Andre Damon@Andre__Damon11 October 2023 / https://www.wsws.org/
Tuesday’s speech by US President Joe Biden plumbed the depths of political reaction. As the Israeli army was systematically leveling residential buildings throughout Gaza, Biden gave the Netanyahu government a green light to carry out mass murder.
The only purpose Biden’s tirade served was to inflame public opinion, generate as much hatred against Palestinians as possible, and justify whatever crimes Israel carries out.
After this speech, it is impossible for his government to disassociate itself from anything the Israeli government has done or will do. Indeed, the inclusion of Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Vice President Kamala Harris, who stood zombie-like behind Biden, was intended to underscore the message: This is the policy of the American government.
Biden’s remarks, predictably, incited Israeli war crimes. Immediately following the speech, Israel began using white phosphorus to create firestorms in civilian areas – a crime under international law. Israel bombed the headquarters of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East on Tuesday, alongside countless other multi-story buildings. Israel continued to deny the Palestinians food, water, and electricity, in line with the pledge by Prime Minister Netanyahu that any areas that resist the Israeli occupation will be reduced to “ruins.”
Biden’s language comes close to promoting and legitimizing genocide. The resistance by Palestinians was a manifestation, Biden began, of “pure, unadulterated evil.” These words echoed the statements yesterday of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who called the Palestinians “animals.” Netanyahu’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant, said, “We are fighting human animals, and we are acting accordingly.”
To assert that one is dealing with “pure evil” is to remove events from any rational analysis. In this Manichean world view, “evil” can only be addressed through elimination, extermination and killing.
Biden did not call for a ceasefire. He did not call for peace talks. He did not call for mediation or arbitration. He did not call on Israel to exercise restraint. He did not warn about the incalculable bloodshed that would result from an Israeli invasion of Gaza.
Full of inflammatory references to the Israeli victims of the Palestinian incursion into territory illegally occupied by Israel, Biden did not make a single reference to the Palestinian victims of Israeli violence.
Over the past 75 years, countless tens of thousands of Palestinians have been massacred by Israeli troops and the fascist forces now represented in the Israeli government. None of these murders prompted condemnation by the United States, let alone a declaration that the Israeli perpetrators were the embodiment of “evil.”
Biden’s remarks were accompanied by a torrent of propaganda in the US media, aimed at blocking any critical examination of the conflict by focusing only on the violence carried out by Hamas against civilians, while ignoring the violence—several orders of magnitude greater—inflicted against the Palestinians by Israel.
“We stand with Israel,” Biden declared. “There’s no justification for terrorism.” There is no excuse for violence by the Palestinians, but there is always an excuse for violence by Israel. This is despite the fact that since 2008, 20 times more Palestinians have been killed in the conflict than Israelis—6,400, compared to 300. Biden declared, “Like every nation in the world, Israel has the right to respond and indeed has a duty to respond to these vicious attacks.” Every nation, that is, except the Palestinians.
Biden simply ignored the entire antecedent history of the present conflict. The United Nations has condemned Israel for settling its population on illegally annexed Palestinian territory, for preventing Palestinians from traveling freely, and for the systematic use of murder, torture and indefinite detention as state policy.
Biden threatened to unleash US military force against any government that dared to intervene on the side of the Palestinians: “To any country, any organization, anyone thinking of taking advantage of this situation, I have one word: Don’t.” The American response, Biden said, would be “swift, decisive and overwhelming.”
This language will not intimidate; it will only enrage. Among the overwhelming majority of the world’s people, many of whom continue to live with bitter memories of colonialism, it will prompt only disgust.
Biden declared, “I have no higher priority than the safety of Americans being held hostage.” But his unrestrained sanctioning of Israeli actions has all but assured the death of the hostages.
Among the most shameful of Biden’s statements was his attempt to associate the resistance of the Palestinians against the Israeli apartheid regime with genocide of Europe’s Jews during the Holocaust. “This attack on Israel,” Biden said, “brought to the surface painful memories and scars left by a millennium of antisemitism and genocide.”
This is a total perversion of history. The Palestinians have no historical connection to the murderous anti-Jewish pogroms and antisemitism that form a critical part of European history. They played no role in the Holocaust.
During the Second World War, while Jews were being exterminated by the millions, the United States kept its borders closed. In 1939, the SS St. Louis, a ship carrying over 900 Jewish refugees, was turned away from the US and forced to return to Europe, an episode that was emblematic of US indifference to the persecution of Europe’s Jews.
Less than three weeks ago, the entire Canadian parliament, along with ambassadors and representatives from all the NATO countries, stood up and applauded Yaroslav Hunka, a veteran of the Ukrainian Waffen-SS, which was responsible for the massacre of Jews under the direction of Nazi Germany.
In concluding his remarks, Biden invoked “the Jewish and democratic state of Israel.” A Jewish and democratic state is a contradiction in terms. A state that is built on the basis of ethnic identity is inherently undemocratic. Moreover, it accepts entirely the position of Netanyahu and the Israeli political establishment that they represent the “Jewish people,” implicating the entire Israeli population in the crimes that are being carried out.
Biden concluded by saying, “Terrorists purposely targeted civilians and killed them. We uphold the laws of war.” What is Biden talking about? The only law upheld by the United States is the law of unrestrained imperialist violence and plunder.
His tirade against the Palestinians conforms to a definite pattern. Whether demanding regime-change and war to complete victory against Russia or inciting full-scale war in the Middle East, the American ruling class acts with complete recklessness and brutality.
Biden’s speech is a warning to the entire world. US imperialism has embraced the principles of unrestricted military violence and collective punishment against civilian populations. Unless it is stopped, the homicidal rampage now being inflicted on Gaza will be the fate of millions around the world.
Workers and young people cannot be intimidated by the avalanche of propaganda, pumped out by every imperialist government and every major media outlet. It is urgently necessary to build a global mass anti-war movement, unifying workers and young people of every ethnicity, religion, and nationality in the struggle against imperialism.