What do I need to read or watch to catch up on 94 days of genocidal war?
January 9, 2024 4:31 AM   Subscribe

I had scheduled surgery across the US shortly after Oct 7th, and then stayed relatively out of touch since then. What's the best way to get up to speed?

For context, I am a religious jew in the US who opposes all forms of the occupation. I feel comfortable with my knowledge of the Palestinian experience up to about 2000 but not confident in my understanding of Israeli political forces after about 1980. Historical context is welcome but not necessary.

I am involved at my synagogue and don't trust the "information" I recieve there. I am also involved with some local groups organizing ceasefire protests and don't find the level of knowledge to be very high there, either. Most of my friends and social media are other pro-palestinian leftist jews. I don't feel that I am getting a very helpful picture of current events outside the US from them, mostly content about US ceasefire protests. I am proud of these protests but they don't help me understand the situation abroad, or help me communicate with other members of my synagogue.

What should I be reading or watching now to catch up and stay current? I don't have the bandwidth for constant news updates but I would love to have a weekly deep dive recommended. I am particularly interested in non-us newssources. I don't trust most (any?) US newsmedia not to be pushing US/Israeli government propaganda or similarly biased counter-narrative reporting.

Thanks for your help and respect. I am interested in reports of military events and in the repercussions for civilians of any nationality.
posted by Summers to Writing & Language (18 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Starting off by labeling it “genocidal” may be something to reconsider until you know more about the facts and warfare. Anyway, sources like Human Rights Watch and the Quincy Institute are American but with a focus on the mechanics of war and diplomacy respectively. For a deeper understanding (e.g. whether “genocidal” is correct) you probably need to study the history of warfare and the region before you can make an informed judgment.
posted by haptic_avenger at 5:29 AM on January 9 [11 favorites]

the blue/front page has an ongoing series of threads that has both a combination of breaking news and longer thinkpieces of which plenty can bring you up to speed, such as growing consensus that it's quite genocidal. the latest fpp is here. the combined efforts of mefites in collating sources beyond the establishment western ones have been pretty good.
posted by cendawanita at 5:55 AM on January 9 [11 favorites]

I found this post from back in March a pretty eye-opening refresher on the state of Israeli politics previous to the current situation. For me it was helpful to have encountered that before the escalation because the rhetoric right now, from all sides, obscures more than it reveals, imo.
posted by restless_nomad at 6:00 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]

The Institute for Middle East Understanding provides a lot of good articles. Looks like the website hasn't been updated super recently, but it may still be a useful resource to help understand the current situation.

Re: whether what's happening can correctly called genocide: no disrespect to the first commenter, but it is not necessary to study the history of warfare and the region before you can make an informed judgment. On Oct 13, Jewish Currents published a good article on this topic: "A Textbook Case of Genocide." Jewish Currents may be a helpful overall resource, as well.

The UN has published a Chair Summary of a Panel Discussion on “2023 War on Gaza: The Responsibility to Prevent Genocide”. This was published in December. I plan to read it soon.

Thank you for being a religious Jew who opposes the occupation. I come from a Jewish family that includes occupying settlers in Israel as well as Zionist Americans, and I am heartened by Jewish people who believe that "never again for anyone," not "never again for me."
posted by wicked_sassy at 6:09 AM on January 9 [28 favorites]

I recommend following and checking in on +927 Magazine, which is an Israeli left-wing publication that has been reporting on the conflict closely. Foreign Policy magazine has also been doing an okay job if you check their Recent articles tab.

I agree with others that the recent front page post here (most recently 12/27) and previous threads provides good running updates. There is a fair percentage of people who skew very right-wing on the issue here that has waned a lot as the bodycount and statements from the Israeli government has escalated from "very concerning" to "almost indefensible", but the perspective is still important to see.
posted by windbox at 6:41 AM on January 9 [7 favorites]

echoing cendawanita's comment (above).. in fact, cendawanita has been active in the most recent Gaza thread and they're posting some terrific reporting and articles, I appreciate the perspective and content greatly.
posted by elkevelvet at 7:53 AM on January 9 [4 favorites]

Mod note: One comment removed. Please note that OP is asking for sources that are non USA or Israel sources and it would be helpful if folks post more than just a single URL. This is a complex and emotional subject, so giving more context to suggested sources would be super helpful, thanks!
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 8:02 AM on January 9

I recommend two recent episodes of Ezra Klein's podcast:

This is how Hamas is seeing this is a conversation with Tareq Baconi, an expert on Palestinian history and politics who has studied and written extensively about Hamas.

A Different Path Israel Could have Taken -- and Maybe Still Can is a conversation with Nimrod Novik, an Israeli who has been deeply involved in the country's politics and the peace process over the decades. He is critical of the path the country has taken, and his criticisms are informed by a detailed knowledge of the history, as well as a vision for an alternative approach.

