• U.S. Moves to Bar Noncompete Agreements in Labor Contracts - The New York Times

    A sweeping proposal by the Federal Trade Commission would block companies from limiting their employees’ ability to work for a rival.

    The exterior of the Federal Trade Commission’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.
    The F.T.C. said a ban on noncompete clauses could increase wages by nearly $300 billion a year across the economy.Credit...Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times
    Noam Scheiber

    By Noam Scheiber
    Jan. 5, 2023

    In a far-reaching move that could raise wages and increase competition among businesses, the Federal Trade Commission on Thursday unveiled a rule that would block companies from limiting their employees’ ability to work for a rival.

    The proposed rule would ban provisions of labor contracts known as noncompete agreements, which prevent workers from leaving for a competitor or starting a competing business for months or years after their employment, often within a certain geographic area. The agreements have applied to workers as varied as sandwich makers, hairstylists, doctors and software engineers.

    Studies show that noncompetes, which appear to directly affect roughly 20 percent to 45 percent of U.S. workers in the private sector, hold down pay because job switching is one of the more reliable ways of securing a raise. Many economists believe they help explain why pay for middle-income workers has stagnated in recent decades.

    Other studies show that noncompetes protect established companies from start-ups, reducing competition within industries. The arrangements may also harm productivity by making it hard for companies to hire workers who best fit their needs.

    The F.T.C. proposal is the latest in a series of aggressive and sometimes unorthodox moves to rein in the power of large companies under the agency’s chair, Lina Khan.

    President Biden hailed the proposal on Thursday, saying that noncompete clauses “are designed simply to lower people’s wages.”

    “These agreements block millions of retail workers, construction workers and other working folks from taking a better job, getting better pay and benefits, in the same field,” he said at a cabinet meeting.

    #Droit_travail #FTC #Lina_Khan #Projet

  • Long-Lost Letters Bring Word, at Last - The New York Times

    By Bryn Stole

    Bryn Stole reported from London, Berlin and Oldenburg, Germany.

    March 9, 2023

    In a love letter from 1745 decorated with a doodle of a heart shot through with arrows, María Clara de Aialde wrote to her husband, Sebastian, a Spanish sailor working in the colonial trade with Venezuela, that she could “no longer wait” to be with him.

    Later that same year, an amorous French seaman who signed his name M. Lefevre wrote from a French warship to a certain Marie-Anne Hoteé back in Brest: “Like a gunner sets fire to his cannon, I want to set fire to your powder.”

    The Decline of the Civil War Re-enactor — Bunk

    The 155th anniversary Gettysburg re-enactment was a snapshot of a hobby with dwindling ranks.
    by Bryn Stole via New York Times on July 28, 2018

    Berlin aquarium explosion: German pundits see a ripe metaphor in the collapse of this gigantic structure.

    Letzte Generation: The German activists who keep gluing themselves to highways and buildings are up to something bigger.

    Sleeper car trains: The hottest trend in travel is a throwback.

    Bryn Stole on X: ““Europe can’t stay united without the United States,” Biden said in a speech to the Senate in 1995 during the crisis in Bosnia. “There is no moral center in Europe.” https://t.co/fpWjoNXg8v” / X

    “Europe can’t stay united without the United States,” Biden said in a speech to the Senate in 1995 during the crisis in Bosnia. “There is no moral center in Europe.”

    Baltimore Sun reporter Stole departs for Fulbright opportunity - Talking Biz News

    June 24, 2022
    Posted by Mariam Ahmed
    Bryn Stole

    Bryn Stole, a reporter at The Baltimore Sun has left.

    A part of his Tweet reads, “Excited to say I’ve been offered a Fulbright grant to report from Germany starting in the fall. I’ll be reporting as a freelancer (so on the hunt for assignments, places to pitch, tips, etc.—get in touch!). I’ll be around Baltimore for most of the summer in the meantime.”

    Previously, Stole was at The Advocate for more than five years, where he worked as a metro reporter, Washington correspondent and investigative reporter. He also reported for Greenwood Commonwealth in Mississippi.

    Stole has a B.A. from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio.

    Letzte Generation: The German activists who keep gluing themselves to highways and buildings are up to something bigger.

    Glue-ten Tag!
    Behind the scenes with Germany’s reviled “climate-gluer” activists.
    By Bryn Stole
    Feb 03, 20235:45 AM

    Protests Against Police Shootings in the US Continue, Protestors Face Arrest

    Bryn Stole and David Bailey

    Baton Rouge/Minneapolis: Protests against the shootings of two black men by police officers shut down main arteries in a number of US cities on July 9, leading to numerous arrests, scuffles and injuries in confrontations between police and demonstrators.


  • Chat GPT ou le perroquet grammairien - AOC media
    Par Pierre-Yves Modicom – Linguiste
    Rediffusion d’un article du 14 novembre 2023.

    L’irruption des IA conversationnelles dans la sphère publique a conféré une pertinence supplémentaire aux débats sur le langage humain et sur ce qu’on appelle parler. Notamment, les IA redonnent naissance à un débat ancien sur la grammaire générative et sur l’innéisme des facultés langagières. Mais les grands modèles de langage et les IA neuronales nous offrent peut-être l’occasion d’étendre le domaine de la réflexion sur l’architecture des systèmes possibles de cognition, de communication et d’interaction, et considérant aussi la façon dont les animaux communiquent.

    La capacité de ChatGPT à produire des textes en réponse à n’importe quelle requête a immédiatement attiré l’attention plus ou moins inquiète d’un grand nombre de personnes, les unes animées par une force de curiosité ou de fascination, et les autres, par un intérêt professionnel.

    L’intérêt professionnel scientifique que les spécialistes du langage humain peuvent trouver aux Large Language Models ne date pas d’hier : à bien des égards, des outils de traduction automatique comme DeepL posaient déjà des questions fondamentales en des termes assez proches. Mais l’irruption des IA conversationnelles dans la sphère publique a conféré une pertinence supplémentaire aux débats sur ce que les Large Language Models sont susceptibles de nous dire sur le langage humain et sur ce qu’on appelle parler.

    L’outil de traduction DeepL (ou les versions récentes de Google Translate) ainsi que les grands modèles de langage reposent sur des techniques d’« apprentissage profond » issues de l’approche « neuronale » de l’Intelligence Artificielle : on travaille ici sur des modèles d’IA qui organisent des entités d’information minimales en les connectant par réseaux ; ces réseaux de connexion sont entraînés sur des jeux de données considérables, permettant aux liaisons « neuronales » de se renforcer en proportion des probabilités de connexion observées dans le jeu de données réelles – c’est ce rôle crucial de l’entraînement sur un grand jeu de données qui vaut aux grands modèles de langage le sobriquet de « perroquets stochastiques ». Ces mécanismes probabilistes sont ce qui permet aussi à l’IA de gagner en fiabilité et en précision au fil de l’usage. Ce modèle est qualifié de « neuronal » car initialement inspiré du fonctionnement des réseaux synaptiques. Dans le cas de données langagières, à partir d’une requête elle-même formulée en langue naturelle, cette technique permet aux agents conversationnels ou aux traducteurs neuronaux de produire très rapidement des textes généralement idiomatiques, qui pour des humains attesteraient d’un bon apprentissage de la langue.

