columnU.S.-Israel Relations

Words matter as much as weapons

Rather than warning Israel against excessive aggression, U.S. President Joe Biden should be emphasizing the evils of antisemitism.

President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, Oct. 18, 2023. Photo by Avi Ohayon/GPO.
President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, Oct. 18, 2023. Photo by Avi Ohayon/GPO.
Ruthie Blum. Photo by Ariel Jerozolomski.
Ruthie Blum
Ruthie Blum, former adviser at the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is an award-winning columnist and senior contributing editor at JNS, as well as co-host, with Amb. Mark Regev, of "Israel Undiplomatic" on JNS-TV. She writes and lectures on Israeli politics and culture, and on U.S.-Israel relations. Originally from New York City, she moved to Israel in 1977 and is based in Tel Aviv.

U.S. President Joe Biden devoted his Ramadan greeting this year to the “terrible suffering” of the Palestinians and the “appalling resurgence” of Islamophobia in the United States.  

He began by citing as fact the fake data of the Gaza Health Ministry, claiming: “More than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed, most of them civilians, including thousands of children.”

Before going on to refer to those displaced by the war and “in urgent need of food, water, medicine and shelter,” he expressed sympathy for the American Muslims mourning the loss of loved ones in Gaza.

Not a word about Hamas. Not a single reference to the Oct. 7 rape, torture, immolation and abduction of innocent Israeli men, women and children—including Arab citizens and foreign nationals—that sparked the war.

No naming of the American citizens who are among the 134 out of 253 remaining captives. No blame placed on the terrorists responsible for the massacre and its aftermath.

When he did get around to mentioning the hostages, it was in the context of efforts “to establish an immediate and sustained ceasefire for at least six weeks as part of a deal that releases hostages.”

This was his segue into an old la-la-land fantasy: the failed paradigm of working towards a “two-state solution to ensure Palestinians and Israelis share equal measures of freedom, dignity, security and prosperity.”

If the moral equivalence between a genocidal terrorist organization and the only democracy in the Middle East weren’t sufficiently egregious, Biden quickly shifted gears to highlight another falsehood: the “appalling resurgence of hate and violence toward Muslim Americans.”

He announced that to combat this (fringe, at best) phenomenon, his administration “is developing the first-ever National Strategy to Counter Islamophobia and Related Forms of Bias and Discrimination, to take on hate against Muslim, Sikh, South Asian, and Arab American communities, wherever it occurs.”

“No one,” he stressed, “should ever fear being targeted at school, at work, on the street or in their community because of their background or beliefs.”

Never mind that this actually applies to Jews. The White House must have considered it necessary to tailor the message—and statistics—for Muslims celebrating a month-long holiday.

But what’s Biden’s excuse for not having addressed the explosion of antisemitism in America and elsewhere during his weekend interview with MSNBC’s “The Saturday Show with Jonathan Capehart” or in his State of the Union speech the previous Thursday night?

The question is rhetorical, of course, because the answer is obvious. Biden’s bid for re-election is adding heartburn to his already apparent age-related ailments.

Take his increasingly contradictory Israel policy, for instance. It has less to do with his neurological lapses than with his campaign’s impossible objective: to curry favor with the far left without losing the center.

This explains why he continues to supply arms with which to defeat Hamas, yet suggests that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu isn’t doing enough to avoid civilian casualties in and provide humanitarian aid to Gaza.

That the latter is a total lie doesn’t matter to Israel’s detractors. Nor does it assuage their anger at Biden for insisting on the Jewish state’s “right to defend itself.”

Herein lies the real rub—that Israel is Jewish.

Biden is not an antisemite. He’s an old-style liberal with ridiculous ideas about the centrality of Palestinian statehood to peace in the Middle East.

But his administration leans in the direction of the radical wing of the Democratic Party, which has been siding openly with Hamas. And rather than serving as a wake-up call to the “woke,” the atrocities committed on Oct. 7 by the Iran-backed sadists became a rallying cry for antisemites of all stripes to join forces against the Jews.

Some Jews on the left mistakenly imagine that Hamas cares about the politics of the people it maims and murders. You know, like “The Zone of Interest” director Jonathan Glazer, who pandered to the anti-Zionists on Sunday night in his Academy Award acceptance speech.

What Glazer and his ilk can’t get through their thick heads is that Hamas makes no distinction between different types of Jews while decapitating them and sexually desecrating their corpses. The victims of Oct. 7, like those of the Holocaust, learned that lesson the hard way.

Biden should be using every platform at his disposal—yes, including on the occasion of Ramadan—to emphasize the evils of antisemitism and the havoc it wreaks on every society in which it is permitted to flourish. Instead, he keeps taking the opportunity of his position to warn against Israeli aggression.

What he ought to know by now is that words matter just as much as weapons in wars against malign actors. Unfortunately, his are slurred these days, and not only due to his overall decline.  

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