Posts made in October 2023

Open letter to President Biden: we call for a ceasefire now

, Ben Lerner,  and others

We are a group of Jewish American writers, artists and academics. We oppose what the Israeli government is doing with US assistance

President Joe Biden:

We are a group of Jewish American writers, artists and academics. Being Jewish means different things to all of us, but we all have at least one Jewish parent, which means we could move to Israel and qualify for Israeli citizenship.

We condemn attacks on Israeli and Palestinian civilians. We believe it is possible and in fact necessary to condemn Hamas’ actions and acknowledge the historical and ongoing oppression of the Palestinians. We believe it is possible and necessary to condemn Hamas’ attack and take a stand against the collective punishment of Gazans that is unfolding and accelerating as we write.

Cutting off resources to more than 2 million people, demanding families flee their homes in the north, indiscriminately bombing a trapped population – these are war crimes and indefensible actions. And yet the United States government is offering “moral” and material support for the dehumanization and murder of innocent Gazans. We write to publicly declare our opposition to what the Israeli government is doing with American assistance. We call on the US government to seek an immediate ceasefire and to use our resources towards providing aid ensuring the safe return of hostages and building a diplomatic path towards peace.

As Jews, as Americans, we will be made to feel a sense of safety in our communities, and in the world, not by unequivocal US support for Israel, but by our government’s insistence on the universal human rights that so many of us take for granted.

Timo Andres

Annie Baker

Timo Andres

Annie Baker

Susan Bernofsky

Judith Butler

Michael Chabon

Deborah Eisenberg

Madeleine George

Masha Gessen

Francisco Goldman

Andre Gregory

Nan Goldin

Alena Graedon

Amy Herzog

Marianne Hirsch

Gabriel Kahane

Cindy Klein

David Klion

Lisa Kron

Rachel Kushner

Tony Kushner

Ben Lerner

Jonathan Lethem

Sam Lipsyte

Zachary Lockman

Kenneth Lonergan

Andrew Marantz

Ben Marcus

David Naimon

Benjamin Nugent

Howard Rodman

Dana Sachs

Ira Sachs

Lynne Sachs

James Schamus

Adam Shatz

Wallace Shawn

Leo Spitzer

V (formerly known as Eve Ensler)

Paula Vogel

Ayelet Waldman

Laura Wexler

Hannah Zeavin



The images and horror stories coming from the Middle East are unbearable. Israel’s relentless bombardment of the Palestinian people is not just a humanitarian crisis of global proportion, it is a genocidal act of revenge and hate, reminiscent of WWII. Please listen to this very important dialogue between Tucker Carlson and Colonel Douglas MacGregor on the serious and real risk this recent escalation of violence between Israel and Hamas poses to the rest of the world.

We must all do what we can to pressure our elected officials to call for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza.

Tucker Carlson Interviews Col Douglas MacGregor:

Escalation in Israel-Hamas Conflict: October 7, 2023

The ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict has once again escalated, leaving countless civilians dead and the international community deeply concerned about the growing humanitarian crisis. On October 7, 2023, the region witnessed a surprise attack by Hamas, a militant Islamic resistance movement, that caused a significant spike in violence, marking a disturbing chapter in this long-standing conflict. This article provides an overview of the events that transpired on that fateful day and the broader implications of this intensifying confrontation. The Israel-Hamas conflict is a protracted struggle that dates back several decades. Rooted in historical, territorial, and religious tensions, it has resulted in numerous clashes, wars, and ceasefires, all of which have left a lasting impact on the people living in the region.

October 7, 2023 – A Day of Escalation

On October 7, 2023, violence in the region escalated significantly. The day began with a series of rocket attacks launched by Hamas militants from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel. These rockets targeted civilian areas, posing a severe threat to the lives and security of Israeli citizens. In response, Israel initiated a swift and powerful counterattack, with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launching airstrikes on multiple Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip. The IDF’s disproportionate response was immediate, as they aimed to destroy the resistance groups’ infrastructure and minimize their ability to launch further attacks. As the day progressed, reports of casualties on both sides began to emerge. The situation rapidly deteriorated, and it became clear that this was one of the most serious escalations in violence seen in recent years. Making matters worse, is the western media and government’s response to the crisis in favor of Israel’s right to defend itself, inspite of the inhumane and unjust occupation of the region after WWII that led to the creation of the Jewish state.