    IA neuronales et acquisition du langage humain
    Au-delà de l’analogie « neuronale », ce mécanisme d’entraînement et les résultats qu’il produit reproduisent les théories de l’acquisition du langage fondées sur l’interaction avec le milieu. Selon ces modèles, généralement qualifiés de comportementalistes ou behavioristes car étroitement associés aux théories psychologiques du même nom, l’enfant acquiert le langage par l’exposition aux stimuli linguistiques environnants et par l’interaction (d’abord tâtonnante, puis assurée) avec les autres. Progressivement, la prononciation s’aligne sur la norme majoritaire dans l’environnement individuel de la personne apprenante ; le vocabulaire s’élargit en fonction des stimuli ; l’enfant s’approprie des structures grammaticales de plus en plus contextes ; et en milieu bilingue, les enfants apprennent peu à peu à discriminer les deux ou plusieurs systèmes auxquels ils sont exposés. Cette conception essentiellement probabiliste de l’acquisition va assez spontanément de pair avec des théories grammaticales prenant comme point de départ l’existence de patrons (« constructions ») dont la combinatoire constitue le système. Dans une telle perspective, il n’est pas pertinent qu’un outil comme ChatGPT ne soit pas capable de référer, ou plus exactement qu’il renvoie d’office à un monde possible stochastiquement moyen qui ne coïncide pas forcément avec le monde réel. Cela ne change rien au fait que ChatGPT, DeepL ou autres maîtrisent le langage et que leur production dans une langue puisse être qualifiée de langage : ChatGPT parle.

    Mais ce point de vue repose en réalité sur un certain nombre de prémisses en théorie de l’acquisition, et fait intervenir un clivage lancinant au sein des sciences du langage. L’actualité de ces dernières années et surtout de ces derniers mois autour des IA neuronales et génératives redonne à ce clivage une acuité particulière, ainsi qu’une pertinence nouvelle pour l’appréhension de ces outils qui transforment notre rapport au texte et au discours. La polémique, comme souvent (trop souvent ?) quand il est question de théorie du langage et des langues, se cristallise – en partie abusivement – autour de la figure de Noam Chomsky et de la famille de pensée linguistique très hétérogène qui se revendique de son œuvre, généralement qualifiée de « grammaire générative » même si le pluriel (les grammaires génératives) serait plus approprié.

    IA générative contre grammaire générative
    Chomsky est à la fois l’enfant du structuralisme dans sa variante états-unienne et celui de la philosophie logique rationaliste d’inspiration allemande et autrichienne implantée sur les campus américains après 1933. Chomsky est attaché à une conception forte de la logique mathématisée, perçue comme un outil d’appréhension des lois universelles de la pensée humaine, que la science du langage doit contribuer à éclairer. Ce parti-pris que Chomsky qualifiera lui-même de « cartésien » le conduit à fonder sa linguistique sur quelques postulats psychologiques et philosophiques, dont le plus important est l’innéisme, avec son corollaire, l’universalisme. Selon Chomsky et les courants de la psychologie cognitive influencée par lui, la faculté de langage s’appuie sur un substrat génétique commun à toute l’espèce humaine, qui s’exprime à la fois par un « instinct de langage » mais aussi par l’existence d’invariants grammaticaux, identifiables (via un certain niveau d’abstraction) dans toutes les langues du monde.

    La nature de ces universaux fluctue énormément selon quelle période et quelle école du « générativisme » on étudie, et ce double postulat radicalement innéiste et universaliste reste très disputé aujourd’hui. Ces controverses mettent notamment en jeu des conceptions très différentes de l’acquisition du langage et des langues. Le moment fondateur de la théorie chomskyste de l’acquisition dans son lien avec la définition même de la faculté de langage est un violent compte-rendu critique de Verbal Behavior, un ouvrage de synthèse des théories comportementalistes en acquisition du langage signé par le psychologue B.F. Skinner. Dans ce compte-rendu publié en 1959, Chomsky élabore des arguments qui restent structurants jusqu’à aujourd’hui et qui définissent le clivage entre l’innéisme radical et des théories fondées sur l’acquisition progressive du langage par exposition à des stimuli environnementaux. C’est ce clivage qui préside aux polémiques entre linguistes et psycholinguistes confrontés aux Large Language Models.

    On comprend dès lors que Noam Chomsky et deux collègues issus de la tradition générativiste, Ian Roberts, professeur de linguistique à Cambridge, et Jeffrey Watumull, chercheur en intelligence artificielle, soient intervenus dans le New York Times dès le 8 mars 2023 pour exposer un point de vue extrêmement critique intitulée « La fausse promesse de ChatGPT » https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/08/opinion/noam-chomsky-chatgpt-ai.html . En laissant ici de côté les arguments éthiques utilisés dans leur tribune, on retiendra surtout l’affirmation selon laquelle la production de ChatGPT en langue naturelle ne pourrait pas être qualifiée de « langage » ; ChatGPT, selon eux, ne parle pas, car ChatGPT ne peut pas avoir acquis la faculté de langage. La raison en est simple : si les Grands Modèles de Langage reposent intégralement sur un modèle behaviouriste de l’acquisition, dès lors que ce modèle, selon eux, est réfuté depuis soixante ans, alors ce que font les Grands Modèles de Langage ne peut être qualifié de « langage ».

    Chomsky, trop têtu pour qu’on lui parle ?
    Le point de vue de Chomsky, Roberts et Watumull a été instantanément tourné en ridicule du fait d’un choix d’exemple particulièrement malheureux : les trois auteurs avançaient en effet que certaines constructions syntaxiques complexes, impliquant (dans le cadre générativiste, du moins) un certain nombre d’opérations sur plusieurs niveaux, ne peuvent être acquises sur la base de l’exposition à des stimuli environnementaux, car la fréquence relativement faible de ces phénomènes échouerait à contrebalancer des analogies formelles superficielles avec d’autres tournures au sens radicalement différent. Dans la tribune au New York Times, l’exemple pris est l’anglais John is too stubborn to talk to, « John est trop entêté pour qu’on lui parle », mais en anglais on a littéralement « trop têtu pour parler à » ; la préposition isolée (ou « échouée ») en position finale est le signe qu’un constituant a été supprimé et doit être reconstitué aux vues de la structure syntaxique d’ensemble. Ici, « John est trop têtu pour qu’on parle à [John] » : le complément supprimé en anglais l’a été parce qu’il est identique au sujet de la phrase.

    Ce type d’opérations impliquant la reconstruction d’un complément d’objet supprimé car identique au sujet du verbe principal revient dans la plupart des articles de polémique de Chomsky contre la psychologie behaviouriste et contre Skinner dans les années 1950 et 1960. On retrouve même l’exemple exact de 2023 dans un texte du début des années 1980. C’est en réalité un exemple-type au service de l’argument selon lequel l’existence d’opérations minimales universelles prévues par les mécanismes cérébraux humains est nécessaire pour l’acquisition complète du langage. Il a presque valeur de shibboleth permettant de séparer les innéistes et les comportementalistes. Il est donc logique que Chomsky, Roberts et Watumull avancent un tel exemple pour énoncer que le modèle probabiliste de l’IA neuronale est voué à échouer à acquérir complètement le langage.

    On l’aura deviné : il suffit de demander à ChatGPT de paraphraser cette phrase pour obtenir un résultat suggérant que l’agent conversationnel a parfaitement « compris » le stimulus. DeepL, quand on lui demande de traduire cette phrase en français, donne deux solutions : « John est trop têtu pour qu’on lui parle » en solution préférée et « John est trop têtu pour parler avec lui » en solution de remplacement. Hors contexte, donc sans qu’on sache qui est « lui », cette seconde solution n’est guère satisfaisante. La première, en revanche, fait totalement l’affaire.

