Trusting Israel to be lawful, peaceful, equitable and sincere is hiring the arsonist to be chief of the fire department.
Jeffrey Sachs December 25, 2023:
“The US is providing the bombs that Israel is using in real time. We are party to the massacres”
It’s not complicated.
It’s genocide. It’s ethnic cleansing. It’s occupation.
Stop pretending you don’t understand.
End the occupation.
End the genocide.
Stop pretending you can’t decipher what’s so fucking clear.
ashok kumar @broseph_stalin Dec 26, 2023:
80% of the graduates at the University of Queensland, Australia, wore a Keffiyeh under their gown at their graduation ceremony in solidarity with Palestine, demanding that UQ to end its complicity in Israel’s genocide of Palestinians
Kenneth Roth@KenRoth Dec 30, 2023:
Jan 1, 2024:
Yousef Munayyer@YousefMunayyer Jan 1, 2024:
South Africa shows everyone else what the “leader of the free world” and upholding the “rules-based order” actually looks like.
Haaretz.com@haaretzcom Dec 31, 2023:
Chaz Hoosier@ChazHoosier Dec 31, 2023:
For the Right, Hamas always served the usual purpose of justifying their dreams of ethnic cleansing and apartheid.
Blood Money: The Top Ten [US] Politicians Taking the Most Israel Lobby Cash by Ian MacLeod, Mint Press, Dec 18, 2023
As the Israeli attack on Gaza, Lebanon and Syria intensifies, the U.S. public watch on aghast. A new poll finds that Americans support a permanent ceasefire by a more than 2:1 ratio (including the vast majority of Democrats and a plurality of Republicans).
And yet, despite this, only 4% of elected members of the House support even a temporary ceasefire, and the United States continues to veto U.N. resolutions working towards ending the violence. Walter Hixson, a historian concentrating on U.S. foreign relations, told MintPress News:
Unfettered support for Israel and the lobby consistently puts the United States at odds with international human rights organizations and the vast majority of nations over Israel’s war crimes and blatant violations of international law. The current U.N. vote on a ceasefire in Gaza [which the U.S. vetoed] is just the latest example.”
Here, Hixson is referring to the pro-Israel lobby, a loose connection of influential groups that spend millions on pressure campaigns, outreach programs, and donations to American politicians, all with one goal in mind: making sure the United States supports the Israeli government’s policies full stop, including backing Israeli expansion, blocking Palestinian statehood and opposing a growing boycott divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) at home.
Internationally, Israel has lost virtually all its support. But it still has one major backer: the United States government. Part of this is undoubtedly down to the extraordinary lengths the lobby goes to secure backing, including showering U.S. politicians with millions of dollars in contributions. In this investigation, MintPress News breaks down the top ten currently serving politicians who have taken the most pro-Israel cash since 1990.
How much did these dirty politicians get personally?
#1 Joe Biden, $4,346,264
The largest recipient of Israel lobby money is President Joe Biden. From the beginning of his political career, Biden, according to his biographer Branko Marcetic, “established himself as an implacable friend of Israel,” spending his Senate career “showering Israel with unquestioning support, even when its behavior elicited bipartisan outrage.” The future president was a key figure in securing record sums of U.S. aid to the Jewish state and helped block a 1998 peace proposal with Palestine.
The support for Israeli policies has continued into the present, with his administration insisting that there are “no red lines” that it could cross that would cause it to lose American support. In essence, Biden has given Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a carte blanche to break any rules, norms or laws he wishes to.
This has included ethnic cleansing and war crimes such as the bombing of schools, hospitals and places of worship using banned weapons like white phosphorous munitions. The arms Israel is using come supplied directly by the U.S.
In November, the Biden administration rubber-stamped another $14.5 billion military aid package to Israel, ensuring the carnage would continue.
For his staunch support, Biden has received more than $4.3 million from pro-Israel groups since 1990.
