How The Party Of Lincoln Became The Party Of Trump.

The Republican Party was once the party of abolitionists and the party of progressives. Its first leader, Abraham Lincoln, not only held the nation together during the Civil War. He signed the Emancipation Proclamation that ended one of the saddest chapters in U.S. history.

Unfortunately, a political party operating under the same name is now attacking the very foundations of our nation…the democratic principles established by our founders. Of course, the transformation of the once Grand Old Party didn’t happen overnight. After Lincoln, the party soon embraced the privileged and the powerful – the entrepreneurs rightfully labeled the “robber barons” who presided over the Gilded Age, a period of excesses marked by political corruption and unbridled materialism.

During that time, the nation was controlled by a succession of Republican presidents who presided over runaway capitalism founded on “Horse and Sparrow” economics – the theory that if you feed the horse enough oats, some will pass through and fall to the ground for the sparrows to eat.

As disgusting as that idea is, it didn’t disappear along with the Gilded Age. Though it was credited, in part, for the Panic of 1896 and the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Republican Party clung to the idea through every succeeding administration until it resurfaced under Reagan who renamed it “Supply Side” economics (aka “Trickle Down” theory or, perhaps more accurately “Voodoo” economics), and it continued under George W. Bush and Donald Trump. Again and again, it has resulted in economic failure for the majority of working Americans.

But failed economic policy alone is not responsible for where the Republican Party stands today.

In an effort to rig the 1968 election, Richard Nixon treasonously undermined the Vietnam peace talks, promising the Vietnamese that they would get a better deal if they stalled negotiations to help him be elected. During that period, Lee Atwater launched the party’s so-called southern strategy to embrace southern racists who were angry about integration and the Voting Rights Act. And in 1974, Nixon was forced out of office following the revelations of Watergate in which he overtly stole the 1972 presidential election.

In the late 70s and 1980s, Paul Weyrich used Roe v Wade to bring anti-abortion evangelical Christians into the Republican fold.

Not to be outdone by Nixon, Ronald Reagan also committed a treasonous act by undermining the Iran hostage negotiations. He, too, promised a better deal if the negotiations were delayed in order to help his electoral chances.

Of course, it was Reagan who also named the federal government – the government of the people, by the people and for the people – as the enemy of most Americans. He also famously led the attack against labor unions, favoring multinational corporations over workers. And his presidency ended in a cloud of corruption when his administration was caught illegally selling weapons to Iran to finance death squads in Central America.

In the 1990s, political divisions among Americans really began to take hold after Newt Gingrich was selected as Speaker of the House. To ensure his caucus would follow his lead, he threatened to have them “primaried” if they failed to vote as he wished, effectively ending true representation of their constituents.

During that time, the Republican congressional majority led an impeachment of President Bill Clinton that began with an unsuccessful investigation into a real estate and ended with the exposure of an illicit relationship with an intern.

In 2000, George W. Bush’s brother, Jeb, and a conservative majority Supreme Court helped “W” steal the presidential election. Once in office, he cut taxes for the wealthy, led us into an unpopular war with Iraq based on lies, and ended his term with a financial crisis that resulted in the Great Recession.

In 2016 and 2017, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blatantly stole two SCOTUS seats for conservatives. And that was far from the only Republican theft. Trump was able to steal the election through a variety of schemes with the help of Russia, news of an investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server, and a cover-up of Trump’s extramarital affairs with a porn star and a former Playboy centerfold model.

Once in power, Trump used the Oval Office for personal enrichment, a highly partisan failed response to a public emergency (the Covid-19 pandemic), and tax cuts for the wealthy. And, like Nixon, he turned to Roger Stone and a host of other dirty tricksters in an attempt to steal the 2020 election. He even encouraged his supporters to engage in a violent insurrection to prevent the peaceful transition of power.

Republican administrations have overseen repeated economic failures, financial inequality, increased poverty, at least one war based on lies, and corporate consolidation resulting in numerous monopolies. They have allowed the NRA to flood our streets with increasingly lethal military-style weaponry. They have weakened the institutions that have made this country great. And they have led us to the brink of autocracy.

It wasn’t just one man or one term that corrupted the GOP. The transition of the party from the idealistic Party of Lincoln to the criminal enterprise that is the Party of Trump is the result of a series of planned events that prioritized party over nation, money over freedom, and power over honesty.

Bad News.