    Le détour par DeepL nous montre toutefois la limite de ce petit test qui a pourtant réfuté Chomsky, Roberts et Watumull : comprendre, ici, ne veut rien dire d’autre que « fournir une paraphrase équivalente », dans la même langue (dans le cas de l’objection qui a immédiatement été faite aux trois auteurs) ou dans une autre (avec DeepL), le problème étant que les deux équivalents fournis par DeepL ne sont justement pas équivalents entre eux, puisque l’un est non-ambigu référentiellement et correct, tandis que l’autre est potentiellement ambigu référentiellement, selon comment on comprend « lui ». Or l’argument de Chomsky, Roberts et Watumull est justement celui de l’opacité du complément d’objet… Les trois auteurs ont bien sûr été pris à défaut ; reste que le test employé, précisément parce qu’il est typiquement behaviouriste (observer extérieurement l’adéquation d’une réaction à un stimulus), laisse ouverte une question de taille et pourtant peu présente dans les discussions entre linguistes : y a-t-il une sémantique des énoncés produits par ChatGPT, et si oui, laquelle ? Chomsky et ses co-auteurs ne disent pas que ChatGPT « comprend ou « ne comprend pas » le stimulus, mais qu’il en « prédit le sens » (bien ou mal). La question de la référence, présente dans la discussion philosophique sur ChatGPT mais peu mise en avant dans le débat linguistique, n’est pas si loin.

    Syntaxe et sémantique de ChatGPT
    ChatGPT a une syntaxe et une sémantique : sa syntaxe est homologue aux modèles proposés pour le langage naturel invoquant des patrons formels quantitativement observables. Dans ce champ des « grammaires de construction », le recours aux données quantitatives est aujourd’hui standard, en particulier en utilisant les ressources fournies par les « grand corpus » de plusieurs dizaines de millions voire milliards de mots (quinze milliards de mots pour le corpus TenTen francophone, cinquante-deux milliards pour son équivalent anglophone). D’un certain point de vue, ChatGPT ne fait que répéter la démarche des modèles constructionalistes les plus radicaux, qui partent de co-occurrences statistiques dans les grands corpus pour isoler des patrons, et il la reproduit en sens inverse, en produisant des données à partir de ces patrons.

    Corrélativement, ChatGPT a aussi une sémantique, puisque ces théories de la syntaxe sont majoritairement adossées à des modèles sémantiques dits « des cadres » (frame semantics), dont l’un des inspirateurs n’est autre que Marvin Minsky, pionnier de l’intelligence artificielle s’il en est : la circulation entre linguistique et intelligence artificielle s’inscrit donc sur le temps long et n’est pas unilatérale. Là encore, la question est plutôt celle de la référence : la sémantique en question est très largement notionnelle et ne permet de construire un énoncé susceptible d’être vrai ou faux qu’en l’actualisant par des opérations de repérage (ne serait-ce que temporel) impliquant de saturer grammaticalement ou contextuellement un certain nombre de variables « déictiques », c’est-à-dire qui ne se chargent de sens que mises en relation à un moi-ici-maintenant dans le discours.

    On touche ici à un problème transversal aux clivages dessinés précédemment : les modèles « constructionnalistes » sont plus enclins à ménager des places à la variation contextuelle, mais sous la forme de variables situationnelles dont l’intégration à la description ne fait pas consensus ; les grammaires génératives ont très longtemps évacué ces questions hors de leur sphère d’intérêt, mais les considérations pragmatiques y fleurissent depuis une vingtaine d’années, au prix d’une convocation croissante du moi-ici-maintenant dans l’analyse grammaticale, du moins dans certains courants. De ce fait, l’inscription ou non des enjeux référentiels et déictiques dans la définition même du langage comme faculté humaine représente un clivage en grande partie indépendant de celui qui prévaut en matière de théorie de l’acquisition.

    À l’école du perroquet
    La bonne question, en tout cas la plus féconde pour la comparaison entre les productions langagières humaines et les productions des grands modèles de langage, n’est sans doute pas de savoir si « ChatGPT parle » ni si les performances de l’IA neuronale valident ou invalident en bloc tel ou tel cadre théorique. Une piste plus intéressante, du point de vue de l’étude de la cognition et du langage humains, consiste à comparer ces productions sur plusieurs niveaux : les mécanismes d’acquisition ; les régularités sémantiques dans leur diversité, sans les réduire aux questions de référence et faisant par exemple intervenir la conceptualisation métaphorique des entités et situations désignées ; la capacité à naviguer entre les registres et les variétés d’une même langue, qui fait partie intégrante de la maîtrise d’un système ; l’adaptation à des ontologies spécifiques ou à des contraintes communicatives circonstancielles… La formule du « perroquet stochastique », prise au pied de la lettre, indique un modèle de ce que peut être une comparaison scientifique du langage des IA et du langage humain.

    Il existe en effet depuis plusieurs décennies maintenant une linguistique, une psycholinguistique et une pragmatique de la communication animale, qui inclut des recherches comparant l’humain et l’animal. Les progrès de l’étude de la communication animale ont permis d’affiner la compréhension de la faculté de langage, des modules qui la composent, de ses prérequis cognitifs et physiologiques. Ces travaux ne nous disent pas si « les animaux parlent », pas plus qu’ils ne nous disent si la communication des corbeaux est plus proche de celle des humains que celle des perroquets. En revanche ils nous disent comment diverses caractéristiques éthologiques, génétiques et cognitives sont distribuées entre espèces et comment leur agencement produit des modes de communication spécifiques. Ces travaux nous renseignent, en nous offrant un terrain d’expérimentation inédit, sur ce qui fait toujours système et sur ce qui peut être disjoint dans la faculté de langage. Loin des « fausses promesses », les grands modèles de langage et les IA neuronales nous offrent peut-être l’occasion d’étendre le domaine de la réflexion sur l’architecture des systèmes possibles de cognition, de communication et d’interaction.

    Cet article a été publié pour la première fois le 4 novembre 2023 dans le quotidien AOC.

    Pierre-Yves Modicom
    Linguiste, Professeur à l’Université Lyon 3 Jean Moulin

  • A Times Investigation Tracked Israel’s Use of One of Its Most Destructive Bombs in South #Gaza - The New York Times

    Israel says it must destroy Hamas above and below ground to prevent terrorist attacks like Oct. 7 — [shouting] — and claims it’s taking extraordinary measures to protect civilians. But a Times investigation using aerial imagery and artificial intelligence found visual evidence suggesting Israel used these munitions in the area it designated safe for civilians at least 200 times.


  • Opinion | Ed Yong: Reporting on Long Covid Taught Me to Be a Better Journalist - The New York Times

    Covering long Covid solidified my view that science is not the objective, neutral force it is often misconstrued as. It is instead a human endeavor, relentlessly buffeted by our culture, values and politics. As energy-depleting illnesses that disproportionately affect women, long Covid and M.E./C.F.S. are easily belittled by a sexist society that trivializes women’s pain, and a capitalist one that values people according to their productivity. Societal dismissal leads to scientific neglect, and a lack of research becomes fodder for further skepticism. I understood these dynamics only after interviewing social scientists, disability scholars and patients themselves, whose voices are often absent or minimized in the media. Like the pandemic writ large, long Covid is not just a health problem. It is a social one, and must also be understood as such.

    Dismissal and gaslighting — you’re just depressed, it’s in your head — are among the worst aspects of long Covid, and can be as crushing as the physical suffering. They’re hard to fight because the symptoms can be so beyond the realm of everyday experience as to seem unbelievable, and because those same symptoms can sap energy and occlude mental acuity. Journalism, then, can be a conduit for empathy, putting words to the indescribable and clarifying the unfathomable for people too sick to do it themselves.

  • State Department Bypasses Congress to Approve Israel’s Order for Tank Ammunition - The New York Times

    The State Department is pushing through a government sale to Israel of 13,000 rounds of tank ammunition, bypassing a congressional review process that is generally required for arms sales to foreign nations, according to a State Department official and an online post by the Defense Department on Saturday.

