From Israel’s Perspective, Joe Biden Is as Good as It Gets—for a Democrat

Most Israelis would, if given a choice, want Donald Trump to get another four years in the White House, not because of his domestic policies or his personal style, but because they see him as having been unusually favorable toward their own country. To Shmuel Rosner, this evaluation is essentially correct—but that doesn’t mean a Biden presidency would be disastrous:

As far as Israelis are concerned, Mr. Biden has two disadvantages. He is not Trump, and he is a Democrat. In other words, he is not the candidate they support and he comes from the party many of them distrust. In recent years, there’s been a steady drift of Democratic voters—and some Democratic politicians—away from Israel. They are more likely to say that the United States should be an impartial broker in the Middle East, rather than take Israel’s side—and they tended to oppose recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. So it’s not unjustified for Israelis to worry.

Of course, it would be foolish to predict the exact policies of a Biden administration in the Middle East. But there is history to consider. Biden is hardly a newcomer, after all. [He] understands Israel’s concerns. He understands the need to use force.

Biden could [even] provide an opportunity for Israel to re-emerge as a truly bipartisan cause in America. Biden is a self-defined Zionist and a longtime supporter of Israel familiar with both the issues and the main players, who instinctively understands of the country’s security concerns. Sure, pressures from within the party could be a problem. Sure, there would be thorny disagreements to surmount if he becomes the next president. But from an Israeli perspective, Biden is as good as it gets—for a Democrat.

As for Biden’s choice of Kamala Harris as a running mate, Rosner is above all relieved that she got the spot over Susan Rice—who was reportedly under consideration and whose long diplomatic career has established a record of frostiness toward Israel, appeasement of Iran, and ineffective policies. Rosner adds:

Of all the realistic potential Democratic vice-presidential candidates, Senator Harris was Israel’s choice. . . . [L]ike Biden, she is neither an ideologue nor a dreamer. She understands that under certain circumstances there is a need to use force and therefore would be open to the option that Israel occasionally must use force.

Representative Rashida Tlaib once tweeted that Harris’s meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meant that Harris is no longer “part of the resistance to racism against all people.” That’s another reason for Israelis to be pleased. Not because Tlaib would be unhappy but because Harris was never a part of a group or a movement that targeted Israel as a symbol of misbehavior.

Read more at Jewish Journal

More about: Donald Trump, Joseph Biden, Kamala Harris, Rashida Tlaib, Susan Rice, US-Israel relations

Why the White House’s Plan to Prevent an Israel-Hizballah War Won’t Work

On Monday, Hizballah downed an Israeli drone, leading the IDF to retaliate with airstrikes that killed one of the terrorist group’s commanders in southern Lebanon, and two more of its members in the northeast. The latter strike marks an escalation by the IDF, which normally confines its activities to the southern part of the country. Hizballah responded by firing two barrages of rockets into northern Israel on Tuesday, while Hamas operatives in Lebanon fired another barrage yesterday.

According to the Iran-backed militia, 219 of its fighters have been killed since October; six Israeli civilians and ten soldiers have lost their lives in the north. The Biden administration has meanwhile been involved in ongoing negotiations to prevent these skirmishes from turning into an all-out war. The administration’s plan, however, requires carrots for Hizballah in exchange for unenforceable guarantees, as Richard Goldberg explains:

Israel and Hizballah last went to war in 2006. That summer, Hizballah crossed the border, killed three Israeli soldiers, and kidnapped two others. Israel responded with furious airstrikes, a naval blockade, and eventually a ground operation that met stiff resistance and mixed results. A UN-endorsed ceasefire went into effect after 34 days of war, accompanied by a Security Council Resolution that ordered the UN Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to assist the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) in disarming Hizballah in southern Lebanon—from the Israeli border up to the Litani River, some 30 kilometers away.

Despite billions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer support over the last seventeen years, the LAF made no requests to UNIFIL, which then never disarmed Hizballah. Instead, Iran accelerated delivering weapons to the terrorist group—building up its forces to a threat level that dwarfs the one Israel faced in 2006. The politics of Lebanon shifted over time as well, with Hizballah taking effective control of the Lebanese government and exerting its influence (and sometimes even control) over the LAF and its U.S.-funded systems.

Now the U.S. is offering Lebanon an economic bailout in exchange for a promise to keep Hizballah forces from coming within a mere ten kilometers of the border, essentially abrogating the Security Council resolution. Goldberg continues:

Who would be responsible for keeping the peace? The LAF and UNIFIL—the same pair that has spent seventeen years helping Hizballah become the threat it is today. That would guarantee that Hizballah’s commitments will never be verified or enforced.

It’s a win-win for [Hizballah’s chief Hassan] Nasrallah. Many of his fighters live and keep their missiles hidden within ten kilometers of Israel’s border. They will blend into the civilian population without any mechanism to force their departure. And even if the U.S. or France could verify a movement of weapons to the north, Nasrallah’s arsenal is more than capable of terrorizing Israeli cities from ten kilometers away. Meanwhile, a bailout of Lebanon will increase Hizballah’s popularity—demonstrating its tactics against Israel work.

Read more at The Dispatch

More about: Hizballah, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden