For three weeks, President Biden has played a key role in backing Israel’s war crimes while touting himself as a compassionate advocate of restraint. That pretense is lethal nonsense as Israel persists with mass killing of civilians in Gaza.
The same crucial standards that fully condemned Hamas’s murders of Israeli civilians on Oct. 7 should apply to Israel’s ongoing murders that have already taken the lives of at least several times as many Palestinian civilians. And Israel is just getting started.
“We need an immediate ceasefire,” Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib wrote in an email Saturday evening, “but the White House and Congress continue to unconditionally support the Israeli government’s genocidal actions.”
That unconditional support makes Biden and the vast majority of Congress directly complicit with mass murder and genocide, defined as “the deliberate killing of a large number of people from a particular nation or ethnic group with the aim of destroying that nation or group.” The definition clearly fits the words and deeds of Israel’s leaders.
“Israel has dropped approximately 12,000 tons of explosives on Gaza so far and has reportedly killed multiple senior Hamas commanders, but the majority of the casualties have been women and children,” Time magazine summed up at the end of last week. Israel’s military has been shamelessly slaughtering civilians in homes, stores, markets, mosques, refugee camps and healthcare facilities. Imagine what can be expected now that communications between Gaza and the outside world are even less possible.
For reporters, being on the ground in Gaza is very dangerous; Israel’s assault has already killed at least 29 journalists. For the Israeli government, the fewer journalists alive in Gaza the better; media reliance on Israeli handouts, news conferences and interviews is ideal.
Pro-Israel frames of reference and word choices are routine in U.S. mainstream media. Yet some exceptional reporting has shed light on the merciless cruelty of Israel’s actions in Gaza, where 2.2 million people live.
For example, on Oct. 28, PBS News Weekend provided a human reality check as Israel began a ground assault while stepping up its bombing of Gaza. “As Israeli ground operations intensified there, suddenly the phone and internet signal went out,” correspondent Leila Molana-Allen reported. “So, people in Gaza, voiceless through the night as they were under these intense bombardments. People were unable to call ambulances, and we’ve heard this morning that ambulance drivers were standing at high points throughout, trying to see where the explosions were, so they could just drive directly there. People unable to communicate with their families to see if they’re alright. People this morning saying ‘we’ve been digging children out of the rubble with our bare hands because we can’t call for help.’”
While people in Gaza “are under some of the most intense bombardment we’ve ever seen,” Molana-Allen added, they have no safe place to go: “Even though they’re still being told to move to the south, in fact most people can’t get to the south because they have no fuel for their cars, they can’t travel, and even in the south bombardment continues.”
Meanwhile, Biden has continued to publicly express his unequivocal support for what Israel is doing. After he spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week, the White House issued a statement without the slightest mention of concern about what Israel’s bombing was inflicting on civilians. Instead, the statement said, “the President reiterated that Israel has every right and responsibility to defend its citizens from terrorism and to do so in a manner consistent with international humanitarian law.”
Biden’s support for continuing the carnage in Gaza is matched by Congress. As Israel began its fourth week of terrorizing and killing, only 18 members of the House were on the list of lawmakers cosponsoring H.Res. 786, “Calling for an immediate de-escalation and cease-fire in Israel and occupied Palestine.” All of those 18 cosponsors are people of color.
While Israel kills large numbers of Palestinian civilians each day — and clearly intends to kill many thousands more — we can see “progressive” masks falling away from numerous members of Congress who remain cravenly frozen in political conformity.
“In a dark time,” poet Theodore Roethke wrote, “the eye begins to see.”
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