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JVP-HAC: Covid 19 Timeline December 19, 2021 – January 1, 2022

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by Alice Rothchild, MD

We’re pleased to repost this weekly report by JWE board member Alice Rothchild, MD, which was earlier posted by the Jewish Voice for Peace Health Advisory Council (JVP-HAC)

This resource will be updated regularly to provide a full picture of the unfolding pandemic and the medical, political and economic ramifications in real time.

Please note that Coronavirus cases are an underestimate given the lack of testing, resources, and asymptomatic carriers and up-to-date numbers from the oPt are often confusing.  We recognize that in resource poor areas just as Gaza and the West Bank, these numbers are a major underrepresentation and fail to reflect the impact of the pandemic. For instance, on 12/18, numbers for the West Bank were reported by Mondoweiss, numbers for January 1 are from the Ministry of Health and are lower. Numbers on East Jerusalem are barely changed and thus subject to suspicion and may be also within the West Bank or Israel data.

 If you would like to receive this weekly timeline, a monthly Media Watch, and the occasional article/action alert, please email us at health@jewishvoiceforpeace.org

Cumulative cases of coronavirus in Israel and the Occupied territoriesCumulative cases of coronavirus in Gaza

As of January 1, 2022
Israel 1,383,939
West Bank
(excluding EJ) 237,538 (Corona-Covid 19 surveillance system)
East Jerusalem 30,376
(Coronavirus – Covid 19 surveillance system)  increased by 20 cases in 2 weeks, ? accuracy
for Jerusalem governorate 42,178 (Coronavirus – Covid 19 surveillance system)
Gaza : 190,427
(MOH) 190, 371 (Coronavirus – Covid 19 surveillance system)
Total 470,303
(Reuters Covid 19 tracker) 469,748 (12/26 WHO) 470,088 (Coronavirus – Covid 19 surveillance system)

As of December 18, 2021
Israel 1,354,001
West Bank 235,101
(excluding EJ)(Corona-Covid 19 surveillance system) 246,551  (Mondoweiss)
East Jerusalem 30,356 
(Coronavirus – Covid 19 surveillance system) unchanged in 9 weeks, so probably not accurate
for Jerusalem governorate 42,111 (Coronavirus – Covid 19 surveillance system)
Gaza :188,922 
(12/16  MOH)  189,113 (Coronavirus – Covid 19 surveillance system)
Total oPt 466,162 
(Reuters Covid 19 tracker) 465,094   ( 12/17 WHO) 466,325 (Coronavirus – Covid 19 surveillance system) 465,829 (Mondoweiss) 

As of December 11, 2021
Israel 1,349,385
West Bank 233,640 
(excluding EJ) (Corona-Covid 19 surveillance system)  245,046 (12/10 Mondoweiss)
East Jerusalem 30,356 
(Coronavirus – Covid 19 surveillance system) unchanged in 8 weeks, so probably not accurate
for Jerusalem governorate 42,074  (Coronavirus – Covid 19 surveillance system)
Gaza  187,947 
(12/8  MOH) 188,320 (Coronavirus – Covid 19 surveillance system) 188,171 (12/10 Mondoweiss)
Total oPt 463,903 
(Reuters Covid 19 tracker) 463,573  (12/10 WHO) 464,034 (Coronavirus – Covid 19 surveillance system) 

December 19 Israel
Israel plans to consider adding a slew of countries, including the United States, to its so-called red list of high-risk destinations, effectively barring Israelis from visiting.Prime Minister Naftali Bennett supports expanding restrictions on international travel and on commerce in hopes of increasing vaccination rates, as Omicron continues to spread worldwide. At this stage, he does not intend to fully shut down international travel.
Haaretz

Multiple attendees of this month’s Israeli-American Council summit in Miami have reportedly contracted COVID-19, sparking fears that despite masking and vaccination requirements, the virus was able to spread.  Israel recorded 40 new Omicron cases, taking the total cases of the variant to 175. Assessments presented to PM Bennett on 12/18 predicted that the number of Omicron cases in Israel will reach 400 to 600 over the next week, in light of the number of cases that cannot be traced back to people who traveled abroad.
Haaretz

