Biden in Israel: Unforced Errors Attacks Democratic critics of Israel, calling them "few," while rejecting apartheid label
Joe Biden has completed the Israel leg of his Middle East coming-out party. Even before he left the US, critics lambasted him for tone-deafness in meeting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who ordered the murder of journalist, Jamal Khasoggi. The shameful transparency of the visit’s purpose–to lobby his government to increase oil production, in order to bring down the price of US gasoline–was evident. Not to mention the added goal of silencing Republican critics who’ve railed about inflation and the massive rise in gas prices.
Abandoning the murder victim all for the price of oil at the pump. It may have been an easy call for Biden and his advisors: getting elected vs standing by principles. But many of us here in the US don’t see it that way. We see a president who has no principles except self-preservation. This is of course common to all presidents. But at least some of them made a pretense of having a set of principles. If Biden has any, he’s hiding them under a bushel.
On his Israel visit, he’s made at least two glaring statements to Israeli media. He told the TV interviewer that he would attack Iran “only as a last resort.” Of course, this was the position espoused by Barack Obama. So in a sense, it’s nothing new. But because it’s the same old-same old, it’s grown stale. Almost everyone knows the US is not going to strike Iran under almost any conditions. Thus, the statement plays to two audiences: Republicans at home and Israelis. As for Israelis, they could care less what Biden says unless he’s willing to say he’ll prevent an Iranian by, as Malcolm X once said, “any means necessary.” In other words, his willingness to attack Iran not as a last resort, but as a first resort. As for Republicans, nothing would persuade them that Biden is tough on Iran, unless they too heard words of war from Biden.
The President also stated explicitly (for the first time, as far as I recall) that the US would never remove the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRG) from the terror list. This, in effect, destroys any chance of renewing the nuclear agreement, as the Iranian hardliners have laid this down as a redline issue. Showing willingness to negotiate a compromise–for example by conditioning removal on completion of a nuclear agreement–would have been a far wiser approach. Instead, he’s drawn a line in the sand that leads nowhere.
Even more distressing is Biden’s clueless answer to the interviewer’s question about Congressional Democrats who call Israel “an apartheid state” and support conditioning US aid on Israel’s adherence to the principles of human rights and respecting Palestinian rights. His response as reported by The Hill was obtuse:
“There are few of them. I think they’re wrong. I think they’re making a mistake,” Biden said. “Israel is a democracy. Israel is our ally. Israel is a friend, and I think that I make no apologies.”
Biden said he sees “no possibility, I think, of the Democratic Party or even a significant portion of the Republican Party walking away from Israel.”
So much blather, and so little time. First, if Biden really believes there are “few” Democrats in Congress and the country who believe Israel is an apartheid state and that the US should not offer unconditional aid, he’s living in cloud-cuckoo land. In fact, all of the major human rights groups in Israel and abroad have explicitly stated that Israel is an apartheid state “from the river to the sea.” And polls show the majority of Americans support conditioning US aid. Either he’s not watching the polls or he’s looking over his shoulders for Republican critics who will call him “soft” on Israel.
Second, the ‘Israel is a democracy’ and ‘Israel is our ally’ pablum consists of fossilized statements that may have had some validity in the distant past, but certainly haven’t been true for some time. It certainly isn’t a democracy, as anyone who reads this blog can attest. And if Israel is a friend and ally, it has a funny way of showing it. In fact, Israel pursues its own interests even in direct contradiction to our own. It flagrantly disregards American views on everything from settlements to the two-state solution. And that’s just for starters. In other words, Biden is living in the distant past, when Senators routinely offered fulsome praise for Israel on just about everything. Those days are long past. Yet Biden hasn’t recalibrated his message, and it shows.
As for “walking away from Israel,” Americans, including Jews, are doing precisely that. Granted, polls show views fluctuating depending on whether Israel has bombed Gaza lately. But the general trend shows declining support, with increasing support for Palestine. They will continue doing so as long as Israel continues to be the garrison state it is, in a state of perpetual war with its neighbors.
The stronger Biden’s support for Israel, the less he has to offer the Palestinians. They are not fooled by the charade of US ‘support’ for Palestine. It is, at best, an afterthought. The brief stopover in Ramallah is an empty gesture.
Despite enormous skepticism surrounding the Abraham Accords, some Democrats are swooning about the prospects it offers Israel, and the strategic opportunities it offers the US. That it means abandoning the Palestinians hasn’t even dawned on the president. Or if it has, he treats it the same way he does the Saudi visit: it’s based on a cold-hard calculation of cost and benefit. Supporting Palestine would have enormous costs and virtually no political benefit.
Biden’s Sinking Prospects
Joe Biden’s poll ratings are falling fast. He’s generated nothing but disappointment from supporters and detractors. The November midterms are almost guaranteed to bring defeat for Democrats, including losing both a House majority and a 50-50 Senate. Prospects seem good for a clean Republican sweep. While other Democratic presidents have managed well under such circumstances, the same won’t hold true for Biden. He’s passed his sell-by date. He’s aging and would be the oldest president in US history if he won a second term. He offers no fixed ideas or principles. He’s as hard to grasp as a jellyfish.
