Thursday, December 07, 2023






Over the past few days, The Times and other publications have published articles noting how reluctant many progressive politicians and many humanitarian groups, such as UN Women, have been to acknowledge and express outrage about the unspeakable sexual violence against women in Israel during those blood-soaked hours. My colleague Bret Stephens had an especially powerful column on that topic. One of the main reasons for that reticence and outright silence? Broken pelvises and mutilated genitalia are seen as inconvenient talking points if your script and your focus is the oppression of Palestinians by Israelis.

But a first-rate morality can recognize, care about and crusade against that oppression and still call a rape a rape. Decency can carve out mention of — and disgust with — unconscionable brutality amid a broader discussion about the larger conflict. It can mourn what needs mourning and condemn what demands condemnation without betraying other concerns. It can simultaneously pressure Israel to show greater mercy in Gaza and call for an end to Hamas’s murderous hold on Gazans. It has awareness enough to see bad actors everywhere and not just some hierarchy of power. It has empathy enough to flow in multiple directions.

From almost Oct. 8 onward, I’ve listened to people quibble with x report of the atrocities on Oct. 7, with y description, with z figure, and what I’ve heard isn’t any strict and simple devotion to provable fact. It’s a desire to tidy up the carnage in the service of a neat and clean taxonomy of villains and victims. And there’s neither first-rate intelligence nor first-rate morality in that.



(Dobbs) I wish Israel could have found a way to kill its enemies but no one else.

Everyone comes together when faced by a common threat.





I’m afraid Israel could win the battle but lose the war.

To use the lingo of the Israel Defense Forces, they are “eliminating” Hamas leaders and eviscerating their capacity to wage war again. I support that goal. On October 7th, an estimated 1,200 Israelis were murdered. Women were raped, people’s limbs were amputated, eyes were gouged out, sometimes before these pour souls were slaughtered.

That’s what we knew before this week. Then, at a conference Monday at the U.N. in New York, it got even worse. 

Witnesses testified to what they found when they got to the scenes of Hamas’s crimes. A man who helped collect victims’ corpses spoke of “horrific things I saw with my own eyes.” Horrific things like a woman’s body with “nails and different objects in her female organs,” another victim’s genitals so dismembered that “we couldn’t identify if it was a man or a woman.” He spoke of one woman he found “half-naked, from the waist down. She was shot in the back of her head. When we turned her around she had an open grenade in her hand.,” presumably planted to kill others who entered the room. A military reservist who had to prepare bodies for burial described several women “who were shot in the crotch, intimate parts, vagina, or were shot in the breast.” She told of others whose faces were butchered, or who had several gunshots to their heads.

Hundreds more, as we know, were kidnapped. Most are still in the wretched captivity of Hamas. Israel’s army says that at least seven of those in captivity have died. According to unverified reports, the number is even higher than that.

Israel cannot afford to leave Hamas alive to do this again. Ever.

As dreadfully costly as it has been to Palestinians and to Israel itself, it has made some progress toward that goal. The Israel Defense Forces have killed several top commanders from Hamas. Hamas itself has confirmed it. But as they die, other military leaders are waiting in the wings. Israel estimates that Hamas has had at least 30,000 fighters in its forces, maybe closer to 40,000. Many have been eliminated, but far from most. Now, as upwards of two million of Gaza’s civilians keep looking for safe refuge south of Gaza City, Hamas terrorists are concealing themselves in the cover of those non-combatants.

The odds are, some will be identified, pursued, and killed, but some won’t.

Fresh ground fighters are waiting in the wings too. In the West Bank, the other Palestinian territory, where people for years have felt abused by Israeli soldiers and police and persecuted by fundamentalist Israeli settlers who claim that God gave them their land, now they are being radicalized by what they see in Gaza. A New York Times reporter covering protests there described one chant that echoed across the crowds: “The people want Hamas! The people want Hamas!”

This bodes badly for Israel.

What’s more, when we see photos of children in Gaza who are going through hell, it’s not hard to imagine them being recruited into next generation of terrorists. Or in some cases, into today’s.

This is what U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin meant last weekend when he warned Israel, “If you drive them into the arms of the enemy, you replace a tactical victory with a strategic defeat.” Regrettably, it might be too late to stop that. It is my experience covering conflicts where once there were deep divisions in a nation’s population that everyone comes together when faced by a common threat. Palestinians in both Gaza and the West Bank see that common threat as Israel.

This also bodes badly for the Jewish state.

There’s another way too that the Israelis might win the battle but lose the war: public opinion. In the first days of Israel’s response to the massacre, public sentiment seemed to be on its side. People understood Israel’s motive: to punish the perpetrators. But ten days in, when a missile struck near a hospital in Gaza City, news reports went viral with a claim by Hamas that the missile was Israel’s and that hundreds were dead. Before long, evidence pointed toward a Palestinian rocket that misfired, not an Israeli missile, but it was too late to erase the impression. Public opinion turned against Israel and hasn’t turned back.

To the contrary, it is getting worse. Now, the Israel Defense Forces are trying to get non-combatants who’ve already evacuated south from Gaza City, some with little more than the clothes on their backs, to get on the move again. Israel is chasing the terrorists and wherever it finds them, it will strike. But civilians are running out of places to flee. A U.N. official in Gaza said this week that he can’t even tell people anymore where to go to be safe. 

To Israel’s credit, it is dropping leaflets from the air, making robocalls in Arabic, and putting notices on Arab social media, telling Palestinians to get out of the areas about to be targeted. It doesn’t save every life but it saves some.

By contrast, Hamas never made robocalls on October 7th to the attendees at the music festival, where more than 250 victims died, or to the kibbutzes it attacked, or anywhere else, to warn people to get out. Its goal was not to save civilians. It was to kidnap and kill them.

