Jerusalem is getting ready to give U.S. President Joe Biden a good visit. He really needs it. Israel, for all of its problems, is a respite, not just from the upcoming journey to the palaces of Riyadh and Jeddah, but from a very grim reality in America.
According to the latest poll, published in The New York Times this week, Biden’s approval rating is at an alarming low. Voters nationwide give him a paltry 33% job-approval rating, far below the red line. More than two-thirds of the people questioned said the country was headed in the wrong direction. Worse still, 64% of Democratic voters said they would prefer someone new to lead the party.
Biden could have tried to advance peace on this visit had he not looked for symbolic, empty gestures on behalf of the Palestinians instead. It would have sufficed had he made just one demand of Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas—stop paying terrorists and their families for murdering Jews if you want to continue receiving American aid.
On the Palestinian front, however, Biden is content to pay lip service on his way to tackling America’s energy problems. Similar to other serious issues, this problem wasn’t caused by the war in Ukraine, but mistakes made by the Biden administration. On the one hand, Biden is sending his country’s emergency oil reserves across the globe to meet consumer demand and slightly reduce prices. On the other hand, he is going to beg the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to significantly increase his country’s oil production to bring prices down much further.
In the 1980s, Saudi Arabia played a decisive role in collapsing the former Soviet Union by toppling oil prices. Today, the Saudis are standing on the sidelines.
The truth is that the Arab powers have lost faith in the United States and the United States has lost faith in itself. Exactly one year ago, the terrible American collapse in Afghanistan began. At the same time, the U.S. was reaping the fruits of its involvement in Israeli politics. The result was that a weak, unstable government came to power, instead of the only leader who had gained the trust of the Arabs—Benjamin Netanyahu.
Similar to the energy crisis, America’s shameful position on the Iranian nuclear issue was also caused by incorrect policy, which mostly consisted of doing the opposite of the previous president, Donald Trump. Even pundits with Democratic leanings tried convincing Biden that the reality in the Middle East had changed and, on the Iran issue, Trump and Netanyahu’s policy was astute. The administration’s mad dash to a new nuclear deal only emboldened the Iranians to accelerate their uranium enrichment efforts.
To get what he wants from the Saudis on the oil front, Biden will have to make a very concrete concession, because from the Arab perspective, when it comes to America, words are now cheap.
Amnon Lord is a veteran journalist, film critic, writer and editor.
This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.