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Israel has killed more than 30,000 Palestinians over the past five months of its genocide in Gaza, including more than 13,000 children. The Israeli bombing campaign has wiped hospitals, universities, primary schools, and other critical infrastructure off the map, not even sparing tent cities in Rafah where over a million displaced people have fled to. Through it all, the Biden administration has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel, supplying the funds and arms required for Israel’s extermination campaign to continue. As international legal action against Israel and its allies mounts, the question has arisen of whether and how the US and its leaders ought to be brought to justice. A recently appealed lawsuit from the Center for Constitutional Rights, filed on behalf of Palestinian human rights organization Defense for Children Palestine, sought to do just that. Plaintiff Ayman Nijim and CCR Senior Staff Attorney Katherine Gallagher join The Chris Hedges Report to discuss their recent lawsuit and the possibility of a genocide crimes case against President Biden.

Studio Production: David Hebden
Post-Production: Cameron Granadino
Opening sequence by: Cameron Granadino


Chris Hedges:  The Center for Constitutional Rights has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the human rights organization Defense for Children Palestine, Al-Haq, a Palestinian human rights group based in the occupied West Bank, and eight Palestinian and US citizens with relatives in Gaza.

The lawsuit accuses President Joe Biden and other senior officials of being complicit in Israel’s genocide in Gaza. The case is being heard in a federal court in California. Lawyers representing Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin have attended the proceedings along with the plaintiffs, who accuse them of “failure to prevent and complicity in the Israeli government’s unfolding genocide.”

Since the Oct. 7 incursion by Hamas and other resistance groups, which left some 1,200 people dead in Israel, more than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed. Thousands are missing, over 60,000 have been injured, and nearly all of the Gaza Strip’s 2.3 million people have been displaced, many sleeping out in the open near the border town of Rafah. Israel’s blockage of humanitarian supplies and food have caused a widespread famine. Many are dying of starvation and infectious diseases.

The CCR complaint was filed in November of last year. It charges that Biden, Blinken, and Austin “have not only been failing to uphold the country’s obligation to prevent a genocide, but have enabled the conditions for its development by providing unconditional military and diplomatic support [to Israel].”

The CCR is asking the court to “declare that defendants have violated their duty under customary international law, as part of federal common law, to take all measures within their power to prevent Israel from committing genocide against the Palestinian people of Gaza.” The CCR is also calling for the US to use its influence over Israel to end the hostilities against Palestinians in Gaza.

Joining me to discuss the case is Katherine Gallagher, a senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, and one of the plaintiffs, Ayman Nijim, who’s from the Gaza Strip and is currently a doctoral student of Transformative Social Change at Saybrook University in Pasadena, California.

Before we go into the law itself, maybe I’ll start with you, Katherine, the facts on the ground. What we are seeing in Gaza, and then we can go into how the law addresses those facts.

Katherine Gallagher:  Well, thank you for having both of us today to talk about the case and the very, very dire and urgent situation in Gaza. What we’ve seen since Oct. 7 is a complete and total assault on the entire Palestinian population in Gaza. And what we are seeing at this moment is the risk of mass death, not simply from the bombs falling, but through starvation.

This moment now, at the start of Ramadan, of mass starvation, of children dying, small children and babies dying from hunger, is, in fact, the culmination of what was set out as policy and, frankly, a genocidal intention expressed clearly by senior Israeli officials as early as Oct. 9, when the Israeli minister of defense promised that the entire Gaza Strip would be subjected to a total siege with no food, no fuel, no electricity, no water.

And what we’ve seen over the course of many months of bombing now is a decimation of the entire healthcare infrastructure and mass displacement. This death that everyone is at risk of — Not from only the bombs, the vast majority of which are coming from the United States — But also from hunger. And that is not a humanitarian disaster. It is a human-made policy by Israeli officials that is bringing us to this moment of mass starvation and impending death for so, so many.

