Truth and Consequences

[Today’s post is an open letter in response to Americans who have indicated they would never vote for Joe Biden based on his support of Israel following October 7, 2023.]

I know you are angry.  So am I.  So are most Israelis and Palestinians.  It takes a total lack of humanity to witness the bodies of innocent men, women and children killed by Hamas on October 7, 2023 or from Israel’s response and not be angry.  But that anger must not keep us from some inconvenient truths.  Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing coalition government have the blood of Israelis on their hands by failing to advance the Oslo Accords.  And Yahya Sinwar and Hamas have the blood of Palestinians on their hands for promoting the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people.

This experience again proves what diplomats and generals always tell us.  “It is easy to start a war.  It is much harder to end one.” And the key to a successful outcome is often having not only a war plan, but having a plan for day one after the shooting ceases.  That hard lifting depends who is conducting the peace.  The Israelis and Palestinians have to decide if they believe the individuals–Netanyahu and Sinwar–who have proven they can be masters of war have the will to be masters of peace.

We Americans also have a role.  Our allies in the Middle East–Egypt, Jordan, Qatar and most importantly Saudi Arabia–have made it clear the United States is an essential partner in achieving that peace.  But only if we can be an honest broker.  And I understand many of you believe, due to American support for the Israeli military, U.S. policy favors Israel.  It is hard not to feel that way when, perhaps, members of your family or friends have died from American manufactured munitions.

No one can guarantee these 75 years of bloodshed will ever end.  But if we want to give peace one more chance, consider the following.  The United States will have a major role.  And the nature of that engagement depends on who sits in the Oval Office next year.  You say you will never support Joe Biden because of his support for Israeli genocide.  Yes, Joe Biden went to Israel and hugged Netanyahu immediately after October 7.  Yes, Joe Biden proposed more military aid to Israel.  But neither have the goal of Palestinian genocide.

If that were the case, what would explain Joe Biden being a consistent supporter of the Oslo Accords and the two-state solution as Obama’s vice-president, as a private citizen and now as the leader of the free world.  This is no last-minute conversion in response to Hamas’ terrorism.  In July 2023, months before the attack, Biden met with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem and reaffirmed his belief the two-state solution was the best path to peace between Israelis and Palestinians.  In January, the U.S. abstained on a U.N. resolution to increase the flow of humanitarian aid despite the fact the resolution made no mention of Hamas’ attack on October 7 as the U.S. requested.  A position that opened Biden to criticism from many of his own party.  He has continuously criticized the Netanyahu government for expansion of West Bank settlements and for not taking a more targeted approach in the fight against Hamas militants. And in the vein of Harry Truman’s being the first world leader to recognize Israel on May 14, 1948, the same day Israel declared its independence, Biden has indicated he is considering the same for a Palestinian state created in compliance with the Oslo criteria.

Now consider the alternative.  Despite protests that more Jewish settlements on the West Bank were a violation of international law, Donald Trump supported Israel’s territorial claims over the West Bank.  The Netanyahu government rewarded this change in U.S. policy by naming one of the settlements Ramat Trump (Trump Heights) and putting a statue of a sabbath menorah and eagle honoring Trump at the entrance.  To further exacerbate the situation, Trump symbolically moved the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, although most diplomatic functions remain in Tel Aviv.  Trump’s vision for the Palestinians is a economic protectorate as laid out during a White House press conference with Netanyahu.  The fact Palestinians were not invited to participate in the announcement tells you all you need to know about the proposal.  Aaron David Miller, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, described the status of Gaza and the West Bank in the proposal as “a faux state.”

And there is no sign things would be different in a second Trump presidency.  Just this week we saw how Trump sold out U.S. interests in Europe for Vladimir Putin’s friendship.  Do Palestinians think the situation will be any different between Trump and Netanyahu?  Listen to Trump’s response to Israel’s execution of the war as reported by Brett Samuels of The Hill three days after the Hamas attack.

Former President Trump suggested in a new interview that the war between Israel and Hamas will just have to “play out” despite concerns about rising civilian casualties.

“So you have a war that’s going on, and you’re probably going to have to let this play out. You’re probably going to have to let it play out because a lot of people are dying,” Trump told Univision in an interview that aired Thursday night.

Please do not tell me you agree with these sentiments from a man who thinks people dying is a reason to let the death and destruction continue.  Peacefully protest U.S. policy toward Israel if you want.  But also keep in mind two undisputed facts.  First, even if you believe Israel is engaged in genocide with U.S. support, you make no friends promoting your own brand of genocide against Israel or the Jewish people.  Two, only one of the two candidates for president has been a life-long supporter of a Palestinian state as the only path to a lasting peace and has pushed Netanyahu to come to that same conclusion.


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