Changing U.S. Policy on Gaza is Overdue

Image by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona.

The overwhelming U.N. General Assembly vote for a cease-fire in Gaza is the clearest demonstration of the desires of the international community to end the Gaza massacre.

The U.N. General Assembly vote follows the U.N. Security Council vote demanding a cease-fire that was only opposed by the U.S., with Great Britain abstaining. While U.N. Security Council resolutions are legally binding, bringing hope for an end to the carnage of Gaza, the U.N. General Assembly resolutions only carry political weight, but are an expression of worldwide condemnation for Israel’s actions in Gaza The vote in the 193-member body was 153 in favor, 10 against and 23 abstentions, showing strong global support for an end to the Israel-Hamas war.

The U.N. General Assembly voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to demand a humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza in a strong demonstration of global support for ending the Israel-Hamas war. The vote also shows the growing isolation of the United States and Israel. In language tougher than usual, although equally ineffective- President Joe Biden warned before the vote that Israel was losing international support because of its “indiscriminate bombing” of Gaza.

The cost of the war for Palestinian civilians is so high –more than 18,000 dead and more than 50,000 injured- that even President Joe Biden who so far had uncritically supported Israel’s actions, has warned the Israeli government that it is losing worldwide support and should rectify its policies on Gaza. However, Biden’s warning came shortly after the Department of Defense, bypassing Congress, used an emergency declaration from the Arms Control Act to sell 13,981 tank cartridges, worth $106.5 million to Israel.

Biden’s appeal to Israel to change policies is joining the appeal of Israeli academicians, writers, plastic and music artists and thousands of common citizens who consider the Israeli Defense Force’s actions indefensible. In addition, the presidents and leading officers of the most prestigious world charities (CARE, Mercy Corps, the Norwegian refugee Council, Oxfam America, Refugees International and Save the Children U.S.) have joined forces in demanding that the U.S. changes its policies in the Middle East.

In the meantime, the continued massacre of Palestinians makes one wonder how it is possible that a people who have suffered so much at the hands of the Nazis, could inflict so much damage to so many innocent women and children.

What is now going on in Gaza reminds me of the words of Pablo Neruda -one of Latin America greatest poets- during the Spanish civil war. That war, where Neruda lost two of his closest friends, the Spanish poets Federico García Lorca and Miguel Hernández, confirmed Neruda’s becoming a political activist. He ends his poem “I’m explaining a few things” with the following words, that could very well be applied to the situation in Gaza today:

Come and see the blood in the streets.
Come and see
the blood in the streets.
Come and see the blood
in the streets!

© Translation: 1970, Nathaniel Tarn
From: Pablo Neruda Selected Poems: A Bilingual Edition
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin / Seymour Lawrence, Boston, 1970

Dr. Cesar Chelala is a co-winner of the 1979 Overseas Press Club of America award for the article “Missing or Disappeared in Argentina: The Desperate Search for Thousands of Abducted Victims.”