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the pulpitU.S.-Israel Relations

Biden’s boycott of Netanyahu is outrageous

Israel is the creator of its destiny; the White House is not.

U.S. President Joe Biden during a welcoming ceremony at Ben-Gurion International Airport on July 13, 2022. Photo by Sraya Diamant/Flash90.
U.S. President Joe Biden during a welcoming ceremony at Ben-Gurion International Airport on July 13, 2022. Photo by Sraya Diamant/Flash90.
Brad E. Kauffman
Brad E. Kauffman

In a tactic straight out of Barack Obama’s playbook, President Joe Biden has put serious daylight between the United States and Israel with his decision not to invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House.

During previous administrations, such an invitation was a customary gesture when a new Israeli prime minister assumed office. Netanyahu has met with Britain’s prime minister in London and traveled to Germany to meet with the German chancellor, but has no meetings scheduled with the leader of Israel’s closest ally.

Presumably due to Biden’s outrage over Netanyahu’s campaign to revamp Israel’s judicial system, Biden announced to reporters in North Carolina last week that he has no plans to invite Netanyahu in the “near term.” He further admonished the Netanyahu government by stating, “Like many supporters of Israel, I’m very concerned. And I’m concerned that they get this right. They cannot continue down this road.”

Biden is not acting like a supporter of Israel by snubbing its prime minister. He is actually engaging in a severe betrayal of the critical U.S.-Israel relationship. He is behaving like a petulant father who is disturbed by the conduct of a son he considers disobedient.

Mr. Biden, Israel is not America’s child. Netanyahu does not need parental permission before making a decision. America and Israel are brothers united by a common purpose and shared strategic interests. Brothers do not give each other the cold shoulder because they disagree. Brothers find a way to sit down with each other and work through their differences. If that is impossible, they agree to disagree amicably without creating a spectacle.

Biden appears to be following the Obama doctrine by cooperating with America’s adversaries while castigating America’s allies, especially the Jewish state. While the Biden administration believes that Israel must be reeled in from the abyss when it fails to conform to American dictates and face the consequences if it chooses not to comply, the administration continues to avoid conflict and seek cooperation with the Chinese Communist Party. Similarly, Biden has not reprimanded Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas for paying the salaries of Palestinian terrorists.

Israel is the creator of its destiny. The progressive left and the Biden White House are not. Netanyahu should not be intimidated by Biden’s attempt to isolate him.

Netanyahu is pursuing the noble goal of balancing the powers of the three branches of the Israeli government, which is an inherent part of any democracy. While there is room for disagreement on how to achieve this goal without fracturing Israeli society, there is no reason for Biden to punish Netanyahu because the prime minister is enacting the preferred policies of the voters who elected him.

Biden cannot continue down this road. He should immediately reverse course and invite Netanyahu to the White House.

Brad E. Kauffman is a Maryland lawyer and pro-Israel activist.

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