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s government is advancing a law to charge people to check in to COVID hotels, in which many arrivals are mandated to quarantine, after spending almost half a billion shekels since the onset of the pandemic. The police arrested three protesters on 12/18. The amendment that was submitted to the legislative committee by Bennett and Health Minister Horowitz will shift the cost of the hotel stay away from the government and onto the travelers.
Haaretz

Police arrested three protesters on 12/18 outside Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s home in Ra’anana, after using leather whips and a water cannon to disperse the demonstration against the government’s vaccination policies and restrictions imposed to fight the pandemic. 
Haaretz

December 20 Israel
Israel expanded its travel ban to ten new countries, including the United States, Canada, and Germany, as the total number of Omicron cases in the country reached 175.
Israel’s cabinet expanded the list of so-called “red countries” to include Italy, Belgium, Hungary, Morocco, Portugal, Turkey, and Switzerland. The ban will come into effect 12/21 at midnight.
Haaretz

In this article, Ido Efrati gives a detailed review of the year 2021 with a focus on Israel’s experience with COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination campaigns.
Haaretz

With little more than a day to go before American tourists are officially barred from entering Israel, 160 participants in Birthright’s free 10-day trips landed at Ben-Gurion International Airport. The program received a special exemption from the previous overall ban on incoming tourism imposed several weeks ago when the Omicron variant was identified.
The decision to exempt Birthright and other Jewish travel programs from the overall ban on incoming tourism was made by Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked. It sparked outrage in the local Christian community as pilgrim groups planning to celebrate Christmas in the Holy Land were denied entry.
Haaretz

December 21 Israel
As of now, there are 175 Omicron cases in Israel, however experts believe that by the end of this week, the number will more than double to at least 400 cases. The Health Ministry suspects another 380 cases to be Omicron. The numbers are still relatively small, but the increase in the number of confirmed COVID cases and the jump in the R number has led some experts to believe that undetected Omicron cases are already responsible for the rise in case numbers.
Haaretz

Ultra-Orthodox leader Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky doubled down on his support for vaccinating children against COVID-19, despite a campaign of harassment and intimidation by anti-vaccine activists.
Haaretz

Israel has confirmed 170 new cases of the Omicron variant, the Health Ministry said, bringing the total number of confirmed cases of the highly infectious variant to 341. The Health Ministry said it was looking into 807 COVID cases that may be Omicron, but have yet to be confirmed. Meanwhile, the number of new coronavirus cases continues to soar, but the number of patients in serious condition remains stable, according to official figures.
Haaretz

As a result of the spread of Omicron around the world, Israel is preparing for a fifth COVID wave. Israel is likely to face thousands of COVID cases caused by the new Omicron variant within the next two to four weeks, according to a Health Ministry forecast presented to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett over the weekend.
Haaretz
Haaretz

Israel’s Meuhedet Health Services reported that over the past three days between 30 and 40% of all the positive tests for the coronavirus are suspected of being the Omicron variant. Just 10 days ago the figure was only 3%. The great majority of those tested at Israeli HMOs are local people who have not traveled overseas.
Haaretz

Israel is to begin rolling out a fourth dose of the coronavirus vaccine with immediate effect for people ages 60 and over, medical workers, and people with suppressed immune systems, the Prime Minister’s Office announced following a recommendation from the country’s panel of coronavirus experts. Those eligible for the fourth dose can receive it provided at least four months have passed since the third dose, it said. In Israel, almost all vaccinated citizens have received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
CNN
Haaretz
Haaretz

December 23 Occupied territories
·       New COVID-19 infections are registered leading to an increase in the number of cases across oPt. Gaza Strip leads by ratio of 42.1% of all active cases, while Ramallah takes the lead in number of cases in the West Bank (15.2%) 
·       Positivity in the oPt is increasing (6.93 in West Bank and 11.3 in Gaza Strip) Rt is currently at 1.03 
·       Palestinian Ministry of Health (MoH) declared on 21 December registration of 6 Omicron cases in the West Bank, no cases registered yet in Gaza. MoH also said that the necessary kits for Omicron tests are now available in the West Bank.
WHO  

December 23 Israel
Israel’s rate of infection hit its highest point since August, though serious cases remain low. The R number – the average number of people each coronavirus carrier infects – reached 1.34, the highest figure since the beginning of August. The new daily cases also hit 1,400, the highest since mid-October.About 81% of Tel Aviv’s positive tests were among children. In Haifa, children make up 57% of cases, while the figure stands at 39% in Jerusalem.
Haaretz

