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Morning Glory: Biden betrays Israel

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President Joe Biden is not a “friend of Israel.” 

He was, but he is not now. Biden began his turn against Israel when he told Erin Burnett that he was embargoing the sale of offensive weapons to Israel. 

Biden completed that turn with his speech last Friday and in his Time Magazine interview published this week. 

First, when he was asked an incredibly stupid question by Time’s reporter  —”More broadly, from the intelligence in the evidence you’ve seen, either currently or in the last months, have Israeli forces committed war crimes in Gaza?”— Biden responded “The answer is it’s uncertain and has been investigated by the Israelis themselves.”

The answer is manifestly not “uncertain.” Israel has fought the most restrained war in history, with far more care for civilians in the enemy’s territory than any other nation in history. 

If Israel has committed “war crimes” then so has the United States in the battle for Mosul, in the long Iraq War and in the long Afghanistan War. We most definitely did not, though just like the Israelis, America’s military has sometimes made terrible mistakes and has sometimes had to punish soldiers that broke our law concerning civilians and even armed combatants. But to leave that stupid question an open one when we all know the situation and Israel’s record? That is a blood libel by Biden as “open questions” can easily be, and a blood libel very useful to the enemies of Israel across the world and in the United States. Friends do not imply their friends would even draw close to that line. 

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In that same Time interview, Biden was asked a fair question: “Some in Israel have suggested that Netanyahu is prolonging the war for his own political self-preservation. Do you believe that?”

Biden responded: “I’m not going to comment on that,” which is a fine answer that refuses to publicly condemn the democratically-elected leader of an ally that is the equal of any ally the United States has. But Biden immediately added to his answer a terrible non-sequitor: “There is every reason for people to draw that conclusion.”

America has had incredibly difficult allies in all of our modern wars: Every post (and pre-) Taliban government in Afghanistan; every post-invasion government in Iraq; every government in South Vietnam; Charles de Gaulle and Chiang Kai-shek in World War II for example, not to mention Joseph Stalin.

The key rule about allies in wartime was enunciated by Winston Churchill, who loathed Stalin but who welcomed the then-USSR to the right side when the Nazis invaded it: “If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.” 

Presidents do not—unless you are President John F. Kennedy engineering the disastrous coup against South Vietnam’s Ngo Dinh Diem who was assassinated with U.S. assistance in 1963 or President Jimmy Carter pushing the Shah out or Biden abandoning Afghanistan to chaos and darkness—turn privately or publicly against an ally you care about, especially one fighting for their life, even if you can’t stand their prime minister or president. 

Finally, if you have offered to help a friend negotiate a difficult situation, you do not, without notice and permission from that friend, publicly announce any “offer” that your friend has made to a common enemy, and you especially do not misrepresent the offer as seems almost certain to have happened with Biden’s Friday speech about the “deal” Netanyahu was alleged to have offered Hamas. Israel has never—never—moved from its insistence that the war in Gaza will continue until Hamas and all its allies have lost power in Gaza. 

BATTLEGROUND STATE DEMOCRATS HESITANT TO SUPPORT BIDEN OVER GAZA

There is no doubt that Joe Biden was a friend of Israel. The only time I’ve ever interviewed the president was when I addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and broadcast my program from outside AIPAC’s vast gathering at the Washington Convention Center decades ago. Then-Senator Biden addressed the same conference and stopped at the broadcast booth on his way out and we chatted amicably about Israel and his record of support for it. He most certainly was a friend of Israel then. 

That was then. This is now. Now Biden has turned on Israel because either he’s “slipping” as the Wall Street Journal gently put it Wednesday or because he views Israel’s war as an existential threat—to his re-election. Whatever the reason, “friends” don’t slander friends and misrepresent the negotiating positions of “friends” in an attempt to corner them into a disastrous “deal.”

Israel has, at every step in their war in Gaza, done whatever the far-less-than 
-minimally-competent Biden administration has demanded at every step of the way, including the disastrous and deadly delay at the gates of Rafah for four months. Israeli soldiers have died because of that delay. And Hezbollah has become sufficiently emboldened to set the north of Israel on fire in addition to shelling the Jewish State daily. 

Israel has restrained itself from tactically sound decisions in its war because it believed Biden was indeed its friend, even when Biden and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan have been horribly, terribly wrong. Biden, after all, went to Israel in the immediate aftermath of the slaughter of 10/7. He put the “bear hug on Bibi” and kept it going in the eyes of the American public. The United States support for and assistance to Israel is a strategic necessity for Israel. 

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Until it is not. Until the president of the United States decides, for whatever reason, he needed to become Israel’s most visible and credible critic. Until a president publicly offers Hamas a compromise on a question of strategic import to Israel.

Now we are at a point where Netanyahu has almost no reason to trust the infirm and failing president even if Biden has become, in the words of Special Counsel Robert Hur, a “sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.” Netanyahu cannot afford to ignore the president’s turn, to indulge the president’s infirmity, to sympathize with the struggle to juggle issues of life and death at the age of almost 82. Israel’s Prime Minister, whomever he or she is, can’t take America’s president seriously when that president asks it to risk its existence because of American politics. 

biden and netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that President Biden’s vow to withhold weapons from Israel will result in civilian casualties inside Gaza. ((Fox News/Getty Images))

Biden is indeed playing politics with Israel’s war after war crimes were inflicted on Israel, after Israel has respectfully listened and changed its plans even when its War Cabinet had deep doubts about the “guidance” the U.S. was offering, and even as the president and his advisors projected whatever remains of Biden’s own never-not-political instincts onto Netanyahu. 

Biden seems angrier now with Bibi than with Hamas, and the president may well have forgotten the full horrors of 10/7. Maybe he never internalized them to begin with, but whatever the president knows or doesn’t know, intended to or wish he had said, the record is what it is. 

President Biden is no friend of Israel today, and Israelis know it even if they can’t say it out loud because they still have filters and know that America stands with her even if our faltering president does not.

Hugh Hewitt is host of “The Hugh Hewitt Show,” heard weekday mornings 6am to 9am ET on the Salem Radio Network, and simulcast on Salem News Channel. Hugh wakes up America on over 400 affiliates nationwide, and on all the streaming platforms where SNC can be seen. He is a frequent guest on the Fox News Channel’s news roundtable hosted by Brett Baier weekdays at 6pm ET. A son of Ohio and a graduate of Harvard College and the University of Michigan Law School, Hewitt has been a Professor of Law at Chapman University’s Fowler School of Law since 1996 where he teaches Constitutional Law. Hewitt launched his eponymous radio show from Los Angeles in 1990.  Hewitt has frequently appeared on every major national news television network, hosted television shows for PBS and MSNBC, written for every major American paper, has authored a dozen books and moderated a score of Republican candidate debates, most recently the November 2023 Republican presidential debate in Miami and four Republican presidential debates in the 2015-16 cycle. Hewitt focuses his radio show and his column on the Constitution, national security, American politics and the Cleveland Browns and Guardians. Hewitt has interviewed tens of thousands of guests from Democrats Hillary Clinton and John Kerry to Republican Presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump over his 40 years in broadcast, and this column previews the lead story that will drive his radio/ TV show today.

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