US drives Israel’s efforts to exterminate Palestinians

Joe Biden has turned genocide into an American export. 

Erin Scott Official White House Photo

It is one month since Israeli forces bombarded the “Kuwaiti Peace” camp, enveloping the tents of displaced Palestinians in a fireball and provoking international condemnation. The 26 May massacre occurred in a supposed “humanitarian zone” in Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost city.

At least 49 civilians were killed and many more injured. Images of scorched children circulated the globe, as munitions experts concluded that a Boeing GBU-39 bomb leveled the camp.

Responding to global outrage, the Biden administration suggested that Israeli forces tried to be “discreet and targeted and precise,” noting that the US explosive is small and sophisticated. Since Israel invaded Rafah earlier in May, the White House has stressed that “arms transfers are proceeding as scheduled,” while refusing to enforce export law.

Days after another Israeli massacre, President Joe Biden announced a blueprint for a ceasefire that Israel supposedly “offered.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu replied by asserting that his conditions “have not changed” and escalating strikes in the Gaza Strip, both snubbing US policymakers and showcasing his confidence in their support.

Their striking indulgence toward Israel and arms shipments follow a half century of historical precedent.

Since the 1960s, every US president has knowingly concealed Israel’s arms export law violations, while freezing the balance of forces in its favor with military aid. Repeatedly, policymakers have claimed that weapons shipments incentivize peace negotiations, even as Israel perpetrates war crimes with them.

Despite the flood of Israeli atrocities in Gaza, Biden continues to follow historical precedent with mechanical precision – turning genocide into an American export.

Arms diplomacy

Despite tireless lobbying, the US authorities initially refused to become Israel’s main arms supplier, fearing that exports would alienate Arab powers and exacerbate regional tensions. But in 1967 support for Israel undermined such caution.

During the spring that year, Israeli soldiers illegally expropriated land along the boundary with Syria, provoking skirmishes with Arab forces. In response, President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt stationed troops in the Sinai to deter future aggression.

Privately, US officials observed that the Egyptian forces were “obviously not of invasion magnitude” and “militant public threats from Israel” lent weight to fears of an attack.

Then on 5 June, Israeli forces struck, seizing the Sinai Peninsula, Gaza Strip, West Bank and Golan Heights. Prime Minister Levi Eshkol claimed that the invasion was a defensive maneuver, portraying Nasser as an Arab Hitler.

Yet the Israeli historian Avi Shlaim suggests that “Israel’s strategy of escalation” along the Syrian boundary was “the single most important factor” leading to war.

And the leading Israeli hawk Menachem Begin himself ridiculed Eshkol’s claims.

“We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him [Nasser],” Begin insisted.

After hostilities ignited, the US President Lyndon B. Johnson called weapons shipments to the Middle East “a major cause of war itself,” encouraging the UN to monitor exports. Yet a potent blend of Holocaust memory, popular admiration for Israel’s state ideology of Zionism and electoral considerations undermined American restraint.

Raised by Christian Zionists in the Texas hill country, Johnson himself identified with Israel, regarding the country through the haze of the frontier mystique. Presidential aide John Roche explained that officials viewed “the Israelis as Texans and Nasser as Santa Ana.”

Over the following year, Johnson approved massive shipments of A-4 Skyhawk warplanes, while portraying the United States as an impartial mediator – arousing anger and disbelief among Arab leaders.

American officials argued that military aid would soothe Israeli security concerns, allowing Zionists to negotiate a peace agreement. But privately, they acknowledged that arms sales tipped the military balance in Israel’s favor, allowing it to colonize Palestinian territory and drag out peace negotiations.

They also fueled human rights violations.

The CIA reported that Palestinian resistance to Israeli military occupation was “chiefly nonviolent in nature.” Yet Israeli soldiers adopted “extreme measures in dealing with dissidence,” including “the demolition of houses” and 10-year prison sentences for publishing dissent.

Israel’s Chief of Staff Yizhak Rabin even ordered them to shoot refugees attempting to return home by crossing the Jordan River at night.

Behind closed doors, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol floated schemes to expel Palestinians. Losing his patience, he declared, “I want them all to go, even if they go to the moon.”

