Must Read Roundup and Final Thoughts for the Week (11/24/23)

"We cannot afford to participate in the cheapening of life, or to indulge in blissful ignorance."

Must Read Roundup and Final Thoughts for the Week (11/24/23)

From Gaza to AI surveillance in public schools and toxic waste on Native land, here are some important stories you may have missed this week.

Nearly 80 Percent of Palestinians in Gaza Have Been Displaced, UN Reports by Sharon Zhang. “The death toll of Palestinians in Gaza is at least 14,128, according to the Palestinian government, including at least 5,600 children. At least 30,000 people have been injured, as the health system has nearly completely collapsed, with only a quarter of hospitals in the region still functioning and only 9 of the UNRWA’s 22 health centers still operational. Israel’s genocide has broken innumerable records since October 7, including the killing of a record number of journalists – 53 so far – and the most number of children killed in conflicts around the world since 2019.”

Israel to continue 'intense' fighting for at least two months after 'short' truce, says defence minister (Guardian Live Updates). “Israel’s defence minister, Yoav Gallant, has said the military will resume fighting against Hamas ‘with intensity’ for at least two more months once the ‘short’ temporary pause ends.”

Indigenous Groups in New Mexico Demand Action as Toxic Waste Spills Quadruple by Frances Madeson. “Spills of liquid toxic waste from oil and gas production have quadrupled in the Greater Chaco Landscape these past two years. In October, the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) reported a 50 percent compliance rate with air quality requirements, a record the department’s head called ‘dismal.’”

AI is supercharging child surveillance and the school-to-prison pipeline by Clarence Okoh. “For example, a recent national survey of educators found that over 88 percent of schools use student device monitoring, 33 percent use facial recognition and 38 percent share student data with law enforcement. Many of these tools are designed for military use and routinely used by authoritarian regimes to repress ethnic minorities — making their use in schools all the more frightening.”

Why Israel imprisons so many Palestinians by Abdallah Fayyad. “One of the major sources of that escalation is a tool of repression that Israel has long deployed against Palestinians and has used even more aggressively in recent weeks: administrative detention, a practice that allows Israel to jail Palestinians indefinitely without charge or trial … Even beyond administrative detention, when charges are brought against Palestinians in the West Bank, they are almost always tried in military courts that have a near-perfect conviction rate. (By contrast, Israelis are usually tried in civil court.) Palestinians, in other words, are sent to a trapdoor instead of a fair trial.”

The Harvard Law Review Refused to Run This Piece About Genocide in Gaza by Rabea Eghbariah. “As Edward Said reminds us, Zionism must be assessed from the standpoint of its victims, not its beneficiaries. Zionism can be simultaneously understood as a national movement for some Jews and a colonial project for Palestinians. The making of Israel in Palestine took the form of consolidating Jewish national life at the expense of shattering a Palestinian one.”

The Pentagon is moving toward letting AI weapons autonomously decide to kill humans by Tom Porter. “The Pentagon is working toward deploying swarms of thousands of AI-enabled drones, according to a notice published earlier this year.


If you’re looking for something to listen to this weekend, I recommend checking out How Did Nuclear Weapons Get on My Reservation? by Ella Weber. The podcast is part one of a five-part series. The series is a part of “The New Nuclear Age,” a special report on a $1.5-trillion effort to remake the American nuclear arsenal.

Final Thoughts

This week, people around the U.S. celebrated Thanksgiving. As a Native person, I have no opposition to feasting, gathering, or togetherness, but I do think we have a duty to counter colonial narratives, regardless of how we make use of this weekend.

In the interest of countering colonial narratives here in the U.S., I released a podcast episode this week that uplifts Native organizers. I also run an annual fundraiser centering the needs of Native people, including organizers on my reservation. But I know that many Native people would agree that, during this particularly heartbreaking time, countering the colonial narratives that prop up Israel’s genocidal violence against Palestinians is some of the most important work before us.

The so-called “truce” between Hamas and Israel has already been violated by Israeli forces, who have fired upon Palestinians attempting to return to their homes. The Biden administration is no doubt hoping the alleged pause in Israeli aggression will serve as a release valve for the pressure that has been mounting against him. Biden’s approval rating has hit an all-time low amid widespread support for a ceasefire — a popular demand that Biden refuses to embrace. While Biden’s team and supporters have praised the president’s role in bringing about the temporary pause, the administration has quietly expressed concerns “that [the pause] would allow journalists broader access to Gaza and the opportunity to further illuminate the devastation there and turn public opinion on Israel.”

