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The Gaza Floating Pier and Biden's Fake Empathy Are Cynical Public Relations Exercises

By Jamal Kanj

March 29, 2024

The emotional statement of Anthony Blinken in his first visit to Israel after October 7, 2023. It was followed by attending the war cabinet, which waged a genocidal war on the Palestinian population in Gaza Strip Palestinian children have constituted the largest category of victims of the
US-backed Israeli genocidal war on the Palestinian people in Gaza Strip,
March 18, 2024

Gaza’s floating pier and Biden’s fake empathy are cynical PR exercises

The Gaza Strip is teetering on the brink of famine. At least twenty-seven children, including new-born babies, have perished due to the severe shortage of essential nourishment, particularly baby milk. Additionally, hundreds of adults and elderly individuals have been killed as a result of Israeli attacks while waiting for aid trucks at various drop-off points throughout Gaza. The most recent incident occurred on 19 March in central Gaza, where Israel fired at hungry people rushing at food trucks at a food distribution (death trap) site.

Yet, the international community is impotent and unable to pass a UN Security Council resolution to compel Israel to allow the entry of trucks filled with food aid. This is despite the US administration of President Joe Biden pleading on 3 November for Israel to allow an “immediate increase in humanitarian aid to Gaza.” In the same press conference back then, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on Israel “to do more to protect Palestinian civilians.”

At that time, there was no starvation in Gaza, and the death toll was below 8,000. Here we are in the sixth month of Israel’s military offensive, and the number of Palestinians killed by Israel has surged by 400 per cent, of whom 20,700 were women and children, and 2.4 million human beings are facing famine. Since Blinken urged Israel to protect civilians, the number of Palestinian children killed in Gaza has surpassed in this relatively short period the total from all world conflicts in four years.

Was Blinken sincere on 3 November when he basically called on Israel to kill fewer civilians and increase humanitarian aid to Gaza? Or was he trying to placate regional and international outrage over Israeli atrocities?

The result is self-evident. The Biden administration was buying time for Israel, leveraging the genocide to put pressure on Arab counties, notably Saudi Arabia, to reward Israel with normalization in exchange for halting the slaughter. Biden and Blinken are obsessed with outdoing Donald Trump by orchestrating the largest prize in normalization between the Zionist state and a major Arab country.

For Washington, the lives of Palestinians were deemed expendable in Biden’s pursuit of delivering Saudi Arabia to Israel. The US wielded its veto at the UN Security Council as a bargaining chip in its negotiations with Saudi officials. Consequently, Saudi Arabia featured prominently in Blinken’s numerous visits to the region during the final three months of 2023. However, once Riyadh decided to shelve the normalization file, Saudi Arabia almost slipped off the itineraries of senior American officials. This week Blinken is reviving his attempts by visiting the Saudis yet again to find ways to appease Netanyahu for a temporary pause in his genocide. While the world watches famine creeping over Gaza, the Biden administration is pulling out all the stops to exploit Palestinian suffering and reward Israel for its crimes.

In response to earlier failures of US efforts to placate Netanyahu with the Saudi normalization, like the spoilt brat of an entity that it is, Israel grew even more obstinate and bolstered the arrogance of its racist coalition government by rebuffing US calls for a ceasefire or to permit adequate number of aid trucks into Gaza. In this context, Biden’s decision to dispatch the 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary) to construct a floating pier in Gaza can be interpreted as essentially waving a white flag to Netanyahu and the pro-Israel lobby in Washington.

The US troops sailed from Virginia on 12 March and are expected to reach the shores of Gaza in approximately four weeks. It will then take an additional four weeks to construct the 550-meter floating pier before it can receive shipments. This means it will be roughly 60 days before starving Gaza is in a position to receive aid via this maritime route, while land access is blocked and hindered by Israel.

It’s worth noting that Gaza had a small port that could have received shipments of food if Israel had not destroyed it time and time again. Similarly, Israel also destroyed the newly-built Gaza Airport over two decades ago. In fact, these — unnoticed — Israeli-destroyed facilities, which were meant to free Gaza from Israeli control, along with the 18-year-old total blockade were the main impetus for the hyperbolized “unprovoked” 7 October revolt against the guard posts of the world’s largest, fully populated, open-air prison.