And evidently, from that testimony Monday at the U.N., to mutilate them. The suffering in Israel on October 7th was epic. But with the scale of the suffering in Gaza, points like those are lost. 

If any of us watches what’s happening and doesn’t feel deep pity for the blameless Palestinians who have lost everything, we’re missing something. I wish Israel could have been more “surgical” in its attacks. I wish Israel could have found a way to kill its enemies but no one else. It’s easier though to be an armchair general than a general in the field, charged with eliminating adversaries who, as evidence now shows, operate among the innocents. Maybe what I wish for just wasn’t possible.

The dilemma is that both sides see this as an existential battle. For Hamas, the challenge is to stay alive. For Israel, there are two. One is, their long-sought alliances with western-oriented Arab states are in trouble, if not already in tatters, and might not be reparable. The other is, the more Palestinians they kill, the more enemies they make. Not just in Gaza, but in much of the world.

That’s what it means to win the battle but lose the war.


Greg Dobbs’s commentaries are free. But there also are paid subscriptions for $80/year (which comes to about 80¢/column) to show support for Dobbs’s writing. If you don’t yet subscribe, please do, and after you enter your email address, you can choose: paid or free.

Over more than five decades Greg Dobbs has been a correspondent for two television networks including ABC News, a political columnist for The Denver Post and syndicated columnist for Scripps newspapers, a moderator on Rocky Mountain PBS, and author of two books, including one about the life of a foreign correspondent called “Life in the Wrong Lane.” He also co-authored a book about the seminal year for baby boomers, called “1969: Are You Still Listening?” He has covered presidencies, politics, and the U.S. space program at home, and wars, natural disasters, and other crises around the globe, from Afghanistan to South Africa, from Iran to Egypt, from the Soviet Union to Saudi Arabia, from Nicaragua to Namibia, from Vietnam to Venezuela, from Libya to Liberia, from Panama to Poland. Dobbs has won three Emmys, the Distinguished Service Award from the Society of Professional Journalists, and as a 37-year resident of Colorado, a place in the Denver Press Club Hall of Fame.

Robert Reich


Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina announced Tuesday that he won’t be seeking reelection.

McHenry steered the House as acting speaker during the chaos following Kevin McCarthy’s ouster. McHenry helped negotiate this year’s debt limit deal. He’s also one of the House’s most prominent policy wonks.

Retirements across both parties are already outpacing those of the past three election cycles.

The retirements are unlikely to alter the balance of political power in the House or Senate, since most come from “safe” districts that will almost certainly elect someone else from the same party.

But the retirements may alter the balance of integrity, making the Republican Party even less principled than it is now.

Some pending Republican retirees, like McHenry, are institutionalists who care more about policy than ideology. They respect the Constitution and want Congress to run well. A few actively opposed Trump.

McHenry was one of the handful of House Republicans who voted to certify Joe Biden’s victory in 2020.

Another House Republican who announced he won’t seek reelection is Colorado Representative Ken Buck.

Buck has denounced his party’s election denialism and the refusal of many Republican lawmakers to condemn the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. “We lost our way,” Buck told The New York Times. “We have an identity crisis in the Republican Party. If we can’t address the election denier issue and we continue down that path, we won’t have credibility with the American people that we are going to solve problems.”

Several other Republican institutionalists exited before the 2022 midterms. Former Republican Representative Anthony Gonzalez, who was one of only 10 House Republicans to vote in favor of Trump’s second impeachment, left because of threats received by him and his family.

Former Republican congressman Peter Meijer, another of the 10, also exited before the 2022 midterms. He stated that the day after the vote, he purchased body armor and made changes to his daily schedule due to threats against his life.

Meijer also noted that his colleagues who voted not to certify the 2020 election “knew in their heart of hearts that they should’ve voted to certify, but some had legitimate concerns about the safety of their families. They felt that that vote would put their families in danger.”

In the Senate, Utah’s Mitt Romney, a Republican institutionalist, will not be seeking reelection.

The degeneration of the GOP has occurred over many years. I witnessed the first major purge of so-called moderate Republicans in 1994, when Newt Gingrich took over the House. The Senate still contained a few moderate Republicans: I worked with Senators Mark Hatfield, Arlen Specter, John Chafee, Jim Jeffords, William Cohen, and Susan Collins on several pieces of legislation. I found them all to be thoughtful and reasonable.

But moderate Republicans are gone from Congress. Soon, any Republican lawmaker still possessing some integrity will also be gone.

The Republican Party is in an integrity death cycle. As the GOP is taken over by Trump’s enablers and sycophants, the few remaining principled Republican lawmakers want out. As they depart, the Trump rot spreads.

Republican lawmakers who remain are the most self-aggrandizing and least principled. Which in turn causes the GOP to degenerate further.

Tragically and frighteningly, this means that if Trump regains the presidency, Republican lawmakers in Congress and the states will be even readier to do his bidding.

Wednesday, December 06, 2023





A powerful statement from Pfizer CEO

 A powerful statement from Pfizer CEO


I was ashamed to hear the recent testimony of 3 top university presidents. In my personal opinion, it was one of the most despicable moments in the history of U.S. academia. The 3 Presidents were offered numerous opportunities to condemn racist, antisemitic, hate rhetoric and refused doing so hiding behind calls for “context.”  The memories of my father’s parents, Abraham and Rachel Bourla, his brother David and his little sister Graciela, who all died in Auschwitz, came to mind. I was wondering if their deaths would have provided enough “context” to these presidents to condemn the Nazis' antisemitic propaganda.

And because dehumanization of the victims makes it easier to “set your own context” and justify anything, here is a picture of Graciela Bourla, who was exterminated in the concentration camp at the age of 17. Unfortunately, no pictures of my grandparents and uncle survived. I still wonder what they looked like.



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