The State Department Should Quash, Not Coddle, Those Rebelling against the Administration’s Israel Policy

In the past few weeks, there have been several reports about memos and letters sent by government employees—at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), at the State Department, and at other agencies—criticizing the administration’s support for the Jewish state. These missives claimed to have specific numbers of “signatories,” but these individuals notably chose to remain anonymous. Elliott Abrams comments on how Secretary of State Antony Blinken, to whom two of these letters were directed, should respond. (Subscription required.)

The proper reaction would have been to squash the mutiny. Those who called for a ceasefire in week one were essentially saying Israel had no duty or right to protect itself after Hamas’s brutal attack on its civilians. Mr. Blinken should have told these government workers that he and the president reject their views as entirely wrong and contrary to U.S. national interests. Instead of encouraging the dissenters to offer more “feedback and ideas,” [as he did], he should be wondering if he can count on such people to offer any sound advice on foreign policy—or even to implement a policy that he sets.

Instead of coddling the staff with listening sessions, he should have reminded them who sets the policy—and even challenged those protesting to re-examine their hostile attitudes toward the Jewish state.

The problem of having staff members who think they know best and should determine policy is an old one. . . . Harry S. Truman noted that too many bureaucrats “look upon the elected officials as just temporary occupants.” Mr. Blinken should have had the rebellious staffers read Truman’s words: “The civil servant, the general or admiral, the foreign-service officer has no authority to make policy. They act only as servants of the government, and therefore they must remain in line with the government policy that is established by those who have been chosen by the people to set that policy.”

Read more at Wall Street Journal

More about: Antony Blinken, Joseph Biden, State Department, U.S.-Israel relationship

Why Egypt Fears an Israeli Victory in Gaza

While the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has never been friendly to Hamas, his government has objected strenuously to the Israeli campaign in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip. Haisam Hassanein explains why:

Cairo has long been playing a double game, holding Hamas terrorists near while simultaneously trying to appear helpful to the United States and Israel. Israel taking control of Rafah threatens Egypt’s ability to exploit the chaos in Gaza, both to generate profits for regime insiders and so Cairo can pose as an indispensable mediator and preserve access to U.S. money and arms.

Egyptian security officials have looked the other way while Hamas and other Palestinian militants dug tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border. That gave Cairo the ability to use the situation in Gaza as a tool for regional influence and to ensure Egypt’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would not be eclipsed by regional competitors such as Qatar and Turkey.

Some elements close to the Sisi regime have benefited from Hamas control over Gaza and the Rafah crossing. Media reports indicate an Egyptian company run by one of Sisi’s close allies is making hundreds of millions of dollars by taxing Gazans fleeing the current conflict.

Moreover, writes Judith Miller, the Gaza war has been a godsend to the entire Egyptian economy, which was in dire straits last fall. Since October 7, the International Monetary Fund has given the country a much-needed injection of cash, since the U.S. and other Western countries believe it is a necessary intermediary and stabilizing force. Cairo therefore sees the continuation of the war, rather than an Israeli victory, as most desirable. Hassanein concludes:

Adding to its financial incentive, the Sisi regime views the Rafah crossing as a crucial card in preserving Cairo’s regional standing. Holding it increases Egypt’s relevance to countries that want to send aid to the Palestinians and ensures Washington stays quiet about Egypt’s gross human-rights violations so it can maintain a stable flow of U.S. assistance and weaponry. . . . No serious effort to turn the page on Hamas will yield the desired results without cutting this umbilical cord between the Sisi regime and Hamas.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Egypt, Gaza War 2023, U.S. Foreign policy