United States backs in Israel as Arab rage grows

April 15, 2024
pro-palestine woman protester
The movement against Israel's genocidal war in Gaza is growing around the world. Photo: Peter Boyle

United States President Joe Biden’s phoned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “get tough” after Israel murdered seven aid workers in Gaza, provoking worldwide condemnation.

The World Central Kitchen (WCK) convoy was attacked on a two-kilometre-long stretch of the Al-Rashid Coastal Road, near a temporary pier used by WCK and other aid groups to unload humanitarian goods reaching Gaza by sea.

Jeffrey St Clair described the attack in Counter Punch: “In the anodyne language of military slaughter, its called a ‘triple tap’ — three successive strikes to make sure you've eliminated your target — the target in this case being the occupants of three vehicles of the World Central Kitchen, who'd just unloaded more than 100 tons of humanitarian food to a warehouse in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza.

“The cars were white and clearly marked with the humanitarian group's logo. The route was in a deconfliction zone that had been cleared by the IDF for travel. The vehicles’ trip and purpose to Deir al-Balah had been coordinated with and pre-approved by the IDF. None of this mattered to the IDF officials operating a Hermes 450 drone that stalked the cars from above as they left the food warehouse.

War against humanitarian aid

“Or perhaps it did matter. Perhaps the intent of the strike was not just to kill the humanitarian aid workers, but to kill humanitarian aid to Gaza altogether.

“How else to explain the logic of the IDF officers who ordered a drone strike on the first car after the convoy left the warehouse, then when survivors of the missile strike scrambled into the second car and called the IDF to describe being attacked, ordered a strike on the second car and then as the occupants of the last car rushed to rescue their injured colleagues, ordered a third missile strike, killing all seven aid workers.

“Within hours of the killings, [WCK] executives announced it was suspending operations in Gaza," write St Claire and "WCKs announcement was swiftly followed by the American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA), which runs the second largest humanitarian operation in Gaza after UNRWA, suspending its work in Gaza." Israel killed an ANERA aid worker in a separate incident.

WCK’s head, Erin Gore, said Israel’s war in Gaza is a war against humanity.

St Claire also noted that the IDF "actually has a protocol for military strikes against humanitarian organizations" ... and, as reported by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, "those who must give the final approval for activities against sensitive targets, such as aid organizations, are senior officers at the ranks of division commander, commanding general, and even chief of staff".

This shows that Israel’s subsequent “apology” for the murders was fakery, meant only as a sop for Biden.

All talk, no action

Biden’s “get tough” talk with Netanyahu was anything but. He said that Israel has to “take steps” to allow food into Gaza, but didn’t say what the consequences would be if it did not.

Subsequently, Israel announced it was opening some entry points into Gaza for aid trucks, but these would be limited to 100 a day, and would be stopped and vetted by Israel — which means long delays at the border. So far, this has yet to be implemented.

Famine immediately threatens 1.1 million Gaza Palestinians, according to international agencies. Even if 100 trucks came in each day, and assuming each contained 1000 meals (a stretch) that would mean one hundred thousand people might get one meal a day.

Moreover, even if this paltry amount was allowed in, who would distribute it? The only organisation that could do this is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA), which Israel has banned and the US has defunded.

If Biden was serious he would have told Netanyahu that all US funds and weapons to Israel would be immediately stopped until all the food aid needed was immediately allowed in for distribution. That would require Israel to stop its war in Gaza.

But the US continues to send dollars, bombs and shells to Israel and the killing continues, with the figure rising to more than 33,000 dead.

Biden also said he told Netanyahu that Israel should “try harder” not to kill so many civilians, as it looks bad.

Pressure at home

Notably, Biden’s report on his discussion with Netanyahu left out reference to Israel’s planned ground attack on Rafah, where 1.5 million Gazans are sheltering — indicating that the US is effectively acquiescing to it. Netanyahu has said a date has been set for the attack, but hasn’t said when it will be.