    The State Department notified congressional committees at 11 p.m. on Friday that it was moving ahead with the sale, valued at more than $106 million, even though Congress had not finished an informal review of a larger order from Israel for tank rounds.

    The department invoked an emergency provision in the Arms Export Control Act, the State Department official and a congressional official told The New York Times. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivities over the sales. The arms shipment has been put on an expedited track, and Congress has no power to stop it.

    The Defense Department posted a notification of the sale before noon on Saturday. It said Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken had informed Congress on Friday that “an emergency exists that requires the immediate sale.”

  • Freed Palestinians Were Mostly Young and Not Convicted of Crimes - The New York Times

    Israel released a total of 240 Palestinian prisoners and detainees in exchange for 105 hostages freed by Hamas during a weeklong pause in hostilities, an arrangement that diplomats had tried to extend before it collapsed into fighting on Friday morning.

    A New York Times analysis of data on the Palestinians released showed that a majority of them had not been convicted of a crime. There were 107 teenagers under 18, including three girls. Another 66 teenagers were 18 years old. The oldest person released was a 64-year-old woman.

  • Israel Knew Hamas’s Attack Plan More Than a Year Ago

    #Israeli officials obtained #Hamas’s battle plan for the Oct. 7 terrorist attack more than a year before it happened, documents, emails and interviews show. But Israeli military and intelligence officials dismissed the plan as aspirational, considering it too difficult for Hamas to carry out.

    The approximately 40-page document, which the Israeli authorities code-named “Jericho Wall,” outlined, point by point, exactly the kind of devastating invasion that led to the deaths of about 1,200 people.

    The translated document, which was reviewed by The New York Times, did not set a date for the attack, but described a methodical assault designed to overwhelm the fortifications around the Gaza Strip, take over Israeli cities and storm key military bases, including a division headquarters.

    Hamas followed the blueprint with shocking precision. The document called for a barrage of rockets at the outset of the attack, drones to knock out the security cameras and automated machine guns along the border, and gunmen to pour into Israel en masse in paragliders, on motorcycles and on foot — all of which happened on Oct. 7.

    The plan also included details about the location and size of Israeli military forces, communication hubs and other sensitive information, raising questions about how Hamas gathered its intelligence and whether there were leaks inside the Israeli security establishment.

    The document circulated widely among Israeli military and intelligence leaders, but experts determined that an attack of that scale and ambition was beyond Hamas’s capabilities, according to documents and officials. It is unclear whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or other top political leaders saw the document, as well.


    Officials privately concede that, had the military taken these warnings seriously and redirected significant reinforcements to the south, where Hamas attacked, Israel could have blunted the attacks or possibly even prevented them.


    Underpinning all these failures was a single, fatally inaccurate belief that Hamas lacked the capability to attack and would not dare to do so. That belief was so ingrained in the Israeli government, officials said, that they disregarded growing evidence to the contrary.

    • Selon le « New York Times », des responsables israéliens ont eu connaissance, il y a plus d’un an, d’un plan d’attaque inédit du Hamas

      [...] Or, en juillet, une analyste de l’unité d’élite du renseignement 8200, avait averti qu’un exercice militaire que venait de conduire le Hamas ressemblait en plusieurs points au plan de l’attaque prévu dans le document « Jericho Wall ». Mais un colonel de la division militaire responsable de Gaza avait écarté ce scénario, le qualifiant de « totalement imaginaire ».

      « Je réfute catégoriquement l’idée que ce scénario soit imaginaire (…) il s’agit d’un plan pour une guerre » pas simplement pour une attaque « contre un village », écrit cette analyste dans des e-mails cryptés consultés par le journal. « Nous avons déjà eu une expérience similaire il y a cinquante ans sur le front sud à propos d’un scénario qui semblait imaginaire. L’histoire pourrait se répéter si nous ne sommes pas prudents », a écrit l’analyste de manière quasi prophétique à ses collègues, en référence à la guerre de Kippour, en 1973.

      D’après le « Times », si le document « Jericho Wall » a circulé au sein de la hiérarchie militaire israélienne, on ignore si le premier ministre, Benyamin Nétanyahou, et son cabinet l’ont consulté.

      #Hamas #Israël

    • Les cibles sont proches de la frontière et souvent très à gauche politiquement… c’est à dire le noyau dur des opposants à la politique fachiste de Netanyahu et de ses sbires.

      De là à penser qu’ils ont estimé que c’était une bonne affaire de sacrifier un tas de gauchistes pour obtenir le prétexte qu’ils cherchaient délibérément depuis des mois pour lancer leur épuration ethnique de Gaza…

    • 03:52
      Selon le « New York Times », des responsables israéliens ont eu connaissance, il y a plus d’un an, d’un plan d’attaque inédit du Hamas

  • Prime Minister Netanyahu Visits Israeli Troops in Gaza - The New York Times

    Tout le monde n’est pas Zelinsky ! La hasbara n’est plus ce qu’elle était...

    (...) The trip was Mr. Netanyahu’s first to Gaza since the Israeli ground invasion began almost a month ago, according to officials. Those who traveled with him included his national security adviser, Tzachi Hanegbi; his military secretary, Maj. Gen. Avi Gil; and the Israeli military’s deputy chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Amir Baram.

    Photographs released by the Israeli government showed Mr. Netanyahu — wearing a T-shirt, jeans and a khaki flak jacket and helmet — looking at a map, consulting with commanders and standing just inside a tunnel that his office said the Israeli military had recently exposed.

  • Opinion | Who Was the Real ‘Shaved Woman of Chartres’ ? - The New York Times

    Est-ce que la fiction peut tordre l’histoire quand elle s’appuie sur des faits réels ?

    The photograph, “The Shaved Woman of Chartres,” with the young Ms. Touseau at its center, was understood for a long time as a document of the brutal purges that took place during the liberation of France at the end of World War II. Extrajudicial punishments were carried out all over the country, including shaving the heads of women suspected of sleeping with the enemy.

    The truth was more complex. Historians were slow to take an interest in the wartime collaboration and resistance of women, but in the early 2000s, a groundbreaking work by Fabrice Virgili described how many women who were shaved in the purges were being punished not for their intimate relationships with Germans but for denunciations or working for the Germans.

    Eventually we got a clearer picture of Ms. Touseau, too. In 2011 two historians, Gérard Leray and Philippe Frétigné, established that she was a Nazi sympathizer before the war started. She scribbled swastikas in the pages of notebooks she kept as early as the mid-1930s, admired National Socialism and claimed that France “needs someone like Hitler.” Fluent in German, she worked as a translator for the occupying forces and became a member of the nationalist Parti Populaire Français. She was accused of denouncing four neighbors who were deported to the Mauthausen concentration camp, two of whom never returned. The crime, which would have been punishable by death, was not proved, but Mr. Leray told me that he is adamant that she played at least some part in it.

    This August a new, fictionalized portrait of Ms. Touseau was published in France, in the shape of a novel, “Vous Ne Connaissez Rien de Moi” (“You Know Nothing About Me”), by Julie Héraclès, which renders Ms. Touseau, renamed Grivise, as a woman scorned.

    In the novel Simone falls in love with Pierre, who is young and handsome and from a bourgeois family. He sexually assaults Simone, and when she falls pregnant, he abandons her to join the Resistance, leaving her to have an illegal abortion on her own.

    Simone’s desire for revenge drives her to start working as a translator for the Nazis. She begins a relationship with a German officer, Otto, then falls in love with him. After he is injured on the Eastern Front, she joins the Parti Populaire Français to get a transfer to Germany to be with him, with little consideration for the political implications.

    The Simone of the novel has a Jewish friend, lies to the Gestapo to help a member of the Resistance, is “revulsed” by the practice of reporting neighbors and gives food to a little Jewish girl — all “highly implausible facts,” Mr. Leray told me.

    It makes for gripping reading, and the novel was on numerous award lists and won the Stanislas Prize for best first novel. Critics praised it as impressive and audacious, and readers shared their enthusiasm for it — “a beautiful love story,” a “real immersion in Simone’s life,” a story “that shows us that people are never angels or demons but a tangle of good and bad,” several wrote in online reviews.

    But the book has also been the subject of criticism on the question of what fiction can allow itself when it comes to this part of history.

    Ms. Héraclès told me in a phone interview that she was surprised by the debate. Her agenda was not to redeem Ms. Touseau, she said, but “to explore the human condition” by trying to imagine “how a young woman can commit criminal acts.”

    The novel has an epigraph: “I’ve never seen a saint or a bastard. Nothing is all black and white; it’s the gray that wins. Men and their souls, it’s all the same.” But relegating Ms. Touseau to the role of a sentimental being buffeted by history does not enrich our understanding of her. It strips her of agency and impoverishes our sense of history at the same time.

    The shaved woman of Chartres was a driven, ideological woman whom painstaking historical scholarship had liberated from our simplistic understanding of her. At any given time, people are a tangle of good and bad, and it is the prerogative of fiction to mold bare facts for artistic ends. But now fiction has put her back in the limited, familiar role of sacrificial mother that she inhabited in Capa’s photo and the world’s imagination.

    Perhaps we prefer her there, rather than contemplating her and others’ complicity in evil.

    #Fiction #Ecriture #Chartre #Robert_Capa #Collaboration

  • #Gaza Civilians, Under Israeli Barrage, Killed at Historic Pace - The New York Times

    L’article est jonché de déclarations de terroristes criminels de l’armée sioniste qui expliquent encore et encore que c’est parce que le Hamas utilise les civils comme des boucliers humains, sans que jamais ne soit opposée la ultra-publique et multi-répétée (depuis 2008 !) #doctrine_dahiya.

    Edit : sans même compter les déclarations génocidaires de Netanyahou, du président et autres ministres de l’état sioniste après le 7 octobre 2023.

    Israeli officials have pointed not just to U.S. actions in Iraq and Syria, but also to the conduct of America and its allies during World War II.
    In an address on Oct. 30, for example, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cited the accidental bombing of a children’s hospital by Britain’s Royal Air Force when it was targeting the Gestapo headquarters in Copenhagen in 1945. And during visits to Israel by Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, Israeli officials privately invoked the 1945 U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which together killed more than 100,000 people.

    Modern international laws of war were developed largely in response to the atrocities of World War II.

    In 1949, the Geneva Conventions codified protections for civilians during wartime. International law does not prohibit civilian casualties, but it does say that militaries must not target civilians directly or indiscriminately bomb civilian areas, and that incidental harm and the killing of civilians must not exceed the direct military advantage to be gained.

    In the first two weeks of the war, roughly 90 percent of the munitions Israel dropped in Gaza were satellite-guided bombs weighing 1,000 to 2,000 pounds, according to a senior U.S. military official who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

    Those bombs are “really big,” said Mr. Garlasco, the adviser for the PAX organization. Israel, he said, also has thousands of smaller bombs from the United States that are designed to limit damage in dense urban areas, but weapons experts say they have seen little evidence that they are being used frequently.

    In one documented case, Israel used at least two 2,000-pound bombs during an Oct. 31 airstrike on Jabaliya, a densely populated area just north of Gaza City, flattening buildings and creating impact craters 40 feet wide, according to an analysis of satellite images, photos and videos by The New York Times. Airwars independently confirmed that at least 126 civilians were killed, more than half of them children.

    The Israeli military said it had been targeting a Hamas commander and fighters, but acknowledged that it knew civilians were present . Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, an Israeli military spokesman, said the casualties were a “tragedy of war.”

    Every day, local journalists in Gaza report strikes that hit private homes, some of which kill a dozen or more people as families shelter together in tight quarters. On Oct. 19, Israel struck a Greek Orthodox church where hundreds of Gaza’s small Christian community were sheltering at dinnertime, killing 18 civilians, according to an investigation by Amnesty International.

    Lieutenant Colonel Conricus, the Israeli military spokesman, said that Hamas and its deliberate strategy of embedding itself in — and underneath — the residents of Gaza are “the main reason why there are civilian casualties.”


    #civils #victimes_civiles #génocide #intentionnalité #impunité #complicité #indécence

    • D’une violence génocidaire à l’autre, l’impossible destruction de la Palestine - CONTRETEMPS

      « Nous déploierons une puissance disproportionnée contre chaque village d’où des coups de feu sont tirés sur Israël, et nous causerons d’immenses dégâts et destructions », s’est vanté un général israélien de haut rang, Gadi #Eisenkot, en exposant la doctrine au journal Ha’aretz. « Il ne s’agit pas d’une suggestion, a-t-il ajouté, mais d’un plan qui a déjà été autorisé ».[22] Le plan est maintenant en cours de mise en œuvre : comme l’a dit un responsable militaire israélien en décrivant l’offensive actuelle, « l’accent est mis sur les dégâts et non sur la précision ». En d’autres termes, l’abandon total des principes de proportionnalité et de distinction qui sous-tendent le droit international humanitaire est désormais au cœur de la stratégie militaire israélienne.[23] Ce à quoi nous assistons à Gaza est une série de crimes de guerre et de crimes contre l’humanité prémédités et assumés en direct à la télévision, sous les yeux du monde entier.

    • Et Eisenkot est toujours là aujourd’hui

      Guerre Israël-Hamas : l’armée israélienne « change les règles » dans sa guerre contre le Hamas

      Ainsi, la doctrine Dahiya, élaborée en 2006 par Gadi Eisenkot, ancien chef d’état-major de l’armée israélienne – et qui vient de rejoindre, en observateur, le « cabinet de guerre » israélien –, théorise l’usage d’une force disproportionnée afin d’atteindre ses objectifs, y compris viser une zone civile pour y éliminer des cibles militaires. Le nom de la doctrine fait référence à un quartier de la banlieue sud de Beyrouth où était basée la direction du Hezbollah lors de la guerre de l’été 2006 entre le Liban et Israël. Le rapport Goldstone demandé par les Nations unies après le premier conflit entre Israël et le Hamas en 2008-2009 avait conclu que la doctrine avait été « conçue pour punir, humilier et terroriser la population civile »

  • Gaza Civilians, Under Israeli Barrage, Killed at Historic Pace - The New York Times

    More children have been killed in #Gaza since the Israeli assault began than in the world’s major conflict zones combined — across two dozen countries — during all of last year, even with the war in Ukraine, according to U.N. tallies of verified child deaths in armed conflict.

    #civils #victimes_civiles #enfants #génocide

  • Opinion | America Hugged Israel Close. Maybe It Shouldn’t Have. - The New York Times

    “American leadership is what holds the world together,” Mr. Biden says. To him, American leadership seems to mean backing U.S. allies to the hilt and inheriting their conflicts as our own, costs and risks be damned. A “with us or against us” attitude proved destructive two decades ago. Today, it’s a recipe for dividing the world and losing control.

  • The New Enemies of Argentina’s Far Right: Taylor Swift and BTS Fans - The New York Times

    Javier Milei, a far-right libertarian economist, has stayed aloft in Argentina’s presidential campaign on the wings of the youth vote.

    To win the runoff election this month, he will need to hold on to that key demographic, pollsters say. But now, a major hurdle stands in his way: Swifties.

    Squadrons of Argentine fans of the pop star Taylor Swift have gotten political. They have trained their online sights on Mr. Milei and his rising libertarian party, framing them as a danger to Argentina, while Ms. Swift herself is preparing to arrive in Argentina next week for the launch of her Eras Tour outside North America.