#2 Robert Menéndez, $2,483,205
The New Jersey senator has received nearly $2.5 million in contributions and, in the wake of the Hamas attack on October 7, has been a key figure in drumming up support for Israel. Describing Operation Al-Aqsa Flood as “barbaric atrocities” that were an “affront to humankind itself,” Menéndez gave an impassioned speech on the Senate floor where he addressed Biden directly, stating:
Mr. President, in the face of unspeakable evil, we must not mince words. We must not waver in our resolve. Every single one of us in this chamber has a moral responsibility to speak out — unequivocally and unapologetically — as we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel and her people. I’ve been staunchly devoted to this cause for 31 years in Congress.”
He went on to claim that Israel and the United States are intrinsically linked and were founded on the same principles.
Menéndez also courted controversy after he demanded that the U.S. help Israel “wipe Hamas from the face of the Earth,” even as Israel was leveling Gaza by carpet bombing it.
In October, he co-sponsored a Senate resolution “standing with Israel against terrorism” that passed unanimously, without dissent.
#3 Mitch McConnell, $1,953,160
The Senate Minority Leader is one of the most powerful politicians in America and has used his influence to attempt to force through legislation criminalizing BDS. He has described the peaceful tactic as “an economic form of anti-Semitism that targets Israel.”
McConnell is known to be very close to Prime Minister Netanyahu and supported a bill condemning the United Nations and calling on the U.S. to continue to veto any U.N. resolution critical of Israel. Last month, he strongly opposed steps taken towards applying basic U.S. and international law on weapons shipments to Israel.
Under current U.S. law, Washington is duty-bound to stop supplying arms to nations committing serious human rights violations. McConnell, however, said that applying these standards to Israel would be “ridiculous,” explaining that:
Our relationship with Israel is the closest national security relationship we have with any country in the world, and to condition, in effect, our assistance to Israel to their meeting our standards it seems to me is totally unnecessary… This is a democracy, a great ally of ours, and I do not think we need to condition the support that hopefully we will give to Israel very soon.”
McConnell has received nearly $2 million from pro-Israel groups.
#4 Chuck Schumer, $1,725,324
Next on the list is McConnell’s Democratic opponent, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who had taken over $1.7 million from Israel lobbying groups. In recent weeks, Schumer has taken the lead in steering the public conversation away from Israel’s crimes and towards a supposed rise in anti-Semitism across America. “To us, the Jewish people, the rise in anti-semitism is a crisis. A five-alarm fire that must be extinguished,” the New York Senator said, adding that “Jewish-Americans are feeling singled out, targeted and isolated. In many ways, we feel alone.”
The idea that anti-Semitic hate is exploding across the United States comes largely from a report published by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which claims that anti-Semitic incidents have risen by 337% since October 7. Buried in the small print, however, is the fact that 45% of these “anti-Semitic” incidents the ADL has tallied are pro-Palestine, pro-peace marches calling for ceasefires, including ones led by Jewish groups like If Not Now or Jewish Voice for Peace. (MintPress recently published an investigation into the ADL’s fudged numbers and its history of working for Israel and spying on progressive American groups.)
Schumer, however, has deliberately tried to conflate opposition to Israel’s bombardment of its neighbors with anti-Jewish racism, writing:
Today, too many Americans are exploiting arguments against Israel and leaping toward a virulent antisemitism. The normalization and intensifying of this rise in hate is the danger many Jewish people fear most.”
He has even gone so far as to label Dave Zirin – a Jewish journalist who supports justice for Palestinians – as an anti-Semite.
As Senate Majority Leader, Schumer has used his influence to push through military aid packages to Israel, even as it carries out actions many have labeled war crimes, writing that:
One of the most important tasks we must finish is taking up and passing a funding bill to ensure we, as well as our friends and partners in Ukraine, Israel, and the Indo-Pacific region, have the necessary military capabilities to confront and deter our adversaries and competitors.”
He added that “Senators should be prepared to stay in Washington until we finish our work” and that they should expect to work “long days and nights, and potentially weekends in December,” until the deal was done.
#5 Steny Hoyer, $1,620,294
The former House Majority Leader is one of Israel’s most vocal supporters in the House of Representatives. Hoyer has demanded that “Congress must immediately and unconditionally fund Israel,” thereby giving the Netanyahu administration the green light to do whatever it pleases.
