We are living in a messed-up world where the word “ceasefire” has become highly divisive and controversial. Our elected leaders’ inability to get behind the notion that mass killing, mass displacement and mass starvation are violations of international law and that every human life is sacred is an appalling stain on our collective humanity.
While a recent poll by Data for Progress shows that the vast majority of the United States public are in favor of a ceasefire in Gaza, our elected officials will not hear of it. The chilling complicity of our staunchly pro-Israel, pro-apartheid, pro-occupation and pro-war government — and of President Joe Biden, who appears unwilling to call for ceasefire and publicly criticize the genocidal policies of the Israeli military, even as staffers in his own State Department urge him to — is causing death, destruction and a humanitarian catastrophe of unimaginable scale.
Instead of calling for a ceasefire to prevent further loss of life, President Joe Biden made an appalling statement that shamefully attempts to dehumanize Palestinians at a time of unimaginable loss and suffering. By saying “I have no notion that the Palestinians are telling the truth about how many people are killed,” he has followed the example of Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who said Palestinians in Gaza are “human animals” who need to be treated as such — in order to justify their annihilation.
Masses in the U.S. Oppose Genocide and Demand Ceasefire
As Israeli warplanes are flattening entire neighborhoods with mostly U.S.-made bombs, massive protests for ceasefire have been cascading one after another nearly every day across the country.
On October 18, more than 500 American Jews and allies staged a sit-in on the floor of a congressional House office building, praying and singing to demand an immediate ceasefire to stop the Israeli military’s genocide of Palestinians in Gaza. On October 24 protesters demanding ceasefire blocked a major intersection in Chicago, and then on October 27, a thousand or more American Jews and allies shut down Grand Central Terminal in New York City calling for Ceasefire.
On November 1, a rabbi interrupted Biden’s speech to political donors to call for ceasefire. On November 3, an interfaith group of faith leaders and protesters disrupted 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, even as protesters at the Port of Oakland in California blocked the departure of a military supply vessel that was reportedly holding weapons being taken to Israel.
On November 4, widespread rallies and marches for Gaza were held in every major city in the U.S. and around the globe. A historic, 300,000-strong march — the largest pro-Palestine protest in U.S. history — came to Washington, D.C., to demand a ceasefire and advocate for a fundamental change in current U.S. policy that ignores Palestinians’ core political grievances and sustains Israeli violence. Many protesters were seen carrying “Genocide Joe” signs denouncing President Biden’s support of Israeli crimes, while others chanted “Biden Biden, You Can’t Hide, You’ll Be Charged With Genocide” as they got closer to the White House.
And on November 6 in Missouri youth activists blocked the entrances to a Boeing weapons manufacturing plant that has produced bombs for Israel, while hundreds of Jewish activists in New York City took over the Statue of Liberty, dropping banners calling for ceasefire and saying “The Whole World is Watching” and “Never Again for Anyone.”
Elected Leaders Are Out of Step With the U.S. Public
The huge disconnect between what most U.S. people want and what the government is doing in our name, in our so-called “great democracy,” is dangerous. In the House, only a handful of Congresspeople have raised their voices to call for an immediate ceasefire. Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, the only Palestinian American in Congress, was viciously attacked by representatives from both parties for calling for an immediate ceasefire to avert a greater humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which by now has taken the lives of more than 10,000 Palestinians, more than 4,000 of them children; injured more than 25,000; destroyed 51 percent of homes; and internally displaced over 1.5 million Palestinians according to the UN. In the Senate, only Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois has called for a ceasefire.
The New Republic recently reported that Rep. Ryan Zinke introduced a bill, co-sponsored by far right members such as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, called “The Safeguarding Americans From Extremism Act” that would revoke the visas and refugee status of Palestinians. In a statement making clear his belief that all Palestinians are members of Hamas, Representative Zinke said, “This is the most anti-Hamas immigration legislation I have seen and it’s well deserved.”
Similarly, instead of demanding a ceasefire, the U.S. House voted on November 2 to approve a $14.3 billion U.S. tax-dollar aid package to help finance Israel’s genocide machine and supply U.S. arms to the Israeli military. This is in addition to the $3.8 billion a year the U.S. gives Israel in military aid. U.S. financial support for Israel’s aggression will ultimately result in more mass atrocities. U.S. weapons have already been used by Israel to commit gross violations of human rights, war crimes, and crimes against humanity both during its current and previous attacks on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in violation of U.S. law.
Whether it’s the U.S., the United Kingdom, or the European Union, the policies of these past colonizers are responsible for sustaining the 76-year-long colonial project intent on displacing Indigenous Palestinians from their homeland through violence. They are funding genocide and are the enablers of a brutal occupation that is illegal under international law.
