The Left Must Demand Joe Biden Change His Position on the Israeli Occupation of Palestine

Just a few weeks ago, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reported that following a bipartisan effort between Prime Minister Netanyahu and Alternative Prime Minister Benny Gantz, Israel could put annexation of key West Bank territories, a promise routinely peddled by Netanyahu throughout his tumultuous bid for reelection, up for a vote as early as Wednesday, July 1st. The two leaders are still working in tandem with the Trump-appointed Ambassador to Israel David Friedman trying to iron out the specific parameters. According to Israel’s Science and Technology Minister Izhar Shai, while disagreements remain, “There is agreement on the Jordan Valley”, home to the Jordan River, and its annexation could result in permanent food insecurity for the Palestinian people.

As if on cue one week later, in the midst of the domestic upheaval, Joe Biden’s campaign took the time to give Israel the dog-whistle to go ahead and forge on with their official annexation of the West Bank. His top foreign policy advisor issued a statement reassuring the Israelis that the U.S. election would not interrupt their plans and that his administration “would not tie military assistance to Israel to things like annexation or other decisions by the Israeli government with which we might disagree.” 

Which, in layman’s terms means they intend to occasionally politely disagree publicly about their rank violation of international law and apartheid style oppression of Palestinians. This is akin to a Bill Clinton campaign advisor issuing a campaign statement proclaiming the administration’s intent to support South Africa with billions of dollars and weapons to conduct their apartheid state and suppress dissent, while publicly framing the issue back home as mere differences in opinion. 

The byproduct of the so called differences in opinion will be the United States not merely turning a blind eye to massive human rights violations but directly sustaining it through the massive military and economic aid it provides from taxpayer dollars. As a result, the American left has a moral duty to demand that Biden recognize the West Bank annexation as a violation of international law, and to sanction Israel in accordance with the UN.

If the elections were held tomorrow it is almost guaranteed Joe Biden would decimate President Trump. A recent poll from CNBC had Biden up by 8 points nationally, with some polls indicating an even wider lead in the battleground states of Florida, Wisconsin, and Michigan. It’s a devastating gap to emerge with just over four months until the election. While attitudes could certainly change, President Trump will likely need an act of god to turn his flailing bid for reelection around. It’s becoming clear that Joe Biden’s strategy of letting Trump lose the election, as opposed to making an effort to win it himself, will likely be enough to punch his ticket come November.

The left then assumes a moral obligation to demand that Joe Biden react accordingly when any country, including close U.S. allies blatantly violate international law, which Israel does by violating the human rights of Palestinians and jeopardizing the existing world order or chance of peace in the region. There is no reason justifiable under international law for Biden to not impose sanctions similar to those that came as a response from the Obama Administration, after Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. It is even worth noting that in the instance of Crimea, a majority of the population supported annexation of the peninsula, whereas the people of Palestine remain categorically opposed to all forms of Israeli occupation.

In spite of this, it is the Boycott, Divest, and Sanction or BDS movement however that Biden singles out on his campaign website, stating that if elected his administration would “firmly reject the BDS movement — which singles out Israel and too often veers into anti-Semitism.” There is no mention however of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian land, nor of the Resolution brought in December of 2016 by the UN deeming Israeli settlements in the West Bank illegal, however that hasn’t led to much direct action from the U.S.

He instead opts to boast of “the unprecedented $38 billion, ten-year memorandum of understanding for defense assistance to Israel signed in 2016, the largest such military aid package in U.S. history.” Biden’s supporters could correctly note that at the end of his second term Obama did not veto the UN resolution as a Republican administration potentially would have, but he still went ahead and gave them nearly 40 billion taxpayer dollars and turned a blind eye anyways.

This is unacceptable. It is the latest instance in a decades-long saga  where Joe Biden has allied himself with the right in an effort to appease the corporate funded neoliberals, who continuously spit in the eye of the activist left flank and turn their backs on those suffering in the West Bank. These instances of inexcusable cowardice and moral failing prove that if elected, Biden will not lead nor will he oversee progressive change unless it is demanded of him by an organized inner party opposition. The left must take the time from now until November to make it explicit to Joe Biden that if he intends to earn their support in the upcoming election they will not tolerate support for the oppression of Palestine. The US must make its aid to Israel contingent on their nation abiding by international law and the left must make their votes contingent on Joe Biden’s change in position. Anything less is unacceptable.

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