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Good evening. It's Tuesday, November 14.
Tonight: New York's Democratic governor, Kathy Hochul, announced a major new initiative today that she says is necessary to combat what she and many others call an exploding crisis of anti-Semitism in both New York state and the country. The governor has implemented a massive new program of spying on the social media activities of citizens to find out who is being hateful and to provide the state with sufficient resources to counteract anyone with views that the state regards as sufficiently hateful to merit their attention.
Governor Hochul has been advocating social media spying programs like this for many years now in the name of stopping hate speech – ever since she took over that position when former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo resigned in disgrace. But as so often happens with new wars and with clean crises of domestic hate speech, Governor Hochul has not been able to achieve this goal until now. She has seized on this opportunity – and on widespread claims that anti-Semitism is now a national crisis and endangering American Jews everywhere – to justify this monitoring of social media activities and to provide both state and local police significant new resources to engage in this online snooping.
As always, wars have a domestic component and it almost always leads to an increase in the amount of state power in the name of keeping the population safe. You can call it the 9/11 lesson if you want. But the reality is that every American war – and wars generally – are seized on this way to erode civil liberties and massively increase the power of the state, even when it's not even an attack on the United States, but on a foreign country on the other side of the world. By pushing this narrative that Americans are somehow unsafe in the United States, specifically American Jews, it gives politicians, as Kathy Hochul is doing, the opportunity to say, ‘We need more power to keep you safe.’ That is always the dynamic that leads to authoritarianism and new wars and it's happening even now when our nation is not officially at war. Another country is.
Then: one of our favorite guests is Columbia Professor Jeffrey Sachs, who has a long career in government and academia, has seen many vital historical events over the last several decades, up close and firsthand, and has become one of the most independent-minded scholars and former establishment insiders. We'll talk to Professor Sachs about this new Israel-Gaza war, the very active U.S. role in it, and the war in Ukraine – remember that? – whether there is any hope for the U.S. or Ukraine to achieve its stated goals and other vital developments in international affairs.
And then finally, Michael Tracey, the lovable independent journalist who is a frequent guest of ours, has spent the last several weeks traveling throughout the state of Israel, where he still is located. Now he has attended all sorts of protests against the Netanyahu government by Israeli Jews, has interviewed dozens of Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs and has done his best to get as complete a picture as he can of the domestic debate and domestic situation inside that country. We’ll speak to him live from Jealous Jerusalem about all that as well.
For now, welcome to a new episode of System Update, starting right now.