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Israel’s Cruelty by Design, an Interview with Joshua Frank

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Israel’s genocide on Gaza has led to at least 30,000 dead (including 12,000 children). This past week, we saw the Israelis begin bombing on Rafah and a ground invasion of the last refugee haven in Gaza is expected at any time. But wh…

Israel’s genocide on Gaza has led to at least 30,000 dead (including 12,000 children). This past week, we saw the Israelis begin bombing on Rafah and a ground invasion of the last refugee haven in Gaza is expected at any time. But while the Israelis wage their ethnic cleansing campaign with bombs and bullets, they’ve also weaponized environmental destruction to make sure that no one can return to a land and water poisoned by their war machine.

We talk with Joshua Frank (@joshua_frank) about the weaponization of environmental destruction in Palestinian territories. We also talk about Michael Menesini of the San Francisco’s District Attorney office anti-Arab emails to CounterPunch.

Bio// Joshua Frank is an award-winning California-based journalist and co-editor of the political magazine CounterPunch. He is the editor and co-author of several books. Most recently, he is the author of the book Atomic Days: The Untold Story of the Most Toxic Place in America (Haymarket Books 2022).

Rushed transcript:

Scott Parkin: Welcome to the silky smooth sounds of the Green and Red Podcast. Today, we’re going to be talking about Israel’s continued attack and genocide on Gaza.

Joining us is our old friend Joshua Frank, Josh, welcome to the Green and Red Podcast.

Joshua Frank: Thanks for having me back.

Scott Parkin: Josh is a journalist and the managing editor at CounterPunch. org. He’s also the author of Atomic Days and co-editor of a couple of other books.

And then he just recently published an article. Which made the rounds called “Making Gaza Unlivable.” And that’s what we’re going to be talking about today. Israel’s attack on Gaza has left at least 30, 000 dead. This week, we saw the Israelis began bombing in Rafa, which is like one of the last bastions of people who have been displaced by this.

Josh’s article is about how Israel has been weaponizing environmental destruction against the Palestinians. And so Josh, talk to us a little bit about how Israel has been weaponizing environmental destruction against the Palestinians during this attack. And perhaps previously as well.

Joshua Frank: My piece really focused on what’s happening in Gaza. Obviously, a lot of this is applicable to the West Bank as well, although it’s not under the same kind of bombardment at the moment.

When we discuss the genocide that’s taking place in Gaza, which is very well documented, we usually only talk about impacts on human life. We haven’t really addressed the environmental impacts of what’s happening. So, I looked at three things. One, the bombing campaigns and what that’s doing and the destruction to the cities and to homes. Then I looked at the historic decimation of olive groves, which are the cultural heritage of Palestinians, and also, in Gaza, a big part of the economy, which we can talk about a little bit. Then thirdly, I talked about another aspect of this campaign, which is to flood all of these tunnels primarily in the North. There’s precedent for the destruction that this caused. Egypt flooded tunnels about ten years ago, and there’s a lot of documentation about what that flooding of seawater into those tunnels to destroy alleged Hamas smuggling routes did to agricultural lands.

So I looked at it holistically and put it in perspective that this is not just individual campaigns but a larger strategy on Israel’s part to deem Gaza unlivable. And I think it goes along with a lot of the rhetoric that we’re hearing out of the Israeli government.

And since October 7th, and even prior to that, the plan is to ultimately move Palestinians out of the Gaza Strip. Now, whether that happens, there is some pushback now on the international level, obviously the ICJ’s case. We’ll see what happens. But also, news just came out today that — if you’ve even heard about this yet — reports are coming out of Egypt that they’re building a buffer zone in the Sinai Peninsula, which would allegedly make room for Egypt to receive Gazans and move them out of the south and into the desert, which would be a crime. But if we’re to believe the rhetoric of the Israeli government, this is what they’ve been talking about the whole time. And we also know they have nowhere else to go back to in the North. Seventy percent of their homes have been destroyed.

