President Biden threw Israel under the bus with his recent plainly politically motivated ultimatum to Israel: In order to avoid a reconsideration of U.S. policy towards the Jewish state, Israel would have to do much more to ensure the safety of Gazan civilians and their access to food and other essentials as its pursuit of Hamas continued. In the process, he also took liberties with American long-term interests in the Middle East.

Pointedly, there was no credible claim that Israel was willfully targeting civilians. So, by trying to force changes in Israeli policies nonetheless, rather transparently to pander to Arab-American voters in Michigan and Minnesota, he was expressing a disagreement with Israel’s attempts to prosecute a just war with the least amount of harm to its soldiers – not a very remarkable notion. Yet, it was precisely the wrong message to be sending to Arab leaders when American long-term interests in the Middle East lie in a strong, flourishing, U.S.-backed Israel as the linchpin of an expanded Abraham Accords, in the forefront of a new pro-Western order in the region. It should be noted that leaders of Saudi Arabia and Abraham Accords countries are, by most accounts, including by the Biden Administration, still interested in normalization and cooperation with Israel – despite the Gaza war.


A month after Oct. 7, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D. Mich.) went public with her charge that by supporting Israel in the Gaza war President Biden was supporting genocide against Palestinians and that she and other Arab-Americans would remember come election time that his theretofore vigorous support became much less so. It wasn’t too long after that he ceased to highlight Israel’s right to pursue the elimination of Hamas as a most important and most welcome game changer and deeming the suffering of Palestinian civilians as an unavoidable collateral cost of a just war.

To be sure, the President didn’t quite accuse Israel of intentionally causing the unnecessary deaths of civilians. But he came awfully close when he said he would hold them responsible for knowingly continuing policies that didn’t minimize civilian harm. But after all is said and done, by magnifying this policy difference with Israel, he put into question how reliable a backer of Israel the U.S. will be. This is especially so since the President is also insisting on an immediate and lengthy ceasefire – he is not even any longer tying it to the release of the hostages – which will offer a significant lifeline to Hamas, and likely ensure their survival.

In addition, this intrusion in the military affairs of Israel will loom large to the Saudis who fear Iran, and now see that the U.S. – at least under Pres. Biden – might place arbitrary constraints on Israel’s use of its military power, even in the face of an existential challenge. What does this say about the value of an alliance with an Israel that is not a free agent and, indeed, a quasi-vassal state of the United States?

Ironically, the President’s sell-out was likely irrelevant, as it is hard to believe that the Tlaib crowd could be won over by a threat to Israel of a “reconsideration” of U.S. ties to Israel. Indeed, there was a sizeable number of Arab-America voters who voted “uncommitted” in the recent Michigan Democratic Party presidential primary elections at the urging of Tlaib.

We hope that Mr. Biden will come to be as concerned with the impact his calculated admonition to Israel will have on Israel’s enemies as he is about the unintended, collateral harm to Palestinian civilians occasioned by Israel’s war against the murderous Hamas. Can they but be encouraged to undertake further adventures?

Yes, Mr. President, it is time for a “reassessment,” but one of a very different sort.

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