Chris Hedges:  So Ayman, you have friends and family in Gaza. One of the things that struck me is the way the Israelis have targeted all of the cultural institutions, the intellectual class. All the universities are obliterated, dynamited, destroyed, or bombed. The targeting of the press. But talk a little bit about what you’re hearing on a day-to-day basis in terms of what Palestinians are undergoing.

Ayman Nijim:  Yeah, thank you, Chris, thank you for having both of us. It is an honor to be here and to be interviewed by you personally. What’s going on in Gaza, specifically, is a slow-motion genocide since 17 years ago; It wasn’t yesterday or since Oct. 7.

I have lived all of my life in Gaza. I remember in 2014 I had to roam all over Gaza to find diapers for my daughter for hours. Lack of electricity, lack of drinking water. We had been struggling with that for 17 years.

That’s why, as someone who’s studied psychology, I like to go to the slow-motion genocide and the history of settler-colonialism and 75 years of ethnic cleansing, displacement, and apartheid.

What’s going on right now is accelerated genocide, is a fast motion genocide, that is the most livestreamed, the most well-corroborated, the worse substantiated genocide in human history. I’ll give you some examples.

For the last 100 days, I couldn’t hear my mother’s voice, even her prayer during Ramadan, which is very important to me, for someone who lives overseas, to hear my mother’s prayer is extremely important. She’s lacked medication for days; I actually don’t know if she is alive or not. Imagine, for 100 days I’ve had no clue what was going on in my refugee camp.

But, recently, I got in touch with my sister-in-law at Rafah, and she has a sim card or something like that. She was looking for a tent. A tent right now costs ₪225,000 [shekels], which I think is $500. Imagine a tent that costs $25 or $30 here in the US. It costs, in Gaza, $500, for one of the most impoverished people on Earth, one of the most besieged and also caged enclaves in human history.

What’s going on right now is genocidal. We are not dealing with ongoing trauma or post-traumatic stress disorder, we are dealing with genocidal trauma that will take us at least 20 years to find creative praxis or creative ways to heal the trauma that has been inflicted on us, there in Gaza, and here, because this is livestreamed everywhere.

I want to share that what we are asking is to end the genocide on Gaza. It has been going on for so long it’s disrupted everything: cultural heritage, social dynamics inside Gaza, and also culture. We have cultural genocide, when you are talking about the tree, all those churches in human history have been obliterated in Gaza. When you are talking about Omari Mosque, that is the heritage. I think it is the second after Al-Aqsa mosque, at least in our perception.

I’d been in Gaza eight months ago to visit my family after 12 years of being in the United States, and I can attest what’s going on is slow, to medium, to fast motion genocide that we are experiencing. And we have been yelling and screaming for a while.

It is not like since five months ago we have been yelling and screaming that we are caged, our people are caged. And Egypt, the border, everything is very strict, and a staggering siege on 2.3 million people.

I’m going to stop here. We can dive deeper into cultural, medical, social, political, everything, about genocide. So it is much more than the legality of it, it’s a multilayered way of genocide.

Chris Hedges:  You’re referring, Ayman, to the siege that was set up after the elections in 2006 when Hamas took control of Gaza, turning Gaza into an open-air prison. We’re watching the Egyptian government, it looks like, build an alternative open-air prison across the border in Sinai.

I want Katherine to talk about the law. It’s my understanding, as Ayman raised this point, that the obliteration of historical monuments, cultural centers, the attempt at the erasure of the identity of a people, is very much part of genocide.

Katherine Gallagher:  Yes, yes. I’ll talk about the law, going through a couple of different crimes that are playing out right now and, as Ayman has said, have been playing out for a number of years in Gaza.

But to see what is happening since Oct. 7, genocide is the correct legal characterization. The crime of genocide, which was codified in the Genocide Convention of 1948 following the horrors of the Holocaust, with the US playing a key role in drafting and establishing that convention and the prohibition against genocide.

