DECEMBER 9, 2022
Palestine Opinion USA Opinion

Opinion: Joe Biden Wants You to Believe He Is Opposed to Genocide in Gaza

Opinion: Joe Biden Wants You to Believe He Is Opposed to Genocide in Gaza

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JOE BIDEN MARKED 100 days of his no-holds-barred support for Israel’s genocidal war against the people of Gaza by pretending that the killing, maiming, and displacement of the Palestinians were an apparition. “No one should have to endure even one day of what they have gone through, much less 100,” Biden wrote on January 14. But his statement, which emphasized the Israeli deaths on October 7 and the hostages who remain in Hamas’s custody, made no mention of the 10,000 dead Palestinian children and what they never should have gone through. His only reference to the plight of Palestinian civilians was an oblique one: Biden praised himself for presiding over a brief “surge [in] additional vital humanitarian aid into Gaza” when there was a temporary truce to allow the exchange of hostages and prisoners in November.

Biden’s statement is emblematic of the lip service the president has paid to “humanitarian” needs while at the same time facilitating Israel’s every move. The White House knew from the beginning exactly how gratuitous and barbaric Israel’s war of annihilation would be in Gaza, yet Biden made sure that his “great, great friend” Benjamin Netanyahu would have U.S. weapons to carry it out, would enjoy the full support of America’s extensive intelligence and targeting capabilities, and receive the political backing of Washington with no “red lines.” Biden and company ensured that Israel’s lies, no matter how grand or obscene, would be embraced and promoted from the podium at the State Department and White House every single day. Over the past 100 days, the administration has watched the carnage wrought on the people of Gaza, yet officials admit they have “taken great pains to avoid calling for a ceasefire.”

The attempts by the administration over the past months to plant stories in the media — about how Biden is “losing patience ” with Netanyahu, how Antony Blinken is concerned about the mounting pile of Palestinian corpses, how the White House seeks no wider regional war — indicates a cynical amorality that permeates the souls of those in power. “At every juncture, Netanyahu has given Biden the finger,” Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen told Axios, characterizing what he hears from senior administration officials. “They are pleading with the Netanyahu coalition, but getting slapped in the face over and over again.” 

“What we’re seeing every single day in Gaza is gut-wrenching,” Blinken told New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman at an event in Davos, Switzerland, as though he has not been one of the premiere enablers of the destruction of Gaza. “The suffering we are seeing among innocent men, women, and children breaks my heart.” He then adopted the tone of an analyst at a think tank, not the top U.S. diplomat: “The question is, what is to be done?”

These sentiments, expressed as part of a barely concealed political spin campaign, are not being promoted because they are sincerely held reservations or concerns; rather they are the linchpin of a crass effort to scatter bread crumbs the White House can later point to, including during the 2024 election, in an effort to make it seem as though they were powerless observers who just wanted to help the Israelis defend themselves but that dastardly Netanyahu took it too far. The actual scandal, in this narrative, will not be the mass murder of the Palestinians of Gaza in a genocidal campaign armed by the White House, but how Bibi and his band of rogues, Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, used the just war to push their “extremist” agendas. 

“If this really goes bad, we want to be able to point to our past statements,” a senior U.S. official told NBC News in early November when the White House intensified its stealth political messaging. “The official said the administration is particularly worried about a narrative taking hold that Biden supports all Israeli military actions and that U.S.-provided weapons have been used to kill Palestinian civilians, many of them women and children,” NBC reported. In other words, the White House was concerned that the cold truths about its actions could not be washed away.

When this is all said and done, this is going to be a central component of the Biden administration’s off-ramping strategy: pile all the evils of this war, including Biden’s crucial support for Israel’s actions as it rained mass destruction on Gaza’s civilians, onto the Bad Ship Netanyahu and then try to sink it. It is a classic Biden maneuver deployed throughout his 50-year career — including during the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq, a war that Biden facilitated and later claimed to have opposed — to make sure he can have it both ways when politically convenient.

The emerging narrative is this: Biden’s effort to do right by the victims of October 7 and defend Israel’s “right to exist” from the hordes of Hamas was exploited by a few bad apples atop the Israeli government. It’s a convenient plan given that Bibi’s hold on power on October 6 was already swirling around the drain because of his domestic policies, and he will certainly face domestic confrontation for what is being characterized in Israel as the intelligence failures leading up to October 7, as well as his preventable failures to bring home Israeli hostages outside of the negotiated November truce with Hamas. Despite its claims that rescuing the hostages is a top objective in the destruction of Gaza, Israel has not rescued a single hostage, though it has killed at least three of its own people and may well have killed more in the Israel Defense Forces’s attacks on Gaza, as Hamas has alleged.

