Palestinian child in rubble of Gaza
Palestinian child Mujahid Abu Jazar, injured during the Israeli bombardment of the Rafah refugee camp, stands on the rubble of his home in the southern Gaza Strip on November 15, 2023, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas.
(Photo: Mohammed Abed/AFP via Getty Images)

President Biden Has Let the Children Down

My grief for the children in Gaza is inconsolable; their blood is equally on my government’s hands.

“Between us are many miles of land and water. Between us are fish and cities and buses and fields and presidents... and a million trees.”—Sitti’s Secrets

September 2013

After my wellness appointment, the doctor smiled and asked me to pick a book from the pile to bring home. I was intrigued by Sitti’s Secrets—the story of Mona, an Arab American girl, and her travel from the U.S. to Palestine to visit her “Sitti” (grandmother).

Like Mona, my grandmothers live on other sides of the world—in India and in France. Despite the distance, I too share a close bond with my Nani and Mamie. While Mona’s Sitti baked the special bread, I smelled Nani’s fresh puffed phulkas and Mamie’s crepes. When it was time for Mona to leave her Sitti, I felt her sadness in leaving our loved ones.

Upon her return, Mona wrote a letter to the President of the United States—that she and her Sitti want peace:

Last night when I watched the news on TV, I felt worried.If the people of the United States could meet Sitti, they’d like her, for sure... Mr. President, I wish you my good luck in your very hard job. I vote for peace. My grandmother votes with me.

Gaza War, 2014

The summer of 2014, newspapers on the kitchen table and images flashing on the television caught my attention. My young eyes and ears could not fully comprehend what was happening; all I saw was children like me being bombed. Worried for Mona’s Sitti, I wrote a letter to the President of the United States.

My six-year-old self loved to write; I crafted a very misspelled letter, though a letter nonetheless, to President Barack Obama. The media I had caught a glimpse of kept flashing in my head: bloodied children, rubble, screaming. I believed that the president was unaware, or else he would have done something about it. To my surprise, I received a response from the White House.

President Obama’s reassuring words of his administration promoting peace and security around the world comforted me; I believed that the President of the United States would save innocent families from the horrors of war.

Gaza War, 2023

Nine years later, more than 11,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza in the last month. This resurgence of large-scale violence began with Hamas’ attack on October 7, leaving 1,200 Israelis dead and around 240 taken as hostages. The Israeli government’s response has been an intense air bombardment and ground invasion of Gaza. Its claimed intent—to eliminate Hamas. But, as the days go by and the killings of Palestinian civilians continue, the same feeling I felt nine years ago has returned. With relentless and indiscriminate bombing, the children of Gaza face elimination.

As of now, 4,237 Palestinian children have been killed in just over a month. Over 1,000 more are missing or buried under the rubble of bombarded buildings. Those not killed by bombs are dying from starvation, disease, and dehydration. Most at risk are the youngest—children born during the war in shelters and streets amid rubble. Medical workers are using the term “wounded child no surviving family,” to describe 2023 war orphans in Gaza. The United Nations describes this a “graveyard of children.”

A full 70% of the Gaza’s population—more than 1.5 million people—has been displaced. The Israeli government has bombed hospitals, refugee camps, schools, and even U.N. shelters. There is no safe place for the innocent.

Now I am 16 years old, and doubt clouds my belief in the U.S. government. Mona and I wrote to the president because we believed that the United States had the power to stop these horrors. But the United States aids and abets this merciless carnage. It provides $3.3 billion in military aid to Israel each year. Now the Biden administration is transferring billions more in military aid to Israel, including the bombs that are dropping on Gaza. My grief for the children in Gaza is inconsolable; their blood is equally on my government’s hands.

Millions of people around the world are marching demanding a cease-fire. Yet the United States president refuses to act on what the majority in this country want—an end to this violence.

The children in Gaza who survive will emerge traumatized. Young adults like me, living in countries complicit in this horror, are traumatized. President Obama, you told me that our generation would play an important role in addressing the challenges we face. You told me to dedicate our energy and talent to improve our community and our country. But how can we accomplish this when President Joe Biden has let the children down?

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