The conversations both discuss the history of the last 30 years (and longer) and provided perspectives that I found very helpful to my understanding of this complex heartbreaking situation.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 10:50 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]

Try these two sources: Al Jazeera English (US) for items covered differently than in Western media, and tilted accordingly. AND Haaretz.com, a solidly left-of-center Israel paper that doesn't pull punches with respect to Israeli politics and events in the Diaspora. Subject to the standard national military press restrictions, but works hard to find examples of "foreign sources say", which often serves as a work-around. The latter is better with a pay subscription, but the open version is pretty good.
posted by Citizen Cane Juice at 11:28 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]

In past conflicts, I have found T'ruah: the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights to be a good source of news and analysis.
posted by jb at 11:35 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]

I am just adding this lengthy podcast episode (Between the Covers, host David Naimon) featuring Naomi Klein speaking about her new book "Doppelganger" because Part 2 offers a lengthy discussion on being Jewish but also being critical of the state policies of Israel. Credit to spamandkimchi for sharing this, it's a tremendous conversation and worth your time, in my opinion.
posted by elkevelvet at 12:40 PM on January 9

For non-US coverage, I agree with the recommendation of +972 Magazine above, but just a slight correction - it isn't simply Israeli but a collaboration between Israeli and Palestinian journalists.

Other sources:
-Adam Shatz' Vengeful Pathologies from early November is still worth reading. In the London Review of Books.

-Rashid Khalidi is also just a general good source - Palestinian professor at Columbia, and I've found him to be consistently thoughtful.

-Masha Gessen's recent-ish article in the New Yorker, "In the Shadow of the Holocaust" is less about reporting current events and more placing them (and the discourse around them) into the context of how the Holocaust is remembered (or misremembered). It's worth reading.
posted by coffeecat at 2:37 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, really appreciate your input and would welcome any further recommendations.

Sorry I wasn't clearer/more intentional. I have studied the Nakba pretty thoroughly in an academic context and feel comfortable in that aspect of the history but have not studied Israel's internal political shifts in the same light. I would welcome background on that although it isn't specifically what motivated this question.
posted by Summers at 6:22 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]

Democracy Now.

It's U.S. based but to my mind, it's the best reporting we have in the U.S. it has always been called "the War and Peace report" since its inception.
posted by mxjudyliza at 12:49 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]

I've linked this channel in the threads before, but only in one comment: Corey Gil-Shuster and his Ask Project. His videos basically goes to locals/residents who's willing to be videoed (in Israel and the occupied territories) to ask them one main question per video. It's not particularly a scholarly summation* but you can also observe the domestic dynamics within with regards to the shift. Over the years, vox pops like his stuff have been very useful for me. I hadn't been surprised that even liberal zionism has been sidelined, due to these kinds of vox pops.

*if I can I'll come back to share highlights that's been shared to date that I found relevant in addition to anything else from anyone else tracking those threads.
posted by cendawanita at 3:59 AM on January 10 [2 favorites]

I don't think it replaces the perspectives from outside the US, but as a supplement to them, the Last Week Tonight episode on Hamas coming to power and Netanyahu's government was really informative to me, and felt ethical and like it was striving to be as fair to all impacted civilians as possible.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 6:40 AM on January 10

I really like The Economist's coverage for this kind of overview. It's a weekly newspaper so the articles tend to be more analytical than reporting on the outrage of the day. It's British, not US. In this particular case that may not matter as much, it's definitely not a (say) Arab perspective, but it's at least different from the US media. You will probably hit a paywall pretty quickly but a library or subscription solves that.

The one article they wrote that really sticks with me is from a month ago, Despite the war in Gaza, talk of a two-state solution persists. I will MeMail you a gift link.
posted by Nelson at 8:21 AM on January 10

A few things come to mind immediately, and I'm sorry these sources are all largely U.S. in part because I have not made the move to new monthly subscriptions (for me a lot of useful coverage has been in Ha'aretz and even the Jerusalem Post, but I haven't taken the leap to subscribing) :

Tareq Baconi on Hamas has been mentioned above, and I do think the Ezra Klein interview was very good because among Baconi interviews Klein is the furthest right on this issue (just meaning on a relative left to right spectrum, not that he's a rightist or a Likudnik or something) and so he's most skeptical of Baconi.

The podcast "The Dig" has been extensively covering Israel Palestine for the last several episodes, but from a historical perspective. (The most recent two-parter is basically about religious, ethnic, and cultural/national identity formation from the Ottoman Empire through the post WWI colonial era.) I have found these really helpful. Note that this podcast's perspective is socialist left, and you won't get "both sides" of the conflict by any stretch of the imagination. The Dig also has a Baconi episode which was good.

The podcast "On the Nose" from Jewish Currents is one I've found useful. They have covered the issue recently. They have a Baconi episode and a truly excellent episode with Naomi Klein. Truly excellent episode.

I have gotten a lot from this set of recent n+1 articles.

Folks have mentioned the FPPs but I haven't seen anyone link them. Here are all four so far. They are contentious and messy and full of good faith and bad faith argumentation, but have been an essential source of information for me in the post-Twitter world. They're all too unwieldy to read after the fact. In your position I'd give a good ol' ctrl-F to "cendawanita" and "mediareport" in those. (This is not to disparage anyone else in those threads, just am thinking of a couple of the really news-heavy posters in there.)
posted by kensington314 at 10:34 AM on January 10 [3 favorites]

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