An ardent Zionist, the Maryland native explained that he believes it is:
…[T]he world’s duty that set aside a land, a land that Israel has occupied for millennia, and said: this is your place of security, this is your place of sovereignty, this is your place of safety.”
Earlier this month, Hoyer also voted in favor of a bill stating that anti-Zionism is inherently anti-Semitic, thereby declaring all criticism of Israel to be invalid and racist.
Hoyer has received more than $1.6 million in donations from pro-Israel lobbying groups.
#6 Ted Cruz, $1,299,194
Over his career, the Texas Republican has received $1.3 million from the Israel lobby. After October 7, Cruz sprang into action, announcing that it was “critical” that every American supports Israel “100 percent.” “Israel is going to be demonized by Democrats in the current corrupt corporate media. We need to make clear that Hamas is using human shields and Israel has a right to defend itself,” Cruz said, hitting many of the classic pro-Israel talking points.
Cruz also went above and beyond in his defense of Israeli crimes in a bizarre interview with Breaking Points’ Ryan Grim. When asked if he opposes Israeli officials suggesting a nuclear attack on Gaza, Cruz replied:
I condemn nothing that the Israeli government is doing. The Israeli government does not target civilians; they target military targets… There is no military on the face of the planet, including the U.S. military, that goes to the lengths that the Israeli military goes to avoid civilian casualties.”
When confronted with statements from the IDF directly refuting his point, noting that their focus is on damage, not precision, Cruz flipped his answer around, replying, “Yes, damage to Hamas, to terrorists.” And when Grim gave him more statements from senior IDF officials explicitly contradicting his previous statement, Cruz retorted, “That’s simply not true. They are targeting the terrorists,” thereby defending the IDF even from itself.
#7 Ron Wyden, $1,279,376
Senator Ron Wyden (D—OR) has long been one of Israel’s staunchest advocates in Washington, supporting President Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and opposing BDS in all its forms.
In 2017, he co-sponsored a bill that made it a federal crime, punishable by a maximum prison sentence of 20 years, for Americans to participate in or even encourage boycotts against Israel and illegal Israeli settlements.
On the settlements, he was one of the most vigorous opponents of UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which describes them as a “flagrant violation” of international law.
For his troubles, Wyden has received $1,279,376 from pro-Israel groups.
#8 Dick Durbin, $1,126,020
In some ways, Dick Durbin owes his political career to the Israel lobby. In 1982, the then-obscure college professor benefitted enormously from AIPAC money to defeat incumbent Paul Findley, a strong proponent of the Palestinian people.
The Illinois Democrat has called for immediate military aid to Israel and co-signed a Senate resolution reaffirming Washington’s support for Israel’s “right to self-defense” in the wake of October 7.
Despite this, he has angered some in the pro-Israel crowd by supporting President Obama’s initiatives to reduce tensions with Iran and has now come out in favor of a ceasefire in Gaza.
#9 Josh Gottheimer, $1,109,370
Despite only being in office since 2017, Gottheimer has already received more than $1.1 million from pro-Israel lobbying groups. The New Jersey Congressman has served as a pro-Israeli attack dog in Washington, co-sponsoring the bill equating opposition to Israeli government policy with anti-Semitism and introducing legislation to block and criminalize boycotting the state of Israel.
In the wake of October 7, Gottheimer has attempted to cancel a number of public figures. Earlier this month, for instance, he tried to pressure Rutgers University into calling off an event on Palestine featuring former CNN anchor Marc Lamont Hill and organizer and journalist Nick Estes, both of whom support Palestinian rights and statehood.
Gottheimer has even caused rifts within his own party, attacking the small, progressive wing of Democrats who have failed to toe the line on Israel and Hamas. “Last night, 15 of my Democratic colleagues voted AGAINST standing with our ally Israel and condemning Hamas terrorists who brutally murdered, raped, and kidnapped babies, children, men, women, and elderly, including Americans. They are despicable and do not speak for our party,” he wrote, making a number of highly incendiary and questionable assertions.
