Friday, November 11, 2022

By Daled Amos

President Joe Biden called Netanyahu to congratulate him on his victory, as he returns to serve as prime minister of Israel.

It only took a week, but a lot was made of the fact that a number of world leaders lost no time in contacting Netanyahu to wish him well, while Biden -- who likes to brag about his friendship with Bibi -- seemed to be deliberately delaying his congratulations.

And maybe he was.

In February 2021, CNN reported that Biden took his time after winning his own election before contacting Netanyahu -- and that was because Netanyahu had taken his time contacting Biden on winning the election in 2020.

And so it goes.

But we are told that Biden and Netanyahu are actually good friends -- after all, Biden tells us so himself. He has claimed that he once gave Bibi a photo inscribed with the words:

“Bibi I don’t agree with a damn thing you say but I love you.”

Whatever that means.

During Biden's last visit to the Middle East, he visited Israel and met with Netanyahu, even though he was no longer prime minister at the time, and shook hands with him, saying “You know I love you.” Ha'aretz reported that a member of the US delegation met with a senior Israeli figure and told him that Biden's comment had nothing to do with affection --

When the president tells Netanyahu, “You know I love you,” the interlocutor from Washington explained, the implicit continuation of the sentence is: love aside, but you know I don’t want to see you return.

In any case, no matter how the media and the pundits choose to describe their relationship, Biden supposedly limits his criticisms of Netanyahu and Israel to private communications, while publicly providing unwavering support for the Jewish state. Yet that has not prevented Biden from publicly calling Netanyahu "counterproductive" and "extreme right." 

That may be something to keep in mind when Netanyahu confides to Mark Levin that 

[Biden] always says, 'Bibi, I love you, but I don't agree with a word you're saying' — [and] I say to him, ‘Joe, sometimes I reciprocate that.'"

Netanyahu and Biden apparently each can give as good as they get.

And when it comes to Israel, not all the things that Biden says about the Jewish state are complimentary.

Two years ago, Channel 13’s Nadav Eyal provided excerpts from a classified memo detailing a meeting Biden had with Golda Meir in 1973. The media's major focus was on the revelation that Biden relayed to her the conversations he had with Egyptian leaders who told him that they respected Israel's military superiority. Weeks later, Egypt attacked Israel. Obviously, Biden is not responsible for Israel's lack of preparation and military intelligence at the time.

However, there are some other comments Biden made that seem to have been overlooked.

Speaking directly to Golda Meir, Biden not only claims that Israel has an outsized influence on the Nixon administration against its will, but also claims that the US Senate is afraid of crossing American Jews. 

There is a certain brazenness there that would make Ilhan Omar jealous.

But Biden is known for his odd comments and gaffes. What about what he has actually done since taking office -- what do his actions indicate about his attitude towards Israel and what Netanyahu can expect?

Just last November, it was reported that the Biden administration wanted to reopen the US consulate for the Palestinian Arabs in its original location in Jerusalem, despite the fact that the establishment of such a consulate in Jerusalem would be a violation of the Oslo Accords

This is the same Biden who in support of the Jerusalem Embassy Act in 1995, said

Mr. President, it is unconscionable for us to refuse to recognize the right of the Jewish people to choose their own capital. What gives us the right to second-guess their decision? For 47 years, we, and much of the rest of the international community, have been living a lie.

Yet here was the Biden Administration trying to create conditions that would imply a division of Jerusalem between Jews and Arabs.

Eugene Kontorovich put it in stronger terms:

"The US does not want to open a consulate merely to have a place for diplomatic connections with the PA [Palestinian Authority]. If that is all they wanted, they could easily do this by opening a mission in Abu Dis or Ramallah -- where most other countries conduct their relations with the PA... the purpose of opening the consulate is to recognize Palestinian claims to Jerusalem."

Actually, Biden himself was explicit when he visited Abbas during his visit to the Middle East:

Jerusalem is central to the national visions of both Palestinians and Israelis, to your histories to your faiths to your futures. Jerusalem must be a city for all its people.

