All Kamala Harris Has To Tell Benny Gantz Is No

But Gantz is in Washington to give Team Biden an Israeli to say yes to who isn't Netanyahu. PLUS: Evan and I sign on Friday! 

All Kamala Harris Has To Tell Benny Gantz Is No
Kamala Harris in 2021.

Edited by Sam Thielman

BENNY GANTZ, a member of the Israeli War Cabinet and one of Benjamin Netanyahu's political rivals, is in Washington. Netanyahu is reportedly mad about Gantz's trip, since the entire point of it is to undercut Netanyahu before the Biden administration. Most symbolically, Netanyahu has yet to get a White House meeting in Joe Biden's presidency, while Gantz will walk through the White House doors on Monday to meet with national security adviser Jake "A Wide Degree of Convergence" Sullivan and, crucially, Vice President Kamala Harris. 

Gantz's visit signals "there is someone in the Israeli government that U.S. officials find worthy of their trust, after the last five months added on three years' worth of distrust and suspicion toward Netanyahu," writes Haaretz's Ben Samuels. Put differently, Biden, especially after Michigan, recognizes that Bibi "Total Victory" Netanyahu is both radioactive to his political coalition and intransigent to his immediate imperatives of a ceasefire and aid acceleration, and he needs a different Israeli interlocutor. At the dynamic's most basic, Biden needs Israel to have a different face than Netanyahu. Gantz, whose party polls indicate would outperform Netanyahu's if elections were held today, has the credibility to be that face. 

Gantz, FOREVER WARS can confirm, is a different person than Benjamin Netanyahu. But the Biden administration is doing something cynical here, just as cynical as arming Israel and then congratulating itself for parachuting an insufficient amount of food into Gaza. Gantz is part of the Israeli triumvirate that comprises the Israeli war council, alongside Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. He is one of the architects of the starvation, decimation and, to use the word that the highest international court found to plausibly apply, genocide in Gaza. 

What does Gantz want? Citing a source close to Gantz, Al Jazeera reports that he's in Washington to "preserv[e] the legitimacy for the continuation of the ground operation in Gaza." He'll also seek a "new security arrangement in Lebanon"—it's unclear as of now what that means—additional U.S. pressure on ceasefire negotiators, and cheerlead for normalization with Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries that the U.S. and Israel have long sought over the backs of the Palestinians. Underscoring that this visit is about preserving Israel's maneuverability to crush Gaza, Omar Ashour of the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies also expects Gantz to seek more ammunition from his U.S. interlocutors. Gantz is capable of hitting the grace notes that Netanyahu doesn't care to, all while asking for the stuff that Netanyahu wants. 

On Sunday, Harris gave one of the Biden administration's strongest statements to date demanding Israel abandon its "unnecessary restrictions" on the arrival of aid through Israeli-controlled checkpoints. The vice president urged an "immediate ceasefire," which is the furthest the administration has gone rhetorically in five months of war. But two weeks ago, Harris' colleagues at the U.N. vetoed a far more thoroughgoing ceasefire than the six-week one she endorsed. It was their third such veto. 

The Biden administration's typical caveats are sprinkled throughout Harris' remarks. "As I have said repeatedly since October 7th, Israel has a right to defend itself," she reiterated. Harris portrayed Hamas as the ceasefire rejectionists, no matter how many times we've heard Israeli government officials vow to fight until their nebulous "total victory," to say nothing of the fact that Hamas is participating in ceasefire negotiations in Cairo and Israel is not. Israel, she said, must "work to restore basic services"—good luck with that, however long that would take—"promote order in Gaza"—meaning what, exactly? Whose order?—"so more food, water, and fuel can reach those in need." Not, for instance, "so food, water and fuel can reach those in need," just somewhat more than currently does, meaning that Harris is not demanding Israel lift the siege of Gaza that by design is collective punishment. 

(Although I'm very curious about Harris pledging to work on "a new route by sea to deliver aid," since the Israeli navy has blockaded Gaza for more than 15 years. What could this mean?) 

I mention all those caveats so it's clear we all recognize the limits of Harris' commitment. But let's put them aside for a moment. One way it would be instantly clear that Harris' comments matter would be for her to tell Benny Gantz today that he gets nothing. Israel must first do as Harris said on Sunday, and immediately open the checkpoints so two million people, including the children who are dropping dead of starvation, can live at least somewhat like two million people. Only after that process has remained in place for long enough to demonstrate military muscle memory can the U.S. turn to Gantz's wish list. 

This is the most basic form of diplomacy with an intransigent client that could possibly occur, and all of it within the context of Harris' avowed continued friendship with Israel. It would stop well short of threatening an end to U.S. military aid to Israel. Harris, as noted above, did not ask for much and could have asked for a lot more. (As Mehdi Hasan notes, the White House could stop all of this with a phone call!) But unless she and the rest of the Biden administration utilize their many points of leverage over Gantz and the government he represents, she might as well have not said anything at all. 

But Benny Gantz is not in Washington today so the Biden-Harris administration can tell him no. He's in Washington today so the Biden-Harris administration can tell an Israeli official who isn't Benjamin Netanyahu yes. 

PANKAJ MISHRA writes an electrifying essay titled "The Shoah After Gaza." The title is not what I would consider truly representative of the Mishra-esque sweep of history that the essay contains. But Mishra is indeed concerned with what happens to memorialization, understanding and, crucially, identification with the victims of the Holocaust after Israel and Zionism have exploited them to commit genocide in Gaza. 

Mishra doesn't say this, but that question better concern the various Holocaust memorial organizations. Activists in January projected NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE onto the U.S. Holocaust Museum, because NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE is the purpose of the U.S. Holocaust Museum, and yet the U.S. Holocaust Museum has been silent about the Again that Israel is performing in Gaza. "The mission of the Holocaust Museum should be universal, not one primarily based in the exceptionalism of Jews," the activists wrote to the Museum in November. 

I learned about the Shoah from Survivors. I heard their stories from their voices, I saw the terrifying discolorations their tattooed numbers left on their skin, and I tremble at how the world will dismiss the horrors they endured when they are no longer here to testify on their own behalf. Their lessons are many, but at bottom their lesson is one: NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE.

Mishra spares space and regard for NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE, "the slogan of the brave young activists of Jewish Voice for Peace." His essay is even more expansive than that, and is really worth your time. 

I WON'T HAVE ANYTHING MORE PROFOUND to say about the Supreme Court ruling that active self-coup-ing is no disqualification to ballot access than the plain text of the 14th Amendment's prohibition on insurrection:

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability. 

Oh well! I'm sure they won't do it again just because they faced no real consequences the last time they tried it. 

FRIDAY! On Friday, March 8, me and my WALLER VS. WILDSTORM co-writer and friend Evan Narcisse will be signing at Brooklyn's finest, Bulletproof Comics on Nostrand Avenue! From 5pm to the 8pm closing, not only can you get your currently-available-for-purchase WVW hardcover edition signed, but you should get Evan to sign your copies of Rise of The Black Panther, Batman: Gotham Knights–Gilded City, the Milestone 30th Anniversary special and all his other modern comics instant-classics. Come hang, it'll be fun. 

Meanwhile, if you don't have single issues of WVW and you want a four-issue set signed by me, they're going fast at Bulletproof! No one is prouder of WVW than her older sibling, REIGN OF TERROR: HOW THE 9/11 ERA DESTABILIZED AMERICA AND PRODUCED TRUMP, which is available now in hardcover, softcover, audiobook and Kindle edition. And on the way is a new addition to the family: THE TORTURE AND DELIVERANCE OF MAJID KHAN