Guest Post: What will President Biden mean for Israel?

This is another guest post by Brian Goldfarb about newly elected US President Joe Biden which I hope is not too optimistic! At some point after this article is published (and comments are welcome as usual) I shall post a review of sorts of Trump’s time in office and especially his influence on the Middle East.

I watched the inauguration yesterday and was impressed with the organization, and also the discipline regarding covid regulations. I also liked Biden’s speech although I have already heard remarks that I am naive and he’s “just another politician”. That’s as may be, but I suppose we don’t have much choice, especially from such a distance, other than to hope and pray that Biden really meant those fine words.

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US President Joe Biden delivers his Inauguration speech at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Semansky / POOL / AFP)

I congratulate America on a peaceful transfer of power despite the riots of last week, and the grave security threats hovering over it all.

Let’s see what Brian has to say:


Preface:

The article below was written after former President Trump grudgingly acknowledged that he was no longer going to have a second term (although he hadn’t yet said so in so many words) on 26 November, but before the events of 6 January. I feel that a few extra words might be necessary and useful.

Donald Trump’s refusal to accept that the election was fair, that there was no fraud in the election of any significance, and certainly not enough to affect the declared result in any state (in Pennsylvania, a state Biden regained, someone found three votes cast in the names of dead people…for Trump!), did nothing to enhance his stature. Even the official appointed by Trump to oversee the fairness of the election, a life-long Republican, declared the election the fairest in living memory…and was promptly sacked. Even after 60 failed court cases attempting to overturn various results were thrown out by Federal judges, some appointed by Trump – and the Supreme Court, now weighted 6-3 in terms of Republican appointees – flatly refused to even hear a case, Trump refused to accept the result. He even coined a slogan for his efforts: “Stop the Steal”.

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Violent protesters, loyal to US President Donald Trump, storm the Capitol, January 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

I am aware that 70% of Israeli Jews would have voted for Trump, had they been US voters, an exact mirror image of the actual Jewish vote in the US. I am also aware that Trump has been responsible for a number of policy changes concerning the Middle East that are to Israel’s benefit (see the 4th and 5th paragraphs of the article itself), including acting as the Godfather (or Midwife/father) to the Abraham Accords.

However, care needs to be taken here: if we aren’t careful we fall into the trap of following the precedent of applauding Mussolini because he made the trains run on time, and ignoring all the evil he did, by praising Trump for the good things he did, as though these are not far outweighed by the evil.

And all this before his deliberately provoked mass rally on 6th January that led to the invasion of the US Capitol. This was nothing less than an attempted coup, along the lines of Mussolini’s “March on Rome” in 1922. Except that this time, the state and the forces of law and order stood firm and this led to an unprecedented second impeachment of him: only two previous President had ever been impeached (Andrew Jackson [Lincoln’s successor] in the 19th Century and Bill Clinton in the 1990s) and neither were convicted by the Senate). It turns out that having left office is no bar to impeachment and conviction: a Cabinet Member in Grant’s administration (in the 1870s) was convicted in the Senate, despite having already resigned office.

Furthermore, anyone who stayed up late enough (we watched until 01.45 GMT, when the rioters were clearly starting to be pushed back out of the Capitol) will have seen all the slogans that clearly reflect deep-rooted antisemitism among the rioters, such as “Camp Auschwitz Works make free” and 6MWE, meaning “6 Million Weren’t Enough”.

Finally, to add to my evaluation of President-Elect Biden, I feel sure that he will find it difficult just to return to the flawed Treaty with Iran, if only because he will face not only very vocal opposition from Israel (irrespective of who is PM) but also from all of Israel’s new friends in the region, thanks to the Abraham Accords.

And now without further ado, here is my assessment of what Joe Biden would mean for Israel.

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Newly elected President Joe Biden

Those words are the title of an article in Labour Friends of Israel  which I have forwarded to friends who were and are dubious about Biden’s relationship with Israel, were he to be elected to the US Presidency. The original article was published in October. Please read the article and make up your own minds. Israel is going to have deal with this man for the next four years.

First there is a review of Trump’s record:

Trump also couched the recent normalisation agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates in similar terms. “It’s an incredible thing for Israel, [and] it’s incredible for the evangelicals, by the way,” the president said. “The evangelicals love Israel. Love Israel.”

It’s not the first time that Trump has suggested that his approach towards Israel is driven chiefly by political concerns and that American Jews – who traditionally vote overwhelmingly for the Democrats and are expected to do so once again in November – aren’t sufficiently grateful to him. Last August, he notoriously claimed: “I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat – it either shows total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.” That comment reflected both Trump’s transactional view of politics and his deployment of antisemitic tropes, as well as his determination to present the Democrats as anti-Israel.

