June 21, 2024

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United States President Joe Biden has delivered two different messages on the Israel-Hamas war to pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel Americans, NBC News has reported, based on copies of official White House correspondence.

While one letter showcased Biden’s support for Israel against Palestinian group Hamas’s “terrorism”, the other spoke about the US administration’s efforts to protect civilians in the Gaza Strip.

According to NBC, the letter sent to pro-Israelis invoked the Holocaust in relation to the October 7 Hamas attack on southern Israel. It also pledged continuous support to Israel and efforts to return the captives taken by Hamas and being held in Gaza.

“The people of Israel lived through a moment of pure evil” that “resurfaced horrible memories” and amounted to the “deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust”, NBC reported Biden’s letter, dated November 1, as saying.

“The United States stands with Israel,” it continued. “We will continue to ensure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself against terrorism in accordance with international humanitarian law.”

On the other hand, Biden’s letter to pro-Palestinians focused on aid to Palestine and made no mention of the Holocaust or of US support for Israel.

“We mourn the many innocent Palestinians who have been killed,” NBC reported Biden’s second letter saying, dated November 8.

It added that the administration “is working closely with partners to ensure that life-saving assistance – including, food, water, and medicine can urgently reach innocent Palestinians in Gaza” and emphasised that “the United States stands unequivocally for the protection of civilians during conflict”.

While the two letters do not appear to contradict one another, or Biden’s policies, NBC reported that it was not common for the White House to craft different versions of a letter on the same topic that vary so much in their emphasis.

It added that the incident “reflects the political tightrope Biden is trying to navigate as pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian elements of his coalition fray over the war”, and with less than a year to go before elections.

 

In an opinion piece published on Saturday in the Washington Post, Biden wrote that Gaza and the occupied West Bank “should be reunited under a single governance structure” – a revitalised Palestinian Authority.

“Gaza must never again be used as a platform for terrorism. There must be no forcible displacement of Palestinians from Gaza, no reoccupation, no siege or blockade, and no reduction in territory,” he wrote, adding that “after this war is over, the voices of Palestinian people and their aspirations” must be at the centre of “post-crisis governance in Gaza”.

Earlier this week, the US president and two of his cabinet members were being sued for failing to prevent as well as aiding and abetting “genocide” in Gaza.

A federal complaint (PDF), filed on Monday against Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, accused them of “failure to prevent and complicity in the Israeli government’s unfolding genocide”.

The complaint noted that Washington was Israel’s closest ally and strongest supporter, as well as its biggest provider of military assistance – with Israel being the largest cumulative recipient of US foreign assistance since World War II.

Because of this, it said, the US could have a “deterrent effect on Israeli officials now pursuing genocidal acts against the Palestinian people”.

Also this week, police in riot gear clashed with demonstrators calling for a ceasefire outside the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee in Washington, DC.

Wednesday’s protest came a day after many thousands of pro-Israeli protesters gathered on the National Mall, holding placards with words like, “Let Israel finish the job”, “From the river to the sea, Israel is all you’ll see” and “No ceasefire”.

At least 12,000 people, including 5,000 children, have been killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza since October 7, according to Palestinian officials. In Israel, the official death toll from Hamas’s attacks stands at about 1,200.

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