By Sheldon Ranz

“We are a people who will not harm a fly, but if the fly bothers him, the fly must be killed and also his children if he hides behind them.” – Amihai Eliyahu, Israel’s Heritage Minister, May 13.

Considering the military advantage gained by eliminating these senior terrorists, it is irrelevant to ask how many children were incidentally killed.” – Maurice Hirsch, IDF Lt. Col.(res.), May 9

In public discourse around Israel/Palestine this year, the most oft-used term is Nakba. It means ‘catastrophe’ in Arabic and also refers to the 1947-1949 event – the ethnic cleansing of approximately 750,000 indigenous Palestinian Arabs from their homeland. This year marks the Nakba’s 75th anniversary since the nation responsible, Israel, was officially born in 1948.

For old-time SDUSAers and Labor Zionists in the US, the Nakba was unknown. We grew up with a heavily redacted, romanticized version of Israel’s beginnings, and it has been hard to accept that we had been lied to (some will never accept that and will remain Israel diehards). The parallels with red-diaper babies having grown up with a comparable version of the Soviet Union’s beginnings are hard to resist. However, for the here and now, the USSR is no more, so there are no relevant policy issues on that table. With Israel, however, nothing could be further from the truth: it is a nuclear-armed far-right apartheid state flirting with genocide.

How the hell did that happen? It helps to do a deep dive into Israel’s first Prime Minister and the man considered its founder, David Ben-Gurion. The consensus among Israel’s New Historians – Benny Morris, Avi Shlaim, Ilan Pappe – as well as eminent Palestinian historians Walid Khalidi, Rashid Khalidi and Nur Masalha is that he was the mastermind of the Nakba.

He was born David Grun in Plonsk, Poland in 1886. He grew up in the Socialist Zionist Poalei Zion movement and soon emigrated to Ottoman Palestine, where he Hebraicized his last name to Ben-Gurion. From there, he would shuttle back and forth, from Palestine, to New York, to Europe, and back again to Palestine, all to build up and recruit for his movement. One place he stopped at was back in Poland, at the home of Pinchas Goldkranc, my paternal grandfather. Pinchas was a banking agent and Ben-Gurion needed him to set up an account for the local Poalei Zion chapter, so Ben-Gurion stayed overnight as a guest in my father’s room. My father, John (nee Jochanan Goldkranc) recalled being charmed by his vision of a Jewish country that would be the “glory of the working class!”  In fact, Ben-Gurion had charm in abundance, and it was critical in hiding the terrible truth: he was a skilled sociopath. The masses of Jews who comprised the bulk of the Labor Zionist movement – the true believers, like my family – were unaware of his true intentions and war crimes.  

As head of the Jewish Agency, the leading Jewish communal organization in the British Mandate, Ben-Gurion was fully aware that most Palestinians did not follow the anti-Semitic Grand Mufti. He himself made deals with the Nashashibi Palestinian clan, some of whose members had rescued numerous Jews in Hebron during the infamous 1929 massacre committed by the Mufti’s followers. He and the senior leadership of the Yishuv (the pre-state Jewish community) were fully aware that most Palestinians wanted peaceful coexistence with Jews. And when the British were in charge, Ben-Gurion’s militia, the Haganah, did not organize massacres against the Palestinians, but he revealed his racist ambitions to his inner circle:

  • On October 5, 1937, Ben-Gurion wrote in a letter to his son Amos: “We must expel the Arabs and take their places.”
  • In a 1941 memorandum entitled “Outlines of the Zionist Policy”, Ben-Gurion stated that “the majority of the Arabs could hardly be expected to leave voluntarily,” noting, “Complete transfer without compulsion – and ruthless compulsion, at that – is hardly imaginable.”
  • I support compulsory transfer. I don’t see anything immoral in it.” (Benny Morris, “Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict 1881-1998”)

Once Ben-Gurion was certain the British were leaving Palestine for good in 1947, he decided to make his move. According to Palestinian historian Walid Khalidi’s “Before Their Diaspora“, on August 15, 1947 the house of the Abu Laban family, prosperous Palestinian orange growers near Petah Tikva, was attacked and blown up by the Haganah. Twelve occupants, including a mother and six children, were killed. (The Palestinians had not launched any offensive attacks since 1939, when the British expelled the Mufti). The massacre of the Abu Labans, innocent civilians by all reputable accounts, came during intense United Nations debate about partitioning the British Mandate. The massacre’s auspicious timing sent a clear signal to the Palestinian leadership that to vote ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ on partition later that November would make no difference. Ben-Gurion was going to invade the territory the UN gave to Palestine, regardless. And, he did make a promise a decade earlier to his son. As sociopaths go, David Ben-Gurion was a man of his word!

