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Biden’s Rhetoric Is Reigniting The Question Of Palestine

Above photo: U.S. President Joe Biden gives a speech on October 10, 2023, affirming support for Israel in the wake of the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation. Screenshot from CNBC Youtube Channel.

President Biden’s regurgitation of Israeli disinformation has rekindled the question of Palestine among the Arab world.

While fueling resentment toward American hypocrisy and double standards.

On the morning of Saturday, October 7, Israel’s military and intelligence brass were shocked by the breakdown of its southern division and defensive line in Gaza. Fearing this would escalate into a wider multi-front campaign involving Lebanon, among other possible geographies, they turned to the United States for support.

President Biden readily extended military, intelligence, and logistical support to Israel. He was also happy to move NATO assets to the region to ensure that Iran and its allies remain deterred from interfering in the ensuing battle in the Gaza Strip. A policy that remains shaky at best.

The U.S. appeared resolute in pursuing a diplomatic and military strategy aimed at undermining Hamas and disconnecting it from its extensive international and regional ties. This multifaceted strategy embraced all of Israel’s talking points, which included efforts to hinder Iran’s and Hezbollah’s decisions to join the war, pressuring Arab leaders to condemn Palestinian actions, and engaging in discussions with Egypt about a potential corridor to allow some civilians to exit the Gaza Strip. Many countries, such as Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain, have already provided the U.S. with the means to deploy aircraft and increase its military presence in the region in anticipation of any regional development.

Yet, surprisingly, President Biden also seemed to embrace the Israeli perspective regarding the ongoing events. One of the most controversial points was the U.S. administration’s support for certain narratives that permeated mainstream media. What was equally concerning was the American president’s intentional equating of ISIS with Hamas — a strategic decision that appeared to invoke memories of 9/11 and deeply connected with the American mindset. This move has also allowed Israel to undertake an air bombing campaign that has already exceeded what the U.S. dropped over an expansive area like Afghanistan in an entire year. Indeed, Israel seems to be using the American diplomatic shield to wreak havoc in the small strip, targeting hospitals, universities, and civil infrastructure; suffocating Gaza with a complete blockade; cutting off electricity, fuel, medicine, and water.

No expert versed in the intricacies of the region’s politics would conflate these entities, and not merely because truth and distinctions are pivotal — though they undeniably are. The more straightforward rationale lies in Hamas’s broad Arab and Islamic legitimacy. It’s an organization that garners support not just from the Palestinian public, but also enjoys a broader commendation from the Arab and Islamic worlds. Moreover, Hamas maintains a web of state relations, with ties to significant nations such as Qatar, Egypt, Malaysia, Turkey, and Iran, among others.

While this conflation may be politically expedient and provide a pretext for mass airstrikes on Gaza, it’s likely to prove ineffective. Moreover, it risks resurrecting the divisive narratives between East and West — the “clash of civilizations” — that dominated the region’s politics in the 1990s and early 2000s. Tragically, it is now resurrected at a moment when the region was starting to move away from these outward cultural and religious narratives; when the culturalization of politics was on the retreat.

Furthermore, at its core, this stance disregards political nuance and lacks a contextual understanding of the events leading up to the “Al-Aqsa Flood” Operation on October 7. It harkens back to instinctual narratives that evoke emotions and touch sensitives.

The stark irony lies in the United States backing actions that many perceive as the large-scale harm and displacement of Palestinian civilians, giving Israel latitude during this tumultuous period.

Beyond the Arab world’s rejection of such an analogy, this stance risks eroding American credibility far beyond any immediate political or strategic evaluation of the prevailing circumstances. Already, hundreds of thousands took to the streets in Jordan, Yemen, and Iran, with a massive outcry of support from the Arab world that could be easily seen in every country. Voices that called for normalization are currently on the retreat, and an Arab world looking at the events is both hopeful and horrified.

The U.S. has positioned itself as an active participant in the current killing in Gaza, and the Biden’s administration’s hasty regurgitation of uncorroborated Israeli disinformation, coupled with its lack of political nuance or a clear political strategy, is already being received poorly by its own partners in the region.

Not a single Arab nation has mirrored America’s rhetoric, and all have been hesitant to condemn Palestinian actions. Saudi Arabia has discreetly indicated that it has halted any discussions regarding normalization, while Qatar has been making mediation attempts for the release of hostages. Arab regimes are adopting a “wait-and-see” approach, wary of upsetting their populace and reluctant to openly support American and Israeli policy.

The U.S. faces an uphill battle in its attempts to isolate Hamas from the politics of the region, especially given the group’s entrenched connections. As the conflict persists, the repercussions of Israel’s actions remain uncertain and could potentially rebound to its detriment. Not a single military expert can completely fathom Israel’s game plan as it weaponizes madness and signals various political objectives. In fact, not a single military expert can even assuredly be confident that Israel can uproot Hamas from the Gaza Strip — at least not without the mass killing of Palestinians and the massive losses to its own army and soldiers.

The Resurgence Of Palestine

Despite the fervor of the Israeli lobby and its backers in dismantling the importance of Palestine, the Palestinian cause remains a unifying symbol for most in the region. American behavior and rhetoric, combined with Israel’s war crimes, are prompting the region to re-evaluate cultural divides and revisit discussions on imperialism. It’s true that certain rhetoric might be expedient momentarily, but it does nothing to change the fact that the notion that “Palestine does not matter” fell apart on Saturday. Israel and the U.S. will have to come to terms with this truth.

The continued offensives and the distressing experiences of the people in Gaza might gradually diminish the strength of the dominant narrative. Moreover, the wholesale acceptance of Israel’s version of events risks reigniting Arab and Islamic views of cultural and political divides between East and West, especially following years of internal political fragmentation stemming from the fallout of Arab civil conflicts. This comes at a time when such views, which were beginning to fade after extended periods, could reemerge — perceptions not just of American and European partiality but also of their direct involvement and complicity.

The Palestine solidarity movement is finding limited room for action as many governments employ draconian measures meant to instill fear in supporting the Palestinian cause or showing solidarity with it. Actions taken by governments in Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, and other Western nations are also challenging their claims as liberal champions of free speech and assembly.

The Palestinian cause has fostered a deeply connected solidarity movement capable of spreading information worldwide. It boasts allies across the globe and is already beginning to challenge questionable narratives and combat disinformation. Furthermore, nations like Russia and China see the American position as an opportunity to showcase their potential as mediators and as a counterweight to divisive American rhetoric.

Simply put, President Biden has managed to start a process of rekindling perceptions of American hypocrisy, double standards, and a penchant for cultural narratives that have not served it well historically and will not serve it well at this particular juncture in the region’s history. These narratives perhaps only serve those actors seeking blood.

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