Around the world, millions of people are shocked and outraged at the brutal terror bombings, ethnic cleansing and communal violence being carried out by Israel, a US client state, against the people of Gaza.
Two hundred and twenty-seven people, including 63 children, have been killed in Israel’s ten-day-long assault on Gaza, a figure nearly 20 times higher than the number of Israelis killed in the conflict.
These crimes are committed using American armaments, funded by American tax dollars, and with the approval of the American government. They are facilitated by arms deals and military alliances created behind the backs of the American population and orchestrated to facilitate the predatory interests of the US financial oligarchy.
On Monday, after a week of murderous bombardment of the Gaza’s civilian population, US President Joe Biden began a telephone discussion with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by declaring, in the words of the official readout, “The President reiterated his firm support for Israel’s right to defend itself against indiscriminate rocket attacks.”
When on Tuesday Biden visited Dearborn, Michigan, the city with the nation’s highest percentage of Arab American residents in the United States, he was greeted by thousands of people protesting the crimes Israel is committing with US support.
Asked if he would take a question on the conflict from a reporter as he was test-driving a new Ford truck, Biden replied, “No, you can’t. Not unless you get in front of the car as I step on it.”
On Wednesday, Biden again spoke to Netanyahu about “Israel’s progress in degrading the capabilities of Hamas and other terrorist elements.” Biden said he expected “significant de-escalation today,” a request that Netanyahu proceeded to ignore, declaring that he is “determined to continue this operation until its aim is met.”
Biden’s request for a “de-escalation,” presented by the media as a major shift in US policy, is a cynical ploy. Since the Israeli bombardment began, it has received the critical assistance of the US and the other major imperialist powers.
On May 6, just days before the onslaught on Gaza began, the Biden administration informed Congress that it approved the sale of $735 million worth of JDAM and SDB smart bombs to Israel—the very type of munitions now being rained down on the population of Gaza. In the fiscal year 2019, the United States provided $3.8 billion in foreign military aid to Israel, and Israel benefits from nearly $8 billion in US loan guarantees.
The United States has used its veto power 42 times to protect Israel from resolutions censuring its conduct in the United Nations Security Council—more than half of the vetoes the US has ever exercised in that body. This includes three vetoes of resolutions calling for a cease-fire in the course of the latest massacre.
In May 2011 and March 2015, Netanyahu was invited to address joint sessions of Congress—occasions he used to berate and threaten the Palestinians.
While the US government backs Israel to the hilt, the US media is busy whitewashing Israel’s atrocities.
The most egregious example is the Wall Street Journal, which openly defended Israel’s bombing of media outlets in Gaza last week. On Saturday, Israel destroyed an 11-story building in Gaza housing the offices of the Associated Press, Al Jazeera, and other media outlets.
Sneering at the “cries of outrage and an admonition” at Israel’s actions, the Wall Street Journal bluntly defended Israel’s war crimes:
But who’s really endangering the journalists?... Using civilians and journalists as shields is a common Hamas tactic… Inevitably there will be mistakes in war, and civilians will die, but it’s remarkable how discriminating Israel’s targeting has been.
The claim that the population being used as “human shields” was used to justify the infliction of mass civilian casualties by the United States in the Gulf War, the bombing of Yugoslavia, and the 2003 “shock and awe” bombing of Iraq. Now, this filthy apology for war crimes is being dusted off once again to justify mass murder by the Israeli military.
The other major US newspapers, while not dipping their hands so gleefully in the blood of the Palestinians as the Wall Street Journal, express essentially the same line. “Israel did not start the war that now rages between it and Hamas,” begins the only editorial on the conflict published by the Washington Post. This, of course, is a lie, as the clashes were triggered by the eviction of Palestinian families from East Jerusalem by Israel, followed by Israeli military raids on the al-Aqsa Mosque earlier this month.
While the Post has been mostly silent on the onslaught against the Palestinians, its propaganda machine has kept turning, belching out editorial after editorial condemning Russia and China for their alleged “human rights” violations. A few examples should suffice:
- May 16 – “China’s repression of Uyghurs is not only cultural, but also physical, a new report shows” – Falsely claiming that China is carrying out a “genocide” against its Muslim population.
- May 17 – “Two possible theories of the pandemic’s origins remain viable. The world needs to know.” – Falsely claiming that COVID-19 may have been created through “experiments” at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, in a conspiracy theory debunked by the World Health Organization. China, declares the Post, “acts as if there is something to hide.”
- May 19 – “Apple must resist China’s tyranny” – accusing Apple of collaborating with alleged violations of the freedom of expression by China. It demands that Apple cease collaborating with the Chinese government and collaborate more directly with the American government.
As for the New York Times, the mouthpiece of the American Democratic Party establishment, which supported the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria—it has not published a single editorial on Israel’s attack on Gaza.
This brief review is sufficient to establish the modus operandi of the US media. Since the birth of US imperialism on the world stage with the Spanish-American war, all US foreign policy has been justified by emotional accusations about the tyranny and crimes of those targeted for conquest or exploitation. And these claims have had precisely no correspondence to the actual tyranny and injustice that occurs throughout the world, a large portion of which is sponsored or carried out by the United States itself.
Responding to Israel’s atrocities, figures in the “progressive” wing of the Democratic Party have criticized Biden’s support for Israeli war crimes. Commenting on Israel’s attack on the Associated Press headquarters in Gaza, congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter, “This is happening with the support of the United States… If the Biden admin can’t stand up to an ally, who can it stand up to? How can they credibly claim to stand for human rights?”
Ocasio-Cortez is correct to lay the blame for Israel’s war crimes at the feet of Washington. But if the Biden administration is to blame, all of those who endorsed Biden—like Ocasio-Cortez herself—also bear that blame. The fact is, Ocasio-Cortez speaks as an embarrassed defender of US imperialist aims, concerned that the shameless endorsement of open war crimes by Netanyahu hinders the ability of the United States to posture as a defender of “human rights.”
Any serious defense of the interests of the working class in the United States and in every part of the world starts with the rejection of US imperialism and its lying pretensions to the defense of “human rights.” The foreign policy aims of the United States are dictated by the same corporations that ruthlessly exploit its working class and have presided over the criminal response to a pandemic that has killed nearly a million people in the United States alone.
The way forward in the struggle against war and imperialist barbarism is not the politics of “human rights” imperialism, but the international unity of the working class—in the United States, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East—on the basis of the struggle for socialism.