In recent days, former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate, and some of his supporters have finally gone public with some of his views on a number of issues of particular concern to Jewish Americans. We are convinced more than ever that, even if well-meaning, he is plainly wedded to unrealistic, failed past Middle East policies which have been overtaken by events and are not in sync with the dynamic currently in play there.
To his credit, he says he goes along with some of President Trump’s initiatives, including the relocation of the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He also concedes that the Trump normalization efforts involving the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain are good things.
But he also says: Trump has “put Israel in danger by tearing up the Iran nuclear deal and replaced it with nothing. He’s allowed Israel’s foes to take residence in Syria. He’s undermined the stability of self-determination for the Palestinian undercutting hope for a viable two-state solution any chance that he gets.”
And the recurring theme one hears from his supporters is that Trump has destroyed the sense of bipartisan support that has long characterized U.S. policy towards Israel – curious contention given the growing Sanders/Ocasio-Cortez anti-Israel cabal.
While this is all vintage Biden and thus unsurprising, we are still puzzled. How can he accept that the UAE/Bahrain normalization developments are positive yet also complain that the president is undermining the two-state solution? Arab state support for normalization grows by the day, although heretofore such normalization was conditioned on a resolution of the Israel/Palestinian conflict.
Moreover, both the UAE and Bahrain governments say that they view the normalizations as eventually drawing the Palestinians into negotiations with Israel, leading to a two-state solution. We don’t agree with the latter, but the point is, Arab states do.
How also can Biden complain about the Trump position on the Iran nuclear deal when the economic sanctions he has imposed on Iran have devastated Iran’s economy and sharply limited its ability to sponsor terrorism around the world, including that perpetrated against Israel by Syria?
Similarly, U.S. sanctions have also crippled the Syrian economy and enabled Israel to retaliate against Syrian aggression virtually at will. And while Iran, indeed, has a presence in Syria, as noted, its ability to threaten Israel has been largely compromised. And continuing normalizations will obviously have strategic consequences for Iran while the looming sun-setting provisions of the Iran nuclear deal would have soon rendered it nugatory at all events.
Most confusing is Biden’s claim that Trump has undermined U.S. bipartisanship toward Israel. What he seems to be saying is that Trump’s successfully venturing where Democrats have feared to tread is disruptive. Well, if that’s his calculus then so be it. But he should just get out of the way.