A vote for Biden is still a vote for genocide

Siegrid Tuttle
16 min readJan 2, 2024

When voting for the lesser of two evils becomes genocide complicity

“In a Hitler vs Mussolini election, I would be very concerned if you didn’t vote Mussolini,”

This tweet takes “vote for the lesser of two evils” to its most extreme. Other Twitter users were quick to point out that if there is an election between Hitler and Mussolini, we are almost certainly morally required to take up arms against our government. Others noted that in 1932 many on the left in Germany did vote for the “lesser of two evils,” the 84-year-old conservative incumbent president Paul von Hindenburg, who won the German presidential election. He proceeded to appoint Hitler chancellor, and the rest is history.

Seventy-nine years ago, American troops liberated Buchenwald concentration camp. The survivors of the camp, where the Nazis killed 56,000 people, made signs stating “never again” in every language they spoke. This phrase has become the international slogan of genocide prevention. And it has been uttered again, and again, and again.

Teenage inmates in Buchenwald immediately after liberation. Many are severely malnourished. Hundreds of Buchenwald prisoners continued to die each day after liberation due to the lasting impacts of malnourishment and abuse by the Nazis. (Photo credit Margaret Bourke-White — Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Never again after the Anfal campaign in 1988, when the Iraqi government’s counter-insurgency campaign against Kurdish rebels turned genocidal and at least 50,000 Kurds were killed and dumped in mass graves.

A child’s sandals, exhumed from mass graves in Iraq. (Photo credit: Adam Jones Global Photo Archive : Genocide, War, & Crimes Against Humanity)

Never again after Guatemala’s counterinsurgency war turned genocidal and the government killed 200,000 Mayans between 1982 and 1985, wiping entire villages from the face of the planet.

Volunteers exhume mass graves in Guatemala.

Never again in 2005, after Sudan’s war against rebel groups turned genocidal, and the government systematically depopulated regions of Darfur, murdering 200,000 civilians.

Photo of refugees fleeing Darfur in 2003. (Photo Credit: Álvaro Ybarra Zavala.)

Never again and again and again.

Now we are watching our modern world’s latest genocide unfold in Gaza. If Israel were not a US ally, our leaders would have no problem labeling the current “humanitarian crisis” in Gaza a genocide by Israel against Palestinians. It bears a striking resemblance to the Myanmar military’s genocide and ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya in 2017. In that case, 30,000 civilians were killed in one year, and over 1 million were forced into exile. In less than three months, Israel’s armed forces have killed 22,000 Palestinians and forced 1.1 million people to flee Northern Gaza.

Rohingya children in refugee camps in Bangladesh in 2017. They are fleeing genocide and desperate for food. (Photo Credit: Dar Yasin/AP Photo)
Palestinian children in refugee camps in Gaza, the entire strip is near starvation. (Photo Credit: Abed Zagout / Anadolu via Getty Images)

Like Myanmar, which claimed it was retaliating against attacks by a Rohingya militant group that killed police, Israel claims to be acting in self-defense against Hamas. In fact, every recorded genocide in history has been justified as necessary to a state’s national security. The truth is that no country has the right to deem an entire civilian population as their enemy and destroy it.

A mother holds the body of her one-year-old who was killed in Israeli airstrikes as bodies pile up in Gaza. Photo Credit: Ahmad Hasaballah / Getty Images

The genocide in Gaza has specific parallels to the Holocaust. Gaza is a ghetto. The majority of Palestinians in Gaza are the descendants of the 750,000 Palestinians forced out of what is now Israel and into refugee camps in Gaza during the 1948 Nakba. Israel has not allowed these people to return home for fear they would make Israel majority Arab.

As Masha Gessen summarized,

“For the last seventeen years, Gaza has been a hyperdensely populated, impoverished, walled-in compound where only a small fraction of the population had the right to leave for even a short amount of time — in other words, a ghetto. Not like the Jewish ghetto in Venice or an inner-city ghetto in America but like a Jewish ghetto in an Eastern European country occupied by Nazi Germany. In the two months since Hamas attacked Israel, all Gazans have suffered from the barely interrupted onslaught of Israeli forces. Thousands have died. On average, a child is killed in Gaza every ten minutes. Israeli bombs have struck hospitals, maternity wards, and ambulances. Eight out of ten Gazans are now homeless, moving from one place to another, never able to get to safety.”

The term “open-air prison” seems to have been coined in 2010 by David Cameron, the British Foreign Secretary who was then Prime Minister. Many human-rights organizations that document conditions in Gaza have adopted the description. But as in the Jewish ghettoes of Occupied Europe, there are no prison guards — Gaza is policed not by the occupiers but by a local force. Presumably, the more fitting term “ghetto” would have drawn fire for comparing the predicament of besieged Gazans to that of ghettoized Jews. It also would have given us the language to describe what is happening in Gaza now. The ghetto is being liquidated.”

This chart effectively shows how Israel is liquidating Gaza. The Gaza Strip is the size of Philadelphia, but holds over 2 million people. They are not allowed to leave.

Genocides are a crime the powerful commit against the powerless in order to take their land or property. The Nazis began taking Jewish property and assets through legal reforms that stripped German Jews of their rights in 1933, this process intensified until 1938, when the erordnung zur Ausschaltung der Juden aus dem deutschen Wirtschaftsleben (regulation for the elimination of Jews from German economic life) was enacted and all Jewish jewelry, businesses, assets, and property were redistributed to German citizens. As the Jews of Europe were systematically murdered during the Holocaust, their stuff was systematically stolen.

Similarly, the genocide of Native Americans began and ended with White colonizers taking their land. Likewise, during the Armenian genocide in 1915, when the Ottoman Empire killed an estimated 1.5 million Armenians and eliminated most evidence their culture ever existed, the Armenians’ land, goods, and properties were plundered.

In 1948, during the first Nakba, eighty percent of Palestinians were violently expelled from what is now Israel. Israel stole the land of Palestinians who had been massacred or forced to flee. Most Palestinians became stateless refugees in the surrounding Arab nations and modern Palestine. For decades, Israel has built illegal settlements in Palestine, stealing more Palestinian land and homes for Israeli settlers. Now Israel is launching a full assault on Gaza, ensuring Palestinians will not be alive to reclaim their land or homes.

The Jabalia Refugee Camp in Gaza, bombed out by Israeli airstrikes. (Photo Credit: Yahya Hassouna / AFP — Getty Images)

Genocide is a crime of greed that is justified by hate, which is justified by fear.

The leaders of Israel have placed collective blame for the Hamas attack on Palestinians in Gaza. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu compared Palestine to Amelakites, a reference to the verses in the Torah where God tells the Israelites “Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.” Killing everyone in an ethnic group, even if you have deemed them your enemy, is a genocide.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog signs bombs before they are used against Palestinian civilians.

Israel’s war on Gaza is a genocide because Israel has specifically targeted civilian infrastructure: hospitals, homes, and places of worship. Currently, twenty-seven of Gaza’s thirty-six hospitals are not functioning. Israel repeatedly claims Hamas is using hospitals and schools as military bases with little or no evidence, in order to justify destroying infrastructure critical to human life in Gaza.

With only nine hospitals still operating in Gaza, the health system has collapsed as it is flooded with people in need. (Image Credit: Ahmad Hasaballah/Getty Images)

Israel’s war on Gaza is a genocide because the Israeli military destroyed and razed cemeteries, the Gaza City Archives, and important heritage sites in Palestine. Targeting, destroying, and defacing the historical and cultural records of a group of people is something only done by an army aiming to destroy an entire culture.

Cemetary bulldozed and destroyed by the Israeli military. Photo from the New York Times.
Israel bombed the third oldest church in the world, Saint Porphyrius Greek Orthodox church in Gaza. Part of the church was destroyed and sixteen people were killed. Hundreds of Muslims and Christians were sheltering from Israeli airstrikes in the church when it was targeted. Above Palestinians hold a mass funeral in the church courtyard for those killed in the attack.

