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The U.S. won’t back down from the challenge of Putin and Hamas

By Joe Biden
Joe Biden is the President of the United States of America
Washington Post

Today, the world faces an inflection point, where the choices we make — including in the crises in Europe and the Middle East — will determine the direction of our future for generations to come.

What will our world look like on the other side of these conflicts?

Will we deny Hamas the ability to carry out pure, unadulterated evil? Will Israelis and Palestinians one day live side by side in peace, with two states for two peoples?

Will we hold Vladimir Putin accountable for his aggression, so the people of Ukraine can live free and Europe remains an anchor for global peace and security?

And the overarching question: Will we relentlessly pursue our positive vision for the future, or will we allow those who do not share our values to drag the world to a more dangerous and divided place?

Both Putin and Hamas are fighting to wipe a neighboring democracy off the map. And both Putin and Hamas hope to collapse broader regional stability and integration and take advantage of the ensuing disorder. America cannot, and will not, let that happen. For our own national security interests — and for the good of the entire world.

The United States is the essential nation. We rally allies and partners to stand up to aggressors and make progress toward a brighter, more peaceful future. The world looks to us to solve the problems of our time. That is the duty of leadership, and America will lead. For if we walk away from the challenges of today, the risk of conflict could spread, and the costs to address them will only rise. We will not let that happen.

That conviction is at the root of my approach to supporting the people of Ukraine as they continue to defend their freedom against Putin’s brutal war.

We know from two world wars in the past century that when aggression in Europe goes unanswered, the crisis does not burn itself out. It draws America in directly. That’s why our commitment to Ukraine today is an investment in our own security. It prevents a broader conflict tomorrow.

We are keeping American troops out of this war by supporting the brave Ukrainians defending their freedom and homeland. We are providing them with weapons and economic assistance to stop Putin’s drive for conquest, before the conflict spreads farther.

The United States is not doing this alone. More than 50 nations have joined us to ensure that Ukraine has what it needs to defend itself. Our partners are shouldering much of the economic responsibility for supporting Ukraine. We have also built a stronger and more united NATO, which enhances our security through the strength of our allies, while making clear that we will defend every inch of NATO territory to deter further Russian aggression. Our allies in Asia are standing with us as well to support Ukraine and hold Putin accountable, because they understand that stability in Europe and in the Indo-Pacific are inherently connected.

We have also seen throughout history how conflicts in the Middle East can unleash consequences around the globe.

We stand firmly with the Israeli people as they defend themselves against the murderous nihilism of Hamas. On Oct. 7, Hamas slaughtered 1,200 people, including 35 American citizens, in the worst atrocity committed against the Jewish people in a single day since the Holocaust. Infants and toddlers, mothers and fathers, grandparents, people with disabilities, even Holocaust survivors were maimed and murdered. Entire families were massacred in their homes. Young people were gunned down at a music festival. Bodies riddled with bullets and burned beyond recognition. And for over a month, the families of more than 200 hostages taken by Hamas, including babies and Americans, have been living in hell, anxiously waiting to discover whether their loved ones are alive or dead. At the time of this writing, my team and I are working hour by hour, doing everything we can to get the hostages released.

And while Israelis are still in shock and suffering the trauma of this attack, Hamas has promised that it will relentlessly try to repeat Oct. 7. It has said very clearly that it will not stop.

The Palestinian people deserve a state of their own and a future free from Hamas. I, too, am heartbroken by the images out of Gaza and the deaths of many thousands of civilians, including children. Palestinian children are crying for lost parents. Parents are writing their child’s name on their hand or leg so they can be identified if the worst happens. Palestinian nurses and doctors are trying desperately to save every precious life they possibly can, with little to no resources. Every innocent Palestinian life lost is a tragedy that rips apart families and communities.

Our goal should not be simply to stop the war for today — it should be to end the war forever, break the cycle of unceasing violence, and build something stronger in Gaza and across the Middle East so that history does not keep repeating itself.

Just weeks before Oct. 7, I met in New York with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The main subject of that conversation was a set of substantial commitments that would help both Israel and the Palestinian territories better integrate into the broader Middle East. That is also the idea behind the innovative economic corridor that will connect India to Europe through the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel, which I announced together with partners at the Group of 20 summit in India in early September. Stronger integration between countries creates predictable markets and draws greater investment. Better regional connection — including physical and economic infrastructure — supports higher employment and more opportunities for young people. That’s what we have been working to realize in the Middle East. It is a future that has no place for Hamas’s violence and hate, and I believe that attempting to destroy the hope for that future is one reason that Hamas instigated this crisis.

This much is clear: A two-state solution is the only way to ensure the long-term security of both the Israeli and Palestinian people. Though right now it may seem like that future has never been further away, this crisis has made it more imperative than ever.