While the violence between Jews and Palestinians that followed the UN partition vote is widely considered by historians to be a “civil war”, its true Fort Sumter moment – the ‘first shot fired’ of the Nakba – was the Abu Laban massacre. It set the tone for the atrocities to follow, up until the 1949 Armistice. The Armistice was the formal end of armed hostilities between Israel and the Arab states that were called on to invade it by the Palestinian leadership in a desperate ploy to prevent Ben-Gurion’s forces from expelling the Palestinians from their land.

And while much shade is thrown on the right-wing Zionist militia such as the Irgun and Lehi terrorist groups, whose members raped and murdered over 100 Palestinians at Deir Yassin, tossing their corpses into a well, that has served as a deflection from the far more numerous and horrifying massacres committed by the Labor Zionist Haganah militia and its offspring – the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) –  who would brag about how much more civilized they are in combat and how they believe in a ‘purity of arms’. Here’s a Haganah/IDF sampler:

  • Contrary to stories about Arab propaganda advocating driving Jews into the sea, it was Israeli Jews who were actually doing that to Palestinian Arabs. In late April 1948, as nearly all the Arab inhabitants of the city of Haifa were being expelled, Haganah operation officer Mordechai Maklef ordered his troops to “Kill any Arab you encounter; torch all inflammable objects, and force doors open with explosives.” Crowds of Palestinians seeking safety in a marketplace near the port were deliberately shelled by his forces, causing a panicked flight towards the waterfront as people rushed to evacuate by sea. Many drowned as overloaded boats sank attempting to shuttle people to safety. One witness recalled: Men stepped on their friends and women on their own children. The boats in the port were soon filled with living cargo. The overcrowding in them was horrible. Many turned over and sank with all their passengers.” (Ilan Pappe, “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine”, pp. 95 -6)
  • The Tantura Massacre. Yosef Diamont, IDF soldier: “We put Palestinians in cages and killed them. One of us raped a sixteen-year-old girl; some of us ran after them with flame throwers and burned them.” (https://t.co/ma0xwIPYqx) This testimony is from the award-winning documentary “Tantura”, which chronicles the slaughter by the IDF Alexandroni brigade of over 200 Palestinians in the village of Tantura, who were then buried in a mass grave.
  • Operation Cast Thy Bread. Ben-Gurion authorized the use of germ warfare to poison the wells of Palestinian villages and spread typhoid bacteria during the Nakba (Ha’Aretz, October 6, 2022). Whereas Jews for millennia had been falsely accused by anti-Semites of poisoning wells to victimize Gentile children, Ben-Gurion decided to give the anti-Semites a gift by doing it for real!

The current government of Israel, the most right-wing in its history, is really not an anomaly, but the logical outcome of Ben-Gurion’s sociopathy. It is not an actual coalition government of left, center and right as previous governments had been; there are no mitigating liberal or moderate elements. It consists of Netanyahu’s Likud Party and those even further to the right, period. In the crosshairs of the government are enemies both Jewish and Palestinian. This year started with a settler-led pogrom in the Palestinian town of Hawara. Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said Hawara should be erased, but professionally, by soldiers instead of settlers! And liberal Israeli Jews were targeted with the government proposal for ‘judicial reforms’, which would allow the Knesset (Parliament) to override the Supreme Court by a simple majority.vote. This has led to massive anti-government street demonstrations attended by hundreds of thousands of Israeli Jews, who rightly fear open fascism.

However, there has been little meaningful outreach by the Jewish demonstrators to the Palestinian community to join forces thus far. Reluctance to raise the issue of the Occupation or even toting the Palestinian flag are cited as reasons; in any event, the far right in Israel intimidates the opposition.  But let’s be brutally honest here – many, if not most, of the Jewish demonstrators are caught up in the same anti-Palestinian bigotry that their right-wing counterparts display, except they’re a bit nicer about it. To them, it’s all about preserving ‘Jewish democracy.’ Not democracy per se, but ‘Jewish democracy’.

