Is Biden Preparing To Cut Off Israel in the Midst of the War?

The White House asks State and Defense for a list of ‘all weapons transfers to Israel that are planned or are up for approval.’

AP/Ariel Schalit
An Israeli soldier heading toward Gaza in an armored personnel carrier, October 14, 2023. AP/Ariel Schalit

When the going gets tough President Biden feigns toughness. Israel is at a critical moment, full of complexities in Gaza. To finish off Hamas’s ability to recreate October 7, as Israel vows to do, the Israel Defense Force needs to move more than a million non-combatants from the Rafah theater. Once Hamas is gone, the IDF will have to crack the tougher nut of Hezbollah. This is just no moment for the knees of the Biden administration to go wobbly. 

Mr. Biden is pressuring Israel to forgo an assault on Hamas’s remaining four battalions, which are holed up at Rafah, including the organization’s chief in Gaza, Yehya Sinwar, who is the mastermind of October 7. To ensure no one — like, say, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib — has missed the point, Mr. Biden is broadcasting widely that he means business: favored press report that arms deliveries to Israel are on Washington’s chopping block. 

The White House is asking the State and Defense departments for a “list of all weapons transfers to Israel that are planned or are up for approval,” Axios reports this week. Mr. Biden is “considering ways to prevent Israel from using U.S. weapons if it attacks the densely populated area around the city of Rafah,” a veteran Washington Post columnist, David Ignatius, wrote earlier, adding that the new move would resemble Mr. Biden’s Ukraine strategy.   

To fend off pro-Israel critics, Mr. Ignatius adds, the White House could argue that its new arms limitations are “similar to its understanding with Ukraine that long-range U.S. missiles can’t be used to target Russian territory.” As Rick Blaine of “Casablanca” would say, “I wouldn’t bring up Kyiv if I were you. It’s poor salesmanship.” Rationing arms as Ukraine fights for its life is part of the reason the war is at a stalemate, much to Moscow’s delight.

The fact is that the White House is turning sour on Israel. Armchair generals are upset that the Gaza war is taking too long. They are furious over widely reported humanitarian crises in the strip. Toughening up on Israel plays well at European and Arab capitals. It may even appease “uncommitted” political types at home. Yet, alliance-building diplomacy and election year politics aside, does it serve America’s interest to throw Israel to the jackals?

What we’re seeing now is classic Biden. It’s an example of what our erstwhile defense secretary, Robert Gates, meant when he said that Mr. Biden was wrong on every foreign policy issue in the last 40 years. He started his career in the Senate by voting to cut off aid to Free Vietnam in its last desperate days. In the vice presidential debate in 2008, Governor Palin accused him of waving the “white flag of surrender” in Iraq. In 2021, he surrendered Afghanistan to the Taliban. 

Throughout the Jewish state’s existence it has been surrounded by neighbors who wished it ill. As that sentiment eased somewhat in recent years, the Islamic Republic of Iran built up a group of allied militias that share its “death to America, death to Israel” goals. Tehran arms, trains, and funds Hezbollah, the Houthis, Iraqi and Syrian militias, and other Arab jihadists. Hamas is but one link in the mullahs’ “ring of fire” strategy to surround and choke Israel.

Like Ukraine’s, Israel’s fight is for survival. Mr. Biden is quibbling from afar over IDF tactics that are no more inhumane than America’s during its war on ISIS. Strategically, America has a lot to lose if Israel fails to end Hamas’s military capabilities. It would, for one, signal to Iran and its militias that the war to erase Israel off the map is on the right track. Smelling success, they will intensify efforts to obliterate America’s most reliable ally in the region. 

That would be catastrophic for Israel but, as the Red Sea shutdown shows, America may well need to soon display some of our own military might there. As Israel is fighting the good fight, it is time to add pressure on the head of the Mideast multi-arm octopus. While the Mullah’s proxies keep Israel busy, Tehran beefs up its missile arsenal and advances its near-completed nuclear capabilities. Better for America to get tough on our enemies, not our allies.   

The New York Sun

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