Surveying the history of Democratic administrations’ relationships with Israel—from Harry Truman supporting Israel’s creation over the vociferous objections of his trusted secretary of state, George Marshall, to Lyndon Johnson calling two Jewish advisers “Zionist dupes” (but thereafter giving crucial support to Jerusalem in the wake of the Six-Day War), to Barack Obama’s policy of creating “daylight”—Tevi Troy finds a decidedly mixed record. He then engages in some informed speculation about what sorts of policies Joe Biden will bring to Washington:
[I]t is very likely that the Biden administration will put more rhetorical pressure on Israel to strike a deal with the Palestinians. It’s not clear, however, what policy leverage the U.S. has to push Israel in this regard while the Middle East landscape is changing—or whether the Palestinians will even consider some kind of a deal in any case. Still, Biden could, as Obama did, support UN resolutions critical of Israel. He could also sternly lecture Israeli officials, as he has intermittently throughout his career. Biden is on the record unambiguously about restoring the U.S.–Iran nuclear deal.
Looking at all of this, one can discern the outlines of a policy framework toward Israel—call it Bidenism. It will be supportive of continued aid to Israel and unlikely to question publicly the wisdom of such aid. Rhetorically, Biden will repeatedly present himself as a friend of Israel and of Prime Minister Netanyahu, even as he questions whether Netanyahu is too far to the right and as he exerts private pressure for concessions with the Palestinians.
Bidenism will seek a return to the problematic Iran deal in some form but will continue to profess its concerns about Iran getting nuclear weapons and will be unlikely to try to stop Israel from allying with Sunni Gulf states as a counterweight to Iran. Bidenism will not seek to move the U.S. embassy from Jerusalem—but it won’t encourage other nations to move their embassies from Tel Aviv. And Bidenism will likely be muddled when it comes to the woke left’s intersectional hostility toward Israel—willing to condemn certain outrageous and anti-Semitic statements but ever careful not to offend and, on occasion, will even apologize if its condemnations produce too much blowback.