“Palestinian territory – encompassing the Gaza Strip and West Bank, including East Jerusalem – has been illegally occupied by Israel since 1967. Since then, the Israeli government has established a two-tiered legal and political system that provides comprehensive rights for Jewish Israeli settlers while imposing military rule and control on Palestinians without any basic protections or rights under international law. The Israeli government has also engaged in a regular practice of inhumane acts, as well as extrajudicial killings, torture, denial of fundamental human rights, arbitrary detention and collective punishment. The UN Human Rights Council-mandated Commission of Inquiry (CoI) on the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), including East Jerusalem, and Israel concluded in June 2022 that continued occupation, as well as discrimination against Palestinians, are the key causes of recurrent instability and protraction of conflict in the region.” – R2P

An Israeli soldier patrol a street of Gaza on October 21, 1973, during the 1973 ArabñIsraeli War. On October 6, 1973, on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, an Arab military coalition led by Egypt and Syria launched a simultaneous surprise attack in the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights, territories occupied by Israel since the 1967 ArabñIsraeli War. This war provoked the oil shock of 1973 and led to the opening of peace negotiations between Israel and Egypt, concluded by the Camp David agreement in 1978. (Photo by Gabriel DUVAL / AFP) Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, an Arab military coalition led by Egypt and Syria launched a simultaneous surprise attack in the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights, territory

Humanitarian Concerns

The Israel-Hamas conflict has always posed a significant humanitarian challenge. The renewed hostilities on October 7, 2023, only exacerbated these concerns. Civilians on both sides of the conflict found themselves in the crossfire, with innocent men, women, and children suffering the consequences of the violence. Hospitals in Gaza are being bombed and facing an influx of injured individuals, stretching their already limited resources. In Israel, residents of southern communities spent much of the day in bomb shelters, living in fear for their safety. The impact of these ongoing hostilities on mental health, particularly among children, is profound and deeply troubling. The disinformation and misinformation of the hospitals bombing in Gaza has also flared tensions across the globe. Israel has shut off water, electricity and other essential supplies and aid in Gaza, creating a greater humanitarian crisis and internationals calls to immediately cease fire and restore water and electricity, and to permit aid to reach civilians.

International Response

The international community has responded to the escalating conflict with growing alarm. Nations worldwide have called for an immediate ceasefire and urged all parties to exercise restraint. International organizations, such as the United Nations and the Organization of African Unity have expressed their concern and called for a diplomatic resolution to the crisis. Various actors, including US Secretary of State Antony Blinkenhave attempted to mediate and de-escalate the situation. Egypt, a historical mediator in the Israel-Hamas conflict, has been in contact with both parties, striving to broker a ceasefire. International envoys and diplomats have also been working tirelessly behind the scenes, aiming to find a path toward peace.

Implications for the Region

The escalating violence on October 7, 2023, underscores the complex and volatile nature of the Israel-Hamas conflict. As this situation unfolds, several key implications become apparent:

  1. Regional Destabilization: The ongoing conflict in the Middle East, especially between Israel and Hamas, has broader implications for regional stability. It can influence the dynamics of other conflicts in the region, including those involving neighboring countries.
  2. Impact on Civilians: The civilian population, on both sides, continues to bear the brunt of the violence. The physical and psychological toll on the people of Gaza and southern Israel remains a pressing concern.
  3. Stalled Peace Process: The conflict poses a significant obstacle to the peace process in the Middle East. A lasting resolution has been elusive, and these recurrent hostilities make it even more challenging to achieve a meaningful peace agreement, including a two state solution.

The events of October 7, 2023, in the Israel-Hamas conflict serve as a stark reminder of the ongoing challenges in the region. The international community’s calls for a ceasefire and a peaceful resolution are critical, but history has shown that achieving lasting peace remains a complex and elusive goal. As the world watches the situation with growing concern, the hope remains that diplomatic efforts will ultimately lead to an end to the violence and a path toward a more stable and secure future for all those affected by this enduring conflict.


SPLC Sues Louisiana City on Behalf of NAACP, Challenging Unfair Voting Map

Every 10 years, political bodies across the U.S. go through the process of reconciling population changes detected in the latest census with district maps that govern how voters elect public officials. Sometimes populations grow in some districts and shrink in others as people take on new jobs, start new families or follow trends in migration. The reapportionment of districts is supposed to ensure that voters maintain equal power at the ballot box, regardless of where they live.

In Abbeville, Louisiana, voting rights advocates have spent years trying to get the City Council to redraw its districts to comply with the legal requirements of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the 14th Amendment. But that has not happened. Instead, after the 2020 census, the city kept a map based on the 2010 census – when the Black population was just over 40% – that has just one Black-majority district out of four districts, even though Black people now make up nearly 43% of the city’s residents. During the same period, the white population fell from 53% to 49%.

In Abbeville, as elsewhere, the makeup of voting maps can have a very tangible impact on the lives of voters. Local officials determine everything from whether a street is paved to how far someone has to travel to visit a park or playground – and how well maintained those public works might be. “There’s a complete difference or two different worlds in the city of Abbeville,” said Linda Cockrell, president of the Vermilion Parish NAACP chapter in Abbeville. “I was told that in the higher-up neighborhoods, city workers are in these neighborhoods at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning washing down the roads, removing trash, and everything else.”

Frustrated by the city’s action, the NAACP chapter, represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center, has filed suit in federal court to force the city to adopt a more balanced voting map. The lawsuit cites the principle of “one person, one vote” that is laid out in the 14th Amendment and requires districts within a political subdivision to be roughly equal in population.

“Abbeville City Council’s decision to not reapportion following the 2020 U.S. census denies equal representation,” said SPLC Staff Attorney Ahmed Soussi, who filed the complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana on Oct. 17.“This is an abuse of power that undermines the voting rights of the residents of District B, including Vermilion NAACP members. We are suing to end this illegal and harmful practice.”


The suit follows years of discussions, hearings and outreach over two city administrations. Reapportionment generally begins once the U.S. Census Bureau releases its block-level maps, which can be a year to 18 months after the national count is finished. Because of the COVID pandemic and the political disarray surrounding the presidential election, the 2020 effort faced some challenges.

After the city of Abbeville began its reapportionment process, it received a report from its demographic firm, Sellers and Associates, that laid out maps showing a population drop of more than 1,000 residents, from 12,257 in 2010 to 11,186 in 2020. Council members and then-Mayor Mark Piazza claimed the numbers were wrong because the census takers did not do a “good job.” Instead of moving forward with the reapportionment process with a public comment period and adoption of new maps, the council stalled efforts until a year later. Last December, the council decided to use the existing map from 2010. Despite having no data to back up the claim, a representative of the Sellers demographic firm claimed that the 2020 census was not accurate.

Neither the council members nor the consultants said how many people the city may have lost or from which districts. The 2020 census data showed a deviation of 19% among some districts. Throughout the years-long debate, members of the NAACP chapter had presented maps with districts that had little or no deviation in population. Additionally, the SPLC presented a map with a far less egregious 6% deviation.

And although current Mayor Roslyn White said the city was “potentially going to make a change,” that did not occur. It is also not the first time the city has been forced to reapportion due to deviations in the size of its council districts. In 2010, the council map showed a 50% deviation, making the city apply for preclearance of its 2010 map under the requirements of the Voting Rights Act in place at the time.


When most people think of voting district maps, the idea of gerrymandering – the process of drawing oddly shaped districts to create voting blocs that favor a particular candidate or party – is the first thing to come to mind. But there are other concerns addressed in federal voting law. In this case, the lawsuit specifically cites the “one person, one vote” provision of the 14th Amendment. Under that clause, people in voting districts should have the same or at least similar voting power. To accomplish that, districts should have roughly the same population. Generally, anything over 10% is considered per se, or “in itself,” unlawful.

Because the City Council simply adopted its old map, a district with fewer people in Abbeville can still elect one council member and have the same representative voice as a person voting in a district with a larger population. For example, under the current map, the median district size should be 2,797 residents. District B gained 10%, rising to 3,086 people, according to the 2020 census. District C, however, lost 9% of its population, dropping to 2,544. So theoretically the vote of a person in District C now carries more weight than one of a voter in District B.

The city has four council districts and one citywide at-large district, for a total of five council seats. Of those, District A and District C each saw losses between the 2010 and 2020 census while districts B and D saw increases. Both A and C are majority-white districts while District D is predominantly Black. In District B, the majority of voters (53.7%) are people of color, but the white population is within a few percentage points.

Overall, 38.5% of Abbeville’s voting-age residents are Black, as are nearly 43% of the residents overall. But those Black residents are mostly packed into one of four single-member council districts, District D, which has a 78.2% minority population. That leaves the others with majority-white or near-parity populations. The council also has a fifth member who is elected on an at-large basis.


