columnU.S.-Israel Relations

Does Biden reject Israel’s right to self-defense?

The administration’s effort to stymie military action, coupled with its continued criticism as to how Israel is conducting a just war against a terror group, puts the Jewish state at risk in the region and the world.

Israeli troops operating in the Gaza Strip on May 21, 2024. Credit: IDF.
Israeli troops operating in the Gaza Strip on May 21, 2024. Credit: IDF.
Caroline B. Glick
Caroline B. Glick is the senior contributing editor of Jewish News Syndicate and host of the “Caroline Glick Show” on JNS. She is also the diplomatic commentator for Israel’s Channel 14, as well as a columnist for Newsweek. Glick is the senior fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at the Center for Security Policy in Washington and a lecturer at Israel’s College of Statesmanship.

The most basic function of all governments is to provide for the collective defense of the governed. The most basic foundation of sovereignty is a state’s right to defend its country from aggression. Take away a state’s right to self-defense, and you’ve effectively transformed it into a non-sovereign state.

Six Biden administration actions and policies subvert Israel’s right to self-defense. Whether analysed separately or all together, they make it difficult to avoid the conclusion that the administration’s ultimate end is to undermine to the point of ending Israel’s right to self-defense, and so end Israel’s sovereignty, for all intents and purposes.

The six policies the administration is undertaking relate to the battle in Rafah, Gaza’s border town with Egypt; its posture vis-à-vis the International Criminal Court amidst the ICC’s stated intention of issuing arrest warrants against Israel’s leaders on false war crimes charges; the administration’s effort to coerce Israel into accepting Palestinian Authority control over post-war Gaza as a stepping stone towards the swift establishment of a Palestinian state in Gaza, Judea and Samaria, and parts of Jerusalem; the administration’s policies in relation to Saudi-Israeli normalization; and finally, the administration’s determination to block Israel from taking any effective action to prevent Iran from building a nuclear arsenal.

  1. Rafah

Sunday, the IDF carried out an airstrike targeting two senior Hamas terrorists in Rafah. Some 45 people Hamas asserts were civilians were also killed in the bombing. Immediately after the incident, the administration harshly criticized Israel for the operation. Vice President Kamala Harris said “the word tragic doesn’t even begin to describe” the loss of human life in the incident. Other senior officials voiced similar revulsion at Israel’s alleged killing of innocent civilians as a result of its killing of two senior terrorists. The U.S. State Department announced it would investigate the incident, which it referred to as “heartbreaking.”

Within moments of the airstrike, IDF forces on the ground were reporting that the fire that caused the deaths of the additional Palestinians was sparked by a secondary explosion. Early assessments were that the explosion was caused by Hamas rockets hidden adjacent to the encampment.

It was also clear, immediately after the bombing, that the operation was not carried out in a humanitarian safe zone, as Hamas alleged. At Israel’s urging, in recent weeks nearly a million residents of Rafah fled to the zones, which the IDF set up to protect them from the crossfire of battle. The bombing was carried out in the war zone, where civilians had already left.

It was also known immediately after the incident that the Air Force used the smallest ordnance permitted to limit to the greatest degree the possibility of the attack causing additional deaths beyond the two terror commanders Israel targeted.

In the two days after the incident, the IDF released intercepted phone conversations between people on the ground who stated outright that the fire in the tents that caused the additional deaths was the result of a secondary explosion of Hamas munitions. Israel played no role in the carnage. Hamas was entirely responsible for everything that had happened.

Given the fact that Israel’s careful prosecution of the war has led to the smallest ratio of civilians to militants killed in the history of modern war, its ally, the United States, could have been expected to give it the benefit of the doubt and not rush to pile on international condemnations of the Jewish state based entirely on Hamas footage and propaganda.

But the fact is that for months, Washington did everything possible to block Israel from carrying out its vital operation in Rafah, knowing all along that Israel cannot defeat Hamas if it leaves the international border under Hamas’s control. The administration’s latest effort to delegitimize Israel’s operation in Rafah by embracing Hamas’s quickly discredited rendition of events follows the administration’s now-established pattern of undermining the operation.

The administration’s tireless efforts to first block Israel from seizing control over Rafah and then embrace Hamas’s lies to criminalize the Jewish state signal that its opposition is not about humanitarian concerns.

If the United States successfully coerces Israel to abstain from controlling Rafah, including the border zone, then Hamas will survive. And if Hamas stays in power, Israel will lose the war. So by undermining Israel’s operation in Rafah, the administration is protecting Hamas from destruction while effectively criminalizing Israel’s war to protect itself from further aggression against Hamas.