When Blinken and other officials make statements like “this could end tomorrow” if Hamas releases the hostages and surrenders, it is instructive to clarify what they mean by “this.” “This” ending does not mean the apartheid will end, it does not mean the collective punishment of Palestinians will end, it does not mean the blockade will be lifted or the Gaza concentration camp will be dismantled and its people freed. What Blinken and other U.S. officials really mean when they say “this” could end is that Washington would actually use its unparalleled leverage to end the full-spectrum military assaults on Gaza. Then — and only then — would any meaningful humanitarian relief be permitted to reach a population that is now starving, lacks clean water, and is experiencing the rapid spread of preventable diseases. This stance — conditioning basic human necessities for a civilian population on the decisions of Hamas, a group Washington also accuses of repressing “innocent” Palestinians — is sociopathic. 

The truth is that ending “this” does not guarantee that Israel won’t continue to heavily strike whenever it pleases in Gaza in the name of “eliminating” Hamas, as it has done for decades. The Israelis call it “mowing the grass.” The U.S. is effectively lying to the Palestinians and the world about “this” all ending. Nothing short of an entire people, not just Hamas commandos, bending the knee to Israel’s domination and never daring to resist again would end any of “this” on Israel’s terms. And that would mean the end of the aspirations for a Palestinian state, not to mention basic human rights or dignity.

KHAN YUNIS, GAZA - JANUARY 17: Smoke rises over the residential areas following the Israeli attacks in Khan Yunis, Gaza on January 17, 2024. (Photo by Jehad Alshrafi/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Smoke rises over the residential areas following the Israeli attacks in Khan Yunis, Gaza, on Jan. 17, 2024.

 

AS THE SLAUGHTER in Gaza continues, a panel of judges at the International Court of Justice in The Hague continues its deliberations in the initial phase of South Africa’s suit against Israel, alleging violations of the Genocide Convention. Netanyahu responded to the meticulously documented charges against his government by issuing a preemptive declaration to flout a ruling ordering Israel to cease its attacks on Gaza. “Nobody will stop us — not The Hague, not the axis of evil, and not anybody else,” he said. “We are continuing the war until the end — until total victory, until we achieve all of our goals.” Unsurprisingly, this promise to defy international justice and law resulted in no condemnation from the Biden administration or Israel’s other major allies.

The White House spin masters are working to give Biden the political flexibility to pretend he really tried to limit the mass slaughter — and fought passionately to reign in Bibi — heading into the 2024 election campaign. But the truth is the administration has stayed the course in supporting the genocidal campaign. And not just with deliveries of bombs and offering support for pernicious lies promoted by Tel Aviv. As Ken Klippenstein reported, the U.S. has been flying drones over Gaza and, in late November, deployed a U.S. Air Force team to assist Israel in targeting. One source told The Intercept the likely role of these Americans is “to provide satellite intelligence to the Israelis for the purpose of offensive targeting,” not just to assist in hostage rescue operations. A recent analysis by the Associated Press of Israeli strikes in Gaza found that “the vast majority of bombs dropped on the besieged enclave are U.S.-made.”

The U.S.-backed Israeli military is killing an average of 250 Palestinians a day in Gaza. It has displaced 90 percent of the enclave’s 2.3 million residents. Conservative estimates indicate that some 24,000 Palestinians have died over the past 100 days, the vast majority women and children, and more than 60,000 have been wounded. In the West Bank, Israel is expanding its assaults with government-backed settlers and official Israeli forces killing more than 330 Palestinians, at least 84 of whom were children. Nearly 6,000 Palestinians living there have been detained or imprisoned since October 7.

While the White House is driving the no-holds, no-restrictions agenda for supporting Israel’s war of annihilation in Gaza, it does so with the support of the vast majority of U.S. politicians. On Tuesday, a Senate resolution introduced by Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders and based on legal restrictions that bar the U.S. from giving support to any state “which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights” was brought to the floor for a vote. It would have required Blinken’s State Department to submit a report to Congress about Israel’s human rights violations, any U.S. role in those violations, and how the administration responded. Depending on the State Department response, U.S. aid to Israel could have been frozen. 

