ARAB AND WORLD

Thu 22 Feb 2024 9:26 am - Jerusalem Time

Biden can end the bombing of Gaza immediately

The American writer, of Indian origin, Mehdi Hassan, published his first weekly article in his new position as a weekly columnist in The Guardian newspaper on Wednesday, under the title “Biden can end the bombing of Gaza now, and here’s how,” saying, “Imagine the scene: an Israeli prime minister who launches air strikes on the Arab population. Civilians are killed by the thousands. An American president, stunned and shocked by the scenes of massacre shown on his television screen, calls his Israeli counterpart and within minutes... the bombing ends." The writer wonders: “This seems crazy? Or perhaps a form of naivety? Or superficiality? But this is what happened.”


The year was 1982. What was supposed to be a limited incursion by Israel into southern Lebanon over the summer, under the command of Ariel Sharon, then Israel's defense minister (remember him?), turned into a months-long siege. Beirut and the comprehensive attack on the Palestine Liberation Organization. Between June and August, the Israelis cut off food, water, and electricity from the Lebanese capital in a brutal attempt to destroy the Palestine Liberation Organization, whose fighters were holed up inside a network of tunnels beneath Beirut. (Sound familiar?)"


According to the writer, “On August 12 (1982), in what was later called “Black Thursday,” Israeli planes bombed Beirut for 11 consecutive hours, killing more than 100 people. On the same day, Ronald Reagan (then US President) - He was horrified by what he saw - a phone call to Menachem Begin, then Israeli Prime Minister, to “express his anger” and condemn “the needless destruction and bloodshed.”


Reagan told Begin: “Menachem, this is a Holocaust.”


Yes, an American leader used the word Holocaust in a conversation with an Israeli leader. Begin responded sarcastically, telling the American president: “I think I know what the Holocaust is.” But Reagan did not budge, insisting on the “necessity” of a ceasefire in Beirut.


"Twenty minutes. That's all the time it took for Begin to call back and tell President Reagan that he had ordered Sharon to stop the bombing, and that was it. "I didn't know I had this kind of authority," Reagan told a surprised aide.


Forty-two years later, the Israeli attack on Gaza has now lasted twice as long as the siege of Beirut. In 1982, Reagan was said to have been moved by a photo of a wounded Lebanese child. As of last week, more than 12,300 Palestinian children had been killed in Gaza, and tens of thousands injured, in just four months.


The writer notes that President Reagan waited until the evening news then, but today everyone sees it happening (instantly) on social media.


It is noteworthy that Irish lawyer Blaine Ní Graaligh said before the International Court of Justice in The Hague last month: “The international community continues to fail the Palestinian people, despite the horror of the genocide against the Palestinian people that is broadcast live from Gaza to our homes through Cell phones, computers and TV screens. It is the first genocide in history in which its victims broadcast their devastation instantaneously and it occurs in the desperate, and yet vain, hope that the world might do something.


According to writer K., “Joe Biden, like Reagan before him, can end the current carnage with a single phone call to Benjamin Netanyahu. He, too, has “that kind of power.”


“Do not believe anyone who tells you otherwise. Those in the media who say that ‘America is discovering the limits of its influence over Israel.’” Those in Congress who say US presidents "don't have as much influence over Israel as they thought." Those in the White House who claim they are “unable to exert significant influence on America’s closest ally in the Middle East to change its course.”


This is all deceptive nonsense, according to the writer. It is, in the words of media critic Adam Johnson, a “feigned inability” that has been aided, he points out, by a series of “self-serving leaks” from the Biden White House that insist the president “may or may not be some kind of… “I am disturbed by Israel’s actions.


The truth is that the (American) commander-in-chief of the richest country in the history of the world is not powerless at all, and like every commander-in-chief before him, he wields a lot of influence.


The writer asks himself: “How do we know?” And he answers: “First, because members of the American defense establishment say so.” Take Bruce Riedel, who spent three decades at the CIA and the National Security Council, where he advised four different presidents. “The United States has enormous influence,” Riedel noted in a recent interview. “Every day we provide Israel with the missiles, drones and ammunition it needs to continue a major military campaign like the one in Gaza.”


However, Riedel acknowledged that “US presidents have been remarkably shy about using this influence for domestic political reasons.”


Second, we know that Biden has great influence because, as many observers have pointed out, members of the Israeli defense establishment say so, too. In late October 2023, Israeli lawmakers challenged Defense Minister Yoav Gallant over the decision to allow (small) humanitarian aid into Gaza, before releasing any hostages. How did Gallant respond by saying: “The Americans insisted and we are not in a place where we can refuse them. We depend on them for aircraft and military equipment. What should we do? Tell them no?”


The following month, retired Israeli Major General Yitzhak Brik went even further than Gallant. “All of our missiles, ammunition, precision-guided bombs, all aircraft and bombs are from the United States,” Brick said in an interview in November. "The minute they turn off the tap, you can't keep fighting. You don't have the ability... Everyone realizes we can't fight this war without the United States. Point below zero."


The writer, who was the host of a program on MSNBC until the end of last year when the network terminated his contract because he embarrassed Mark Regev, Netanyahu’s spokesman, says: “The Israelis cannot ‘reject’ the Americans. The truth is that the President of the United States He could “turn off the tap” – ammunition, bombs, intelligence – and thus end what the International Court of Justice deemed plausible genocide in Gaza.


Third, we know that Biden has the ability to stop Netanyahu from killing Palestinians en masse in Gaza because… he has done it before. In May 2021, Israel bombed the Strip for 11 straight days, killing more than 100 Palestinians, including 66 children. During the same period, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups in Gaza fired more than 4,000 rockets into Israel, killing 14 civilians. As now, Netanyahu has rejected calls for a ceasefire – from Hamas, as well as from France, Egypt and Jordan.


"But guess who he can't say no to? Yes, the president of the United States. We need to get more done," Netanyahu said when Biden called him on May 19, according to journalist Franklin Foer. The president's response? "Man, the bombing is over, it's over." 


Two days later, a ceasefire was announced. Less than a month later, the Israeli Prime Minister was dismissed from office.


Why then, but not now? The writer says, “Perhaps because Biden, like millions of Americans and others around the world, was understandably terrified by the terrorism to which Israelis were subjected on October 7. But where is his horror at the ongoing terrorism in Gaza? Are there two Palestinian mothers being killed there every hour?” Or the ten Palestinian children who have one or both of their legs amputated every day, or the one in four Palestinians who are starving in Gaza right now?


“Could it be that Biden places less value on Arab lives than ... Reagan? The president does not seem to recognize the humanity of all parties affected by this conflict,” a former Biden administration official told Mother Jones in December. “He described Israeli suffering in great detail.” , while Palestinian suffering was left obscure, if mentioned at all.”


He ends by saying: “Biden now has the unique ability among the eight billion people living on this planet, which enables him to pick up the phone, dial a number starting with +972, and stop the daily killing of hundreds of wives and children.” “It really is that simple.”

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Biden can end the bombing of Gaza immediately