We’re Seeing the Calamitous Cost of Ignoring Palestine

New Republic

The Biden administration thought the Palestine question could be downplayed in pursuit of other objectives. And here we are.

Twenty-six. That is the number of times Wadea Al Fayoume, a Palestinian American child living in the Chicago area, was stabbed in a murderous rampage committed by his landlord. The picture of Wadea in a birthday hat that has gone viral since the attack that killed him and severely injured his mother was taken eight days earlier, when he turned 6.

Chicago, home to the largest Palestinian American population in the United States, is 6,000 miles away from the Gaza Strip, a tiny piece of land that much of the world chose to forget is the epicenter of a crisis with global implications.

The rate of killing in Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip is faster and more ferocious than anything we have witnessed in several previous wars on Gaza combined. Reports now indicate that over 2,000 children were killed in Gaza by Israeli strikes in about 15 days. This is quadruple the number of children killed in Israeli strikes on Gaza in the 50-day campaign it carried out in 2014.

The unprecedented horror being unleashed on the Gaza Strip right now is likely to worsen significantly if there is a ground invasion. The last large-scale Israeli ground invasion in 2014 coincided with a massive spike in civilian casualties during the war. The ground invasion being discussed seems far, far larger. Given that key Israeli officials have spoken of Palestinians as “human animals” and “children of darkness,” and immediately announced policies targeting the whole population, like cutting water, fuel, and electricity, there should be urgent concern about mass atrocities being committed in the operation the prime minister deemed Israel’s “mighty vengeance.”

While this might be the worst-case scenario for Palestinians in Gaza, it isn’t the bottom of the abyss. Beyond Gaza the region is boiling. Protests erupted across the Arab and Muslim world and well beyond it at a scale and scope we have not seen in the region since the Arab Spring. Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s Egypt, which has banned protests for years, is now calling for them because they know they can’t contain the people’s anger or be seen as trying to. Jordan, a key American ally, had to cancel a meeting with President Biden while he was on his way to the region because they couldn’t contain the public outrage. All this and I haven’t even mentioned Hezbollah yet, or other militias in the region who may well get involved if the Israeli ground incursion starts and churns on even as American aircraft carriers sit in the Mediterranean.

However this crisis ends, and I pray it ends immediately, the implications for U.S. foreign policy will be profound. “All the work we have done with the Global South [over Ukraine] has been lost.… Forget about rules, forget about world order,” said a G7 diplomat to the Financial Times. “They won’t ever listen to us again.” Ukraine has been the single biggest foreign policy and military investment of the Biden administration’s tenure. Russia and China are likely watching with glee. And, of course, there is the very real possibility of a much larger regional or even global war. The moment we find ourselves in now is being described as the most dangerous for America in 78 years.

How the hell did we get here? How the hell did we allow this to happen? To be put in a position of so much cost, so much suffering, with such massive stakes and no options but bad and worse … how? These are questions Israelis are already asking of their leaders as they ponder their intelligence failures regarding the massive and horrifying killings by Hamas on October 7. But these are questions everyone should be asking of their leadership, especially Americans.

Here is a big part of the answer: A week before October 7, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said that the region was quieter than it has been in years and that “the amount of time that I have to spend on crisis and conflict in the Middle East today compared to any of my predecessors going back to 9/11 is significantly reduced.”

This is no isolated remark but rather a characterization of the Biden administration approach that, for reasons beyond my comprehension, seems to be manned by devotees of the Jared Kushner School of Foreign Policy. They have subscribed to this idea that Palestine is no longer a central issue in the Middle East and is instead one that can effectively be downplayed or entirely ignored as they pursue other objectives in the region.

The failure to address Palestine in any meaningful way, despite regional leaders sounding the alarm over rising tensions in Jerusalem and the West Bank, and even as the most dangerous far-right government in Israeli history was conducting outrage after outrage, is just one part of this. So too, however, was the administration’s drive to bribe Saudi Arabia into normalizing relations with Israel by giving it a defense pact and nuclear technology. Peace is made between peoples, but arms deals are made between regimes. The White House was prepared not only to overlook the views of the publics in the region, which oppose normalization without freedom and justice for Palestinians, but even its own earlier commitments to turn Saudi Arabia into a “pariah.” The message was clear; America cares more about the interests of Netanyahu’s Israel and the rest of its allied anti-democratic regimes in the region than it cares about the people who live under them or the values it claims to uphold.

Read the rest at the link provided. Share some thoughts. I’m in agreement that this situation has been left unresolved for far to long. And much of the blame for that falls to the US. The US has been a very dishonest broker for peace in this region. I suspect the rest of the world will make an attempt to diffuse the situation without the US. As the US drifts further into irrelevance, the planet and it’s people will be put at greater risk of war, destruction and death as the US empire crumbles under the weight of it’s delusional hubris.

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