columnU.S.-Israel Relations

The Biden administration weaponizes the FBI against Israel

As in the Dreyfus affair, there are no Jewish criminals here, and everyone knows it. The Biden administration has ordered the FBI probe into Shireen Abu Akleh’s death because it wants a crisis with Israel.

U.S. President Joe Biden holds a press conference with then-interim Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid in Jerusalem, July 14, 2022. Photo by Emil Salman/POOL.
U.S. President Joe Biden holds a press conference with then-interim Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid in Jerusalem, July 14, 2022. Photo by Emil Salman/POOL.
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 Biden administration is feeding Israel to the wolves. That is the only reasonable way to understand Channel 14’s bombshell report on Sunday that the FBI has opened an investigation of IDF soldiers in relation to the death of Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh.

Abu Akleh died on May 11 in Jenin while she was embedded with Iranian-controlled Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists engaged in a gun battle with IDF soldiers. The battle took place in the midst of an onslaught of murderous terror attacks carried out by Jenin-based terrorists affiliated with the Iranian-proxy. On May 5, two PIJ terrorists from Jenin hacked three Israelis to death with axes and wounded three more in the haredi city of Elad, just as Israel’s Independence Day celebrations were ending. The soldiers that entered Jenin on May 11 were part of a counter-terror force tasked with breaking up the PIJ infrastructure in the city.

Immediately after Abu Akleh was killed, the Biden administration began demanding that the IDF investigate her death and accept the blame for it. In the ensuing months, every time senior Israeli officials came to Washington to discuss their concerns over the Biden administration’s peripatetic efforts to empower and enrich Iran while legitimizing its nuclear weapons program in the ill-conceived “nuclear talks,” they found they had no one to talk to. Everyone from Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan to Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman rebuffed them. All the administration officials wanted to discuss was Abu Akleh’s death, and how Israel was criminally culpable for it.

From the outset, the administration’s position was unhinged. The IDF’s operation was legitimate and necessary. Any reasonable observer—particularly one from an allied government—could have been expected to recognize this fact. Moreover, the Palestinian Authority refused to cooperate with the investigation into Abu Akleh’s death. Siding with the terrorists, the P.A. refused to permit Israeli medical examiners to examine her body or IDF investigators to look at the bullet that killed her. The P.A. and PIJ jointly scrubbed the battle scene and so blocked any investigation from reaching conclusive findings.

But again, no investigation was necessary. Everyone knew the IDF didn’t target Abu Akleh.

All the same, in the hopes of placating the shockingly hostile Biden administration, the Bennet-Lapid-Gantz government decided to take the administration’s position at face value.

The IDF conducted an investigation. It permitted the administration to see all of its findings. And in September, the IDF announced that it was possible that Abu Akleh was killed by an Israeli soldier. The obvious hope was that by saying it was possible our soldiers killed Abu Akleh, the administration would finally lay off.

Unfortunately, the opposite happened. The anti-Israel animus that spawned the call for an investigation didn’t disappear. It got worse. The State Department responded to Israel’s announcement by demanding a change in the IDF’s rules of engagement, to protect terrorists against the Israeli military. In other words, the administration used Israel’s announcement as a justification to stand all but openly with Palestinian terrorists against Israel’s soldiers— which the administration treated like terrorists.

The outgoing government publicly rejected the U.S. demand, and things seemed to quiet down. The issue disappeared as the government fell and Israel went to general elections. But now we know that the Biden administration did not abandon its hostile campaign. Instead, it used the FBI as a political weapon against America’s closest Middle East ally.

On Monday, outgoing Defense Minister Benny Gantz rightly rejected the administration’s decision and announced that Israel will not permit FBI investigators to interview Israel’s soldiers. The incoming government can be expected to follow the same policy.

Since outside the radical left, no Israeli politicians would support the criminalization of our soldiers, what is the Biden administration up to?

The answer is self-evident. President Biden and his advisers are demonizing America’s most powerful and loyal ally in the Middle East because they don’t see Israel as a foreign policy issue. They see it as a domestic political one. The progressive base of the Democratic Party backs Palestinian terrorists, supports their terror campaigns against Israel and rejects Israel’s right to exist and the right of the Jewish people to self-determination. And the Biden administration is captivated by its base. There is no other possible explanation for the FBI’s investigation.

Journalists are killed in all war zones. The United States would never investigate British or French soldiers. They would never investigate Ukrainian soldiers. They would never investigate their own soldiers for actions leading to the death of reporters embedded with terrorists during a firefight. All U.S. foreign and defense policy professionals know there is nothing to investigate either legally, morally or operationally. And they know that there is no way any U.S. ally other than Israel would ever be treated this badly.