By contrast, Biden pledges to “ensure that support for the US-Israel alliance remains bipartisan, reversing Trump’s exploitation of US support for Israel as a political football, which harms both countries’ interests”.

Note, especially, this sentence from the second section:

“As he argued in a TV interview last November: “I strongly oppose Israel’s settlement policy on the West Bank. I have made that clear to Bibi when … I was vice president. I have made it crystal clear to the Israelis. But the idea that we would cut off military aid to an ally, our only true, true ally in the entire region, is absolutely preposterous. It’s just beyond my comprehension anyone would do that.” The former vice-president repeated that pledge earlier this summer, stating: “I’m not going to place conditions for the security assistance given the serious threats that Israel is facing.”

The article also states:

So what should Israel and its supporters expect from a Biden presidency? A clear priority for Biden will be to put support for Israel back on to a bipartisan footing. Trump himself has been clear that he views his policies in the Middle East strictly through a partisan lens. On the campaign trail in Wisconsin in August, for instance, the president said that his decision in 2017 to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was done with the aim of pleasing his evangelical base. “We moved the capital of Israel to Jerusalem [sic]. That’s for the evangelicals,” he bluntly stated. “You know, it’s amazing with that –the evangelicals are more excited by that than Jewish people.”

Note also this section from further into the article:

“Biden’s commitment to its security and opposition to BDS is rooted in his long-standing view of Israel as the ultimate safeguard of the security of the Jewish people, as former Democrat congressman Steve Israel has described: “Biden would often tell me how his support for Israel was formed. He was a young kid sitting at the dinner table. It was around the time of the debate on the establishment of the modern state of Israel. His father was unable to comprehend how anyone could oppose this historic step. To this Irish American Catholic salesman, it was obvious why Israel had to exist. The establishment of a state for the Jewish people was the only way to fulfil the promise of ‘never again’ after the tragedy of the Holocaust. It was the first time Biden ever heard that phrase, and he never forgot the lesson.”

Having already conceded much on domestic policy to supporters of his former rival for the Democrat nomination, Bernie Sanders, Biden in July refused to agree to a tougher approach towards Israel in his party’s platform. As Peter Mulrean, who served for three decades in the State Department and subsequently oversaw UN aid programmes for Palestinians, argued: “The party platform section on Israel and Palestine is a clear victory for those supporting a return to mainstream Democratic policies of the past and a loss for the progressives seeking more restrictive or conditional support for Israel.”

He is very strong on standing up against antisemitism as we see in his statements to AIPAC:

Decades later, in his final address to AIPAC as vice-president in 2016, Biden echoed the lessons he learned as a child. “When swastikas are painted on synagogues, when Jewish people are targeted in terrorist attacks, when thousands of European Jews immigrate to Israel out of fear when a seemingly organised effort to discredit, delegitimise and isolate Israel persists on the international stage, it’s dangerous, it’s wrong and every time we encounter it, we have an obligation to speak out against it.”

He presents his views on Middle East peace here too:

Decades later, in his final address to AIPAC as vice-president in 2016, Biden echoed the lessons he learned as a child. “When swastikas are painted on synagogues, when Jewish people are targeted in terrorist attacks, when thousands of European Jews immigrate to Israel out of fear when a seemingly organised effort to discredit, delegitimise and isolate Israel persists on the international stage, it’s dangerous, it’s wrong and every time we encounter it, we have an obligation to speak out against it.”

But Biden also strongly believes that a two-state solution and the establishment of a viable, independent Palestinian state is key to Israel’s security. Last month, he told a Jewish community virtual event that a two-state solution is “the only way to ensure Israel’s long-term security while sustaining its Jewish and democratic identity”.

Biden has framed his support for a two-state solution in terms of the responsibilities and behaviour he expects from both the Israeli government and the Palestinian leadership, with his campaign pledging to “work with the Israeli and Palestinian leadership to support peacebuilding efforts in the region”. Biden, it says, “will urge Israel’s government and the Palestinian Authority to take steps to keep the prospect of a negotiated two-state outcome alive and avoid actions, such as unilateral annexation of territory and settlement activity, or support for incitement and violence, that undercut prospects for peace between the parties.”

Indeed, Biden’s vocal and consistent opposition to annexation, commentators suggest, may have played a part in Benjamin Netanyahu’s u-turn on the issue in the summer. “Had Netanyahu moved to annex parts of the West Bank in the coming months,” wrote Shibley Telhami of the Brookings Institute, “his government would have started its relationship with a possible new Democratic administration on the wrong foot, even as the Biden-Harris ticket seems palatable to Israel on issues pertaining to Israel-Palestine.”