Faced with intense political divisions and the growing threat of political violence driven by “fake news” and “alternative facts,” it should be little wonder why many Americans long for the days of Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, and the like, a time when all Americans shared the same set of facts. When journalism was a highly respected profession.

So, what changed?

Most prominently, it was the growth of cable television news networks and the subsequent repeal of the Fairness Doctrine (an FCC regulation that required broadcast networks to operate in the public interest – to keep opinion separate from news and to tell the truth. The combination of those two factors led to the rise of radio hosts such as Rush Limbaugh who capitalized monetarily by blaming the government and Democrats for all of our nation’s ills. It also led to the fascist propaganda outlet otherwise known as Fox News Channel.

Rather than working to bring us unbiased news coverage, the pundits on talk radio and Fox News peddled fear, anger, and hate. Why? Because they’re more profitable than speaking truth. And though they began the decline of journalism, they are certainly not the only factors.

Most of today’s news outlets are owned by just six mega corporations. Where ABC, CBS, and NBC viewed news as a public service in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, today’s media owners view their news operations as profit centers. Where there once was a figurative firewall between news and entertainment, now they’re intertwined.

Moreover, in order to turn a profit in order to fill the coffers of their owners, the news operations are vastly understaffed and underfunded compared to what they once were. And the journalists lack the ethics and training of previous journalists. Too often, their reporting lacks objectivity, context, perspective, history, and accuracy.

Those journalistic principles have been replaced by both personal and corporate bias, speed, sensationalism, entertainment value, and a focus on ratings.

Worse yet, much of the American public has disdained networks, newspapers, and news agencies, such as the Associate Press, for social media which consists mostly of misinformation, disinformation, rumor, and innuendo. And many Americans choose their news sources based on whether or not the sources report stories that fit their political views.

Further, far too many journalists and consumers lack curiosity. They claim to not have the time or energy to do even the most cursory research. Instead, they blithely pass on what they’ve previously heard or read without question. A great example is that, for decades, news media reported that US corporations faced “the highest corporate tax rate in the world.”

In fact, that has never been the case.

If they had taken the time to do the research, they would have found that the highest US corporate tax rate never ranked higher than fourth. And when you look at the total corporate tax burden for corporations, US companies pay far less than those in other countries – 3.9 percent compared to 12.9 percent in Japan and 19.1 percent in Australia, for example. (Sources: OECD and the Tax Foundation.)

The nation’s founders believed that the future of democracy rested on an educated and informed populace. That requires a robust and objective free press. If we are to, once again, return to the United States of America, we don’t have to share the same opinions. But we must be able to share the same set of facts!

Gov. Noem’s Cruelty Is Emblematic Of MAGA Party.

Perhaps no event better summarizes the character of today’s Republican Party than Kristi Noem bragging about her heartless and ruthless killing of a 14-month-old puppy and a “filthy” goat. After all, this is a political party (dare I say cult) that seems to revel in cruelty. Cruelty aimed at political opponents, at immigrants, at homosexuals and transexuals, at pregnant women, at people of color, at people of other faiths, even at children.

Indeed, Republican cruelty seems to have no bounds.

Remember when Trump-supporting Republicans were more than happy to let seniors die of Covid? Remember when they took pleasure in ripping immigrant children from their parents’ arms? Remember when Trump proposed shooting immigrants in their legs? Remember when those same people, under the banners of Trump and the banners of the old Confederacy, attacked our nation’s capital with the intent of hanging the Vice-President and murdering Democrats?

There appears to be no vicious act today’s Trump-supporting Republicans won’t stoop to. No limits on their attacks on democracy. Many of those heavily armed MAGAts have bragged that they are willing to turn to violence should their Dear Leader lose the next election.

Yet many, if not most, of these people claim to be “God-fearing, Christian Patriots.”

They claim to be pro-life, yet they are more than willing to force a woman to die while carrying an unviable fetus. And though they are pro-birth, they are more than willing to deny food to impoverished families. Moreover, they deny aid to the children of single mothers (aka “welfare queens”) forced to carry fetuses to term after being denied an abortion. And what do they offer unwanted children? In a word, nothing.

As for patriotism, it’s difficult to believe they even understand the meaning of the word.

In fact, their definition of patriotism centers almost entirely around militarism and guns. I’m convinced that the only part of the Constitution they’ve memorized is the Second Amendment. It’s only a single sentence, but I very much doubt they could cite the first half of it: “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state….” Of course, they also ignore the references to separation of church and state. And as for the Bill of Rights, they seem to believe the right to free speech, the right to peaceably assemble, the right to practice religion – any religion – only applies to them.

