To Win Votes, President Biden Should Appeal to Israel’s Supporters, Not Its Enemies

The only thing that might stop the IDF from taking Rafah, short of Hamas’s surrender, would be U.S. pressure for a temporary ceasefire. Recently American officials have begun speaking of just that, a shift from the “humanitarian pause” that has until now been the key diplomatic buzzword. The U.S. has even circulated a draft ceasefire resolution at the UN.

Noah Rothman believes such moves are intended to appeal to the Democrats’ progressive, anti-Israel wing, and even more so to Arab-American voters in Michigan. In his view this isn’t just morally and strategically incoherent, but also bad politics:

Though it reads like an act of statecraft, the resolution is intended for the consumption of Biden’s monomaniacally anti-Israel domestic critics. Little else explains the administration’s willingness to sacrifice U.S. national interests but its political investment in self-preservation.

Because none of this makes any sense absent a consideration of the domestic political pressures a wildly unrepresentative class of activists are putting on this presidency, we must conclude that Biden has prioritized his reelection prospects over America’s permanent interests. If the Biden campaign genuinely believes its success hinges on a small number of malcontents in Michigan, it is in deep trouble well beyond the state’s borders. Biden would be better served appealing to the majority of Americans for whom Israel’s cause is a vital extension of American grand strategy abroad. At the very least, his administration would go down without putting American national interests on the chopping block in a cloying effort to appease the unappeasable.

Read more at National Review

More about: Democrats, 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