Israel’s war on Gaza is a genocide because Israel cut off all electricity, food, and water going into Gaza, measures aiming to create unlivable conditions of life for Palestinians. Nine out of ten people in Gaza are going without food for at least twenty-four hours due to food shortages and more than half a million Palestinians are at catastrophic levels of food need according to The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC).

Young children take shelter inside Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, Gaza.

Israel has murdered 22,000 Palestinians in two months and is on a path to starve or kill all 2.2 million residents of the Gaza Strip.

On October 28, the director of the New York office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stepped down because, as he wrote in his resignation letter, “we are seeing a genocide unfolding before our eyes [in Gaza] and the Organization that we serve appears powerless to stop it.”

Wait, why is the United Nations powerless to stop a genocide?

Enter the Biden Administration.

The United Nations has the ability to use diplomacy, economic measures, and peacekeeping forces to intervene when nations are committing mass atrocities or breaking international law. Measures to take immediate action go through the Security Council, which has 15 members. The Biden Administration vetoed a humanitarian ceasefire resolution that would have allowed the United Nations to stop the genocide in Gaza.

At the United Nations World Summit in 2005, all nations unanimously agreed to Responsibility To Protect (R2P). R2P was a response to the repeated failure of the United Nations to stop two of the worst genocides the world has ever seen in the 1990s — Rwanda and Bosnia. It states that in cases of genocide or mass atrocities against civilians the international community has a responsibility to intervene immediately.

The Biden Administration is making R2P a laughing stock, proving that the United Nations’ promises to end genocide are meaningless when a genocide aligns with the interests of powerful Americans.

Biden has also acted to stop other nations from intervening to stop the genocide. Yemen announced that it would shut down Israeli shipping in the Red Sea until “the Israeli aggression against our steadfast brothers in the Gaza Strip stops.” The nation attacked three Israeli vessels, effectively stopping Israeli shipping but harming no one. This economic sanction could force Israel to end its genocide.

The Biden Administration announced a multinational coalition to “protect” shipping in the Red Sea and moved a Strike ship to the region, calling the Houthis in Yemen “bandits” for trying to stop a war.

The United States is the largest funder of the Israeli military and the Biden Administration refuses to put any conditions on that military aid, essentially greenlighting the use of US weapons for Israel’s genocide. It is hard to describe how much aid the US gives Israel each year. Under the current 10-year Memorandum of Understanding with Israel, signed by the Obama Administration in 2016, the United States agreed to give Israel $3.3 billion in military funding and $500 million for missile defense each year for ten years. In all, the Memorandum promises Israel a total of $38 billion in military aid over ten years. To put that amount in perspective, it is enough money to end homelessness in America or pay 380,000 teachers salaries of 100,000 a year. That would more than solve America’s teacher shortage. (Right now America is short 300,000 teachers). It is a massive amount of money going to support a genocidal government. Put simply, Israel’s genocide could not happen without the United States’ financial and political support.

On top of this, following the Hamas attack Biden advocated for the US to send Israel $14.3 billion more in military aid. He has also used emergency determinations twice in the last month to sell weapons to Israel without going through a congressional review for foreign military sales. On December 9, the Biden administration approved the sale of nearly 14,000 rounds of tank ammunition to Israel without going through Congress. On Friday, December 29th, the same day Israel open fired on UN aid workers in Gaza, Biden sold an additional $147.5 million of military equipment to Israel.

In summery, while stopping the international community from taking action to protect civilians, the Biden administration is actively defending and arming Israel’s genocide.

Palestinian refugees react to damages at a UN-run school in Jabalia refugee camp, following an Israeli attack. [Fadi Whadi/Reuters]

Politically, Biden’s choice makes perfect sense. In 2020, Pro-Israel lobbying groups spent $19.3 million to elect Democrats, including donating $3.7 million to the Biden campaign. Pro-Israel groups are the most powerful international lobby. They make or break elections. Israeli-aligned groups are spending more each year to influence US elections. In 2022, the Israeli Super PAC United Democracy Project spent more than 26 million dollars to influence the Democrats’ primary elections. Of the eight candidates they spent money to push against, six lost in their primary elections. Of the eight candidates they supported, six won their primary elections. The majority of pro-Israel lobbying money goes towards Democrats.

