June 24, 2024

Monday Memo | Healthcare Horrors in the Middle East, GOP Debates Foreign Policy, and NYC’s Migrant Shelter Woes

Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, and Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.) share the stage ahead of a Republican presidential primary debate hosted by NBC News. The event took place on Wednesday, November 8, 2023, at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County in Miami. Image Credit: AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell


In the Line of Fire: Hospitals and Lives at Risk

The current casualty count reports 1,405 dead and 5,600 injured in Israel, 11,078 dead and 27,490 injured in Gaza, and 183 dead and 2,400 wounded in the West Bank. These figures were provided by the Palestinian Health Ministry, the Palestine Red Crescent Society, and Israeli Medical Services as of November 10 at 13:20 GMT. In the midst of the conflict, Israeli shelling and ground attacks have intensified around hospitals in Gaza City and northern Gaza. This has prompted the United Nations to express concern about delays in the Ministry of Health in Gaza updating the latest numbers of casualties. Adding to the gravity of the situation, the World Health Organization has documented over 250 attacks on healthcare facilities in Gaza and the West Bank, along with 25 in Israel since October 7.

Al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest medical facility, and al-Quds Hospital, the second-largest, are now non-operational due to power and supply shortages caused by Israeli strikes and bombardment. This has had a profound impact on thousands of healthcare professionals, patients, and displaced individuals. Over the past three days, the situation has grown increasingly dire, with thirty-two patients losing their lives, including three newborn babies in Al-Shifa Hospital, as reported by the Gaza health ministry spokesperson. The destruction caused by Israeli air strikes is particularly devastating – Al-Shifa’s cardiac ward has been obliterated, and critical medical equipment, such as incubators in the neonatal unit and ventilators for urgent care, is offline due to electricity cuts. 

At Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City on November 10, both patients and internally displaced people seek shelter. Image Credit: Khader Al Zanoun/AFP

Israeli security officials claimed that Hamas has established a command center beneath Al Shifa Hospital. This assertion is supported by American intelligence, although Hamas and hospital officials deny it, insisting that the facility serves exclusively for medical purposes. On November 12, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that Israel had offered fuel to Al Shifa Hospital, but this offer was declined by Hamas.

The international response has been varied, with calls for ceasefires and humanitarian aid. Josep Borrell of the European Union has urged a halt to the conflict to facilitate humanitarian aid delivery. He also condemned the use of hospitals as human shields by Hamas and called for the release of hostages. Turkey has urged the United States to use its influence to stop the Israeli offensive. In contrast, the United States supports Israel’s rejection of a ceasefire while emphasizing a strong stance against military engagements in Gaza’s hospitals to protect civilians.

On November 13, UN workers observed a minute’s silence to pay tribute to the 101 employees of the UN Palestinian Refugee Agency (UNRWA) who lost their lives in the Israeli assault on Gaza. This marked the highest toll of humanitarian workers in the UN’s 78-year history.

The US

Foreign Policy Firestorm: GOP Candidates Spar Over Israel, TikTok, and Ukraine

On November 8, 2023, the third GOP debate in Miami got intense as candidates Chris Christie, Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy, and Tim Scott engaged in heated discussions about foreign policy. They tackled America’s position on the global stage, dealing with the increasing tensions worldwide. The event underscored a growing division within the GOP, shedding light on the differing viewpoints on interventionism and isolationism.

The candidates found common ground in expressing strong support for Israel and raising concerns about antisemitism, especially on liberal college campuses. However, the discussion fell short in addressing the protection of Palestinian civilians in Gaza, and there was a noticeable absence of challenges to the idea of the US getting involved in another Middle East regional conflict.

When asked what advice the candidates would offer Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis took the lead, saying, “I will be telling Bibi: Finish the job once and for all with these butchers,” using Netanyahu’s nickname. All four other candidates echoed DeSantis’s sentiment. 

Nikki Haley, the former US ambassador to the United Nations, mentioned that she had spoken with Netanyahu since October 7, stating, “The first thing I said to him when it happened was, I said, ‘Finish them. Finish them.'”

Vivek Ramaswamy, an entrepreneur known for challenging the Republican establishment’s foreign policy in favor of isolationism, stood in support of Netanyahu but was the lone candidate opposing increased aid to Israel.

