By Peter Miller, Guest Contributor
This was sent to the PBS Newshour on May 16th, after Biden failed to demand a ceasefire in the latest round in Gaza:
I was very disappointed in the discussion by David Brooks and Jonathon Capehart concerning the latest carnage in Gaza, the West Bank, and Israel itself. They indeed represent the moderate beltway consensus, one that ignores the realities on the ground and the profound responsibility the U.S. has in creating them. Biden certainly gave the green light for more casualties when he said, “One of the things that I have seen thus far is that there has not been a significant overreaction,” which is meth for Israel’s response. I was sorry to see Brooks and Capehart adopt this hands-off approach by the United States. As Capehart said, echoing Brooks,
“The administration should just — don’t jump into something just because you feel you need to jump into something.
I think a wait-and-see attitude, I think, is the phrase that David used, is the right way to go, and clearly something that they’re doing.”
I think that wait-and-see means more and more death, especially Palestinian death: over 52 children in Gaza so far and many dozens of other civilians (maybe 47% are women and children), and entire buildings coming down, including the press offices of AP, Al Jazeerah, and others. They were deliberately targeted. Today I woke to more buildings falling in dust, people trapped in the rubble. It is like small September 11s occurring hourly. In the West Bank, Israel has killed 13.
Influential opinion-makers like David Brooks could shift the reality by demanding a ceasefire. Brooks and Capehart could help save lives and call for a ceasefire. As I write this, Israel has “created a crater that blocked one of the main roads leading to Shifa, the largest hospital in the strip,” the Associated Press reported. Why block access to a hospital? To force Gazans to die in even greater numbers, that’s why. Surely a war crime.
The most recent, May 21st report from the UN OCHA indicates that:
- At least 14 families in Gaza lost three or more family members in the same incident
- 1,948 Palestinians have been injured, more than half women and children
- 258 buildings with 1,042 housing and commercial units have been destroyed
- Desalination water plants providing drinking water from over 400,000 people have suspended operation
- 100,000 cubic meters of sewage is being discharged into the sea daily
- 800,000 people lack access to piped drinking water
- 77,000 Gazans were internally displaced, seeking protection in 58 schools
When China says that the U.S. is “standing on the opposite side of international justice,” they are, unfortunately, entirely correct, and our credibility will suffer greatly.
The United States has repeatedly set the table for bloody spectacles like this: We supply Israel with the weapons. We give Israel political cover in international forums, as Biden is doing now. We have made Israel entirely unaccountable for its actions, whether it is the expansion of settlements, encouragement of far- right ideologies, constant harassment, and degradation of Palestinians, or Israel’s regular outrages.
You cannot say that Israel has the right to defend itself when its apartheid system is profoundly indefensible. You cannot invoke the right of self-defense when Israel uses that so- called right as an excuse to target civilians, civilian infrastructure, and kill so many children deliberately.
You talk about restarting a peace process. Here again, the U.S. has repeatedly set the table for Israel to feast upon. Palestinians can only get crumbs at this meal. The U.S. has ensured, once again, that Israel holds all the cards. Israel has all the power and has all the support from the U.S., which is vigilant in keeping the international community at arm’s length and concepts like international law, equal rights, human rights, and indigenous rights entirely off the table. Palestinians have no power and have only one thing to offer Israel: their land. Israel wants their land; Israel does not want the Palestinians, their history, culture, or religion, not inside Israel, not in the West Bank, not in Gaza. The only thing Israel wants from Palestinians is their absence. Desires like Israel’s lead to great crimes.
Thankfully, Democrats are having more debate on this because the Israeli right rules Israel today. The Israeli government’s wild support for Donald Trump and their racist, tribal supremacism has unequivocally demonstrated that Israel today does not share our fundamental democratic and moral values. I would guess the right-wing shares the values of neither Brooks nor Capehart.
As Bernie Sanders said,
“In the Middle East, where we provide nearly $4 billion a year in aid to Israel, we can no longer be apologists for the right-wing Netanyahu government and its undemocratic and racist behavior. We must change course and adopt an evenhanded approach, one that upholds and strengthens international law regarding the protection of civilians, as well as existing U.S. law holding that the provision of U.S. military aid must not enable human rights abuses.“
As Sen. Chris Van Holland said,
“If the Biden Administration puts the rule of law and human rights at the heart of its foreign policy, this is not a moment for tepid statements…“
The tepid, wait-and-see approach advocated by Biden, Brooks, and Capehart ensures that more lives will be lost.