Left to their own devices, the Israeli masses don’t have what it takes to organize an ‘Israeli Spring’. Only enormous outside pressure has a chance of making that happen, and there’s nothing looming on the national horizon right now. The best bet is local organizing. In New York State, for example, Assemblyman Zohran Mamdani and State Senator Jabari Brisport are sponsoring the “Not On Our Dime” Act (A06943/S06992), which will stop charities registered in New York State from sending money in tax-deductible donations to West Bank settlements. Getting behind such legislation here and elsewhere throughout the US should be a no-brainer for social democrats working for an end to Israeli apartheid and justice for the Palestinian people.

Sheldon Ranz is the Director of Special Projects for SDUSA and the editor of Socialist Currents.

Poverty, Instability and the Aching Human-Animal Bond

By Susan Stevens

At the intersection of human poverty and mental instability, animals are engulfed in loneliness, hunger and neglect. Cheryl Gleason, my Kansas City, Kansas neighbor and impassioned volunteer with the Heart of America Humane Society and their TNR (trap, neuter, return) Angels — who also lovingly feeds and shelters numerous feral cats on her own property — writes:

‘It’s “Kitten Season” now and we’re coming across a lot of kittens being found in people’s yards with or without mama cats. So many of the mama cats are feral, and people can’t take them in. By the time the kittens are big enough for people to notice them, they usually have to be trapped if no one has interacted with them enough to socialize them. That’s a big problem, since we don’t have enough fosters at rescues that have the time to socialize feral kittens. They have their hands full with friendly ones. The root of the problem is that people aren’t getting their owned or feral/community cats spayed and neutered. We in rescue are having a very hard time keeping up with the amount of kitties needing help. Our clinics are having a hard time finding enough veterinarians and vet techs who can volunteer their time at feral cat clinics. There’s actually a shortage of veterinarians country wide. It’s just a huge problem in our area, and it’s an uphill battle sometimes, educating people about the benefits of TNR. Alley Cat Allies —  https://www.alleycat.org/ — is a great source of information for the public about the benefits of TNR. Since October of 2020, my husband and I, and another volunteer in rescue and TNR have taken over 1300 cats, feral and owned to out of town clinics for altering and vaccines. The other 300 that we’ve taken have gone to local clinics — only 300, since that’s all the appointments that the local clinics could give us in that same period.’

It is a vicious cycle in poor communities. People raised in situations of economic deprivation, abuse, addiction or neglect often crave the faithful, unquestioning love and companionship of a forever pet and impulsively bring one home — but may lack the teaching or economic resources to provide that forever home. Situations of economic deprivation can increase the risk of abuse, addiction or neglect. Incomes that don’t keep pace with inflation and rising rents exacerbate the risk of eviction, and an overwhelmed individual or family may have to go someplace where they can’t take their pet. With shelters here often overflowing, they may abandon them to the mercy of the neighborhood.

According to our Catskills-based SDUSA Chair Patty Friend, a lot of people abandon their pets out in the country, which is devastating for domesticated animals who’ve “lost the only family they’ve ever known,” have no idea how to survive in the wild, and are therefore doomed to become either easy prey to the wild predators, or “feral-crazy” predators themselves. Patty has also lived in the mountains of Southern California in Los Padres National Forest and observed a similarly tragic situation, so she knows this behavior is not confined to any one region of the United States. She points out that changing policy will not change people’s behavior — that they’ll just continue doing whatever they want — and that what we need is “an all-out media campaign that goes after people’s conscience” — that makes it clear that rather than leaving a domesticated animal out in the wild to fend for itself, it would be much kinder to take it to a kill center where it could just go through death, rather than immeasurable suffering followed by death.

This campaign should get people to think about what they’re giving up of their own soul when they dump a living creature “that they have most likely fallen in love with,” Patty says, and also educate them about the enormous responsibility they must be ready to take on before bringing a pet home. For example, a puppy needs obedience training as well as food, vet care, love and exercise. She knows that when we start thinking this deeply about the needs of animals, the end result is that we’ll start treating each other better, too.

