The attempt to excuse Joe Biden




Fig. 1. The ruins of a terminal at the Gaza airport. Image by Said Khatib (Agence France-Presse) on September 9, 2018, via the Times of Israel,[1] fair use.

A special State Department panel recommended months ago [prior to the Hamas attack on October 7, 2023] that Secretary of State Antony Blinken disqualify multiple Israeli military and police units from receiving U.S. aid after reviewing allegations that they committed serious human rights abuses [mostly in the West Bank]. . . .

Multiple State Department officials who have worked on Israeli relations said that Blinken’s inaction has undermined [Joe] Biden’s public criticism, sending a message to the Israelis that the administration was not willing to take serious steps. . . .

“If we had been applying Leahy effectively in Israel like we do in other countries, maybe you wouldn’t have the [Israel Defense Forces] filming TikToks of their war crimes now because we have contributed to a culture of impunity,” said Josh Paul, a former director in the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs and a member of the vetting forum. Paul resigned in protest shortly after Israel began its bombing campaign of Gaza in October.[2]

The language here paints Joe Biden as somewhat innocent. His continued support of Israel’s genocide in all but rhetoric, we are told, is Anthony Blinken’s fault.[3] I’m not buying it.

First, Biden is in charge. He is responsible for what his administration does or does not do. He doesn’t get a pass because his secretary of state is misbehaving.

Second, Biden’s feelings for Israel are well known. He may not like Binyamin Netanyahu much[4] but he has been adamant that the U.S. will support Israel’s self-defense. And he interprets that “self-defense” to include the genocidal war on Gaza. He does for Israel what he won’t do for Ukraine.[5]

Leigh Ann Caldwell and Marianna Sotomayor, “Johnson gambles on plan separating Israel aid from Ukraine funds,” Washington Post, April 15, 2024,

Eugene Daniels, “White House opposes standalone Israel funding bill,” Politico, April 15, 2024,

Julia Ioffe, “Bibi Stings,” Puck News, April 15, 2024,

Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Grim, “Leaked NYT Gaza Memo Tells Journalists to Avoid Words ‘Genocide,’ ‘Ethnic Cleansing,’ and ‘Occupied Territory,’” Intercept, April 15, 2024,

Ishaan Tharoor, “Iran’s escalation with Israel shifts focus away from Gaza,” Washington Post, April 16, 2024,

Jason Burke, “Revealed: Israel has sped up settlement-building in East Jerusalem since Gaza war began,” Guardian, April 17, 2024,

Brett Murphy, “Blinken Is Sitting on Staff Recommendations to Sanction Israeli Military Units Linked to Killings or Rapes,” ProPublica, April 17, 2024,

Jennifer Scholtes and Connor O’Brien, “Johnson releases text on foreign aid plan as it hangs by thread,” Politico, April 17, 2024,

  1. [1]Times of Israel, “20 years after its opening, destroyed Gaza airport embodies grounded peace hopes,” September 12, 2018,
  2. [2]Brett Murphy, “Blinken Is Sitting on Staff Recommendations to Sanction Israeli Military Units Linked to Killings or Rapes,” ProPublica, April 17, 2024,
  3. [3]Brett Murphy, “Blinken Is Sitting on Staff Recommendations to Sanction Israeli Military Units Linked to Killings or Rapes,” ProPublica, April 17, 2024,
  4. [4]Kelsey Ables and Andrew Jeong, “Over 100,000 Michigan primary votes were ‘uncommitted.’ What does that mean?” Washington Post, February 28, 2024,; Yasmeen Abutaleb, “Biden says Israel’s military conduct in Gaza has been ‘over the top,’” Washington Post, February 8, 2024,; Yasmeen Abutaleb and Matt Viser, “Biden rebukes Israel over aid workers, but his Gaza policy is unchanged,” Washington Post, April 3, 2024,; Yasmeen Abutaleb and Matt Viser, “Biden warns Netanyahu the situation in Gaza is ‘unacceptable,’” Washington Post, April 4, 2024,; Lazar Berman, “Israel cannot use Oct. 7 as ‘license to dehumanize others,’ Blinken warns in Tel Aviv,” Times of Israel, February 8, 2024,; Aaron Blake, “Four takeaways from the Michigan primary,” Washington Post, February 28, 2024,; Charles M. Blow, “Arab American Fury Toward Biden,” Washington Post, February 28, 2024,; Eric Bradner, “Biden and Trump will easily win Michigan primaries, CNN projects,” Cable News Network, February 28, 2024,; John Cassidy, “Michigan’s “Uncommitted” Democrats Send a Message to Biden,” New Yorker, February 28, 2024,; Karen DeYoung, “Six months into Gaza war, Biden confronts the limits of U.S. leverage,” Washington Post, April 6, 2024,; Karen DeYoung, Yasmeen Abutaleb, and Toluse Olorunnipa, “Biden-Netanyahu rift grows, as Israel cancels delegation visit,” Washington Post, March 26, 2024,; Tony Diver, “Michigan primary results: Joe Biden wins but young and Arab Democrats rebel over Israel,” Telegraph, February 28, 2024,; Caleb Ecarma, “Why Michigan’s Protest Vote Could Change Joe Biden’s Calculus: ‘There Will Be Political Consequences,’” Vanity Fair, February 28, 2024,; Lauren Fedor and James Politi, “Joe Biden faces dissent over Gaza as he wins Michigan Democratic primary,” Financial Times, February 28, 2024,; Jonathan Freedland, “In defying Joe Biden, Benjamin Netanyahu is exposing the limits of US power,” Guardian, March 22, 2024,; Michael R. Gordon and Nancy A. Youssef, “Biden Ties Support for Israel to Civilian Protection in Gaza, ” Wall Street Journal, April 4, 2024,; Guardian, “Netanyahu making a ‘mistake’ on Gaza, says Biden, as he urges Israel to push for ceasefire,” April 9, 2024,; Ron Kampeas, “‘Uncommitted’ campaign protesting Biden’s Israel support nets 100,000+ votes in Michigan primary,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, February 28, 2024,; Ron Kampeas, “‘Uncommitted’ campaign opposing Biden’s support for Israel makes a mark in 5 more states,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, March 6, 2024,; Shia Kapos and Adam Cancryn, “Arab, Muslim and Palestinian leaders refuse to meet with White House aides in Chicago,” Politico, March 14, 2024,; M. J. Lee, “Inside President Biden’s pointed phone call with Benjamin Netanyahu,” Cable News Network, April 7, 2024,; Rachel Leingang, “How the uncommitted movement rocked Biden over Gaza,” Guardian, March 17, 2024,; Jacob Magid, “Biden urges Israel ‘to just call for’ 6-8 week ceasefire, slams PM’s handling of Gaza war,” Times of Israel, April 10, 2024,

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