The Freeing of Israeli Hostages Should Be a Warning to Washington

The IDF’s rescue this week of two hostages from captivity in the Gazan city of Rafah provided hope to Israelis and likely suggests to Hamas that its negotiating position is weakening. In Philip Klein’s view, it also sends two messages to the U.S.

One, operations in Rafah are necessary to destroy Hamas. And two, hostages can be secured by military action, and not merely through negotiations that demand Israel abandon its war aims.

What Biden hopes is that he can convince Israel to swallow a tremendously one-sided hostage deal that would involve Israel releasing many times more Hamas prisoners and agreeing to a ceasefire of several months, with the aim of making it permanent. Israel has made significant progress in dismantling Hamas’s grip on Gaza, but the frenzied negotiations are happening as Israel is preparing to take Rafah, the last major stronghold of the terrorist group.

The Biden administration claimed at the beginning of the war that it supported Israel’s goal of destroying Hamas, but now Biden and his team are trying to kneecap Israel before the job is done.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Joseph Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship


Israel Can’t Stake Its Fate on “Ironclad” Promises from Allies

Israeli tanks reportedly reached the center of the Gazan city of Rafah yesterday, suggesting that the campaign there is progressing swiftly. And despite repeatedly warning Jerusalem not to undertake an operation in Rafah, Washington has not indicated any displeasure, nor is it following through on its threat to withhold arms. Even after an IDF airstrike led to the deaths of Gazan civilians on Sunday night, the White House refrained from outright condemnation.

What caused this apparent American change of heart is unclear. But the temporary suspension of arms shipments, the threat of a complete embargo if Israel continued the war, and comments like the president’s assertion in February that the Israeli military response has been “over the top” all call into question the reliability of Joe Biden’s earlier promises of an “ironclad” commitment to Israel’s security. Douglas Feith and Ze’ev Jabotinsky write:

There’s a lesson here: the promises of foreign officials are never entirely trustworthy. Moreover, those officials cannot always be counted on to protect even their own country’s interests, let alone those of others.

Israelis, like Americans, often have excessive faith in the trustworthiness of promises from abroad. This applies to arms-control and peacekeeping arrangements, diplomatic accords, mutual-defense agreements, and membership in multilateral organizations. There can be value in such things—and countries do have interests in their reputations for reliability—but one should be realistic. Commitments from foreign powers are never “ironclad.”

Israel should, of course, maintain and cultivate connections with the United States and other powers. But Zionism is, in essence, about the Jewish people taking responsibility for their own fate.

Read more at JNS

More about: Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship