Biden can end the bombing of Gaza right now. Here’s how

Biden can end the bombing of Gaza right now. Here’s how

Mehdi Hasan writes:

Picture the scene. An Israeli prime minister launches airstrikes on an Arab population. Civilians are killed in their thousands. An American president, stunned and shocked by the scenes of carnage on his TV screen, makes a call to his Israeli counterpart. And … within minutes … the bombing is over.

Sound crazy? Or maybe simplistic? Perhaps naive, even?

Yet, the year was 1982. What was supposed to have been a limited incursion into southern Lebanon by the Israeli military over the summer, under the leadership of Ariel Sharon, then defense minister (remember him?), morphed into a months-long siege of Beirut and an all-out assault on the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Between June and August, the Israelis cut off food, water and power to the Lebanese capital in a brutal attempt to destroy the PLO, whose fighters were holed up inside a tunnel network below Beirut. (Sound familiar?)

On 12 August, in what would later be dubbed “Black Thursday”, Israeli jets bombed Beirut for 11 consecutive hours, killing more than 100 people. That same day, a horrified Ronald Reagan placed a phone call to Menachem Begin, then Israeli prime minister, to “express his outrage” and condemn the “needless destruction and bloodshed”.

“Menachem, this is a holocaust,” Reagan told Begin.

Yes, an American leader used the H-word in conversation with an Israeli leader. Begin responded with sarcasm, telling the US president that “I think I know what a holocaust is.” Reagan, however, didn’t budge, insisting on the “imperative” for a ceasefire in Beirut.

Twenty minutes. That’s all the time it took for Begin to call back and tell the president he had ordered Sharon to stop the bombing. It was over. “I didn’t know I had that kind of power,” a surprised Reagan told an aide, upon putting down the phone.

Flash forward 42 years and the Israeli assault on Gaza has now gone on for twice as long as the siege of Beirut. In 1982, Reagan was said to have been moved by the image of a single wounded Lebanese child. As of last week, more than 12,300 Palestinian children had been killed in Gaza, and tens of thousands maimed and injured, in just four months. [Continue reading…]

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