Several people describe Israel’s COVID tracking system to Haaretz as dysfunctional, while authorities avoid disclosing detailed information about the country’s first line of defense. There seems to be little oversight and less testing in Israel’s COVID Quarantine Tracking Program.
Haaretz

Israel is considering whether to approve a fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose for vulnerable people to contain the fast-spreading Omicron variant, despite debate among scientists and a lack of evidence either for or against another booster.
The panel of experts advising the Israeli government on the pandemic recognized that uncertainty, but it recommended giving a fourth dose, concluding that the potential benefits outweighed the risks. It pointed to signs of waning immunity a few months after the third shot, and said that any delay in additional doses might prove too late to protect those most at risk.
But some scientists warned that the plan could backfire, because too many shots might cause a sort of immune system fatigue, compromising the body’s ability to fight the coronavirus. 
New York Times

December 24 Occupied territories
According to the Reuters coronavirus tracker, 44 coronavirus infections per 100,000 people (or 12% of the peak) were reported in the last week in the occupied Palestinian territories. The territories reported 300 new infections on average each day; 467,930 infections and 4,887 deaths have been reported since the onset of the pandemic. So far, at least 3,315,774 doses of vaccine have been administered in the territories, or the equivalent of 35.4% of the population covered with two doses. During the last week reported, an average of about 9,350 doses were given each day; at that rate, it will take an additional 101 days to reach another 10% of the population.
Reuters

December 24 Israel
Doubling itself at a rate of somewhere between every two and three days, Omicron will become the dominant variant of the coronavirus in Israel, shunting aside the Delta variant within about two weeks. One practical result of this is already clear – Israel, within a few weeks, will break its daily infection record that was set back in January, during the third wave of the pandemic: more than 10,000 new cases in a single day.
Haaretz

December 25 Israel
Israel has confirmed 591 new cases of the Omicron variant, the Health Ministry said, more than doubling the total number of confirmed carriers in the country, which now stands at 1,118 – up from 527 on the morning of the 24th. There are 861 other confirmed COVID cases in people who are known to have been exposed to an Omicron carrier, but await lab results to confirm whether they indeed have omicron.
Overall new coronavirus cases and Israel’s R number continued to rise  but the number of serious cases stood at 90 compared to 91 the previous day. Of these, 34 were on ventilators. Six people have died over the virus over the past week, raising the death toll since the start of the pandemic to 8,241.
Haaretz

December 26 Occupied territories
The Palestinian Health Ministry said it had identified the first case of the Omicron variant of coronavirus in the Gaza Strip. The carrier is a Gaza resident who was infected within the coastal territory, ministry official Majdi Dhair told a news conference. “We are headed for a difficult time and violent wave [of infection] with the entry of Omicron into the Gaza Strip,” Dhair said in a press briefing.
Haaretz

December 26 Israel
Despite Omicron, Israel continues to allow potential superspreader events. While travel restrictions paralyze the airport and gathering restrictions are enforced in malls, Israelis are partying at weddings and bar mitzvahs despite high risk of infection.
Haaretz

Israel is “rapidly approaching” the point at which restrictions on international travel will become less relevant, as the Omicron strain of the coronavirus continues to spread within the country,” the Israeli expert panel advising the government on the pandemic said.
Haaretz

Israel’s Health Ministry recorded 98 active serious COVID cases, marking a 24% increase over the last eight days, as fears grow of an Omicron wave overwhelming the country. Of the new serious cases this past week, 75% were not inoculated at all, even though the unvaccinated account for only 31% of Israel’s population. Per capita, the unvaccinated suffer from serious illness from COVID at 10 times the rate of the vaccinated.
Haaretz

Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit has approved the imposition of government restrictions on unvaccinated people in an effort to encourage them to get the jab, regardless of whether those restrictions are demonstrably epidemiologically effective. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz are weighing bringing a few proposals to the cabinet, designed to bolster restrictions on unvaccinated people.  
Haaretz

December 27 Israel

Israel now offers COVID boosters after three months and requires vaccine proof in malls. Those who have recovered from COVID can also get a booster three months after their latest shot. The number of new seriously ill patients has been steadily climbing over the past five days, and the Omicron variant is expected to account for 90% of new COVID cases within days. Nonetheless, Israel is set to lift its travel ban on most African countries and some European destinations, but not the US, Mexico, or 13 other countries with high infection rates.
Haaretz
Haaretz

