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Column: Biden’s Israel Vise: So Little Sense, So Much Hustling

PHILADELPHIA – His people have a right to self-defense, and plainly he is desperate to maintain his political power. He faces extraordinary pressure to alter his military strategy.

To avoid confusion, we are referring to President Biden, who surely withheld delivery of 3,500 bombs to Israel in part because critics of the Jewish state may abandon him next Nov. 5, denying Democrats another four-year term in the White House. However, a revealing New York Times piece on Sunday suggests that Biden’s prevailing reason was aggravation with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. We are not focusing here on Netanyahu’s political aims or the pressure he is under, and Israel’s right to self-defense.

Many Jews and congressional Republicans were infuriated by Biden’s decision, which Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin confirmed during a Senate hearing last Wednesday. Critics of Israel consider the move to be insufficient.

Obviously, it means that Biden is being squeezed in a political vise, one of many Middle East sideshows that are driven by political hustling when they should be guided by diplomatic wisdom and experience. The stakes are only the fates of Israel and America itself.

It is infuriating that the anti-Israel crowd is influencing political decisions in the Democratic Party. The protesters regularly violate the law each time they build an encampment at their colleges, each time they block the Brooklyn Bridge or the Golden Gate, each time they harass or assault Jews, each time they march through Philadelphia’s streets or block the way to O’Hare International Airport in Chicago.

So far, it is not clear what they will face in the courts, but some are charged for minor offenses if they are charged at all. Most college officials have been slow to kick them out of their encampments.

Political figures in Los Angeles and the state suddenly became indignant when Jewish Angelinos invaded the encampment at the University of California-Los Angeles.

Brown University administrators in Providence, R.I. even negotiated a settlement which ended the student protest there.

Why not? Universities like Penn, Columbia and UCLA are located in big cities that are run by Democrats. Turnout in Philadelphia could determine the presidential race in Pennsylvania. New York and California are home to more than a half-dozen congressional districts which are likely to flip from Republican to Democrat – more than enough to return majority control of the U.S. House of Representatives to the Democrats.

Activists who proclaim support for the Palestinians threaten to ignore the ballot line for president or vote for anyone but Biden or Donald Trump, assuming the election is between them. That could cost Biden votes that would otherwise help him overtake Trump.

Besides the usually reliable blue states he won in 2020, Biden must take the majority of electoral votes from a mix of six swing states. Besides Pennsylvania, they are Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin.

Already, Muslims and Arab-Americans from Dearborn, Mich., and surrounding towns promise to ignore the Trump-Biden race because they blame Biden for backing Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, where Hamas claims more than 31,000 Palestinians were killed. The Hamas-controlled health ministry does not distinguish between Hamas and civilian casualties.

It makes sense politically for college, city and state officials to coddle protesters – wait them out before taking down the encampments, minimize criminal charges and suspend rather than expel students, etc. To be fair, they have come down hard on the more serious offenders. Still, crimes and disrupting campus life are still serious offenses that deserve more than a slap on the wrist.

Maybe they will breathe a sigh of relief and even self-reflect, perhaps admitting to themselves that they made mistakes. They will likely feel they were right to protest the Palestinian deaths, which was Israel’s response to the Oct. 7 invasion of southern Israel where 1,200 Israelis were wiped out and 240 were taken hostage.

They might follow it up by voting for Biden.

The president twisted himself like a pretzel with news that might soothe feelings on both sides. First he confirmed that he was delaying delivery of the 3,500 two-thousand pound bombs for fear that Israel will use them to invade the city of Rafah. Israelis believe that the Hamas military leadership is holed up in tunnels underneath Rafah, and Biden fears that a major military operation will be catastrophic for the thousands of civilians who are stuck there.

That looked like a gesture of appeasement to critics of Israel’s military response as Jews condemned the move as a betrayal to an Israel fighting for survival. One e-mail acquaintance calls it “a stab in the back.”

The Tampa Free Press reported on Tuesday that Biden has approved a $1 billion-plus arms package for Israel that includes $700 million to procure tank ammunition; $500 million to acquire tactical vehicles; and $60 million for mortar rounds.

That looks like a gesture to satisfy-supporters of Israel.

The New York Times ran a lengthy piece on Sunday claiming that Biden warned Netanyahu that continued U.S. aid will hinge on Israel’s future military conduct, specifically if Israel’s launches a full-scale ground invasion of Rafah.

Biden kept the threat, issued in a phone call last Feb. 11, a secret from the public and three months later decided to delay delivery of the bombs, according to the Times. The Israelis leaked Biden’s decision, and the administration confirmed it last week. House Republicans opened proceedings this week to force the White House to send Israel the bombs, which were pre-approved.

We cannot be sure if Biden’s pause on the weapons is a response to pre-election pressure or a genuine concern about civilian deaths. It was likely for both reasons.

For the sake of full disclosure, I plan to vote for Biden in November because he has proved to be a far better president than Trump and Democrats offer much better domestic policies than the Republicans. I sense that Biden will be re-elected and Democrats will retake control of the House in spite of threats by critics of Israel. My past predictions have had mixed results.

I still find it disgusting that anti-Israel Democrats are starting to influence the party because of their perceived strength in tight elections. They have legitimate concerns about civilian deaths, but many of them blindly support those so-called freedom fighters who tear out body parts, rape women and cut off victims’ heads.

Any Jew and/or pro-Israel person should be alarmed by Biden’s decision to pause the bomb delivery. By itself, this action does not harm Israel, but we should fear that leftist Democrats will one day persuade party leaders to cause worse damage. However, I think that we can prevent that with a change of strategy.

Anxiety and anger is understandable, but I think some Jews are panicking. We need to step back, assess the quandary and figure out a way to meet the challenge. I already have some ideas which I may share in a future column. We have nearly six months to solve this problem.

About Bruce Ticker

Bruce S. Ticker, who writes from Philadelphia, also blogs for The San Diego Jewish World and Smirking Chimp and previously for the suspended Philadelphia Jewish Voice. He was previously a reporter and copy editor for daily newspapers in eastern Pennsylvania.

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2 comments

  1. Submissive Gentiles Congreemen give the White House an ultimatum; > for Israel or against Israel.
    But no ultimatum for Israel concerning refusal to join sanctions against Russia;; > for the Free World or against the Free World.
    Disgusting.

  2. Biden won't beat Trump, nor take the House and keep the Senate. Many reasons for thinking that, but here's one: Biden is desperate and accepted a wholly narrated debate with Trump already in June. On the other hand, the Dems did steal the election in 2020, and much evidence of that, but Biden controls the DOJ for now. The Dems could do it again, but Trump is way ahead in polling,. Perhaps too far for the Dems to steal. Any Jew who says, "Never Again," should think twice about putting power in the hands of a Party that is in bed with terrorists who support Hamas and their kind. You are handing power to a Party that will turn, and has turned already, against the Jews and Israel. That's the meaning of Biden's openly refusing to hand Israel weapons it has already purchased and for which there are signed contracts.