There may be a serious primary challenge from a Democratic opponent. I doubt Bernie Sanders will run. But that’s the sort of candidate who could give Biden a run for his money, and perhaps steal the nomination away from him. Tough days are ahead for a president who is more has-been than will-be.
12 thoughts on “Biden in Israel: Unforced Errors – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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Our policy towards Israel, as ever, not only the statements, are fossilized and more about political expedience, but dogs that still hunt. As ever the policy towards the I-P situation is status quo as the goal, if we ever could believe it was other than that. In the meantime we fight Russian occupation of Ukraine. After so many years credibility is gone with re the I-P. But the parade, the theater, goes on and those who think they can still get away with it use it, fooling no one really. The Abraham Accords was sold as more than a business deal, supposed to help change the situation. Like trade changed human rights and political situation in China? It changed us rather.Will sanctions change Russia more than us (which it should)?
Putin’s War is a called a proxy war, so let’s call it war with the US, Euros and allies while Ukraine is hurting severely.We look for more oil and food passage to shore up our leaky sanctions boat.
We should be on a war footing taking advantage of the sanctions, not digging or drilling or looking for oil production elsewhere. We need to be getting on with alternate sources of energy and massive conservation efforts. I don’t know if we could get by temporarily by conserving instead of trying to keep business and consumption as usual.
Fossilized is a good term for Biden. Democrats are looking around. This is an urgent issue because Trump and Trumpism looms.Nothing like a fire under our feet.
what policy? u.s. does whatever aipac wants, as long as the trough is kept at full, the 3 branches will rubber stamp whatever is shoved in front of them
this is no different than the nra, samo samo
too bad that poor myopic biden got the economy hi and lo all at once
he is too gentlemanly old generation for the new rough and tumble post trump
same as garland, supposedly they got burned by trump the first time around so now they’re scared crappless to do the right thing. leave it to georgia bulldog to muster some nerves.
whereas here, too bad he will bend and kiss MBS ring, had it been me i would have bitten the whole finger off and chewed it, an erdogan/putin in kheffiyeh
another israeli arms marketing trip
israel HAD to buy the latest f35’s however no one mentions where do the the 42.000 usd per hour per plane flight. meanwhile an old person pension is a measly450 usd where a regulated loaf cost 2usd and a gallon of milk around 7
in a previous post i mentioned where the rich got their bonuses from the powell free printing press. well here’s the proof. now the poor rich bankers are crying, today’s headline
JPMorgan suspends buybacks, warns on global economy as profit slumpsBy Noor Zainab Hussain and David Henry – 3h ago
ha ha, end of dow jones day – jpmorgan share down 3% oh crap
Your last line summarizes Biden’s situation well, “Tough days are ahead for a president who is more has-been than will-be.“
my xmas in november wish – 3 senator losses – Sinema/Manchin/McConnell , santa please
Senator/VP President Joe Biden has been an arms salesman all his political life. Because George W. Bush was close to Saudi oil – in addition Dick Cheney – and the corrupt bandit Prince Bandar, the Obama/Biden administration cozied up to the MB with Erdogan, Morsi and al-Thani clan of Qatar. The Sunni-Shia nut on Syria could not be cracked by the White House to get a diplomatic solution in Geneva. When Obama forced through the Iranian nuclear deal, it sealed the fate of Democrats in 2016. Aipac was minor, the alliance Israel-UAE-UK-Saudi did most damage to Democrats in the run for the White House. For Netanyahu it was revenge for Obama’s intervention in Israel’s election. VP Biden under Obama was run out of Israel as settlement expansion continued. Recall Moshe Bogie Ya’alon.
For Iraq Joe Biden’s plan was to split the country in three. American foreign policy has an underlying fundament of creating division and aggression whether it is Bush, Obama, Trump or Biden as president. Pulling out and leaving chaos behind. No motivation for creating a peaceful world as the planet burns. Disastrous. Long live the fossil fuel lobby of Koch, etc. Coal price going through the roof.
“Abandoning the murder victim all for the price of oil at the pump. It may have been an easy call for Biden and his advisors: getting elected vs standing by principles ”
Maybe Richard is well off and can live with these higher prices, but most people cannot.
How many ordinary citizens must suffer with high oil prices, just because MBS is a little c**t?
And BTW, MBS is popular in KSA, a progressive reformer and has far less blood on his hands than Vladimir Putin.
Don’t mind proxies in Syria (Prince Bandar) and alliance with UAE in Yemen.
Getting a few dimes off your gas price off at the pump, as opposed to defending a murdered journalist, and maintaining a critical response to Saudi Arabian headchoppers, women enslavers, homophobes, kleptocrats, etc. There’s no Contest. And don’t you dare make any assumptions about my economic situation. YOu have no idea.
Only Republicans are complaining about high gas prices. So welcome to the Repugnican fold, where you belong. And your protestations about only caring about the welfare of the common hardworking man or woman is touching, but not believable.
