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Opinion

Israel’s American ‘frenemy’

If Netanyahu won’t alert Americans to their government’s abandonment of Israel, U.S. politicians must step up to the plate.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on March 9, 2016. Credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on March 9, 2016. Credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO.
Melanie Phillips
Melanie Phillips
Melanie Phillips, a British journalist, broadcaster and author, writes a weekly column for JNS. Currently a columnist for The Times of London, her personal and political memoir, Guardian Angel, has been published by Bombardier, which also published her first novel, The Legacy, in 2018. To access her work, go to: melaniephillips.substack.com.

As everyone can clearly see, Israel is having to fight to defend itself on several fronts simultaneously.

It faces attack from Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in Gaza; an escalating Islamist uprising in the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria; some 150,000 Hezbollah missiles capable of hitting the entire country from Lebanon; relentless attempts by Iran to create a similar war machine to attack Israel from its Syrian border; and the threat of a nuclearized Iranian regime that threatens to wipe Israel off the map.

So much is obvious. What is perhaps less self-evident is that Israel faces a mortal threat from yet another front: the United States of America.

The soulful declarations of an unbreakable bond of friendship with Israel that are regularly made by U.S. officials should fool no one. Under the administration of President Joe Biden, the U.S. regards Israel as a willful obstacle to its objectives: A Palestinian state and the empowerment of Iran.

Extraordinary and frankly crazy as that may seem, this is the only way to explain the administration’s behavior.

Earlier this week, four Israelis were murdered by Hamas-affiliated terrorists outside the town of Eli in northern Samaria.

The response from the U.S. was sickening. It persistently suggested a moral equivalence between the victims of the atrocity and their Palestinian Arab terrorist attackers.

The administration’s even-handedness between aggressor and victim reflects its implacable but profoundly mistaken belief that the Middle East conflict is a dispute over territorial boundaries between two sides, each with a legitimate claim to the land.

Successive U.S. administrations have perpetuated this delusion, totally ignoring the fact that only the Jews are entitled to the land in its entirety as dictated by history and morality and enshrined in international treaty obligations and other instruments of international law.

This fundamental U.S. misconception means that residents of the disputed territories are excoriated as “illegal settlers” who are preventing a “two-state solution” to the conflict.

That’s why the State Department has condemned as “an obstacle to peace” Israel’s decision to permit the construction of 4,000 new homes in Judea and Samaria and ease the approval of future building requests.

The charge by State is imbecilic. The Arabs have been trying to exterminate Jewish residency in the entire land of Israel for the past century, decades before the 1967 Six-Day War when Israel liberated Judea and Samaria from illegal Jordanian occupation.

Following the Eli attack, Israel’s government announced immediate plans for approximately 1,000 new homes in the area. Such development is essential for Israel’s security, since land without a civilian infrastructure is indefensible.

Over the past 18 months or so, a powerful terrorist infrastructure has developed in northern Samaria, with daily attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers.

Last Sunday, terrorists linked to Fatah, the party that runs the Palestinian Authority, ambushed an Israeli armored convoy carrying two terrorists arrested in Jenin. The attackers detonated roadside bombs and wounded five soldiers in so ferocious a battle that Israel was forced to deploy helicopter gunships to extricate its men.

A major reason for this area’s transformation into such a deadly terrorist enclave is pressure from America to curb civilian settlement there and to diminish security restrictions on Palestinian Arab movement by lifting checkpoints.

At the same time, the Biden administration continues to deliver massive  funding to the P.A. in flagrant denial of American law that forbids such payments while the P.A. continues its “pay-for-slay” stipends to terrorists and their families.

The U.S. is therefore actively funding and conniving at the Palestinian Arabs’ terrorist attacks on Israelis. The reason—aside from ideological anti-Zionism and antisemitism among officials—is that the liberal mindset of the Biden administration simply cannot acknowledge that the Palestinian Arabs’ actual agenda is the extermination of Israel.

To admit this blindingly obvious truth would destroy the liberal fantasy that all conflicts involve rational actors and can be solved by negotiated compromise.

Since Israel resists the attempt to exterminate it, the Biden administration regards Israel as the problem. So, it punishes Israel while rewarding its attackers.

The administration is doing the same terrible thing on Iran. Tehran is funding and training the terror cells in Jenin and Nablus, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Hamas and PIJ in Gaza.

The Iranian regime appears to have reached the point of no return in its illegal race to build a nuclear arsenal. The danger it poses to the world has now reached a critical inflection point.

Yet astoundingly, the Biden administration remains desperate to funnel money into Iranian coffers.

When Biden said last November that the attempt to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal was “dead,” only the most credulous would have believed him. His administration has spared no opportunity to grovel to the Iranian regime, ignoring its countless attacks and provocations, including a plot to murder former U.S. officials in America. 

Lo and behold, it has now emerged that a “no deal” deal is in the offing, eminently deniable and designed to avoid congressional oversight. It will present Tehran with a windfall of $2.76 billion transferred from Iraq in exchange for tangential and meaningless promises.

Astounding as it seems, the U.S. has been determined to empower Iran since the Obama administration—many of whose key officials are now Biden staffers—concluded the lethal 2015 nuclear deal.

The suggested reasons for this—taming Tehran by bringing it in from the cold and producing regional stability by evening up the balance of power between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia—don’t bear serious examination.

Whatever the real reason, by minimizing the mortal threat Iran poses to the West, the Biden administration now views Israel as a threat instead because it is determined to stop Iran.

The administration therefore regards Israel as a major obstacle to be neutralized. Accordingly, Israel must now view the U.S. as a “frenemy.”

Of course, the U.S. depends on Israel to be the West’s front line of defense in the Middle East, and Israeli intelligence is critical to American security.

Israel’s biggest potential defense against U.S. perfidy, however, is the American people. American support for Israel is not based on the small U.S. Jewish community but the Christian heartlands of middle America—which would take a very dim view indeed of a political party that was putting Israel at risk.

Yet Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who famously alerted the American public to the risks of the 2015 nuclear deal, is now silent. As pointed out by Michael Doran in Tablet, Netanyahu appears to be trapped.

The U.S. is projecting friendship with Israel through joint military exercises, working within CENTCOM towards integrated missile defense and dangling the biggest prize of all—the administration’s apparent  enthusiasm for promoting normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

This enthusiasm is false, since normalization would jeopardize the administration’s all-important courtship of Iran. But the carefully spun optics—with the intention of preventing Israel from attacking Iran—are that the U.S. is working hand-in-hand with Israel. It appears that Netanyahu has decided to play along with this cynical fiction.

So, Netanyahu has sacrificed Israel’s biggest diplomatic weapon: The ability to alert the American people to their government’s lethal abandonment of the Jewish state.

If Netanyahu can’t or won’t do this, others should step up to the plate. Israel has numerous friends in Congress. All those Republican presidential candidates should be using Israel to put clear blue water between the Democrats and the American people. In a country where love of Israel is key to its core values, this should become a defining election issue.

It’s high time for Israel’s truest friends in the US to tell the American people about the betrayal of Israel taking place in their name, and the frightening ways in which the Biden administration is hanging the Jewish state out to dry.

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