Ken Roth in Newsweek:
President Joe Biden has shown a remarkable capacity to change with the times, but when it came to the recent armed conflict between Israeli and Hamas forces, he often seemed to be pressing “rewind” and “play” on an old reel-to-reel tape recorder. The welcome ceasefire provides an opportunity to re-examine this outdated approach.
Much of what Biden said about the conflict would have sounded familiar from U.S. presidents of decades past. But time has not stood still. The Israeli government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has deepened its oppressive, discriminatory rule of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem—a trend that was only accelerated by former President Donald Trump‘s unconditional embrace of Netanyahu. Biden should recognize that disturbing reality and move away from the talking points of his predecessors.
Biden’s initial reflex reaction to the recent hostilities was to reaffirm Israel’s “right to defend itself” from Hamas rocket attacks—a line he repeated even as he announced the ceasefire. But few dispute that truism. The issue is how Israel defends itself—whether, or not, the heavy toll in civilian life and property that it imposed on the people of Gaza complies with the requirements of international humanitarian law, or the laws of war. In Israel’s latest bombardment in Gaza, at least 248 Palestinians were killed, including 66 children and more than 1,900 wounded.