Looking at the environmental impacts of this is important to understand the complexities of it and also the challenges that lie ahead if they are to return. What they are returning to the aquifers is being completely polluted and destroyed? Even before October 7th over 90 percent of the water was contaminated in the drinking water supplies. The sewage systems in the Gaza Strip are completely broken. This is before October 7th. The conditions before the war broke out, if we can call a genocidal assault a war, were horrific.

And now it’s just been exponentially made worse.

Bob Buzzanco: Yeah, you start with the, by talking about flooding the tunnels and so on. But it, I was surprised, I had no idea how much bigger it was than that. And I think it began a couple of years ago with salination in the tunnels. Can you want to explain how they did that?

Joshua Frank: Right now, the plan is, and apparently, they’ve already started to do this in the North — when I was writing the article, it was in the test phase, but they set up module pumps along the coast that are transporting seawater into these underground tunnels to destroy them.

What that salt concentration does is eventually permeate the groundwater supplies, polluting them, as well as make the agricultural land — and most of the agricultural land in Gaza is in the North — making that land infertile because it will be too salinized. So that’s the big fear among people keeping a close eye on this.

The other fear is that the water itself in the Mediterranean is very polluted in that area because of the sanitation being destroyed. So, a lot of that stuff has been historically just dumped right into the Mediterranean. So that’s another problem is that they’re pumping this water in that’s polluted to begin with and it has a high salt content. And so, they’re really fearful that the little agriculture that they were able to have is going to be gone. This is even going to make it harder to live. On top of that, when the ground is saturated — as we’ve noticed down here in Southern California with all the rain we had last week, hillsides collapsing — we have another type of problem. In Gaza, it’s going to be really difficult if the ground is unstable, which could also be part of Israel’s strategy to make that ground so unstable that they can’t rebuild in those areas that have been destroyed.

Scott Parkin: There was a stat from a UNICEF report in 2019 that 96 percent of water from Gaza’s soil aquifer is unfit for human consumption. And so, it seems part of the Israeli strategy here. It’s not just incidental to make Gaza make it unlivable.

Although there are a lot of stories about how the Israelis plan to have settlers move into Gaza, the way in which they’ve been doing in the West Bank and other places. But, I’m wondering if you could talk a little bit about how intentional a strategy is this?

Joshua Frank: I think the evidence is overwhelming that this has been the game plan from the get-go, and October 7th has been used as an excuse to destroy Gaza. I think at the highest levels of the Israeli government, they knew that they would never eliminate Hamas because Hamas is an ideology. It’s a movement. They can impact its military capabilities. They can set it back, but they’re not going to stop Hamas from spreading, and the hatred toward Israel will only be exponentially worse after this. So, I think that the intentionality of what they’re doing in Gaza and the amount of — if you want to call it a retaliation — of how disproportionate that’s been, it’s been intentional. When I wrote that piece, I think the numbers have changed somewhat since then, 29,000 air-to-surface munitions were fired. Forty percent of those were very large, unguided bombs.

Bombs like that are meant to destroy and are indiscriminate in what they destroy. Seventy percent of all homes destroyed, as I said earlier. Nearly all the hospitals are not functioning. Most of them are destroyed. Most of the schools are now destroyed.

Now they’re going after the United Nations efforts there as well. I think it’s a systemic genocide and ethnic cleansing that has been going on for over 75 years, and the attacks of October 7th, the failure of the Israeli government to respond to those, we can get into those details, too. There’s a lot of fishy stuff, of course, but I think they saw it as an opportunity, much like the U.S. saw 9/11 as an opportunity to expand in the Middle East. I think that we’ve heard these comparisons that this was Israel’s 9/11, but the reality is the reaction to this is more of an apt metaphor.

It’s important to also look at this as a nuclear conflict. Israel is nuclearly armed. We know that this is expanding regionally. Just today, they struck southern Lebanon, some Hezbollah targets there. We know what’s happening with the Houthis. Things are expanding and getting more and more dangerous as this drags on. And I don’t think there’s any turning back. And we know this: the Biden administration is totally, completely culpable. Whatever sort of pressure they’re allegedly putting on Netanyahu and the Israelis isn’t very effective. This makes you wonder if they’re putting any pressure on at all or if it’s just a political ploy. We really haven’t seen the worst of this yet.