Biden – who had previously urged Arab states to “move beyond quiet talks and take bolder steps towards normalisation with Israel” – has also supported the historic recent steps taken by the UAE and Bahrain. “I think Trump is going to accidentally do something positive here, in terms of this issue of … other Arab states,” he said last month.

His position on the Palestinians seems to be somewhat carrot and stick, promising to reengage with them while insisting on holding them to account for their violence and obscene “pay-to-slay” policy:

Biden has thus promised to “reengage the Palestinians”, saying he will “reverse the Trump Administration’s destructive cut-off of diplomatic ties with the Palestinian Authority and cancellation of assistance programs that support Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation, economic development, and humanitarian aid for the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza”.

At the same time, as his comments regarding its “support for incitement and violence” show, Biden will also hold the Palestinian leadership to account for its failings. He has, for instance, vowed that any financial assistance to it will have to comply with the requirements of the 2018 Taylor Force Act, including its requirement that the PA end its policy of paying salaries to imprisoned Palestinian terrorists and their families. “The Palestinians need to end incitement in the West Bank and rocket attacks in Gaza,” Biden said in May. “What they are teaching in their schools is still in the school books. No matter what legitimate disagreement they may have with Israel, it’s never a justification for terrorism, and no leader should fail to condemn as terrorists those who commit these brutalities.”

And this brings us to the most crucial of all problems in the Middle East: Iran.  Biden thinks that rejoining the JCPA will improve the situation:

… Biden has also framed his desire for the US to rejoin the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in similar terms. “Trump has put Israel in danger by tearing up the Iran nuclear deal, and replaced it with nothing,” Biden said last month. “Iran is closer to a [nuclear] weapon than when we left office in 2017,” he suggested. “And instead of Iran being isolated, we are the ones being isolated.”

But while Biden has said he will rejoin the JCPOA if Iran returns to compliance with it, he also wants to make the deal “longer and stronger”, so that it also encompasses “Irans other destabilising actions” in the region, which were not covered by the original agreement.

Brian now adds:

Please note how Biden views Israel, from its foundation (he and I are of an age): “never again” resonates deeply with him, thanks to his originally blue-collar (but at the time of his talk with his son, a white-collar worker) father.

We can argue how deeply he holds to this view in the comments, but note that he refers to the current Israel prime Minister as “Bibi”, despite, undoubtedly, disagreeing with many of his governments policies. Note also the anecdote about his meeting with Golda Meir (who undoubtedly spoke with him in her US  Brooklyn accented English, having been born and raised in the US.)

I am convinced that he will be a good friend of Israel. Don’t fall for the propaganda from the naysayers.


Anne adds:

First of all, thank you Brian for your opinions and analysis.

As you can imagine, Brian’s views are very dissimilar to mine on the issue of politics. However since he is of the “sane left” it is worthwhile to listen to his voice and hear his analysis.

I myself have grave doubts about how the Biden Administration will turn out, however good Biden himself is.  When I expressed my concerns about the pro-Israel bona-fides of the people surrounding Biden, Brian also sent me this article from the Algemeiner (a very pro-Israel and anti-antisemitism American news site), which talks about his Secretary of State, Tony Blinken:

In his first speech since being named as US President-elect Joe Biden’s choice to be the next secretary of state, Antony Blinken — who is Jewish — recalled the Holocaust experiences of his late stepfather, Samuel Pisar.

Pisar, Blinken said at an event in Wilmington, Delaware, where Biden officially introduced his national security team, was “one of 900 children in his school in Bialystok, Poland, but the only one to survive the Holocaust after four years in concentration camps.”

Jonathan Tobin (a conservative writer) in an article in the JNS, also asks what a Biden presidency could mean for Israel: and he expresses many of my own (and my friends’ and family’s) concerns:

True, some concern about a possible Biden administration is warranted.

It’s a certainty that those who would fill positions at the State Department and the National Security Council will be Obama administration alumni or share their opinions about the Middle East.

It’s equally certain that, at a minimum, his foreign-policy team would re-enter the Iran nuclear deal and likely seek to revive the moribund U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, which were downgraded due to its refusal to stop funding terror or to even discuss Trump’s ideas about Middle East peace.

But there is still the chance that, as Biden’s top campaign foreign-policy spokesperson Anthony Blinken (the current favorite to be his National Security Advisor) has hinted, the United States would maintain the sanctions put in place against Iran by Trump. That means the most important task for both Israel and Jewish groups in the upcoming months will not be to refight the political battles of 2015. Rather, it should be to seek to persuade Biden that he not be tempted into simply erasing the last four years of progress made towards pressuring Iran to renegotiate the nuclear deal so as to strip it of the sunset clauses that put Tehran on a certain track towards achieving its nuclear ambitions.

