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Blinken deletes call for cease-fire – breaking news

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Blinken deletes call for cease-fire – breaking news

Editor’s Note: During this intense news period during Hamas’s ‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ and the Israeli onslaught on Gaza, we will be publishing our U.S. politics newsletter The Shift, on a daily basis to follow the latest news. Subscribe to the weekly email newsletter of The Shift below.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken deleted a statement on social media calling for a cease-fire between Israel and Palestine. The move comes amid Israeli vows to punish Gaza over Hamas’ recent attack.

“Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan and I spoke further on Hamas’ terrorist attacks on Israel,” Blinken had tweeted on Sunday. “I encouraged Tükiye’s advocacy for a cease-fire and the release of all hostages held by Hamas immediately.”

The post was immediately attacked by Republicans and right-wing pundits. “The Biden Administration is showing its true colors,” wrote Rep. Mike Waltz (R-FL). “Once Israel indicated it was going on offense into Gaza, Blinken encourages a cease-fire. Israel has every right to respond to these horrific acts of terror.”

“‘Ceasefire’? Secretary of State Blinken is out to lunch,” tweeted the Hudson Institute’s Mike Doran. “Israel is mobilizing for war, precisely as the United States mobilized after 9/11. Could some mediator have called President Bush on 9/13/2001, and said, ‘George, let’s consider a ceasefire’? This is just nuts.”

A similar deletion took place shortly before, with the State Department’s Office of Palestinian Affairs removing a tweet that urged both side to “refrain from violence and retaliatory attacks.”

The removal of Blinken’s statement comes amid Israeli promises to destroy Gaza over the attack. “We will take mighty vengeance for this wicked day,” declared Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“I have ordered a complete siege on the Gaza Strip,” said Israel Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. “There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel, everything is closed. We are fighting human animals and we will act accordingly.”

The Palestinian Ministry of Health says 493 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza so far, including 91 children. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that 123,538 people have been internally displaced as a result of the bombings.

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“Israel has the right to defend itself – and its people,” said President Biden after the Hamas attack. “Full stop. Let there be no mistake: The U.S. stands with the State of Israel, just as we have from the moment the U.S. became the first nation to recognize Israel, 11 minutes after its founding, 75 years ago.”

Some criticized Blinken’s decision on Twitter.

“Whatever Israel does now to 2 million civilians in Gaza – almost half of them children – is then with the apparent blessing of Biden,” tweeted Quincy Institute Executive VP Trita Parsi.

“Outrageous: the US deletes two statements calling for ‘ceasefire’ or to ‘refrain from violence & retaliatory attacks,’ replacing them w/ all out support for whatever Israel wants to do,” wrote Arab American Institute James Zogby. “We are not a solution. We are the enabler of occupation & escalation. Thousands more will die.”

Firings Over Israel

Lebanese-American media personality Mia Khalifa was fired by Playboy over tweets that expressed support for the Palestinian resistance. “If you can look at the situation in Palestine and not be on the side of Palestinians, then you are on the wrong side of apartheid, and history will show that in time,” Khalifa tweeted on Saturday. The former porn actress had been hired by the magazine’s Centerfold platform last February.

“We are writing today to let you know of our decision to terminate Playboy’s relationship with Mia Khalifa, including deleting Mia’s Playboy channel on our creator platform,” read an email to subscribers. “Mia has made disgusting and reprehensible comments celebrating Hamas’ attacks on Israel and the murder of innocent men, women and children. At Playboy, we encourage free expression and constructive political debate, but we have a zero-tolerance policy for hate speech.”

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Philadelphia 76ers beat writer Jackson Frank also lost his job at PhillyVoice.com after criticizing a social media post from the NBA team in support of Israel.

“We stand with the people of Israel and join them in mourning the hundreds of innocent lives lost to terrorism at the hands of Hamas,” the 76ers wrote. “This post sucks! Solidarity with Palestine always,” Frank responded.

“Mr. Frank is no longer employed by PhillyVoice.com as of today,” PhillyVoice.com CEO Hal Donnelly told The New York Post. “We stand with everyone who is absolutely outraged by the senseless attacks in Israel, by the loss of innocent lives and violence against civilians.”

Backlash to Harvard Statement

A coalition of student groups at Harvard University are facing attacks over their recent statement on the Middle East violence.

The Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee authored the statementwhich was co-signed by more than 30 other campus organizations.

“Today’s events did not occur in a vacuum. For the last two decades, millions of Palestinians in Gaza have been forced to live in an open-air prison. Israeli officials promise to ‘open the gates of hell,’ and the massacres in Gaza have already commenced,” it reads. “In the coming days, Palestinians will be forced to bear the full brunt of Israel’s violence. The apartheid regime is the only one to blame.”

“In nearly 50 years of Harvard affiliation, I have never been as disillusioned and alienated as I am today,” tweeted former Harvard president Lawrence Summers. “The silence from Harvard’s leadership, so far, coupled with a vocal and widely reported student groups’ statement blaming Israel solely, has allowed Harvard to appear at best neutral towards acts of terror against the Jewish state of Israel.”

“I have a lot of criticisms of Israeli policies, but everyone who signed this statement is condoning terrorism, rape, and murder,” wrote Harvard Computer Science professor Boaz Barak.

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“Israel is the victim of a terrorist attack. Hamas is the perpetrator. It’s as simple as that. There are no ‘both sides’,” tweeted Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY). “Yet here you have 30+ student organizations from Harvard University, blaming the victims, Israelis, for their own murder, rape, and abduction, rather than blaming the perpetrator, Hamas, for murdering, raping, and abducting them. Demonizing Israel—to the point of denying the the humanity of Israeli victims and the inhumanity of their perpetrators—is moral confusion masquerading as moral clarity.”

“It is abhorrent and heinous that Harvard student groups are blaming Israel for Hamas’ barbaric terrorist attacks that have killed over 700 Israelis,” wrote Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY). “Any voice that excuses the slaughter of innocent women and children has chosen the side of evil and terrorism. I am calling on the leadership of Harvard to immediately publicly condemn these vile anti-Semitic statements.”

Rallies in support of Palestine

A number of Palestine solidarity rallies occurred throughout the U.S. over the weekend, as did a number of actions in support of Israel.

“We’re here because we think everyone in the United States is funding Israeli apartheid,” a protestor told PBS outside the Israeli consulate in Atlanta.

“Any deaths are tragic, and we need to understand that the forces that are driving this conflict in the first place are coming resolutely from the U.S. government’s support of the Israeli apartheid regime,” said one at a Boston event.

“We don’t want blood, we don’t want to fight Israel forever. We just want our land back and just free Palestine,” explained another in Chicago.

Hundreds gathered in Times Square for a rally that was denounced by a number of local politicians. New York Governor Kathy Hochul called it “abhorrent and morally repugnant.”

“I can’t think of anything more ill-timed and cold-hearted than today’s demonstration in Times Square,” said New York Senator Chuck Schumer.

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