And, by once again, choosing Donald Trump as their presidential candidate – a man with a lurid sexual history, a man who lies with almost every breath, a man who led an insurrection to prevent the peaceful transfer of power, a man who is clearly determined to turn our democratic republic into his personal fiefdom – they obviously are willing to turn our nation into an autocracy closely aligned with the world’s worst dictators.

That, of course, would be the ultimate cruelty.

The Hamas-Israeli War By The Numbers.

70 million – the number of kilograms of explosives dropped on Gaza (the equivalent of 3 nuclear bombs of the type dropped on Hiroshima at the end of World War II.)

2.26 million – the approximate number of Palestinians living in the West Bank.

2.1 million – the approximate number of Palestinians living in Gaza prior to the war.

1.9 million – the number of Gaza Palestinians displaced since the beginning of the war.

450,000 – the number of Israeli settlers living in settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

250,000 – the number of Palestinians living in East Jerusalem.

220,000 – the number of Israeli settlers living in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem.

77,084 – the number of Palestinians wounded since the start of the war.

34,000 – the number of Palestinians killed in Gaza and the West Bank since the start of the war.

14,000 – the number of Palestinian children killed by the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) since the start of the war.

1,410 – the total number of Israelis killed by Hamas since the start of the war.

1,139 – the number of Israelis killed by Hamas in the October 7 surprise attack.

520 – the approximate number of Palestinians held without charges by Israel in administrative detention (many of them children).

500 – the approximate number of healthcare workers killed by Israeli airstrikes.

317 – the number of Palestinians killed in the West Bank since the start of the war (most by Israeli settlers).

250 – the approximate number of Israeli hostages taken in the Hamas attack.

200 – the number of humanitarian aid workers killed by the IDF.

140.93 – the number of square miles in the Gaza strip.

97 – the number of journalists killed trying to document the war – mostly by the IDF.

72 – the percentage of Gaza casualties who are children.

60 – the approximate percentage of Gaza buildings damaged or destroyed by the IDF.

20 – the number of Gaza hospitals damaged or destroyed by the IDF.

14 – the number of years it will take to remove debris and unexploded bombs as estimated by the UN.

2 – the number of Hamas-held Israeli hostages mistakenly killed by the IDF.

0 – the number of winners of the war.

Why do I say there will be no winners? Because, in war, there seldom are. And though Israel has the capacity to destroy all of Gaza, its disproportionate response to October 7 and its indiscriminate killing of Palestinian civilians has called attention to its long-standing practice of apartheid. That has resulted in a growing anti-Israeli sentiment worldwide.

We can only hope that the frustration and anger is directed at the rightwing leaders of Israel and not at the Israeli and Jewish people in general.

The New Rule(s) Of Law.

When SCOTUS pronounced George W. Bush president by ruling the Florida recount could not proceed, my faith in the court (and that of many other Americans) was shaken.

I was further horrified by the theft of a seat on the bench by Sen. McConnell’s refusal to hold a consent hearing on Merrick Garland’s nomination eleven months before the 2016 election. Of course, that hypocrisy was laid bare when McConnell rushed to confirm Amy Coney-Barrett mere weeks before the 2020 election. And I became further disillusioned with the court when the blatant corruption of Justices Thomas and Alito was revealed.

Given all this, it is not entirely surprising that the so-called originalists on the once “Supreme” Court have obviously attempted to return the nation to an earlier time when minorities and women were treated as second class citizens. How else can one explain the court’s decisions to gut the Voting Rights Act and to overturn Roe v. Wade?

What’s next?  A return to witch trials and the legalization of slavery?

Yet, as bad as those rulings are, their impact may be surpassed by the court’s decision to stack the legal deck in the federal cases against the treacherous former president. By agreeing to further delay Trump’s criminal trials in order to rule on his preposterous claim of immunity for inciting an insurrection, it appears that court’s Republican majority is trying to influence the outcome of the upcoming presidential election and offering Trump the possibility of pardoning himself for his crimes.

Moreover, the court has made it painfully obvious that there are multiple levels of justice in the United States: One standard of justice for the poor who cannot afford quality representation. A second standard of justice for citizens of modest means. A third for the wealthy and the powerful. A fourth for those who share ideologies with the court’s conservative majority. And a fifth for Donald J. Trump.

Indeed, the court and our system of justice have been so gravely diminished in the public’s view – the rule of law so corroded by recent decisions – that the very foundation of our nation may crumble.