SPLC lawyers have reached out to the city of Abbeville with offers to settle the claims without resorting to litigation. Those offers were roundly rejected. “The council maintains the opinion that the current districts are substantially equal, and there was not substantial change requiring redistricting,” City Attorney Bart Broussard said in his response to the latest offer to settle the claim without litigation.

But his response does not address the fact that there is a discrepancy in the size of the districts that violates voting laws. It also does not address the challenges that Black voters already face, like access to polling places and efforts to limit the number of days early voting is allowed. Cockrell said apathy among Black voters is part of the problem when it comes to overcoming racial gerrymandering. “There’s a lot of Black people that’s going around telling other Black folks, ‘What you want to vote for? You’re voting for nothing. You’re not gonna get nothing,’” she said.

One positive note was the election of Councilman at Large Carlton Campbell, which, along with District D Councilwoman Terry Broussard, gave the Black community two voices on the council. But having a voting minority elect a candidate of their choice for an at-large seat is not always a given. “I would like to see two Black districts,” Cockrell said. “I would like to see the city look at every citizen the same regardless of their financial status. We have a lot of work that needs to be done.”

By Dwayne Fatherree, Investigative Journalist

Kevin McCarthy Voted Out as Speaker of the House: A New Chapter in American Politics

On Tuesday, October 3, In a surprising turn of events, Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader and Speaker of the House, was voted out of his position in a significant reshuffling of the political landscape. McCarthy’s tenure as Speaker has been marked by controversy and challenges, making this change a significant moment in American politics. This article delves into the circumstances surrounding McCarthy’s removal and its potential implications for the future of the United States Congress.

The Buildup to McCarthy’s Ouster

The ousting of Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House did not happen overnight; it was the result of a culmination of factors. McCarthy has been a polarizing figure in American politics, often seen as a staunch defender of former President Donald Trump and his policies. While this alignment with the Republican base endeared him to some, it also drew criticism from those who saw him as being too closely aligned with the former president’s divisive and controversial actions.

Another major factor contributing to McCarthy’s removal was his leadership during critical moments in the House. The most significant of these was his handling of the January 6th Capitol riot. Many saw his reluctance to condemn the attack on the Capitol as a turning point, eroding confidence in his leadership abilities and diminishing his credibility in the eyes of some members of his own party. McCarthy has also been accused by members of his Party of being untrustworthy and taking part in backdoor deals with Democrats.

The Vote and Its Implications

The vote to remove Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House took place after a long and heated debate within the Republican caucus. In a close and historic vote, McCarthy was defeated by a majority of his fellow Republicans, a charge led by his arch nemesis and chief rival Matt Gaetz, of Florida. The details of the vote remain a subject of debate, with various reports indicating that some Republicans who had previously supported him had lost confidence in his leadership.

The implications of McCarthy’s removal are profound and far-reaching. The Speaker of the House is one of the most influential figures in American politics, wielding significant power and responsibility. McCarthy’s departure leaves a void at the top of the Republican leadership, setting the stage for a potentially dramatic shift in the party’s direction and priorities.

The Future of the Republican Party

With McCarthy’s ouster, the Republican Party faces a crossroads. Many are speculating about who will step into the leadership void and how they will steer the party moving forward. The party’s direction could shift, with potential implications for issues like immigration, healthcare, and tax policy. Since McCarthy’s ouster, both Jim Jordan and Steve Scalise have failed to fill the vacancy.

The relationship with former President Trump remains a central issue for the GOP. McCarthy’s close alignment with Trump and his ‘America First’ agenda had been a hallmark of his leadership. However, some Republicans may see this as an opportunity to redefine the party’s platform, possibly distancing themselves from the controversial elements associated with the Trump era.

Impact on Congressional Dynamics

The removal of Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House could also have far-reaching effects on the functioning of Congress. The Speaker plays a crucial role in setting the legislative agenda, facilitating debates, and working with the Senate to pass legislation. McCarthy’s successor will need to navigate these challenges, which may require a different leadership style and approach.

Kevin McCarthy’s ousting as Speaker of the House marks a pivotal moment in American politics. The circumstances leading to his removal and the implications for the Republican Party and Congress at large are significant. As the political landscape continues to evolve, the nation will be watching to see how this change affects the balance of power, legislative priorities, and the overall direction of the Republican Party. Only time will tell how this historic event will shape the future of American politics.