‘Genocide Joe’ Biden has got the Gaza crisis wrong in every way – Brian Feeney

Brian Feeney

Brian Feeney

Historian and political commentator Brian Feeney has been a columnist with The Irish News for three decades. He is a former SDLP councillor in Belfast and co-author of the award-winning book Lost Lives

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President Joe Biden is greeted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month

In April 1945 US troops reached the Buchenwald concentration camp complex. What they found horrified them.

A week later General Eisenhower, along with Generals George S Patton and Omar Bradley, visited Ohrdruf, a sub-camp of Buchenwald. The camp was strewn with the bodies of inmates SS guards had killed before they fled. Eisenhower ordered the film of his visit and the scenes at Ohrdruf to be circulated as widely as possible to publicise the horrors of Nazism.

However, Eisenhower’s personal experience of those horrors did not blind him to the ambitious expansionist schemes of the newly invented Israel.

General Dwight D Eisenhower was Supreme Commander in Europe during the Second World War (PA/PA)

In early 1957 the Israeli government was refusing to evacuate the Sinai peninsula which they had captured in 1956 as part of the illegal conspiracy with Britain and France to invade Egypt and retake control of the Suez canal. Eisenhower successfully ended the British and French occupation of the canal zone and ordered their troops out of Egypt. The Israeli prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, refused. The US, along with 75 other states, passed a resolution at the UN ‘deploring’ Israel’s occupation.

Eisenhower came under intense pressure from the Israel lobby in the US, with 41 Republican and 75 Democratic congressmen signing a letter supporting Israel. Eisenhower met congressional party leaders but, fearful of the Jewish vote, they wouldn’t help. His Secretary of State John Foster Dulles complained: “I am aware how almost impossible it is in this country to carry out a foreign policy [in the Middle East] not approved by the Jews.” The president decided to override congressional opposition.

On February 20 1957 he went on national TV. He asked” “Should a nation which attacks and occupies foreign territory in the face of United Nations disapproval be allowed to impose conditions on its own withdrawal? If we agreed that armed attack can properly achieve the purposes of the assailant, then I fear we will have turned back the clock of international order.” Privately Eisenhower threatened Ben-Gurion with the withdrawal of US aid and trade sanctions. Israel withdrew from Sinai on February 27.

The Franco-British-Israeli conspiracy against Egypt in 1956 was an election year in the US. In his memoirs, Eisenhower said: “During the campaign, some political figures kept talking of our failure to ‘back Israel’. If the US administration had been incapable of withstanding this kind of advice in an election year, could the United Nations thereafter have retained any influence whatsoever? This, I definitely doubt.”

Yes, it’s different now 67 years on. There are over 500,000 American colonists living in Israel, some of them the most racist, aggressive and violent in killing Palestinians and stealing their land. They seem to think they’re in the Dakotas in the 1870s or Oklahoma in 1890 exterminating Sioux and Cherokee.

President Biden has made a mess of this crisis. Some in his own party call him ‘Genocide Joe’

Yes, the pro-Israeli lobby in the US is much bigger and better organised than in 1956-7, but in recent years and particularly in response to the current Israeli barbarism, indiscriminate bombing and mass killing, strong opposition to automatic unquestioning support for Israel has emerged in the Democratic party and on the streets of American cities.

President Biden has made a mess of this crisis. Some in his own party call him ‘Genocide Joe’. He’s stuck in the past, somewhere around the Yom Kippur war in 1973 when a coalition of Arab states attacked Israel. Biden has lost hundreds of thousands of Arab votes in key states. Does he imagine Republican supporters of Israel will thankfully vote for him?

A Palestinian boy cries for his relatives who were killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, at Nasser hospital in Khan Younis (AP Photo/Mohammed Dahman)
A Palestinian boy cries for his relatives who were killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip at Nasser hospital in Khan Younis (Mohammed Dahman/AP)

He has got this wrong in every way, including the stupid mantra that “Israel has the right to defend itself”. Under international law this right is only relevant in the case of an armed attack by one state against another state. Hamas is not a state and Israel is legally still the occupying power in Gaza. You don’t have the right to self-defence against a territory you occupy.

Eisenhower could see backing Israel damaged the US and the UN. Biden couldn’t.