Bob Buzzanco: Unfortunately, let me follow up, ask you a little bit of the munitions. In Vietnam, with Agent Orange and cluster bombs, there are still significant consequences that are visible.

And I know in Gaza, we’ve seen white phosphorus and cluster bombs already used. Are there other, in addition to the immediate destruction, which we’re seeing every day, which is horrific, are there any, kind of other things that may be long term?

Joshua Frank: What we don’t talk about a lot is the destruction of the buildings and what that creates as far as air quality. I compare it to the World Trade Centers, the towers that went down on 9/11, the lingering health effects on the people in that part of Manhattan, and also the impacts on air quality going forward. It was about a year, and even after 9/11, the air quality in lower Manhattan was horrible. I can’t imagine how bad it is in Gaza. We can’t measure these things right now, of course, because we don’t know exactly what’s going on. But those impacts have to be far greater. And that’s not even taking into account the leftover debris. We know that Gaza is a testing ground for Western arms manufacturers. We don’t know exactly what’s being used in some cases, but we know the impacts are horrific, and it will take decades to really not only rebuild but to understand the true toll that this is taking on the region.

We talk about the impacts of the bombs and these kinds of things. We talk about the plans for Israelis to move into Gaza. That might be a plan for some, but what are they moving into?

It is a decimated land and it’s going to take billions and billions of dollars to rebuild it to what it was before, let alone these new sort of fancy buildings on the coast. It’s a horrible situation. I think the estimates of what’s coming out of this destruction are lowball estimates. They are very conservative estimates. I think it’s much more horrific and much worse than we can even predict.

Scott Parkin: The olive trees that are ten percent of the Gaza economy. This is an example of also the Israelis trying to, destroy Palestinians to be able to have a viable economy. And so it’s in a sense, it’s also not only environmental warfare, but it’s also economic warfare. Could you talk about that?

Joshua Frank: Yeah, it’s also cultural warfare. It’s a war on the olive tree and what it represents to the Palestinians, which has a very deep history. In Palestine, since 1967, Israel has uprooted 800,000 native olive trees. These trees are not monocrops. These are forests. They have many other trees in these groves, like buckhorn, hawthorn, almond trees, pine, and fig trees. They’re ecosystems. They are home to many different types of birds: the green finch, the Eurasian jay, and other migrating birds. So these are forests that have been historically cultivated, but in the West Bank, they’ve been torn down to build settlements.

In Gaza, they’ve been destroyed often for no reason at all other than to destroy part of the economy and Palestinian culture. And the harvest season for the olives usually takes place in the fall, but that didn’t happen this year. Talking about the economy in Gaza right now seems ridiculous, right?

There is no economy; it’s gone. But before October 7th olive harvest made up about 10 percent of the entire economy of the Gaza Strip. There were thousands of farmers who harvested these olive groves. It’s a big part of their income. And a lot of them talk about not knowing if they’re ever able to go back to these areas. Secondly, what if they do go back, if those olive groves are even there? And I think it’s just — for anybody that’s even been a part of any environmental movement in the United States or in the Western world and the relationship that we have with the forests here and fighting to protect them — I think it’s really a similar feeling that Palestinians have, even on a much, much deeper level, to these olive groves. And I believe Israel knows that, I think part of them destroying those olive groves is to destroy part of that Palestinian history as well.

Bob Buzzanco: Earlier, you mentioned white phosphorus. In addition to being deadly to humans, doesn’t have an afterlife and seep into the environment?

They were using white phosphorus in Cast Lead in 2014. So, this is what they used. This is part of their arsenal.

Joshua Frank: Absolutely. It lingers for a long time. It’s linked to all kinds of bad stuff. It’s also illegal to use white phosphorus in urban areas. Talking about the war crimes that Israel has committed would take more than a podcast.