Similarly, on the Palestinian issue, it would be wise for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and pro-Israel Americans to assume, rightly or wrongly, that Biden doesn’t consider himself bound to take up the cudgels for Obama policies that he knows were abysmal failures.

Biden’s support for Israel has always been conditioned by his insistence that he knew better than the Jewish state’s leaders what was best for their country. As infuriating as that can be, it’s also true that he has a warmer feeling for the country than Obama ever did. It would be best to keep that in mind instead of assuming that Biden will rewind American Middle East policy to that awful moment when Obama stabbed Israel in the back at the United Nations on his way out of office.

And of course Israel is not a mere satellite state with no options as Tobin writes:

As Netanyahu proved during the eight rocky years of the Obama administration, Israel can always say “no” to the United States any time it believes that it must defend its interests against misguided American policymakers.

The alliances with the Arab states that have been forged with Trump’s help will become stronger, not weaker if Biden were to choose policies that would strengthen Iran. The Arab states that have embraced Israel have not done so as an act of charity or out of a sentimental attachment to Zionism; they did it in order to strengthen their security. And if Biden repeats Obama’s mistakes in the Mideast, they will need Israel as much if not more than ever.

Similarly, Israel is both economically and militarily stronger than it was in 2009, and while the friendship of its sole superpower ally is still necessary, it need not quail before Biden any more than it did before Obama. It still has many friends in U.S. politics, and it can and should point to the principles of Trump’s “Peace to Prosperity” plan as the only solid foundation for a path to a possible resolution to the conflict with the Palestinians.

These reassuring words notwithstanding, a very great worry is the “squad” of four very “woke” super-progressive, very hostile anti-Israel female congresswomen – Ayanna Pressley (D-Massachusetts), Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) – who will try and exert pressure on Biden and his Administration from the start, as Ruthie Blum writes in the Jerusalem Post:

Then there’s Tlaib, who considers the Biden-Kamala Harris ticket to be a means to an end, not the ultimate aim.

In an interview with Middle East Eye on October 30, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants said, “I need an administration that I can get through the door and speak the truth about the oppression of the Palestinian people and the violence toward the Palestinian people.”

Tlaib – who, like Omar, Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders, is hostile to Israel – told the online publication that she had informed Biden of her intention to push for progressive policies “with a sense of urgency.”

Underscoring Biden’s supposedly stellar record on Israel, too, is ridiculous. In the first place, he wants America to return to the dangerous nuclear deal with Iran.

This would jeopardize the Trump-brokered Abraham Accords that the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed with Israel; it would shake Sudan’s resolve to normalize relations with the Jewish state; and it would block several other budding agreements in the region based on a unified stance against the mullah-led regime in Tehran.

Secondly, Biden still holds with the false credo that true peace cannot be achieved without Israel relinquishing land and evicting the Jews living there, to make way for an independent Palestinian state along the 1967 borders. It’s one “pro-Israel” approach that the likes of Omar and Tlaib might grudgingly accept.

Finally, Biden himself is irrelevant, as the squad attests.

Blum’s opinion, that rejoining the JCPOA will destroy the Abraham Accords is at odds with Tobin who says that the more America cosies up to Iran, the more fearful the Gulf States will be, causing them to draw even nearer to Israel for protection. My instinct tells me that Tobin is correct, but I really wouldn’t like for any of our theories to be tested.

To quote my brother, May Hashem grant President Biden and the new leaders of America the wisdom to lead the country and the world with truth, strength, humility and understanding.

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32 Responses to Guest Post: What will President Biden mean for Israel?

  1. rrW says:

    Interesting to see the take from both sides. Personally, I don’t have much hope in Biden – because he is (IMHO) a puppet on a string for radical left democrats. I also ( unfortunately ) do not see him completing his four year term due to his age and his health, and that brings us to Kamala Harris – she ( apparently ) is even more left wing and woke than Biden – and that doesn’t bode well for America or Israel.
    What is interesting today ( the day after the inauguration ) – is that AntiFa is still demonstrating/rioting in various downtowns burning USA flags and smashing up buildings – but none of this is being shown on the MSM news – they sort of remind me of the left wingers here in Israel demonstrating against Bibi when there is an election coming up – so what is the point ? But apparently in the USA – AntiFa are not happy because Biden and Co are not left wing enough.
    I think USA are in for very tough times ahead, and I think Israel is too ( regarding Bidens wanting to return to the JCPOA) – though not as immediately as the USA – probably only in a year or so – when the USA calms down.
    Those are my 2 cents – and keep the blog rolling.