December 28 Israel
Israeli PM Bennett calls on unvaccinated Israelis to ‘stay home as much as possible,’ saying the current COVID policy won’t stop a wave of Omicron infections, but rather focus on preventing a spike in serious cases and keeping the economy open. However, he did not rule out another national lockdown.According to new quarantines guidelines that will go into effect on 12/29, vaccinated individuals exposed to a confirmed coronavirus carrier must isolate until they obtain a negative result from a PCR test. Experts say the government is sending confusing signals to the public, as stark warnings aren’t accompanied by new restrictions.
Israel currently has 85 serious COVID cases, with 46 among them in critical condition, according to the Health Ministry. Of these, 38 are on ventilators. Just 6% of people with severe illness are vaccinated. 
Haaretz
Haaretz

December 29 Israel
A week has elapsed since the Israeli Health Ministry’s panel of experts recommended a second COVID-19 booster shot for populations at risk, but ministry officials are still deliberating over the issue. The ministry’s director general, Prof. Nachman Ash, has not ratified the recommendation, and plans to implement it are being delayed.
Haaretz

Israel confirmed 2,967 new coronavirus cases on 12/28, in a second day of relatively high figures as the highly infectious Omicron variant keeps spreading in the country. Meanwhile, more Israelis are getting vaccinated, and the number of serious cases remains largely stable even with a spike in overall COVID cases. The R number – the average number of people each coronavirus carrier infects, stands at 1.53, the highest figure since late June, according to data released by the Health Ministry.
Haaretz

In a policy shift, vaccinated and recovered Israelis need only a rapid test to avoid quarantine. In practice, the new regulation shortens COVID quarantine time for Israelis infected with the Omiciron variant from 14 days to 10. It was decided to end the 14-day quarantine for those exposed to an Omicron carrier because of the significant economic hit caused by quarantines, and because there has not been a spike in people hospitalized with the virus.
Haaretz

Israel logged 3,947 new coronavirus cases, the highest number since September, as recent data by the Health Ministry showed the country’s COVID infections are rising by most metrics. The number of new coronavirus cases has more than doubled in the past three days. On 12/26, Israel recorded 1,805 new infections.
Haaretz

December 30 Israel
The Israeli Health Ministry warned hospitals of a looming spike in the number of children in COVID wards as infections rise. Countries further along in the Omicron wave report more pediatric hospitalizations for COVID, and Israel’s hospitals have started to prepare.
Haaretz

The spiking rate of COVID infection propelled by the Omicron variant will cause Israel’s healthcare system to “collapse,” the head of the Israeli army’s coronavirus task force warned in an interview. “We will reach tens of thousands of infected people a day. People will not be able to be hospitalized,” said Brig. Gen. Reli Margalit, who leads the military unit tasked with cutting off COVID’s infection chain through contact tracing and epidemiological investigation.  “In another week, people will “run to get vaccinated” he told the Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth, ahead of retiring from his position. “I hope it will not be too late.”
Haaretz
Haaretz

Israel became the first country to give the green light for a fourth COVID shot of the Pfizer vaccine for people with weakened immune systems, but a final decision on wider usage is still pending. Also, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said that a lockdown and economic shutdown are out of the question, and that action should be taken to allow foreign citizens to enter the country. He also criticized the Finance Ministry for withholding funds for the necessary extra beds and ECMO machines required to meet the fifth wave of the virus. “This is a demand that will save lives, so I will not compromise on it,” he said.
Haaretz

Israel logged 3,947 new coronavirus cases, the highest number since September, as recent data by the Health Ministry showed the country’s COVID infections are rising by most metrics. The number of new coronavirus cases has more than doubled in the past three days. On 12/26, Israel recorded 1,805 new infections.
Haaretz

December 31 Israel
Israel extended a fourth dose of COVID vaccine to the elderly in care homes, based on the high rate of infection in care homes, geriatric wards, and assisted living facilities. Israel recorded another dramatic jump of daily COVID cases, with 4,916 new positive tests, increasing from 4,067 on 12/30 and more than doubling since the start of the week. However, the number of seriously ill patients has remained steady, with 93 patients on 12/31 compared to 94 patients on 12/30.  
Haaretz

