to eating weeds and livestock feed, themselves in short supply.

Questions have been asked as to why the United States has to air drop food aid, even as it pours billions of dollars and mind-boggling amounts of weapons into Israel, why it can’t simply demand that Israel put a stop to their checkpoint chokehold.

As the number of Israel’s war crimes mount, often documented by the soldiers themselves. In addition to looting the homes from which Gazans were driven, IDF forces have shared videos of going through women’s lingerie, sleeping in children’s cribs and beds, blowing up mosques, torturing civilians, and creating snuff films on the Telegram channel “72 Virgins—Uncensored” for the enjoyment of audiences in Israel, 80 percent of whom support the offensive in Palestine. Some gather with lawn chairs on hills nightly to watch the shelling of Palestinian cities as if they were gathering to take in a fireworks show.

Despite the fact that taking occupied Palestinian land in Gaza and “re-settling” it with Israelis is itself a war crime, a Settlers Conference took place earlier this month to discuss plans for exactly that. More than a dozen high ranking Israeli cabinet member attended to lend their support. Just this week, Israel announced that an additional 3,000 houses would be constructed in the West Bank, despite the international illegality of such development.

Throughout this increasingly asymmetrical offensive, Joe Biden has feebly protested against the killing of civilians, destruction of hospitals, mosques, and universities (there are no more universities and only 1 1/2 hospitals left), which also saying that he places no preconditions on U.S. financial and military aid. He has stated that there is no red line that Israel could cross that would result in our withholding the instruments of carnage. 

And yesterday we learned that a friend of Mr. Bushnell reports that the late airman told him of knowledge about secret incursions into Gaza by U.S. military personnel. While the White House assures us U.S. troops are only in-country as advisors (remember Vietnam?) the friend reports that Bushnell told him that American forces are joining the IDF in killing Palestinians as they hunt Hamas on the ground and in tunnels. This squares with the embarrassing incident created by the White House when it posted a photo to Instagram of Biden meeting with U.S. special forces in Israel. The White House removed the photo and apologized for outing members of what is believed to be Delta Force.

This week, we learn that the Biden administration has set a deadline for Israel until mid-March to sign off on a document assuring the U.S. that Israel will adhere to international law in its use of American-supplied weaponry and to ensure the passage of humanitarian aid into Gaza.


The “troubled” White House has been expressing “concern” and “reservations” over the slaughter of civilians for months now. There is absolutely fuck-all that Biden has to wait for. He could have cut off military assistance at any point between October and now. What is a written promise going to do in two or three weeks that cutting off the supply of bombs this morning, right now can’t do? Most serious observers of this “human meat grinder,” as Thomas Friedman called it this week find the notion that a piece of paper will compel Israel in any way highly dubious.

Ask Neville Chamberlain how much a signature from a fascist is worth.

I’ll give you my assessment. There is one city left in the south of Gaza that provides nominal shelter from the bombardment: Rafah. The Biden administration has urged Netanyahu to abandon his avowed ground invasion of the city. Egypt, frantically building concentration camps for the refugees it declares that it will not accept, even as it warns Israel of “catastrophic repercussions” for peace in the Middle East if the ground invasion of Rafah proceeds. 

This tension about a coming assault on Rafah builds as the IDF commits warcrimes by bombing civilians in the very city to which Israel ordered the residents of Gaza to evacuate for safety. Israel has said that prior to the IDF assault on Rafah, Palestinians should walk the seven miles to Khan Yunis for shelter. The problem is, despite Israel’s claims to have captured the city a month ago, fierce fighting continues to rage in Khan Yunis, and on Saturday, a local school where civilians were sheltering was bombed, killing three and injuring others.

There is no chance that Israel will be done killing Palestinians in Khan Yunis before it begins its ground offensive against Rafah, which could begin at any time. Palestinians have been forced to play a game of musical shelter chairs in cities from the North to the South. The music is going to stop soon, and the refugees will find that all the chairs have been smashed, leaving them exposed in a hellscape of sniper fire and the shrapnel of big dumb bombs containing white phosphorous

The United States, despite announcing progress on a ceasefire and hostage exchange deal yesterday, knows that the Rafa assault is coming. By giving Israel two weeks to commit to following international law regarding war crimes, the Biden Administration is giving Netanyahu a wide, wide window of time to butcher as many Palestinians as the IDF can before all hell breaks out in the region.

Israel’s neighbors in the Middle East have allowed their hands to be tied by the presence of the USS Florida (or one of her sisters), an Ohio-class guided missile nuclear submarine capable of laying waste to large local targets in a matter of seconds. A deliberate large-scale massacre of women and children in Rafah is likely to draw Syria, Lebanon, and other nations directly into the fray, missiles be damned. Which would force the U.S. to choose between active engagement or stepping aside and saying, “Well, Benjamin…FAAFO.”

