Society / January 26, 2024

Why I Am Testifying in a Lawsuit Charging Biden With Complicity in Genocide

Through ongoing financial and military support, the Biden administration has not only failed to stop Israel’s genocidal campaign in Gaza but has also enabled it.

Khaled Quzmar
President Joe Biden (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet in Tel Aviv, Israel, on October 18, 2023.
President Joe Biden (l) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet in Tel Aviv, Israel, on October 18, 2023.(GPO / Handout / Anadolu via Getty Images)

Last week, President Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the first time in nearly a month, finally picking up the phone as the death toll in Gaza continued to climb and Israeli siege policies made famine imminent.

Once again, Biden failed to obtain any kind of agreement from Netanyahu to so much as ease Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip or to respect the basic tenets of international law. Nor is there any indication that he tried, despite the fact that the United States’s investment in the assault—both financial and military—continues to make the brutality possible. Instead, despite talk of friction between the two men, and as Netanyahu again rebuffed Biden’s call for Palestinian sovereignty, the president continued to offer his undiminished public support.

It is now painfully and undeniably clear that Biden has not only failed to prevent the crime of genocide against Palestinians in Gaza but that his administration is also actively supporting and perpetuating Israel’s genocidal military campaign.

This is why I will testify today in historic proceedings in United States federal court related to a lawsuit my organization—along with other human rights groups and Palestinians in both Gaza and the US—have brought against President Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin for their complicity in the genocide against Palestinians in Gaza. At the hearing, we will be asking the courts to order the Biden administration to stop providing military and diplomatic assistance to Israel.

The Israeli military has killed more than 25,000 Palestinians, including more than 10,000 children, in the last three-and-a-half months. Twice as many have been wounded, and thousands remain missing, presumed to be buried under the rubble of destroyed buildings. Nearly 2 million people have been forcibly displaced in one of the most lethal and destructive bombing campaigns in history, and an airtight siege prevents food, water, medical supplies, and other humanitarian aid from reaching people in need.

Israel’s government and military have done all of this with the active financial, military, and diplomatic support of President Biden and his administration. Israel is the largest recipient of US foreign assistance since World War II, receiving, to date, $158 billion in bilateral assistance and missile system funding (and that is in current, or non-inflation-adjusted, dollars).

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On top of that, the Biden administration has twice expedited the sale of even more US weapons to the Israeli military since October, bypassing congressional review each time.

Today’s federal hearing comes two weeks after South Africa invoked the Genocide Convention against Israel at the International Court of Justice. I was in The Hague for the first hearings, and saw representatives of the people of South Africa, who dismantled an apartheid regime in their country, clearly detail the crimes being committed against the Palestinian people by Israel, which continues to be an apartheid regime. It was incredibly moving to witness the struggle for Palestinian human rights being taken seriously in an international court for the first time.

This case, and Biden’s complicity, is personal for me as the leader of a Palestinian child-rights organization with staff in Gaza.

My colleague Mohammad Abu Rukbeh, Defense for Children International–Palestine’s senior field researcher, is living in a tent with his family in southern Gaza. Mohammad, who has been documenting child fatalities and injuries in Gaza for two decades, is from Jabalia, in northern Gaza. Since the beginning of Israel’s military offensive, Israeli air strikes have forced Mohammed to relocate his family half a dozen times. At least eight members of Mohammad’s family have been killed, including several young nephews, and last month, an Israeli soldier shot his mother in the leg. She is diabetic and, since Israel has decimated the healthcare system, her leg was amputated.

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Much of the weaponry with which Israel has been inflicting its violence on Mohammad and the people of Gaza can be traced back to the United States. Israel’s fleet of warplanes as well as the bombs it has been dropping on his neighborhood are produced by Boeing. The soldier who shot his mother in the leg is a member of the Israeli military, which receives $3.8 billion a year in US funding. Mohammad is living in a cold tent with his wife and four young children, who don’t have enough to eat, because Biden has refused to call for a cease-fire that would allow lifesaving humanitarian aid to reach Palestinians in need of food, clean water, medicine, cooking fuel, and warm clothes.

It is easy to fall into despair as each day brings news of a tragedy worse than the day before. But there are a million children still alive in Gaza, and Biden can save their lives.

Every day that passes without a cease-fire, these children get hungrier, thirstier, colder, and sicker. More will be killed by Israeli bombs and more will die of disease that is rapidly spreading in crowded displacement camps. There is still time for these children to grow up—if Biden demands an immediate cease-fire and stops sending weapons to Israel. For their sake, Biden must reverse course and act now to rein Israel in and end its genocidal campaign in Gaza.

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Khaled Quzmar

Khaled Quzmar is a Palestinian lawyer and the general director of Defense for Children International–Palestine.

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