The idea of MBS being ‘popular’ is beyond laughter, but that’s a good start. Someone raised in royal privilege, who arrested 100 of the wealthiest of his counsin while he’s rolling in lucre, not to mention that he’s an untouchable dictator: that guy’s “popular?” In what universe?
A progressive reformer? You must be out of your f*king mind. The only thing he reformed is finding better, faster, more econmical ways of murdering anyone who stands in his way.
Your comment is beyond offensive. If you want to shill for murderers do it somewhere other than here.
I am not shilling for a murderer. I’ve acknowledged that MBS is a murderer and I clearly stated that he is a contemptible lowlife.
“Under his rule, the kingdom’s religious police have been de-fanged, cinemas have reopened, foreign tourists have been welcomed, and Saudi Arabia has staged a film festival, operas, Formula One Grand Prix, heavyweight boxing, professional wrestling and a huge rave festival” [that attracted 700,000, mostly young, Saudis.]
This may be ‘bread and circus’, but it still translates to popularity, especially among the 66% of Saudis who are under 35 y.o.
MBS has plenty of critics, not the least of which are ultra conservative Salafists, and the rich elites he’s arrested and shaken down.
“headchoppers, women enslavers, homophobes, kleptocrats”
Are you talking about KSA, Iran, or both.
Women, LGBTI people and ethnic and religious minorities faced entrenched discrimination and violence
Who’s shilling for who, Richard?
You’ve said no such thing.
Your first link is to an AFP report. A credible media outlet, no? Till you note the location of the reporter: Dubai. So he’s the AFP correspondent based in Dubai. What is Dubai? It’s only one of Saudi Arabia’s closest allies. It certainly wants to see flattering profiles of MBS. And it got one here. This is sycophancy personified. It reads like a paid ad. Fawning journalism like this is disgusting.
Cinemas opened? Film Festivals? Operas? This is revolutionary change? This is a progressive reformer? So you mean he brought democracy, transparency, religious tolerance, women’s rights, gay rights, ethnic diversity? Any of those things? Even one? So don’t give me your “reformer.” He reformed nothing. It’s all cosmetic and means nothing.
You haven’t offered a single source supporting your claim that MBS is “popular.” Because he’s allowed cinemas that means he’s popular among the under 35 demographic? Sorry, you’ve proved absolutely nothing. Besides, how can a dictator be popular? How can you measure such a thing? Would people be eager to tell a pollster: “Nah, I hate his guts?”
Your 2nd sources is also laughable: Gulf News. Gee, who publishes Gulf News? Yet another Gulf monarchy vassal state of the Saudis.
Interesting that you note MBS’ critics are “Salafists.” So what version of Islam is practiced in Saudi Arabia: Wahabism. A deeply bakcward, fundamentalist sect. So don’t talk to me about Salafists when Wahabism is equally distasteful, intolerant and regressive.
Stay on topic. I was talking about Saudi Arabia, not Iran. But since you brought up the subject. Which country is closer to democratic values? Iran or Saudi Arabia? Despite its many faults, Iranians can vote, they have a majlis, they have a variety of domestic news sources. While there is a Grand Ayatollah, there are many currents of political thought in Iran.
How much political upheaval and thought is there in Saudi Arabia? And there is certainly corruption in Iran. But nothing near the scale of Saudi Arabia. Who else can pay $450 million for a painting no art expert can even authenticate was by Michelangelo? No Ayatollah or IRG general, no matter how corrupt will splurge at that level.
There are ‘no’ homosexuals in Saudi Arabia. They wouldn’t dare admit this in such a despotic place. WOmen? YOu want to talk about women in Saudi Arabia? What happens to a girl who has sex out of wedlock? Who is even seen in private with a man who is not a family member? You know it ain’t pretty. What happens to a woman who wants to dare to drive? She ends up in prison for a very long time.
You want to talk about discrimination aainst religious minorities? How about the execution of the chief Shiite cleric, Sheikh Nimr, for doing what? Simply ministering to his flock. When was the last time you heard of a protest of any sort in Saudi Arabia? What other countries in the world never see protests? North Korea, for one. That’s distinguished company, isn’t it? Even under dictatorships like China and Russia there are sporadic protests. But not a one in Saudi Arabia. On the other hand, despite all attempts to suppress such unrest, there are numerous protests in Iran.
And since you are fond of linking to Amnesty International, let’s look at what it has to say about Saudi Arabia. Not very flattering, I assure you.
The word is “whom.” Not “who.” As in who’s shilling for whom.
Don’t you dare accuse me of shilling for anyone. I criticize every country that deserves criticizing. I criticize my own country, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Iran, etc. I favor no one except truth and justice. Your biases on the other hand are clear as day. You claim you aren’t shilling for a murderer, yet you post a fawning profile of MBS that labels him a “reformer.” While it refuses to acknowledge the 900 lb elephant in the room: Jamal Khashoggi. And he ain’t the only one by a longshot. MBS’s hands are steeped in the blood of so many victims.
You are done in this thread.