By Ralph Nader, May 21, 2021
As Senator, Vice President, and now President, your self-promoted/displayed empathy has a problem. You can’t seem to connect the Israeli military powerhouse’s occupation to the oppression and destruction of innocent Palestinian civilians, illegal seizure of Palestinian land/water, and daily violations of U.S. and international law. Israel’s military is deliberately bombing these families, the offices of American media, international medical facilities, and many local hospitals and water and electricity facilities with fighter jets and missiles made in America.
To know about what is happening daily, you do not need to rely on the evidence compiled by the U.S. mainstream media or foreign reporters on the ground in Gaza or your own intelligence agencies, just take it from the Israeli media and Israelis themselves.
Stop repeatedly mumbling the usual mantra to escape your presidential responsibilities for the military weaponry and political cover, including the U.S. Veto at the U.N. By your failure to act you have backed this Israeli-initiated aggression, as you have invariably favored prior illegal Israeli military attacks against U.S. ally Lebanon, and Syria and Iran in recent decades.
Although the Netanyahu regime prohibits Israeli journalists from entering Gaza or the West Bank to report reality, enough of the Israeli media carries the horrific devastation in Gaza with casualties and critical property destruction hundreds of times greater than that inflicted by the primitive Hamas rockets, 90% of which are shot down by the U.S.-funded “iron dome” anti-missile systems. The rest, with very few random exceptions, fall onto the desert floor, sometimes back into Gaza.
Israel needs these feeble, homemade rockets as the pretext for its massively greater attacks again and again against the civilian population during the past fifteen years. How else can it engage in such slaughter of entire extended families asleep in their crowded homes, destruction of schools, health clinics, media offices – against what the Israeli newspaper Haaretz has called a wholly defenseless, captive people? Israel is just defending itself, you keep saying, ignoring the imperial racist premise in that statement.
As Representative Cori Bush (D-MO) declared this week: “These atrocities are being funded by billions of our own American tax dollars while communities like mine in St. Louis are hurting and are in need of life-affirming investment here at home.”
The expanding Jewish Voice for Peace, whose views represent a larger polling of American Jews than does AIPAC, joined over 70 U.S. advocacy groups in support of a Congressional resolution opposing your latest $735 million weapons shipment to Israel. You know federal law prohibits U.S. weapons delivered to a foreign country from being used for offensive purposes – a law continually and openly violated by Israel with impunity.
Having such precision instruments of war, and because it has Gaza under the strictest, most intrusive surveillance of any encircled, besieged territory in history, Israeli destruction of critical civilian infrastructure – electricity, water, sewage, and medical facilities – can be considered deliberate. The Israeli military knows about every street, home, apartment building, business, and government site, including who moves inside this tiny enclave. They have embedded spies, informants, a 24/7 electronic watch, and even updated Palestinian DNA samples. Indeed, Israeli government spokespersons boast about giving warnings to the occupants of some of the targets, such as those in the 14-story building housing AP, Al Jazeera, many residential apartments, and doctors’ offices, before turning it into rubble. They know exactly what they are striking – warnings or no warnings. So far, half of the fatalities are children, women, and those sick from the raging, Covid-19 pandemic, who have little or no access to vaccines.
You have two dozen Democratic Senators demanding a ceasefire and you still will not come out strongly for a transition toward a vigorous peace process leading to your stated two-state solution. You have none of President Eisenhower’s steadfastness who in 1956 declared a firm stop to the aggressive Israeli, French, and British bombing of Suez in Egypt.
You know full well what started this latest round of hostilities. Read this excerpt from the New York Times:
“…it was the outgrowth of years of blockades and restrictions in Gaza, decades of occupation in the West Bank, and decades more of discrimination against Arabs within the state of Israel, said Avraham Burg, a former speaker of the Israeli Parliament and former chairman of the World Zionist Organization. ‘All the enriched uranium was already in place,’ he said. ‘But you needed a trigger. And the trigger was the Aqsa Mosque.’”
Mr. Burg was referring to the Israeli police invasion of the 8th century Aqsa Mosque – Islam’s third holiest site – during Ramadan, tear-gassing and wounding over 300 praying faithful with stun grenades and rubber bullets. Together with Israeli street gangs in East Jerusalem and the intensifying displacement of Palestinian families there, the provocations proved to be the tipping point for panicked Palestinians.
You know this and much more from your confidential briefings. Still, you are hesitating. You are intimately aware of why Prime Minister Netanyahu timed and choreographed these bloody, brutal assaults. It is to position himself more successfully in forming a governing coalition of extremists to avoid a fifth election and ward off an ongoing prosecution for corruption by Israeli law enforcers. He provoked, for his political ambitions, the terrifying of the country he leads.
I am attaching an open letter I sent to President Obama on Dec. 19, 2016, asking him to adopt Jimmy Carter’s urgent plea for you to take “the vital step – to grant American diplomatic recognition to the state of Palestine, as 137 countries have already done, and help it achieve full United Nations membership.” As you know, Mr. Carter negotiated the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt. He referenced President Obama’s support of the long-standing United Nations Resolution 242, which called for a “complete freeze on settlement expansion on Palestinian territory that is illegal under international law.” In 2011, President Obama also made clear that “the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines” as two states.
In dire contrast, your Administration has been signaling a diplomatic withdrawal from this conflict to focus on China and East Asia. You’d be well advised to generate some residual fortitude, and empathy, and uphold the legal responsibility to reverse your total support for whatever Israel has done since you began your Senate career in 1973.
This opinion piece was previously published on RalphNader.org and is reprinted here with permission.