President Joe Biden’s address yesterday on Israel’s war was almost everything you could have hoped for. It was tough. By naming Hamas as the enemy of civilization and condemning their acts of evil, it was unambiguous. It pledged unconditional support for Israel. In retrospect, it seemed like the most pro-Israel speech that an American president has ever delivered.
Yet these incredibly strong and supportive words were uttered by the same man who, despite Israel’s vehement protestations, did his best to restart the Iranian nuclear talks, authorized the transfer of $6 billion in frozen Iranian assets, and undid oil sanctions on Iran, thereby refilling Iranian coffers.
So, what prevented my heart from swelling with relief at what Biden said was what he didn’t say. His words were laser-focused solely and exclusively on Hamas. Yes, Hamas perpetrated the butchery. But we all know that Iran orchestrated and enabled the slaughter. Without Iran’s pipeline of support and assistance, Hamas would likely have remained relatively impotent and isolated.
Iran is the core of the existential threat Israel faces. Of course, there is Iran’s feverish race for a nuclear weapon. But there is also the lethal array of conventional weapons that Iran has positioned on Israel’s borders in Lebanon, Syria, Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
Yes, Biden clearly warned Israel’s enemies against piling on in hopes of overwhelming Israel. He came within centimeters of committing the United States to a response if they attempt to do so.
But we all know that the only enemy that would be capable of materially tipping the balance is Iran. Naming the enemy as the Iranian-Hamas axis would have vastly magnified Iran’s perception of risk. It would have hung like a hammer over the heads of the mullahs.
Biden’s omission failed to put Iran on notice that it is now considered an accessory to crimes against humanity. Iran must know that we regard them as the head of the snake and we now realize that cutting off that head would end the barbarity and usher in an era of peace.
At a unity rally sponsored yesterday by the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, I saw the same mistake being made. The media estimated an attendance of 2,500. It was remarkable that the Federation pulled it together with virtually two days’ notice. The speeches by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, State of Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza and Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) were unambiguously clear: Hamas is evil and “we stand irrevocably with Israel!” But again, missing from the remarks was any reference to the Iran-Hamas axis. Many were curious as to why Iran was not called out.
All this causes me to wonder if the official messaging on Iranian-Hamas butchery has discreetly erected a guardrail around any reference to Iran. If so, no matter how much weaponry the United States rushes to Israel, it will hardly be enough to prevent the staggering loss of Israeli life should Iran fail to perceive the risk of opening a second front.
Certainly, pivoting 180 degrees and proclaiming Iran’s membership in the axis of evil would present a most uncomfortable position for the Biden administration. It raises the question of why the administration sought to provide the Iranians the lifeline of sanctions relief and financial assistance. But would it be better, at least for the sake of the Democratic Party, that President Biden go down in history as a miscalculating statesman rather than guilty of depraved negligence in the slaughter of innocent civilians?