It will have great impacts. Parsing all these things out is difficult. I think once they get in there and can assess it, I’m sure it’s going to be whitewashed. Who’s going to be in there? It will be the Israeli security apparatus. And they’re not going to let in independent observers. I’m sure, especially with their efforts to kick out the U.N. now. I don’t know if we’ll ever really know the long-term effects, but we do know that white phosphorus has lingering impacts on groundwater supplies, on soil composition, and other things where it’s been used in the past.

Scott Parkin: There’s a new campaign that started here in the Bay Area called “No Fuel for Apartheid,” which is targeting Chevron., The company, since 2020, has been building an energy hub connected to gas fields in, off the coast of Gaza And also in Northern Gaza.

And I’m curious, what your thoughts are on how Western oil companies are taking advantage of this moment. And I’m wondering what your thoughts are on that.

Joshua Frank: I think for the fossil fuel industry, this is potentially an opening for them to get into the region more so than they already were. I think it’s probably more likely that we’ll see oil drilling off the coast and in the Gaza Strip before you’re going to see any building of settlements just because, obviously, it’s much easier to get in there and harvest oil than it is to build and clean out aquifers. And, of course, we know the oil industry is very good at polluting aquifers, too, so it will just make it a dead zone. I’ve seen some of the sort of overarching plans for some of these ventures, pipelines, and other things through the Gaza Strip. But I don’t know now what those look like and what’s going to happen. And I think there’s probably a lot of debate about that, too.

I think that complicates the picture a little bit, and I think that going back to what I was talking about earlier, I do think that there has been some pushback about these things. So, the talk has been muted about those long-term plans, but it’s definitely a part of it.

Bob Buzzanco: I didn’t read the entire ICJ complaint. Were any of these kinds of environmental issues brought up in the charges against Israel? Because during the Vietnam War, ecocide was not brought up.

Joshua Frank: Yeah, ecocide was not brought up. But some of the impacts, I think, of the ecocide that are related were addressed. Eighty-five percent of the population of Gaza, probably more now, is facing starvation. Those sorts of things are part of that environmental impact and part of destroying agricultural land. Gazans who are facing starvation now, they can’t go back to a place that has food because there’s nowhere to grow food. There’s no access to food, which forces them to leave Gaza, which is a big part of the plan and as we’ve seen with some of the prominent voices on social media in Gaza, like Motaz, who had something like 17 million followers on Instagram, more than President Biden. He exited, he got out, and they wanted him out of there, and part of that was obviously a threat to his life, and he’s not the only journalist. We know the war on journalists there, but I think part of that is because the rest of it’s not livable, right?

It’s enticing to leave, to save your own life, and I think that the state that we’re in right now, and that they’re in, especially in the south, is that there’s nowhere to go, being forced into the desert and the Sinai. Unfortunately, this will start looking good for them.

Scott Parkin: Are they doing anything like this in the West Bank or any other Palestinian areas?

Joshua Frank: We do know in the West Bank, there’s been horrific settler violence. The most vulnerable areas of the West Bank are in the southern part. And those are the areas where there are, I don’t want to say, nomadic peoples, but people that still live off the lands that herd sheep and other things. So, they are prime targets for settler violence.

We know olive groves in the West Bank continue to be burned and ripped up and sometimes scorched in the name of security, other times to build road, walls, and to build new settlements. It is still very similar to what’s happened in Gaza over the years; it’s happening now.

Today, in the West Bank, they live under a completely different sort of military occupation than Gaza did before October 7th. They’re going through security checkpoints day in and day out, living in a segregated region of apartheid, so getting cut off from their agricultural land, those sorts of things have happened and are continuing to happen as well.

Bob Buzzanco: About public health, you’ve already talked about after what, four months now how serious it is. Respiratory illnesses and diarrhea, children are dying. What’s, and that’s only going to get worse, right?

Joshua Frank: I know it’s going to get worse as they make it harder and harder for medical teams to get in there and help them.

Part of defunding the efforts of UNRWA is to make those matters even worse. Some of the only functioning medical facilities in Gaza right now are run by the U.N. The doctors are coming out of that and talking about their experiences there and how horrible they are.