#10 Shontel Brown, $1,028,686
Perhaps no other political case reveals the power of the Israel lobby than Shontel Brown. In 2021, Nina Turner, a democratic socialist, national co-chair of Bernie Sanders’ 2020 election campaign, and an outspoken advocate for justice in Palestine, ran for election in Ohio’s 11th congressional district. Her opponent was the little-known but strongly pro-Israel Brown.
Brown received more pro-Israel money than any other politician nationwide during that two-year election cycle, helping her overcome a double-digit polling deficit to defeat Turner. Over $1 million was spent plastering Cleveland with attack ads against Turner. In her acceptance speech, Brown praised Israel and later thanked the Jewish community for “help[ing] me get over the finish line”
Since then, she has supported Israeli actions in Gaza and rejected the idea of Israel as an apartheid state, writing:
Let’s be clear: Israel is not an apartheid state. Any mischaracterizations otherwise attempt to delegitimize Israel, a robust democracy, and will only serve to fuel rising antisemitism. I will always advocate for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship founded on our shared values.”
A Dark Force in US Politics
It’s not just the bribes these politicians receive from AIPAC. The much more bigger influence on these politicians is the coverage they get from the corporate mainstream “news” media because it’s all owned & controlled by Zionists. Investigate that.
James Hutt@JamesRHutt Dec 1, 2023:
- sells arms to Israel
- votes against Palestine at the UN
- blocks attempts to try Israel for war crimes
- trains PA security forces to police Palestinians for Israel
- pushes for Israel to have a seat on UN security council
- threatens aid to ensure PA falls in line
- gives tax deductions to zionist orgs that send $250+m to help colonize Palestine & recruit for the Israeli occupying army
- uses trade acts to give preferential treatment to Israeli products made in illegal settlements
- criminalizes Palestinian solidarity in Canada, including copying Israel’s list of “terrorist orgs”
- refuses to criticize Israel for expanding illegal settlements or violating premise of peace talks
- ignores Israel’s explicit genocidal intent
- Cdn companies build Israeli only roads across the west bank.
- Cdn special ops forces are there currently helping Israel
- and more
How Joe Biden Became America’s Top Israel Hawk, The president once said “Israel could get into a fistfight with this country and we’d still defend” it. That is now clearer than ever by Noah Lanard, December 22, 2023, Mother Jones
Last month, a reporter asked President Joe Biden about the chances for a ceasefire in Gaza. More than 10,000 people had already been killed there, most of them women and children. Food, water, and medical supplies were scarce. Still, the president did not hesitate in assessing the odds of a ceasefire that he had more power than almost anyone in the world to help bring about.
“None,” Biden replied. “No possibility.” Biden’s unconditional support for Israel as it waged one of the most devastating bombing campaigns in modern history was already at odds with most of the world and significant parts of his own political base. The president showed no sign of backing down.
It would take another month and nearly 8,000 more Palestinian deaths for Biden to criticize Israel in any meaningful way. At a closed-door fundraiser last week, he warned that Israel’s “indiscriminate bombing” was costing the country international support. But Biden’s own support for the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remained largely intact. After saying he favored the eventual creation of a Palestinian state, he reiterated his unwavering backing for the Jewish nation.
“We’re not going to do a damn thing other than protect Israel,” Biden said. “Not a single thing.”
Much of Biden’s deference to Israel is deeply personal. As his supporters have put it, he identifies with the nation in his kishkes—his guts. That can be seen in the highly emotional and graphic way in which he has talked about victims of the Hamas attack being massacred, sexually assaulted, and taken hostage.
Both before and after October 7, the empathy Biden is known for has rarely extended to Palestinians.Biden is just another rich powerful racist old white man who gets millions of dollars in bribes from the Israel Lobby and I bet believes he’ll get a special zip up to heaven from God when he dies in exchange for his unfaltering support of Israel’s endless war crimes, disinformation and mass murdering and torturing of Palestinians, no matter how many innocent kids Biden helps Bibi murder. Rashid Khalidi, the Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University, said such statements are missing “to the degree that I don’t really think he sees the Palestinians at all.” In contrast, Khalidi added, Biden sees Israelis “as they are very carefully presented by their government and their massive information apparatus.”