One month later, the Biden administration seemed to have shelved the idea

Another area that reflects Biden's attitude towards Israel is the appointments he makes to fill positions that influence policy in the Middle East.

In February, the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor invited nonprofit groups to apply for grant money in order to "strengthen accountability and human rights in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza." Not only would this strengthen those seeking to delegitimize Israel, but the appointee to head the program was Sarah Margon -- the former Washington director at Human Rights Watch who has openly supported boycotting Israel.

o  The White House appointed George Salem as chairman of the U.S. Agency for International Development's Partnership for Peace Fund board. Salem lobbied for the Palestinian government from 2015 until late 2021 and was registered as a foreign agent for the Palestine Monetary Authority. Under Abbas, the Palestinian government has been known for the way it has mishandled foreign aid -- especially exploitation of those funds for the pay-to-slay program.

o  The Biden administration appointed Elizabeth Campbell as a deputy assistant secretary of state at the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. She is the former director of UNRWA, criticized for its use of textbooks promoting hatred of Jews and of terrorism in Palestinian schools.

o  Hady Amr serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Israeli-Palestinian Affairs and Press and Public Diplomacy in the Biden administration. He is also in charge of US negotiations with Israel and Palestinian organizations. He was the lead author of a report published by the Brookings Institution in December 2018 that said that the US must "reconnect" with Hamas, "create a Palestinian unity government integrating Hamas" and "compel Israel to make major concessions" even if this would "endanger Israel" -- concluding that "should Israel prove uncooperative with American efforts, the United States could signal it will move ahead anyway."

o  Biden's nominee for a top role at the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Tamara Cofman Wittes, was director of the Middle East Policy Center at the Brookings Institution. She promoted articles that criticized the Abraham Accords and discouraged Arab countries from normalizing ties with Israel before the 2020 election. She tweeted that peace between Israel and the UAE was a ‘new Naksa,' a setback. She also retweeted an article that called the Abraham Accords misogynistic, a “triumph for authoritarianism.”

ZOA head Morton A. Klein has his own list of anti-Israel appointees that Biden put into key positions within his administration.

Reema Dodin [deputy director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs]—who justified and even encouraged suicide bombings against Jews, organized anti-Israel rallies and spread Medieval-style blood libels, including the false claim that Israel denies Palestinian Arabs food, water and medical treatment; Maher Bitar [National Security Council official]—who organized the Palestine Solidarity Movement anti-Israel boycott conference at Georgetown University, at which he ran a session on how to demonize Israel; Karine Jean-Pierre [White House Press Secretary]—who helped orchestrate Democratic presidential candidates’ boycott of a major pro-Israel conference; Wendy Sherman [United States Deputy Secretary of State]—who negotiated the terrible Iran deal, praised secret concessions to Iran and downplayed PLO suicide bombings and other terror attacks on innocent Israelis; Avril Haines [Director of National Intelligence]—who signed a vicious letter falsely accusing Israel of violence, terrorism, and incitement; apologist for Hamas and Iran Robert Malley; and numerous others.

Klein also recalls that Biden praised Rashida Tlaib last year:

I admire your intellect, I admire your passion, I admire your concern for so many other people. You’re a fighter and God thank you for being a fighter.

He also notes that Biden resumed funding to Palestinian projects, in violation of the spirit -- if not the letter -- of the Taylor Force Act.

In fact, last month it was reported that the legal advocacy group America First Legal, a group of conservative lawyers and activists, filed a FOIA request for internal documents about US funding for the Palestinian Authority. The group claims that the Biden administration is violating US law by providing more than half a billion dollars to the PA. They claim the documents they are demanding will show an illegal effort "to undermine Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem."

And let's not forget about Biden and Iran.

Remember the tension we saw between Netanyahu and Obama?
The next 2 years might just make Netanyahu nostalgic for those days.

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