Biden supported killing of women or children if US was ever invaded, according to late Israeli PM Menachem Begin
Wailing in uncontrollable agony with his right leg fractured in three places at Dar Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, Omar al-Hadidi is neither a Hamas operative nor he launched a barrage of A-120s at Israelis—his only crime is being a Palestinian who dared to celebrate Eid with his siblings and cousins. Dressed in festive clothes and clutching his mother, the five-month-old and his visibly excited toy-toting siblings land up at their uncle’s place at Shati refugee camp to celebrate.
Ka-boom! An entire generation is wiped out. Omar’s siblings—Suhayb, 13, Yahya, 11, Abderrahman, 8, and Osama, 6—along with their mother Maha Abu Hattab, 36, are all dead in a jiffy as a killer Israeli temblor blows a three-storey building to smithereens. Only Omar survives, the ‘miracle baby’, clasping his dead mother, is pulled out from under the rubble by rescue workers.
US President Joe Biden is unmoved.
In another part of apocalyptic Gaza, four-year-old Sara Zaher and her mother Lina al-Mutrabai’I, 26, are buried under the ceiling in a split second before dinner as an Israeli jet pounds their house. Luckily, both survive but Sara is critical.
Biden, the most powerful man in the world, is still unrepentant for his inertia.
Farhha Ibrahim Khalil Junaid, 38, freezes in horror as her two sons witness the tragic death of their brother in an Israeli drone strike. Musa, 19, is dead and Wasim, 21, and Ibrahim, 5, are critically wounded.
A spineless Biden, the so-called champion of human rights, prefers to look the other way.
Wheelchair-bound Eyad Salha, 33, his pregnant Amani and their daughter Nagham, 3, perish minutes before lunch as an Israeli jet obliterates their flat.
Biden, who is the first US President to declare the extermination of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1915 as genocide, still ignores the systemic massacre of Gazans.
Only a stern warning to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and backing the first United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution calling for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas would have halted the butchery.
Shockingly, it took four phone calls in one week by Biden to convince Bibi to stop the pogrom with the first two calling for “Israel’s right to defend itself” and the Israeli Premier vowing to attack Gaza with more ferocity after each call.
In the first call, Biden hoped that “this [the conflict] will be closing down sooner than later” but also stressed “Israel has a right to defend itself when you have thousands of rockets [fired by Hamas] flying into your territory”.
Biden’s second call too was only critical of Hamas, not Israel, with a much-delayed sympathy for the tragic loss of both Israeli and Palestinian civilians, including children. “The President reaffirmed his strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket attacks from Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza. He condemned these indiscriminate attacks against towns and cities across Israel,” the White House said in a statement.
Even during the third call—despite continuous pressure from his fellow Democrats and global allies to deter Israel from continuing the onslaught—Biden only “expressed his support for a ceasefire and discussed US engagement with Egypt and other partners towards that end”. Couched in typical diplomatic language intended to cover up Biden’s inaction, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the US was using “quiet and intensive” diplomacy to end the violence.
It was only during the fourth call to Netanyahu, Biden—under sustained pressure from more than 130 Democratic Representatives who signed a letter urging him to “boldly lead and take decisive action to end the violence”—conveyed to him that “he expected a significant de-escalation today on the path to a ceasefire”.
By then, 227 Palestinians, including 64 children and 38 women, had been brutally killed. But Netanyahu was still adamant. “I am determined to continue this operation until its objective is achieved,” he said moments after Biden’s call.
More shockingly, the US was blocking every UNSC resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza—America has blocked, at least, 53 UNSC resolutions criticising Israel since 1972—as Biden kept on dialling a belligerent Netanyahu.
Finally, by 2 AM Friday, an Egypt-brokered ceasefire had halted the gory spectacle in Gaza. The A-120s and Qassams had fallen silent and the deafening fatal swoop of F-16s had disappeared.
Palestinians were cheering and honking, waving flags and celebrating the ceasefire on streets.
However, the excitement and relief couldn’t silence the din of Biden’s lack of spine and despicable hypocrisy, which was audible globally.
Why Biden—who had repeatedly emphasised that human rights and democracy would be the cornerstone of his foreign policy and slammed the discrimination against African-Americans during the Donald Trump era—refused to immediately stop Netanyahu in his tracks to the carnage?
Beneath Biden’s quiescence and stoic silence in putting the Mideast on the back burner lie the strong bonding he shares with Netanyahu, his unexplainable love for Israel and the biased, unquestionable bipartisan American financial and military support for the Middle East superpower.
That Mideast is not even in the top three foreign policy priorities of the US President is evident from the fact that he hasn’t appointed an ambassador to Israel. Dennis Ross, who served as a Middle East negotiator and adviser to three US administrations, had said way back in February that Israeli-Palestinian negotiations would not be high on Biden’s agenda.
Nader Hashemi, director of the Center for Middle East Studies, University of Denver, told Al Jazeera in an interview before the ceasefire: “When Biden came into office, the issue of Israel-Palestine was nowhere on the agenda. He assumed like many other people that the conflict really didn’t matter, it wasn’t an issue, [that] Israel can basically continue to do what it’s doing, and we don’t need to pay attention to this.”