Genocide is the destruction, in whole or in part, of a group that is targeted because of their nationality, ethnicity, race, or religion. And that intent to destroy, we’ll come back to that.

Genocide is carried out by a number of underlying acts, three of which are definitely present here. The first is killing, so killing members of that targeted group; the second is causing serious mental or physical harm; and the third is deliberately inflicting or creating the conditions of life to destroy the physical group, again, in whole or in part. So it’s the infliction of these conditions. It’s not even the results but the very infliction of conditions to destroy the group.

Going back to that statement that I referenced earlier of Israeli Defense Minister Gallant on Oct. 9 when he and the minister of electricity followed up the next day, promised no food, no fuel, no electricity, and no water, creating that total siege, which is an upgrade from the already years-long blockade and siege on Gaza.

That was, in fact, an expression of an underlying act of genocide. Creating the conditions of life, taking away the basic necessities of food, of water, of electricity for human survival. And it was done not against Hamas, but it was done targeting the entire Palestinian population of Gaza. So that gives you the intent to destroy one of the protected groups, whether it’s based on nationality or ethnicity, however you’re looking at the Palestinian people as a people.

Cultural genocide is not recognized as a crime, it’s not a separate category to destroy the culture. But one of the things that the jurisprudence on genocide has shown is that when you target pieces of a cultural identity like cultural centers or religious institutions or libraries, this is a way to erase and destroy that group as well. So it’s not that cultural genocide per se is an illegal part of genocide. But it is an indicia of targeting a people, and here it’s the Palestinian people of Gaza.

Already by Oct. 18, CCR put out a briefing paper; A legal and factual analysis of the statements made by Israeli officials and the actions that they took in furtherance of those statements. These are statements including that, in position of the total siege, the calling of the entire Palestinian population in Gaza “human animals”, that dehumanizing language. Statements by the president and the prime minister of Israel promising, again, to wipe out or to have Gaza look nothing like it was before, for everyone to have to leave. These statements were all said.

So our briefing paper at that point was a warning because the Genocide Convention, in addition to prohibiting the commission of genocide or of complicity, meaning aiding and abetting genocide, it also imposes a duty on all states who are members of the Genocide Convention to take active measures to prevent genocide from “the moment that there is a serious risk of genocide.” So again, those statements were indicators of a risk of genocide, and we had warnings coming out from the United Nations already back in October.

And rather than uphold its duty to do everything it could to stop a genocide against the Palestinian population in Gaza, the United States affirmatively expressed support for Israel’s operation. It sent weapons and has continued, as we’ve learned, to send over 100 different weapons deliveries while opening the gates to the $4.4 billion of stockpiled weapons in Israel for Israel’s use in Gaza. And it has blocked measures at the United Nations Security Council for a ceasefire. So the United States has failed in its duty to prevent, and it has actively been complicit in, genocide.

Now, genocide is one crime and we have had the International Court of Justice, of course, rule six weeks ago that there was a plausible genocide in Gaza, but there were also crimes against humanity.

Crimes against humanity are the widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population. Here again, when you have measures like the total siege imposed in targeting all of the Palestinians in Gaza — At least half of whom are children, and the vast majority of the victims are women and children — In this horror that we’ve all been bearing witness to for the last 160-plus days now, this is the civilian population that is being targeted. So it is a crime against humanity.

Then you look at the specific crimes. That could include murder, that could include extermination, which is on the spectrum with genocide, and it could include things that we’re seeing like deportation and enforceable transfer. In those first days of the assault on Gaza, there was the “evacuation order” where over 1 million people were ordered to move from the north to the south, supposedly for safety.

Not only were some of them bombed on the way, but we’ve seen what’s happened over the last months as that space has continually shrunk and the Palestinian population, who supposedly were displaced and transferred for safety, have been bombed and attacked everywhere that they’ve gone, rendered homeless, without food, and seeking any shelter that they can.

