President Joe Biden said he would draw a “Red Line” if Israel invaded Rafah in southern Gaza. Yet there is already a river of Palestinian blood from over 220 days of Israel’s genocidal assaults in every area of Gaza. There will be an ocean of blood as Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu carries out his threatened all-out assault on Rafah, which appears to be in process. What is Biden waiting for?

Two days after Israel invaded and closed the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza, in open violation of established international treaties, Biden’s only response was that he wouldn’t go ahead with plans to provide Israel with 1,800 more 2,000-pound bunker-buster bombs, capable of destroying entire city blocks, and 1,700 500-pound bombs.

Even after Israel closed all access for desperately needed food, medicines and other supplies to Gaza, the Biden administration manipulated Congressional investigations into Israel’s use of U.S.-provided weapons in Gaza, although their use violated humanitarian law. The administration actually said that while there was “reasonable” evidence to conclude Israel had breached the international laws protecting civilians in Gaza, they “couldn’t link specific U.S. weapons to individual attacks by Israeli forces in Gaza.” 

As a result, the administration claimed leeway in whether or not to restrict more offensive weapons to Israel, and Biden backed away from limiting weapons to Israel other than 2,000-pound bombs.

This doublespeak has characterized most of the Biden administration’s response to Israel’s genocide in Gaza. When Vice President Kamala Harris called for an immediate six-week ceasefire between Israel and Hamas on March 4, other U.S. officials were quick to publish statements downplaying her remarks. Harris has issued no public statements regarding a ceasefire since then. Her claim that there was “clearly a humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza fell by the wayside.

Since October 7, Israel’s genocidal campaign against the Palestinian people in Gaza has claimed nearly 40,000 lives, disproportionately children. Thousands more lie beneath the rubble across Gaza after massive bombing raids from Gaza City in the north to Rafah in the south. Israel has destroyed nearly all schools, universities, and hospitals, while denying the population access to electricity, water, food and medical care. Biden’s doublespeak is falling flat. 

With the presidential election in just over five months, and a growing backlash against Biden in the primaries by “uncommitted” voters, the Democratic Party messaging has narrowed down to “you have to vote for Biden because we can’t afford Trump,” or “We don’t support Israel, but what can Biden do?”

The simple answer is, as commander in chief of the largest, most well-financed, most weaponized military on the planet, “a lot!” Withholding more 2,000-pound bombs from Israel, if in fact he does that, is just scratching the surface of what must be done to stop the Israeli killing machine.

Biden can immediately open all crossings into Gaza to provide food, water and life-saving supplies, and restore full U.S. funding to UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency).

He can:  Start by withdrawing U.S. funding for Israel’s missile defense, including $1.3 billion for Iron Dome support. Withdraw all U.S. military support for Israel from around Gaza, including aircraft carriers, military bases and active military personnel.

Stop blocking U.N. resolutions censuring Israel or supporting Palestine’s right to be recognized as a nation. Stop threatening members of the International Criminal Court for proposing criminal indictments against Netanyahu.

The U.S. president, who readily sanctions individuals and nations that stand up to U.S. imperialism, can start today by withdrawing sanctions and military threats against Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, and other countries lending support to the resistance in Palestine.  Biden can take the next step and freeze Israel’s assets in U.S. banks, including Netanyahu’s personal holdings and the holdings of his cabinet members. And, while at it, freeze the assets of genocide enablers like AIPAC (America Israel Public Affairs Committee).

Also, he can sign executive orders denying dual U.S. citizenship to any Israeli who participates in the illegal settlements in the West Bank. And tell Israel to stop denying safe return to U.S. doctors who worked with the World Health Organization to provide vital medical services in Gaza.

The list of steps Biden could take against Israeli genocide in Gaza is limitless — but whether he will do anything at all is the question of the hour.

In 1956, when Britain, France and Israel invaded Egypt, then-U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower convinced them to pull back. With the Soviet Union’s growing influence in the region, he believed fully backing Israel would endanger U.S. future interests.  

Today, the popular resistance movements in West Asia have growing support from China, Russia, South Africa and much of the Global South. The key question right now is whether Biden believes it will improve U.S. imperialist prospects in the region if he can stop Israel from invading Rafah.

Betsey Piette

Betsey.Piette@workers.org

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Betsey Piette

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