President Joe Biden reportedly apologized to “prominent Muslims” last month for doubting the civilian death toll in Gaza.
Last month, Biden told reporters that he has “no notion that the Palestinians are telling the truth” about civilian casualties in Gaza.
“I’m sure innocents have been killed, and it’s the price of waging a war,” Biden explained. “But I have no confidence in the number that the Palestinians are using.”
The day after Biden made those comments — which drew outrage from the Council on American-Islamic Relations — the president met with Muslims and apologized for his remarks, according to the Washington Post.
The Post set the scene:
Biden met with five prominent Muslim Americans, who protested what they saw as his insensitivity to the civilians who were dying. All spoke of people they knew who had been affected by the suffering in Gaza, including a woman who had lost 100 members of her family. Biden appeared to be affected by their account.
“I’m sorry. I’m disappointed in myself,” Biden told the group in a meeting that lasted more than an hour. “I will do better.”
Whether Biden was truly contrite or if he was saving face is not clear. But what is clear is that his comments about civilian casualties in Gaza, though blunt, were not haphazard.
That is because the Gaza Ministry of Health, which provides the casualty figures, is controlled by Hamas, and the terrorist group has no incentive to tell the truth. In fact, inflating the civilian death toll falsely helps Hamas’ propaganda war against Israel. Moreover, the casualty figure does not distinguish between civilians and combatants, and there is no way to verify Hamas’ claims.
Importantly, the civilian casualty toll is certainly higher than it ought to be because Hamas uses civilians as human shields.
Biden, according to the Post, is struggling to balance his support for Israel — America’s No. 1 ally in the Middle East — with administration officials who believe the U.S. needs to tamp down its support. Progressives, of course, have spent weeks screaming about a ceasefire without offering any concrete long-term solutions to the Israel-Palestine issue.
Perhaps the first domino fell on Sunday when National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan did not rule out placing conditions on future U.S. aid to Israel.
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