So we have crimes against humanity, and of course we have war crimes. The reason why I end with war crimes rather than start with it is because we’ve had war crimes, and we’ve certainly also had crimes against humanity going on for a number of years.

Gaza is part of the occupied Palestinian territory, and that status as occupied territory brings in international humanitarian law. So IHL, as it’s known, has applied across the occupied Palestinian territory since 1967 and continues to apply to this very day. So that means the Geneva Conventions apply and should be protecting the Palestinian population in Gaza.

But what we’ve seen over the last years, and especially since Sept. 11 — Taking a page from the United States’s playbook — Is that international humanitarian law has been converted into a sword rather than a shield for the protection of civilians, and it’s often been used to justify attacks. So these debates around human shields and military necessity, these political arguments around war crimes and international humanitarian law, have unfortunately had the effect of not having the core purpose — Protection of civilians — Be realized, but rather it’s been an excuse or a use for more force against the occupied territory.

So it’s a very long answer to your question. But there is a bottom line: There is applicable international law. The vast majority of this law has been implemented in international systems around the world. We have a war crime statute in the US, we have a genocide statute in the United States, and, of course, there’s an international criminal court in the Hague that has active jurisdiction over all of these crimes at this very moment.

Chris Hedges:  One of the caveats that Israel is well aware of is that if, for instance, a hospital or a medical facility — You can correct me if I’m wrong, Katherine — Is being used by armed opponents, then that protection it has under international law is wiped out, which is why Israel claims that every hospital is a Hamas command center. Of course, they’ve never managed to produce any evidence that is the case, but linguistically they found ways to cancel out the rules of war. Is that correct?

Katherine Gallagher:  They have tried to. And that doesn’t mean it’s correct. You have protections for civilian objects and civilians. And that is a cardinal principle in international humanitarian law: that you have to distinguish between civilians and civilian objects on the one side and military targets on the other.

So the first step is to determine whether there are civilians present or whether this is, in fact, a military object. That is something that requires scrutiny, and I’m not sure we’re seeing that scrutiny. Then you have to do an assessment as to whether or not there is such a military necessity that you can do a strike knowing that there are protected civilians or that this is a protected civilian object. It’s not that that civilian object loses its protection, it should still have that protection.

We are not seeing that proportionality analysis being done on a target-by-target basis, certainly, or else we would not have had two-ton bombs being dropped on densely populated refugee camps resulting in the deaths of scores and scores of people, the vast majority of whom are children and babies, because their bodies absorb the shock from these huge, massive bombs.

Even under the most generous — For the military’s purposes — Reading of IHL, we are not seeing that analysis. I would suggest that the way this entire operation is being carried out is with the target of the operation being civilians. When you’re dropping a two-ton bomb, a 2,000-pound bomb, on a densely populated area, you are going to kill civilians. So it is hard to argue that they are not the object of that bomb.

I worked at the Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal for a number of years, and when we look at the shelling of Sarajevo, we don’t hear people talking all the time about, oh, human shields, there were civilians present. Wow, those pesky Bosnian Muslims for having civilians in the area. No, we look at the way the Republic of Srpska military targeted an area that was densely populated with civilians.

The rules of armed conflict, the laws of war, have been turned on their head, especially since the 9/11 years, by the United States working very closely with Israel and putting forward a counter-narrative that has weaponized the Geneva Conventions in a way to justify military assaults that often have as their target, which we can only infer, civilians.

Chris Hedges:  I want to talk about law. There are two sets of laws: one for Palestinians in the apartheid state of Israel and one for Israeli Jews — Maybe three sets, another for Palestinian Arabs who are citizens of Israel, which is about 20% of Israel.

So first talk about the law in the occupied territories and Palestine as an instrument of oppression. We have seen from the inception of the state of Israel how Israel has, in a very cavalier fashion, ignored international law repeatedly. That has been a constant in this settler-colonial project.

