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Putting a deadly rhetorical spin on genocide

March 28, 2024 at 7:35 pm

US President Joe Biden (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) meet in Tel Aviv, Israel on October 18, 2023. [GPO/ Handout/Anadolu Agency]

Following the UN Security Council resolution that called for a ceasefire in Gaza for the remaining days of Ramadan, which the US failed to veto, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cancelled a meeting in Washington for his top aides, allegedly as a warning to Hamas that no pressure would make him renege on his war plans. There was no need for such a diplomatic spectacle, especially considering that mere hours later, US officials confirmed that Netanyahu was asking to reschedule the meeting.

“My decision not to send the delegation to Washington in the wake of that resolution was a message to Hamas: Don’t bet on this pressure, it’s not going to work. I hope they got the message,” Axios quoted Netanyahu as saying. According to the report, Netanyahu’s gimmicky approach was ridiculed.

The US has been asking Israel not to proceed with the Rafah ground invasion but comments by White House National Security Communications Adviser John Kirby indicates loopholes in the cautions. Kirby’s opposition to the Rafah ground invasion is allegedly related to Israel not being able to provide safety for the 1.5 million Palestinian refugees forced out of their homes. However, he added, “We recognise there’s a need to go after Hamas… Hamas still represents a viable threat and we know that there are Hamas fighters in Gaza.”

Meanwhile, Israel already has the backing of the US State Department for its ongoing genocide of the Palestinian people. As the recipient of massive amounts of US military aid, Israel was one of a number of countries asked to provide written assurances that weapons supplied by the US would be used in accordance with international law.

OPINION: Diplomatic games and genocide

“We’ve had ongoing assessments of Israel’s compliance with international humanitarian law,” US State Department spokesman Matt Miller stated during a press briefing on Monday. “We have not found them to be in violation, either when it comes to the conduct of the war or the provision of humanitarian assistance. We view those assurances through that ongoing work we have done.”

All the evidence of war crimes in Gaza; all the evidence of genocide; and yet the US maintains that its weapons are being used by Israel in accordance with international law.

Is genocide in accordance with international law, President Biden?

“There are other ways to go after Hamas in Rafah… to do it in a way that doesn’t put those people, the refugees, in harm’s way,” we were told. So, Palestinians were not harmed before they were forcibly displaced from their homes in Gaza to Rafah? Is it only in Rafah that Israel will jeopardise its standing? Because although the US mentions concerns about protecting Palestinian civilians, its main preoccupation is protecting Israel’s image in the international arena.

Sensationalism such as we see in US rhetoric while it continues to back Israel in its genocide gives us the false impression of isolated acts of state violence which are treated as the greatest calamity, but only until Israel strikes again. Israel is not applying the same tactic, though; it is clearly spelling out the colonial process — settlement, ethnic cleansing, genocide — for everyone to see. The rhetorical spin that the US and the international community are putting on genocide is proving to be as deadly as Israel’s genocide itself.

READ: Hamas requests ICC intervention after latest Israeli execution video

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.