    • anneinpt says:

      I agree with you that Kamala Harris might to be a problem down the line. Not enough attention has been paid to her. And despite her having a Jewish husband I think that is irrelevant. He is as leftist as she is, and we know that leftism trumps (no pun intended) Judaism or Zionism any time.

      But as you have shown, the riots by antifa show that America has a whole lot of other problems besides the Middle East. In fact the one problem that America does not have is the middle east. They should just leave us alone to sort ourselves out. They need to concentrate on their own inner cities, the economy, corona, and the attempted takeover by the hard left.

      • Brian Goldfarb says:

        I don’t know why people keep ignoring what I have written (and are not responding to)! The sources I quote are all certain that Kamala Harris is even more pro-Israel than Biden – and they are US sources, so they might just know what they are talking about.

        Biden has insisted, frequently and recently as well, that while he he is hardly enamoured by Bibi’s intention of annexing parts of the West Bank, he WILL NOT (excuse the shouting) let this affect his administration’s commitment to maintaining Israel’s quantitative and qualitative military edge over its enemies in the region: see only the 10 year (that’s a massive long time in politics) defence agreement signed by the Obama Administration with Israel in 2016.

        Further, Biden’s pick for Secretary of State made very clear at his Senate hearing that the Embassy is NOT going to be removed from Jerusalem.

        I’m sure I’ll be repeating myself further down these comments!

        • Earl says:

          Goldfarb does not immediately persuade me re. Harris. I want to see how forcefully Blinken and Haines lay down the realpolitik ME framework early in this Biden Administration. They have to contain forthwith Sherman and Lurch (no way is he not going to attempt to intermeddle in FP, notwithstanding his sideline gig). I predict POTUS Harris by 2023.

          The mullahs will NOT relinquish their ballistic missile program, and at 20% enrichment, they have break-out capability in months (whether they can miniaturize a device is another matter, but purchasing from NK is always an option). Iran under JCPOA 2.0 (which Biden supported as Veep) will continue to game the system and advance to nuclear capability. Once that threshold is passed (or nears?), KSA, Turkey and Egypt will move rapidly to acquire nukes (KSA has its nukes on standby in Pak in any case). I reckon that its either a continuation of Pompeo’s “maximum pressure”, or the entire region is going to go nuclear. It’s POTUS Biden’s call on the go-forward. And Israel better hope that Goldfarb’s sanguinity re. Biden is correct…

          • anneinpt says:

            Earl you’ve expressed my reservations very well. Which is why i stated in my opening para tagt I hope Brian is not being too optimistic.

            As for John Kerry, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw his name! He’s like the shark in Jaws. “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…” he comes back! He should have been put out to pasture long ago. He’s very dangerous for Israel as well as Sherman.

            • Earl says:

              And I now read that Robert Malley has been appointed “U.S. Special Envoy on Iran”, which move is strongly supported by, inter alia, CodePink🤢. An easy inference can be drawn now…

              /truly, Blinken and Haines have got to come down immediately like the hammer of Thor on the Biden/Harris Administration, or the ME is going to become an irradiated wasteland in the coming decade.

              • Earl says:

                It gets worse: in the Algemeiner today, a tweet from Ben Rhodes (spit) endorses Malley enthusiastically: “There’s literally no one better to pursue diplomacy with Iran than Rob Malley. Which is why the cheerleaders for Trump’s catastrophic Iran policy are concerned: they don’t want diplomacy.”

                Well, then, I “literally” stand behind all of my commentary herein. 🇮🇱 had better be working the back channels ferociously to ensure that a cabal of 🇮🇱-hating Obama-era retreads don’t run ME FP in the Biden WH. The next four years would be like a school of Jaws sharks… 🤢

          • Brian Goldfarb says:

            Earl, some time ago I wrote an article here which claimed that Israel had 4 (and soon to be 5) nuclear-armed subs at sea “somewhere in the world”. The commanders of those subs will have sealed orders telling them what to do if the Iranians launch a nuclear attack on Israel.

            I am not comforted by that thought, except that the knowledge (which the Ayatollahs must also have) that Israel would take their enemies with them, with a vengeance, must cause even the Ayatollahs to pause.

            They may shout all they like, but unless they are actually clinically certifiably insane, they know the score.

            On Biden (why do I have to keep repeating myself?), either you believe he is a pathological liar – although that title goes to the man who just left the White House – in which case we are wasting both our times talking to each other, or you accept what a truly impressive range of people (not all of them actually or potentially in the new Administration) say about his attitude towards Israel. Biden is the godfather of the 10 year joint defence pact between the US and Israel, due to last until 2026.

            The man has been at the top level of US politics since 1973, when he first took his place as a US Senator. He has repeated his pledges towards Israel over and over again. Were he the pathological liar you imply, he would have been rumbled before now.