    “Milei=Trump,” said one post from a group called Swifties Against Freedom Advances, which is the name of Mr. Milei’s party.

    But it isn’t just Swifties who are organizing against Mr. Milei. He and his running mate, Victoria Villarruel, are also contending with criticism from legions of loyal fans of another musical juggernaut, the K-pop band BTS. They are so active and organized on the internet that they have become known as the BTS Army.

    Last week, the fury of that army was unleashed upon Ms. Villarruel after a series of her tweets denigrating the K-pop group resurfaced. In 2020, she likened the name BTS to a sexually transmitted disease. She also mocked the dyed pink and green hair of some members.

    Those tweets prompted such a fierce response from BTS fans, accusing her of xenophobia, that a large BTS fan club in Argentina felt compelled to try to calm their fellow fans down. “The message that BTS always transmits is one of respect to oneself and everyone else,” said a statement from the club, which has been viewed 1.9 million times, according to X.

    Ms. Villarruel’s only reaction online to the BTS blowback has been a post in which she called her S.T.D. post part of “funny chats” from “a thousand years ago.”

    Mr. Milei’s political base is particularly reliant on young voters. One survey of 2,400 people in October showed that nearly 27 percent of his support came from people ages 17 to 25, versus less than 9 percent for Sergio Massa, the center-left economy minister who opposes Mr. Milei in the runoff. People under 29 account for 27 percent of all eligible voters in Argentina.
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    Many young voters said they see Mr. Milei, who has taken to wearing leather jackets and wielding a chain saw at his campaign events, as the “cool” outsider candidate who has also become a sort of online meme.

    #Fans #K-Pop #Election_Argentine #Taylor_Swift

  • Le titre ignoble du moment : Explosion Gazans Say Was Airstrike Leaves Many Casualties in Dense Neighborhood

    Autant de prudence ça pique les yeux. Le New-York Times n’est même pas foutu de dire « Israeli Airstrike », même en soulignant que c’est ce que disent les gazaouites. Parce que déjà, écrire « airstrike », ça aurait tendance à un peu trop incriminer l’une des parties.

    Et sans aucun souci pour la logique, le même journal publie le même jour : Israel accuses Hamas of operating out of 2 more Gaza hospitals.

    « C’est pas nous qui bombardons les hôpitaux, d’ailleurs c’est parce que le Hamas s’y cache. »

  • Opinion | Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, the Man Challenging Putin for Power

    Zygar est un journaliste russe de qualité qui a choisi le camp états-unien. Son déménagement à Berlin ne semble pas avoir été accompagné des problèmes qui se posent typiquement aux réfugiés russes pacifistes et déserteurs. Ce n’est pas une voix indépendante. Si on n’oublie pas son affiliation, on peut le lire sans tomber dans le piège des malentendus et éléments obscurcis qu’il nous tend. Ses textes complètent l’image que nous avons de la Russie.

    Il a un point faible évident : comme tous les auteurs bourgeois ses textes ne proposent jamais d’analyse permettant de percer le brouillard idéologique qui les entoure. On ne le lit alors que pour sa contribution de « faits » si chers au journalisme bourgeois. Il nous permet également la découverte d’une perspective impérialiste sur les choses qu’il traite, car ses textes sont lus avec attention par les autres membres de son camp. Il a un style agréable à lire. Tant mieux. Pour une fois je découvre une source du camp impérialiste dont la lecture ne fait mal au coeur.


    26.1.2023 by Mikhail Zygar - Guest Essay

    Mr. Zygar is a Russian journalist and the author of “All the Kremlin’s Men: Inside the Court of Vladimir Putin.”

    This guest essay published in January. The mercenary leader Yevgeny V. Prigozhin is now involved in what Vladimir Putin has called “an armed rebellion” against the Russian military.

    President Vladimir Putin of Russia, it seems, has finally noticed that the war in Ukraine created a dangerous competitor to his power: Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the private military company, the Wagner group, whose troops fight alongside the Russian Army.

    Depending on your point of view, Mr. Prigozhin could be considered either the person of the year or the villain of the year. Mr. Putin is, according to many sources in Moscow, confident that he can weaken Mr. Prigozhin, who has clashed with the military’s general staff. However, the effect could be the opposite, with more people seeing Mr. Prigozhin as the most probable favorite to succeed Mr. Putin.

    From the very beginning of the war against Ukraine, Mr. Putin made sure that rivals to his power could not emerge and took great pains to ensure that the conflict does not create a popular military leader who could pose a threat. It worked. In the summer of 2022, for instance, the ambitious Gen. Alexander Lapin was the recipient of a small online public relations campaign glorifying him. This immediately cost him his job — and a brief but powerful media war against him was launched by Mr. Prigozhin, who controls a series of online troll factories.

    According to my sources close to the Russian administration, Mr. Putin then perceived Mr. Prigozhin solely as a counterweight to the generals. The Russian president saw Mr. Prigozhin as his man, an obedient tool and easy to use.

    Yet in recent years, Mr. Prigozhin has made a very unexpected career. At first, he was known as Putin’s chef, who managed to become a state contractor of school lunches for Russian children all across the country. Then he created the troll factory, the Internet Research Agency, and he was singled out in Robert Mueller’s investigation into interference in the 2016 election. Finally, Mr. Prigozhin became famous as the founder of the Wagner group, whose contractors fought in Africa, Syria and now Ukraine.

    Those achievements alone guaranteed Mr. Prigozhin responsibility for Mr. Putin’s most delicate assignments. But this year, Mr. Prigozhin moved into another league, surpassing all of Mr. Putin’s other friends in power. These include Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu; the Russian Security Council secretary, Nikolai Patrushev; the C.E.O. of Russia’s state-owned defense giant, Rostec, Sergei Chemezov; and Mr. Putin’s closest friend, Yury Kovalchuk. Mr. Prigozhin bypassed all of them and appears to be the most important player in Russia. He is both the most popular political operator and the one who is feared by Russian high officials and businessmen.

    Mr. Prigozhin’s meteoric political rise began this summer when he started touring Russian prisons and recruiting prisoners for his private Wagner army, offering pardons to those who fight on the front lines in Ukraine: six months of service and then freedom.

    To do this, Mr. Prigozhin had to take on several key Russian security agencies at once: the Federal Penitentiary Service, a state within a state in Russia, the F.S.B., the Interior Ministry, the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Investigative Committee. All of those groups have a special status, they report only to President Putin, and no one dares to argue with them. But then the situation changed — a joker appeared, who can beat all the aces at the same time. If Mr. Prigozhin can free any prisoner, his powers are unlimited.

    The next sign of Mr. Prigozhin’s new status was his open confrontation with the Ministry of Defense and the military’s general staff.

    This conflict was a new phenomenon for the Russian political system. In the past, some subordinates of Mr. Putin usually did not allow themselves to publicly attack subordinates. But, in 2022, that changed. When the invasion started, Mr. Putin was obsessed with the war. It’s his only interest, sources claim. Only those people who are on the front lines have direct access to Mr. Putin and former members of the inner circle who ended up in the rear became less significant.

    Mr. Prigozhin managed to create for himself the image of the most effective warrior. He is not subordinate to the Ministry of Defense, he is not included in the system of military bureaucracy, and he determines his own tasks, goals and time frames. According to my sources, Mr. Putin was fine with this arrangement. And he allowed Mr. Prigozhin to rudely and publicly criticize other generals. Mr. Putin has a low opinion of them, so he didn’t scold the Wagner founder.

    Last fall, Yevgeny Nuzhin, a former Russian prisoner who defected to Ukraine after being recruited by the Wagner group and ended up back in Russia after a prisoner swap, was killed with a sledgehammer. A video of this massacre emerged in November and was most likely intended as a warning to all future deserters.

