As US President Joe Biden and China’s Xi Xinping prepare to meet on Wednesday, it would be wise for Israelis and all who care for the welfare of the Jewish State, to understand the potential implications of this meeting. But let’s start with a quick lesson on the geopolitical landscape of the Middle East in general and the Biden Administration’s policies affecting Israel in particular.
As is well known, the two primary power centers within the Muslim states in the region are Saudi Arabia and Iran. So-called experts are fond of asserting that the geopolitical divide in the Muslim world boils down to Sunni vs. Shia. This construct is a favorite of foreign policy wonks trying to appear informed but has almost nothing to do with the realities on the ground. While a full debunking of the Sunni-Shia theory is beyond the scope of this column, look no further than the current crisis. Hamas is Sunni. Hizballah is Shia. Both are backed by Iran.
The true divide among the Muslim states is between what I would call the Mafia vs the Jihadists. The priority of the Mafia states, such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, is money. Rather than actively seeking to destroy the West, their goal is to monetize relationships with Western powers, even if this means tamping down some of traditional Islam through modernization. The Jihadists, on the other hand, led by Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Qatar, openly fund Jihadist terrorism even when it damages their own economies. For Iran and others in its orbit, Jihad and the downfall of the West is the top priority.
When President Donald Trump took office, he inherited a Middle East that included an ISIS caliphate, an Iran that had recently entered into the infamous Obama JCPOA nuclear deal which strengthened it both economically and militarily, and terrorism in Israel that claimed the lives of an average of 20 citizens per year. The Jihadists were ascendant and emboldened. Trump took a revolutionary approach to foreign policy. Rather than seeking peace through compromise with one’s adversaries, Trump chose the path of strengthening those countries who were friends, both in practice and in potential.
Trump pulled out of the JCPOA and cut off Iran’s primary source of income through sanctions. One result was that Hamas, Hizballah, and the other Iranian terror proxies were short on funds. He then went about destroying ISIS and killing Iranian terror chief Qasem Soleimani in a much-publicized targeted hit. He also signed into law and enforced the Taylor Force Act, which prevents the US from sending any funds to the Palestinian Authority so long as the PA continues to pay the families of terrorist murderers. The Jihadis were on their back foot.
An amazing thing happened. Terrorism in Israel almost completely vanished. In 2018 the year of the passing the TFA (and the first year of enforcement), terrorist murders in Israel fell to 14, the lowest in 5 years. In 2019, the year that all US aid ceased, the number of murder victims fell to 11. In 2020 it fell further to three.
On the Mafia side, Trump embraced a relationship with the Saudis, delivering his first major foreign policy address in Riyadh early in his presidency. The message was clear. Those states that desire engagement over Jihad will be rewarded.
Confirmation of the success of Donald Trump’s approach was evident in what became the greatest “dog that didn’t bark” story in living memory. The move of the US embassy to Jerusalem. Ever since it was proposed and passed as a law in 1995, the unanimous wisdom of foreign policy experts was that moving the embassy would cause a Mideast war and violent riots across the Muslim world. Trump defied this prevailing “wisdom” and went ahead with the move. And despite decades of shrill warnings, nothing happened. No war. No riots across the Arab world. If we are looking for the real Arab reaction to the embassy move, let’s remember that the Abraham accords which brought a new era of peace and partnership to the Middle East were negotiated and implemented after the Jerusalem embassy opened. The most significant effect of the embassy move was that it exposed the fact that decades of consensus among foreign policy elites was just plain wrong. Rather than sparking a regional war, the move of the US embassy to Jerusalem was critical to ushering in a new era of peace across the region.
Two months after taking office, on March 26, 2021, the Biden administration announced that it would send $75 million to the Palestinian Authority 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. In other words, the Biden Administration brazenly declared their intent to violate US law.
What happened next should not surprise anyone. 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, 2023 had been even deadlier.
The Biden administration also began working to enrich Iran. They ceased enforcement of sanctions on the Iranian oil and petrochemical industry, enriching Tehran to the tune of tens of billions of dollars. Hizballah and Hamas were again an affordable luxury for the Persian Jihadist Mullahs. The Biden administration began negotiating with Iran to restart the JCPOA, the nuclear deal that Israel has always said endangers its national security. And in January of 2022, Biden declared Qatar, a regime that funds terrorism in Gaza and elsewhere in the region, “a major non-NATO strategic ally.”
Along the way, the administration distanced itself from the Abraham Accords and alienated the Saudis and moderate Gulf states enough that they are now more closely aligned with China and cooperating in Beijing’s plans to end the prime-reserve status of the US dollar. In short, the Biden administration chose the Jihadists over the Mafia families of the Gulf and Riyadh.
While this may all seem like colossal folly on behalf of the Biden team, we make a grave error if we assume our enemies to be fools. Rather than folly, the Biden Middle East policies are properly understood only when we take into account Joe Biden’s primary relationship. Xi Xinping and the CCP.
Anyone paying attention is aware that Iran has become a major cooperative partner of the Chinese Communists. But this is far from a relationship between equals. Iran’s dependence on China is beyond dispute. With this in mind, I would suggest that it is almost inconceivable that Xi Xinping was unaware in advance of the Hamas attacks on Southern Israel. To anyone skeptical I suggest a full consideration of the alternative. Does anyone think that the Mullahs in Iran were unaware of Hamas’ plans for Oct. 7? Certainly not. The chances that Hamas would invade Israel on such a scale without giving a heads-up to its patrons in Tehran are zero. By the same token, it is simply implausible that Iran would risk its relationship with Beijing by launching – or allowing – a geopolitical crisis of such magnitude without informing Xi in advance.
Since October 7, while Xi himself has not made any public statement about the Israel-Hamas war, state-run Chinese media has been decidedly anti-Israel and pro-Hamas. China has not condemned Hamas’ atrocities and joined Russia in vetoing a US-proposed resolution on the war in the UN Security Council. In short, China’s choice of Hamas over Israel is consistent with its ongoing cooperation with Iran as well as its oft-stated aim of isolating and weakening the United States, Israel’s most important ally.
In light of all this, it is worth noting that Khaled Meshal, one of Hamas’ top leaders, in a TV interview last week stated that Hamas seeks “cooperation with the superpowers, China and Russia.” He added that Russia benefited from the murderous attacks which diverted American attention away from Ukraine, and that China should be “inspired” by the Hamas invasion for their own plans to conquer Taiwan.
Readers may wonder about Meshal’s comparison between October 7 and a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. But consider what they have in common. The Hamas attack on Israel and a potential CCP invasion of Taiwan both represent attacks on vital US interests and allies. Both are invitations to the US to stretch itself even thinner as its own economy drowns in debt and its southern border is invaded by millions of unvetted illegal migrants.
And hanging overhead this entire situation is the mountain of credible evidence that Joe Biden and many of his senior national security appointees have personally derived financial benefit from the CCP for years.
Joe Biden’s policies have weakened Israel and emboldened and strengthened Iran and China, two regimes that openly call for the end of the United States as the leading power in the world. And that is why Israelis should be concerned about what is happening in San Francisco. Expect calls for Israel to accept a premature cease-fire to intensify after Wednesday’s meeting.
Rabbi Pesach Wolicki is Director of Israel365action.com and co-host of the Shoulder to Shoulder podcast