Image Credit: Scott McIntyre for The New York Times

During the third GOP presidential debate on Wednesday night, TikTok emerged as a contentious topic, with several candidates pledging to ban the social media app if elected. Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie strongly expressed his intent to ban TikTok, vowing to take action in his first week as president. DeSantis and Ramaswamy echoed these concerns, identifying China as the top threat to the US and advocating for a ban on US companies that transfer US data to China, respectively.

Meanwhile, Haley emphasized her expertise in handling challenging diplomatic issues with China, citing her role in negotiating sanctions against North Korea alongside China and Russia. 

South Carolina Senator Tim Scott also joined the call for action, advocating for a TikTok ban. However, he underscored that the issue goes beyond the app, asserting, “It’s not just TikTok. China continues to spy on our kids, but they’re also buying our farmlands.”

The internal division within the Republican Party over Russia’s war with Ukraine became evident during the NBC News debate. Scott expressed his support for aiding Ukraine, stating, “Every day we get closer to the degradation of the Russian military, and that’s good news.” 

Haley emphasized the need to provide Ukraine with equipment and ammunition for victory, framing support for Ukraine as a means to deter global aggression. Christie drew parallels between Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the events leading up to World War II, underscoring it as an inevitable responsibility for being leaders of the free world. In contrast, DeSantis voiced skepticism about certain US funding sent to Ukraine. Meanwhile, expressing his firm dissent toward US aid in the Ukraine-Russia conflict, Ramaswamy remained skeptical despite Ukrainian President Zelensky’s appeals for increased assistance.

For the third time this year, the consistent absence of the leading contender, former President Donald Trump, underscores a recurring pattern. Amidst the internal strife within the GOP over the approach to foreign policy, a pivotal question lingers: Will the Republicans revert to their historical isolationist stance, resisting what they once termed as foreign entanglements back in the 1930s? Or, will the more traditional Neoconservative voices within the Republican ranks, who advocate for a robust interventionist approach, succeed in countering their rivals’ anti-interventionist positions?

New York 

NYC’s Migrant Shelter Issues at Floyd Bennett Field Conflict

On November 12, the first group of migrants, including numerous families, reached the tent city at Floyd Bennett Field. However, most families opted not to stay, expressing disappointment and frustration with the isolated location and the precarious condition of the housing site. Only 13 families have reportedly chosen to stay. Brooklyn Assemblymember Jaime Williams clarified that the families should have been informed in advance that the shelter is a tent city.

The decision to use Floyd Bennett Field, the city’s first municipal airport, as a relief shelter for migrants, stems from an agreement between New York City and the federal government. In September, NYC Mayor Eric Adams announced the decision to accommodate approximately 2000 migrants from the southern border at Floyd Bennett Field. 

A tent shelter at Brooklyn’s Floyd Bennett Field, a former military airfield, has sparked controversy as it is set to accommodate 2,000 migrants. However, the situation took an unexpected turn when the first group of migrants, arriving on a bus, promptly abandoned the site after a single glance on Sunday. Image Credit: Gregory P. Mango

These migrants are seeking asylum in the United States for various reasons. Notable among these are well-known crises, such as the economic collapse in Venezuela under President Nicolás Maduro, leading to the exodus of over seven million people. Additionally, factors like the ongoing challenges stemming from Haiti’s 2010 earthquake and persistent gang violence, as well as Cuba’s economic troubles resulting in one million migrants leaving the island, contribute to the influx.

Beyond these high-profile issues, there are also more “ordinary” dysfunctions in market economies and states, including issues like inequality and hunger in southern Mexico and northern Central America, as well as escalating criminal violence, particularly in Ecuador. While the majority of Latin American migrants have resettled within the region, an increasing number are now making their way to the United States due to a lack of economic opportunities.

The Legal Aid Society has been vocal in its criticism of the shelter for weeks, describing it as “reminiscent of sort of a prison” and listing many reasons why it is unsuitable for families. Migrant families are expected to reside in “housing pods,” semi-private spaces accommodating up to six people, with 128 pods per 500 people. Notably, the bathrooms are situated outside the tents. Despite Mayor Adams asserting the site’s safety, concerns about safety, including the risk of floods and fires, have been raised by lawmakers and local leaders from the outset.