    Surprisingly, this barbarity has a lot of fans. Stores in Russia began to sell “Wagner Sledgehammers,” as well as souvenirs and car stickers with Wagner symbols. Mr. Prigozhin, who put out a statement supporting Mr. Nuzhin’s killing, became somewhat of a folk hero.

    The most radical politicians and businessmen have been drawn to Mr. Prigozhin. Those I speak with tell me that the leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, who previously had a direct line to Mr. Putin, now reports to Mr. Prigozhin. The businessman Konstantin Malofeev, owner of the ultraconservative channel Tsargrad TV, who supported Russia’s attack on Donbas in 2014, as well as the ideologist of modern Russian fascism, the philosopher Aleksandr Dugin, also praised Mr. Prigozhin. In addition, his group of influence includes the leaders of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk republics. In general, this is the most influential clan in modern Russia, since it is those who are at the front who carry the most weight in the eyes of Mr. Putin.

    Mr. Prigozhin has also become the hero for “patriotic” military reporters (those who work for propagandist media and express openly fascist views).

    But Mr. Prigozhin already seems like a completely independent political player. He started fighting against the governor of St. Petersburg, Alexander Beglov, a longtime associate of Mr. Putin. “People like Mr. Beglov will be crushed by our society like bugs, sooner or later,” he recently wrote.

    By the end of 2022, many Moscow businessmen and officials strongly believed that Mr. Prigozhin was a real threat. “The sledgehammer is a message to all of us,” one oligarch told me. For several months last year questions swirled about why Mr. Putin would not put Mr. Prigozhin in his place, as he did to so many others.

    On Jan. 10, Mr. Prigozhin reported on his company’s Telegram channel that Wagner militants had taken the Ukrainian city of Soledar. This was his most powerful propaganda victory and convincing proof that Wagner is one of the most combat-ready Russian units. My sources in Moscow say some high-ranking officials started discussing — supposedly half-jokingly — if it was the right time to swear allegiance to Mr. Prigozhin before it was too late.

    The Ministry of Defense claimed that the seizure of Soledar was their achievement, which was immediately denied by Mr. Prigozhin and numerous military correspondents. For propagandists, such an insignificant victory caused absolute rapture. Here is one of the characteristic comments: “Wagner PMC stormed the Russian city of Soledar and killed all the occupants. Not exchanged, namely killed. Like mad dogs. Therefore, Yevgeny Viktorovich Prigozhin is a real Russian politician. He says what the good Russian people want to hear and does what they expect from their army.”

    It was presumably at this moment that Mr. Putin realized that Mr. Prigozhin might be a bit too popular. So he elevated Mr. Prigozhin’s main enemies, Generals Lapin and Valery Gerasimov, and appointed General Gerasimov as commander of the operation in Ukraine. This is Mr. Putin’s traditional bureaucratic game, which has been effective but may not work this time.

    Many Russians, zombified by propaganda, are frustrated that the army is not winning. Kyiv was not taken in a few days as promised. By appointing General Gerasimov supreme commander, Mr. Putin assumes responsibility for all subsequent defeats. And it doesn’t weaken Mr. Prigozhin, who did not criticize this appointment.

    This means that, in the near future, Mr. Prigozhin may challenge the president, and Mr. Putin may no longer be able to oppose his former chef.

    #Russie #guerre #état #gouvernement #politique #mafia

  • Opinion | The Memories That Feed Distrust in the Middle East - The New York Times

    By Zeynep Tufekci

    Opinion Columnist

    Moshe Lavi, whose relatives have been taken hostage by Hamas, recently talked to a group of New York Times journalists about his family’s agony.

    His pained voice turned to anger when he recounted encountering disbelief that Hamas committed terrible atrocities when it attacked Israel. Lavi seemed especially bewildered by people “arguing over the semantics” of whether people were beheaded or their heads fell off, or even whether there were hostages in Gaza.

    In one particularly gruesome twist, there’s been an uproar over whether Hamas had beheaded babies — an unverified claim that President Biden repeated before the White House walked it back, and has been subject to much discussion since.

    Indeed, since Hamas did murder children and take others as hostages, should it get credit if it didn’t also behead them? It’s an appalling thought.

    Some of this skepticism is surely the result of antisemitism. But that’s not all that’s going on.

    One key reason for some of the incidents of doubt is the suspicion that horrendous but false or exaggerated claims are being used as a rationale for war — and there are many such historical examples, most notably the Iraq war.

    Recently, a former permanent representative of Israel to the United Nations told Britain’s Sky News that he was “very puzzled by the constant concern which the world,” he said, “is showing for the Palestinian people.” He cited U.S. actions after Sept. 11 as a model for what Israel should do in response to Hamas’s shocking massacre of civilians on Oct. 7, which many have called Israel’s Sept. 11.

    But if the U.S. response after Sept. 11 is a model, it is as a model of what not to do.

    After the attacks, the United States received deep global sympathy. Many Muslims around the world were furious about this blemish upon Islam, even if they opposed U.S. policies: Citizens held vigils, politicians condemned the attacks and clerics repudiated them in mosque sermons. (The idea that Muslims widely celebrated the attacks has been repeatedly shown to be false or traces back to a few instances of dubious clarity.)

    But, instead of mobilizing that widespread global sympathy to try to isolate the extremists, the United States chose to wage a reckless and destructive war in Iraq, driven by an impulsive desire for vengeance and justified by falsehoods about weapons of mass destruction.

    The Bush administration’s lies in the lead-up to the war, the fiasco of its occupation, and the chaos, violence and death that the invasion set off have deeply and indelibly damaged the standing and credibility of the United States and its allies.

    People in the region were seared by images of Iraqi institutions — hospitals, ministries, museums — being looted while the U.S. military did little, of families shot as they returned home from a hospital or at checkpoints as they missed a hand signal or instructions shouted in English, of the torture and sadism at Abu Ghraib.

    People also saw how occupation policies, like the quick and thoughtless disbanding of the Iraqi Army, contributed to the creation of ISIS a decade later.

    In the Middle East, the devastating aftermath of that war — justified by false claims — has never ended.

    To make matters worse, the Israel government has a long history of making false claims and denying responsibility for atrocities that later proved to be its doing.

    In one example of many, in 2014, four boys younger than 13 were killed by Israeli airstrikes while playing by themselves at a beach — three of them hit by a second blast while desperately fleeing the initial blast.

    There was first a concerted effort among some pro-Israel social media activists to claim the explosions were due to a Hamas rocket misfiring. The Israeli military initially claimed that “the target of this strike was Hamas terrorist operatives.” However, the beach was near a hotel housing journalists for Western outlets, including at least one from The New York Times, who witnessed the killings. The Guardian reported that journalists who visited the area in the aftermath saw no weapons or equipment and that kids regularly played there.

    Israel then investigated and exonerated itself. Peter Lerner, then a spokesman for the Israeli Defense Forces, said that it had targeted a “compound belonging to Hamas’s Naval Police and Naval Force (including naval commandos), and which was utilized exclusively by militants.”

    But The Telegraph, whose correspondent also witnessed the incident, reported that some of the journalists who had seen the bombing said there had been “no attempt to interview them.”

    One can see how this history plays out in the global upheaval over the Hamas claim two weeks ago that an Israeli missile struck a hospital courtyard in Gaza. Israeli and American officials denied this, and asserted that the missile came from within Gaza. There were also initial claims that 500 people were killed in the hospital blast, leading to headlines and global condemnations. Then the number was challenged, leading to another round of uproar and back-and-forth.

    It is certainly possible that the hospital may have been accidentally hit by a missile fired in Gaza — such misfires have happened. But Israel bombardment has also caused large civilian casualties. The evidence isn’t conclusive either way, and the truth remains unknown.