A former Biden administration official shared a similar perspective with me. “The President does not seem to acknowledge the humanity of all parties affected by this conflict,” this person said. “He has described Israeli suffering in great detail, while Palestinian suffering is left vague if mentioned at all.”
… The result is that Biden has prioritized providing Israel largely unconditional support and the space to continue fighting in the face of intense international opposition. This approach is predictable in some respects. Israel has gotten almost whatever it wants from the United States for decades, and any American president would have supported Israel in the wake of a Hamas attack that took the lives of 1,200 people.Reportedly, many of those killed in that attack were killed by Israel’s own IDF.
But Biden has long gone further than many of his fellow Democrats in defense of Israel. As a senator, he backed moving the American embassy to Jerusalem decades before Donald Trump made that a reality, boasted about attending more fundraisers for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) than any other senator, and savaged an effort by George H.W. Bush to push Israel toward negotiating with Palestinians. As vice president, he undercut Barack Obama’s efforts to push Israel toward peace. As president prior to October 7, he continued policies implemented by Trump that sidelined Palestinians.
“The President does not seem to acknowledge the humanity of all parties affected by this conflict,” a former Biden aministration official said. “He has described Israeli suffering in great detail, while Palestinian suffering is left vague if mentioned at all
… Despite Israel ignoring many of its recommendations, the Biden administration continues to push Congress to provide $14 billion in mostly military aid with no strings attached. This comes after the United States has already supplied Israel with thousands of bombs as it has leveled much of Gaza, displaced more than 80 percent of the population, and committed the war crime of using the starvation of civilians as a weapon of war, according to a report from Human Rights Watch released on Monday.
… In 1982, the year Biden and Benjamin Netanyahu first met, Israel launched an invasion of Lebanon that caused massive civilian casualties. Israel’s tactics in Lebanon as it tried to destroy the Palestine Liberation Organization and empower the country’s Christian minority outraged people in the Arab world and were opposed by key American officials.
In the initial weeks of the war, Prime Minister Menachem Begin came to Washington to consolidate support. Begin, a right-wing leader who Hannah Arendt, Albert Einstein, and other prominent Jews once denounced for running a “Fascist” political party, arrived in Washington facing intense public criticism. Ronald Reagan’s defense secretary, Caspar Weinberger, argued publicly that Israel was employing “military force of a kind that we always have deplored.” (Two months later, Regan privately warned the Israeli prime minister that the Lebanon war threatened the “entire” US-Israeli relationship, calling it a “holocaust” whose symbol was “becoming a picture of a 7-month-old baby with its arms blown off.”)
Begin received a warmer welcome from Biden. The New York Times reported at the time that Biden told Begin that he was not critical of the Lebanon invasion. After returning to Israel, Begin provided more detail to the Israeli press by describing how a young senator had given an “impassioned speech” during a private meeting with members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Begin said this senator argued that Americans “wouldn’t pay attention as to whether men, women, or children were killed” if they had to retaliate against a comparable attack from Canada. The prime minister claimed that he’d criticized the senator for devaluing civilian life. Subsequent reporting confirmed he was referring to Biden. (A National Security Council spokesperson told me he was looking into this but did not respond after that.)
During a 1992 speech to AIPAC, Biden again voiced support for Israel that made some of its strongest backers uncomfortable. Biden started out by saying that he didn’t think any senator had “ever done more fundraisers for AIPAC,” a group whose supporters were key backers of his 1988 presidential campaign. He then worked himself up to the point where he was shouting and beating his chest for emotional effect as he lambasted an unprecedented public campaign by George H.W. Bush to push Israel toward engaging with Palestinians’ demands for sovereignty and an end to the Israeli military occupation of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and other territory seized in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
At the time, Bush was demanding that Israel stop building settlements in occupied territory in violation of international law if it wanted to receive billions of dollars in loan guarantees from the United States to support the arrival of Soviet Jews. He knew that groups like AIPAC considered this to be an affront, but he believed his actions were necessary to advance peace talks. Biden was far from the only member of Congress who opposed Bush, but he did so with uncommon fervor.