Politically, Biden’s choice makes perfect sense. In fact, supporting genociders always makes sense for the people in power. Genocide is a crime the powerful commit against the powerless. Palestinians and their allies do not have 19 million dollars to elect politicians in the United States. Palestinians don’t even have control over their own water supply.

Throughout history, genocides have followed almost identical scripts. They are supremely predictable, yet we consistently fail to prevent them, or even intervene effectively once they begin. This is because genocide prevention usually focuses on people in power taking action against genocide. But if a genocide is going to happen, it is because the people in power benefit from it. The Center for Constituitional Rights puts the United States’ responsibilities under international law clearly in this situation,

“The United States has been obligated, from the instant of learning of the serious risk of genocide of the Palestinian people, to exercise its influence on Israel to prevent the crime. The United States is not only failing to uphold its obligation to prevent the commission of genocide, but there is a plausible and credible case to be made that the United States’ actions to further the Israeli military operation, closure, and campaign against the Palestinian population in Gaza rise to the level of complicity.”

Genocide complicity — which the Biden administration is certainly guilty of — is a crime under international law. The Center for Constitutional Rights continues, “The United States — and U.S. citizens, including and up to the President — can be held responsible for their role in furthering genocide.” The reality is no we can’t. No power in the world can arrest and bring to justice the American government, unless Superman offers his services to the International Court of Justice.

The Government of the United States cannot be held responsible for crimes against humanity. Our military is by far the most powerful in the world, we have the most military strength. Our defense budget is more than $750 billion. Nobody can issue arrest warrants for the president of the United States. The only people on earth with the power to hold the Biden Administration responsible and keep the promise of never again are Americans ourselves. R2P lands on us.

The United Nations cannot uphold its responsibility to protect people in Gaza because the United States will veto any attempt to stop Israel’s murder spree. United States politicians will not uphold their responsibility to protect the people of Gaza for fear of losing pro-Israel funding. And Biden is the most blindly pro-Israel president in United States history.

But the United States of America is a country by the people for the people, even if it does not feel that way. We live in the most powerful nation on Earth, and we can vote. Genocide complicity should lose a politician votes as surely as defying Israel will lose a politician money. Genocide prevention is for the powerless. It is for people with no lobbying power. It is for the children of Gaza. We have the responsibility as citizens of a democratic nation to uphold R2P and punish genocide complicity.

It is our moral responsibility to work against the re-election of every politician who supports Israel’s genocide. That means getting more involved in primary elections and only supporting pro-ceasefire candidates. This is a running list of 2024 politicians who have not pushed for a ceasefire and primary election challengers.

But more importantly, we cannot vote for people who commit genocide. As long as we are willing to vote for politicians who support genocide genocide will continue. The Biden administration supports genocide.

So do Republicans. But the Biden Administration is actively supporting genocide in Gaza right now, not Trump. And we are the only people who can hold him responsible.

It will also ensure at least one party in this country is against genocide. Running for president (or Senate or House of Representatives) requires a huge amount of political support and media attention. Generally, this can only be conferred by the Republican or Democratic parties. These parties determine what issues are on the table. 80% of Democrats support a ceasefire in Gaza, but virtually none of our politicians do. This is profoundly antidemocratic - but logical.

The billions of dollars Democrats get from the pro-Israel lobby are more important than both their human decency and the opinions of their voters. But billions of dollars are not worth more than our votes. Refusal to vote for pro-genocide candidates is the only way to create a world without genocide.

The Democratic Party operates on fear. Its leaders tell us the Republican Party is so fantastically evil that we must vote for them even if they are taking millions of dollars from a foreign government and supporting genocide. This is the logic of “vote for the lesser of two evils.” If both parties are taking millions of dollars from a foreign government and supporting genocide, at least vote for the one that supports abortion.

