President Joe Biden surprised many Israelis during the last two weeks with his steadfast support for Israel. While he consistently called for a deescalation, Biden was clear and unequivocal about Israel’s basic right to defend itself against Hamas rocket attacks.
During Operation Guardian of the Walls, he articulated consistent support for Israel’s right to defend itself against the barrage of missiles coming from a terrorist organization bent on destroying it, and swam against a rising tide of anti-Israel sentiment among progressives and selected cultural icons, such as John Oliver, whose 10-minute diatribe against Israel on his popular Last Week Tonight television show went viral on social media.
Within his own party Biden came under pressure not just from members of the so-called “Squad” like Congresswomen Ilhan Omar (Minnesota) or Rashida Tlaib (Michigan) who called for America to stop military support to Israel, but also from mainstream Democrats who were urging a reassessment of US ties with the Jewish state.“It’s just simply a fact that there was never this kind of pressure vocally from the Left on issues related to Israel during the Obama years,” Ben Rhodes, a former deputy national security advisor in the Obama administration, told NPR.
When Biden took office in January, there were parts of the Israeli establishment and particularly within Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party who were concerned of a return to the Obama years, which included calls for freezes on settlement construction, a return to the pre-1967 borders culminating in the refusal to veto UN Security Council Resolution 2334 which blasted Israeli settlement activity as lacking any legal validity, in the last weeks of Obama’s presidency.
So far though that has not happened. What also didn’t happen was the imposition of extreme pressure on Israel during the operation to reach a ceasefire. While Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken called for an end to hostilities, there are ways to lay on the pressure and that didn’t happen.
The Jerusalem Post’s veteran analyst Herb Keinon gave as an example President George W. Bush’s call on Israel to immediately withdraw from the West Bank after the launching of Operation Defensive Shield in 2002.
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