Ayman Nijim:  Thank you. I want to start with the ID law. If you are from Gaza, you cannot go to the West Bank and vice versa. I believe that was in 1951 or 1953. I am 40 years old. I have never been in the West Bank, I have never been in Ramallah. I have never been in Ashdod where my grandfather lived for generations. I couldn’t even travel there. I am 40 years old and I am a US citizen too. So this can give you the laws.

An example is when I was a child, I wanted to go to Jerusalem with my mother. I was denied to go to Jerusalem. I was 10 years old. That was during the physical presence of the occupation. Right now the occupation is from the air and land and sea, after the 2005 unilateral disengagement. The laws, I personally call it… It is a caste system.

When you look at the second class citizenship inside [inaudible] Palestine or when you look at the ethnic cleansing, right now the first displacement in Masafer Yatta, south Hebron, and when you look into the daily night incursion in the West Bank.

So these are laws… We have the 2008 Jewish Basic Law which gives self-determination for the Jewish people, people who have been really languishing, under apartheid and settler-colonialism for 100 years, since 1917 with the Balfour Declaration, they were seeking self-determination. We are the ones who are abiding by the international law and have been seeking our self-determination for years. I don’t think that people have been free. From the Ottoman Empire to the British man then to 1948. These are laws that are made to subjugate and to keep the occupation.

In the Adalah organization in ’48, they have documented on their website the number of racist laws. We cannot even count the racist laws. For us in Gaza, we’ve felt for years someone who grew and raised in Gaza, for 22 years in Gaza. I remember someone from Brooklyn can come and swim in our Mediterranean Sea, and I cannot swim, I’m not sure because of how I look like.

I don’t know how far their own settlement actually was. It was literally five minutes from my family house and we couldn’t, all of our childhood, we couldn’t go to the Khan Yunis. I live in Deir al-Balah, which is adjacent to Khan Yunis, Khan Yunis is to the south. All of my entire childhood I was stuck in a very tiny refugee camp called Deir al-Balah, which stands for Deir al-Balah, [monastery of the date palm].

And very important, Chris, because some people think that Palestine is just… Palestine is a mosaic of cultural, religion, religious, and social beliefs. We are Christian, we are Muslims. Even the name of my camp is Deir al-Balah, the chapel or monastery. So we have long, long, long history that Israel is trying to obliterate our cultural identity and our ourselves, our identity, and also our reclamation of our indigenous land.

Very important, I’m not sure when you bombard or when you annihilate — I like to use annihilate — Churches or mosques and hospitals and cultural centers and [inaudible] center and also the Palestinian legislative council, which we actually felt in 1993 that we will have a country of our own, we will have peace, we will have, et cetera. And that was obliterated.

If you look at the carpet bombing, saturation bombing, actually, in all of the Gaza Strip, like every area. I was speaking with my sister a hundred days ago, and we are talking about a hundred days ago, and she was telling me [there was] literally carpet bombing everywhere. Even the cemetery nearby her house in the first days of the war, of the genocide. It has been very smelly because people have no places to put their loved ones in burial sites. And that was going for a long time.

Everyone has seen in the media and livestreams, they have seen what the indigenous people in Gaza are languishing with. So that’s why I think we, as a plaintiff, were honored to be reached by the Center for Constitutional rights.

And I believe, Chris, I believe, if you ask right now how many people can be a plaintiff in this case, you’ll find at least 1,000 people in the United States, you will find 2.3 million, they will be a plaintiff for this case. And Americans, they will be in this case because this is not a crime, this is a crime of crimes, and it is a moral imperative for every freedom loving people to support Palestine.

Because Palestine is not just a Global South issue. Palestine is a humanitarian, a humanist issue that everyone should fight for. You should not have to be Jewish, Christian, or Muslim to fight for Palestine. You should be human to support the indigenous people’s right to live, especially this time.

Chris Hedges:  Katherine, were you surprised — Some of us were — That they accepted the case? And then I want you to talk about the response of the defense.