A two-state solution — two peoples living side by side with equal measures of freedom, opportunity and dignity — is where the road to peace must lead. Reaching it will take commitments from Israelis and Palestinians, as well as from the United States and our allies and partners. That work must start now.

To that end, the United States has proposed basic principles for how to move forward from this crisis, to give the world a foundation on which to build.

To start, Gaza must never again be used as a platform for terrorism. There must be no forcible displacement of Palestinians from Gaza, no reoccupation, no siege or blockade, and no reduction in territory. And after this war is over, the voices of Palestinian people and their aspirations must be at the center of post-crisis governance in Gaza.

As we strive for peace, Gaza and the West Bank should be reunited under a single governance structure, ultimately under a revitalized Palestinian Authority, as we all work toward a two-state solution. I have been emphatic with Israel’s leaders that extremist violence against Palestinians in the West Bank must stop and that those committing the violence must be held accountable. The United States is prepared to take our own steps, including issuing visa bans against extremists attacking civilians in the West Bank.

The international community must commit resources to support the people of Gaza in the immediate aftermath of this crisis, including interim security measures, and establish a reconstruction mechanism to sustainably meet Gaza’s long-term needs. And it is imperative that no terrorist threats ever again emanate from Gaza or the West Bank.

If we can agree on these first steps, and take them together, we can begin to imagine a different future. In the months ahead, the United States will redouble our efforts to establish a more peaceful, integrated and prosperous Middle East — a region where a day like Oct. 7 is unthinkable.

In the meantime, we will continue working to prevent this conflict from spreading and escalating further. I ordered two U.S. carrier groups to the region to enhance deterrence. We are going after Hamas and those who finance and facilitate its terrorism, levying multiple rounds of sanctions to degrade Hamas’s financial structure, cutting it off from outside funding and blocking access to new funding channels, including via social media. I have also been clear that the United States will do what is necessary to defend U.S. troops and personnel stationed across the Middle East — and we have responded multiple times to the strikes against us.

I also immediately traveled to Israel — the first American president to do so during wartime — to show solidarity with the Israeli people and reaffirm to the world that the United States has Israel’s back. Israel must defend itself. That is its right. And while in Tel Aviv, I also counseled Israelis against letting their hurt and rage mislead them into making mistakes we ourselves have made in the past.

From the very beginning, my administration has called for respecting international humanitarian law, minimizing the loss of innocent lives and prioritizing the protection of civilians. Following Hamas’s attack on Israel, aid to Gaza was cut off, and food, water and medicine reserves dwindled rapidly. As part of my travel to Israel, I worked closely with the leaders of Israel and Egypt to reach an agreement to restart the delivery of essential humanitarian assistance to Gazans. Within days, trucks with supplies again began to cross the border. Today, nearly 100 aid trucks enter Gaza from Egypt each day, and we continue working to increase the flow of assistance manyfold. I’ve also advocated for humanitarian pauses in the conflict to permit civilians to depart areas of active fighting and to help ensure that aid reaches those in need. Israel took the additional step to create two humanitarian corridors and implement daily four-hour pauses in the fighting in northern Gaza to allow Palestinian civilians to flee to safer areas in the south.

This stands in stark opposition to Hamas’s terrorist strategy: hide among Palestinian civilians. Use children and innocents as human shields. Position terrorist tunnels beneath hospitals, schools, mosques and residential buildings. Maximize the death and suffering of innocent people — Israeli and Palestinian. If Hamas cared at all for Palestinian lives, it would release all the hostages, give up arms, and surrender the leaders and those responsible for Oct. 7.

As long as Hamas clings to its ideology of destruction, a cease-fire is not peace. To Hamas’s members, every cease-fire is time they exploit to rebuild their stockpile of rockets, reposition fighters and restart the killing by attacking innocents again. An outcome that leaves Hamas in control of Gaza would once more perpetuate its hate and deny Palestinian civilians the chance to build something better for themselves.

And here at home, in moments when fear and suspicion, anger and rage run hard, we have to work even harder to hold on to the values that make us who we are. We’re a nation of religious freedom and freedom of expression. We all have a right to debate and disagree and peacefully protest, but without fear of being targeted at schools or workplaces or elsewhere in our communities.

In recent years, too much hate has been given too much oxygen, fueling racism and an alarming rise in antisemitism in America. That has intensified in the wake of the Oct. 7 attacks. Jewish families worry about being targeted in school, while wearing symbols of their faith on the street or otherwise going about their daily lives. At the same time, too many Muslim Americans, Arab Americans and Palestinian Americans, and so many other communities, are outraged and hurting, fearing the resurgence of the Islamophobia and distrust we saw after 9/11.

