Biden Continues US Indifference to Palestinian Suffering

James Zogby finds Washington, in the past few weeks, giving Israel the usual green light to behave with impunity. 

President Joe Biden, center, meets with, from left: National Security Advisor to the Vice President Nancy McEldowney, Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the president’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Feb. 4. (State Department, Ron Przysucha)

By James Zogby
Common Dreams

Over the years, the approach of most American policymakers toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been Israel-centric with near total disregard for the suffering endured by the Palestinian people. The architects of policy in successive U.S. administrations have discussed the conflict as if the fate of only one party (Israel) really mattered. Israelis were treated as full human beings with hopes and fears, while Palestinians were reduced to a problem that needed to be solved so that Israelis could live in peace and security. 

It is not just that Israelis and Palestinians haven’t been viewed with an equal measure of concern. It’s worse than that. It appears that Palestinians were judged as less human than Israelis, and were, therefore, not entitled to make demands to have their rights recognized and protected.

Operating from this mindset, the U.S. has given Israel carte blanche, while pressure and punishments have been reserved for the Palestinians. On occasion, policymakers have timidly raised issue with some Israeli practices, but because they’ve taken no effective measures to change these behaviors, Israel has seen no reason to alter its course. As a result, Israel operates with impunity, while Palestinian actions have been scrutinized and condemned and their protests have either been ignored or silenced as disruptive or counterproductive. 

A young Palestinian boy walks through the remains of a house targeted by an Israeli air strike near a beach refugee camp west of Gaza City, 12 July 2014. (UN Photo/Shareef Sarhan)

Recent actions by the Biden Administration sadly fit this pattern. In just the past few weeks, they have: condemned the decision of the International Criminal Court to begin prosecution of Israel for its war crimes in Gaza since 2014 and its illegal settlement expansion in the West Bank; criticized the UN Human Rights Council for its condemnation of Israeli abuses of Palestinian human rights; rejected tying U.S. aid to Israel’s human rights behaviors; declared opposition to Palestinian calls to boycott, divest and sanction Israel for its violations of Palestinian rights; and “embraced” the expanded definition of anti-Semitism that includes some legitimate criticisms of Israel.

Especially revealing was one of the reasons given for U.S. opposition to Palestinians taking their complaints to international fora. The U.S. charged that, “Such actions against Israel…increase tensions and undercut efforts to advance a negotiated two-state solution.”

This appears to suggest that Israel’s aggressive land confiscation, settlement construction, demolition of Palestinian homes, detention without charges or trial of hundreds of Palestinians, collective punishment of the entire population of Gaza, and Israel’s mass killing sprees of Palestinians in 2014 and 2018, did not “increase tensions or undercut efforts” at peace making.

When Palestinians Protest, They Are at Fault

But Palestinians seeking legal remedies against these Israeli actions is disruptive. In short, Israel can do whatever it wants, with U.S. backing. But when Palestinians protest — precisely because the U.S. will do nothing to defend them — then they are at fault.

Regardless of the U.S. intent, what this says to the Palestinians is that their human rights don’t matter and will always be subordinated to Israeli interests.

Displaced Palestinians gather at a UN school in the northern Gaza Strip after fleeing their homes in an area under heavy Israeli aerial bombardment. Aug. 26, 2014. (UN Photo/Shareef Sarhan)

Listen to this exchange at a recent State Department briefing.

A reporter asked: “Considering your position on the Palestinians now, where should the Palestinians go to get accountability for what they claim to be a problem?”

The State Department official responded: “Of course the United States is always going to stand up for human rights…That is why you have heard us continue to endorse a two-state solution to this long running conflict … because it protects Israel’s identity as a Jewish and democratic state but it will also give the Palestinians a viable state of their own and fulfill their legitimate aspirations for dignity and self-determination.”

Because the answer was non-responsive to the question asked, the reporter repeated 13 times “Where do they go?” No further reply was given.

The best this administration has so far offered the Palestinians was the reiteration of a vague commitment to “a negotiated two-state solution in which Israel lives in peace and security alongside a viable Palestinian state.” But this remains hollow as long as it fails to address the complete and abusive control Israel exercises over Palestinians and their land, and the U.S. refuses to apply pressure to end these Israeli abuses.

“The reporter repeated 13 times ‘Where do they go?’ No further reply was given.”

Even more telling was a policy address on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict delivered by a U.S. ambassador at a recent meeting of the UN Security Council. It was so Israel-centric that any acknowledgment of Palestinian concerns were either accompanied by caveats or framed in terms of Israel’s interests.

For example, the ambassador expressed the hope that Israelis and Palestinians would both get Covid-19 vaccines, but sidestepped any mention of Israel’s refusal to accept its responsibility to do this.

