A chorus of leaders on Israel’s political right attacked U.S. President Joe Biden for his criticisms of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday, calling Biden “weak” and claiming Israel is “more democratic” than the U.S.
The criticism came after Biden said he would not invite Netanyahu to the White House — a courtesy shown to every elected Israeli leader, and to both of Netanyahu’s predecessors — and that Israel needed political change.
Biden contradicted U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides, who promised an invitation would be forthcoming just hours before, after Netanyahu paused his government’s ongoing judicial reforms, amid mounting protest.
Israeli figures — including former ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren — blasted Biden’s attempt to intervene in domestic politics, especially as the threat of a potential nuclear Iran loomed, presumably a common threat.
Oren said, according to the Times of Israel, “I don’t think a country that has experienced not long ago an insurrection is in a position to be preaching democracy to Israel, or in fact anybody. It is not exactly the position to be telling us what is democratic and what is not democratic.”
Others, including far-right Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir, were even more blunt, declaring that Israel is “not another star on the U.S. flag.”
The criticism of Biden has been simmering in the Middle East ever since the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. Democrats’ newfound hostility to Saudi Arabia — motivated by domestic political spite against President Donald Trump, who worked well with the Saudis — also the Saudis running to China, who brokered a thaw in relations between the Saudis and Iran.
But rarely, until now, has the criticism been so open.
One member of Netanyahu’s Likud Party declared: “There is no way the US will interfere in Israel’s internal matters. This is a democracy, so for him to dictate to us what we must do?” He added that Israel’s proposed judicial reforms were “probably a bit more democratic” than the system currently used in the United States.
Biden himself considered judicial reforms at the outset of his presidency, convening a commission to consider “packing” the U.S. Supreme Court with liberal justices. Members of his party have also attacked the Court.
Opposition figures welcomed Biden’s criticism; many had reportedly asked the U.S. to intervene on their side. Some attacked Netanyahu for what they called the worst crisis in U.S.-Israel relations in several decades.
But leaders on the Israeli right mocked Biden, with one predicting that the Democratic Party will lose the 2024 elections “even if a toaster and an iron run against them.” Others emphasized that despite the close defense ties between Israel and the U.S., Israel can defend itself if need be. Netanyahu tried to smooth other the dispute, announcing that Israel had passed legislation to comply with U.S. rules to allow Israeli citizens to enter the U.S. without a visa, and appearing virtually among other world leaders at a State Department summit on democracy.
Hours after Biden's rebuke, Netanyahu appears at the State Department "Summit for Democracy 2023":
"The alliance between the world's greatest democracy and a strong, proud and independent democracy, Israel, in the Middle East, is unshakable. Nothing can change that." pic.twitter.com/ZwYa5TleMq
— Amy Spiro (@AmySpiro) March 29, 2023
Netanyahu called the U.S.-Israel alliance “unshakeable,” despite the current crisis, and despite a Gallup poll showing that Democrats favor the Palestinians over the Israelis for the first time since the poll has been run.
Negotiators for the both the governing and opposition parties met Tuesday for talks on the judicial reforms.
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 biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.
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