    Yet to a family that lost members in the hospital blast — which U.S. officials estimate killed hundreds — that squabble over exact numbers might seem as cruel as the skepticism about the atrocities committed by Hamas do to an Israeli family that suffered during the Oct. 7 attack.

    But there’s still the fact that fabricating or exaggerating atrocities is done to influence the calculus of what the public will accept — including what costs are justified to impose on civilians.

    In 1990, after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, there was widespread resistance in the United States to the idea of a new war — the country had not shaken “Vietnam syndrome,” that it was best for the United States to avoid large foreign military entanglements, both for practical and moral reasons.

    It was in this context that a teenager testified before Congress in 1990 that she had seen Iraqi soldiers take premature babies out of incubators and left them to die on the cold floor, a shocking assertion repeated by many high-level officials. The claim was widely repeated by officials and the media, and even by Amnesty International.

    Kept secret was the fact that the witness was the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States, and her false testimony had likely been organized by a public relations firm working for the Kuwaiti government.

    The shocking fabrication played a key role in the effort to sell the war to the reluctant American public. Needing to make sure oil fields stayed in the hands of the rulers of a tiny country created by colonial powers in the early 20th century went only so far. Opposing an army so savage that it commits the most unthinkable crimes is a more convincing appeal for war.

    The terrible outcome of all this history is widespread distrust and dehumanization, as ordinary people’s loss and pain are viewed suspiciously as a potential cudgel that will cause further loss and pain for others.

    Even people who I know have no sympathies toward Hamas or any kind of terrorism roll their eyes at some of the recent accounts of atrocities. “We always hear of something terrible when they want to go to war — how convenient,” one acquaintance told me recently.

    There are plenty of echoes of this on social media. “Hamas beheaded babies, Saddam had WMD and I’m the last unicorn,” one person posted on X. Another one said, “The ‘40 babies beheaded by Hamas’ lie is equivalent to the WMD’s lie.”

    Such sentiments are widespread.

    All this highlights the importance of voices capable of retaining trust and consistent concern for all victims.

    I was heartened to see that Human Rights Watch independently verified some of the videos of the horror on Oct. 7, and called the attacks deliberate killings. Similarly, Amnesty International’s independent investigation led the group to condemn the attacks as “cruel and brutal crimes including mass summary killings, hostage-taking.” Both organizations have called for the attacks to be investigated as war crimes.

    Both organizations also have a history of documenting Israeli wrongdoings, including its treatment of civilians in Gaza and the West Bank, and both organizations have been vilified for doing so, especially by the government of Israel and some NGOs and lawmakers.

    Yet these are the kind of independent voices that need to be heard. In a context where many in the region and world already see the United States as reflexively supporting Israel, no matter its conduct, President Biden might consider elevating such independent human rights voices rather than embracing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

    As Amnesty International states, kidnapping civilians is a war crime and the hostages should be released, unharmed. And their families shouldn’t have to endure this suspicion on top of their pain.

    But to credibly demand that war crimes be stopped and lives respected requires equal concern extended to all victims, including the two million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

    The victims are real — all of them — and that’s where all efforts to rebuild credibility or to seek a solution must begin.

    #Zeynep_Tufekci #Gaza #Mensonges #Preparation_guerre #Guerre_information

  • Opinion | In the Israel-Gaza War, We Must Not Kill Some Children to Protect Others - The New York Times

    By Nicholas Kristof
    Opinion Columnist, reporting from Tel Aviv

    The crisis in the Middle East is a knotty test of our humanity, asking how to respond to a grotesque provocation for which there is no good remedy. And in this test, we in the West are not doing well.

    The acceptance of large-scale bombing of Gaza and of a ground invasion likely to begin soon suggests that Palestinian children are lesser victims, devalued by their association with Hamas and its history of terrorism. Consider that more than 1,500 children in Gaza have been killed, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health, and around one-third of Gaza homes have been destroyed or damaged in just two weeks — and this is merely the softening-up before what is expected to be a much bloodier ground invasion.

    I’ve flown into beautiful, sun-washed Tel Aviv, where the graffiti reads “Destroy Hamas.” Israelis have been shattered by the Hamas terrorism and kidnappings, an attack that felt existential and explains the determination to dismantle Hamas, whatever the cost. The anxiety in Tel Aviv is palpable, peaceful though it seems, while Gaza is an inner ring of hell and probably on a path to something much worse.

    The United States speaks a good deal about principles, but I fear that President Biden has embedded a hierarchy of human life in official American policy. He expressed outrage at the massacres of Jews by Hamas, as he should have, but he has struggled to be equally clear about valuing Gazan lives. And it’s not always evident whether he is standing four-square with Israel as a country or with its failed prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, a longtime obstacle to peace.

    What are we to make of the Biden administration’s call for an additional $14 billion in assistance for Israel and simultaneous call for humanitarian aid for Gazans? Defensive weapons for Israel’s Iron Dome system would make sense, but in practice, is the idea that we will help pay for humanitarians to mop up the blood caused in part by our weapons?

    What are we to tell Dr. Iyad Abu Karsh, a Gaza physician who lost his wife and son in a bombing and then had to treat his injured 2-year-old daughter? He didn’t even have time to care for his niece or sister, for he had to deal with the bodies of his loved ones.

    “I have no time to talk now,” he told a Times colleague, his voice trembling over the phone. “I want to go bury them.”

    In his speech on Thursday, Biden called for America to stand firmly behind Ukraine and Israel, two nations attacked by forces aiming to destroy them. Fair enough. But suppose Ukraine responded to Russian war crimes by laying siege to a Russian city, bombing it into dust and cutting off water and electricity while killing thousands and obliging doctors to operate on patients without anesthetic.

    I doubt we Americans would shrug and say: Well, Putin started it. Too bad about those Russian children, but they should have chosen somewhere else to be born.

    Here in Israel, because the Hamas attacks were so brutal and fit into a history of pogroms and Holocaust, they led to a resolve to wipe out Hamas even if this means a large human toll. “Gaza will become a place where no human being can exist,” declared Giora Eiland, a former head of the Israeli National Security Council. “There is no other option for ensuring the security of the State of Israel.”

    I think that view reflects a practical and moral miscalculation. While I would love to see the end of Hamas, it’s not feasible to eliminate radicalism in Gaza, and a ground invasion is more likely to feed extremism than to squelch it — at an unbearable cost in civilian lives.

    I particularly want to challenge the suggestion, more implicit than explicit, that Gazan lives matter less because many Palestinians sympathize with Hamas. People do not lose their right to life because they have odious views, and in any case, almost half of Gazans are children. Those kids in Gaza, infants included, are among the more than two million people enduring a siege and collective punishment.

    Israel has suffered a horrifying terrorist attack and deserves the world’s sympathy and support, but it should not get a blank check to slaughter civilians or to deprive them of food, water and medicine. Bravo to Biden for trying to negotiate some humanitarian access to Gaza, but the challenge will be not just getting aid into Gaza but also distributing it to where it’s needed.

    A prolonged ground invasion seems to me a particularly risky course, likely to kill large numbers of Israeli soldiers, hostages and especially Gazan civilians. We are better than that, and Israel is better than that. Leveling cities is what the Syrian government did in Aleppo or Russia did in Grozny; it should not be an American-backed undertaking by Israel in Gaza.

    The best answer to this test is to try even in the face of provocation to cling to our values. That means that despite our biases, we try to uphold all lives as having equal value. If your ethics see some children as invaluable and others as disposable, that’s not moral clarity but moral myopia. We must not kill Gazan children to try to protect Israeli children.

    #Gaza #Nicholas_Kristof