It’s Still Russia, Russia, Russia.

Here we go again.

In 2016, it was clear that Russia interfered in our presidential election to help Trump win the White House. Not only was the Trump campaign initially led by Paul Manafort, a longtime consultant to the former Russia-backed president of Ukraine. Trump, himself, had been lifted out of bankruptcy by Russian oligarchs who had injected hundreds of millions of dollars into the Trump organization through questionable real estate deals.

And there was more. Much more!

In late 2015, Ivanka Trump connected Michael Cohen with a Putin ally who promised business and political synergy with the Trump organization and the Trump campaign. In early 2016, Alexander Torshin offered to arrange a meeting between Trump and Putin. In 2016, Torshin attended the NRA’s annual convention where he met with Don Jr. And, in 2016, on the same day as the third Republican presidential debate, Trump signed a letter of intent to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

In fact, despite former attorney general Bill Barr’s claims that the Mueller Report had “exonerated” the Trump crime family, Robert Mueller’s investigation uncovered a dizzying number of additional links between Trump, his campaign, the GOP, and Russia. Trump and his campaign had even openly solicited Russian support: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you are able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”

And though Mueller had uncovered hundreds of suspicious communications between the Trump campaign and Russia, he determined that the campaign’s use of encrypted messages would make it difficult to prove his case in court.

Even after the Mueller investigation, Trump maintained a suspicious relationship with Putin. Remember his closed-door meeting with the Russian ambassador in the Oval Office? The private meetings with Putin in which Trump confiscated the translator’s notes? Trump’s obvious man-crush on Putin in Helsinki? And the attempt to withhold military funds from Ukraine in exchange for dirt on Trump’s political rival which led to Trump’s first impeachment?

Turn the calendar to 2024, and we’re starting to see Trump’s relationship with Russia blossom once again.

Speaking at a recent rally in South Carolina, Trump noted that, as president, he once told a NATO member that he would encourage Russia to do whatever it wants to US allies that do not contribute enough to military spending. And he reiterated that position. Even more recently, it was reported that he is again planning on having Manafort, the 8-time convicted felon, help with his campaign.

Given that Trump and his cult (aka Republican Party) now refuse to support Ukraine (9 members of the House GOP caucus even voted against a resolution condemning Russia for abducting Ukrainian children), it’s almost certain that Russia will try to come to Trump’s aid again. That almost certainly means another blizzard of disinformation on social media, more cyberattacks on Democratic organizations, and more backdoor financial contributions to Trump’s campaign.

Even more worrying is the effect on our national security if Russian oligarchs pay off Trump’s hundreds of millions of dollars in civil penalties and he is re-elected. In essence, our nation would be controlled by an authoritarian Russian puppet who would feel obligated to do whatever Putin wants.

Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied.

In the United States, one of the accepted principles of our justice system is the right to a timely and fair trial. Yet that principle never seems to apply to Donald J. Trump.

Trump has long made it a practice to avoid prosecution through a seemingly never-ending series of delays and appeals – often based on tortured logic and preposterous claims. And, of course, he has resorted to the same tactic when faced with indictments on 91 criminal charges related to his attempted coup and his theft and mishandling of some of our nation’s most sensitive secrets.

In Florida, he has thus far managed to avoid trial for his refusal to return classified documents by continuing to manipulate the seemingly incompetent federal judge he appointed while in office.

In Georgia, when he seemingly ran out of avenues to delay accountability for trying to steal the state’s electoral votes, he created further delay by successfully putting the prosecution on trial over a romantic relationship that has absolutely no bearing on his own culpability.

And in Washington, D.C., he was given a reprieve from the impending trial over his actions on January 6 with the help of the rightwing majority of the Supreme Court. Perhaps the most partisan and unethical court in history decided to hear arguments over Trump’s claim that, having been president, he is immune from prosecution.

His attorneys would have us believe that he could have ordered Seal Team 6 to murder his political rival without consequence!

Of course, that is utter nonsense. But the rightwing justices, having refused Special Prosecutor Jack Smith’s request to rule on Trump’s immunity claim last December, and despite the Circuit Court of Appeals having ruled against Trump, decided to delay the pending trials by adding the immunity case to their court docket.

The result of that decision is of obvious benefit to the Insurrectionist-in-Chief since the ruling may not be announced until July! That means, even if SCOTUS denies the claim of immunity, the federal trials cannot be scheduled until a few months before the presidential election. Predictably, Trump will then argue that any such trials will constitute election interference, and if the rightwing justices adhere to form, they may well rule that the trials cannot be scheduled this year!

What happens then?

If voters are inclined to put the wannabe Putin-style dictator back into office, he will almost certainly pardon himself or order his hand-picked Attorney General to drop the cases altogether.

We cannot allow that to happen.

So, I propose the following: If SCOTUS rules that a president has complete immunity, President Biden should immediately order Seal Team 6 to arrest Trump and send him to Gitmo. He should then sign an executive order demanding that Justices Alito, Thomas, Roberts, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Coney-Barrett replace their black robes with attire more fitting to their legal acumen – clown suits.

Republicans’ Shadow Government.

Republicans continue to rant on about the “Deep State” – unelected government officials who make decisions affecting ordinary Americans’ lives. In fact, it’s mere projection. (Given the GOP’s recent history, you can assume that they’re already doing whatever they accuse Democrats of doing.) 

But they are right about one thing. There is an unelected shadow government affecting our lives. It’s called ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council), an organization of conservative state legislators and others that is funded by some of America’s largest corporations.

If you are thus far blissfully unaware of ALEC – and most Americans are – you are almost certainly familiar with some of its work. It writes so-called “model” legislation based on conservative ideologies for the benefit of – you guessed it – large corporations.

Think your elected state representative wrote the deadly “stand your ground” bill that became law in your state? Think again. It was likely authored by gun manufacturers, distributed by ALEC and introduced for votes by an ALEC legislative member.

Think your state representative authored the bill that preempts cities and other local jurisdictions from regulating guns and ammunition? Nope. It was generated by ALEC.

The “show us your papers” anti-civil rights, anti-immigration law? Nope. Once again, that was a product of ALEC. 

Indeed, whenever you see a rightwing bill introduced in your legislature that seems identical to bills passed in other states, it almost certainly is a product of ALEC. Often, legislators who are members of ALEC never even read the “model” bills before submitting them. As a matter of fact, one Florida legislator introduced a stack of ALEC-spawned bills without even removing the ALEC cover sheets from them!

One of the latest examples of the work of this shadow government is an ALEC bill that would give corporations almost complete immunity from lawsuits intended to hold them accountable for harmful actions. If the bill becomes law, it will severely limit states from collecting damages from corporations that produce and distribute dangerous or deadly products.

It’s difficult to see how such legislation benefits consumers and ordinary citizens. But the benefits to ALEC’s corporate members are obvious. And since the creator of fascism, Benito Mussolini, once said that fascism could more accurately be called corporatism, clearly ALEC and Republican legislators have earned the right to be called fascists.  

So, the next time you hear Republican conspiracy theorists rant on about the “Deep State”, don’t think about the hard-working civil servants at the Post Office or the IRS. Think about ALEC and most GOP legislators.

Dear Trump Supporters, I Still Know Who You Really Are.

In November 2016, I wrote a post aimed at Trump voters saying, “I know who you really are.” Not surprisingly, many of you were incensed by my conclusions. But then you seem easily incensed by any criticisms of you and your orange Messiah.

Recent studies found that you are angry, but that you don’t know what you’re actually angry about. And though you don’t know why, you’ve chosen to blame the government and Democrats for any and all of your frustrations.

Tired of paying what you consider too high taxes? It’s not that Republicans have consistently shifted the tax burden to the lower and middle classes from the wealthy and large corporations. It’s because Democrats spend money on food for children and the poor.

Upset about the lack of high-paying manufacturing jobs? Never mind that multinational corporations have offshored those jobs. The real culprit must be the government which has imposed regulations to protect the safety of workers.

Furious that immigrants are taking American jobs in produce fields and meatpacking plants? It’s not that very few Americans will fill those jobs due to hard work, low pay, poor working conditions, and lack of benefits. Or that, for decades, Republicans have refused to vote on immigration reform. It’s because Democrats can’t stem the flow of immigrants across our southern border.

Angry that inflation has increased interest rates and the cost of many products? It’s not that your mango-colored conman botched and politicized the response to a pandemic leading to disruptions in supply chains and widespread shortages. Or that greedy corporations are using inflation as an excuse to unnecessarily increase profits. It’s got to be the fault of President Biden and the Democrats.

Worried about crime and declining family values? It’s not that fear-mongering Republicans permitted gun manufacturers to sell weapons of war to civilians by the millions. Or that you have long discriminated against people of color and the LGBTQ community. In your feeble mind, it’s godless transexuals and historical accounts of slavery that are responsible for our political division and growing violence.

