OpinionU.S.-Israel Relations

Biden wavers

He’s sending a message to both America’s enemies and allies.

U.S. President Joe Biden disembarks Air Force One at Los Angeles International Airport, Feb. 20, 2024. Photo by Adam Schultz/White House.
U.S. President Joe Biden disembarks Air Force One at Los Angeles International Airport, Feb. 20, 2024. Photo by Adam Schultz/White House.
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Clifford D. May
Clifford D. May is the founder and president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), as well as a columnist for “The Washington Times.”

“Today, the people of Israel are under attack, orchestrated by a terrorist organization, Hamas.” So said President Joseph R. Biden six months ago last Sunday.

He went on to speak of the “innocent people murdered, wounded, entire families taken hostage by Hamas.”

He made clear that “the United States stands with Israel. We will not ever fail to have their back. …My administration’s support for Israel’s security is rock solid and unwavering.”

So, when did the rock start to crumble and the wavering begin?

I’d say last month when Biden allowed a U.N. Security Council resolution backed by Moscow, Beijing and 22 Arab states to pass.

The resolution didn’t demand that Hamas release its hostages—six Americans among them—as a precondition for “a lasting sustainable ceasefire.”

The message didn’t condemn Hamas. It didn’t even mention Hamas.

Hamas welcomed the resolution and continued holding—and likely torturing—its hostages while killing additional Israelis whenever possible.

Israel, however, has since come under mounting pressure to cease firing, which would help Hamas escalate the war it’s waging in alliance with Hezbollah in Lebanon, Shi’ite militias in Syria and Iraq and the Houthi rebels in Yemen—terrorists all, and all guided and funded by Tehran’s rulers, whose dedication to “Death to Israel!” and “Death to America!” has never wavered for an instant.

And then, last week, the Israel Defense Forces struck a World Central Kitchen convoy, killing seven aid workers. 

Israelis acknowledged and regretted what they called “a grave mistake.” An investigation quickly revealed that the attack was based on flawed intelligence and “carried out in serious violation of the commands and IDF Standard Operating Procedures.” Two senior IDF officers were fired.

Going forward, the IDF said, it would brand aid vehicles with special stickers that are visible at night to thermal cameras. Aid for Gazans would be increased.

“This is how a moral army in a democracy operates,” wrote John Spencer, the Chair of Urban Warfare Studies at West Point.

It was not, I would remind you, how Biden operated when, after his capitulation to the Taliban in 2021, U.S. forces mistook an aid worker for an ISIS-K terrorist and ended up killing a family of 10, including seven children. It was weeks before the tragic error was even admitted.

Nevertheless, according to a White House statement, President Biden on Thursday told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that “the strikes on humanitarian workers and the overall humanitarian situation are unacceptable” and that “U.S. policy with respect to Gaza will be determined by our assessment of Israel’s immediate action on these steps.”

Biden also “underscored that an immediate ceasefire is essential to stabilize and improve the humanitarian situation and protect innocent civilians, and he urged the prime minister to empower his negotiators to conclude a deal without delay to bring the hostages home.”

Among the most recent deals Israelis offered Hamas: a six-week ceasefire plus the release of 40 terrorists for every hostage unchained. Hamas rejected it.

Hamas is demanding that all Israeli troops withdraw permanently, and that all convicted terrorists be released in exchange for surviving hostages—how many Hamas has not disclosed.

It should go without saying—but usually doesn’t—that all the blood spilled since Hamas broke the ceasefire that was in place on Oct. 6 is on Hamas’ hands. Gazans need emergency aid now only because Hamas started a war. And if Hamas would release its hostages and lay down its arms, Gazans’ suffering would ease quickly.

You should remember that Israelis departed Gaza in 2005. Two years later, Hamas fought and defeated Fatah, its rival, and the main faction in the Palestinian Authority. That was fine with the “donor community” which has been providing Gazans with health care, education, and other social services primarily through the United Nations, which never demanded that Hamas hold elections or in any other way make Gaza free from the Israeli border to the sea.

On the contrary, the United Nations saw Hamas oppression, terrorism and thievery and said not a word.

Hamas was therefore able to focus on its primary mission: preparing for a war meant to lead to Israel’s annihilation and the extermination of Israelis.

Hamas violates the laws of armed conflict with impunity. Its troops blend in with civilians and use civilians as “human shields,” not least in hospitals that double as command centers.

For Hamas, dead civilians are not a tragedy, but a key element of its strategy.

Hamas “fighters” have killed Gazans helping distribute aid that Hamas prefers to steal. Why isn’t Biden outraged about that?

As Israelis attempt to decapacitate Hamas, they also understand they have enemies elsewhere plotting against them. On April 1, smart weapons fired from an F-35 fighter aircraft struck a building in Damascus, killing Mohammad Reza Zahedi, Tehran’s top Quds Force commander in Syria and Lebanon, along with six of his deputies.

The Quds Force is “one of the Iranian regime’s primary organizations responsible for conducting covert lethal activities outside of Iran, including asymmetric and terrorist operations,” according to the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center.

According to Iranian media, Zahedi played a “strategic role” in the “design and implementation” of the Oct. 7 Hamas attack.

The Biden administration could have called the F-35 attack—using Pentagon terminology—a “righteous strike.” Or, it could have said nothing.

Instead, a spokesman for Biden told reporters that the United States had neither “involvement” nor advance knowledge of the Israeli action and, what’s more, “has communicated that directly to Iran.”

This was beyond wavering. It was an unambiguous message from the American president to America’s enemies: You have no reason to fear me.

And it was an equally unambiguous message to America’s allies: You do.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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