Are the Democrats betraying Israel?

by | May 20, 2024 | Foreign Policy

Both Biden and his predecessor, President Barack Obama, promised that they had Israel’s back, but it now appears that they are painting a target on its back at a time of its greatest vulnerability.

The decision by the Biden administration to withhold ammunition from Israel is both foolish and immoral. Nor is its foolishness and immorality minimized by President Biden’s announcement that the U.S. will send a billion dollars of arms to Israel two years from now, as it is obliged to do. Israel’s need is immediate.

Let’s start with foolish. Reportedly, among the items being withheld are mechanisms that allow dumb bombs to be converted to smart bombs. Israel wants to use smart bombs precisely in order to reduce the number of collateral deaths of innocent Gazans who are being used as human shields by Hamas. Biden claims that the purpose of withholding ammunition is to prevent civilian casualties. But denying Israel the ability to distinguish between combatants and civilians is about the worst possible way of accomplishing this goal. What is Biden thinking!

The Biden administration also wants to encourage a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. But denying Israel the necessary ammunition to defeat Hamas only encourages Hamas to up the ante in the negotiations, making it impossible for Israel to accept any deal proposed by the terrorist group.

Hamas is playing a game of making offers to Israel that it knows Israel can ever accept. The Biden administration seems to be on Hamas’ side in this game. If Biden wants a deal, he should be pressuring Hamas instead of Israel, since Israel already accepted the deal proposed by the United States and Egypt but Hamas rejected it.

In addition to being foolish and self-defeating, the Biden decision to withhold ammunition from its closest ally in the midst of a war, sends a dangerous message to America’s other allies. If an ally can’t count on a continuing supply of ammunition to defeat an enemy sworn to its destruction, what can it count on?

This is what makes the Biden decision so immoral. Both Biden and his predecessor, President Barack Obama, promised that they had Israel’s back, but it now appears that they are painting a target on its back at a time of its greatest vulnerability.

The worst consequence of Biden’s ill-advised decision is that it may well cost more Israeli and Gazan lives. Denying the IDF necessary ammunition will put Israeli soldiers at risk. And by denying Israel the use of smart technology and decreasing the likelihood of a ceasefire will likely cause more Gazan deaths. It is a lose-lose tactic, seemingly motivated more by domestic political concerns than by military or diplomatic considerations.

Biden is speaking out of both sides of his mouth. He claims to believe that Israel has the right and obligation to destroy Hamas, but at the same time he is denying them the ability to do so. This schizophrenic approach seems motivated more by politics than principle. Biden does not want to lose the growing part of his base that is becoming increasingly anti-Israel. At the same time he wants to maintain the votes of Jewish and Christian supporters of Israel.

More is at stake here than Michigan, with its several hundred thousand Arab and Muslim voters. There is Pennsylvania, Florida, Arizona and Nevada. Each of which, have numerous pro-Israel voters. The difference is that the anti-Israel voters have nowhere else to go. They won’t vote for Donald Trump under any circumstances. The worst they can do is to stay home, which is unlikely. Many pro-Israel voters, on the other hand, could vote for Trump, who has been strongly pro-Israel.

Pro-Israel voters are becoming deeply disillusioned with the Democratic Party. None of its leaders have been willing to condemn the Squad and its bigoted allies who are knee-jerk anti-Israel zealots. This includes Biden who has praised AOC. It also includes Nancy Pelosi who has posed with and praised the most antisemitic members of the Squad.

And then there is Bernie Sanders, who is among the most anti-Israel officials in the history of our nation. He votes with the hard socialist left on almost every issue relating to Israel. It is becoming harder and harder for pro-Israel voters to align themselves with the Democratic Party, and for good reason.

Until the Obama administration, Israel was generally a bipartisan issue. Obama was the first president to tilt the Democrats away from Israel, especially near the end of his second term. Biden seems determined to turn that tilt into a full-fledged push. We hope he does not do so, but if he does, he will do permanent damage to one of the most important and mutually beneficial alliances in the world today. It may also cost him the election.

Alan Dershowitz is professor emeritus at Harvard Law School and the author of “Get Trump,” “Guilt by Accusation” and “The Price of Principle.” Active in litigation, writing, and defense of civil liberties and human rights. Visit his substack and follow him at @AlanDersh.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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