At a Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas Commission meeting last winter, a woman described the plight of her new neighbor who’d taken over the home of a previous tenant who simply left their dog behind, outdoors, when they moved. The new tenant already had a dog and couldn’t take in the new one, who was desperate to get inside and kept scratching and scratching, leaving streaks of blood on the door. Animal Control said there was no shelter space and nothing they could do.

Abandoned animals who haven’t been spayed or neutered scavenge for food, and follow the call of nature and make babies. As Cheryl shared above, kittens who lack sufficient human interaction become feral cats. The Heart of America Humane Society’s TNR Angels are doing a lot of good in diligently and creatively working to trap and location-tag feral cats, take them for vet care including spaying/neutering, and then return them to their familiar neighborhoods where they can live out their lives without multiplying quite so exponentially the number of kittens who have to be born into a life of hardship.

As social democrats who see our country’s trend towards ever-increasing economic and psychological instability as food, transportation and housing costs skyrocket and wages stagnate, we must get behind every initiative that increases warmth, well-being and love for every living creature.

Prison animal programs are one such initiative, such as the FORWARD program — Felines and Offenders Rehabilitation with Affection, Reformation and Dedication — at Pendleton Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison outside of Indianapolis. (https://www.indystar.com/story/news/local/indianapolis/2020/10/19/cats-inmates-rehabilitate-each-other-through-animal-care-program/5798291002/)

We must also support incentives to exponentially increase the number of pet-friendly low-income apartments, and legislation to fund more training and resources for at-risk pet owners — those with barriers that threaten their ability to be consistently responsible in caring for their pets. In these soul-crushing times, it can be tempting to retreat into tunnel vision, and decide that any problems peripheral to our central focus will have to be left to others. I’m reminded of the old — possibly Hopi elders’ — quote: “We are the ones we have been waiting for.”

No one person can do everything, but as social democrats, we know that all change results from being willing to do at least one thing — whether volunteering at shelters or as TNR Angels ourselves, sheltering and feeding stray and feral cats on our own property while also seeking the Humane Society’s help in getting them spayed/neutered and vaccinated, or donating generously to worthy organizations like the Heart of America Humane Society (https://heartofamericahs.org/).

This is part of a larger effort to keep encouraging others to add their own personal threads to our social safety net, until the gaps are filled and we evolve beyond this despair-inducing world of what novelist Raymond Chandler termed “mean streets”.

Susan Stevens is the Chair of the Kansas City, Kansas chapter of SDUSA.

Creatively Avoiding Gentrification

Editor’s Note: Continuing our retrospective on the American “sewer socialism” movement.

By Jason Sibert

Today’s city politicians have banked their municipalities’ future on gentrifying neighborhoods. Sometimes this occurs through hubs based on a particular theme: immigrants, restaurants, arts, technology or media. I have nothing against those types of neighborhoods, as I live in St. Louis’ Central West End, a restaurant district. However, neighborhoods like these tend to push out people in the lower-to-middle end of the income spectrum. Many point to the influence of urban theorist Richard Florida’s book The Rise of the Creative Class (2002) on the dominant thinking in big cities in the last few decades. Florida suggested that cities should revive themselves by attracting the “creative class” – information technology and scientific workers and entrepreneurs, artists, chefs, filmmakers and motion picture workers, writers, academics, fashion designers, and other “creative types.” Do these people really represent a ‘class’, sociologically speaking?

When I first read Florida’s book, it seemed like a feel-good, tech-boom treatise.  It makes a good point in that creativity makes a positive impact on cities because it creates wealth. However, this has historically been true of urban civilization (the city-states of ancient Greece were very creative before the information age)

Radical urban theorist Peter Marcuse, a former teacher of Florida’s, said of The Rise of the Creative Class: “well written in an almost chatty style, it reads like a series of well-crafted after dinner speeches at various Chamber of Commerce dinners.” Marcuse (1928-2022), the son of radical philosopher Herbert Marcuse, advocated Marxist ideas I’m not in sympathy with (ditto for Herbert Marcuse), but he held some fascinating ideas on housing as being transformed into a commodity over the years, making the inequalities of the city even greater; social needs taking a back seat to profit, as the poor are forced to pay more for worse housing. In other words, communities are faced with the violence of displacement and gentrification, and the benefits of decent housing are only available for those who can afford it. Peter Marcuse’s book, In Defense of Housing (co-authored by David Madden), provides a good introduction to his views. Housing co-ops are a good antidote to the problems outlined by Marcuse and Madden.

