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Biden’s 'personal attachment to Israel' fuels its massacres in Gaza
As a senior official admits Gaza's death toll could be an undercount, the White House refuses to condition US military support to Israel and cloaks it in secrecy.
In just over one month, the known death toll from Israel’s assault on Gaza has topped 11,000, including more than 4,500 children. Under relentless Israeli bombardment, the Washington Post notes, Gaza “is becoming a toxic waste pit of armaments and debris.” About one-third of Gaza’s buildings have been damaged or destroyed, while nearly half of the enclave’s hospitals are no longer operating. In strikes on Friday, Israeli forces attacked a school-turned-shelter and at least five hospitals: Al-Shifa, Indonesian, Al-Awda, Al-Rantisi and Al-Nasr. The United Nations’ humanitarian office says that it can no longer deliver aid to hundreds of thousands of people in northern Gaza, which has become “a hell on earth.”
Rather than attempt to stop Israel’s assault on Gaza and achieve a negotiated release of the captives held there, the Biden administration is rushing new weapons and making clear that its support comes without conditions.
As the official death toll passed 10,000 earlier this week, White House spokesperson John Kirby was asked if the US still has “no red lines” when it comes to how many civilians Israel kills. “That is still the case,” Kirby replied. On Thursday, President Biden informed reporters that there is “no possibility” of a ceasefire. Instead, the White House claimed to have secured an Israeli pledge for four-hour daily pauses, which would be announced in advance. Israel immediately rejected even this token gesture. “I'm not going to commit to the exact length of the pauses,” Israeli government spokesman Eylon Levy said.
Given the free reign offered it by Washington, Israel has no incentive to commit.
According to senior Pentagon official Dana Stroul, the US is “working around-the-clock” to send its weaponry to Israel, with deliveries “taking place on a near daily basis.”
Citing White House officials and advisers, the Washington Post reports that US “levers” over Israel, namely “conditioning military aid,” are “nonstarters.” Imposing such constraints would undoubtedly save Palestinian lives. But that is of no importance to the Biden cabinet, which worries that conditions on US support for Israel would be “politically unpopular in any administration.” Moreover, “aides say, Biden himself has a personal attachment to Israel.”
By “politically unpopular”, these Biden officials are not referring to public opinion, which supports a ceasefire across party lines. The president’s stance could even cost him re-election in the swing state of Michigan, home to a large Arab-American population.
Instead, imposing conditions on US support for Israel would be “politically unpopular” with the only constituencies that matter: war profiteers, the pro-Israel lobby, and the bipartisan foreign policy establishment that has used Israel as a client state since its occupation of Arab lands in June 1967. As a career operator within this Beltway trifecta, Biden’s “personal attachment to Israel” has detached him from any recognition of Palestinian humanity.
Accordingly, when it comes to the fate of Gaza’s civilian population, the Biden administration barely attempts to feign concern.
During his most recent trip to Israel, Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivered a message described to Axios by US and Israeli officials as follows: “We don't want to stop you, but help us help you get more time.” As Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy, who has positioned himself as a critic of the Israeli bombing campaign, counseled the White House: “I think they’ve got to be even louder publicly in their concerns about the civilian cost, even while they support Israel’s ability to continue to perpetuate the war.”
Apparently heeding Murphy’s advice, Blinken told reporters that he has pushed “concrete steps” for Israel to reduce civilian casualties. But the Secretary, the New York Times noted, “did not specify... what those ‘concrete steps’ entailed, and his spokesman, Matthew Miller, declined to comment on them.” Anonymous officials soon revealed that the “steps” center on convincing Israel to use “smaller bombs.” This includes a newly announced $320 million transfer of so-called “precision bombs.”
In the war’s first two weeks, the Times reports, “roughly 90 percent of the munitions Israel dropped in Gaza were satellite-guided bombs of 1,000 to 2,000 pounds,” including in the recent strike on Jabaliya refugee camp. According to aides, Biden “has been taken aback by [Benjamin] Netanyahu’s unwillingness to bend on the question” of dropping these bombs “on dense urban areas,” where they “were never envisioned for use.”
Yet despite claiming to be taken aback by Israel’s determination to drop US bombs on generations of Palestinian families in overcrowded refugee camps, Biden refuses to take back any of his military support. Instead, US officials say they are “trying to send more of the smaller bombs to Israel,” and “hope Israel will use them to mitigate the risk to civilians.”
Because Biden won’t impose any conditions on Israel’s use of US weaponry against Palestinian civilians, the best his administration can do is “hope” that they won’t slaughter them, no matter how many atrocities occur with each passing day.
And while Biden now claims to be surprised and even “deeply distressed” by Israel’s carnage in Gaza, his team in fact had advance notice. Speaking to the New York Times, US officials acknowledged that “Israel’s rapid decision to launch ground operations in the tightly packed enclave,” – an assault that the White House advised and endorsed – “all but guaranteed a high civilian death toll.”
Perhaps for this reason, Biden’s only constraint on US weaponry for Israel is an unprecedented attempt to cloak it in secrecy. Unlike its arms transfers to Ukraine, “the administration has not made public the quantities of weapons it is sending to Israel,” and is meanwhile trying to “bypass notification requirements to Congress that apply to every other country receiving military financing,” the Washington Post reports. In its $14 billion request to Congress for Israel, the Biden administration claims that these requirements should be waived “due to Israel’s urgent need.”
Given the scale of Israel’s attacks on Gazan civilians, even Biden’s own subordinates can no longer sustain his efforts to deny the carnage. “I have no notion that the Palestinians are telling the truth about how many people are killed,” Biden said on Oct. 25. “I have no confidence in the number that the Palestinians are using.”
But Barbara Leaf, US assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, now says that the official casualty figure from Gaza is likely an undercount. “We think they’re very high, frankly, and it could be that they’re even higher than are being cited,” Leaf told the House Foreign Affairs Committee this week.
While embarrassing for Biden, Leaf’s admission will assuredly have no impact on his support for Israel, or on his self-image. According to the New York Times, aides to the president now report that he “believes history will remember him for how he defended democracy against forces of chaos, terror and dictatorship.”
Alternatively, for anyone able to see Palestinians as equal human beings, history will remember Biden for his personal attachment to mass murder.
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