Katherine Gallagher:  Sure. So we filed our case on Nov. 13 in California in a federal court, and the United States has fought this case quite strongly. So yes, they accepted the filing of the case. But the Department of Justice has come in and responded quite quickly, saying that the federal courts in the United States can’t touch, can’t reach the president of the United States, Secretary of State Blinken or Secretary of [Defense] Austin.

And even if there is a binding legal obligation to take all measures within the United States’s considerable power vis-a-vis Israel or its obligations not to be complicit in genocide, it’s not for a US court to do anything.

Now, as the United States says to a US court, you can’t adjudicate this case, you can’t hear this case. It’s also, of course, pushing back on South Africa’s effort at the International Court of Justice. And as we’ve seen, the United States has pushed back aggressively, particularly during the Trump administration, but it really hasn’t led up much against the international criminal court.

We still have Secretary of State Blinken speaking out against the ICC investigating Israeli officials for crimes committed on the occupied Palestinian territory. So in our case, the US is not here and, really, it has said, not anywhere.

So we had a briefing first over the course of December. We have sought not only a declaratory judgment, but we had also sought an injunction. We had asked the court to put in place a preliminary injunction while the case proceeded to stop further support by the United States for the ongoing genocide. So this is not a challenge across the board to all military aid or political support, but rather that military assistance that is going to be used to further the genocide in Gaza, the attack against the Palestinian population in Gaza.

And as public reporting has made clear, the vast majority of weapons being used against the Palestinian population in Gaza are coming from the United States and have continued to come from the United States after Oct. 7 through at least December, if not continuing now, as recent reporting from The Washington Post showed.

So we were asking the court to say no. In order to comply with your legal obligations not to further a genocide, you can’t send the means by which a genocide is effectuated, meaning that the military hardware that’s being used to kill, at this point now, over 31,000 Palestinians, as you mentioned in the introduction, injure tens of thousands more, and has brought the entire population to the brink of death, especially children, through the campaign of the total siege to deny food.

So we had a hearing on the preliminary injunction and the government’s request to dismiss the case in Oakland on Jan. 26. And it was a hearing unlike anything that I’ve been a part of in my 17 years at CCR.

We had first legal argument trying to explain to the court why it is that this case was not one that fell within the “political question doctrine”, which is the legal argument that the Department of Justice put forward, essentially arguing that this case is a challenge to US government policy and it’s inappropriate for courts to dictate US policies.

Our response was, no, this is not a challenge to policy. This is a request for the court to do what it does every day: identify the law and order defendants to comply with the law. Here, the law happens to be genocide and the prohibition against furthering a genocide. It is an identifiable crime with elements just like every other crime, and the court can, in fact, put forward an order to stop genocide.

So we had the legal argument, and then we had about three-and-a-half hours of testimony from a number of our plaintiffs, including one, a young doctor calling into the courthouse in California from the hospital in Rafah. And he testified as to the reality on the ground there. We had Defense for Children International Palestine, which has been doing the very, very difficult work of documenting the injury and death to Palestinian children in Gaza. They testified from Ramallah remotely.

And then a number of our Palestinian American plaintiffs told, in really heartbreaking detail, what it’s been like to be far from their families, as Ayman has spoken about already today, wondering each day whether their family would be alive. The number of family members who have been killed exceeds 100. One of our organizational plaintiffs, staff member Ahmed Abu-Ful, lost over 60 members of his family.

So the judge listened quite intently to the testimony of the plaintiffs as well as Holocaust and Jewish studies historian Barry Trachtenberg testify.

And the judge, at the end of the hearing, said that in his many, many years on the bench, — He was a George W. Bush appointee, so he’s been on the bench a while — That this was the most difficult factual and legal case that he’s heard.

Unfortunately, that didn’t stop him from dismissing the case on this political question grounds. And he did not engage sufficiently with our arguments, unfortunately, that this is a case about a legal duty and not about policy.

