It is deeply concerning and perplexing that Israeli President Isaac Herzog will be awarding President Joe Biden the Israeli Presidential Medal of Honor.
According to Herzog’s July 7 tweet, the purpose of the award is “to thank [Biden] for being a true friend of Israel” and for his “decades-long support for Israel’s security, deepening our alliance and fighting anti-Semitism” and anti-Israel bias.
This makes little sense. A “true friend of Israel” and fighter against anti-semitism would not pursue policies undermining Israel’s sovereignty and security, as President Biden and his administration are. They would not actually praise anti-Semites in Congress and issue a new, erroneous anti-Israel report accusing Israel of responsibility for the death of an Arab journalist.
Nor would a “true friend of Israel” take advantage of Israel’s caretaker government to make visits to symbolic Palestinian Authority institutions in eastern Jerusalem. Former Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon noted that these planned visits are unprecedented, and were “created to pave the way for the U.S. administration to challenge Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem.”
Ideally, caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid and President Herzog should insist that Biden must change his anti-Israel policies and combat all forms of anti-Semitism in the United States prior to honoring him with Israel’s medal of honor. At the very least, Lapid and Herzog should insist on President Biden making the policy changes needed to earn this award promptly after the award is granted.
Unfortunately, instead of meeting Biden from a position of strength, Lapid has already made dangerous concessions in preparation for his visit, including again delaying a scheduled meeting to approve building Jewish homes in E1—an area vital for Israel’s security, which connects Jerusalem with Jerusalem suburb Ma’ale Adumim. (See “Fate of E1 construction plan postponed as Israel gears up for Biden visit.”)
Specifically, Lapid and Herzog should urge the Biden administration to end and/or change these hostile policies, among others:
Biden is reportedly resuming efforts to negotiate a disastrous Iran deal immediately after his upcoming Mideast trip. The deal poses a mortal danger to Israel, as it would would give Iran a path to achieving a nuclear bomb in a few short years, as well as $90 billion in immediate sanctions relief (which will enrich Hamas and Hezbollah). Biden could even remove sanctions on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps—the world’s largest terrorist organization.
Biden’s administration stated that it remains committed to reviving the terrible 2015 nuclear deal, even after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) stated last month that the deal was dead due to Iran’s removal of monitoring devices and cameras from its nuclear sites, and even after the IAEA Board of Governors censured Iran on June 8, 2022, for failing to provide credible information over manufactured nuclear material found at three undeclared sites.
Biden needs to end the Iran negotiations, resume maximum sanctions, establish a credible military option to counter Iran and provide Israel with the tools Israel needs to address the Iranian threats.
Biden appointed and elevated numerous anti-Semites and Israelophobes to top positions in his administration. These include Hady Amr—who wrote that he was “inspired by the Intifada” (the terror wars in which Arab terrorists murdered or maimed approximately 10,000 Jews); Reema Dodin—who justified and even encouraged suicide bombings against Jews, organized anti-Israel rallies and spread Medieval-style blood libels, including the false claim that Israel denies Palestinian Arabs food, water and medical treatment; Maher Bitar—who organized the Palestine Solidarity Movement anti-Israel boycott conference at Georgetown University, at which he ran a session on how to demonize Israel; Karine Jean-Pierre—who helped orchestrate Democratic presidential candidates’ boycott of a major pro-Israel conference; Wendy Sherman—who negotiated the terrible Iran deal, praised secret concessions to Iran and downplayed PLO suicide bombings and other terror attacks on innocent Israelis; Avril Haines—who signed a vicious letter falsely accusing Israel of violence, terrorism, and incitement; apologist for Hamas and Iran Robert Malley; and numerous others.
Biden has also failed to condemn or take action against the anti-Semitic Democratic congressional “Squad,” whose vicious anti-Semitic and Israelophobic speeches, tweets and legislative proposals are helping foment anti-Semitism throughout the United States. Horrifyingly, instead of condemning the Squad’s anti-Semitism, on May 18, 2021, while Israel was being bombarded by over 4,300 Hamas rockets, Biden strongly praised and promoted Jew-hater Rep. Rashida Tlaib—who opposes Israel’s very existence. Shortly after Tlaib again promoted anti-Israel boycotts and falsely called Israel an apartheid state, Biden told her: “I admire your intellect, I admire your passion, I admire your concern for so many other people. You’re a fighter and God thank you for being a fighter.”
Biden resumed U.S. funding to the The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), thereby enabling the Hamas-run organization to continue teaching children to aspire to murder Jews.
Biden violated the letter and/or spirit of the Taylor Force Act by resuming U.S. funding of Palestinian Arab “projects” (governmental functions that the Palestinian Authority would otherwise need to pay for) to the tune of half a billion dollars last year. Money is fungible. Thus, these U.S. taxpayer dollars free up funds for the Palestinian Authority to continue making $400 million dollars per year in “pay to slay” bounties rewarding Arab terrorists for murdering innocent Jews and others. The Biden administration’s indirect funding of these heinous P.A. payments needs to end.
Outrageously, Biden and his administration (including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israel Ambassador Thomas Nides) condemn Jews for building homes in the lawful Jewish homeland, in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria, while saying nothing about extensive illegal Arab construction. (Even back in 1982, Biden condemned then Prime Minister Menachem Begin for building homes in Judea and Samaria).
It’s time for the Biden administration to end these blatant anti-Semitic attacks on Jews’ rights to live in the Jewish homeland. Unfortunately, the delay in the E1 approval meeting reveals that Lapid is weakly bowing to the Biden administration instead of proudly standing up for the Jewish people.
The Biden administration continues to promote the creation of a Palestinian Arab terror state on Israel’s lawful land—another mortal danger to Israel. Secretary Blinken even stressed the promotion of such a terror state during his congratulatory phone call to Lapid last week, after Lapid became caretaker prime minister.
The Biden administration has continually pressured Israel to allow the opening of an illegal, divisive and wasteful U.S.-Palestinian consulate in Jerusalem, despite strong Israeli opposition to such a consulate. The consulate is designed to undermine Israel’s sovereignty in her eternal capital, Jerusalem, and to divide Jerusalem. Opening the consulate would violate the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, the Vienna Convention on Consular Affairs and the Oslo Accords. Yet, at a press briefing on May 31, 2022, Biden’s State Department again reasserted that the administration is “committed” to the consulate.
Just days ago, on July 4, in a statement that seemed to be designed to intimidate Israel’s new caretaker government, the Biden administration asserted—contrary to the evidence—that an Israeli soldier had “likely” killed Al Jazeera journalist Abu Akleh in Jenin in May.
In sum, the Biden administration is constantly pressuring Israel and undermining Israel’s rights, safety and sovereignty. These are not the policies of a “true friend of Israel” and fighter against anti-Semitism. Israel’s caretaker government should demand that Biden reverse course, and earn his medal of honor.
Morton A. Klein is the national president of the Zionist Organization of America. Elizabeth A. Berney is ZOA’s director of special projects.