January 1 Occupied territories
For the last week of December, Reuters tracked COVID infections in the occupied Palestinian territories at 12% of peak and falling, with 43 infections per 100,000 population reported. There have been 470,303 infections and 4,931 coronavirus-related deaths reported in oPt since the pandemic began. Approximately 3,315,774 doses of coronavirus vaccine have been administered, which translates to 35.4% of the population (assuming two doses/person.
Reuters

Per Ministry of Health:
PCR tests in the last 24 hours:744
New cases in the last 24 hours:57
Cumulative confirmed cases:190427
Seriously ill cases:52
Cases that need medical care:73
Ministry of Health

Detailed information from the Coronavirus/Covid 19 Surveillance System.
Ministry of Health

Minister of Health Mai Alkaila said today that 136 new cases of COVID-19, eight deaths and 314 recoveries were registered in Palestine during the last 24 hours. In her daily report on the coronavirus pandemic, Alkaila said six deaths from COVID-19 were registered in the West Bank, while another two deaths were recorded in Gaza.
A total of 2,745 COVID-19 tests were conducted during the reporting period. In the Gaza Strip, 57 coronavirus tests came out positive, while the West Bank had 79 new cases.
No update was available regarding the situation in occupied Jerusalem.
The Health Minister said that in the West Bank, 113 patients of COVID-19 are currently hospitalized, of whom 57 are in intensive care, including 16 on ventilators.
She pointed out that the recovery rate in Palestine has so far reached 98.2%, while active cases reached 0.8%. Deaths stood at only one percent of total infections.
WAFA

Thanks to Trude Bennett

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Our New Podcast Series: “The World From Palestine”

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We’re pleased to announce that on January 21, Just World Educational will be releasing the first episode in our new podcast series “The World From Palestine.” In this series, JWE President Helena Cobban and Palestinian scholar Yousef AlJamal will be jointly exploring the intersections between Palestine’s liberation struggle and other anti-imperialist struggles throughout history, and until today.

Ms. Cobban is a veteran analyst of Palestinian and world affairs, and author of seven books on international issues who for 17 years contributed a regular column on global issues to The Christian Science Monitor. On her personal website Just World News she has spent the past 13 months exploring the deep history of settler colonialism over the past 600 years. Mr. Aljamal is a wellknown Palestinian author and speaker who grew up in Gaza and is currently completing his Ph.D. in international affairs at Turkey’s Sakarya University.

The new podcast series will be distributed globally by Just World Podcasts and will be available for streaming or download on all the major podcast-streaming platforms, including Apple and Spotify.

When announcing the new podcast series, Ms. Cobban said, “By having these public conversations on these issues we hope to cast new light both on the Palestinian struggle and– by viewing it through the in-real-time record of Zionism’s continuing depradations in Palestine– on the history of settler-colonialism itself… And of course, we also hope to strengthen the ties of solidarity between Palestinians and anti-imperialist strugglers all around the world.”

She also noted that she is particularly excited to be working on this project with Mr. Aljamal, who has wide experience of settler colonialisms in several different parts of the world including Hawai’i, Aotearoa/New Zealand, Ireland, Algeria, and elsewhere.

Mr. Aljamal has undertaken two speaking tours of the United States, in 2014 and 2019. In 2019, in addition to speaking to super audiences and connecting with Palestinian-rights leaders and activists nationwide, he also held good meetings with key members of Congress and numerous congressional staffers.

In 2019, he translated testimonies of Palestinian child prisoners for the book Dreaming of Freedom, and in 2021 he co-authored a collection of testimonies of Palestinian and Irish hunger strikers: A Shared Struggle, published by the Bobby Sands Foundation. For more than a year now, he has been contributing regular columns on Palestinian and world affairs to the online publication Politics Today.

Check back over the coming days for more information about “The World From Palestine”.

The post Our new podcast series: “The World From Palestine” appeared first on Just World Educational.

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Just World Ed and Covid’s 3rd Year

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Humankind’s Covid-19 crisis is now entering its third year. Every nation on this planet has been drastically affected by it– at a time when nearly everyone around the world has also become deeply aware of the dire effects for us all of anthropogenic climate change. And to increasing numbers of people here in the United States, our leaders’ past, extravagantly funded use of military power to effect regime change in distant portions of the globe– whether in Afghanistan, Libya, or Syria– seems to have shown its limits, leaving in its wake only humanitarian catastrophe and societal collapse.