This is a very literal argument, there is a reason Kamala Harris is on a “freedom of choice” speaking tour while Israel attacks children in hospital beds.

This argument frees the Democratic Party from any fear of being held responsible for their most evil choices. The Democratic and Republican parties have chosen a few topics that divide America. They can trust “vote for the lesser of two evils” to insulate them from any blowback resulting from their consistently terrible takes on everything else.

The truth is this: Bush started wars in the Middle East that have killed between 500,000 and 4.7 million civilians, yet his AIDs relief plan likely saved 25 million lives across the world. Clinton’s sanctions on Iraq, which were presented as more humane than going to war, likely killed 500,000 children through malnourishment. His intervention in Haiti permanently destroyed Haitian democracy and NAFTA resulted in the displacement of 4.9 million farmers in Mexico. Obama protected 650,000 Latin American migrant children through DACA but supported a brutal bombing campaign in Yemen, helping create what remains the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. And Trump’s general incompetence contributed to a Coronavirus epidemic that has killed nearly 7 million people.

An estimated 85,000 children starved to death in Yemen as a result of the war between Houthi rebels and the US-coalition created by Obama. Thousands of civilians were killed in airstrikes within a few months of conflict.

The truth is this: when you try to do the math of evil, you realize that no accountant in America can calculate which side is worse.

You can hate their rhetoric, you can think their ideas are destructive to democracy, but ultimately, your side kills children too. And your side supports a genocide because your side is taking money from a foreign country. And your side has no interest in democracy either, or else your side would not be trying so hard to convince you that in an election you only have one choice.

We need a better strategy to move this country towards democracy and progress than voting for the “lesser of two evils.” Voting for the “lesser of two evils” only allows politicians to become increasingly evil, always aware they just have to convince their side they are less evil than the other politician who supports murdering 22,000 civilians to please their donors.

There is another approach. We must draw a moral line.

I am not an idealist, but I am a moral pragmatist. Sixty-six percent of all likely voters support a ceasefire, including eighty percent of Democrats. Forty percent of Democrats “strongly support” a ceasefire. If the people of conscience in this nation refuse to vote for any politician who has not called for a ceasefire, we will live to see a world without genocide.

We have a responsibility to ensure as long as Democrats support genocide, they will not win elections. Drawing a moral line is the best way to force Democrats to listen to their electorate and the best chance we have to make the promise never again a reality.

The Israel lobby is pumping millions of dollars into US politics, and it is much easier to get people to care about healthcare or abortion or immigration than the mass murder of people in Palestine and a promise the world made in 1945. But the promise persists.

On 19 April 1945, the survivors of Buchenwald gathered to commemorate the dead. They made the following pledge:

“We will not stop fighting until the last perpetrator is brought before the judges of the people! Our watchword is the destruction of Nazism from its roots. Building a new world of peace and freedom is our goal. This is our responsibility to our murdered comrades and their relatives.”

We are far from building a new world of peace and freedom, but we can make never again a reality. We can look into the eyes of evil and refuse it. We do not have to vote as Democrats or Republicans, we can vote as citizens of conscience.

In 2024, say never again to the following genocide accomplices:

  • Joe Biden and Kamala Harris
  • Bob Menendez
  • Kyrsten Sinema
  • Chris Murphy
  • Rick Scott
  • Mazie Hirono
  • Angus King
  • Amy Klobuchar
  • Roger Wicker
  • Josh Hawley
  • Jon Tester
  • Deb Fischer
  • Pete Ricketts
  • Jacky Rosen
  • Martin Heinrich
  • Kirsten Gillibrand
  • Kevin Cramer
  • Sherrod Brown
  • Bob Casey Jr.
  • Sheldon Whitehouse
  • Marsha Blackburn
  • Ted Cruz
  • Tim Kaine
  • Maria Cantwell
  • Tammy Baldwin
  • John Barrasso

Full list with alternatives here