Josh Marshall

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Josh Marshall is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of TPM.

Approaching the Day After Prime Badge
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With the Israeli army surrounding the city of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza strip and the Israel-Hamas war assuming a grim regularity, I wanted to note a few developments which give perhaps a glimpse of how this all ends and what comes after. To frame the question, I want to flag to your attention this article by Hussein Ibish in The Atlantic. It’s one of the most clear-eyed discussions of the war and its aftermath I’ve seen over the last two months. Ibish’s central argument is that the war certainly won’t end with any kind of final defeat of Hamas or its destruction as an organization. This is an impossible standard since under almost any scenario at least some remnant of the group will emerge from its tunnels at the end of the war and declare victory on its own terms for having survived. But, as Ibish argues, that will be a hollow and pyrrhic victory … unless Israel decides to remain in Gaza with the goal of permanently or indefinitely delaying that hollow declaration of victory. In that scenario either Hamas, or some future reconstituted version of itself, really will have managed a major victory, placing itself at the head of the Palestinian national movement in a permanent state of war with Israel.

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Did Hamas Short the Israeli Economy?

This is a fascinating story amidst the general tragedy and bleak carnage of the last two months. Two scholars analyzed trading in the days just before the October 7th massacres in southern Israel and put together a pretty strong case that someone essentially shorted the Israeli economy based on foreknowledge of the attacks. Specifically, they tracked short selling of an exchange traded fund, which gave investors broad exposure to the Israeli economy.

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Inside the Tunnels

I’ve mentioned a few times over the last eight weeks that one of the key challenges in reporting on or making sense of events in Gaza right now is that at the most basic level we don’t know what is happening in the military engagement or even precisely what the aims are. According to the latest reports, some 15,800 residents of Gaza have died in the fighting over the last two months, just a staggering number. Some percentage of those are Hamas combatants. The Gazan health ministry doesn’t disagree. But the great majority are civilians. (The Gaza health ministry is run by Hamas but in previous conflicts there numbers have proven generally accurate.) At the same time Israel has estimated that it has killed some two or three thousand Hamas fighters, just a tiny percentage of a fighting force reputed to total 30,000 or more.

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What A Tangled Web – Florida Republicans Gone Wild Prime Badge
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The case of the Zieglers, the Florida GOP traditional values power couple, caught up in a case of three-ways and alleged rape took several turns for the weird and the worse over the weekend. (David provided an update in this morning’s Morning Memo.) The story has a complicated, uncanny dynamic because, on the one hand, it’s that old as the hills story of a family values Republican caught up in sexual practices which, if harmless themselves for consenting adults, don’t at all square with their public personas or policy agenda. On the other, buried in that schadenfreude-y story of Republicans with their pants down is a very credible accusation of rape.

Let’s try to give each part of the story its due.

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Why Did the Hostage Releases End?

As you’ve no doubt seen, the series of ceasefires and prisoners-for-hostages exchanges have come to an end and hostilities between the Israeli military and Hamas has resumed. Through several channels Hamas officials have now said that they won’t release any more hostages until the war is over. Though the details are murky it appears that only a small number of female civilians and children remain in captivity. Israel puts the number at 17. Those that remain are male civilians and soldiers.

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About that Big Israeli Intel Story in the Times Prime Badge
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Yesterday The New York Times published a major article about Hamas’ October 7th massacres in southern Israel. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, I’m going to provide a brief summary and then share a few thoughts on how to contextualize the news.

The gist is that Israel had a lot of intelligence about Hamas’ plans to mount an attack something like the one that occurred on October 7th. And in the last year, Israeli intelligence got ahold of plans for an attack pretty much exactly like the one that unfolded on October 7th. (The Israelis gave the plan, some forty pages in length, the code name “Jericho Wall.”) But mid-level and, in some cases, high-level intelligence and military leaders dismissed the intelligence, considering it either aspirational, something Hamas lacked the resources to accomplish or something that conflicted with its current strategy of seeking “quiet” to focus on effective governance within Gaza.

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Florida GOP Power Couple hit With Allegations of Rape, Three-Way Lifestyle

It’s hard to know where to start with this. But here goes.

Christian Ziegler is the chairman of the Florida Republican party. His wife Bridget is a member of the Sarasota County School Board and cofounder of Moms for Liberty. Today Trident News revealed that Christian Ziegler is currently under criminal investigation after a woman accused him of raping her. The woman filed a complaint with the Sarasota Police Department on October 4th; the alleged rape took place on October 2nd.

The story gets significantly more complicated.

According to the woman’s complaint she was involved in a consensual three-way sexual relationship with Christian and Bridget Ziegler. Christian Ziegler recorded videos of the threesome having sex together. Sources told Trident that police have done a forensic examination of Christian Ziegler’s phone, possibly looking for evidence of those videos.

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Why Did So Many People Hate Henry Kissinger So Much? Prime Badge
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Henry Kissinger’s death yesterday at the grand, round age of 100 was greeted with a broad chorus of “It’s about times” and “good riddances” and “go straight to hells.” I have always been fascinated by the intensity of the animus toward the man. And to be clear: that’s not because I necessarily disagree with the verdict.

In the quickest possible summary, during his roughly eight years as first National Security Advisor and then Secretary of State, Kissinger spearheaded or oversaw two broad policies which account for most, but by no means all, of what that vituperation is about.

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Decision Time Prime Badge
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I wanted to flag to your attention this post by John Ganz, someone who, if you’re not familiar with him, is well worth becoming familiar with. Ganz and I see the questions about Israel, the Palestinians and Zionism differently. Indeed I disagree with the title of the post I’m sending you to. But what is most important in writing, especially in commentary, is not that it be “right” but that it be illuminating. Reading what is “right” is often reading a more polished version of what we already think — the utility of which is limited. Ganz manages to approach these questions with insight as well as texture and elegance, no simple feat.

On that matter of disagreement, I want to note something about what I have written on this issue. If you read carefully, I seldom make positive arguments for any particular position or question on this topic. I tend to point up what I see as disconnects or inconsistencies in pat arguments and responses. This is partly temperamental. I don’t like making arguments or claims that aren’t packaged with strong and concrete defenses. It’s also because with all the internal media and imagery there’s a huge amount of what is going on that we simply don’t know. One such question is whether Israel’s retaliation in response to the October 7th massacres is justified.

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Moment More of Israel Obsessiveness

I had a clarifying moment this early afternoon sharing notes with TPM Reader MH via email. This was about the situation in Israel/Palestine but more particularly how it is impacting both people’s views and politics in the United States. What I think has happened is that the events, which began with the Hamas massacres in southern Israel on October 7th and has continued with Israel’s merciless retaliation, has pushed the discussion among not just Democrats but everyone to the left of the 50 yard line of American politics from “should Israeli policy be different” to “should Israel exist.”

The first is fairly unifying. The second is profoundly divisive and, for a non-trivial chunk of the Democratic coalition, existential.

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