Medea Benjamin
Bill Fletcher, Jr.

Just World Educational is a tiny organization. But we have worked to stay abreast of these big currents in world affairs and in some cases I believe we have led the way with visionary new thinking. I’m thinking particularly of the webinar series “The World After Covid” that we ran in June and July of 2020, in which big thinkers like Richard Falk, Medea Benjamin, Bill Fletcher, Jr, and Vijay Prashad joined me to explore the kinds of changes the present era was experiencing. We created this online learning hub where you can view the archived videos of those sessions, or just dive into the transcripts, as you prefer.

It is clear that today, as we enter Covid’s third year, we are not yet nearly in a “World After Covid”. A more accurate description for what we were exploring in 2020 would be “The World After the Onset of Covid”. But it is also clear that the onset of Covid marked humankind’s entry into a significant inflection point in the global balance– one that we are still living through.

Amb. He Yafei, of the Chongyang Inst.

Our mid-2020 explorations at that “big-picture” level led to two offshoots. In one offshoot, which was timed to air in the weeks leading up to the U.S. election of November 2020, we worked with the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University in Beijing to present a groundbreaking public dialogue between U.S. and Chinese experts on issues of great concern in the two countries’ relations, in both the economic and the security field. You can see the online learning hub we created from that project, here.

The other offshoot from our “World After Covid” deliberations was one that started out as a more personal quest for me. Since we seemed clearly to be coming to the end of the long era in which a handful of “Western” or West-European-origined nations had been able to dominate all of global politics, I wanted to dig more deeply into the conundrum of how (and why) it was that that domination had been established in the first place.

I launched my research on this question last January 1. Pretty rapidly I realized I needed to go back not just to the notorious voyage of 1492 in which Christopher Columbus “discovered” the Americas (while believing he had actually made it to Asia), but to 1415 CE. That was the year in which a royal-led expedition from tiny Portugal established a first colonial foothold in northwest Africa from which subsequent expeditionary forces then established a string of armed trading posts all around West Africa and down to the continent’s southernmost tip, where they arrived even before Columbus’s first voyage of 1492.

The use by West European powers of raw military might to force punitive trading terms onto the peoples of the Global South can thus be dated back to 1415… And one of the first “commodities” the Portuguese were exporting from West Africa in the 15th century was enslaved persons, who were shipped to plantations the Portuguese had established in various Atlantic island chains, and also back to Europe.


Early Chinese image of a Portuguese sailing carrack

Portugal, Spain, and later England, Netherlands, and France, were each building a form of empire the world had never seen before. These West-European powers used a combination of naval might and very heavy gunnery to force their will onto the peoples of the Global South– and also to effect the mass-scale, long-distance trans-shipment of populations on which their new empires were built. They shipped many millions of captured and enslaved Africans to the Caribbean islands and the American Main (also, in the Indian Ocean, large numbers of enslaved East Africans to plantations in Madagascar, reunion, and elsewhere.) They shipped their own colonial settlers to build “White”-dominated settlements all around the world. And when the Indigenes resisted, which nearly everywhere they did, the colonialists could round them up and ship them to a distant continent, or commit genocide and other mass atrocities against them without fearing any “blowback” against their own, very distant heartlands…

These new maritime empires were a very different breed from the many large land empires the world had seen before; and one by one the large land empires that existed in 1415 fell to the might of the European marauders.

You can read some of the early articles I wrote in this project here, here, here (a long one!), and here.


Screengrab of Amb. Mfeketo

In 2021, while I was exploring those big trends in world history, my colleagues on the JWE board and I stayed faithful to our longstanding commitment to study and expose the attempts the big imperial powers have continue to make to impose their will on the “Darker Nations” (in Vijay Prashad’s notable term.) We also continued to work to identify and share key lessons from current, or recently-past, anti-colonial movements– key among them, as always, the Palestinian national movement, but also, in early 2021, South Africa’s earlier heroic anti-Apartheid struggle.

I was particularly pleased, in the early months of 2021, to work with South Africa’s Ambassador to the U.S., Nomaindia Mfeketo, and a number of other female veterans of her country’s anti-Apartheid struggle produce some great online resources on the little-known role that a range of women leaders and activists played in that struggle. You can access that hub here.