That’s only going to worsen, which is another reason for them to leave. I think that’s part of the plan. They’ve given some estimates of asthma and what’s happening. I think a lot of that had to do with the detonation of buildings, from the dust in the lingering sort of toxins in the air.

It’s something like 10 percent of Gazans are now dealing with asthma that weren’t prior to October 7th. Of course, diarrhea is rampant. Other waterborne illnesses are going crazy. It’s a total catastrophe. And it is a preventable one, obviously, but we’re so far along now, and I don’t think we even really have a true understanding of how bad the situation is there on a public health level.

Similar to evaluating sort of the environmental assessment later on — the numbers of those that are going to develop long-term severe impacts, not to mention mental health, are going to be exponential.

Bob Buzzanco: It was years later in Vietnam, you still have entire orphanages for Agent Orange babies and things like that without arms. It’s like it’s, yeah, same in Iraq and, of course, on another, on the human health side as well.

Joshua Frank: We already know the death toll and how high it potentially is, but how many others are amputees or coming out of this with other ailments? Unfathomable really. And all those bodies in the rubble, you can’t count because they’re buried?

Scott Parkin: Are there any agencies or institutions which are talking about the sort of environmental destruction being weaponized by the Israelis at this point? Or is it? The dust will settle, and then we will start talking about the long-term health effects of some of this environmental destruction.

Joshua Frank: Historically, when we look at Kuwait and the burning of oil fields, and these sorts of things like the impacts of depleted uranium on soldiers that were cleaning up things, cleaning up tanks in the battlefield in Iraq, a lot of these studies come out long after the fact. These are epidemiological studies. In some cases, sometimes they’re long studies because a lot of the impacts linger and don’t show up until years later. It takes a lot of time and it takes a lot of resources. And historically, in this country, at least, and in Britain as well, a lot of those studies aren’t funded properly, or they lose funding, and it’s hard to track these people. They get lost in the system. I’m talking about soldiers in this case. People who are being impacted in Gaza as well are Israeli soldiers, too, and a lot of them are young. It’s really impossible to track some of this stuff right now because it’s so fluid.

And I don’t think that the governments have an incentive. Israel doesn’t have an incentive to study this because it doesn’t bode well for them. The United Nations can keep an eye on this, and they do monitor things, but they can only do as much as they’re allowed to, and we know Israel is not going to allow them to do what they need to do in order to get a full picture of what’s happening.

Scott Parkin: My other question is, what sort of response have you gotten from telling this story? I think Kate Aronoff had a story about the climate environment around Chevron last fall in the new Republic. But I haven’t actually seen too much reporting on this. I’m curious about the sort of response you’ve been getting.

Joshua Frank: It’s made the rounds. I’ve talked to a lot of people about it. And I think it’s been in the conversation. It just hasn’t been maybe put together in a way where it’s all there and tied into the genocide itself.

Because the human toll is just so horrific, that becomes the focus. And so trying to tie that in and looking at it as this more complex thing that’s happening and especially going forward.

Right now, stopping the bombing of Gaza, not only because we obviously want to save lives first and foremost, but because we need to ensure that this destruction stops for environmental impact reasons as well.

Scott Parkin: I’m going to shift topics a little bit. It’s still going to be around Gaza, but it’s going to be a little bit about some things that have been happening in the U. S. Just last week, it turns out that an assistant district attorney in San Francisco, Michael Menesini, sent off some emails to your publication Counterpunch. He had some choice words for Counterpunch because published quite a quite a few articles around the ethnic cleansing and genocide in Gaza. I’m wondering if you could just maybe just fill us in on that a little bit as well.

Joshua Frank: I think the first email we received from him was in late January. Apparently, he was on our email list and has been receiving our little newsletter updates that we send out.

Scott Parkin: Is he a donor?

Joshua Frank: [Laughs] I don’t believe he’s a donor, and he won’t be anymore. Maybe some settlement will come out of this. I think that first email, he gave us the regular spiel that we’re anti-semitic because we’re criticizing Israel. Everything we publish is garbage because we can’t be taken seriously, blah, blah, blah.