In response to families refusing to stay, Mayoral spokesperson Kayla Mamelak explained, “With more than 65,600 migrants still currently in our care, and thousands more continuing to arrive every week, we have used every possible corner of New York City and are quite simply out of good options to shelter migrants.” Additionally, Williams called for the state’s support to open spaces statewide, emphasizing the need for a national response to the crisis that the city alone lacks the capacity to address.

Happening This Week 

November 14, 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM

Enhance your scholarly communication skills by joining the “Public Speaking for Academics” workshop. This in-person event, crucial for academic success, offers interactive exercises to help you present clearly, engage audiences, and effectively use visual aids in various professional settings. Don’t miss out—RSVP to secure your spot.

November 15, 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM

CGC Tunis, in collaboration with Columbia University’s Institute of African Studies and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, invites you to a discussion at The Forum at Columbia University on November 15th. Explore the enduring themes of diversity, identity, and discrimination in North African and Egyptian cities from the 4th to the 15th centuries. Co-sponsored by the Middle East Institute at Columbia, this event promises insightful dialogue, snacks, and drinks. Ensure your participation by RSVPing.

November 16, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Mark your calendars for Thursday, November 16, from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM, and join us for the MAIR Alumni Panel and Reception. Connect with program alumni boasting over ten years of experience in the private sector, gain insights into their career paths, and engage in a Q&A session. Following the panel, enjoy some mingling with light bites and drinks during our reception. Secure your spot by RSVPing today.

November 16, 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Join GSAS for a mid-term wind-down and de-stress session at the Grad Fall Festival and Thanksgiving Banquet at Hemmerdinger Hall, Silver Center for Arts & Science. Enjoy a delicious dinner, engage in activities like Song Bingo with prizes, pumpkin painting, tote bag decorating, and other festive games. Ensure your participation by RSVPing, and secure your tickets here.

Career Development Opportunities

Research Manager at CEGA

Join the Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA) as a Research Manager, supporting Professor Frederico Finan in political economy, governance, conflict, security, and more. This role promises career development and a competitive salary ranging from $71,663 to $85,995, along with UC Berkeley benefits. For more details, visit their website.

Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF) Cohort

Embark on a unique international experience! Apply now for the 2024-2025 cycle of the Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF) on tapif.org. The application window is open from October 15 to January 15, 2024. Submit before the early bird deadline on November 15, 2023, and receive a special gift from the French Embassy. TAPIF offers recent graduates the opportunity to gain international work experience, immerse themselves in French culture, and enhance their language skills. Alumni receive ongoing support for teaching careers or pursuing MA/PhD programs. Apply on their website and learn more in their online session.

UNANIMA International Research Coordinator

Join UNANIMA International for a rewarding one-year, full-time role as a Research Coordinator. Lead a study on child trauma, mental health, and homelessness, contributing to a trauma-informed support model and influencing policy. Responsibilities include research design, data management, analysis, and adherence to research protocols and objectives. Take the next step in your career—apply by clicking here.

The Forge Fellowship

Forge Fellows participate in comprehensive training for foundational policy skills and leadership development. By the program’s end, freshman and sophomore students will enhance their leadership abilities, gain better insights into progressive career paths, and feel confidently equipped to research policy and challenge neoliberal frameworks across all levels of policymaking. The application deadline is December 11th at 11:59 pm local time. For more details, click here.

The Roosevelt in Washington (RIW) Fellowship

The RIW fellowship provides students with guided mentorship, career exploration events, and practical skills applications such as networking, professional writing, and effective communication in the workplace. Geared towards rising juniors or seniors, participants undertake a summer internship within a progressive movement organization and collaborate in teams on a policy proposal. The application deadline is December 11th at 11:59 pm local time. Find more information here.

Emerging Fellowship

The Emerging Fellowship offers a year-long academic opportunity for undergraduate students to delve into intensive research and writing skills training, culminating in the publication of a policy brief. This remote, part-time fellowship represents Roosevelt Network’s most advanced policy and research experience. Fellows deeply engage with the shortcomings of neoliberal thought in their chosen policy topics and learn how Roosevelt works to reshape paradigms in alignment with our worldview. The application deadline is December 11th at 11:59 pm local time. Explore further details here.

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