Biden, Israel’s accomplice in Gaza, pretends to be a bystander
While the White House claims to be "frustrated" with Israel's conduct in Gaza, US support for the carnage continues.
On October 15th, President Biden took umbrage at a suggestion that his administration could not back both the Ukraine proxy war and Israel’s assault on Gaza at the same time.
“We're the United States of America for God's sake, the most powerful nation… in the history of the world,” Biden told CBS News. “We can take care of both of these and still maintain our overall international defense.”
Three months and well over 20,000 defenseless Palestinians slain later, the self-declared leader of the most powerful nation in the history of world now claims to be a helpless bystander.
According to four US officials, Biden is “increasingly frustrated” and “losing his patience” with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has rejected “most of the administration's recent requests related to the war in Gaza,” Axios reports. “The situation sucks and we are stuck,” one official complained. “The president's patience is running out.” Another official fumes that “there is immense frustration” in the Oval Office. According to Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen: “At every juncture, Netanyahu has given Biden the finger. They are pleading with the Netanyahu coalition, but getting slapped in the face over and over again.”
Van Hollen is correct that the administration is getting slapped in the face by Israel. But he omits that Biden is a willing scene partner in a barely disguised performance: pretending to be up in arms about Israel’s genocidal conduct while doing everything he can to support it.
As Likud parliamentarian Danny Danon explained last month, any US demand of Israel’s military is perfunctory. “They didn't agree to a ground invasion -- we invaded,” Danon said. “They didn't agree to [attacking] Al-Shifa hospital -- we ignored their request. They wanted a pause without hostages -- we didn't accept that. We have no American ultimatum. There is no deadline from the US.”
The US not only imposes no conditions on its support for Israel’s mass murder campaign in Gaza, but has twice bypassed Congress to expedite weapons for it. After all, this administration professes to have “no red lines” when it comes to Israeli aggression, and is fronted by a president who has declared that there is “no possibility” of a ceasefire.
While Biden and his aides now pretend to have their hands tied, their instrumental role is undeniable. “Biden is president of the United States, still the most powerful country in the world by almost every measure and a country without whose support Israel has no future,” former US diplomat Patrick Theros writes. “A firm public demand to cease and desist immediately would have enormous domestic political repercussions in Israel — far less in the United States. Biden would not have to publicly threaten to cut off weapons deliveries; a few words delivered in private to Netanyahu and a few members of his war cabinet would probably suffice.”
“If you want to use your leverage, use your leverage,” former Israeli negotiator Daniel Levy says of Biden’s stance. “You've chosen to give Israel a blank check.”
That choice continues. In meetings with Israeli officials on Nov. 30th, Secretary of State Antony Blinken informed his counterparts that they had “weeks, not months” to “wrap up combat operations at the current level of intensity,” US officials later told the New York Times. Upon a return visit to Israel this week, Blinken again touted his push for what he called “the phased transition of Israel’s military campaign in Gaza.” That “transition” to a “lower-intensity phase,” White House spokesperson John Kirby said on Sunday, “is coming here very, very soon.”
But away from the news cameras, the posture changes. A senior US official now explains to the Washington Post that it's in fact “pointless to urge them [the Israelis] to change.” Accordingly, “Washington’s priority has now shifted to tolerating Israel’s high-intensity operation throughout January, while insisting instead that it downgrade the tempo in February.”
In other words, the US has decided to tolerate Israel’s genocidal tempo in Gaza as normal. From Washington’s point of view, saving thousands of Palestinian lives from murder at the hands of US-supplied weaponry would be pointless.
Biden is so committed to continuing the Gaza slaughter that he has even expanded the war zone to Yemen. In a statement announcing his authorization of US strikes last week, Biden declared that he was acting to protect “freedom of navigation” and the “free flow of international commerce.” Since mid-November, the group that controls most of Yemen, Ansar Allah (misleadingly known in the US as the Houthis), has been targeting commercial ships – primarily those with Israeli links – passing through the Red Sea in a bid to compel the Israeli government to halt its assault on Gaza. By contrast with Israel’s operations, which has an official death toll of 23,000 and counting, Ansar Allah has not killed anyone. It even lost at least ten fighters in a US counterattack on December 31st. As Biden noted, Ansar Allah’s main impact has been to threaten “weeks of delays in product shipping times.” (Others estimate that the delay time can in fact be counted in days).
As in Gaza, the ultimate targets of US aggression in Yemen are civilians. While the Pentagon claims to be targeting Ansar Allah’s military capabilities, the “greater risk from the air attacks is likely borne by ordinary Yemenis,” the New York Times notes. This risk to ordinary Yemenis is consistent with longstanding US policy, specifically the current Biden team’s 2015 decision under President Obama to green-light the Saudi-led war on Yemen that has caused the ensuing humanitarian crisis. Around 21 million Yemenis – two-thirds of the country – rely on aid for survival, while more than four million are internally displaced.
In facing “one of the world’s worst humanitarian calamities,” the Times adds, Yemen faces “a dubious distinction now shared by Gaza.” Given its critical support for Israel’s assault, the US therefore has the dubious distinction of fueling two of the world’s worst humanitarian calamities.
Because of Israel’s blockade and military assault, the risk of famine in Gaza is “growing by the day,” Martin Griffiths, the United Nations’ top humanitarian official now warns. “As ground operations move southwards, aerial bombardments have intensified in areas where civilians were told to relocate for their safety.” For Gaza’s civilians – more than 90% of them displaced -- “dignified human life is a near impossibility.”
According to one anonymous official with Israel’s occupation authority for Gaza (COGAT), the lack of dignity for Palestinians in Gaza is a genetic trait. “There is no hunger in Gaza,” the official told Haaretz. “…There were stockpiles of food in Gaza. Don't forget that this is an Arab, Gazan population whose DNA is to hoard, certainly when it comes to food.”
It is apparently in the White House DNA to share its Israeli client’s avowed bigotry. In a statement Sunday night, President Biden marked “100 days of captivity” for the Israeli hostages in Gaza. Biden’s emotional message failed to even mention the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians killed, wounded, and displaced under US-backed Israeli assault over that same period.
“No one should have to endure even one day of what they have gone through, much less 100,” Biden said of the hostages. By refusing to acknowledge them, Biden is affirming via omission that he believes the exact opposite -- and in fact infinitely worse -- for Gaza’s two million Palestinian hostages. After 100 days of genocide, the people of Gaza are fated to endure continued atrocities as a direct result of US policy, no matter the Biden team’s ongoing effort to pretend otherwise.
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