“We will continue to stand united, supporting the people of Israel who are suffering unspeakable losses, in opposing the hatred and violence of terrorism.”
These words were part of a ten-minute address delivered by US President Joe Biden in response to the war in Israel. Immediately upon its completion, Israeli talking heads from media outlets across the political spectrum began praising the speech as the most steadfastly pro-Israel words of any American president. On Israel’s popular Kan News television station, they gushed that it fills Israelis with a sense of comfort and security to know that we have such an a “lover of Israel” in the oval office. Many Israelis, most of whom lean to the right of the political spectrum, were quick to praise the speech as well. Amidst the horror of the days they are living through, for most Israelis, Biden’s strong words in support of the Jewish state were reassuring and comforting.
Those Israelis who are basking in the glow of Joe Biden, lover of Israel, should pay attention to what he did not say in his short address.
Biden did not mention Iran, Israel’s primary enemy. While he called out Hamas for its goal of murdering Jews and wiping Israel off the map, he said nothing of the parent company, Iran, which holds to the identical ideology and aims. Iran, of course, is the primary financial backer of Hamas. The Iranian regime not only praised the Hamas atrocities, it has tacitly admitted its awareness and involvement in the planning of the attacks.
This is relevant to Biden’s remarks because the Biden administration, as has been widely reported, unfroze $6 billion in Iranian assets just a few weeks ago. When pressed at the time regarding Iran’s possible use of these funds for terrorism, Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s response was that the US has no way of controlling how Iran uses its money. Did the Biden administration refreeze these funds after the Hamas attack? Of course not.
The Biden administration has been coddling Iran ever since assuming office in January 2021. A few months after taking office, Biden lifted sanctions on former senior officials of National Iranian Oil Company , as well as several companies involved in shipping and trading Iranian petrochemical products. This led directly to the enrichment of the Iranian regime to the tune of billions of dollars. Most notably, they have made every effort to restart the JCPOA, then President Barack Obama’s disastrous “nuclear deal” that Israel’s leadership has always insisted threatens the country’s security.
Beyond Iran, the Biden Administration has emboldened and encouraged terrorism against Israelis in even more direct ways.
In March 2018, then President Donald Trump signed into law the Taylor Force Act (TFA). Taylor Force, a US citizen and a US Army veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns, was murdered by an Arab terrorist while visiting Israel in 2016. The TFA stipulates that the US must withhold all economic aid to the Palestinian Authority so long as the Palestinian Authority’s “Pay-for-Slay” policy of financially rewarding terrorist murderers and their families persists. For decades the Palestinian Authority (PA) has provided generous monthly stipends to the families of terrorists who murder Israelis or non-Israeli tourists. According to the US State Department, in 2019 alone the PA distributed over $340 million to terrorist murderers and their families.
In the first round of enforcement of the TFA, in August 2018, the US cut hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the PA. Eventually, in February 2019, the US ceased all aid to the PA, per the TFA. Something amazing happened. Terrorism declined. Fewer Israelis were murdered.
The period 2014-2018 saw an average of 20 terrorist murders per year in Israel, with a low of 14 in 2018 (the first year of TFA enforcement), the year of the passing the TFA. In 2019, the year that all US aid ceased, the number of murder victims fell to 11. In 2020 it fell further to three.
Shortly after taking office, on March 26, 2021, the Biden administration announced that it would be sending $75 million to the Palestinian Authority to be used in part to regain the “trust and goodwill” of the Palestinians in the wake of the Trump administration’s cuts in aid. The State Department made it known at that time that this payment was only the beginning of a renewed pledge to support the PA.
What happened next should not surprise anyone. The year 2021 saw 17 Israelis murdered by Arab terrorists, the highest number since 2015. It is worth noting that all these murders took place after the renewal of American financial aid to the PA at the end of March, a full quarter into the year. Not surprisingly, 2022 saw yet another rise in terror victims, with 24 Israelis murdered by Arab terrorists. And even before the Hamas invasion of this week, 2023 had been even deadlier. Forgive me if Joe Biden’s commitment to “continue to stand united” with the people of Israel against terrorism does not fill me with confidence.
The Taylor Force Act is not merely a Trump-era policy or presidential executive order that can be reversed by the next administration. The TFA is law, passed by both bodies of the United States Congress and signed into law by the president. What this means, quite plainly, is that the Biden administration is in explicit violation of the law. As of this writing, the Biden administration has given over $1 billion to the Palestinian Authority.
Most recently, Biden refused to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the latter’s recent visit to the US, a snub that sent a clear message to Israel’s enemies that the US is not standing firmly with Israel. And there have been credible reports that the Biden administration has been working with the anti-government protest movement in Israel in its efforts to topple Netanyahu. The perceived instability of the State of Israel resulting from these protests likely contributed to the timing of Hamas’ invasion.
Many will cite Biden’s stated commitment, in this week’s speech, to providing munitions and financial aid to Israel as a sign of action for Israel’s benefit. Israelis would be wise to understand such commitments in their larger context.
First, the U.S. has already overextended itself by the reckless unsustainable expending of its resources in Ukraine. The U.S. economy is on the verge of collapse due to the $2 trillion deficit and growing national debt, which now stands at $33 trillion. If sending funds to Israel contributes further to the collapse of the U.S economy, Israel will suffer in the long term far more than it is helped now. Second, and more importantly, Israel’s primary need at this time is neither money nor weapons. It certainly is not U.S. soldiers being put in harm’s way. Israel has always been opposed to any foreign military personnel fighting its battles. Israel’s military has both the materiel and personnel it needs to defeat Hamas.
Israel’s most pressing need is for its own leaders to have the courage to utterly destroy Hamas without regard for the international pressure for de-escalation and a cease-fire before the job is done. Considering the pattern of Biden’s policy and posture towards Israel since taking office, the prospect that the US will remain steadfast in its support as Israel makes progress toward this goal is bleak. If U.S. involvement via funding, weapons, and personnel means that the U.S. has greater leverage in Israel’s critical decision-making, Israel will lose from this arrangement. Consider me skeptical of pledges that any assistance comes with no strings attached.
So, as Israelis are filled with warm fuzzies over Biden’s commitment to “stand united supporting the people of Israel” against terrorism, the correct response is simple: As a result of its immoral and criminal policies, the Biden administration has Israeli blood on its hands.
Rabbi Pesach Wolicki is cohost of the Shoulder to Shoulder podcast