            I suspect that you, and others commenting here, just don’t believe that Democrats can be pro-Israel. Only, you are implying, Republicans can be such. Truman, a Democrat, was the the US president when the UN Resolution establishing Israel was passed, and the US was one of the first countries to recognise the new State.

            The same goes for Harris. Please cite evidence to show otherwise.

            • Brian Goldfarb says:

              Oh, and why do you, Earl, refer to me by my surname? That’s rather unfriendly, even distant. Surely, the protocol on sites such as this one is to refer to people by their first name, if they give it.
              It implies that we can be at least polite to each other.

              • Earl says:

                I am Canadian. Of a certain age. I have never met you. And, so, to me you are “Goldfarb”. It is a neutral noun to me. Our host has lunched with me and my minder Adam. She is a Brit. To her, I am simply “Earl”. To her, that is a neutral noun. There is no impoliteness involved. And, obviously, I am neither Democrat nor Republican. Call me a Lockean liberal; I can live with the burden of that sobriquet. I am not a bot nor do I live under a bridge.
                Reading a decade ago V.S. Naipaul’s Among The Believers caused me to recalibrate the Shia jihadist threat that presents to us. I, personally, recently avoided narrowly a situation involving mass jihadist carnage in an urban, Western setting. Three times I have spent in 🇮🇱 preventing same in 🇮🇱. So, when a cohort of Dark Age mahdaviat lunatics states clearly their intention to summons the 12th imam out of the well, incineration of 🇮🇱 as the catalyst, I believe them. And based on the absolute lack of comprehension of pure belief in the West today (cf., Naipaul), I will ascribe same to the Biden WH until I am satisfied that Blinken and Haines have effected a policy of realpolitik towards the mullahs. Denigrate me for that if you will, but I won’t apologize for that position (and certainly not here on this blog- our host would vivisect me!)

                [Note to our host: if my unlettered scribbling and in-field experiences cause offence, on your direction I shall absent myself, with no hard feelings, from your blog as I did from DL a decade+ ago].

                • Brian Goldfarb says:

                  It’s not your nationality that is at issue here: I know lots of Canadians as well as lots of US citizens. One massive plus for the sane people upstairs is their collective attitude towards guns in private hands.

                  The point I am making is that when there is evidence, rational humans should examine that evidence and reach whatever conclusions are appropriate.

                  The issue here has, now, nothing to do with Trump and, for two years at least, Republican law-makers either. The issue is is Biden a pathological liar when he protests against Netanyahu’s plans to annexe part of the West Bank (my preferred tern) but states, categorically, that this will not affect in any way, shape or form, the support by his administration for maintaining Israel’s military edge in the region, given that Israel is, in his own words, “Our only true true friend in the region”. The same goes for VP Harris: what evidence have you got (or believe you have reason to believe) to argue that she is not equally pro-Israel?

                  Let me give an example from the UK: I did not vote for this UK Government, and I would only have voted for it had I believed that Corbyn had a chance of becoming Prime Minister in 2019. However, I believe that the Johnson Government are truly trying their best to cope with the Pandemic, and the criticisms I level at their policies would be the same were it a Labour Government under Sir Keir Starmer pursuing the same policies.

                  So, yet again, what evidence is there that Biden is: (a) a pathological liar (saying what he believes others want to hear, but with no intention of pursuing those policies; (b) a deluded idiot who should know that he has no chance of implementing his Mid-East policies; or (c) utterly sincere in his beliefs and in his hope that his Administration can carry out these policies with respect to Middle East?

                  To be blunt, it’s the examination of evidence and the evaluation of it that’s at issue here. That’s why I have all those quotes and other references in my articles and comments. It’s what I had to de in the former day job to convince undergraduates that they should think.

                  Sometimes, they actually astounded me with the depth of their abilities.

                  On evidence, Trump actually stated that his support for the Abraham Accords was to bring the Evangelical Christians on board his bandwagon. He even went on the record
                  to state that any American Jew who voted Democrat was stupid, or a traitor, or something along those lines.

                  If you believe what you keep saying about Bide (without evidence), what’s your take on Trump’s policy in the region?

  2. DP-PT says:

    The “returnee” to the corridoor of power who really worries me is Wendy Sheman, the so-called “negotiater”, but really “appeaser” of Iran. She has never let a true fact get in the way of her prejudice and dogma. Hopefully she will be frustrated by her bosses, but possibly not.

    • anneinpt says:

      Yes, there are several Obama-era officials who have returned “to the scene of the crime”. It’s a big worry for us, and should be a worry for America too. We have to be on our guard, and pray to G-d that our own new PM whoever that will be will know how to stand up to the unreasonable demands of the hard left.