Friday, Mark Stone of Sky News asked White House spokesman Matthew Miller about casualty numbers provided by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin:

“…he was asked how many women and children had been killed by Israel since October the 7th. He said it was 25,000. If the total number is 30,000, that leaves 5,000 men killed. If you assume that all those men are combatants, which is an absurd assumption but some have made that assumption, that means that more than 80 percent of the people killed since October the 7th are civilians. How is that anything other than a complete disaster and a total failure of American leadership?”

Those figures represent a complete lack of concern for global opinion, international law, and innocent human life. When you add to the direct casualty numbers, the countless missing Palestinians and the victims of starvation and infectious disease, the actual death toll is likely to be much, much higher if Israel’s hostilities continue apace, and will continue to climb even if the fighting stopped today.

I know that some of you may wonder why I’ve gone through the excruciating task of reading, and reading and reading about this “plausible genocide” going on in Gaza. And watching and listening to the news and podcasts and video channels covering the horror. The Greylock Glass is about the Berkshires, right?

So are the weapons raining down on the heads of Palestinian civilians. Pure Hell, manufactured right here in the Berkshires at Raytheon and General Dynamics. You will almost never hear it discussed, but the blood of Palestinians, a people a world away, is a main driver of our local economy right now.

More than that though, as a journalist, I have the failings of the press of the mid-20th Century to account for. To atone for, in a sense. For the press, “Never Again” means never again to print propaganda for regimes of conquest as news. Never again to soften or downplay the crimes and aggression of fascist leaders. Never again to profit from casual relationships with genocidal demagogues. In the run-up to World War II, the American press failed its readers, and in turn failed the Nazi-occupied European Jews. We printed glowing articles about Hitler, the man of culture and refinement. As the only international news agency allowed in Germany after 1933, the Associated Press ceded editorial control to Nazi censors, in a way that brings to mind CNN’s arrangement with the IDF today.

Unfortunately, some news organizations, such at the New York Times have, since WWII, gone out of their way to side with Israel almost no matter what. Clearly, history looks different though the lenses of their microfiche than it does even to an increasing number of mainstream journalists who are pushing back against their own employers.

As a member of this deeply flawed press, I can’t sit by and pretend that just because I live way out in some privileged, provincial, playground for the wealthy, that I’m not affected or that I shouldn’t try to have an effect against a historically ghoulish slaughter almost too brutal for words. What I can do is chronicle what we’re witnessing, provide the background and offer opportunities to follow the dozens of included links to make it impossible for any reader to pretend that I haven’t documented these events with overwhelmingly complete source-work. When I find out about demonstrations, I can report on them. If our elected officials (like Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, who voted for more military aid for Israel, and that dirtbag Richard Neal, who might as well be an actual bomb salesman) do or say anything that isn’t just realpolitik vomit, I can report on that. 

The rest is up to you. I don’t write so that you can read about these events and forget all about them the minute your next Instagram notification pings you. I practice journalism because the information should inform your decisions about whether and what actions you take. If you have read all this, and consumed the metric tonnes of other reporting on the crisis, and exhale and decide there’s nothing you should or want to do, you had better be prepared for future generations to ask what part you played in the genocide of the Palestinian people.

If you need a place to start, let me help you with the lowest possible lift: make use of the contact information for the aforementioned feckless politicians below.

Elizabeth Warren

Email Sen. Warren

Edward J. Markey

Email Sen. Markey

Richard Neal

Email Rep. Neal

Washington, D.C.
Russell Senate Office Building
2 Russell Courtyard
Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-4543

Washington, D.C.
255 Dirksen Senate
Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-2742

Washington, D.C.
2208 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-5601

Jason Velázquez

Jason Velázquez has worked in print and digital journalism and publishing for two decades.
Phone: (413) 776-5125

1 Comment

  1. Add to the list of miscreant “news” providers, commonly used search engines, including AI. Often, facts that are in opposition to the mainstream “story” melt away with time. Some can only, and sometimes, be found through searches on outliers. Awhile back, there was a report that Israel created the tunnels in Gaza in the 1980s, but the only search engine that provided a ready reference is Not a game-changer relative to the current situation, but they do add up.

    Even FOX News, which typically disagrees with nearly everything our puppet masters tell us, is in full agreement with CNN, CBS, MSNBC, NBC, etc. in supporting Israel, although because their base includes many Evangelical listeners, religion may have a part to play on their position. Still, it emphasizes how what we hear depends on how much influence is brought to bear on the media.

    I believe that “independent” is the key word, whether it be in politics or media. As power and wealth are increasingly used as the carrot and the stick in controlling both, we get closer to complete authoritarian rule. Independent media is not influenced by the “power grid,” but by the From the preamble:

    The mission of the Fourth Estate is to contribute to a healthy society by fostering, supporting, and incubating a sustainable and vibrant free press.
    The only sustainable free press is an ethical free press.
    The Fourth Estate recognizes three core journalism principles that are fundamental to the ethical practice of journalism:

    Reporting the TRUTH
    Serving the COMMUNITY

    Mainstream media is not the “free press.” It is bought and paid for on the backs of every one of us.

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