Yesterday, President Biden spoke to the United States to justify sending more aid to Israel. The amount he is requesting from Congress is estimated at $105 billion. This includes money to aid Israel in its current war on Gaza and the Palestinians living there, a war based on a siege denying the population food, water, and electricity, thousands of bombs dropped on apartment buildings, schools, hospitals, and places of worship, and a threatened ground invasion at any moment. Israel has now killed thousands of Palestinians, many of them children. Hamas’ atrocities in its attack on Israel is no justification for such a slaughter of the innocents in Palestine. All of this threatens to become a wider regional war involving Lebanon and Syria, where shots have already been exchanged, and perhaps Iran.
In his speech to the nation arguing for this military aid, Biden equates Putin and Hamas as enemies of democracy, and Ukraine and Israel as its defenders. He could not have it more wrong. Putin’s Russia is a dictatorship that has become fascist; and Israel, never fully a democratic country, has now also undergone a fascist transformation. Benjamin Netanyahu brought fascists into his cabinet, a government which the Israeli newspaper Haaretz called “a totalitarian caricature.” Hundreds of thousands of Israelis had protested against Netanyahu’s undermining of democratic institutions over the last several months, but now he has united much of the nation in support of a genocidal war of revenge.
Still, the latest polls show Netanyahu’s support is collapsing, because of his failure to stop the Hamas attack and then afterwards failing to take responsibility for the intelligence failure. Meanwhile, support is growing for former general Benny Gantz, his rival. A Haaretz columnist described Gantz’s recent election campaign as having “all the hallmarks of a jingoistic junta with neo-fascist leanings, which has adopted Benito Mussolini as its role model.”
Netanyahu, Gantz…so much for democracy in Israel.
Biden, in the meantime, is wrong about America’s interests. The people of the United States, especially those on the left, should be standing with Ukraine and with Palestine, two nations fighting for self-determination against imperial powers, Russia and Israel. The left should stand with Ukraine, despite the fact that Volodymyr Zelensky is a neoliberal, and stand with Palestine despite Hamas’s heinous attack on civilians. Progressives in Congress should move to separate the resolutions in support of Ukraine and Israel and vote only to support Ukraine, though the opposition will be great. And they should demand an immediate ceasefire and humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza.
Those who oppose the collective punishment, ethnic cleansing, and genocide being perpetrated against the Palestinian people should participate in the protests and join the civil disobedience actions to pressure Congress to demand a ceasefire. Once again, as during the Vietnam War and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the whole world is watching. Don’t let the genocidal war being conducted against Palestine be carried out in your name.