U.S. President Joe Biden (L) meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

U.S. President Joe Biden (L) meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on October 18, 2023.

(Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

Former US Diplomat Says 'Collaboration' in Gaza Genocide Could Make Biden 'Target of Prosecution'

"It is evident that making Gaza uninhabitable is a feature, not a bug in this operation," wrote former State Department adviser Barnett Rubin.

A former top adviser at the U.S. State Department was among nearly 70 former diplomats and officials who urged President Joe Biden on Thursday to strengthen his stance against Israel's practices as it continues its monthslong bombardment of Gaza.

But the Middle East expert, Barnett Rubin, also criticized the letter, calling it "weak" and insufficient in its warnings to the administration.

Rubin, now a distinguished fellow at the Center on International Cooperation, said the dozens of former government and military officials wrote the letter warning against U.S. support for Israel's military tactics in response to a Hamas-led attack on October 7, without considering Israeli officials' open calls for genocidal violence.

"It is evident that making Gaza uninhabitable is a feature, not a bug in this operation," Rubin wrote in what he described as a "letter of dissent" to the former officials. "You have ignored the issue of genocide."

Further, Rubin said, the signatories should have warned Biden of the possible consequences of his military and political support for Israel, whose forces have killed at least 31,988 Palestinians since October 7, including an estimated 13,450 children, and has targeted hospitals, groups of people waiting for humanitarian aid, universities, and other civilian infrastructure, all while claiming to be fighting Hamas.

"President Biden's collaboration in this genocide could make him a target of prosecution," wrote Rubin. "There is NO excuse for providing any aid whatsoever to a force engaged in these actions."

Last month, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese became the first Western leader to be referred to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for giving military and political support to Israel's assault on Gaza. In the U.S., a federal court in January heard a case brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights, arguing that Biden is complicit in "Israel's unfolding genocide." A judge dismissed the case but warned the defendants to "examine the results of their unflagging support of the military siege."

The Biden administration has expressed contempt for international opposition to Israel's actions in Gaza, repeatedly calling South Africa's claim that the IDF is committing a genocide "meritless" and dismissing the ICJ's preliminary finding that South Africa's case was "plausible."

The White House has bypassed Congress numerous times to approve weapons transfers to Israel, and U.S. weapons were used in illegal airstrikes against two homes in October, according to an Amnesty International analysis.

The signatories of the letter to Biden include former Clinton administration national security adviser Anthony Lake, former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, and former USAID Administrator J. Brian Atwood.

They warned that Israel has a "responsibility to conduct operations in accordance with international humanitarian law, which requires that parties prevent indiscriminate killing," and that Israeli officials "set a very negative tone for treatment of civilians" when Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said in October that "no electricity, no food, no water, no fuel" would be allowed into Gaza.

Israel's blockade has led to the collapse of Gaza's healthcare system and famine conditions in at least two of Gaza's five governorates, as well as the deaths of at least 27 Palestinians from starvation so far.

What the signatories did not acknowledge, said Rubin, was that "15 members of the [Israeli] Cabinet attended a joyous rally celebrating the opportunity to expel Palestinians from Gaza" in January.

They also ignored, Rubin said, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's invocation of Amalek in a speech in October, referencing an ancient enemy of the Israelites whose extermination was ordered by God in the Hebrew Bible.

"He claims he was taken out of context," wrote Rubin. "Here is the context: there are many articles and speeches over the last 40+ years... identifying the Palestinians as Amalek... [Israeli officials] regard the expulsion of Palestinians as a 'humane' alternative to extermination."

While signing the letter in which former officials warned that Israel's civilian killings "cannot be justified" and expressed support for Biden's call for a cease-fire lasting at least six weeks, Rubin made clear in his own letter to the signatories that "the purpose of the operation is to 'defend' Israel by making Gaza uninhabitable and forcing the Palestinians to leave by indiscriminate killing, starvation, disease, and humiliation."

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