President Biden’s Awful Silence about American Hostages

Five of the hostages being held in Gaza are American citizens, not counting Itay Chen, who was murdered on October 7 and whose body was taken into Gaza by Hamas. While Bangkok managed to obtain the release of all four Thai hostages in November, the U.S. has so far had no such success. Worse, writes Nachama Soloveichik, the president has said nothing about their fate:

Joe Biden is more likely to call on Israel to accept an immediate ceasefire than to call on Hamas and Qatar to release our own citizens. We hear more about humanitarian aid for Gazans than about American citizens being killed and tortured in Gaza.

At a time when the president’s party insists we “Say his name!” or “Say her name!” Biden has not mentioned the dual citizens Edan Alexander, Omer Neutra, Hersh Goldberg-Polin, Sagui Dekel-Chen, or Keith Siegel. The president released a statement about Itay Chen on March 12, five months after the attack. This was only after his murder was announced, which supports Dara Horn’s poignant observation that dead Jews are more beloved than living ones.

The White House talks regularly about Evan Gershkovich (70-plus hits on the White House website), the Jewish Wall Street Journal reporter being held on false charges in Russia, as it did about Brittney Griner (more than 200 hits), a basketball player imprisoned by Russia until she was released in a controversial prisoner swap.

The six Jews whom Hamas kidnapped are as American as Gershkovich and Griner are, which raises the question: why does the White House ignore these Jewish U.S. citizens?

Read more at Commentary

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