The president has had a front-row seat to the carnage in Gaza via surveillance drones, so his administration’s concerns about what the public might see are not hypothetical. Biden knows the horrors that Israel has inflicted, and he and his team are afraid of the public’s response to those truths. Our government wants to keep us in the dark about the atrocities Israel has committed so that we won’t ramp up our protests, or further tank Biden’s approval rating. People of conscience must bring those fears to fruition by highlighting the realities of what’s happening in Gaza and the West Bank and continuing to disrupt business as usual.

Israel’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant claims that Israel will continue its assaults “with intensity” for at least two months after the pause. Given the apocalyptic violence Israel has already inflicted on Gaza, two more months of intense violence is all but unthinkable. We must rally against the genocide Israel is waging more fiercely than ever.

I know it’s painful to take in the atrocities that Palestinians are experiencing, but intervening in moments of injustice will always have a cost. Sometimes, we lose relationships, sometimes we feel pain, and sometimes, we jeopardize our freedom for what we know is right. At this frightening historical juncture, with human disposability on the rise, and automated death machines in the wings, we cannot afford to participate in the cheapening of life or to indulge in blissful ignorance. In the words of Palestinian poet Rasha Abdulhadi, “If our hearts break, let them break outward into action.”

Under settler colonialism, all of our oppressions — past, present, and future — are connected. Just as Native genocide and Jim Crow helped inform Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, Israel has expanded the tools of bordering, surveillance, and war-making, and exported its wares around the world. We cannot separate the AI being deployed in public schools in the U.S. to monitor and criminalize children from Israel’s totalizing surveillance of Gaza or from the U.S. military’s plans to deploy autonomous AI drones. All of these policies of control, death-making, and subjugation are connected, just as the toxicity of Native lands in the U.S. is connected to the poisoning of Palestinian lands with white phosphorus and other deadly chemicals. The extractive projects that have led to environmental devastation for Native communities in the U.S. are inextricably tied to the Biden administration’s plans to use the genocide in Gaza as cover for a natural gas extraction project. This litany of connections is not an attempt, as some might suggest, to give you a “selfish” reason to support Palestinians, but rather, a whole-hearted argument that to defend Palestine is to defend the world. No one is safe from the violence Israel and the Biden administration are attempting to normalize and justify, because no one is safe from what settler colonialism has wrought.

Right now, Palestinians are being murdered and displaced en masse. Our human connectedness to the dispossessed, the murdered, and those mourning the loss of their families is reason enough to act. But such efforts are also enacted on behalf of all life on Earth, as we must challenge the systems and leadership that would have us ignore atrocities, as the world we’ve known deteriorates due to climate chaos and the unbridled greed of oligarchs. There’s a reason Elon Musk feels threatened by the word “decolonization” and views “wokeness” as a threat to civilization. Because to men like Musk, a world run by men like him is “civilization” and an end to his impunity would be the end of the world as he envisions it.

The quiet cooperation the Biden administration is attempting to wrangle in response to the genocide in Palestine is the same quiet cooperation our leaders hope will keep us in check as the marriage between liberal democracy and capitalism continues to collapse. Our government knows that, in the coming years, more and more people will be inclined to challenge a system that is destroying our world and eviscerating our chances of collective survival. That’s why corporations and local governments are pooling their resources to build Cop Cities. It’s also why the government needs armed drones and AI surveillance in schools. When the imperialist state cannot pacify a people with words, it pacifies them with other forms of social control, including violence. The time to build a culture of opposition to these forces is now, and taking action against the atrocities in Palestine is crucial to that larger struggle.

Remember, to defend Palestine is to defend the world. All of our fates are connected. So let’s get out there and make more noise than ever before. Each Palestinian family in peril has a world worth saving, and the larger world we inhabit is worth saving as well. Analyze, educate, and take action from wherever you are. There is a role for each of us in this moment and we must not relent.

In solidarity,


Photo: Kelly Hayes