Leadership void in US fuels the carnage in Gaza


Leadership void in US fuels the carnage in Gaza

Israel, in response to the Hamas attacks, has killed more than 30,000 Palestinians in Gaza. (Reuters)
Israel, in response to the Hamas attacks, has killed more than 30,000 Palestinians in Gaza. (Reuters)
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US President Joe Biden’s administration has been a failure across the board when it comes to foreign policy, and that failure has helped fuel the intensity of Israel’s violence in the Gaza Strip.

No one would fault Israel’s government, even one as extremist and right wing as that of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for responding forcefully to the Oct. 7 attacks by targeting Hamas militants and the organization’s leadership.

But Israel’s blanket bombing of Gaza with no consideration for the safety of civilians has gone far beyond any legitimate military response to an international crime. This issue of proportionality is important.

Hamas militants killed about 1,200 Israelis, mostly civilians but also many military personnel.

Israel, in response, has killed more than 30,000 Palestinians in Gaza and destroyed nearly all of the enclave’s mosques, schools, hospitals, businesses and homes.

Israeli soldiers have stolen money, jewelry, even Western clothing. After taking over villages and cities, Israeli armored vehicles have intentionally rolled over and crushed vehicles.

The Israelis have gone out of their way to maximize destruction for the sole purpose of making it impossible for Christian and Muslim Palestinians to return to their former lives. That was their real goal from the beginning.

At the same time, Israeli authorities have launched smaller-scale, mini-Gaza-type carnage in the West Bank, destroying homes, arresting people without charge and killing Palestinians there.

Clearly, the Israeli government sees this conflict as an opportunity to reset the disparity in which the Palestinian population has grown much more quickly than the Jewish population.

It has declared this policy openly, urging Palestinians in Gaza to flee to Egypt and elsewhere so that it can establish Jewish-only settlements and confiscate Palestinian land.

What made Israel feel so empowered that it could proceed with its military assault on Gaza without any restraint? Why did Israeli authorities unleash the maximum destructive power of their military against a predominantly civilian, nonmilitary target?

The blame for this falls on the shoulders of the US, which has treated Israel as if it were its 51st state. Washington set aside morality and the law, allowing Israel to act without concern for international accountability.

At the UN, the US defends Israel from sanctions. It even provides funding to support the carnage inflicted by Israel’s military, and the expansion of illegal settlements that Americans claim to question.

Every year, Israel receives $3.8 billion from American taxpayers, almost like a utility tax paid to a foreign country.

Ray Hanania

Every year, Israel receives $3.8 billion from American taxpayers, almost like a utility tax paid to a foreign country. In response to the Hamas attack, Congress approved $32 billion in aid to cover the costs of the excessive disbursements for the bombs, bullets and missiles used to kill Gazans and destroy civil society.

Despite all that America does for Israel, and the favoritism displayed by Washington in relation to Israeli policies, previous presidents would have urged restraint on Israel, leveraging the vast largesse the US provides.

The US has the right to scold the Israeli government for its actions, demand it exercises restraint, withhold support, and publicly express views that expose and criticize Israel’s violence.

But the US does not have a strong president. It has one of the nation’s weakest and most ineffective presidents, whose international authority is undermined even further by the political polarization he vowed to heal but has instead fueled.

America is a divided and weak nation. Biden is too weak to tell the bully leader of a foreign nation, and an ally at that, to restrain himself. Biden is a weak president whose image is further tarnished by his frequent cognitive lapses and constant memory lapses.

This weak image of the president is aggravated by the weakness displayed by Biden’s presidential rival, Donald Trump, whose own lack of diplomatic finesse while president fueled the concerns of other nations.

Trump’s problem is less about degraded mental acuity and more about his personality flaws. He cannot stop himself from responding to petty issues with even greater displays of pettiness. This deflects from the substance of major policies, programs and issues he has tried to promote, making him appear more like a bully himself.

Trump cannot handle criticism. Biden is cognitively ambivalent to it. American politics is polarized. There is nobody occupying the center ground who can offer reasoned, parental-like, commonsense leadership.

Many people believe this is one of the reasons Russia proceeded with its invasion of Ukraine: President Vladimir Putin simply was not worried about a strong response from the US. In the event, Biden’s response to Putin’s invasion was delayed and dulled. By the time Washington reacted, Russia was in too deep.

Five months after the Israeli carnage in Gaza began, Biden is only now shifting the official White House policy, calling in obscure language for recognition of a Palestinian state and urging Israel to exercise restraint its military response to the Oct. 7 attacks, as he responds to the worldwide anger over Israel’s inhumane onslaught in Gaza.

  • Ray Hanania is an award-winning former Chicago City Hall political reporter and columnist. He can be reached on his personal website at www.Hanania.com. X: @RayHanania
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