President Joe Biden gave a disastrous Oval Office address on Thursday evening, turning his successful visit to Israel into a potential foreign policy nightmare.
He began with heartfelt expressions of solidarity with Israel, and with the thousands of victims murdered, wounded, and kidnapped by the Palestinian terror group, Hamas. But then he tried to tie Israel, an issue that unites the American public, to Ukraine, a war that is becoming increasingly unpopular and that Americans do not understand.
It was a worrying sign that Biden’s support for Israel might be weak, and conditional. On his visit, Biden got the empathy part of the visit right. It was impressive that he went at all, and when he did, he said the right thing: “You are not alone.”
But he made a mistake by insisting on the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza, knowing full well that it will be seized by Hamas terrorists, and undermining Israel’s call for all the hostages — including Americans — to be released first. And now he has jeopardized funding for Israel’s war effort by tying it to funding for Ukraine’s months-old stalemate against Russia.
The most charitable way to describe this linkage is that it was an attempt to justify support for allies in general. But it looked and felt more like a way to exploit atrocities to justify billions more in defense spending. That will delight lobbyists and contractors in Washington, but will infuriate Americans who wonder why Biden will not spend even a fraction of those billions on finishing the wall along the southern border, to keep our own country safe.
Tying Israel to Ukraine is an attempt to overcome objections in the House of Representatives, where Republicans hold the majority, and where conservatives are starting to ask questions like what the goal of the war is, and whether the money is being stolen.
But Israel is not Ukraine. Israel is a much closer ally. It is a democracy, and has been for far longer than Ukraine. Its intelligence assists U.S. counter-terror operations; its technology, like the Iron Dome, keeps American troops safe.
Israel has taken bullets — or, rather, Scud missiles — for the U.S., allowing Iraq to attack it during the Gulf War without retaliating, because the U.S. needed to keep Arab allies in its wartime coalition. And millions of Americans — Christian and Jewish — love Israel, visiting in the millions.
Moreover, Ukraine has a choice: it can negotiate for peace with Russia, albeit accepting territorial losses. Israel cannot negotiate with Hamas or its Iranian backers; it is fighting for survival. By tying funding for the two together, Biden has placed Israel in greater danger.
Likewise, Biden also insisted on a “two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But that solution should be off the table. Hamas has shown the danger of having a fully self-governing Palestinian territory next door to Israel.
Notably, the Arab leaders in the region have given up on Palestinian statehood as a prerequisite for peace. Before the war, the Saudi Crown Prince merely said he wanted to “ease the life of the Palestinians.” Palestinian statehood as a condition for peace will only guarantee more terror.
Biden also spoke out against both antisemitism and Islamophobia. But he linked Israel to these hateful sentiments, saying that he told Israeli leaders not to be “blinded by rage.” Never mind that Israelis, Jewish and Arab, have rallied together against Hamas, and the Israeli military upholds the highest human rights standards.
Biden did not address the crisis at our universities, where left-wing students are marching in defense of terror. Nor did he discuss recent attacks on U.S. forces near Yemen and in Syria.
The Oval Office address was the opposite of Biden’s speech last week in support of Israel. Back then, Biden declared that Israel “has the right to respond — and, indeed, has a duty to respond” to terrorism. Israelis were so impressed by that speech that they started assigning it to schoolchildren in English class.
But this week’s message was different: Israel can defend itself if Ukraine also gets money; if the Palestinians get aid and statehood; and if the Israelis promise not to be too angry about what happened.
Biden, in short, made Israel’s survival conditional.
No doubt he did so at the behest of those who want to fund the Ukraine war indefinitely, without considering a negotiated settlement; and with the help of the innumerable anti-Israel underlings in the administration, who have been trying to nudge U.S. policy in a pro-Palestinian direction, even in the aftermath of the Hamas attack.
The result is that instead of showing solidarity with U.S. allies, Biden showed weakness — as he has done from the start.
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.