We can’t stand by when hate rears its head. We must, without equivocation, denounce antisemitism, Islamophobia, and other forms of hate and bias. We must renounce violence and vitriol and see each other not as enemies but as fellow Americans.

In a moment of so much violence and suffering — in Ukraine, Israel, Gaza and so many other places — it can be difficult to imagine that something different is possible. But we must never forget the lesson learned time and again throughout our history: Out of great tragedy and upheaval, enormous progress can come. More hope. More freedom. Less rage. Less grievance. Less war. We must not lose our resolve to pursue those goals, because now is when clear vision, big ideas and political courage are needed most. That is the strategy that my administration will continue to lead — in the Middle East, Europe and around the globe. Every step we take toward that future is progress that makes the world safer and the United States of America more secure.

Attention MAGAs: if you would like to comment, make sure it's in response to a point made in this OpEd.
Picklebobble2 · 56-60, M
Same old same old.

Where was this passion for those poor bastards in Afghanistan who were left to fight for themselves with the Taliban closing in ?

Neither Israel nor Palestine is interested in anything other than the destruction of the other.
That's a mindset handed down generation after generation

No settlement is ever going to be agreed on because we know from previous bitter experience that while one group is happy to have the 'group photograph of peace with today's U S. President' (how many of those lay in the archives ?) The next generation of extremist is already assured because you've done nothing that addresses that.
Northwest · M
@Picklebobble2 There is no Palestine today, and that's the problem.

There is a solution, and it's called a 2-state solution, with full autonomy provided to a Palestinan state, free from both Hamas and Israel.

This is the only acceptable solution post Hamas war, and this is what the Biden administration will be pushing for. Netanyahu will be gone soon.
Picklebobble2 · 56-60, M
@Northwest .....only to be replaced by the [b]next[/b] one.
There's nothing coming out of Israel that i've heard that suggests there's even an appetite for peace.
We're going to need another 4 years of well intentioned leadership, at a minimum, to carry that out.
RodionRomanovitch · 56-60, M
I can see why he's trying to conflate the two (to get Congress to approve the latest funding bill) but really they have very little in common , no matter how hard he tries to suggest otherwise.

Also , if he was so keen on resurrecting the myth of the two state solution then why has he done precisely nothing to address it in his first term. And how does he reconcile that idea with the fact that Netanyahu and his Govt. are implacably opposed to any kind of Palestinian State ever ?
Northwest · M
@RodionRomanovitch [quote]why has he done precisely nothing to address it in his first term[/quote]

First term? You mean this term, because in three months, he will have been in office for 2 years only.

The Biden administration has been doing plenty about a 2-state solution, part of the reason why Netanyahu was only invited to the White House a couple of weeks prior to the Oct 7th attack, and the objective was to tell him that his only choice is a 2-state solution, crowned with a deal involving Saudi Arabia, negotiated by the US.

Netanyahu is now effectively gone. The middle right that supported on the grounds of security, dropped him. Even the hateful Sheldon Adelson's legacy papers are calling him unfit to lead.
RodionRomanovitch · 56-60, M
@Northwest Yeah I meant this term , and it will be three years soon not two.

From what I've observed Biden has expended no capital at all in pushing Netanyahu towards a two-state solution (probably because he knew it would be a complete waste of time) and was happy enough to go along with the Trump policy re:the Abram accords and basically ignoring Palestinian claims to Statehood. I'm not sure where you get the idea that he was seriously pushing towards an eventual two state resolution , apart of course from the obligatory clichés that they are all so fond of , and which are meaningless.
Northwest · M
@RodionRomanovitch not true. The White House has been clear about the 2-state solution. But you can choose your own sources.

Even now, and despite what Netanyahu says, the US is clear about what it wants to see post Netanyahu.
starmitzy · 51-55, F
and who agitated Putin and Hamas to begin with?
GrinNude · 61-69, C
@Northwest When peaceful protest is brutally repressed, violent resistance often follows.
GrinNude · 61-69, C
@Northwest As I understand it, the Oslo Accords made no provision for the internationally recognized right to return. And this proved to be its downfall.
Northwest · M
@GrinNude There is no question that Palestinians were repressed, roughed up, bullied and made to feel inferior. While this was not an official policy, soldiers, much like certain cops on our streets, abused their power, and much like our discriminatory police boards, Israel's establishment looked the other way.

I see a debate here, trying to establish that apartheid does not apply to Israel, because it means racial discrimination, when the Israeli and Palestinian people are the same race, if you take Middle Eastern Jews into consideration.

However, the term “apartheid”, an Afrikaans word, derived from the French term “mettre à part”, literally translated to “separating, setting apart,” and this is what Israel has been doing.

