“Defining Zionism.” – The Lonely Realist

As Joe Biden told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last year and reiterated on Late Night with Seth Meyers in February: “I don’t believe you have to be a Jew to be a Zionist, and I am a Zionist.” He became a fervent supporter of Israel as a first-term Senator in 1973, taking to heart Prime Minister Golda Meir’s warning that Israel had to survive because “we [Jews] have no place else to go.” He understands America’s role in ensuring that place. His record in Congress, as Vice-President and as President confirms it.

Why, then, is President Biden now retreating from temporizing America’s support for Israel in its fight for survival against Hamas?

The answer is most clearly found in a Wall Street Journal editorial earlier this week: “[W]hile Mr. Biden once worked to help Israel after Oct. 7, he’s now working on the ‘two-state solution’: Michigan and Nevada,” meaning that the President is making efforts to improve his re-election prospects by placating his Party’s anti-Zionist progressive wing. It is important to recognize, however, that despite the President’s empty threats words, his Administration’s actions have adhered to the same pro-Israel policies that the majority of Americans support. The contrast was apparent in National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan’s recent statement that “our position is that Hamas should not be allowed a safe haven in Rafah or anywhere else, but a major ground operation there [by Israel] would be a mistake.” In other words, Israel should feel free to wage war to wipe Hamas off the face of the earth, but please do not do so in a way that creates bad press for the President. The reality for Israel is that storming Rafah is a survival necessity …, and is imminent. The Biden Administration’s PR charade offensive also was on display earlier this month when Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer denounced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and urged Israelis to vote him out-of-office, with the Administration simultaneously releasing an “intelligence assessment” questioning Netanyahu’s ability to hold onto that office. This one-two punch violated America’s inviolate policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of allied democracies, treating Israel as America treats its enemies. Importantly, deposing Netanyahu is not the political outcome currently desired by Israelis. It also is an impossibility in Israel’s parliamentary democracy. Such political posturing therefore doesn’t benefit Israel – or the Biden Administration.

The Administration nevertheless continues to seek PR points by creating the impression that it is pressuring Israel to adopt a unilateral cease-fire (allowing Hamas to regroup, resupply and continue its war), one that could leave Israeli hostages in Hamas’ hands and tens of thousands of Hamas terrorists fighters on Israel’s border …, another PR charade. There cannot be peace as long as Hamas remains in a position to take hostages and put bullets in the heads of Israelis, Arab rivals and Palestinian citizens, all in furtherance of religious genocide – the elimination of Jews “from the river to the sea.”

The Biden Administration well understands that America’s enemy is not Israel. America’s enemies are Iran and its allies in the Axis of the Sanctioned. Israel yet again is in an existential struggle for survival, this time with proxies of Iran – Hamas, Hezbollah and Syria –, all of which are opposed by America and the governments of virtually all other Middle East states.

In supporting Israel, Joe Biden needs to voice an unambiguously pro-Israel message instead of pursuing a disingenuous PR campaign. The Biden Administration should be telling the world that American intelligence agrees with Israel’s assessment that ~15,000 Hamas terrorists fighters remain in Rafah and must be removed, and that 13,000 have been killed by Israel’s armed forces …, and that he also agrees with Hamas’ assessment that there have been ~30,000 Gazan deaths since October 7th. He should then explain the math – this means that ~17,000 Gazan civilians have died since October 7th, a horrible price in lives, but a ratio that evidences Israel’s concern for limiting civilian casualties … in stark contrast to the multiple atrocities committed by Hamas. He should emphasize that Americans should be appalled by Hamas’ use of Gazans as human shields and that it is Hamas’ use of those human shields that accounts for so many civilian deaths. He should further state that only Hamas has the ability to eliminate Palestinian casualties by agreeing to the terms of cease-fires proposed by America and others. In fact, if Hamas would agree to free all 120 Israeli hostages, America will guarantee Hamas terrorists’ safe passage to any country that offers them sanctuary, saving tens of thousands of lives and preventing a deeper humanitarian crisis. The President should contrast Israel’s concerns for civilian casualties with Hamas’ targeted massacre of Israeli civilians on October 7th, Hamas’ taking and continued holding of civilian hostages, and Hamas’ indifference to Palestinian casualties by rejecting cease-fires. He should highlight that Hamas’ victims include the ~1.5 million Gazans who have been displaced by the Hamas-initiated War, and also the ~200,000 Israelis who are living as refugees in their own country. He should add that both Israel and America are working to provide aid to everyone who has been displaced by the Hamas War. Meanwhile, Hamas is taking care only of itself.

Hamas continues to reject a cease-fire because its charter calls for the elimination of Jews Israel “from the river to the sea.” Hamas’ survival therefore depends on international pressure that forces Israel to retreat …, and it appears that Hamas thus far is winning that PR battle. For example, a November survey by Arab World for Research and Development showed that 59% of Palestinians “extremely support” the October 7th massacre and another 16% “somewhat support” it. Surveys in America indicate that more than half of Muslim-Americans believe that Hamas was at least somewhat justified in attacking Israel “as part of their struggle for a Palestinian state” and 34% of Americans today believe that Israel’s conduct of the war has been unacceptable. The Biden Administration’s PR campaign needs to focus on highlighting the war’s realities. It needs to explain Joe Biden’s Zionism and the reasons for it.

History may show that the Administration’s efforts to balance pro- and anti-Israel rhetoric indeed defused a rising international anti-Israel tide, allowing Israel to obliterate Hamas and restore establish regional peace. With the world-wide increase in anti-Israel and anti-Semitic agitation, however, the opposite appears to be the case. The Biden Administration therefore should be revising its PR campaign to use its mantle of global leadership to spotlight the on-the-ground realities.

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Finally (from a good friend)

1 Comment
  • jtaussig
    Posted at 11:31h, 24 March

    Hi Bill,

    Well said.

    One of my wife’s cousins was visiting her son in Israel on Oct 7th, so the conflict is close to home in our family.

    That said, given the history of Pakistan and Bangladesh, I favor a 3 state solution.

    – Joe

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