In late 1968, US-Israeli relations reached another turning point, as Eshkol pressed Johnson to send the F-4 Phantom: one of the most sophisticated fighter jets in the American arsenal. Senior US officials almost unanimously opposed the request.

Previously, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Nitze emphasized that Phantom shipments could “escalate the arms race” and “hurt our overall position in the area.” Disturbed by rumors of a deal, the UN mediator Gunnar Jarring warned that the sale would undercut peace talks.

Yet Johnson caved to the pressure of AIPAC and other lobbyists, agreeing to sell 50 F-4 jets that October.

The tone of Israeli leaders changed overnight. Yitzhak Rabin, at that time Israel’s ambassador to the US, refused to relinquish all territory occupied in 1967.

US diplomats relayed that “Israel had given up on the idea” of a formal peace treaty.

“Israel’s refusal to restore the June 4, 1967 situation is absolute, basic and irrevocable,” the Eshkol government hammered. “To avoid returning to the June 4 lines is of supreme national interest which Israel considers worthy of all tenacity and sacrifice.”

On 27 December 1968, both countries celebrated the conclusion of Phantom negotiations. The next day, Israel invaded Lebanon and blew up 14 civilian airplanes at Beirut International Airport.

Supposedly, the raid was a response to a Palestinian guerrilla operation in Greece. The State Department fumed that the attack was an “inexcusable retaliatory act striking at innocent people.”

Meanwhile, the US embassy in Beirut claimed that Lebanese authorities feared “a complete breakdown of public security,” as citizens succumbed to “sheer frustration and hopelessness” over the arms deal. Nonetheless, Johnson refused to freeze shipments.

Increasingly, American weapons sales undercut negotiations, alienated local governments, and allowed Israel to colonize Palestinian land. And US officials knew it.

Before leaving office, Secretary of State Dean Rusk observed that Arab leaders offered “concrete and realistic proposals,” but “one cannot say this about Israel. Her position continues to be the main obstacle… to achiev[ing] a settlement.”

Choosing war

Ultimately, the Nixon administration consolidated the military aid pipeline, while forging a structure of permanent war in the Middle East.

At the time, Eshkol’s successor Prime Minister Golda Meir admitted that she aimed to colonize East Jerusalem and other territory. CIA Director Richard Helms fretted that Meir had a “no budge” policy, while President Richard Nixon acknowledged that Israeli leaders wanted to “keep it like it is.”

Yet both feared that arms cuts would whip up a domestic political storm.

Beyond electoral considerations, Nixon and his national security adviser Henry Kissinger regarded the conflict through the prism of the Cold War. By strengthening Israel and stretching out negotiations, they hoped to drive a wedge between the Arab powers and Soviet Union, forcing Egypt and Syria to seek American assistance.

Above all, they viewed the conflict as an opportunity to realign the region under US hegemony, pursuing these goals with startling cynicism.

“In my view, Soviet-US relations are the overriding concern,” Nixon underlined. His criteria for a settlement was simple: “Who gains?”

Although posing as a mediator, Nixon vastly expanded the military aid program, while encouraging Israel to attack its neighbors. After Egypt stationed missiles along the Suez Canal, he exhorted Israeli leaders to strike.

At the time, Golda Meir recognized that the missiles were deployed as a defensive measure against air raids, and US diplomats reported that the jets in Israel’s arsenal bombed Cairo with “virtual impunity.”

In May 1970, Nixon promised Ambassador Yitzhak Rabin and Foreign Minister Abba Eban that he would send additional arms, while encouraging them to attack Egypt. “Hit them as hard as you can. Every time that you go at them… I am delighted,” he rhapsodized.

Nixon approached the region with racist condescension, propounding a “half-assed settlement” for Egypt. He believed that Arabs did not need the “goddamn land.”

“It’s all a bunch of desert anyway,” he said.

At times, he and Kissinger even organized “Jewish community protests” to undermine their own State Department’s peace initiatives.

Under their leadership, peace negotiations became a front for arms sales. In December 1972, they promised Meir additional F-4 Phantoms, as long as Israel pretended to seek peace.

“If you were to give us… just the appearance of talking to us – it’s the appearance – I can assure you there won’t be any pressure,” Nixon reiterated.

Two months later, the diplomat Hafez Ismail led an Egyptian peace mission to Washington. “And on the heels of Ismail’s mission, Washington released details of the new Phantom deal,” President Anwar Sadat of Egypt balked.