    • Henry says:

      Wendy Sherman also negotiated the original N Korea deal, so she failed her way to the #2 position (at State). Note: Kamala did it differently. After Jimmy Carter, the Dems have always negotiated from a position of weakness. This won’t change with Biden.

  3. Reality says:

    In my opinion Biden might be ok for both the USA and perhaps (though I have no hopes) regarding Israel.Already we are hearing that they want to go back to the failed 2 state solution. Rshida Tlaib is already starting on Israel as an apartheid state,this time regarding the Israelis not vaccinating the “Poor Palestinians”.
    Biden won’t be president long enough to stand up to the lijes of her and Kamala Harris,who is using Biden as a ticket to the presidency
    What really bothers me, is what will happen to the Abraham Accords?The Arab states themselves have started pressuring the Palestinians to agree to our terms,and now that will fall by the wayside.
    Even the British are licking their fingers in glee and admonishing Israel for allowing building in the Judea and Shomron.
    We got through the Pharoes in Egypt,the Holocaust,the inquisition,we will get through this wih G-ds help.

    • anneinpt says:

      I agree, it’s a very great concern. The Abraham accord could go either way. Either they will be so frightened by the US cozying up to Iran that they will draw nearer to Israel and thus strengthen the Abraham accords or they will be pressurized somehow by the administration to abandon the accords and go back to the old ways. I actually don’t see that happening.

      Kamala Harris is also a concern and she is a bit of an unknown to us. Again is the problem Harris herself, or the people who surround her like Rashida Talib and the rest of that awful squad?

      As we all said, we have G-d on our side, it’s quite clear from our history, we just have to trust in Him and hope that He will lead us and the free world in the right direction

      • Henry says:

        The Abraham Accords work because the US (Trump) agreed to be a guarantor if issues arise. Will Biden do this if Iran continues its terrorism (e.g., seizes or attacks ships) or does he simply issue a statement expressing “disappointment?” Will Biden honor side deals to help Sunnis defend themselves against Iran? What about the sharing of intelligence?

        • Brian Goldfarb says:

          I have made clear (in my comment of 21/1/21, at the foot of this thread) that I have no time for “the gang” either, and I wrote a long article here on AOC about a year or so ago. They are a nuisance, not a threat. Both parties are broadly pro-Israel and the President who goes against this would be indeed trouble – and Obama’s Iran Treaty was pro-Iran, not anti-Israel. Or, if the latter, also anti the now Abraham Accord signees.

          His lack of political experience showed through mightily in that episode.

          And Biden is infinitely more experienced tham him.

          Nancy Pelosi is so experienced that she will not allow 4 inexperienced Reps to destabilise the new Democratic Admin. She will, if necessary, (and metaphorically) “eat them for breakfast”.

  4. leonkushner says:

    Dear Anne,

    I couldn’t disagree more with your guest’s post. Sadly you are just one more rightwing weakling that has piled on like the rest to attack one of the best president’s in US history. When the MSM media including the big tech giants suppress the facts from us, even those on the right eventually swallow their BS. One needs real courage to ignore the 24/7 attacks, lies and misinformation.

    I do hereby unsubscribe from you.

    Sincerely, Leon Kushner

    >

    • anneinpt says:

      Oh dear, Leon! Did you read the rest of my post? Did you read my own words at the end?

      I object to being called a rightwing weakling, but worse than that is your attempt to silence a sane voice from the left. We need to hear all sides of the argument. We rightly object to being silenced by the left, so we should not do the same to them.

      I specifically said that this was a guest post, and noted my own caveats. And yet, besides a bit of optimistic thinking from Brian, I don’t think there was much to disagree with.

      In any event, I am sad to see you go. We need all the supporters we can get.

    • Debby says:

      Leon, you could not have said it better! I am shocked that anyone in Israel would be glad for Joe Biden to become president.

      • anneinpt says:

        The thing is Debby that it’s not a matter of anyone in Israel being happy that Biden is now President. You forget that we don’t have a vote in the American elections! Therefore we have to make do with what you Americans chose. Trying to see the bright side, or pointing out the good sides of Biden (no one is 100% evil let’s be honest) is perfectly legitimate and even necessary.

        Furthermore this blog of mine is not an echo chamber. I am always happy to entertain other points of view and in fact I think it is important to air such opposing views in order to make us examine our own opinions and arguments. And if we end up rethinking our positions, why, that’s what education is all about!

        Sure, I am very right wing on Middle East issues and as an Orthodox Jew I am religiously conservative. But you might be surprised, not to say shocked, that I am pretty much center, if not mildly socialist when it comes to health care or social security. The concepts of conservative and liberal simply do not hold in Israel in the same way that they do in the States.

