The Incorrigible President and His Indefensible Gaza Policy

The Court and the president could scarcely be more out of alignment.

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Nick Kristof makes the mistake of taking Biden at his word:

This should be an easy call, and it offers Biden a chance to rescue his failed Gaza policy, for, in this case, Biden and the World Court are fundamentally aligned [bold mine-DL]: They both oppose an all-out invasion of Rafah, and they both want Israel to allow in more humanitarian aid. But for seven months, Biden has allowed himself to be ignored and steamrolled by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the question now is whether the court ruling will help Biden find the gumption to pressure Israel to obey the decision.

It should be clear by now that Biden has no intention of using U.S. leverage to halt Israel’s offensive in Rafah. It is also impossible to miss that Biden and the International Court of Justice (ICJ) have taken opposing positions. The ICJ has ordered Israel to halt its current operations whether they qualify as an “all-out invasion” or not. The Biden administration is pretending that the offensive is “limited,” no matter how devastating its effects are. The ICJ takes the danger to the Palestinian population of Gaza seriously. The Biden administration obviously does not. The Court sees a possible genocide in the making. Biden flatly denies this. The Court and the president could scarcely be more out of alignment.

Kristof is right about Biden’s Gaza policy, but he keeps entertaining the fantasy that Biden will suddenly decide to do the right thing after more than seven months of proving to everyone that he won’t. Yes, it should be an easy call for Biden to endorse the ICJ’s order to end the attack on Rafah, but then it should have been an easy call for Biden to oppose the indiscriminate slaughter and mass starvation that have been taking place for more than half a year. It should have been an easy call to conclude that the Israeli government had violated international law and impeded the delivery of aid, but instead the administration ignored the evidence and the views of its own experts so that it could keep transferring weapons to them.

The president fails to get these easy calls right because preventing harm to the civilian population in Gaza and averting famine have never been priorities for him. We don’t have to guess about this. We need only review the record of what he has done and what he refuses to do.

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Daniel Larison is a contributing editor for and maintains his own site at Eunomia. He is former senior editor at The American Conservative. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.