The implementation of Florida’s theories led to middle-to-lower income people being gentrified out of neighborhoods in city after city. Sometimes the people who started the initial gentrification end up being gentrified out of the neighborhoods they called home. While cities should remain open to the influences of creativity, they shouldn’t engage in major cosmetic changes to attract the “creative class”, as creative people will come on their own. Florida’s ideas also lead to cities becoming less diverse. Restaurant and arts districts are wonderful, but every neighborhood does not have to make themselves into one. Similarly, every neighborhood doesn’t have to have an industrial park. Diversity has historically been one of the strong points of cities, so why not keep it that way? 

Urban theorist Joel Kotkin, an opponent of Florida, published an op-ed in 2004 titled “Sewer Socialism” (Los Angeles Times, Sept 12, 2004) that has served as an influence on my series here. He defined sewer socialism as “a back-to-basics strategy that encourages business investment and the development of healthy neighborhoods.” Kotkin gave us a picture of sewer socialism on the West coast: “in the West, it unfolded under the tutelage of business-oriented progressives who invested heavily in basic infrastructure – public education, transit, water, and power systems – to encourage commerce and improve the living conditions for at least part of the middle and working classes. In Los Angeles, cheap water was brought to a dry city to benefit citizens and businesses. Nominally nonpartisan, but mostly Republican, city leaders fostered municipal ownership of utilities and worked to prevent the Southern Pacific Railroad from dominating the city’s new port. They also zoned to create a multipolar city to avoid the pitfalls of the traditional industrial one.”

The mayoralty of Los Angeles Democratic Mayor Tom Bradley (1973-1993) represented a version of sewer socialism, as stated by Kotkin: “to some extent, a variant of sewer socialism was practiced in Los Angeles during the 1980s when Mayor Tom Bradley united labor and corporate interests. Together, they pushed for the development of a job-creating infrastructure – most notably at the airport and port complexes – that help lay the foundation for the city’s ascendancy in the 1980s as the primary US hub for Pacific Rim trade and commerce.”  Sewer socialism took a different form in the Northeast and Midwest, as stated by Kotkin: “in the more industrialized Midwest and Northeast, the progressive impulse frequently took on a proletarian coloration. In places like Bridgeport, Milwaukee and, most remarkably, New York City under Fiorello LaGuardia, reformers were openly supported by socialists and leftist labor activists. The goal of their policies was to improve basic services and infrastructure for the vast majority of citizens, not just a designated elite.”

A modern sewer socialism would respect creativity and its economic benefits, but it would concentrate on delivering services to residents in an efficient manner. It would also support various forms of organized labor, municipalizing capital-intensive services, and housing co-ops for people in the middle-to-lower end of the income spectrum. However, it would not see gentrification as an end in itself!

Jason Sibert is the Executive Director of the Peace Economy Project in St. Louis.


Carolyn Delvecchio Hoffman

By Susan Stevens

In her service as a Monroe County NY legislator for the past 16 months, our 2021 endorsee and SDUSA comrade Carolyn Delvecchio Hoffman has faithfully adhered to her mission of governing by listening to her constituents and applying her energy and influence as a restorative balm to the poverty that is the root cause of so much avoidable human suffering.

Central to her rallying cry is her mandate to “radically address poverty,” in full assurance that the reversal of dire economic troubles will ripple outward to increase housing and food security, improve mental and physical health, and make everyone safer.

As the daughter of a retired UAW auto worker, Carolyn knows that poverty is best reversed by organizing and empowering poor and working-class people in worldwide solidarity, so she has not missed a beat in joining forces with working people in her county, such as the RHG nurses who were successful in their drive to form a union, as well as the County social workers who protested for better wages. She therefore proudly bears the endorsements of the Rochester Labor Council, the Federation of Social Workers, Run for Something and the Working Families Party.

