As humanity watches helplessly when Israel under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues with impunity the genocidal war on Palestinians whether in Gaza or in the West Bank, it is impossible not to note the moral bankruptcy of political leaders across the globe. Of course, bankruptcy has grades.

At the top is US President Joe Biden, the self-styled leader for a rule-based world order. The gap between rhetoric and policy cannot be wider. He exhorts Netanyahu in public to comply with the rules of war as codified in the 1949 Geneva Conventions. Netanyahu scornfully rejects Biden’s plea in private.

The obvious question is: Why is Biden deliberately choosing to punch below his weight? The answer is simple. All that Biden has to do is to order the Pentagon to delay a shipment of arms to Israel by a day or two. Netanyahu will get the message and comply. Why is Biden not doing that? For three reasons.

First, he does not care for Palestinian lives. Saving the lives of innocent Palestinian babies and women is not part of his idea of the ‘rule-based world order’. Second, he is inclined to accept as truth what the Israeli propaganda machine a la Goebbels puts out from time to time.

To give one example, Biden said on October 11 2023: “I have never really thought that I would see, have confirmed pictures of terrorists beheading children.” He added that October 7 was the “deadliest day for Jews since Holocaust”.

The background is that unverified claims about the ‘beheading of children and sexual assault on hostages by the Palestinian armed men who had come into Israel on October 7 2023’ had gone viral on social media in Israel. Nicole Zedeck, a reporter with Tel Aviv- based news channel ‘i24’ claimed in a live broadcast that she had spoken to Israeli soldiers who had seen decapitated babies.

Biden might have seen it. He did not bother to ask his office to cross check and confidently repeated the Israeli propaganda. Soon, the Israeli military denied its having seen decapitated babies and the White House Press issued a statement correcting the President.

The third reason is that Biden is standing for re-election in November 2024, and he needs to take note of the clout of the Israeli lobby in America. The reader might like to look up The Israeli Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy by Professor John Mearsheimer and Professor Stephen Walt. In short, the aid recipient practically controls the foreign policy of the donor to the region.

The most powerful actor on the scene is Netanyahu. He failed to get majority in the last election in 2022 and cobbled up a cabinet with the support of the far right who want to get rid of the Arabs in Israel and the Occupied Territories in any manner: by killing them, or by starving them, or by throwing them into the Dead Sea, Jordan River, or the Eastern Mediterranean.

Netanyahu’s greed for office is strong even though he has been in office for 16 years. He is facing corruption charges and his plans to abridge the independence of the judiciary to save him from an adverse judgement on corruption charges had provoked wide protests before the Hamas attack. Therefore, the Hamas attack is being used by Netanyahu to save his political skin.

Dear reader, does not Shakespeare come to our aid to understand the world we live in as it goes from bad to worse?

Hecate was the goddess associated with the underworld, night, and witchcraft. In Shakespeare’s Macbeth she is the leading witch who foretells Macbeth’s fate: “ Upon the corner of the moon There hangs a vaporous drop profound; I'll catch it ere it come to ground: And that distilled by magic sleights Shall raise such artificial sprites As by the strength of their illusion Shall draw him on to his confusion: He shall spurn fate, scorn death, and bear He hopes 'bove wisdom, grace and fear: And you all know, security Is mortals' chiefest enemy.”

There have been protests against Israel’s genocidal war across the globe from Amman to Rio de Janeiro. We doubt whether Biden has time to watch all that. In some protests in America, some Jews too have taken part. We might note en passant that the Vishwa Guru, the leading voice of the Global South, has seen only minor protests. The reason is obvious. The less said the better.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken went to Israel to beg, to put it in plain English, Netanyahu to consent to a series of limited halts to bombing to enable hostages to escape to cross over to Egypt and to let humanitarian aid into Gaza. We do not know whether his plea for letting in aid was as sincere as the one about the hostages. Till now, 329 trucks have been permitted by Israel after it opened the border on October 21. In short, 23 trucks a day as compared to 500 a day before October 7.

Biden referred to the ‘deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust’. Question: Is not Netanyahu committing a Holocaust by bombing hospitals, schools, places of worship, refugee camps, and ambulances; and by denying Palestinians potable water, food, medicines, and power?

The latest is that the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) bombed a key water storage tank in the north of Gaza. The IDF ordered the Palestinians to vacate the Gaza city and move to the south and then bombed the fleeing Palestinians.

It is pathetic indeed that the American media reputed to be free and fearless have not yet asked Biden this question. I was scandalised to see The Cable News Network (CNN) carrying an interview with an IDF spokesperson who asserted that the ambulances were bombed because Hamas fighters were in them. The CNN played along, encouraging its listeners to take the spokesperson’s words seriously.

Netanyahu has intimidated the West to an incredibly atrocious degree that neither Biden nor any other leader dare ask in public for an immediate cease-fire. Blinken says that a cease-fire now would help Hamas. Obviously, he will ask for a cease-fire only if it helps Netanyahu.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau almost said “cease-fire” the other day. “We need to see a cease-, we need to see a humanitarian pause so we can flow, we need the ceasing of the levels of violence that we're seeing," Trudeau said in a statement issued during his recent visit to Washington.

Are we going to see a day when Washington calls for a cease-fire? We might as the somnambulist Biden might hit a wall. Palestinian-Americans voters are not numerous, but they can make a difference in constituencies such as Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Georgia.

In Michigan with 277,000 Palestinians, Biden won by 155,000 in 2020. In the other two, his margins in 2020 were less than the size of the Palestinian-American community. The latest poll conducted by New York Times/Siena College indicates that Trump leads in 5 out of 6 battleground states that Biden won in 2020.

To go back to Shakespeare. Macbeth murdered King Duncan while he was sleeping. Will Netanyahu cause Biden’s failure to get a second term? The law of karma operates under the moon.

Ambassador K. P. Fabian served in IFS from 1964 to 2000. His latest book is ‘The Arab Spring That Was And Wasn’t’ commissioned by Indian Council Of World Affairs. Views expressed here are the writer's own.