  1. International Criminal Court

The International Criminal Court has been trying to build cases criminalizing Israel and denying it the right to self-defense for at least a decade. Its pursuit of criminal charges have taken many forms and moved in many directions. It is notable, therefore, that when ICC prosecutor Karim Khan began indicating his intention to issue arrest warrants against Israel’s leaders a month ago, his claims ignored years’ long ICC investigations of Israel, and instead, simply parroted the administration’s rhetorical assaults on Israel. For months, the administration has been accusing Israel of denying sufficient “humanitarian aid” to the Palestinians, causing them to live in conditions of acute food insecurity that at a minimum border on starvation. The administration has also consistently accused Israel of killing “too many” civilians

The first allegation was never true. The second is entirely subjective, and given that the civilian-to-terrorist death ratio in Gaza of 1.3:1 is far lower than any similar ratio in the history of modern warfare, the U.S. designation is absurd

The U.S. allegation relating to humanitarian aid formed the basis of the administration’s consistent demand that Israel permit ever-increasing quantities of food, water and medicine into Gaza. That demand, which Israel acceded to, guaranteed Hamas constant resupply. Since Hamas remains the most powerful Palestinian force on the ground, it has been able to maintain total control over the aid and used that to maintain its power over the population. In other words, the U.S. demand that Israel provide all but limitless quantities of goods to enter Gaza protected Hamas and its regime from destruction.

Khan announced on May 20 that he intends to charge Israel’s leaders with war crimes for starving Gazans by preventing sufficient humanitarian aid from entering and for “killing civilians.” It’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that in determining what to charge Israel with, the ICC opted to align itself with the administration

His decision seems to have paid off. On Wednesday, Israel was blindsided when contrary to explicit messaging from U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken in testimony before the Senate on May 21, National Security Council communications advisor John Kirby announced on Wednesday that the administration opposes the bill now moving through Congress to sanction ICC personnel for advancing an unlawful and scurrilous prosecution of Israeli leaders.

If the ICC’s bid to issue arrest warrants against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant for the crime of carrying out a just, lawful war for Israel’s survival is successful, the ICC will deny Israel’s right to self-defense and so delegitimize its very existence as a sovereign state. By refusing to support sanctions on the ICC for its unlawful, discriminatory action against Israel, the administration is signaling that it supports the ICC’s goal.

  1. Gaza Pier

Two months after President Joe Biden promised to build a temporary pier in Gaza to massively expand the amount of humanitarian aid going to the local population, the structure was declared operational. In mid-May, the first convoy of aid drove off the causeway, after vessels along the pier fitted them with pallets of aid. Those pallets were seized and plundered by a mob shortly after they left the pier. On May 26, the pier disintegrated as its components fell apart and began sinking or floating to the shore. Vessels deployed to repair it were similarly marooned on the Israeli coast. And now the entire project is under repair in Ashdod.

As former U.S. naval intelligence analyst J.E. Dyer explained this week, the pier never was supposed to have the capacity to supply more than a fraction of the humanitarian aid the U.S. insists that Gaza requires. Given this state of affairs, it becomes difficult to avoid the conclusion that the pier project was never about providing food, water and medicine to a suffering population in a war zone. Dyer argues convincingly that the purpose of the pier is strategic, rather than tactical. By deploying a pier to the coast, the United States directly undermines Israel’s ability to operate independently in Gaza generally and to maintain its maritime blockade of Gaza specifically. As Dyer notes, Israel first imposed a maritime blockade of Gaza following its first military exchange with the Hamas-controlled territory in 2009. The blockade is lawful—indeed required—under international law since Hamas is controlled by a terrorist organization.

The move to impose the pier on Israel is being conducted to advance the Biden administration’s goal of “protecting” the Palestinians from Israel rather than helping America’s ally achieve its goal of eliminating Hamas as a military and political entity in Gaza. Consequently, imposing the pier on Israel is a hostile action. Kirby insisted on Wednesday that the administration would not allow the damage that the pier incurred in its first week of operation—or its steep cost of $320 million before it disintegrated—to stop the administration from maintaining the project.

  1. Palestinian statehood

In a press appearance on Wednesday, Blinken addressed Israel’s unwillingness to agree to the administration’s plan for the “day after” the war in Gaza. Since the outset of the war, Biden and Blinken have sought to coerce Netanyahu to accept their plan to transfer control over Gaza to the Palestinian Authority. Netanyahu rejected the plan insisting that Israel will not replace “Hamastan” with “Fatahstan.”

As Netanyahu’s stark description of the U.S. effort indicated, the transfer of responsibility over Gaza to the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority involves transferring responsibility over the area to a terrorist organization that shares Hamas’s goal of annihilating Israel and has, in fact, been a full and steady partner in Hamas’s war effort. True, the administration operates under the delusion that Fatah terrorists in the P.A. are better than Hamas terrorists, but Israel does not share (nor can it afford to) in the Americans’ delusions.

Moreover, since Hamas is more powerful than Fatah, any transfer of power to Fatah will involve transferring power to Hamas. Indeed, P.A. leaders themselves have made this clear repeatedly by emphasizing their goal of integrating Hamas.

Finally, if Israel were to accept the U.S. plan, then the restoration of Palestinian rule in Gaza after Oct. 7 would be universally viewed as a massive victory for jihad. It would tell everyone in the Muslim world and beyond that while talking with Israel will get them nowhere, committing a one-day Holocaust will result in a U.S.-backed strategic victory over the Jews and begin the countdown for the ultimate destruction of Israel.