Articles in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs noted that some listeners “squirmed with embarrassment” as Biden ranted about how the issue of American aid for Israel had become “susceptible to demagoguery.” “You know, no one should take Biden seriously here. He is a cheerleader,” one attendee said. “He helps us, of course, but does opposing the peace talks or ignoring them or disparaging them really make sense? I don’t think so.”
The most revealing part of the AIPAC speech was Biden’s explanation of what remain the two pillars of his approach to Israel and Palestine. First, he told the audience that he kept his criticism of things like settlements, which he opposed, between him and Israel. Second, he made sure the two nations maintained a united front so that “the Arabs” would bend. Yup, racist as fuck. These beliefs explained his disgust with what he considered to be a destined-to-fail effort by Bush to exert leverage over Israel and its right-wing prime minister, Yitzhak Shamir.
Shamir was not a credible partner for peace. (He had been a leader of the Stern Gang, a Jewish terrorist group that tried to form an alliance with the Nazis early in World War II to oust the British from Palestine.) His failure to secure the loan guarantees and maintain positive relations with the United States quickly became political liabilities. Two months after Biden’s speech, Israelis voted him, Netanyahu, and their Likud party out of power. They replaced them with Yitzhak Rabin and the most dovish government in the country’s history.
The results were seen as a clear sign that Bush’s efforts had succeeded in pushing the Israelis toward negotiating with Palestinians. “One cannot underestimate the role of the US government in the results,” an Israeli political scientist said after the election, echoing a widely held view. “The loan guarantee issue was critical.”
The following year, Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat signed the historic Oslo Accord, which in spite of its flaws, is the closest the two sides have come to peace. The breakthrough was made possible in part because Bush had been willing to do what Biden said the United States should avoid at all costs: publicly pressure Israel.
A more reflective leader might have changed course, but Biden remained committed to his approach. As he explained in an interview while running for president more than a decade later, “In my 34-year career, I have never wavered from the notion that the only time progress has ever been made in the Middle East is when the Arab nations have known that there is no daylight between us and Israel.”
In doing so, Khalidi said Biden was embracing the diplomatic version of the militaristic right-wing worldview laid out a century ago by Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the founder of the Revisionist Zionism that helped shape the Likud. “In other words,” Khalidi explained, “only when the Arabs understand that they have to accept whatever it is Israel is willing to offer will there be peace.”Fuck that inhumane abusive bullshitKhalidi, one of the world’s most prominent Palestine scholars, continued, “I think that fairly represents his position to this day. I honestly don’t think this man has any sense that there’s another side to this. I don’t think he understands or is interested in the humanity, or the rights, or the very existence of the Palestinians.”
After Biden became vice president in 2009, he stuck with his “no daylight” stance. In a memoir published last year, Netanyahu wrote that Biden made his willingness to help clear during an early meeting in Washington. “You don’t have too many friends here, buddy,” Biden reportedly said. “I’m the one friend you do have. So call me when you need to.”
His commitment to insulating Israel from public pressure caused him to undermine President Barack Obama at a key moment when the administration was trying to revive peace talks. The best account of this comes from Peter Beinart, who is currently the editor-at-large at Jewish Currents. In a 2020 article based on interviews with 15 former administration officials, Beinart concluded that “during a critical period early in the Obama administration, when the White House contemplated exerting real pressure on Benjamin Netanyahu to keep the possibility of a Palestinian state alive, Biden did more than any other cabinet-level official to shield Netanyahu from that pressure.”
In 2010, Netanyahu’s government infuriated Obama and his advisers by announcing a major settlement expansion while Biden was in Israel. As Beinart reported, Biden and his team wanted to handle the dispute privately. Obama’s camp took a different route by drawing up a list of demands to be made of Netanyahu. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton then gave the prime minister 24 hours to respond, warning him, “If you will not be able to comply, it might have unprecedented consequences on the bilateral relations of the kind never seen before.”
Biden was soon in touch with a stunned Netanayhu. A former administration official who saw the transcript of their call told Beinart that “Biden completely undercut the secretary of state and gave [Netanyahu] a strong indication that whatever was being planned in Washington was hotheadedness and he could defuse it when he got back.” When Clinton saw the transcript, she “realized she’d been thrown under the bus” by Biden, the official added.