In opening this investigation, the FBI is treating the Israeli military and justice system with utter contempt. And that contempt itself ensures that the investigation will go nowhere. Biden, his advisers, Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray all know that no semi-responsible Israeli leader would ever turn our soldiers over to politically motivated, hostile and contemptuous FBI investigators.

In directing the FBI to open this probe, the Biden administration, including Attorney General Merrick Garland, is engaging in a political campaign to delegitimize Israel by accusing Israeli soldiers of murdering journalists. The administration does this in support for Palestinian terrorists and their war for Israel’s destruction. This action is not only hostile to the Jewish state, but antithetical to U.S. interests. The U.S. interest is undermined, not advanced, by delegitimizing the armed forces of America’s closest Middle East ally.

It bears noting that if a Republican president were to politicize foreign policy in this manner, Democrats would impeach him. Indeed, they already have. In December 2019, the Democrats impeached then President Donald Trump for allegedly subordinating America’s purported interest in supporting Ukraine to advance his political goal of investigating allegations that Biden and his family received massive bribes from Ukrainian politicians.

In the case at hand, the Biden administration is doing something much worse. It is undermining an allied military in support of a terrorist organization to make progressive Democrats who hate America’s closest Middle East ally happy. And Republicans are noticing.

On Tuesday, Sen. Ted Cruz issued a statement accusing the administration of “weaponizing” the Department of Justice against Israel. In Cruz’s words, “Joe Biden and his administration view Israel and Prime Minister-elect Benjamin Netanyahu as political enemies, and so they are responding to them the way they respond to all their political enemies: by unleashing the FBI. Our Israeli allies have, since the very beginning, cooperated closely with the United States in investigating this incident, and the State Department and Defense Department had already drawn their conclusions.”

Cruz continued, “This outrage underscores how corrupt and blatantly politicized the Justice Department has become and how entirely beholden to the radical left-wing Squad Democrats really are. This administration has spent its time in office weaponizing the DOJ to target their political enemies as a matter of policy and now they have allowed that tactic to bleed into their obsession with undermining our Israeli allies.”

Cruz concluded, “Everyone involved with this debacle should be fired or impeached—all the way up to Attorney General Garland.”

The timing of the FBI probe is notable. It requires the new Netanyahu government to reject the administration’s request on its first day in office. It has no choice. The other option—to permit the Biden FBI to treat our soldiers like modern-day Alfred Dreyfuses—is unthinkable. As in the Dreyfus affair, there are no Jewish criminals here, and everyone knows it. The Biden administration has ordered the FBI probe because it wants a crisis with Israel. The depth of the crisis will depend on Biden, and how far he is willing to go to make his progressive base happy.

Even if the crisis passes quickly, the incoming government needs to understand that so long as the Democrats are in power, the next crisis is just a progressive rally away. As the midterm elections demonstrated, today, there are two Americas, not one. The Republican America, led by the likes of Sen. Cruz, Gov. Ron DeSantis and former President Donald Trump, is the best friend Israel has ever had.

The Democratic America hates Israel and the Republicans. They view both as fundamentally illegitimate.

This state of affairs, where one America loves Israel and the other hates it, is unlikely to change for the better in the foreseeable future. The Abu Akleh affair makes clear that moderates in the Democratic Party—like Biden himself—have transferred policymaking power regarding Israel to their all-but openly anti-Semitic progressive base.

What awaits us will be even worse than what Israel suffered with Barack Obama. We can expect to see the Democrats’ America backing arrest warrants of IDF soldiers and commanders. Democrats can be expected to cut off critical arms supplies. We can expect them to do in public what they are already doing in private—namely funding Palestinian terrorists. We can expect them to support economic boycotts of Israel and to enable the passage of anti-Israel resolutions at the UN Security Council.

To contend with the threat posed by the Democrats’ America, the incoming government must move to swiftly diminish Israel’s strategic dependence on the United States. We should end our receipt of U.S. military assistance. We should move production lines for critical platforms, including Iron Dome missiles, from the United States to Israel, regardless of the economic cost. And we should withdraw the outgoing government’s offer to allow the United States to fund the completion of our military laser program. Full ownership and control over the critical program should be restored to Israel’s military industries, again, regardless of the cost.

Apparently, the FBI informed Israel that it was opening the probe a few weeks ago—presumably before the Nov. 1 election. Gantz and outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid hid the news from the public, for obvious reasons. For a year and a half, they had insisted that Netanyahu was the cause of Israel’s troubled relations with the Democrats. The Biden administration’s probe of our soldiers makes clear that this was never the case. Netanyahu was right to stand up to Obama, and he will be right to stand up to Biden. Israel cannot be beholden to those who view our boys and girls as murderers for defending our lives and our nation. We can only defy them, even when they are former friends in Washington.

Caroline Glick is an award-winning columnist and author of The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East.

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