Open Letter to the President: Learn the Names of the Children You Are Killing

by Norman Solomon [excerpts]

To: President Joe Biden

You’ve often spoken of how much you care about children and how terrible it is when they’re murdered. “Too many schools, too many everyday places have become killing fields,” you said at the White House last spring on the one-year anniversary of the school shooting in Uvalde. At the time of that tragedy in Texas, you had quickly gone on live television, speaking gravely.

“There are parents who will never see their child again,” you said, adding: “To lose a child is like having a piece of your soul ripped away. . . . It’s a feeling shared by the siblings, and the grandparents, and their family members, and the community that’s left behind.”

And you asked plaintively: “Why are we willing to live with this carnage? Why do we keep letting this happen? Where in God’s name is our backbone to have the courage to deal with it and stand up to the lobbies?”

The massacre in Uvalde took the lives of 19 children. For nearly three months, the ongoing massacre in Gaza has taken the lives of that many children every few hours.

In mid-November, after five weeks of Israel’s bombing of Gaza, the director-general of the World Health Organization reported that children were being killed at an average rate of six per hour, adding that “nowhere and no one is safe.” Palestinian civilians of all ages continue to undergo slaughter, with the death toll surpassing 20,000.

You have continued to voice support for Israel’s military assault on Gaza and its residents. After 10 weeks of the carnage, when you got around to expressing a bit of concern about Israel’s “indiscriminate bombing,” [remarks you later ‘walked back’] you were meanwhile still doing everything you could to greenlight and fast-track massive U.S. shipments of weapons and ammunition to Israel so that the indiscriminate bombing could continue.

As commander-in-chief, you have approved large-scale shipments to Israel of 2,000-pound bombs — described by the New York Times as a weapon that “unleashes a blast wave and metal fragments thousands of feet in every direction.”

In a Dec. 21 video report based on analysis of “aerial imagery and artificial intelligence” — headlined “Visual Evidence Shows Israel Dropped 2,000-Pound Bombs Where It Ordered Gaza’s Civilians to Move for Safety” — the Times indicated that “Israel used these munitions in the area it designated safe for civilians at least 200 times.” Those 2,000-pound bombs have been “a pervasive threat to civilians seeking safety across south Gaza.”

Since the war in Gaza began 11 weeks ago, the Times reported, “the U.S. has sent more than 5,000 2,000-pound bombs” to Israel. And after a long phone conversation with Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu on Dec. 23, you told the press: “I did not ask for a ceasefire.”

With your ongoing help, Israel is continuing to murder children and other civilians in Gaza just as methodically as the gunman murdered children at the elementary school in Uvalde. And you have continued to provide weaponry for the murders just as surely as the gun shop in Uvalde sold firearms and ammunition to the man who went on to kill at the elementary school.

When three 9-year-old students were among those shot to death at a school in Nashville last March, you spoke about them the next day. “A family’s worst nightmare has occurred,” you said. “Those children should all be with us still,” you said. And you said: “We know the names of the victims.”

But you don’t know the names of the children you’ve helped to murder in Gaza. And there are so many.

Norman Solomon is the national director of and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His latest book, War Made Invisible: How America Hides the Human Toll of Its Military Machine, is published by The New Press.

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