These Are Not the First War Crimes That Israel Has Committed
The horrific scenes of atrocities and the avalanche of suffering taking place in Gaza under the watchful eyes of Western leaders, as well as the ethnic cleansing and armed-settler attacks on civilians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, are only the latest episodes in a series of war crimes in Israel’s campaign to establish an ethno-nationalist Jewish regime from the river to the sea. B’Tselem, the oldest Israeli human rights organization, told the BBC that since the Hamas-led October 7 attack, it had documented “a concerted and organized effort by settlers to use the fact that the entire international and local attention is focused on Gaza and the north of Israel to try to seize land in the West Bank.”
With unbearable grief, we’ve watched Israel intensify its slaughter of innocent Palestinian civilians as a form of collective punishment. Last Friday, Israel bombed three hospitals, four United Nations schools used as shelters by hundreds of families, apartment buildings, a water reservoir, ambulances, and clearly marked press vans. Israel’s bombardment of Gaza’s densely populated Jabalia Refugee Camp — that left a huge crater and flattened several residential buildings — killed more than 80 people and injured at least 400 innocent civilians, according to Atef Al Kahlout, the director of Gaza’s Indonesian hospital.
The images of people frantically digging through the rubble with their bare hands desperately looking for survivors; the cries of mothers holding their bleeding dead children close to their chests; and the tears of aid workers running toward ambulances carrying the maimed and injured are too painful to watch. I can’t help but think of all the doctors, surgeons, nurses, paramedics, ambulance drivers, and humanitarian aid workers who are risking their lives, working around the clock, going without sleep and doing impossible tasks without the necessary medical supplies needed to care for the overwhelming number of injured civilians.
The Whole World Is Watching
Today the whole world is looking on with unbelievable outrage and disgust. “Gaza has become a graveyard for thousands of children,” said United Nations Children’s Fund spokesperson James Elder reflecting on the dire situation in Gaza. Oxfam and others have accused Israel of using starvation as a weapon of war in Gaza. Amnesty International’s Crisis Evidence Lab recently verified that “Israel has used white phosphorus smoke artillery shells during an attack on the southern border town of Dhayra, a populated civilian area.”
The protests around the globe show that the Israeli government and its allies such as the U.S., the U.K., Canada and the EU are isolating themselves from global conscience. Will the UN enforce Article 3 of the Genocide Convention by punishing these countries for their “complicity in genocide?”
Meanwhile, in a November 5 Times of Israel article, Israeli Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu, a member of Itamar Ben-Gvir’s far right party, was quoted as saying that, “one of Israel’s options in the war in Gaza is to drop a nuclear bomb on the Strip.”
Eliyahu also objected to allowing any humanitarian aid into Gaza, saying, “We wouldn’t hand the Nazis humanitarian aid,” and claiming that “there is no such thing as uninvolved civilians in Gaza.”
There Is No Military Solution to This Crisis
So what will happen to Gaza and the 2.3 million Palestinians living there? Will Israel go through with their complete relocation into Egypt’s Sinai region? What is going to happen to Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem? Will they be next in line?
The status quo isn’t sustainable. If you believe the Western media’s claim that Hamas brought this onto itself, think again. The oppression, racism, displacement and brutality of the Israeli apartheid regime started long before Hamas came into existence. Hamas was born out of Palestinian hopelessness and desperation — with a little help from none other than the Israeli state in order to create divisions among Palestinians and prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Prime Minister Netanyahu admitted this during a meeting of his Likud Party’s Knesset members when he said, “Anyone who wants to thwart the establishment of a Palestinian state has to support bolstering Hamas and transferring money to Hamas. … This is part of our strategy — to isolate the Palestinians in Gaza from the Palestinians in the West Bank.”
An October 8 Times of Israel article concluded that:
For years, the various governments led by Benjamin Netanyahu took an approach that divided power between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. … The idea was to prevent Abbas — or anyone else in the Palestinian Authority’s West Bank government — from advancing toward the establishment of a Palestinian state. Thus, amid this bid to impair Abbas, Hamas was upgraded from a mere terror group to an organization with which Israel held indirect negotiations via Egypt, and one that was allowed to receive infusions of cash from abroad.
This fact about Hamas is known to policymakers and politicians who went along with this strategy in order to give Israel the time it needed to keep creating facts on the ground, keep expanding and building settlements, and keep dispossessing and ethnically cleansing Palestinians.
But Palestinians have repeatedly refused to be erased.
The humanitarian crisis is getting worse with every passing minute. We should recognize that there is no military solution to this crisis.
Whatever “day after” solution is proposed, it will not make Israelis or Palestinians safer unless it upholds the rights of all people to live in freedom, equality and dignity.
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