Without evidence, you believe these falsehoods just because your demented (and apparently dementia-inflicted) leader says so. You take the word of a disgraced, twice impeached, indicted, misogynistic, tax-dodging, mob-connected, fascist-loving, freedom-denying, sexual assaulting, fraud-committing, anti-democratic faux celebrity over that of experts.

Why?

I believe it’s because he’s the bully you always wanted to be. And he’s unshackled you from political correctness, i.e. common courtesy. Of course, you’ll deny it because you claim to be a church-going person of faith. Well, the uncomfortable truth is that if you support Trump, you may well be religious. But you’re neither moral nor ethical.

Neither are you the patriot you almost certainly claim to be. Because patriots support our Constitution and the rule of law. They don’t try to suppress the vote through threats and intimidation. They don’t try to violently overturn the results of an election. They don’t resort to dirty tricks against those with whom they disagree. And they sure as hell don’t beat up cops, deface the Capitol, and try to hang the vice-president.

If you support Trump, you are not a patriot. You are part of a dangerous cult that worships a domestic terrorist disguised as a presidential candidate.

Criticism Is Not Antisemitism!

After the inhumane October 7 attacks on Israeli civilians by the militant faction of Hamas, it seems that some believe any criticism of the Israeli government’s long-standing mistreatment of Palestinians and its mass bombings of Gaza is antisemitic.

It represents the same kind of twisted accusations leveled against me and others for criticizing the US government during its misguided war in Vietnam. Being appalled by the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinian civilians does not make one antisemitic any more than criticizing the Vietnam war made me un-American. And though it may be unpopular to criticize Israel’s conduct of its war on Hamas, I believe it’s important to add context to the situation.

The truth is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been festering since 1948 with no solution in sight. And though Israel’s long-standing occupation of the West Bank and its siege of Gaza does not excuse the horrendous crimes committed by Hamas (nothing can), the untenable conditions under which Palestinian refugees have been forced to live has paved the way for the rise of Hamas and its terrorism.

Consider the fact that the population of Gaza consists of Palestinians who were forced to leave their homeland during the 1948 war in addition to generations of their descendants. Consider that, since the occupation of the West Bank, Israeli “settlers” have continued to harass and kill Palestinians in order to force them off their land. (According to the UN, more than 500 Palestinian men, women and children living in the West Bank have been killed by Jewish settlers this year – most before the October 7 attacks.)

Or consider the fact that Palestinians living within the Israeli borders have fewer rights than their Israeli counterparts. And, because they are not permitted to serve in the Israeli military, they do not qualify for many of the higher-paying jobs.

But perhaps the most grievous treatment of Palestinians is the Israeli concept of administrative detention. That’s the term given to the process of detaining individuals indefinitely without charges, without trials, and with no opportunity to defend themselves. Some have never even been told why they were being detained.

Of the more than 1,300 being held, it was reported that about half had been held for longer than 6 months. Many were children as young as 12. Indeed, according to Save The Children, between 500 and 1,000 such children are held in Israeli custody each year. A majority reported being beaten and strip searched.

They may have been detained for straying too close to the Israeli-Gaza border, for waving a Palestinian flag, for saying something an Israeli found offensive, or for throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers (a crime that could receive a maximum sentence of 20 years). And those are the lucky ones. Before the current war, an Israeli general admitted that IDF forces were under standing orders to shoot at the legs of child rock throwers!

These are the hostages released by Israel as part of the hostage exchange during the temporary ceasefire.

During that exchange, US media waited breathlessly to report every detail of the hostages released by Hamas. What was their condition of health? How were they treated? Where were they held? But few US media showed any curiosity about the hostages released by Israel.

If they had, they might have discovered that Palestinian families were not even allowed to celebrate the return of their loved ones or to publicly display any signs of joy.

One of the great ironies of the moment is that, while many innocent Palestinian civilians are being held under questionable circumstances, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is free despite facing criminal charges for corruption.

Does any of this excuse Hamas’ horrendous attacks? Of course not. They are to be despised, hunted down, and brought to trial for crimes against humanity. They must be held accountable. But so, too, must the Israelis who commit war crimes in return.

And when the dust from this war settles, we must find a way for Palestinians to finally enjoy freedom and self-governance. And to give both the Palestinian and Israeli people the safety and security they deserve.