On the front page of the Northwest Indiana Times this morning, November 11, 2023: a headline, top of page, “Middle East: Thousands Flee Hospitals” in bold dark print, with a large color picture of people fleeing, and below, another headline reads, “Gaza officials say death toll passes 11,000 as Israeli airstrikes pound sheltering civilians.” I think this shows the emergence of what will become a political tsunami in this country.
The significance of this is considerable. Northwest Indiana, while arguably the most liberal part of very conservative Indiana—the state is currently controlled by Republicans, who hold the governorship and two-thirds majorities in both the State House and Senate—is still part of Indiana. Indiana is basically the most northern Southern state in the country, as much of the state was settled by Kentuckians; only the northern sixth or so was settled from the East. The entire state is disproportionately affected culturally by evangelical Christians and conservative Catholics. A progressive stronghold it is not. To illustrate in political terms: national elections have been won by the Republicans in the state every year since 1932 except for 1936 (Franklin Roosevelt), 1964 (Johnson), and 2008 (Obama). Like I said, a progressive stronghold it is not.
About 1% of the state’s population is Jewish. While it might be a little higher in this region, and is influential, Jewish presence is quite limited; not as influential, the proportion of Muslims in only slightly smaller.
The Times usually features articles on crimes and prison sentences in the first section of the daily paper and you might get local business news, and maybe even a local “feel good” story here or there; international affairs, when covered at all, are relegated to the back of the first section, after local obituaries. In other words, this is a newspaper that does not emphasize global events; in fact, it could be strongly argued that it does all it can to de-emphasize if not ignore global events.
Yet today, the horror of Israel’s over-response to the Hamas attacks on October 7, 2023, broke through to the front page of this very locally-focused newspaper. It was a heart-wrenching story and, unlike most of the earlier reporting on the war, illuminated the viciousness of the Israeli attacks on civilians and particularly hospitals. And the article noted that over 11,000 people in Gaza had been killed by the Israelis, with great physical destruction throughout especially the northern end of the Gaza Strip.
Interestingly, this broke out of the “unquestioning Israel” perspective which had so dominated mainstream media coverage immediately after the October 7th attacks by Hamas.
What this suggests to me is that interest in the war has broken out of its traditional confines of the upper Atlantic states, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. These are areas generally considered “Democratic,” and whose media and politicians are generally very pro-Israel. As coverage of this war spreads outside of these liberal enclaves, I believe that traditional mainstream media is not going to have the hegemonic power it used to have regarding Israel.
The amount of money Israel gets from the US government annually is significant. According to Axios, a news gathering/reporting service U.S. aid to Israel: How much money the U.S. gives per year — and why (axios.com), Israel gets $3.8 billion from the US annually. President Biden has requested another $14.3 billion, on top of the traditional $3.8 billion, for Israel this year (2023). Between 1950 and 2020, Israel has gotten more of 80% of its arms imports from the United States, so the US government has been basically subsidizing US war corporations like Boeing, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, etc., with millions of dollars per year over the last 70 years.
Where this becomes significant is that the US National Debt has climbed over $32 trillion just since 1981, after being only $ .9 trillion across the preceding 192 years, from George Washington’s administration to the end of Jimmy Carter’s (1789-1980). (See my “Forty Years of the United States in the World (1981-2023)” at https://znetwork.org/znetarticle/special-history-series-40-years-of-the-united-states-in-the-world-1981-2023/.) While many mainstream reporters and analysts “pooh-pooh” this issue, the fact is that pressure is building globally to shift from the dollar to a basket full of foreign currencies to act as the global reserve currency; if this happens, the US will no longer be able to write “hot checks” to fund our country, its economy, and our war-making capabilities. Since much of our economic well-being over the past 40 years has been funded by deficit spending—i.e., writing hot checks and not on solid economic production—this portends considerable social disruption and chaos in the forthcoming years.
We have got to get our economy in order. One of the best ways to do this is to stop funding wars, US military bases and forces, and militarization around the world. A good place to start this cutback is to no longer provide Israel with military aid or imports.
If I’m right about the war breaking out of the confines of traditional areas, continued activism against the war might soon be seen as being in the best interests of the United States by a growing number of Americans—and another kick against the US Empire. The political implications nationally could be profound. And the following effects could affect global power relations.
Kim Scipes, PhD, is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Purdue University Northwest in Westville, Indiana. He is one of the founders of LEPAIO, the Labor Education Project on the AFL-CIO International Operations (https://aflcio-int.education). A former Sergeant in the USMC, he “turned around” on active duty, and has been a political and labor activist for over 50 years. He has published four books and over 260 articles in the US and in 11 different countries. His writings, many with direct links to the original article, can be found on-line at https://www.pnw.edu/faculty/kim-scipes-ph-d/publications. His latest book is Building Global Labor Solidarity: Lessons from the Philippines, South Africa, Northwestern Europe, and the United States (Lexington Books, 2021, 2022 paperback). Kim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.