Whatever your thoughts on Israel and Hamas, President Joe Biden wants you to know something important. He agrees with you.
The Democratic Party is deeply divided on Israel. What follows is the case for both sides using the words of two prominent Democratic politicians. You can decide who’s the most convincing.
Politician A wants an end to the fighting. “Hamas unleashed a terrorist attack because they fear nothing more than Israelis and Palestinians living side by side in peace,” Politician A wrote on X Tuesday. “To continue down the path of terror, violence, killing, and war is to give Hamas what they seek. We can’t do that.”
But Politician B believes “Israel has every right to defend itself from an active terrorist threat. We have seen Hamas officials say publicly that they want to try to commit the atrocities of Oct. 7 again and again,” according to a spokesman.
Politician A is very worried about Israel committing atrocities in its fight against Hamas. “I caution the government of Israel not to be blinded by rage,” he said a couple of weeks after Hamas slaughtered around 1,200 people in Israel. The terrorists raped or kidnapped hundreds more. Politician A said there’s a “critical need for Israel to operate by the laws of war. That means protecting civilians in combat as best as they can.”
In contrast, Politician B wants funding to “sharpen Israel’s qualitative military edge” and to “make sure other hostile actors in the region know that Israel’s stronger than ever and prevent this conflict from spreading.”
“A two-state solution is the only way to guarantee the long-term security of both the Israeli and the Palestinian people,” Politicians A tweeted Monday.
Politician B has a different priority. “My commitment to Israel’s security and the safety of Jewish people is unshakable,” he wrote in October. “The United States has Israel’s back.”
Before I reveal the speakers, take a moment to think about who you found more convincing. Ready?
Some readers may have picked up on my trick. Both speakers are Biden. He or his spokesman made each of those statements. Even for a politician, being able to debate yourself is a jarring amount of doublespeak.
Politics explains why he’s talking out of both sides of his mouth. While support for Israel has broad public backing, vocal parts of his coalition either hate Israel or are openly antisemitic. That includes members of his own administration. He’s trying to placate them. It’s possible that Biden simply doesn’t have the mental capacity or physical vigor to stand up to his own aides.
Pro-Israel Democrats need to call him on this. But voices who freely accuse Republicans of being crazy, racist and un-American are noticeably restrained when Biden winks at antisemites.
Biden’s waffling may have deadly consequences. To start, it emboldens Hamas, which has been very open about its desire to keep murdering Jews. On Thursday, Hamas members shot and killed three people at a Jerusalem bus stop. That was during a supposed “pause” in the fighting.
Worse, his rhetoric encourages those who want Western governments to pressure Israel to not destroy Hamas. Israel’s allies going wobbly is Hamas’ best hope of survival. Biden flip-flopping suggests U.S. support for Israel will wane over time.
It also projects weakness and uncertainty to the world, especially China. Biden either can’t make up his mind or doesn’t have the courage to stick to his guns. Neither is a great message to send as China eyes down Taiwan.
Biden needs to stop waffling and emphasis this truth: Israel has the moral right and duty to destroy Hamas.