But he did hear our plaintiffs, and he did understand the gravity of the crimes, and he found that there is a plausible genocide taking place at this moment in Gaza. And he found that the United States’s “unflagging support” for this genocide is happening, and he “implored” the executive defendants, the president, secretaries of state and defense to stop that support. We have not seen a stop to that support, and we have appealed the case.

So our appeal brief went in on March 8, last week, and we have had the first amicus brief come in support of us today by Jewish Voice for Peace, and we anticipate a number of amicus briefs coming in on March 14, also in support of the case.

So we have an expedited appeal schedule because we have people whose lives are at risk every day in Gaza — Again, especially the next generation, the children and the babies who do not have access to food and water and formula and milk because of the famine taking place in Gaza.

So we are pushing for this case to be heard as quickly as possible, and we hope that the court of appeals will recognize that a federal court absolutely has the power, and indeed has the responsibility, to hear claims of genocide when we’re talking about senior US officials in breach of binding domestic law that prohibits genocide and complicity in genocide and binding international law through the Genocide Convention.

So that’s where the case stands at this moment. But we really hope that even though the case is so important, we hope that the Biden administration doesn’t wait for a ruling from the Ninth Circuit and instead finally takes the action that the law requires and, frankly, that human decency and morality requires, and stops its support for this genocide.

Chris Hedges:  If you are found guilty of complicity in genocide, are you legally defined as a war criminal?

Katherine Gallagher:  You could certainly use the word war criminal, but you could also use the word génocidaire, which is the term that came out of the Rwandan genocide.

So war crimes are really often subsumed in the crime of genocide, but I think the label could be even stronger when you are furthering the destruction of an entire people because of who they are in a crime that has been so condemned, including — And this is what’s so frustrating — Including by the Biden administration.

When Joe Biden came into power, he promised to uphold human rights. He claimed that there would be a return to the rule of law. The Biden administration has been happy to call out China for its support for genocide against the Uyghurs. And now with the other hand, the United States is sending weapons, even after the International Court of Justice identified a plausible genocide. Even after a federal district court judge who was appointed by George W. Bush — For whatever that matters, it shouldn’t — Calls out a plausible genocide. They continue to send weapons. So yes, the labels, unfortunately, now are complicity in the most serious of crimes.

And I would just also note that Joe Biden, when he was a senator back in 1988, was on the judiciary committee, and it was under his watch and under his leadership that the United States finally ratified the Genocide Convention. So this is someone who has a track record, purportedly, of standing up for international law and for human rights, and what we’re seeing now is the complete opposite.

Chris Hedges:  He also has a long track record of defending the apartheid state of Israel.

Ayman, I want to close with you, and I want to talk about betrayal. Betrayal by the international community to the Palestinians, betrayal by the Arab world. The Egyptian government is clearly complicit now in this blockage of humanitarian aid. As I mentioned before, it is building what looks like an alternative open air prison, but this has just dogged Palestinians. And you’re right, it’s 100 years.

And we should also note that when the state of Israel was founded in 1948, it adopted the British settler colonial laws against Palestinians, incorporated that into their own legal system.

But let’s talk about that sense of betrayal. And of course, now we’re watching the genocide in Gaza and rhetorically, people are saying, even the White House will essentially say things that attempt or appear to value Palestinian life while either at best doing nothing or, in the case of the United States, aiding and abetting the genocide itself.

Ayman Nijim:  Yeah, thank you. I think there is a sense of deep betrayal from Arab countries, especially Egypt and other countries, and there’s a sense also, but we need to differentiate between dictatorships, draconian governments like in Egypt and other areas.

And also the people I had been, when I was in Washington DC four days ago, I met an Egyptian girl, and she has a flier, and she told me, I came here to Washington DC to demonstrate and to have the sign, but I cannot do it in Egypt, which aches my heart. Because as you know, in 2011, we as Middle Easterners, we hoped there would be a change to the dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak, to have a new civil democracy, and everything was counter revolution afterwards. So I think the people are really right now feeling hopeless and helpless, but also in deep anger inside the Middle East.

