Biden Returns Empty-handed, Except for a Huge Bill for the American Taxpayers
By Ralph Nader
October 20, 2023
If President Joe Biden were a pony, instead of a perennial warhorse (e.g., gung-ho for Bush/Cheney’s criminal destruction of Iraq), he would have his tail between his legs on his return from a one-day trip to Israel. He failed to achieve any immediate, critical objectives while the ongoing destruction of Gaza and the defenseless Palestinians continues.
Did Biden get Israel and Egypt to allow the exit of hundreds of American citizens fleeing the Gazan firestorm? No!
Did Biden open up corridors for humanitarian aid to the babies, children, women, elderly and other civilians in Gaza who had nothing to do with the October 7th Hamas homicide/suicide attack on Israelis? No!
To the contrary, earlier in the week he cruelly ordered his UN Ambassador to veto a widely supported resolution calling for a humanitarian ceasefire.
Did he forcefully double down on his earlier counsel to the Israeli government to obey the laws of war, then and now, being openly violated? No! He continued his silence after the Israeli Defense Minister ordered his soldiers with the genocidal command, “No electricity, no food, no fuel, no water…” That death sentence includes patients in hospitals who must endure the carpet bombing of this long-time blockaded tiny strip of desert land holding 2.3 million people. (See, Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide).
Did Biden press for the exchange of Hamas’ hostages for the release of Palestinian prisoners, including young Palestinians, who have been in Israeli jails for years without due process or charges? No! Worse, Biden failed to object to the Israeli military stating that the release of over 200 Israeli hostages is a “secondary priority” to smashing Hamas and Gaza “into the Stone Age.” This policy flouts the moral codes of many venerable Judaic sages described in an October 19, 2023, New York Times column by Mikahel Manekin titled “The Safety of the Hostages Must Come First.” Israel conducted two prisoners for hostages’ exchanges, one in 2004 and one in 2011.
Did Biden, in strong terms, tell the Israeli politicians that they have already exacted revenge many times over on the stateless people of Gaza – in civilian lives lost, injuries, related spread of disease, destitution and destruction? Did he say it is inhumane and counterproductive to bomb hospitals, clinics, schools, mosques, churches, apartment buildings, water mains, electric networks and ambulances, all of which is in violation of civilized norms and rules of war? Of course not. He greenlighted Israel’s genocidal warfare from the beginning of the Israeli assault and sent U.S. weaponry. He is enabling other actions of “co-belligerency” against the defenseless Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.
Did he even get the 20 trucks of humanitarian aid waiting at the Rafah crossing – also bombed by the Israelis – from Egypt into Gaza before he left? No!
Biden did come back with a bill for the American taxpayers – who for decades have been forced to pay for these Israeli wars. Now Biden wants Congress to approve $14 billion for Israel to address the colossal failure of Netanyahu’s extremist coalition to protect its own citizens on the border. (Adding only $100 million for Palestinian relief).
That sum of money, to be authorized without any Congressional hearings or Congressional oversight, is greater than the combined annual budgets of the FDA, OSHA, NHTSA and the section of HHS, whose missions are to reduce annual the loss of hundreds of thousands of preventable American fatalities in the workplace, on the highways, and in the marketplace and the hospitals. (See, the 2016 peer-reviewed study from the John Hopkins University of Medicine).
Lastly, still not calling a ceasefire, Biden is disregarding his own military’s private advice against an Israeli ground invasion of Gaza as raising the risk of a larger war in the Middle East that would clearly be against the national interests of the American people and U.S. security.
He could have done what President Eisenhower did in 1956, when he demanded that the Israeli, British and French attack on Egypt stop immediately.
And stop, they did!
After all, the U.S. has some influence over Israel, to put it mildly. The U.S. endorses all Israeli aggressions (including Israel’s admission to bombing hundreds of sites in Syria, mired in its civil war and no threat, in addition to striking Damascus International Airport). All with U.S. advanced weapons, and billions of dollars in annual aid to Israel, a prosperous military, technological and economic superpower. In fact, Israel’s social safety net is better than that of the U.S.!
Biden provides total diplomatic cover in the U.S. with Washington’s automatic UN vetoes, and pressures allies to follow the party line.