As part of her commitment to global solidarity, Carolyn was part of the SDUSA delegation at the Socialist International’s November 2022 Congress in Madrid. Without hesitation, Carolyn used every opportunity at her disposal to step forward, introduce herself, connect at the heart, and build lifelong friendships with comrades laboring for social and economic justice in various parts of the African continent as well as all over the world.

Carolyn is a staunch supporter of just-cause eviction policies and “truly affordable homes,” and has stood with renters in dire circumstances and procured government funding for them. In addition to upholding those workers who are empowering themselves by unionizing, Carolyn is also 100% in favor of living wages, increased housing subsidies, and a universal basic income. She’s excited that Rochester’s implementing a basic income pilot this year! She’s all about fairly taxing the rich and redistributing every dollar to the places of greatest need.

She will keep shining the light on a glaring healthcare discrepancy: Democrats — many of whom are publicly pro-universal healthcare — control the executive and legislative branches of New York State government — and yet the New York Health Act remains stalled. Carolyn has initiated pro-universal  healthcare memorializing resolutions with her fellow county legislators, directing these resolutions to state legislators, and stood with pro-universal healthcare organizers at both protests and press conferences. She will not tire of pushing her fellow Democrats to make good on their word.

We progressives are often disparaged as seeming “soft on crime” because of the mistaken assumption that fear of punishment is the basis for law-abiding behavior. Carolyn, in contrast, knows that what she calls “true public safety” is rooted in “well funded, housing-stable neighborhoods with green space, good schools, nutritious food, and the opportunity to pursue one’s dreams…”  She supports Daniel’s Law as an important piece of our transition “away from our racist criminal justice system,” towards an established policy of mental health calls being responded to by mental health and social workers. She’ll also keep up her unflagging advocacy for “a powerful and fully funded Public Defender’s office,” and for her District Attorney’s office to follow through with their responsibility to recognize and eliminate racial disparities in prosecution. She’s additionally in favor of harm reduction, and of increased funding for, and expansion of, Pathways to Peace, Advance Peace, and similar programs. She minces no words about her wholehearted and full-throated alignment with Black Lives Matter.

In 2021, we endorsed Carolyn based on her compassionate platform and strong background as a first responder, educator, strategist and organizer, and care professional. In 2023, we renew our endorsement of Carolyn as the living, breathing, and fierce embodiment of this platform and of compassion itself.

Susan Stevens is the Chair of Kansas City, Kansas SDUSA.


By Patty Friend and Jason Sibert

Since we submitted our argument that the United States and NATO should support the Ukrainians with the arms and other materials that they need to protect their sovereignty (“FOR Military Aid to Ukraine: A Dissent From SDUSA’S Ukraine Resolution”) things have only grown worse on several fronts.

This evidence makes it abundantly clear that Russian President Vladimir Putin is sending his soldiers into combat without water and or food or adequate training or weapons. These conscripts are starving and without proper ammunition. They are getting “picked off by Ukrainian” soldiers per 100 a night. What the Russians are doing to the Ukrainians and the rest of Europe is bad enough, but Putin is also committing crimes against his own people – passing laws against using the very word ‘war’, demonstrators being taken to prison for holding a sign that has nothing on it, rounding up civilians to fight as conscripts, and forcing conscripts to the front line. The Wagner Group is a segment of the Russian army that kills conscripts for not following orders on the front line. If you are one of the Russian troops engaged in this fighting you have the Wagner Group behind you ready to kill you and the Ukrainian soldiers in front of you waiting to kill you, a bit of a dilemma, eh?

Even if we can supply Ukraine with enough supplies and weapons to bring this war to an end, the consequences of this war, not only to Ukraine and its people, are beyond measure and will last for generations. The rest of the world will also face consequences, especially in developing nations (think food insecurity, starvation, and the lack of necessary resources that developing countries desperately need). And then there are trillions of dollars Western democracies will deem necessary to spend on defense and/or stability in the new Cold War. Not to mention the terrible consequences for Russia – up to 1 million people who have left Russia. They have lost anywhere from 100,000 to 250,000 combatants and with all the American and European companies that have left Russia and the world turning to new ways of providing necessary energy, this war will have had hugely destructive consequences for Russia. When this war is finally over, the trillions it has cost Ukraine, Russia, and the rest of the world are staggering to think of and when the wars in Syria, Iraq, and Africa are finally over, who knows what will be left? Truly, the world cannot afford another war. We must find a way that nations and/or peoples can address their grievances without going to war.