He recognized “the unsustainable disparity in economic development” between Israelis and Palestinians but weirdly attributed this to “a structural issue that should be diagnosed and addressed,” without acknowledging that the “structural issue” has a name: “occupation.”

He stated the U.S. intention to restart aid to Palestinians, but claimed that it would do so because this “ultimately supports Israel’s security.” And then, of course, added that “our efforts to reengage the Palestinian people and leadership do not detract in any way from our commitment to Israel.”

Forty-five years ago, we started the Palestine Human Rights Campaign. Our motto was a simple affirmation: “Palestinians have human rights too!” I also wrote a monograph entitled “Palestinians: The Invisible Victims.” Our goal was to challenge policymakers to recognize the humanity of this long-beleaguered people. Sadly, that challenge remains as relevant today and it was back then.

James J. Zogby is the author of Arab Voices (Palgrave Macmillan, October 2010) and the founder and president of the Arab American Institute (AAI), a Washington, D.C.-based organization which serves as the political and policy research arm of the Arab American community.

This article is from Common Dreams.

The views expressed are solely those of the authors and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

Donate securely with PayPal


Or securely by credit card or check by clicking the red button:





12 comments for “Biden Continues US Indifference to Palestinian Suffering

  1. Linda Furr
    March 17, 2021 at 15:24

    US support and implied consent of Israel’s human rights abuses laid on the backs of Palestinian people is the reason the US will NOT be the single, dominating power of the world. Our thinking and actions are grotesque in what we’ve done for Israel in the Middle East. The laws of nature will not allow such aberration to prevail .

  2. Chris N
    March 17, 2021 at 12:50

    “When Palestinians Protest, They Are at Fault”

    Victim blaming is the ideology of the abuser. How do we break free of this mass Stockholm syndrome?

  3. Anne
    March 17, 2021 at 12:30

    Thank you Mr Zogby – although this has been so bloody obvious to anyone who cared to paid attention since the initial massive and violent ethnic cleansing of the Indigenous Palestinians from their homes (usually destroyed once they were forced out)…(even that ba***** ben Gurion knew that the Palestinians, especially the small farmers (or peasants, Fellahin) were likely descendants of those Jewish peasants back hundreds of years ago…after all peasants cling tenaciously to their lands, historical, cultural ways of life and so would, with the Arab invasion c. 700 have not wanted to pay the Jizreya (tax on non Muslim land holders) and so would have (more readily) converted to Islam it being closer to Judaism (One god not three, no pig meat, prayers several times a day facing, at the time, toward Jerusalem)…

    Nor am I in the least surprised at the Biden admin’s position: a) been the US position since around 1948; b) Biden’s admin has several members that claim to be Jewish (are they religious?); c) Biden has a – akin to Trump – Jewish affiliating daughter-in-law….

    Being Jewish – or at least as most Americans who claim such affiliation – at the same time as being secular/atheist while recognizing one’s family background adherence does NOT mean that one sides with the the Occupiers of All Palestine, nor how they came to such an occupation, continue/d it, the human rights abuses they continually inflict on the indigenous population (in order to get them to flee elsewhere or die)…This I know from personal experience..

    I am always, always appalled by how NPR and the Beeb World Service ALWAYS present the so-called “conflict” between the Palestinians and the mainly Ashkenazim: as at base equal…and as initiated by the Palestinians…I had no idea (does anyone else) that Hamas (the Abbas lot having rolled over and collaborated for decades) had an Air Force, bombs, white phosphorus ones as well; that it had a fully equipped army – tanks, ballistic missiles, high velocity rifles…; that it had a Navy with subs and warships – and then who knew – it must have nukes, too….How can any person with a scruple within their psyche pretend at any level that the Roman Candle sized fireworks that Hamas occasionally lobs at the intruders, the thieves of, what is their homeland are the Equivalent of the bombs, missiles and sniper bullets that the Gaza Strip prisoners experience at regular intervals???

    The Palestinians have every, every internationally recognized Legal right to fight against their repression, their having been ethnically cleansed, their 70+ year long deliberately inflicted human rights abuse by the OAPs…

  4. March 17, 2021 at 12:15

    I think most Americans are fully aware of the governmental influence the Zionists have when it comes to the Palestinian matters but really don’t care.

    When I raised this issue some years ago on a forum after Gaza bombings, one US forum member said, ‘America looks on this as Israel is just mowing the lawn’. Those words have stuck in my head ever since and I believe he was right when it comes to general US citizenship’s feeling on the matter.

    Once the ‘lawn’ has been mowed down to the dirt it will be turned into an Israeli back yard and a new ‘lawn’ will be sought. These expansionist plans have been openly on display for years.