In mid-year, JWE worked with Laila El-Haddad and Maggie Schmitt on a wonderful continuation of our project on food sovereignty issues in Gaza and elsewhere. You can see those resources here.

Our Afghanistan program (with an in-person component!)

More recently, in late October, JWE partnered with the Friends Meeting of Washington to present a cutting-edge teach-in/webinar on the extreme humanitarian crisis that the United States 20 years of military aggression and occupation had left behind for Afghanistan’s 39 million people of Afghanistan. That event featured former CIA officer Graham Fuller and Afghan-American educator Dr. Zaher Wahab. It is still well worth watching! You can do so here.

… And now, what of our plans for 2022, or Covid Year 3, as we might call it?

I am still discussing our plans with our amazingly distinguished and wonderful Board. We’re considering, after two years of being at the forefront of webinar-based learning, making a shift for some period of time towards podcasts. I have been suffering from eye problems since early November– soon, hopefully, to get resolved!– but this period of being more reliant on other senses has renewed my longheld interest in producing quality audio resources.

During 2022, we will likely launch two or more discrete podcast series: one in which I share some of my explorations into the origins and meaning of West-European empire building, and one in which other Board members and I revisit some of the big-picture issues in our “World After Covid” project.

In many ways these two projects feel very complementary. We haven’t decided yet which of them to tackle first. (Stay tuned for news of that!) But whichever order we take them in, we’ll plan to build or update a broad, multimedia online learning hub on which to archive it as a continuing resource.

[Newsflash, updated December 27: We have a third possible podcast project that we’re now also considering– and it may be the one that runs first… Stay tuned!]

We remain extremely grateful to all of our supporters, listeners, commenters, and donors! Thanks to you all for being there! While we work on getting our 2022 podcast productions up and running, please continue to explore our existing Online Learning Hubs and our blog, where you’ll find a continuing stream of worthwhile articles on a range of topics. And thanks for all you do to help build a more just and peaceful world!

~HC.

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US College Bars Trauma Services for Palestinians

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by Nora Barrows-Friedman

We are delighted to crosspost this piece by Nora Barrows-Friedman, JWE Board Member and Associate Editor of The Electronic Intifada.

A civil rights group has filed a legal complaint against George Washington University in Washington, DC, after college officials banned campus mental health services from serving Palestinian students following Israel’s attack on Gaza.

The university could shut down the entire office dedicated to supporting students’ emotional well-being over complaints from Israel advocates.

In a June Instagram post expressing solidarity and support for Palestinian rights, George Washington University’s Office of Advocacy and Support (OAS) offered trauma support services to Palestinian students affected by Israel’s attacks on Gaza the month prior.

During its 11-day bombardment of Gaza in May, Israel attacked residential buildings killing entire Palestinian families, sometimes wiping out several generations.

But those services were quickly canceled by the university administration after the campus chapter of Hillel, which is affiliated with Hillel International, a Zionist institution, claimed that the OAS offer was harmful to Jewish students.

A top administrator contacted the director of OAS and “​​implied an ultimatum” to the office, civil rights group Palestine Legal asserts in the complaint.

OAS could either take down the Instagram posts offering support to Palestinian students at the university, or the director would be fired, according to the complaint. OAS leadership “considered this threat credible,” Palestine Legal states.

OAS was pushed by the administration to publish a statement saying that the post “did not create a safe space for all members of our community” and to revoke the services for Palestinian students.

A student-run group, Students Against Sexual Assault, had also posted to Instagram offering peer trauma support for Palestinian students. The administration ordered the group to remove their post as well, under the same pretext that it was “harmful and exclusionary.”

George Washington University then launched an “audit” of OAS. Members of the office are no longer allowed to publish on social media or communicate with professors on behalf of students experiencing trauma, Palestine Legal says.

Depending on the outcome of the investigation, the entire office and its support services could be closed to all students.

Radhika Sainath, senior staff attorney at Palestine Legal, told The Electronic Intifada that the situation at GW reminded her of segregated swimming pools in the 1960s: When civil rights laws were passed mandating that public spaces be accessible for everyone, some municipalities opted to shut down the pools altogether rather than comply.

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OAS advocacy specialist Nada Elbasha told The Electronic Intifada that her office has historically offered support services to students affected by state violence, racism and discrimination.