The White House publicly opposed Sanders’s resolution, calling it “unworkable.” National Security Council spokesperson Adm. John Kirby, one of the most ardent defenders of Israel over the past three months, said, “We don’t think now is the right time.” He repeated a claim the administration has been making repeatedly for many weeks about Israel supposedly “transitioning” to less murderous operations in Gaza. “We believe that that transition will be helpful both in terms of reducing civilian casualties as well as increasing humanitarian assistance,” he said.

While the vote should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed U.S. politics on support for Israel, it offered a morbid clarity: There appears to be no Israeli crime grave enough for U.S. lawmakers to consider pausing, let alone stopping, the U.S. role in facilitating the mass killing of Palestinians even to review whether the White House is abiding by U.S. laws. Despite the common Republican characterization of Biden as running a lawless administration, only one Republican, Sen. Rand Paul, voted in favor of a resolution aimed at investigating whether Biden is actually breaking the law.

NEXT WEEK, LAWYERS from the Center for Constitutional Rights will test the principles of the judicial branch of the U.S. government as they present arguments in a lawsuit filed on behalf of Palestinians in Gaza charging that Biden, Blinken, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin violated U.S. and international law. One of the laws Biden and his underlings are accused of violating was actually sponsored by then-Sen. Biden in 1988, which officially made U.S. law consistent with the obligations under the 1948 Genocide Convention, imposing criminal penalties for committing, assisting, or inciting genocide. The suit charges “that these U.S. officials have failed to prevent genocide and are aiding and abetting genocide.” Similar to South Africa’s requests at The Hague, the U.S. lawyers are asking a federal court in California to “order an end to U.S. military and diplomatic support to Israel” while the case is being adjudicated.

“The Biden administration knows what the law is internationally and it knows what the law is domestically,” said Katherine Gallagher, a senior attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights and one of the lead attorneys litigating the suit. In an interview, she pointed to volumes of U.S. statements and legal assertions addressing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including filings submitted to the International Court of Justice in support of prosecuting Russia, and argued those apply to the war against Gaza. “When the victims are Palestinian and the perpetrators are Israeli, we see the United States do a 180 and absolutely ignore its obligations to not provide the means by which a genocide is being carried out.”

Regardless of court rulings or the specific legal terms ultimately attached to the conduct of Israel’s war against Gaza — or the role of Biden, et al., for that matter — there remain basic facts that cannot be credibly denied. This has been an unrestrained slaughter unleashed against a civilian population with the full support of the U.S. and a small clique of other powerful nations. Even if Israel beats the genocide rap at The Hague, the inevitable backslapping among the ranks of the coalition of the killing cannot erase the fact that the world has witnessed what they did and continue to do in Gaza.

Over the course of the past 100 days of Israel’s bloody rampage in Gaza, Biden has had an infinite series of events that each could have justified ceasing U.S. political and military support for Israel’s explicitly offensive war. There is no nation on Earth that wields more influence over Israel and no politician who holds more sway than Biden. The U.S. is the arms dealer and defender of this entire enterprise. If Biden was truly as dissatisfied or impatient or whatever other terms are being fed to the media about his supposed handwringing over Bibi’s war, he could have acted. But he didn’t.

Instead, the White House made sure no ceasefire took hold, offered a public defense of Israel’s conduct in the face of clear evidence of its genocidal intent submitted before the world court, circumvented Congress to keep the arms flowing, and then publicly opposed a resolution that sought to uphold U.S. law aimed at ensuring U.S. weapons and other aid are not used to commit human rights abuses. Those are the relevant facts. There is no need for media outlets to serve as conveyor belts for the administration’s disingenuous posturing. Biden’s actions are the only evidence that matters. And that evidence is damning.

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On this day

On This Day

On this day, 2004, the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, under the control of American forces, was attacked without clear reason, leading to the death of 22 detainees. During the American invasion of Iraq, military personnel and CIA forces committed numerous human rights violations against detainees, including physical and sexual abuse, torture, rape, and murder. 

في مثل هذا اليوم من عام 2004، تعرضت السجن المشهور أبو غريب، تحت سيطرة القوات الأمريكية، لهجوم دون سبب واضح، مما أدى إلى مقتل 22 معتقلاً. خلال الغزو الأمريكي للعراق، ارتكب الشخصيات العسكرية وقوات وكالة الاستخبارات المركزية العديد من انتهاكات حقوق الإنسان ضد المعتقلين، بما في ذلك الإيذاء الجسدي والجنسي، والتعذيب، والاغتصاب، والقتل. 

on this day