The White House did point out, however, that if Iran retaliates for Israel’s bombing of the Iranian embassy in Syria, the US will back Israel. This is effectively an act of war against Iran, a violation of the rules of conduct between nations and could lead to the US joining Israel in a wider war.

Israel says it will also go on the “offensive” against Lebanon, which could have the same result.

Biden’s vague threat to Israel was made for domestic purposes: to try to stem the growing movement begun by Palestinian- and other Arab-Americans and Muslims, but spreading to wider populations — especially youth — who are protesting Biden’s nomination for the Democratic Party in November’s election. This is on top of growing disaffection among African-Americans, especially youth.

Arab reactions to the war

Biden’s fake “tough” stance against Netanyahu is also not convincing Arab populations in the Middle East. As’ad AbuKhalil, a Lebanese-American political scientist at California State University Stanislaus, underlined this in a recent piece for Consortium News: “The US will continue its unconditional support for Israeli genocide, and the Biden administration has been a full partner … while frequently feigning concern for the ‘humanitarian situation’ in Gaza ... Arab political anger is building up, and the scenes of the destruction of Gaza will spawn new militant organizations and political parties. Cries for revenge are heard in all Arab demonstrations, and some will seize the moment and likely express rage at US interests…

“It is too early to predict the exact consequences and the repercussions of American support for what is being called the second Nakbah. What Arabs are watching on their TV screens is quite different from the little that is filtered through US TV news and the mainstream media.”

AbuKhalil also pointed to a new Gallup poll that reveals that a majority of Americans disapprove of the Israeli war in Gaza, despite Gallup’s characterisation of Israel’s genocidal war as “military action”.

“Yet Biden and the Democratic Party leadership continue to offer full support for Israel regardless of deceptive leaks (about Biden-Netanyahu rifts) that are intended to assuage Arab and Muslim public opinion in the US and in the Middle East.”

While the US has a long history of support for Israel against the Palestinians, AbuKhalil said the current war in Gaza and Lebanon “can’t be compared to the past” and will “shape generations” to come.

“[I]t is certain that thousands of Palestinians — and other Arabs — will be planning violent acts of revenge,” wrote AbuKhalil. Even US-friendly governments in the region “are having difficulty controlling their angry populations” and AbuKhalil asks, “How far will Arab governments go in shielding US and Israeli interests from their angry people?”.


The Western press has not properly covered the public reaction in the Arab world to Israel’s war, wrote AbuKhalil, “It’s true that massive demonstrations for Palestine have been larger in many Western countries than in some Arab countries. But massive protests are held weekly in Yemen (in various cities), and Iran, Pakistan and Turkey have also had several mass protests.

Meanwhile, “[I]n the West Bank, the CIA-sponsored security forces [of the Palestinian Authority] act just like all other Arab regimes in quelling manifestations of public solidarity with the resistance in Gaza, Lebanon and Yemen.

“Lebanon has been fully engaged in the war against Israel” since October 7, wrote AbuKhalil, “and Hizbollah — while clearly avoiding a larger war — is consistently proving that ‘resistance fronts are fully united’.

“The standing of Yemen in the Arab world has risen sharply due to the daring military stance of the ruling Ansar Al-Allah (‘Houthi’) government despite US and British raids inside the impoverished country,” wrote AbuKhalil, adding that the Houthis will no longer be portrayed as mere tools of Iran.

“The Houthis are now in the forefront of Arab nationalist identity through solidarity with Gaza. Hizbollah, on the other hand, still faces high expectations from those in the region who want the Lebanese group to open an all-out war against Israel.”

Washington says it doesn’t want a wider war, but has made it clear that it supports Israel and will join whatever aggressions Israel makes. Netanyahu doesn’t care what the rest of the world thinks, as long as he has US backing.

This makes it even more urgent for socialists and all those in the West who oppose Israel’s war to redouble their efforts in demanding a full cease fire now.

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