Moreover, Biden seems unwilling to recognize the historical origins of this conflict that now has mighty Israel occupying, colonizing, brutalizing and stealing land and water from the twenty-two percent of the original Palestine left for millions of Palestinians under Israeli daily control.
Biden should take a moment in the Oval Office to read page 121 of the book “The Jewish Paradox” by Nahum Goldmann (1978), the head of the World Zionist Organization. He quotes the leading Founder of the Israeli state, David Ben-Gurion as candidly saying to him: “If I were an Arab leader, I would never sign an agreement with Israel. It is normal; we have taken their country. It is true God promised it to us, but how could that interest them? Our God is not theirs. There has been Anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They see but one thing: we have come and stolen their country. Why would they accept that?”
Today’s Israeli leaders refuse to demonstrate this degree of empathy. Instead, they provoke and deny the creation of a Palestinian state, envisioned by the Oslo Accords they signed in 1993, hurl the most racist epithets (“animals,” “vermin,” “snakes,”), and make sure the politicians in the U.S. Congress never utter the words “Palestinians also have a right to defend themselves” as violently subjugated victims of Israel the superpower.
Many members of Congress who demand giving Israel whatever money and weaponry it wants for whatever it does, violating human rights under international law in its illegal occupations and blockade, turn around and vote against the child tax credit, worker health and safety, universal healthcare, paid family leave and daycare for Americans. Their viciousness – as with the homicidal outburst of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) against all Palestinians, and Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) a Harvard Law graduate, saying “As far as I’m concerned, Israel can bounce the rubble in Gaza…” set new levels of depravity.
A few Senators see it differently, especially Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) who noted “…it is no secret that Gaza has been an open-air prison” with “horrendous living conditions,” and that “children and innocent people do not deserve to be punished for the acts of Hamas.”
Little known is that Israel and the U.S. fostered and funded the rise of Hamas as a religious counterpoint to the secular Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). It was established in 1987 following the first intifada uprising. A 2009 The Wall Street Journal article titled: “How Israel Helped to Spawn Hamas” noted:
“Instead of trying to curb Gaza’s Islamists from the outset, says Mr. Cohen, Israel for years tolerated and, in some cases, encouraged them as a counterweight to the secular nationalists of the Palestine Liberation Organization and its dominant faction…”
To Biden and the Congressional “howlers” for the death of civilian innocents, historical facts matter little. Hamas’ lethal attack on October 7th was preceded by far greater numbers of Israeli violent attacks over the past decades taking four hundred times the number of innocent Palestinian lives, injuries and other casualties than inflicted on innocent Israelis.
Israel’s carpet bombing of Gaza will take twenty times or more lives of innocent Palestinians than those killed by Hamas on October 7th with the casualty toll of direct fatalities and the loss of life from the devastation of life-sustaining water, food, medicine, shelter and other hospital/clinic emergency infrastructure.
Also conveniently forgotten is the detailed peace offer to Israel in 2002, by 22 member states of the Arab League to establish diplomatic and trade relations with a recognized Israel in return for its retreating to the 1967 borders and creation of a Palestinian two-state solution. The Israel extremists in Congress and President G.W. Bush declined even to respond to this proposal. (See, the March 29, 2002 New York Times article: Mideast Turmoil; Text of the Peace Proposals Backed by the Arab League).
It is incumbent on the supreme military superpower in the region to take the initiative for peace over the powerless victims under its thralldom. That country is, of course, high-tech Israel, bristling with the latest weapons and atomic bombs.
Both the brave Israeli human rights groups and those courageous human rights Israelis standing shoulder to shoulder over the years striving to conduct non-violent civil disobedience at the besieged Palestinian village level, only to be dispersed by Israeli soldiers, know the real obstacle to peace. It is the plan by the right-wing Israeli parties to annex the entire Palestinian West Bank (nearly attempted under Donald Trump) and forcefully drive Palestinians into Jordan and Egypt.
Joe Biden is skilled at shedding tears at memorials of grief in this country. But he runs dry when the recurring catastrophes befalling Palestinians beg for his presidential compassion and actual deeds.
He will not escape history’s judgment.