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US Is Underwriting Israel’s Crimes — Americans Can No Longer Claim Ignorance

Many of us in the Global South are watching the 2024 election to see if US voters implicitly endorse war crimes in Gaza.

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Like many around the world, I dedicate some time each day to staring at the screen of my phone, looking at photographs of children who were murdered, maimed or orphaned at the hands of Israel. I focus on the images that hurt the most, the ones I can relate to, and force myself not to look away until I feel the agony in my soul. I do this not to forget and with the absurd hope that the pain in this world might be finite and that by grabbing some of it I could be helping those who are truly suffering.

In the past few weeks, I’ve come to understand things I never thought I would. I can see now how people who live under constant humiliation could come to hate life and seek death. When one witnesses so much injustice in life and bears witness to the killing of so many innocents, one may feel driven to demean and despise life itself, finding it unbearable to live with the reality of all that has been taken unjustly from so many children amid our helplessness to stop it.

It is now more than 100 days since the current Israeli assault on Gaza began, and two things have become clear. The first is that Israel’s stated goal of eliminating Hamas is a fabrication — since it is impossible to believe that, even if Israel killed all the Hamas leadership, the carpet-bombing of Gaza and the indiscriminate slaughter of civilians are not radicalizing a record number of people, not only in Gaza but around the world — and that Israel’s true objective, which has not changed since the beginning of the assault, is to make Gaza uninhabitable and displace as many Palestinians as possible from it. The second is that by providing weapons to Israel in an unprecedented spree since the October 7 attack and standing unilaterally against the world by vetoing two ceasefire resolutions in the United Nations Security Council and sabotaging the third one, Biden and his administration have made themselves complicit in Israeli crimes and equally responsible for all death and destruction in Gaza and the West Bank.

Biden’s support of Israeli crimes, past and premeditated, may cost him a large number of voters, especially among the young, and jeopardize his chances of reelection. As per the latest polls, Biden’s approval rating at this point in his presidency is almost 39 percent, the lowest of any president since the 1940s. Despite this, Biden is continuing to unconditionally support Israel, skipping congressional reviews to send them more weapons, and letting himself be rebuffed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, an obnoxious warmonger who bragged about sabotaging the Oslo Accords and had no problem declaring repeatedly in recent weeks that he will prevent a Palestinian state after the “war,” in complete defiance and contempt of Biden’s stated position that the road forward is two states for two peoples.

Biden may think there is less risk in going against the will of the people, who have short memories, than against the will of the Israel lobby, which would never forgive or forget. He may believe it is domestic, not foreign, policy that will eventually matter. Judging that the historic turnout of young voters in the 2020 elections was more of a vote against Trump than it was a vote for him, Biden may try to turn the coming elections into a referendum on whether Trump should return to the White House. He seems to have faith that, except for a minority of progressives, Democrat-leaning voters will set aside their criticism and fall in line when the time comes.

I am no expert in American politics. I cannot foresee how things will turn out. I cannot even predict if Biden will end up running or if the old guard of the Democratic Party is already judging he has damaged himself irreparably and will replace him with another candidate — perhaps one who is purposefully keeping quiet about the war on Gaza now but who undoubtedly also has not called for a ceasefire. What I do know, however, is that for us in the Middle East, the coming United States presidential election is unlike any other.

Anyone who grew up in our region, and I am sure most of the Global South, had to reconcile at some point in their life their loathing of American “foreign policy” — from the United States’ support for Israel’s illegal occupation in Palestine to the illegal invasion of Iraq, which led to the death of nearly a million people — and their unwillingness to channel ill feelings toward Americans. We make our peace with this by telling ourselves that even though Americans have something of a democracy, most of them are oblivious to what their country is up to in our region — how it is viewed here and in many places around the world as an imperialist foreign power — and therefore cannot be held responsible for the actions of their elected officials.

I do not think this narrative will be defensible anymore.

Other than the unprecedented violence and clear genocidal intent, the current war on Gaza is distinct from any past Israeli or American aggression in the Middle East in that this time the truth is out there, paid for by the lives of more than 100 Palestinian journalists. This time, Palestinians have sacrificed themselves, their families and the sanctity of their dead to share their suffering and document the Israeli crimes in real time for everyone to see. This time, Americans — who are funding the massacres with their tax money and whose elected president, per the admission of Israelis, has the leverage to stop the killing if he wanted but is refusing to do so — should have felt compelled to learn the truth. This time, many of us cannot help thinking there is no excuse for not knowing.

For Americans, there is no excuse for not knowing that Biden has admitted Israel is indiscriminately bombing Gaza — a war crime under international humanitarian law — and is still supplying them with artillery shells and missiles. There is no excuse for not knowing that just one day after the International Court of Justice found a plausible risk of genocide by Israel, Biden collectively punished the 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza by suspending funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, based on unproven Israeli allegations against 13 of the organization’s nearly 13,000 employees based in Gaza. There is no excuse for not understanding that this is enabling Israel to continue its policy of deliberately starving civilians and weaponizing the delivery of medical supplies, which has led to hundreds of parents witnessing their children having their limbs amputated without anesthetics, a horror no one would wish on their worst enemy. There is no excuse for not being shaken, seeking the truth and realizing that the situation in Palestine is not complicated — the violence there not a chicken or egg dilemma — but a simple case of settler colonialism with the United States serving as its metropole.

I hope that this latest war on Palestine — which has exposed how elected officials in the United States work for their own interests, not for the people — galvanizes Americans to organize and break free from their evil, corrupt two-party system that is proving with each passing day to be one of the primary obstacles to peace and justice in the world.

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