Biden is more preoccupied with the Asia-Pacific, Europe and the Western Hemisphere globally. Cutting the fast-spreading Chinese tentacles in the South China Sea, countering Beijing’s enormously increasing military capabilities and footprint in the Indian Ocean region and challenging the Communist nation’s economic might is Biden’s top priority.
Besides, ensuring that the Covid-19-ravaged economy with millions of jobless gets a much-needed financial booster shot, negotiating with Republicans and bridging the divide to get bipartisan support for his $2.3 billion American Jobs Plan passed, controlling gun violence, curbing spiking racism and making health care affordable are Biden’s immediate concerns.
Walking the Middle East minefield for the moment is a definitely dangerous idea. Past American presidents too had initially avoided publicly criticising Israel whenever it bombarded Gaza or West Bank.
Biden followed his predecessors: he allowed the Israel Defence Forces to target Hamas commanders even if that meant killing civilians. But when the situation went out of hand, he pressed Israel to end its bloody campaign—but not publicly. Barack Obama’s former Mideast peace envoy Martin Indyk told CNN that Biden “understands very well that jamming an ally in public is not going to get the results that you want”.
Biden has known Netanyahu since the last 40 years. Their first meeting in the 80s, when he was a young Senator with the Foreign Relations Committee and Bibi served in the Israeli embassy in Washington, DC, would turn out to be a lifelong friendship. In the subsequent years, they became extremely close after Netanyahu became PM in 1996.
Biden continued to be in touch with Netanyahu despite the latter losing to Ehud Barak in elections. Despite Netanyahu’s friction with Obama over the new settlement building in East Jerusalem, Biden avoided confrontation with the Israeli PM. In fact, Biden once told him, “Bibi, I don’t agree with a damn thing you say, but I love you.”
Biden’s reticence in telling Netanyahu to back off during the 11-day destruction of Gaza also stems from his extreme love for Israel. From Golda Meir to Netanyahu, Biden has had a close relationship with all the Israeli Premiers.
Ironically, if late Israeli PM Menachem Begin is to be believed, Biden supported killing of women or children if his country was ever invaded. When Israel launched a three-pronged attack on southern Lebanon in 1982 under Operation Peace for Galilee, Biden was the only US Senator who supported the assault.
According to The Times of Israel, during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting with Begin in June 1982, Biden said that “he would go even further than Israel … forcefully fend off anyone who sought to invade his country even if that meant killing women or children”. However, Begin told Biden that according to Israeli values, “it is forbidden to hurt women and children even in war. … This is a yardstick of human civilisation: not to hurt civilians”.
Both as a Senator and vice-president, Biden’s opposition to any US law or measure against Israel or supporting the country has been nothing short of lobbying done by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
Whether it was his opposition to the Ronald Reagan’s decision to sell F-15s and AWACS E-3 Sentry to Saudi Arabia in the late 80s and co-sponsering a Bill to remove riders attached by George H.W. Bush with the $10 billion in loan guarantees to Israel in 1991 or playing a crucial role in the sale of the Iron Dome missile defence system to Israel during its 2014 war against Hamas and pushing through $38 billion, 10-year military aid package under a memorandum of understanding in 2016, Biden has been unwavering in his support to Israel.
Biden was also guided by another big factor in not intervening in the Gaza slaughter. The massive American financial and military aid for Israel since decades has guaranteed US superiority in the Middle East right from Cold War to countering Iran and a powerful Russia at present. Over and covert support to Israel whether by Harry S Truman, Lyndon B Johnson, Richard Nixon and Reagan or Bill Clinton, Bush Sr. and Bush Jr., Obama and Trump, has been the fulcrum of American foreign policy in the volatile Mideast.
According to the Congress think tank Congressional Research Service, Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of American foreign assistance since World War II. The annual financial aid of $3.8 billion ($33 billion in foreign military grants and $5 billion in missile defence in 10 years) to Israel is considered too sacrosanct to be questioned by any member of the Congress because of the bipartisan support the country enjoys in both the chambers—whether Israel uses the F-15s or F-16s against Palestinian toddlers, teenagers or women or uses the funds to occupy Palestinian and finance Jewish settlements, American lawmakers are expected to be mum.
Israel was the first international operator of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the first fifth-generation stealth aircraft of the US.
When Senator Bernie Sanders demanded that the annual aid to Israel should be cancelled if it didn’t respect the rights of Palestinians in October 2019, Biden quipped: “The idea that I’d withdraw military aid, as others have suggested, from Israel is bizarre. I would not do that.”
Despite facing international opprobrium for not acting as Gazans died a brutal death everyday, Biden said after the ceasefire that “here has been no shift in his commitment to Israel’s security”.
Notably, five says before Gaza started getting drenched in blood, the US had notified the Congress of a proposed $735 million sale of precision-guided munitions to Israel.
Probably, such a smart bomb snuffed out the lives of Omar’s siblings, mom and cousins. Does Biden have the courage to face Omar? Sadly, no.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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