The people, you can see in Tunisia, Algeria, where the 1.5 million people died for their own self-determination, liberation from the French. All Tunisia, all of these countries are really struggling to go to the streets. And also there is for us, as from Gaza, we feel like, where are the airports? Where is the international community? Where is the United States, the superpower? Where is Russia? Where is China? People from the streets writing on Facebook, where are they? They left us alone with Israel, the most well sophisticated army.

In terms of weapons and tanks, as in Gaza, some people think we have tanks, we have jet fighters, we have gun boats. We have nothing. Just for people to understand. So I think this genocide has changed everything for Palestinians because we believed, actually, that the freedom in Palestine will entail three parts: 40% from us as Palestinians, like from the inside, and 20% to 30% is the international pressure on Israel. And I believed at that time 10% will be from the Israeli left, will give encouragement.

And we have seen that with the B’Tselem report about apartheid and human rights organization three years ago, they start to say, oh, there is apartheid since Israel’s inception. But we have been, as indigenous people, we have left it, and we have told them it is a genocide, it is apartheid. We read also, we are not lawyers, but we lived it. We feel it.

There is a sense of betrayal, but right now I think what we are focusing on is to end the genocide, end the genocide, end the genocide. Because if we can save one life, that’s why we joined the lawsuit. If we can save my mother’s life or my father’s life, or my cousins, my nieces, everyone who is living in Gaza.

I think right now in the genocide, by whatever means possible, we go after President Biden for aiding and abetting genocide and being complicit in genocide. Austin and Blinken, and even any officials who put their hands actually to be killing and murdering, without compunction or remorse or contrition, 12,000 children.

I remember in Srebrenica or Sarajevo, it was 8,300 people who were murdered in that genocide. In Rwanda, 1994, 800,000 in 100 days. But in five months, we are talking about more than 30,000.

And actually imagine the people who are under the rubble, how many people will come out of this. So yes, there’s a sense of betrayal, there’s a sense that we are left alone. There is nothing going on, and it’s a very precarious situation.

At the same time, when you are in the north or in the south, you have the option whether to live or whether to leave or to die. And that’s what happened to us in 1948, whether to leave or to die. And not only that, also as you know, Hend Rajab, she was in the car when they attacked her, everything is documented. In Mamdani hospital in Gaza, 500. So everything is documented for us.

So right now we are asking to end the genocide so I can save my mother, my wife’s family in Rafah, everyone, to save them. Then we will find a way to articulate our healing praxis because it’s going to take us a while.

I worked with kids for 15 years, in trauma healing and to fight against internalized oppression. As you know, in war zones, like internalized oppression is, and this one will entail a collective internationalist healing perspective or praxis to help heal that kind of trauma. While there’s betrayal from everyone, while there’s a sense of hopelessness and helplessness and guilt.

I mean honestly, Chris, I’m going to share with you. Yesterday I broke my fast with my family, and then I have food guilt. I can eat and I can provide food for my kids and my wife, and I am not sure if my mother is eating or not. Or not even my mother. People in the north, air drops, for us, air drops for people. The United States is sending billions of dollars to Israel, they cannot enforce food through Rafah crossing at least, or Kerem Shalom crossing. You send billions of dollars.

It’s just mind boggling to me. I’m not a policy guy, but for me it’s just mind boggling to see the power dynamics and to see it in broad daylight, airdrops that go for the people in the north. And I really did not check what kind of food they are dropping. A hamburger or some kind of… I really do not know. I have to look to see what they are dropping.

Chris Hedges:  Great, thank you. That was Ayman Nijim, who is from Gaza, and Center for Constitutional Rights senior staff attorney Katherine Gallagher.

I want to thank The Real News Network and its production team: Cameron Granadino, Adam Coley, David Hebden, and Kayla Rivara. You can find me at

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Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for 15 years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East bureau chief and Balkan bureau chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of show The Chris Hedges Report.