  1. Normalized relations with Saudi Arabia

The 2020 Abraham Accords, which former President Donald Trump ushered in with Netanyahu and the leaders of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan marked a historic and strategic shift in the Arab-Israel conflict. For more than a generation, peace between Israel and the Arab world was blocked by the Palestinian veto. It dictated that no Arab state would be allowed to have normal, peaceful relations with the Jewish state as long as the Palestinians refused to first make peace with Israel. The Abraham Accords canceled the Palestinian veto, and permitted Israel and the participating Arab states to pursue their joint interests as regional partners and neighbors while leaving the door open for the Palestinians to join them whenever they are ready.

Since entering office, the Biden administration pursued a policy of restoring the Palestinian veto. Through a series of bilateral talks with Abraham Accords partners and through U.S.-sponsored summits, Blinken worked assiduously to place the Palestinians at the center of every meeting agenda and transform the accords from a regional cooperation framework into a means to pressure Israel to make concessions to Palestinian terrorists or risk undermining its relations with its Arab partners.

In the months preceding Hamas’s invasion and slaughter on Oct. 7, the State Department made clear that Israel’s goal of normalizing its relations with Saudi Arabia would be contingent on Israel agreeing to a clear path towards Palestinian statehood. This has remained the U.S. position since then.

Post-Oct. 7, the vast majority of Israelis recognize the implications of Palestinian statehood for Israel’s survival, and as a result, some 90% of Israeli Jews oppose Palestinian statehood. All the same, the administration is insisting that normalization with Saudi Arabia would be the consolation prize for submitting to the United States, enabling Hamas to survive and paving the way for a Palestinian state. Aside from being a non-starter for Israel and far from advancing the cause of peace, the American plan for Israeli-Saudi normalization would destroy peace. The U.S. position implies that the only way for Israel to achieve peace with its neighbors is to lose the war. But if Israel loses the war to Hamas, no Arab state, including those who already have peace agreements with Israel, will wish to accept Israel as a permanent entity of the region. The Abraham Accords, together with the peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, would be rendered dead-letter deals. Without a right to defend itself—and in this case, that means defeating Hamas—Israel is of no value to its regional neighbors.

  1. Iran

Seemingly on a daily basis, Iranian officials threaten to attack Israel with nuclear weapons. This week, former head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, parliament member Fereydoun Abbasi said, “We have the technology to produce atomic bombs and the ability to launch satellites. If the enemy threatens, we will fight.”

This week, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iran’s supply of enriched uranium is 30 times greater than the amount agreed upon in the 2015 nuclear deal the United States and its allies concluded with Iran.

Last month, IAEA director Rafael Grossi warned that Iran had enough highly enriched uranium for “several” nuclear bombs.

Although officially, the Biden administration is committed to preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons, it has done everything in its power to remove obstacles from Tehran’s path. It has provided Iran with the financial means to advance its bomb program by not enforcing U.S. sanctions against Iranian oil and gas exports; by unfreezing billions in Iranian assets; and by paying Iran billions more to secure the freedom of American hostages.

This week The Wall Street Journal reported that the administration is pressuring its allies at the IAEA not to censure Iran for its non-compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in the upcoming Board of Governors meeting.

As for Israel, the administration tried to force Israel not to respond to Iran’s massive missile and drone strike against Israel on the night of April 13-14. When Israel finally responded, due to massive U.S. pressure, it did nothing more than signal its capabilities. Iran incurred no damage to its nuclear, missile or regime installations in retribution for its unprovoked, unprecedented and massive attack on Israel.

In interfering and seeking to block altogether Israel’s retaliation for the Iranian strike, the administration used its position as Jerusalem’s ostensible ally to subvert its strategic independence and ability to defend itself effectively against Iranian aggression. In so doing, the United States empowered Iran against Israel and emboldened it to move forward with its nuclear-weapons program, which the U.S. is using its diplomatic power to protect at the IAEA.

All of the administration’s actions against Israel in Gaza—throughout the region and in relation to Iran—undermine and subvert Israel’s sovereign right to self-defense. When seen together, the conclusion that this is the Biden administration’s actual goal becomes impossible to avoid.

You have read 3 articles this month.
Register to receive full access to JNS.

Just before you scroll on...

Israel is at war. JNS is combating the stream of misinformation on Israel with real, honest and factual reporting. In order to deliver this in-depth, unbiased coverage of Israel and the Jewish world, we rely on readers like you. The support you provide allows our journalists to deliver the truth, free from bias and hidden agendas. Can we count on your support? Every contribution, big or small, helps JNS.org remain a trusted source of news you can rely on.

Become a part of our mission by donating today
Topics
Comments
Thank you. You are a loyal JNS Reader.
You have read more than 10 articles this month.
Please register for full access to continue reading and post comments.
Never miss a thing
Get the best stories faster with JNS breaking news updates