After the brutal Hamas terrorist attack against Israel on October 7, the most horrific attack on Jews since the Holocaust, Israel and the Jewish people need America’s steadfast support.
This means immediate and robust backing from our President and Congress. Israel urgently needs military, humanitarian, and financial aid to destroy Hamas and recover from the October 7 terrorist attack. It also needs America’s support in the information war, which is being relentlessly waged against Israel and the Jewish people by Hamas, other radical Islamists, the global Left, and the mainstream media.
American support for Israel must be unequivocal. There can’t be any daylight between the United States and Israel. If the Biden Administration has differences with Israel on how it plans to respond to the Hamas attack or other issues, it must relay these concerns privately. Any such private communications cannot be leaked to the press.
America also must speak plainly about who ultimately was behind the October 7 terrorist attack – Iran. The Biden Administration must halt its efforts to appease Iran and hold Tehran responsible for this atrocity.
These are the things that a President who is a true friend of Israel would do at this critical moment in its history. Sadly, President Biden’s actions and statements since the October 7 terrorist attack prove that he is far from a true friend of Israel.
The President was widely praised for stating his support for Israel after the October 7 terrorist attack in which he communicated America’s total commitment and support to Israel, that Israel has the right to respond to the slaughter of their people, and for calling Israel America’s most reliable ally in the Middle East. Biden also strongly condemned the Hamas attack as “sickening,” “pure unadulterated evil,” and a “violation of every code of human morality.”
Unfortunately, these statements were followed by a mishmash of contradictory statements, lectures to the Israeli government, and criticism by Biden and his senior officials.
Biden qualified his support for Israel defending itself against Hamas by saying any Israeli attack in Gaza must be governed by the rule of law to protect innocent Palestinian civilians. He also stated that Israel must not be consumed by rage in responding to the Hamas attack.
These are not things a U.S. president should be saying to a close U.S. ally who is at war.
As Israel grieves over the 1,300 killed in the horrendous terrorist attack and braces for the next stage of the war, President Biden has publicly dictated to Israel how to conduct the war and its aftermath. Biden has warned Israel against a full-scale occupation of Gaza. The President also called for the inept and deeply corrupt Palestinian Authority to govern Gaza and said that the Israel-Hamas conflict must end with the two-state solution, a now-dead proposal that all Palestinian parties have repeatedly rejected.
The Biden and Netanyahu governments probably disagree on all of these issues and President Biden should not be discussing them publicly.
Although President Biden accepted Prime Minister Netanyahu’s invitation to visit Israel on October 18 to express America’s support for Israel, according to CNN, Biden only agreed to make the trip on the condition that Netanyahu make an explicit commitment to open Gaza for humanitarian aid.
President Biden also has been inconsistent on a cease-fire or humanitarian pause in the Israel-Hamas conflict. Biden has both publicly ruled out a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas and said the U.S. would be willing to discuss a cease-fire after Hamas releases its hostages.
The United States vetoed a UN Security Council resolution on October 18 calling for a humanitarian pause in the Israel-Gaza conflict and to allow humanitarian corridors into the Gaza Strip because the resolution did not mention Israel’s right to self-defense. At the same time, the administration has been pressing the Israeli government to delay or pause its ground offensive into Gaza to get more aid into the enclave and negotiate the release of hostages.
On October 25, the U.S. requested Israel delay its ground invasion of Gaza so more air defense support could be deployed to defend U.S. troops in Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates, according to press reports.
Israel may have agreed to U.S. requests to delay or pause its ground invasion of Gaza. However, Israel launched a large overnight raid into Gaza on October 26.
Worst of all, Biden Administration officials leaked to the press that they do not believe Israel Defense Forces are ready to invade Gaza and do not have a workable invasion plan.
The Biden Administration also has failed to take decisive action in response to Iran’s likely sponsorship of the October 7 terrorist attack and a surge in attacks by Iranian-backed militias against U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria. The administration has said Iran was “complicit” in the Hamas attack because it funds Hamas and trains its fighters, but claims it has no information that Iranian officials ordered the attack or knew about it in advance. However, the Wall Street Journal reported on October 8 that Iranian officials helped plan the Hamas attack and gave the green light to launch it at an October 2, 2023 meeting in Beirut. The Journal also reported that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps worked with Hamas since last August to prepare the air, land, and sea incursions of the attack.
There has been no move by the Biden Administration to reimpose the tough sanctions against Iran put in place by the Trump Administration, especially against Iranian oil exports. Biden officials reportedly halted a $6 billion payment to Iran agreed to in August to free five American prisoners, but it is unclear how long this payment will be frozen.
President Biden’s supposed “total commitment” to Israel was further undermined when he sent an emergency supplemental bill to Congress last week that tied a $14.3 billion aid request for Israel to a new $60 billion aid request for Ukraine, a significant increase over Biden’s August Ukraine request of $26 billion. This move angered many members of Congress, who charged Biden with trying to exploit a crisis by using strong, bipartisan support for Israel to force Congress to fund his controversial Ukraine policy.
Overall, President Biden and his administration’s support to Israel in this crisis has been conditional, opportunistic, and inconsistent. It has fallen far short of the unequivocal support that Israel needs from America at this critical time. Some of the Biden administration’s criticism will be exploited by Israel’s enemies. Fortunately, the Biden Administration’s support has been strong enough for Israel’s needs, and support from most Members of Congress has been much stronger and consistent.
Moreover, Prime Minister Netanyahu has known Joe Biden for decades and is quite familiar with his foreign policy incompetence. Netanyahu will play along with Biden to a point to maintain good relations with the U.S. and obtain American aid, but he will not let Biden dictate Israeli defense policy. Netanyahu will order an invasion of Gaza when he is ready, probably without informing Biden in advance.
Fred Fleitz is vice-chair of the America First Policy Institute Center for American Security. He previously served as National Security Council chief of staff, CIA analyst and a House Intelligence Committee staff member.