When the prime minister and his staff visited the White House soon after, one of Netanyahu’s top advisers told the New York Times Magazine that Biden reminded him, “Just remember that I am your best fucking friend here.” Thanks in part to the support from Biden, Netanyahu learned not to be concerned by Obama’s effort to push for Palestinian statehood. “He entered the lion’s den and came out in one piece,” a senior US official told Israeli journalist Ben Caspit. “He began to understand that Obama’s bark is much worse than his bite, that there is no reason to fear him.”
… For the rest of Obama’s presidency, Biden would remain the man who had assured Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren in the early days of the administration that “Israel could get into a fistfight with this country and we’d still defend you.” During Obama’s final days in office, a United Nations resolution came up that demanded a halt to Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank and other occupied territory. On a call to discuss how the United States should vote at the UN, multiple administration officials told Beinart, only Biden and then–Treasury Secretary Jack Lew supported vetoing the resolution. Unusually, Biden and Lew failed in that effort. Lew is now Biden’s ambassador to Israel.
“I have never wavered from the notion that the only time progress has ever been made in the Middle East is when the Arab nations have known that there is no daylight between us and Israel,” Biden has saidSuper cruel asshole.
As Lew’s return suggests, there were few surprises in how President Biden dealt with Israel prior to October 7. He stuck with Trump’s decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem, did not reverse a major announcement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that upended decades of US policy by saying Israeli settlements did not necessarily violate international law, and failed to reopen a separate consulate for Palestinians shuttered by Trump.
Biden did little to recalibrate after Israel elected the most right-wing parliament in its history in November 2022. Netanyahu’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who has criminal convictions for inciting racism and supporting a terrorist organization, kept a picture of a Jewish fundamentalist who slaughtered 29 Palestinians at a mosque in 1994 in his living room until a few years ago. Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich once labeled himself a proud “fascist homophobe” and was suspected of being a domestic terrorist by Israel’s equivalent of the FBI.
With the support of these cabinet ministers, Netanyahu set out to dismantle his country’s judiciary in a move that sent hundreds of thousands of Israelis into the streets in protest. The judicial coup, as critics called it, would serve to protect Netanyahu from the corruption charges he is facing, while making it easier to formalize the existing one-state reality in which Israel has control over essentially all of Israel-Palestine.There is no hell deep enough for Bibi and Biden et al.
Biden did say that he hoped Netanyahu “walks away” from the judicial overhaul, but the president’s position was seen as notably weak by many of Netanyahu’s critics in Israel. Bernard Avishai explained in the New Yorker that as Israeli liberals sought “a lifeline” from the Biden administration, it became increasingly clear that the president was “loath to throw it.” Biden didn’t raise the possibility of any material consequences for Israel, much less pursue them as George H.W. Bush had. In doing so, he was sticking to the position he took on the campaign trail, when he argued that it was “absolutely outrageous” and a “gigantic mistake” for Democratic rivals like Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg to suggest that there should be some conditions on aid to Israel.
… Biden said during his October 10 speech that he’d told Netanyahu that the United States would respond with “swift, decisive, and overwhelming” force in a similar situation. He’d also cautioned Netanyahu that democracies were “stronger and more secure” when they “act according to the rule of law.” But after knowing Biden for more than four decades, there was little reason for Netanyahu to believe that Biden would apply pressure to ensure such rules were followed.
Biden’s public rhetoric became a problem for the White House. In late October, when the Gaza Health Ministry reported that more than 6,000 people had been killed, Biden said he had “no notion that the Palestinians are telling the truth” about the casualty numbers. Biden added, “I’m sure innocents have been killed, and it’s the price of waging a war.” His remarks led to immediate outrage. Reporters quickly pointed out that the health ministry’s statistics had proved accurate in past conflicts and there was little basis for Biden’s claim.And endless evidence of Bibi lying. I believe Palestinians; I never believe a word out of Bibi’s evil thieving murdering mouth or any of the evil old white men that aid him
… Instead of pushing for a ceasefire, the Biden administration has transferred weapons. This included at least 100 2,000-pound bombs—munitions that were four times the size of what the US had typically used during its 2017 air battle against ISIS in Mosul, Iraq. US officials have confirmed that a bomb supplied by the United States with a “large payload” was used in one of the deadliest airstrikes of the war, which killed more than 100 people and destroyed an apartment block in Gaza’s Jabalia refugee camp.
