OpinionU.S.-Israel Relations

Biden’s strategy: Blame Israel

Rather than lacerating the Jewish state, the president might consider encouraging it to eliminate Hamas as a continuing threat to innocent civilians.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with U.S. President Joe Biden in Tel Aviv, Oct. 18, 2023. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with U.S. President Joe Biden in Tel Aviv, Oct. 18, 2023. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.
Jerold S. Auerbach
Jerold S. Auerbach is the author of 12 books, including Print to Fit: The New York Times, Zionism and Israel (1896-2016) and Israel 1896-2016, selected for Mosaic by Ruth Wisse and Martin Kramer as a “Best Book for 2019.”

It is appalling that Israel’s recent airstrike, accidentally killing seven aid workers from the World Central Kitchen in Gaza who were bringing food to its besieged residents, has aroused as much international fury, if not more, as Hamas’s slaughter of 1,200 Israelis on Oct. 7 in the deadliest attack on Jews since the Holocaust.

President Joe Biden has become the fickle leader of this anti-Israel assault. As the November election looms and his re-election prospect shows signs of fading, he is clinging desperately to the hope that he can persuade (or compel) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to embrace his demand that Israel back away from its determination to defeat Hamas and destroy its capacity for future attacks. In a recent telephone conversation with Netanyahu, Biden—blaming Israel for the humanitarian disaster in the Gaza Strip—threatened to “take action” by suspending U.S. military aid unless it complies with his demands.

Rather than lacerating Israel, Biden might consider encouraging it to eliminate Hamas as a continuing threat to innocent Israeli civilians. But given his evident displeasure with Israel, that seems unlikely. So it is, according to a Wall Street Journal editorial on April 5, that Biden, “egged on by the emerging anti-Israel liberal media consensus,” has ignored Hamas assaults and hostage-holding while demanding concessions from Israel. He has warned Netanyahu to defer a ground invasion of Rafah, in the southernmost part of Gaza, where Hamas leaders are likely to be hiding in tunnels beneath hospitals. In translation, they are free to hide safely while Israel gets pressured by the president to restrain necessary military action to eliminate them—and thereby protect its own people.

In a brief phone call last week between the two leaders, Biden warned Netanyahu of serious consequences if Israel did not change the way it was waging war in Gaza to satisfy the president. Under pressure from the political left, Biden threatened to limit the weapons supply, which could be disastrous for Israel, if conditions did not rapidly improve for civilians in the Strip. He claimed to be “heartbroken” that Israel “has not done enough” to protect Gaza citizens.

Biden surely realizes that the defense of Israel would exact a political price. His previous support from Arab Americans and Muslims, along with political progressives, has receded, and he continually confronts protesters who demand a permanent Israeli ceasefire. His relationship with Netanyahu is wavering, evidenced by Biden’s weird statement following his State of the Union speech when he said: “You and I are going to have a come-to-Jesus moment.” (It is unlikely that a Jewish prime minister would comprehend this warning from a Catholic president.) But as The Wall Street Journal sharply noted in an April 5 article: Biden “puts Israel on trial each day from Washington lecterns, undermining support for its war effort.”

To be sure, Biden hardly stands alone in his laceration of Israel. He follows in the footsteps of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who has demanded that Netanyahu “stop murdering innocent people.” Conceding that Hamas started the war, Sanders nonetheless claimed (without a shred of supporting evidence) that Israel was “going to war against the entire Palestinian people.” He ignored the horrific reality that Hamas locates its murderers in and beneath hospitals to assure that Israel would be lacerated for attacking and slaughtering innocent Gazans. Sanders proved its success.

So it is that Biden and Sanders join Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who recently led the way in lacerating Netanyahu as “one of the main stumbling blocks to Israeli-Palestinian peace.” It is a shameful trio.

“Many Democrats,” observed Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) perceptively, “have a serious anti-Israel problem.” As a Wall Street Journal headline appropriately asserted on April 7: “Democrats Play Into Hamas’s Hands.” Joe Biden is their misguided player.

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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