  5. John Neal Spangler
    March 16, 2021 at 23:28

    It is sad and depressing how US policy is so hypocritical towards Israel/ Palestine. Lots of Virtue signalling while just pragmatic domestic politics is in play. AIPAC has lots of money, there are few Palestinians in the US. Looking at Iraq, Libya, Syria, the “caring” Liberals are indifferent or even sadistic towards Middle Easterners

  6. Antiwar7
    March 16, 2021 at 20:59

    Unfortunately, the Biden administration is dominated by fanatical Zionists, or Jewish supremacists, to share a term used by Norman Finkelstein.

    • robert e williamson jr
      March 16, 2021 at 23:28

      Did you know that on April 17, 1973 J. William Fulbright was of the opinion that the Senate itself was controlled by Israel? He claimed the same on CBS Face The Nation. He and Paul Findley both paid dearly for their public opinions of Israel.

      I seem to remember the last guy in the Oval Office, president reject Trump, had a serious ongoing love affair with Israeli leader Benny Netanyahu, during his administration. And how elated the republicans were when he snubbed Barrack Obama in 2011 after being asked to speak before a joint session of congress by Republican speaker of the House John Boehner.

      I’m not taking sides here I’m placing responsibility on those responsible for this BS. Why do we Americans tolerate this insult to our intelligence. I can clearly see both parties are responsible for supporting , advancing and defending the Israeli agenda when the reason claimed in they are our ally. Isn’t it just as obvious that both parties use this mystical dogma to whip-saw the public mind.

      I am 100% not okay with all three of these paragraphs, such intertwining of religion and the federal government is something I find quite appalling. And have for 53 years of my life.

      I’m caught by the clock here but the blog has three paragraphs I’ll provide you the last in it’s complete form.

      To quote the Council on Foreign Relations article 2-22-17 , Blog Post from Elliot Abrams, “About that Netanyahu Invitation to Address Congress” 3rd paragraph.

      Being pro-Israel matters in American mass politics because the public mind believes at a deep level that to be pro-Israel is to be pro-American and pro-faith. Substantial numbers of voters believe that politicians that don’t ‘get ‘ Israel don’t ‘get’ American and don’t ‘get’ God.

      The entire article can be found here. hXXps://www.cfr/blog/about-netanyahu-invitation-address-congress

      Thanks CN

  7. March 16, 2021 at 20:32

    Apartheid is apartheid be it in South Africa or Canaan.
    Why does Israel have so much pull?
    The question was rhetorical and the answer is they shouldn’t.
    Ain’t it time for something better. With or without Israel.
    You get what you give.

  8. Truth first
    March 16, 2021 at 16:19

    Hey, this is how the US works!!

    If you are a Cuban you can be screwed for 50 years, if you are an aboriginal American you can be screwed for hundreds of years. Not to mention colored Americans or those fleeing countries that America helped wreck.

    America #1 hypocrite, #1 wrecking democracies and #1 killing innocents since WW2.

  9. rosemerry
    March 16, 2021 at 15:24

    There really seems to be no hope while the USA acts as if Israel and its interests are more important than the USA itself. Both the Parties (who else has only two Parties in a democracy?) vie to be more pro-Israel, and Israel lobbies, according to Ben Rhodes, outnumber all others combined in their access to the White House.

    • robert e williamson jr
      March 16, 2021 at 18:45

      Rosemary things are so much worse when one pulls back the CIA rug covering the actual reasons for this grotesque inhuman inequity of U.S. foreign policy.

      You do raise an important conflict in your second sentence. If one is to closely examine our bogus two party system one soon learns the actions of those two parties reveal both owned lock stock and barrel by the Deep State.

      CIA secret foreign policy actions fly in the face of anything that might be democratic in nature.

      If you have never heard of Grant Smith google him and his he has published a great volume of information on the Israeli lobby here in the U.S. to the point one could claim it appears that our own citizens and our government may be allowing the Israelis to take over our government from within.

      Another 16 years of s$&# head presidents and it will be a done deal. Hell it might not take that long.

      thanks cn

      • Anne
        March 17, 2021 at 12:38

        Indeed Robert. Indeed…there is but one party, its name is Janus and it matters not at all which is in power in DC (all)…the results are and will be the same…

        And we have the nerve – via Blinken! to call out the Chinese for their use or potential use of coercion to force other countries in compliance with them…I mean: REALLY??? Which country is it going around the world using siege warfare (economic sanctions) that almost always reduce the ordinary, poorer sections of the population to ever greater levels of poverty, starvation? Isn’t that Coercion – and brutal, barbaric coercion at that? And then of course we Bomb, Bomb, Bomb…when we feel like it…

        Pots and Kettles ain’t in it…Indeed one might suggest that we are both the Pots AND the Kettles…

Comments are closed.