The Russians have committed unspeakable crimes against the Ukrainian people and against humanity itself. They have made war against innocent civilians. Even if you think that all Ukrainians are neo-Nazis, you cannot excuse what Russians have done against non-combatants – the old, the sick, women and children, and animals.

The Russians have bombed or destroyed cities and towns, municipal buildings, religious establishments, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim alike. They have bombed or destroyed railroad stations, roads, parks, schools, libraries, hospitals, parking garages, shopping centers, stores, and cafes/restaurants. They have destroyed bridges and land crossings and apartment houses/homes. They have also destroyed doctors’ offices, hospitals, businesses of all kinds, cultural centers, seaports, manufacturing centers, farms, zoos, and much more. Furthermore, the Russians have made it impossible to ship grain or other foodstuffs out of their ports, especially Mariupol which put the developing world and other poor countries in food security or starvation – thankfully we were able to negotiate with the Russians to transport the development of food stuffs to nations in need.  Putin has shown he can cut off the supply at any time. This war is not just destroying Ukraine; it’s causing massive hardship for the world.

This illegal and unwarranted war on Ukraine is causing all the NATO countries severe hardships and Putin has weaponized energy products, including nuclear power plants, as well as threatened the world with the use of nuclear bombs. One of the tricks up the Russians’ sleeve was the annexing of the Donbas region and other occupied territories. Given all the atrocities and the establishment of filtration camps, work camps, and kidnapping of thousands upon thousands of Ukrainians (included thousands upon thousands of children separated from their parents and his desire to wipe Ukraine off the face of the earth and establish all that land and natural resources such as oil and food crops). Beyond what Putin and the far-right of Russia have done to Ukraine and the people of Russia themselves, especially those who were conscripted and forced to fight with inadequate ammunition and war material. Putin and his minions are on a par to what we have seen or experienced with Stalin, Mao, or Pol Pot.

Just because Putin does not call himself,say, a neo-Nazi doesn’t mean he is not just as bad or dangerous to the rest of the world. And Putin will not stop with Georgia, Belarus, and Ukraine. He’s already demonstrated that he’s willing to take over Moldova and Montenegro. The people whom Putin considers neo-Nazis may have killed people in the Donbas and Crimea during the eight years that Russia was warring against Ukraine in the East, but they didn’t try to exterminate the population and deny them their humanity, culture, and their history. The Ukrainians did not destroy the regions’ infrastructure, homes, roads, and bridges, etc.

The Ukrainians did not kill civilians in the tens of thousands. They did not kidnap civilians and force them into filtration and work camps nor did they kidnap children and take them from their families. They did not destroy or make wastelands out of Chechnya and/or Syria. They did not cut off food to starving people in Africa and the Middle East or try to cut off energy to Europe. Most of all they never tried to take over their neighbors or sovereign countries on their borders, and the fascist/Christian/white supremist elites have never controlled the government of Ukraine and or the prosecution of this war. Furthermore, the Ukrainians are not forcing untrained students or convicts to fight and die using inadequate weapons or ammunition, nor are they forcing their people to fight with not enough food or water.

With all the supposedly provocative things that Ukraine or NATO did before Feb. 24, 2022, did Ukrainians summarily shoot civilians and leave them to decompose in the street? And what about the mass graves found in Bucha and other villages or the thousands of war crimes documented all over the country? And what do you think we will find when they get into Mariupol? The Ukrainians have never had anything like the Wagner brigade and they never will. Russia has already lost over 1 million people from fighting or leaving the repressive state. Their economy is under severe stress. At least 10 of their major oligarchs (old friends and supporters of Putin) have fallen out of windows, been run over by cars, and died in other strange accidents – all because they’ve criticized Putin’s handling of the war. Putin is more beholden to North Korea, Iran, and China. In what universe is this good for Russia? What would Putin have when the Russian soldiers who manage to come back alive start coming home?  

Patty Friend is the National Chair of Social Democrats USA.

Jason Sibert is the Executive Director of the Peace Economy Project in St. Louis.