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Biden’s Mixed Messages On Gaza Aren’t Fooling Veterans

Above photo: Pro-Palestinian demonstrators gather in front of the White House on Jan. 13. Roberto Schmidt/ AFP.

Veterans Are Calling for a Permanent Ceasefire.

And an End to US Weapons Shipments to Israel.

The average person could be forgiven if they are confused by U.S. policy toward the ongoing Israeli slaughter and starvation of Palestinians in Gaza.  On Saturday, March 2, as global protests called for an end to the genocide in Gaza, the U.S. military dropped 38,000 MRE’s (“meals-ready-to-eat”) on Gaza beaches, and in the sea.

Is this finally a bold effort to alleviate the suffering that Palestinians are experiencing at the hands of the Israel? Does it foretell the dramatic change in U.S. policy that the world has been protesting and praying for? Or is it merely a public relations effort intended to blunt growing criticism of U.S. complicity in genocide?

Perhaps the airdrop was a response to the ultimate sacrifice of Airman Aaron Bushnell, who immolated himself rather than share in that complicity?  Or maybe President Biden is concerned about the Arab American-led effort in the Michigan Democratic primary, which saw over 100,000 vote “Uncommitted?” Are the people of the U.S. – two-thirds who want a permanent ceasefire in Gaza – finally being heard? Any movement in that direction would certainly be welcome.  Or is this a made-for-TV event, merely political theatre?

According to the New York Times: A U.S. official said the airdrops would have only a limited impact on the suffering of those in Gaza. “It doesn’t deal with the root cause,” the official said, adding that ultimately only opening up land borders could deal with the issue in a serious manner.

“Humanitarian workers always complain that airdrops are good photo opportunities but a lousy way to deliver aid,” said Richard Gowan, the International Crisis Group’s U.N. Director. Gowan said that the only way to get enough aid was through aid convoys which would follow a truce.

These convoys exist but the hundreds of trucks loaded with supplies are being blocked by the Israeli government. To add insult to injury, large gatherings of Israeli citizens are protesting the relief convoys, gleefully cheering on the campaign of starvation and bombing, while their government tolerates their presence at border crossing sites.

Why Biden Confuses Gaza with Ukraine

President Biden added to the confusion over U.S. policy when, during his press conference announcing the airdrop, he twice said the aid was going to “Ukraine.” His confusing Gaza with Ukraine is understandable given that he is pushing for a huge funding bill that would send $61 billion to keep the Ukraine war going, while sending an additional $14 billion in military aid to Israel.  This would be in addition to the normal huge US military aid to Israel, and supplemental shipments of tanks and 2000-pound bombs that have obliterated entire civilian neighborhoods in Gaza.

Intentional starvation is a major war crime. Israel’s systematic blocking of food, water and medicines to the beleaguered people of Gaza further reveals a genocidal assault whose intention is to destroy and expel an entire people from their homeland.

“The whole world is watching this, perhaps especially military veterans,” said Joshua Shurley, Vice President of Veterans For Peace “First we had to watch the buildings bombed to the ground as over 30,000 fathers, mothers and children were murdered and two million people were absolutely terrorized.  Must we watch now as babies begin to die of malnutrition and dehydration? Must we watch while starving parents seeking food for their children are gunned down by Israeli tanks and troops? And the Biden Administration drops a few thousand MRE’s?”

The Gaza crisis – a crisis for the whole world – is at a critical turning point.  Joe Biden, Tony Blinken and Lloyd Austin have failed to rein in Netanyahu and extremists in the Israeli cabinet. If it was ever their intention to restrain Israel’s slaughter in Gaza, they have totally failed. They have been played, and the U.S. is complicit. Now, even mainstream establishment voices are calling for a much needed change in U.S. policy, and Vice President Kamala Harris has dared to utter the word “ceasefire.”

Veterans For Peace has been calling for a ceasefire from the very first days of this crisis. We continue to believe to believe that only a permanent ceasefire, coupled with massive deliveries of humanitarian aid will begin to address the scope of this grave humanitarian disaster.

“We also demand an end to U.S. weapons shipments to Israel,said Joshua Shurley of Veterans For Peace. “What is the sense of air-dropping a few thousand individual meals” Shurley continued, while simultaneously sending munitions so Israel can kill more Palestinians? How can you claim to care for Palestinian children, while cutting off U.S. funding for UNRWA, the one organization that has the capacity to provide the much-needed aid?”

Sending weapons to Israel also violates multiple U.S. and international laws.  Veterans For Peace has sent the State Department a letter specifying all the laws being broken when the U.S. sends bombs and bullets to Israel while it is violating the human rights of two million Palestinians.

Now is the time for the U.S. to do the right thing.  Instead of vetoing multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, the Biden Administration can join with the vast majority of the world’s people and insist that Israel stops its mass murder in Gaza. The U.S. has the leverage to make this demand of Israel, and it has the power to enforce it.  It must end its complicity now.

Gerry Condon is a Vietnam-era veteran who serves on the Board of Directors of Veterans For Peace.

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