She and her colleagues had been involved in conversations “about incorporating more advocacy and more support for populations and experience of trauma that fit into the racial or ethnic discrimination category, in order to [expand] the office as more of a safe space for those communities,” she said.

When Israel began attacking Palestinians in Jerusalem and Gaza in May, Elbasha said that her colleagues initiated discussions about how to support Palestinian students affected by what they were seeing.

But Elbasha’s office was prevented from doing so by the administration.

“I was not given any opportunity to ask questions or give my thoughts,” Elbasha told The Electronic Intifada.

The administration’s move codified Hillel’s false allegations that any mention of Palestine or Palestinians is offensive and somehow injures Jewish people.

“In the way that it was translated to me, in the conversation between Hillel and my supervisor, which happened before the instructions by the administration, Hillel asserted that OAS is ignorant of the issue and we are just following a social media trajectory without understanding what’s really going on [in Palestine],” Elbasha explained.

“There was no invitation for dialogue. That’s how I perceived it.”

From the administrative end, she added, “the argument was that our language [in the Instagram post] was too extreme or not representative of GW, meaning that the phrase ‘Free Palestine,’ and the words ‘oppression’ and ‘imperialism’ and ‘apartheid’ were too vague for this prestigious academic institution.”

The Electronic Intifada reached out to the university’s Hillel chapter to ask how the OAS’ statement of support for Palestinians could be seen as bigotry against Jewish people, but did not receive a response.

Pro-Israel organizations often claim that support for Palestinian rights is equal to anti-Jewish bigotry in order to shield Israel from criticism and accountability – especially on campuses.

It goes back to a fundamental Zionist framework “that Palestinians attempting to just assert their humanity and ask for equal treatment is somehow anti-Jewish, and it’s wrong. Palestinians are pushing back against that,” Sainath said.

On Elbasha’s behalf, Palestine Legal filed a complaint against the university in November, asserting that this denial of services constitutes national origin discrimination under the District of Columbia Human Rights Act.

“Our demands are minimal: ensuring that Palestinian students are treated equally and that GW is complying with the law, that they apologize for the denial of services,” Sainath said.

The DC’s Office for Human Rights can impose sanctions on the university if it is found to have violated the law, including financial penalties.

“We’re not asking for that here. Nada Elbasha is asking for something that shouldn’t be very hard to do,” Sainath added.

“We’re just asking the university to do the right thing.”

Students fight back

Meanwhile, thousands of people around the US have emailed the university to demand that the OAS be allowed to offer trauma services to all students.

And students marched on campus to demand that the university protect Palestinians and end discriminatory treatment.

On 22 November, GW president Thomas LeBlanc issued a public statement recognizing “the concerns and frustrations some in the Palestinian community are feeling.”

He acknowledged the investigation sparked by Palestine Legal’s complaint, but failed to disclose any plans to reverse discriminatory actions. He asserted however that the university is committed to providing students with support services “without regard to their national origin.”

Law Students for Justice in Palestine at GW called the president’s response “vague, inadequate and ineffective.”

The statement “bizarrely and merely redirects Palestinian students seeking support to go to the very same office which was prohibited from doing so by the university,” the group added.

History of discrimination

The university has a history of discrimination against Palestinians.

In 2015, administrators forced a student to remove a Palestinian flag from a dorm room window while other flags were allowed to be displayed.

After Palestine Legal intervened, the university president apologized to the student.

And in 2018, GW students were cyberbullied and targeted by the Israeli government and Israel lobby groups over a divestment campaign.

Campus security officers refused to remove Israel advocates who intimidated and harassed students during a student government hearing on divestment.

Sainath told The Electronic Intifada that these highly visible instances are “just the tip of the iceberg” in terms of the actual number of GW students her legal team has talked to about anti-Palestinian racism there.

While Palestine Legal, students, alumni and human rights activists continue to press the administration to reverse course and apologize in this instance, Elbasha said that she is hoping to rebuild trust with her students.

For her, the administration’s draconian censorship of her work indicates that its priority “is not necessarily with the students, or with learning, or with well-being, or actual diversity” as the university claims.

What’s most troubling, Elbasha said, the university’s actions have only “validated students’ thoughts that they are not safe or welcome on the campus. How does that impact their academic success?”

The post US college bars trauma services for Palestinians appeared first on Just World Educational.

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