“Famine is a Massacre in Slow Motion:” On Mass Hunger & Israel’s Culpability in Gaza


Occupied Thoughts by FMEP · “Famine is a Massacre in Slow Motion:” On Mass Hunger & Israel’s Culpability in Gaza

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In this episode of Occupied Thoughts, FMEP Fellow Yara Asi speaks with Alex de Waal of the World Peace Foundation and Tufts University and author of the January 21, 2024 article in the Guardian entitled “Unless Israel changes course, it could be legally culpable for mass starvation.  In this discussion of widespread hunger and impending famine in Gaza, Drs. Asi & de Waal look at Gaza in relation to other cases of starvation and famine across the world, including comparing the human-made circumstances that lead to famine, the possibility and pace of international intervention to save lives, and the many generations required to face the specific trauma of famine. They discuss the possibilities for international intervention, noting that famine, once it begins, has momentum – and therefore will not stop when the bombing ends.

Dr. Yara M. Asi is an Assistant Professor at the University of Central Florida in the School of Global Health Management and Informatics and a Visiting Scholar at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University in her capacity as Co-Director of the Palestine Program for Health and Human Rights. She is also a Non-resident Fellow at the Arab Center Washington DC, a 2020-2021 Fulbright US Scholar to the West Bank, and the co-chair of the Palestine Health Justice Working Group in the American Public Health Association. She previously served as the Fall 2021 US Fellow at Al Shabaka Palestinian Policy Network. Her research agenda focuses on global health, human rights, and development in fragile populations. She has also worked with Amnesty International USA and the Palestinian American Research Center on policy and outreach issues. She has presented at multiple national and international conferences on topics related to global health, food security, health informatics, and women in healthcare, and has published extensively on health and well-being in fragile and conflict-affected populations in journal articles and book chapters. She has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Nation, +972 Magazine, The New Arab, and The Conversation, and has been featured on Al Jazeera, The World, and other outlets. Her forthcoming book with Johns Hopkins University Press will examine war as a public health crisis.

Alex de Waal is the Executive Director of the World Peace Foundation. Considered one of the foremost experts on Sudan and the Horn of Africa, his scholarly work and practice has also probed humanitarian crisis and response, human rights, HIV/AIDS and governance in Africa, and conflict and peace-building. His latest book is Mass Starvation: The History and Future of Famine (Polity Press 2017). He is also he author of The Real Politics of the Horn of Africa (Polity Press, 2015), a full list of his publications is available below. Following a fellowship with the Global Equity Initiative at Harvard (2004-06), he worked with the Social Science Research Council as Director of the program on HIV/AIDS and Social Transformation, and led projects on conflict and humanitarian crises in Africa (2006-09). During 2005-06, de Waal was seconded to the African Union mediation team for Darfur and from 2009-11 served as senior adviser to the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel for Sudan, where he took on a number of roles in the negotiations leading to the independence of South Sudan. He was on the list of Foreign Policy’s 100 most influential public intellectuals in 2008 and Atlantic Monthly’s 27 “brave thinkers” in 2009.