I think what was startling was that he sent it from his work email address, which is a government email address. We’re used to nut jobs sending us stuff, of course, death threats and other things too, especially since October 7th, even our site was attacked right after October 7th, because we were immediately trying to stop the incursion into Gaza.

We’re used to this stuff, but coming from an Assistant District Attorney in San Francisco was alarming. And we talked to a lawyer after that one was sent to us. And we just thought we’d sit and wait and see what happened next. Fast forward a couple of weeks, and he sent another email to us.

And this time, he repeated some pretty horrible anti-Arab rhetoric, and so at that point, I thought, what’s the best way to push back against this guy, and I decided to post his emails to make them public. I thought about writing an article about it, but I said, “let’s just let social media do its thing.” I don’t have the time for this. He’s not worth my time, but it did get picked up in the San Francisco Standard, which did a pretty good piece on him. And in doing so, I think, put pressure on the DA’s office to investigate him. I don’t know where that stands now with him.

He is not part of the team that’s prosecuting the Bay Bridge 78. Those that shut down the Bay Bridge. But the office is, and so I think it shows that the anti-Arab sentiment within the DA’s office in San Francisco is pretty strong. If this guy feels like he can send off an email from his public government account.

The guy was also the vice mayor of Martinez. He’d been in the public life for a while, you’d think he would have some scruples or at least send us some hate mail from his personal email account, right?

So, we’ll see what happens. I think that he needs to be removed from his post. He certainly shouldn’t be on any cases that involve hate crimes, free speech, or protests of any sort. I think his job is done there, and I think he should retire. So, hopefully, there’ll be some pressure on him to do that.

Bob Buzzanco: It says a lot about the coastal elites to, in San Francisco, you have this guy and Pelosi saying the FBI should start surveilling people, guidance, crowds, and I started thinking about it too. It’s not just that he has these sentiments, right?

Joshua Frank: A lot of people have them, but few share them publicly. He did. In this case, he sent it to us. But I think it was also an attempt to silence a media organization, getting an email from a prosecutor’s office calling us out for something that they don’t agree with. That’s a pretty scary precedent. And one that I think, depending on what happens in November, obviously it could get worse as we go forward, these crackdowns on free speech. But I think that this is a warning shot in some ways.

Bob Buzzanco: People have been fired for tweeting sympathy for Palestinians consistently for the last four months.

Joshua Frank: I will say the response once those emails were made public has been nothing but supportive of CounterPunch. And I think he’s feeling the pressure for sure, and I don’t believe we’ll be hearing from him anytime soon.

Scott Parkin: It’s interesting how they’re allowed to get away with this to have anti-Arab sentiment is one thing, but then being able to go public with it on your institution server or whatever.

Joshua Frank: I think that anti-Arab sentiment is, it’s always been there, but it’s been heightened ever since 9/11. I think that there’s a lot of evidence that this type of anti-Arab sentiment in DA’s offices and prosecutors and the FBI and others are part of their training from day one, and we’re seeing that now 20, whatever, 23 years later, that it’s still very prevalent there.

That’s frightening. I think a lot about the hate crimes against Palestinian activists and others and how when it happens. — itt happened, Bob, right? It happened in Houston a couple of weeks ago, right? — how if  that were a Jewish activist, a Zionist, I should say, it would be front-page news in New York Times, but what happened in Vermont and, since they’re Palestinian, since they’re Arab since they hold sentiments that aren’t popular with the elite — the news falls off the radar. And that’s unfortunate, but I think that’s part of this bigger problem in our society as well, is dehumanizing Palestinians and dehumanizing those of us who stand up for Palestinian rights. And we’re seeing that crack down on campuses, of course, and all over the place.

Bob Buzzanco: Yeah, several universities have banned groups like Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine.

Meanwhile, the public has turned against this war. We have cities all across the country passing resolutions and ceasefire resolutions because the heat is on and the public is out.

Scott Parkin: Including San Francisco, by the way.