The arms pipeline fostered Israeli intransigence. In his classic study, Amnon Kapeliouk revealed that Israeli leaders even rejected Jordanian peace overtures by responding to telephone calls with the busy signal.

They dubbed their policy “creeping annexation,” playing for time while sowing illegal settlements across Arab territory.

By preserving an explosive status quo, the United States and Israel made another war virtually inevitable. In October 1973, Arab forces launched an offensive to reclaim their land and break the diplomatic gridlock.

From Washington, senior officials warned that “no US military equipment should move to either side,” since shipments would undermine American neutrality. Yet again, Nixon and Kissinger shunned their advice, initiating Operation Nickel Grass – an airlift that delivered over 22,000 tons of materiel to Israel.

Meanwhile, they rammed through a $2.2 billion military aid package: an unprecedented sum that surprised even the most outspoken Zionists in Congress.

On 22 October, Kissinger visited Meir in Tel Aviv, encouraging her to violate a ceasefire while he returned to Washington. “You won’t get violent protests,” he assured, “if something happens… while I’m flying.”

Furious, Meir claimed that Arabs “just don’t care about human lives.”

But Kissinger appeared calm. “My [airlift] strategy… was to keep the Arabs down,” he explained. And it worked: “You have won.”

Exporting impunity

But that victory has been costly. Since the mid-1970s, US aid to Israel has absorbed billions of dollars each year, turning it into the largest cumulative recipient of foreign assistance.

Between 1948 and the Oslo II Accord in 1995, the country received more funds than the Caribbean, Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa combined – including grants to build its own weapons systems. And arms exports have thoroughly distorted the “peace process,” sustaining Israel’s ongoing war against Palestinian self-determination.

Repeatedly, US presidents have claimed weapons sales are necessary to assuage Israeli security concerns and, thus, pave the path to peace.

To clinch the Camp David Accords, Jimmy Carter bundled a $4 billion aid package for Israel and Egypt, which Israeli forces immediately deployed against Lebanon, before launching a full-scale invasion in 1982. Privately, Ronald Reagan called their merciless bombing of Beirut a “holocaust,” yet nonetheless increased assistance – literally paying for the war.

Later, Bill Clinton boosted aid to cement the Oslo accords, allowing the settler population in the occupied West Bank and Gaza to double in only one decade and funding Israel’s military occupation.

More recently, human rights groups such as Amnesty International have documented Israeli violations of US arms export law during every war in the Gaza Strip. Nevertheless, policymakers signed a historic $38 billion military aid agreement in 2016, while approving 50 F-35 Lightning II fighters and other cutting-edge equipment.

Then Hamas struck Israel on 7 October last.

Benjamin Netanyahu immediately ordered the invasion of Gaza. And like clockwork, Joe Biden flooded the aid pipeline.

By late December, the US had delivered over 10,000 tons of materiel. This spring, Biden signed a $15 billion military assistance package for Israel, before pursuing $1 billion in weapons deals, as the Israeli forces invaded Rafah and razed refugee camps.

To a large extent, their war of extermination in Palestine is the culmination of a half century of American policy. Posing as mediators, successive US presidents have poured military aid into Israel, locking the region into a pattern of permanent crisis.

Under Biden, the machinery of US policy moves along the same worn-out track, supporting Israeli aggression while turning Gaza and the West Bank into killing fields. Caught in the US Empire’s grip, Palestinians remain the victims of a “neutral” aggressor: a mediator that turns peace negotiations into arms deals.

Ciudong Ng is a historian focusing on the arms trade and US militarism.




For over a century, Zionist power brokers have infiltrated and dominated our government, our media, and our educational institutions and they have played us like a finely tuned violin down at Lincoln Center. Now that is changing! The political pendulum in America has begun to swing in a new direction and a warm breeze is blowing from the East, thanks primarily to the internet and the immigration of millions of Palestinians to the West in the past 76 years since the Nakba. Pro-Palestinian influence is growing in America and it has only just begun. Many Palestinians have become thoroughly "American" in many ways and their just and reasoned voices will be heard and even respected in time. Trump's call to "Make America Great Again" will eventually occur, but NOT in the way he imagines.

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