President Biden’s speech last night wasn’t his finest hour. He had a chance to strike a note of reconciliation, mutual understanding, and peace. He didn’t. He did the opposite. In turning the current struggle between Israel and Hamas into another front in the battle against authoritarian rule on a global level, he miscast the nature of the present crisis there.
Moreover, with the Israeli army poised to rampage across Gaza, I didn’t see any guardrails or red lines in his speech that would inhibit a new round of bloodletting. There were some cautionary notes and, I’m sure, in private conversations earlier this week, Biden urged restraint to his Israeli interlocutors. But these notes of caution will likely get lost in the drumbeats of war inside Israel in the coming days.
The goal of eliminating Hamas by military means is, however, a fool’s errand. It will only result in the deaths of many innocent Palestinians, but it won’t be the death knell for Hamas (or some new iteration of Hamas).
The only way to do that as well as bring an end to the recurring clashes between Jews and Palestinians in the small geographical space that they both inhabit is simple enough: the establishment of viable Palestinian state living side by side and in peace with its Israeli neighbor.
Unfortunately, President Biden’s speech to the country last night didn’t bring us closer to that state of affairs. It was a missed opportunity thus making more likely a bloodbath in Gaza and a wider war in the Middle East. Nevertheless, the president will likely get a bump in the polls in the near term, but looking further ahead, it could come back to bite him.
It’s true that Biden mentioned a two state solution in his address, but it struck me as more a throw-in line to mollify his critics rather than a serious proposal.
I hope I’m wrong about all this. Wouldn’t be the first time!
In the meantime, the call for a ceasefire (and massive actions to back it up) and the provision of essential supplies gain in urgency!