Biden mocks Republican opponents over Super Bowl as Israel bombs Rafah
As millions of eyes were focused on the Superbowl Sunday evening, Gaza's border city of Rafah faced a major overnight attack by Israel, leading many to wonder about US President Joe Biden's priorities, as his office posted a joking social media meme in reference to the game.
"Just like we drew it up," wrote Biden's account on X, formerly Twitter, as both the Super Bowl and Rafah were trending on Twitter.
The responses were swift. Many commentators on the right seemed to agree with the weekslong conspiracy theory that the American football championship was rigged in favour of the Kansas City Chiefs due to Chiefs player Travis Kelce's romantic relationship with pop singer Taylor Swift, who has previously endorsed Democratic candidates.
On the left, however, many who might otherwise be Biden supporters expressed outrage that he was making a joke amid a major attack in Israel's war in Gaza. The US president has seen the approval from his base (minorities, youths and leftists) plummet over his support for Israel's military during the war.
"Don't let this post go over your head Genocide Joe has to go!" responded Chris Smalls, who made a name for himself in the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic when he organised fellow Amazon workers to resist crowded working conditions. Union workers are another group Biden has been actively courting as he seeks re-election.
Similarly, podcaster Saby Sabs wrote, "Sick to post this after Israel is slaughtering children!"
Also raising eyebrows was Biden's decision to turn down a TV interview during the Super Bowl, leading to questions over his public speaking skills; he instead opted for a pre-done short TikTok video filled with short jokes unrelated to policy. Most of his live campaign stops have been disrupted by Gaza ceasefire protests.
Overnight more than a hundred Palestinians sheltering in Rafah in southern Gaza were killed, as Israel executed one of its biggest attacks on the small enclave since the war began just over four months ago.
Palestinian casualties from the war now stand at around 100,000, including nearly 29,000 in Gaza and the West Bank killed and more than 72,000 wounded. This is in addition to more than 360,000 homes destroyed or damaged and around 390 educational institutions damaged.
As the attacks continued overnight, activists began organising "emergency" demonstrations for Rafah, with many ceasefire advocates already long critical of Biden. The latest attack on Rafah has only hardened their disapproval of the US president's policies in Israel and has given them a renewed sense of urgency to appeal for a ceasefire.
"Rafah was supposed to be a safe place," Husam Marajda, a member of the US Palestinian Community Network in Chicago, told The New Arab. He added that he believed Biden essentially gave Netanyahu the green light for an attack on Rafah when he warned Israel that it should not attack without a plan to avoid civilian casualties.
"No one in Gaza is safe. Where are they supposed to go? They can't go to the centre, they can't go to the north. They can't go anywhere," he said. "If anyone had a question if this is genocide, they can't question it anymore."
Marajda was one of many activists who organised a protest in response to Israel's bombing of Rafah, drawing a large crowd in the middle of winter.
"We had about 1,500 people here in Chicago on a Monday with less than 24 hours of planning. We shut down entrances to the highway," he said.
Meanwhile, similar protests took place across the US and around the world, as demonstrators demanded that their governments push Netanyahu for a ceasefire.