Imagine the absurdity of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling President Joe Biden to express concern about the way the federal government was treating participants in the Capitol riot, or about “police violence” against black Americans.
That is the equivalent of what National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan did this weekend, when he called his Israeli counterpart to express “serious concerns” about riots that were fomented by Palestinians and are being incited by the Palestinian Authority.
The “clashes” in Jersualem are not the result of Israeli policies, as anti-Israel activists claim, but are an effort to pressure the Israeli Supreme Court over a property dispute that has been winding through the courts for decades — and to distract public criticism from the fact that President Mahmoud Abbas, now in the 17th year of his first four-year term, has again postponed elections.
They also coincide with the end of Ramadan — often a time of anti-Israel protest, especially in Iran — and the date of Israel’s independence on the secular calendar, May 15, which is an occasion Palestinians call the “Nakba,” the catastrophe.
The property dispute in Sheikh Jarrah, a neighborhood in Jerusalem is not about the “ethnic cleansing” of Arabs, but of Jews. Jewish families owned homes there prior to the 1948 war. When British-led Jordanian troops took eastern Jerusalem, they kicked the Jews out and allowed Arab owners to take over. After Israel took the area in the 1967 war, the Jews claimed their homes back. The question about what to do with the occupants is a thorny legal question in which there are no easy answers.
Palestinians have used the occasion to claim, as they often do, that Israel is threatening to remove all of the Arab residents from Jerusalem and to attack Islamic holy sites on the Temple Mount, which Israel has guarded since 1967. The whole thing is a tedious reprise of earlier efforts to paint Israel as the aggressor and to encourage pressure on the Israeli government.
The Biden administration is playing along, either deliberately to create “distance” with Israel — as Biden did in the Obama administration — or else because they are fools.
It should be noted that Sullivan is easily taken in by hoaxes. He was one of the main purveyors of the “Russia collusion” hoax, testifying (erroneously) to Congress that Michael Flynn had violated the Logan Act, and briefing the country’s senior journalists, falsely, about Flynn’s alleged collusion with the Russian government.
But the Biden administration is not just a passive observer. Arguably, it helped foment the violence.
Last month, Biden gave the Palestinians commitments of hundreds of millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars — likely in violation of the Taylor Force Act, which prevents U.S. funding of the Palestinian Authority until it stops paying terrorists and their families. Biden did not seek any concessions from the Palestinians in return for that funding — no new negotiations with Israel, no end to inciting hatred.
Now the Biden administration is rewarding the Palestinians for the violence by calling on Israel to stop the clashes — as if Israel wanted any of this to happen. The country doesn’t even have a new government yet, several weeks after elections in March, and the violence is threatening to disrupt coalition negotiations among opposition parties that want to replace the incumbent Netanyahu. The country is also still in mourning after the death of 45 religious pilgrims in a stampede last month.
Ironically, the government that would replace Netanyahu would, theoretically, be more sympathetic to Biden’s perspective on the Middle East. By rewarding Palestinian violence and helping them isolate Israel in the international community, Biden is making it harder for Israel’s Jewish opposition parties to work with the Arab parties, whose votes are needed for their coalition. In that way, Biden’s intervention is as clueless as it is destructive.
This would not have happened under Trump.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new e-book, We Told You So!: The First 100 Days of Joe Biden’s Radical Presidency. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.