Having said all this, Hamas' raison d'être has absolutely nothing to do with oppression. They started to make sure the peace process is sabotaged. We can have the chicken and egg argument here, but the Palestinian Authority knows about Hamas first hand, and fought brutal battles against them.
AthrillatheHunt · 51-55, M
Every major advancement in human history was preceded by turmoil . Can’t wait to see what the next decade holds . It’s gunna be a great show !
Agreed 100%. We're lucky to have Biden in the White House right now instead of Orangeanus.
GrinNude · 61-69, C
Referring to Isreal as a democracy is a bit of a stretch as it moves to becoming even more of an apartheid state.

GrinNude · 61-69, C

This is apartheid.

Amnesty International’s new investigation shows that Israel imposes a system of oppression and domination against Palestinians across all areas under its control: in Israel and the OPT, and against Palestinian refugees, in order to benefit Jewish Israelis. This amounts to apartheid as prohibited in international law.

Laws, policies and practices which are intended to maintain a cruel system of control over Palestinians, have left them fragmented geographically and politically, frequently impoverished, and in a constant state of fear and insecurity.

Apartheid is a violation of public international law, a grave violation of internationally protected human rights, and a crime against humanity under international criminal law.

The term “apartheid” was originally used to refer to a political system in South Africa which explicitly enforced racial segregation, and the domination and oppression of one racial group by another. It has since been adopted by the international community to condemn and criminalize such systems and practices wherever they occur in the world.

The crime against humanity of apartheid under the Apartheid Convention, the Rome Statute and customary international law is committed when any inhuman or inhumane act (essentially a serious human rights violation) is perpetrated in the context of an institutionalised regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over another, with the intention to maintain that system.

Apartheid can best be understood as a system of prolonged and cruel discriminatory treatment.
Northwest · M
@GrinNude [quote]I in my opinion, you can't indefinitely occupy the land of millions of people that have no civil rights and still call yourself a democracy. Just saying.[/quote]

We are somewhat splitting hairs. The USA, Britain, France, and others, indefinitely occupied countries, and were still democracies, within their own countries.

To the rest of the world, and even to the Israeli left leaning governments, and current Israeli center and left of center press, the West Bank is still referred to as occupied territories. It makes settlers existence illegal.

Trump tries to legitimize that with the deals he had his con-in-law do.

Some will try to define Apartheid as something that only applied to South Africa, but that's also splitting hairs. It is what it is, and Israel practices it, and it doesn't change that fact if other countries engage in it. It's just as bad.
@GrinNude They had to change the definition of apartheid to apply it to Israel, as the official definition is of one race oppressing a different race. Since Israelis and Palestinians are the same race, it's not "apartheid" unless you qualify it as "ethnic apartheid." But if you do that, you'd have to include China's oppression of the Uyghurs as well as others.

The majority of Israeli Jews are Mizrahi, who as I've stated earlier, were ethnically cleansed from their communities in MENA after Israel was created. They appear Arab and even they and the Palestinians can't always tell each other apart.
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Northwest · M
@jshm2 We, of course, have a Cold War legacy of interfering in other countries' elections and affairs.

This should have died with the end of the Cold War.

In fact, our initial efforts, since the end of the Cold War, were focused on achieving a 2-state solution to the war in the Middle East If you're not up to speed on it, you should look up what Bill Clinton attempted to do. And I don't mean simply reading a couple of lines on Wikipedia. Try looking up The Oslo accords and the road from Olso, up through the end of the Clinton second term.

The Clinton administration's time in office was marked with an abandonment of our cold war strategy of regime-change.

Then we fucked up bigly, and Bush invaded multiple countries, leading to the creation of ISIS and Hamas and the destabilization of the entire world. We were now back in the regime-change business.

Obama's administration tried to get us out of regime change. Here's a documentary worth watching:


In the meanwhile, Putin never let go of his plan to dominate the world, not because we want to occupy Russia, but because he does not want all that Western influence, namely LGBT, and democracy stuff. Which is his people's business, until he decided to invade other countries (yes, we invaded Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, but we're out of that business now).

You could say Hamas is an outgrowth of Israeli repression and apartheid practices, but Hamas does not have the best interest of the Palestinian people in mind, it is a terrorist Islamist organization.

We can insist on a circle-jerk circular references, going all the way back to Adam and Eve, or focus on trying to figure out a real solution, post Hamas war. I would rather stick with the latter, because the alternative is a circle jerk.
@jshm2 More right wing BS. Nobody forced Putin or Hamas to instigate these wars. If you think violence is a legitimate response to oppression, then you must have supported the looters over the 2020 summer.

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