U.S. President Joe Biden has dispatched the American official Hady Amr to the Middle East to “de-escalate the fighting” between Israel and Hamas.
In the past, Amr, now the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for “Israel-Palestine,” said he was “inspired by the Palestinian intifada,” and accused Israel of ethnic cleansing and apartheid.
In 2002, after Israel killed a senior Hamas commander, Amr wrote that the Arabs “will never, never forget what the Israeli people, the Israeli military and Israeli democracy have done to Palestinian children. And there will be thousands who will seek to avenge these brutal murders of innocents.”
Does this sound like someone who can broker peace between Palestinians firing thousands of rockets to murder Israelis and the targets of that onslaught?
But the Biden administration is a hall of many mirrors. On Wednesday, Biden called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to affirm his “unwavering support” for Israel’s security, and Israel’s “legitimate right to defend itself and its people while protecting civilians.”
In addition, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said there was “a very clear, absolute distinction between the terrorist organization Hamas that is indiscriminately raining down rockets targeting civilians, and Israel’s response defending itself targeting the terrorists.”
There is, however, every reason to be wary of such hand-on-heart professions of support from this administration. For its specialty is what’s been called the “values-feint”—making high-minded statements to disguise its morally bankrupt actions.
Much more significant was the sharp dressing-down that Israel’s national security adviser, Meir Ben-Shabbat, felt obliged to deliver last Sunday to his American counterpart, Jake Sullivan, and which became public.
Sullivan had called Ben-Shabbat to discuss Washington’s “serious concerns” about Israel’s behavior on Temple Mount and about the potential eviction of Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah district of eastern Jerusalem.
This showed that the Biden administration had swallowed wholesale the falsehood that these two issues had sparked the violence.
In fact, Israeli police only went into Al-Aqsa mosque after the Arabs had turned it into a theater of war, stockpiling there rocks and petrol bombs that they were hurling at Jews and police.
As for Sheikh Jarrah, this long-running issue is not—as it has been widely portrayed—an attempt to “Judaize” Palestinian properties. It is instead a rent dispute, caused by Palestinian tenants who are refusing to pay their Israeli landlords for properties that, with the exception of the period between 1948 and 1967 during which Jordan illegally occupied this land and sequestered Jewish properties, had been in Jewish ownership since the middle of the 19th century.
Ben-Shabbat reportedly pushed back strongly, telling Sullivan that such interference was “a prize for the rioters and those sending them who hoped to put pressure on Israel,” and that it would be more helpful if such American pressure were directed instead at those inciting the violence.
This very sharp response suggests that, beneath the public bromides, the possibility now looms large of a major breakdown in relations between Israel and the United States.
Indeed, the two-faced nature of the Biden administration is shown by its attempt to de-escalate a conflagration it helped escalate in the first place.
For by restoring to the Palestinian Authority the funding that former President Donald Trump had suspended on the grounds that it was continuing to incite and support terrorism, Washington in effect signaled to the Palestinians that they could launch their onslaught on Israelis in the confidence that America no longer had Israel’s back.
The evidence suggests something far worse here than a naive attachment to the two-state solution. For the underlying logic—incredible as it may seem—is that it would suit the Biden administration for Israel to lose. And this is all to do with Barack Obama and Iran.
The Biden administration is absolutely determined that America should re-enter the Obama-brokered 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and lift sanctions against the regime. The reason for this otherwise inexplicable aim to re-empower one of the most lethal rogue states in the world lies with Obama, for whom the nuclear deal was an absolute priority. He claimed that it would stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons and, by bringing Tehran in from the cold, would transform the regime into a model global player.
This was clearly nonsense. The regime is run by Islamic jihadi fanatics, the deal would only stop the Iranian bomb by a few years at best, and lifting sanctions would funnel billions into Iran’s murderous terrorist activities.
Now an article in Tablet by Michael Doran and Tony Badran says the 2015 deal was a Trojan horse to conceal the real agenda: to recast America’s role in the Middle East.
Far from the empowerment of Iran being the unfortunate consequence of an ill-thought-through policy, it was actually the whole point of the exercise. And now the Biden administration, stuffed with Obama-era retreads, intends to complete that agenda.
This is to allow the United States to withdraw from engagement in the Middle East. To enable that to happen, there has to be a new equilibrium to achieve a balance of power in the region.
That means that America will use its influence to elevate the interests of Iran over those of its own allies in the Middle East. That means it will sacrifice Saudi Arabia and Israel. Moreover, to prevent any grouping that might threaten Iranian power, it will seek to drive a wedge between Israel and Saudi Arabia; and that means undermining the Abraham Accords, the most positive move towards peace for Israel and the region in a century.
Since this is a malign and anti-West agenda, it has to be achieved by stealth. Doran and Badran say camouflage tactics include actual help to Israel, such as collaborating with it on developing the Iron Dome missile-defense system.
They also include the “values feint” of which the 2015 deal is the paradigm example— making the administration appear to want to contain the threat from Iran when it is instead unleashing it. Indeed, this is already happening. Earlier this week, one of the terror groups in Gaza, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, announced that it had fired a burst of Iranian Badr-3 missiles into Israel.
On Gatestone, Khaled abu Toameh writes that over the past 15 years, Iran became the most dominant weapon supplier to Hamas and PIJ. Last year, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, admitted for the first time that his country was supplying the Palestinian terrorist groups with weapons.
As abu Toameh observes, were it not for Iran’s financial and military aid, groups would not be able to attack Israel with thousands of rockets and missiles. In the past, Tehran used its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah to attack Israel. Now it’s using its Palestinian proxies to achieve its goal of eliminating Israel and killing Jews.
Returning to the 2015 deal will funnel still more arms and money through Iran to the Palestinian groups trying to murder Jews and destroy Israel. Behind the Palestinians sits Iran; and in the shadows behind Iran sits America.
Suddenly, Meir Ben-Shabbat’s fierce pushback comes into far-clearer focus. Could it really be that the Biden administration is turning America into an active foe of Israel?
The suggestion sounds as incredible as it is fearsome. But it starts to appear all too credible as Biden’s domestic agenda lurches ever further into self-destructive radicalism, and America turns into a foe of itself.
Obama’s hostility to Israel made his double-term presidency a nightmare for the Jewish state. But if that was bad enough, it will take a measure of strategic genius for Israel to defend itself against Obama’s surrogate third term and keep its people safe.
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.” Go to melaniephillips.substack.com to access her work.