Delivering food in 60 days to someone who is experiencing famine now is nothing short of shedding crocodile tears about the starvation of a whole population aided and abetted by the Biden administration. This administration not only vetoed a humanitarian UN resolution to allow more food aid, but also provided the means for Israel to destroy Gaza’s farmland and manufacturing facilities, which could have mitigated the famine significantly.

More significantly, why would Biden need to dispatch US troops 5,000 miles to construct a floating pier in eight weeks when the US has already delivered to an Israeli port just 20 miles north of Gaza enough flour to feed 1.5 million people for five months?

This shipment of American flour is being held in the port of Ashdod, because Israel has denied the US permission to deliver it to Gaza.

Given the Israeli-held US aid shipment, the building of the floating pier appears to be a waste of American taxpayers’ money, and thus not very different from the aid airdrops. These symbolic actions are only intended to divert attention from the scale of suffering in Gaza. And such hollow gestures are designed for public relations purposes, aimed at desensitizing the collective conscience with false promises, all the while empowering Israel to perpetuate its genocide both directly and indirectly.

Constructing a pier from scratch, particularly when US aid has been sitting for over a month in an Israeli port just 25 minutes away, raises significant logistical and security concerns. Given the Biden administration’s reluctance to coordinate with Palestinian officials, it begs the question as to who will ultimately control the pier, and thus the distribution of aid after completion. Palestinians are apprehensive that it may be handed over to the Israeli occupation forces, thereby granting Israel complete control over all access routes to Gaza, by land and by sea.

Biden’s indifference towards the six-month-old genocide was starkly apparent in his calculated anti-Palestinian bias during his recent interview with MSNBC. When he urged Netanyahu to “pay more attention to the innocent lives being lost,” he implicitly suggested that the Israeli prime minister was already paying some attention to this, even while murdering yet more Palestinians, and that he just needed to be more cautious.

Despite Israel’s 75-year history of Palestinian dispossession, Biden doubled down on his attempts to whitewash current Israeli crimes, effectively telling his interviewer that what’s happening in Gaza isn’t “what Israel stands for.” Did his statement stem from pure ignorance of history or is he in denial? Either way, I suspect it’s more indicative of Biden’s ingrained anti-Palestinian racism, wherein he fails to hear or see the pain of “lesser humans”.

As someone who did not grow up in the privilege of Delaware, I witnessed first-hand “what Israel stands for.” I was born and raised in a refugee camp for no reason other than my parents were not Jewish. They were deemed “lesser humans” whose well-being was dispensable to make way for European Jewish immigrants to take their homes. My parents embarked on their journey into a life of precarious refugee status just weeks after one of the many Zionist massacres that paved the way for the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, the Nakba.

Few of the Zionist massacres were as well documented as the massacre in the village of Dair Yaseen, where Jewish terrorists, the predecessors of today’s Israeli army, systematically murdered 15 per cent of the village’s men, women and children. In his memoir, the former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin openly applauded the massacre, stating that the “Dair Yaseen massacre was not only necessary, but without it the state of Israel could not have emerged.”

Israel was thus founded on murdering and maiming the natives and on the ruins of Palestinian homes in 1948. This legacy persists in 2024, exemplified by starving 2.4 million Palestinians in Gaza, and perpetuated further by murdering one out of every 75 people, including 12,500 children, and wounding 73,124 and counting. Moreover, more than half of Gaza’s homes have been destroyed or damaged, 392 educational facilities have been obliterated, only one-third of hospitals are even partially operational, 83 per cent of groundwater wells are out of service, and 267 mosques and churches have been destroyed.

President Biden, Israeli crimes in Gaza are entirely consistent with what Israel has stood for over the past 75 years.

Absent the ending of the genocide and lifting the 18-year-old Israeli blockade on Gaza, Biden’s floating pier, like the airdrop, is a waste of time and money. This is especially true as long as the US continues to provide Israel with the means to starve and kill the very people it is purportedly trying to save.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell put it best in addressing the apparent hypocrisy in the Biden administration on 12 February when he said, “If you believe that too many people are being killed, maybe you should provide less arms in order to prevent so many people having been killed.” Will Biden and Blinken heed Borrell’s advice?

-Jamal Kanj is the author of Children of Catastrophe: Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America, and other books. He writes frequently on Arab world issues for various national and international commentaries. His article appeared in MEMO.

Gaza’s floating pier and Biden’s fake empathy are cynical PR exercises (






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