Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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Joe Biden owns this

So, US President Joe Biden got off a big plane in Tel Aviv on Wednesday and embraced a war criminal whose war crime-addicted military had, only hours earlier, committed yet another war crime of such horrendous nature and scale that it is destined to reverberate in memory and history.

That will be the sick, defining image of Biden’s presidency: a hug on an airport tarmac with an Israeli prime minister who has always revelled in killing Palestinians, even desperate children, women and men who thought they were beyond Benjamin Netanyahu’s malevolent reach on the grounds of a hospital in besieged Gaza that, bit by bit, is being erased in blatant acts of genocide.

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It is worth remembering amid all the touching scenes of fraternity that Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have spent much of the past three years distancing themselves – to put it charitably – from a politician whom a lot of Israelis believe is not only a career crook, but a rank authoritarian.

Rather than hold Netanyahu close to their loving bosoms like the suddenly smitten Biden, hundreds of thousands of Israelis have taken to the streets, week after week, demanding his conviction and resignation using blunt, hard-to-miss language.

Not too long ago, Biden and Blinken were so eager not to be seen with the accused swindler turned Machiavellian despot that they have not invited Netanyahu to the White House, lest, I suppose, they were stained by the stench of his toxic presence and character.

But times and fickle attitudes have, of course, changed.

Biden hopped on Air Force 1 for a quick, presidential vote-eve date in Israel to tell his beau not to worry, all is forgiven, while shoring up his “tough guy” credentials and support with a powerful constituency that he needs to win re-election – the thousands of mutilated, maimed and dead Palestinians be damned.

True to indecent form, leave it to a tactless American president to invoke a grotesque sports analogy to try, predictably, to deflect fault for an atrocity that compounds all the lethal indignities, deprivations and wanton violence already visited upon an imprisoned people by their occupier – not for days, weeks, months or years, but decades.

The “other team”, Biden said, was to blame for the massacre of hundreds of defenceless Palestinians holed up at al-Ahli Arab Hospital on Tuesday.

Apparently, the forgetful octogenarian commander-in-chief requires reminding that his “team” has concocted exculpatory “evidence” and lied again and again – I know this must come as a shock to him – to cover up its complicity in the killing of countless Palestinians, including the murder in 2022 of 78-year-old Omar Abdulmajeed Asaad, whom he and his diplomatic sidekick, Blinken, could not have cared less about, despite the fact that the retired grocer carried a US passport.

I need to remind Biden and Blinken of these other flagrant facts:

His “team” is depriving millions of Palestinians in Gaza of the necessities of life – food, water, fuel and electricity.

His “team” is determined, in effect, to starve and dehydrate Palestinians in Gaza to death.

His “team” is carpet-bombing Palestinians in Gaza with US-supplied weapons to kill as many of them as possible, in the shortest time possible, in advance of a ground invasion that will, inevitably, result in more appalling massacres.

His “team” is attacking schools sheltering Palestinians with nowhere else to turn since escape is impossible.

His “team” has showered Gaza with white phosphorous meant to permanently disfigure and burn children, women and men to the bone.

His “team” may permit humanitarian assistance to reach Palestinians who, even if they receive that blockaded help someday, will likely be killed by his “team” anyway.

His “team” has held millions of Palestinians “hostage” in Gaza, the occupied West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem from Israel’s inception.

His “team” is shooting Palestinians on sight in the West Bank for daring to resist the occupation and decrying the murder of their brothers and sisters in Gaza who took refuge at a hospital.

His “team” has described Palestinians as “animals”, “savages” and “vermin” who need to be eradicated in order to strip them of their humanity, and justify its ethnic cleansing and plans to establish a fortified “buffer” between Gaza and Israel.

The result: His “team” – in a repeat of the ruinous Nakba in 1948 – is forcing millions of Palestinians to abandon the shattered remains of their homes and businesses with the barrel of a high-powered gun pressed against their hearts and heads.

Joe Biden owns all of this – every despicable aspect of the calamity unfolding in Gaza perpetrated by America’s ever-reliable and obedient proxy, Israel.

The cataclysm that the world is witnessing is the by-product of the, by now, familiar mantra at the core of every modern US president’s so-called Middle East “foreign policy”: Kill first, think later.

In the aftermath of Hamas’s ruthless assault, the urgent moment required a temperate mixture of outrage and calm. Instead, Biden opted, on cue, for bluster and self-aggrandising posturing.

Instead of understanding that the pursuit of blind vengeance and the use of incendiary rhetoric would not dampen the prevailing bloodlust, but only fuel the breathtaking loss and awful scenes of grief and despair, Biden chose hysteria over statesmanship.

Instead of taking care with his words and actions, Biden trafficked in hideous fabrications at hastily held news conferences that he subsequently had to “walk back”.

Still, the deep and sinister damage was done. Palestinians – every one of them – had been dehumanised once more to condone killing them indiscriminately and en masse.

As I said: Kill first, think later.

But that is the American way: in South East Asia, South and Central America, Africa, and Iraq and Afghanistan – graveyards all, brimming with the innocent victims of the arrogance and ignorance of a succession of cocky presidents who blundered their way into war without pausing to consider the disastrous and, ultimately, humiliating consequences.

Is it any wonder that Biden is being praised by the same unrepentant, evangelical keyboard cavalry who applauded the wholesale destruction of Iraq and Afghanistan yesterday, and are applauding the wholesale destruction of Gaza today?

They will never learn from the past because they are consumed by the moment.

It is too late to retreat from the abyss. Biden’s hubris, blindness and obstinacy will not permit it. The cruel course has been fixed. The cement is set. The horrors have just begun.

That will be Joe Biden’s shameful legacy.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.


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