Brooks: Biden’s weakness hurts Israel, U.S.

Monday, July 8, 2024

Last month’s presidential debate in Atlanta confirmed what many of us have warned: The commander in chief is not in command. Voters across the United States witnessed President Biden’s weakness and frailty firsthand — as did the adversaries of America in Tehran, Moscow and Beijing. I take no joy or glee in saying this. Our country desperately needs strong leadership, and Mr. Biden is simply not up to the task of confronting the myriad challenges our country faces today.

Mr. Biden’s poor performance is indicative of an administration without a firm grip on major policy issues, including U.S. support for our key ally Israel as it fights a war for its survival against Hamas in the south and Hezbollah in the north.

Today, the Biden administration is actively undermining Israel by withholding and slow-walking critical military aid to the Jewish state.

Mr. Biden’s pause on arms shipments to Israel affects its operational readiness, prolongs the conflict and signals weakness to the enemies of the United States and Israel. 

Recently, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took the unprecedented step of saying in a public video that the Biden administration “has been withholding weapons and ammunition to Israel,” which is “fighting for its life, fighting against Iran and our other common enemies.”

The prime minister insisted that Israel had engaged in “many, many quiet conversations between our officials and American officials, and between me and the president to try to iron out this diminution of supply. I felt that airing it was absolutely necessary after months of quiet conversation that did not solve the problem.”

For those who haven’t been watching closely, this was a surprising accusation, and one that the Biden administration immediately rejected. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters, “We genuinely do not know what he’s talking about.” Administration aides were said to be “enraged” at Mr. Netanyahu and the administration postponed a high-level strategic meeting with Israeli officials about Iran after the video was released.

Within days, it was clear that the U.S. has indeed been “slow walking” munitions that Israel is counting on. In fact, the administration ended emergency administrative procedures months ago that sped up provisions of weapons to Israel in the early days of the war. Now things are on a “normal pace,” a U.S. official told an Israeli reporter — i.e., slower than before.

Republicans in the Senate pushed back hard on this “it’s just routine” excuse from Washington. In a letter to the president last week, Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas made his concerns clear: “Your administration is engaged in bureaucratic sleight-of-hand to withhold this crucial aid to Israel during a shooting war. … You’re playing politics with the nation’s honor and our ally’s security. Worse still, your administration lacks the honesty to communicate its true policy to the American people, instead preferring to hide behind weasel words and bureaucratic process. … Any delays to military support to Israel blatantly disregard Congress’s bipartisan mandate to supply Israel with all it needs to defeat the Hamas terrorists and other Iranian-backed groups. Our ally is under sustained threat, and we must use all available resources to expedite military aid.”

What prompted Mr. Biden to order this underhanded slowdown in providing military supplies to our key ally in the Middle East?

Perhaps, as Mr. Cotton wrote in his letter, the change in policy came after nearly 20 congressional Democrats urged the president to end expedited weapons sales to Israel. That tracks with other evidence we’ve seen that Mr. Biden is caving to his far-left anti-Israel base. He has pressured Israel to accept a cease-fire with untenable conditions, pushed Israel to pause the war effort in Rafah, and abstained rather than vetoing anti-Israel resolutions in the U.N. Security Council.

Trading Israel’s security for votes in Michigan would be bad enough. But top analysts of Mr. Biden’s foreign policy see a more troubling reasons for withholding arms from Israel: Iran. As Michael Doran wrote recently, “The purpose of [slowing arms shipments to Israel] is to force the Israelis into dependence on the United States, to deny them the ability to make long-term plans — namely, plans regarding Hezbollah and Iran.”

The Obama-Biden policy goal of realigning the Middle East — by giving Iran legitimacy, money, and enough time to become a nuclear power — requires that Israel be constrained from defending itself against Iran and its proxies.

What a despicable policy. Under President Biden, the United States is holding back our friends and empowering our enemies. This must end — and it can end at the ballot box on Nov. 5.


Matt Brooks is the CEO of the Republican Jewish Coalition.

This article was originally published by The Washington Times on July 8, 2024