Joshua Frank: Yeah, including San Francisco, and then Chicago, down here in Long Beach, all over the place. So meanwhile, the tide has shifted. And as horrible as it is, and not knowing what the future holds for Palestinians — never in the existence of the state of Israel has there been this much scrutiny of what they’re doing on an international scale day in and day out, documented on social media, documented in the news.

Even the New York Times has to cover this stuff. I try to hold on to that. I try to hold on to the fact that there’s a great opportunity for a new anti-war movement. I don’t think we’re there yet. I’m very inspired by Jewish Voice for Peace and other anti-Zionists in the Jewish community, as well as our rank-and-file antiwar folks.

We have a big opportunity to push back against the U.S. empire, and the apparatus that we support in Israel is a big part of that. And so I think there’s just a really great opportunity to move this forward, and that inspires me despite the horror that we’re witnessing.

Scott Parkin: Yeah, I completely agree with that. And, speaking of the Bay Bridge action, they did a blockade on the Golden Gate Bridge this morning. I saw that. Yeah. And in response to the Israelis bombing of Rafah.

Joshua Frank: We know the DA’s office will be under scrutiny now if they’re going to prosecute anybody.

Scott Parkin: Hopefully they’ll keep that in mind. I only have one question left, which is actually a little bit unrelated.

Bob Buzzanco: Just a great article. I think I’ve studied wars my whole life. And this is one element that I think is not really covered there. I call it ecocide, but you see this in Korea, just the consequence of the long-term impact of unexploded bombing, unexploded bombs, and things like that. So, this is important to get out using food and water as a weapon.

Joshua Frank: In every genocide, this sort of ecocide has been documented, a lot of these elements have been in place.

Bob Buzzanco: I was teaching the other day about the origins of World War One and the British blockade, which in 1914 was a violation of international law, so it’s been over 100 years, and the U.S. is just, clearly objectively rejected international norms.

Joshua Frank: Absolutely.

Scott Parkin: My last question actually is unrelated to a little more of an environment/climate question, and because you’re based in Southern California, we’ve been seeing these “atmospheric rivers” all over the state. Southern California, particularly the Los Angeles area where you are, is going to hit particularly hard.

I’ve actually seen some posts from you with some pretty with the river, Almost looking like it was overflowing if it wasn’t, and I’m just wondering if you have any thoughts on that since it’s also your beat as well.

Joshua Frank: I think what we’re witnessing here is we’re living in a world of extremes. We know that climate change is impacting so many different things in so many ways, but one of the things that we now know for sure, I think, is that these crazy weather events are going to happen.

Maybe not more often, but when they do happen, they’re going to be more ferocious, and that’s certainly the case with hurricanes. I think in the case of the dry spells that we’re going to experience, droughts, they’re going to be more extreme. And then cases like the atmospheric river that just happened down here were more extreme. This is our new norm. Unfortunately, this probably sets back the idea of rewilding the L.A. River in some ways because now people are afraid of flooding. The flood infrastructure here did hold, but will it in the future? If we get hit back-to-back, the impacts of atmospheric rivers or storms down here could be much greater. We have another one coming. I don’t know if it’s an atmospheric river, but I think we’re expecting a couple more inches this weekend.

The ground is saturated. There is nowhere for the water to go. Hillsides are collapsing. A lot of the hills in and around L.A. are at great risk. They’re having to evacuate some of the canyons because they’re afraid of mud, debris, and flow. Of course, in Southern California, as Mike Davis wrote about so eloquently in documenting the ecological disasters that we face, he was very prescient. He predicted that we’re going to be living in a time when these things become more exacerbated. We’re in the middle of it right now. If we want to understand all of this, I think we go back and read Ecology of Fear and see what we’re in for.

Scott Parkin: Josh, it’s been great talking to you again today.

This content originally appeared on and was authored by Bob Buzzanco - Scott Parkin.

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" » Israel’s Cruelty by Design, an Interview with Joshua Frank." Bob Buzzanco - Scott Parkin | Radio Free [Online]. Available: [Accessed: ]
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