People walk at the Nasser Hospital in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis. Photo: MGN Online

The more things change, the more they stay the same

In an hour-plus State of the Union Address, President Joe Biden touched on a range of foreign affairs. He spoke on lawmakers providing more weaponry to Ukraine, the chaos of Russia and Ukraine affecting Europe and beyond, and after nearly one hour on domestic issues, he addressed the Middle East.

“I know the last five months have been gut-wrenching for so many people … Israeli people …. the Palestinian people, and so many here in America,” said President Biden.

For some, the president delivered double-speak and Israeli talking points. “Israel has a right to go after Hamas. Hamas could end this conflict today by releasing the hostages, laying down arms, and surrendering those responsible for October 7,” he said. Empathetically, he said, Israel has an “added burden” because Hamas hides and operates among the civilian population.

President Biden said, Israel also has a fundamental responsibility to protect innocent civilians in Gaza and this war has taken a greater toll on innocent civilians than all previous wars in Gaza combined. More than 31,000 Palestinians have been killed. “Most of whom are not Hamas,” he said.  


The president ordered the U.S. military to construct a temporary pier in the Mediterranean that could receive large shipments of food, water, medicine, and temporary shelters. Some critics argued that it’s a distraction.

Mustafa Barghouti, the secretary general of the Palestinian National Initiative, told Al Jazeera on March 8, that the plan to build a port in Gaza “is not a new idea.”

“It seems to be just another effort to divert attention from the real issue here, which is that 700,000 people are starving in north Gaza now, and Israel is not allowing humanitarian aid to them or the rest of the Gaza Strip,” he said.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators with “Ceasefire Now” and “Stop the Genocide” signs gathered outside the White House gates and near the Capitol Building, where President Biden spoke. White House pool reporters said the president’s motorcade was forced to use an alternative route to avoid the protesters, causing a 30-minute delay. The war raging since Oct. 7 of last year has been a contentious election-year issue for President Biden.

Despite enhanced pressure on Israel to loosen obstructions to humanitarian aid and for a ceasefire, afflictions are worsening. Now six months into the war, Israel’s only response has been to triple down on killing, maiming, and destroying Palestinians. Observers continue to describe the rivers of blood flowing in Gaza as nothing less than genocide with U.S. complicity.

The U.S. has used its veto power in the UN Security Council three times consecutively to block a ceasefire, opting for a six-week pause, despite world nations overwhelmingly voting for a ceasefire. Outrage on the streets in world capitols to end the war and genocide is increasing.

Voices of truth

Voices of truth like the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, National Representative of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad of the Nation of Islam, warned about the consequences of the current course of actions. For the people of America, Minister Farrakhan said they must heed the events engulfing the world.

“So, when you say, ‘I ain’t got nothing to do with what’s going on in the Middle East,’ sh, sh, sh! You better listen! You better wake up! Because what you see over there is being planned over here,” said Minister Farrakhan, during Feb. 25 remarks in an address titled: What Does Allah The Great Mahdi And The Great Messiah Have To Say About The War In The Middle East.

Quoting the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s pivotal book, “The Fall of America” published in 1973, Minister Farrakhan discussed the outcome.

‘“America and England deposited their little brother, Israel, on foreign soil, Palestine, which is Arab land. They deprived the Arabs of their own land and sent them into exile’ (It’s called a Nakba, which means a ‘catastrophe.’),” said Minister Farrakhan.

“‘This injustice against the Arabs is now costing America the power and authority that she once exercised in the [Middle] East.’ Listen to his next words. ‘She is on her way out of the Near East,’ and ‘This means bloodshed and plenty of it,’” the Minister continued.

Meanwhile, South Africa, which fearlessly brought Israel before the International Criminal Court of Justice (ICJ) on genocide charges in January, returned on March 6 with an urgent request for additional provisional measures to the court’s order against Israel in January.

Although the Court stopped short of calling for an immediate ceasefire, the earlier ruling required Israel to prevent acts of genocide in its war and ordered Israel to “take immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian aid,” then report back in 30 days. Neither has happened.   

South Africa states it is “compelled to return to the court in light of the new facts and changes in the situation in Gaza—particularly the situation of widespread starvation—brought about by the continuing egregious breaches of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide,” said an ICJ statement.

To ensure the safety and security of 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza, including over a million children South Africa urged the court to act without holding a hearing, considering the extreme urgency of the situation.

On Feb. 29, Israeli soldiers opened fire on starving Palestinians frantically attempting to get food aid in Gaza City. Hundreds more were wounded. Over 700,000 Palestinians are facing starvation under conditions of famine in the north of Gaza. Rights groups like Human Rights Watch have accused Israel of weaponizing starvation to inflict maximum death and suffering on the population.

“The Israeli government is starving Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians, putting them in even more peril than before the World Court’s binding order,” said Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch. “The Israeli government has simply ignored the court’s ruling, and in some ways even intensified its repression, including further blocking lifesaving aid.”

Other countries should use all forms of leverage, including sanctions and embargoes, to press the Israeli government to comply with the court’s binding orders in the genocide case, Human Rights Watch said.

Global backlash continues

For the U.S., Israel’s financial gift horse, the pressure to exert leverage is becoming more pronounced and there appeared to be a shift in tone in recent Biden Administration remarks.

Days before President Biden’s State of the Union speech, Vice-President Kamala Harris uttered the unspeakable “c” word—“ceasefire” while speaking in Selma, Alabama.

The vice-president called for an “immediate ceasefire” in the war to the cheers of many Black folks present at the 59th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” when civil rights demonstrators were brutally beaten by police on Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge.

She warned Israel it must do more to facilitate the flow of humanitarian aid. Her “immediate ceasefire” call was not a permanent ceasefire demand, but a temporary six-week halt. Analysts and observers attributed the shift in rhetorical tone to the unceasing demonstrations, public backlash, and unyielding voices of justice. 

“They’re responding,” said Phyllis Bennis, director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies.  Ms. Bennis noted the rhetorical shifts of the president, vice president and administration as evidence they are becoming very nervous about the rise of mass movements demanding a ceasefire, in the U.S. and globally. 

“They have not yet recognized that the unconditional support for Israel—and it continues unchanged—regardless of the changes in rhetoric, could well be the basis on which Biden loses the election,” Ms. Bennis explained.

Whether the tone shift was the administration catching religion six months into its unpopular support of Israeli mayhem and destruction, many Arab Americans and Muslims are sending a message at the ballots to stop cosigning genocide in Palestine. 

 “This was about we’ve got to change your policy, where you’re telling us that you want us to vote for genocide, and we’re not going to do that. I don’t think that has changed yet,” said Ms. Bennis.