… Late last month, Biden seemed to become slightly more open to restraining Israel by saying it was a “worthwhile thought” to consider placing some restrictions on that aid. Days later, though, administration officials said they were not pushing for any limitations. This position is now at odds with more than a dozen senators who support an amendment to ensure that weapons provided to Israel and other countries are used in accordance with the laws of war. At the fundraiser last week, Biden said that Netanyahu has told him privately, “Well, you carpet-bombed Germany. You dropped the atom bomb. A lot of civilians died.”
… This argument must be measured against what Biden has helped enable. Since October 7, about 70 percent of the more than 20,000 people killed in Gaza have been women and children, according to the local health ministry. In the first five weeks of the conflict, children were killed at roughly 200 times the rate that they were during the Iraq War. The deaths of thousands more people trapped under the rubble are still believed to be uncounted. More than 1.8 million people, roughly 85 percent of Gaza’s population, have been displaced. Doctors have been forced to operate on patients without anesthesia. A lack of clean water, medicine, and basic sanitation is causing infectious diseases to spread through overcrowded shelters for displaced persons. University of Chicago professor Robert Pape, an internationally recognized expert on military air power, has said Gaza will go down with Dresden, Hamburg, and Cologne “as a place name denoting one of history’s heaviest conventional bombing campaigns.” This is all happening in a place that the United Nations deemed “unlivable” before the war began due to a devastating Israeli blockade.
The event earlier this month at which Biden mentioned “indiscriminate bombing” remains the closest he has come to a limited break with Israel. “I think he’s being very clear that the United States—despite its very expensive, deep support for Israel for decades—will not be capable of insulating them from a lack of support across the globe,” the former Biden administration official said. “And that I think is the most meaningful part because the president to date has taken a tack that it doesn’t matter what other countries say: This is about the US supporting Israel.”
Still, the remark about Israeli bombing, which might have been a slip on Biden’s part given that White House officials have declined to repeat it, won’t mean much if it isn’t accompanied by changes in policy. “The administration’s rhetoric is slowly shifting, but the world is seeing [America’s] actions,” the podcast host and former Obama National Security Council spokesperson Tommy Vietor said last week. “It kind of doesn’t matter what Biden says at a closed-door fundraiser.” The world sees the Biden administration vetoing a UN ceasefire resolution that only 10 out of 186 nations opposed, bypassing Congress to get tank shells to Israel more quickly, and maintaining “unshakeable” support for a nation multiple human rights groups in and outside of Israel—as well as a former head of the Mossad—have concluded forces Palestinians to live under a system of apartheid.
The political fallout of Biden’s position is now global in scale. Shibley Telhami, the Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland, said Biden might now even surpass Netanyahu as the most disliked leader in the Arab world. “There’s a level of shock that I have not seen,” Telhami said, “even during the Iraq War, when it was extremely shocking.”
…Biden seems to recognize that he might not be able to insulate Israel from public opinion for much longer, and his officials are reportedly pushing Israel behind the scenes to scale back—but not end—the war in the new year. It is not the first time that Biden has found himself in this position.
… “Bibi, I gotta tell you, I’m coming under a lot of pressure back here,” Biden said, according to Netanyahu. “This is not Scoop Jackson’s Democratic Party…I’m getting squeezed here to put an end to this as soon as possible.”
There was no indication that the president’s support for Israel was waning. The problem was that much of his own party was no longer with him. A lifelong politician, Biden realized what he had to do. Facing international and domestic pressure, he may soon try to halt the current war for similar reasons. His record suggests he will resist for as long as he can.
Photo above: Vietnam War protests in the US. Still relevant! The text on the poster needs to be tattooed backwards on the foreheads of many – notably old white man – world leaders (so they can read it every time they look in a mirror, which I expect their egos makes them do often).