        So hosting Brian and his write-up about Biden is an important exercise in critical thinking, whether I agree with it or not.

        Of course I would have been happier with a Republican win in the elections, but as things stand, we have to make do with what we (or you) got.

        • Brian Goldfarb says:

          Leon is, sadly, indicative of those “who are so blind they cannot see”. If not before the last few months of his Presidency, then certainly then, Trump demonstrated his anti-democratic tendencies. My daughter, living in New York City, at least two years ago, if not three, said of something Trump did, “this is how fascism starts.

          And she was right.This was demonstrated convincingly when he urged that demo in Washington to go to war (if not quite in so many words). Then Giulianni told them to go for “trial by combat”…

          If that’s not fascism, what further evidence does anyone need?

          If you are gone from here, good.

          There’s a great difference between political debate/difference, etc and downright rejection of ANYONE else’s views.

          Anne and I disagree on much, but we are still civil to each other and the overwhelming majority of commentators who come here.

          Which is at is should be.

          • Brian Goldfarb says:

            May I add to Anne’s comment what I have said elsewhere (without naming this site): that I am as conventionally left-wing (“sane left” as Anne & I agree on a title for my political position) as she is conventionally right-wing, BUT we agree almost completely on the Middle East (perhaps not in detail, but close enough), and a result we get on famously, because that’s what important.

            • Brian Goldfarb says:

              There are occasions when I feel that I am channeling the Haggadah, when one of the Rabbis says “I am as a man of (however many years it was), but I have never heard…”
              However, that Rabbi (and I apologise for not having a Haggadah to hand) was being complimentary. I am not. For Debby’s sake, I will make the following statement: I spent my whole working life in Higher Education, in which the ability to expound and explain evidence was paramount. The other major component of that life was to be able to say to students that they didn’t know what they were talking about without driving them back into their shells.

              I have been retired for, lo’, these 16 years, and I don’t have to be quite so circumspect anymore (providing that I stay within the bounds of polite company, so that Anne will still allow me to come here).

              Leon is entitled to his viewpoint and so is Debby. However, my area of expertise (Political Sociology) gives me an platform that allows for a wider perspective.

              The USA is the strongest economy and liberal democracy in the world. If it wasn’t a genuine liberal democracy (despite the last 4 years in my considered opinion), it would act as Putin’s Russia and China do: to the detriment of everyone else and to their own aggrandisement. Not even Trump, a neo-fascist in the making, but for the saving grace of the US electoral system, could, fortunately and in the end, destroy that.

              Yes, as I have noted in detail, he did some things that were good for Israel. BUT he didn’t do them for the sake of Israel, but to secure his own political base, especially the Evangelical Christians: 70% of US Jews saw through this, and voted for Biden. And most of them are pro-Israel. Joe Biden took in a pro-Israel stance through his father’s views (see the body of the article above), because that is what is the right thing to believe, whatever anyone else might say.

              That doesn’t mean that he will do whatever Bibi wants (or whatever the next Israeli PM wants, it it isn’t Bibi), but whatever HE, as the leader of the free world, believes (subject to what his advisers – many of them Jewish liberal democrats, who may tell him, in his own words, what he doesn’t want to hear – tell him) is best for BOTH Israel and the USA.

              Do you think you can read, carefully, what I actually wrote and even, perchance, seek out my sources and read those…and then, from a position of knowledge, comment on what I have said?

              You will note that Anne, the owner of this website, permits me this latitude if only because doing so educates both of us. I repeat what I have said on numerous occasions here, we disagree on certain aspects of what is “good” for Israel, but we educate each other by having the open mindedness to think what the other says, and then either alter our stance or debate as to what a sensible middle ground might be. That’s what liberal democracy is all about. And what democratic open-mindedness is, for that matter.

  5. Henry says:

    The telltale sign was the Twitter account for the UN ambassador (@USAmbIsrael), which stated “The US Ambassador to Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza”. It was taken down after the uproar.

    The good news is that Biden is not Obama. The bad news is that Biden is not Trump. Biden is perhaps the most cognitively weak president ever, and wants to resurrect the JCPOA with Iran.

    • anneinpt says:

      I’m still wonder whether that Twitter account name change was done by a junior staffer with an agenda. As to the rest, I agree.

      • Henry says:

        If it were done by a staffer at Twitter or a junior staffer at State, we would know about it by now. If the latter occurred, we know it wasn’t anyone working for Ambassador Friedman.

  6. Brian Goldfarb says:

    I have to take issue with the claims that antifa (which is a catch-all phrase for the generalised antifascist movement, and is well known in Europe by this name) are not the ones rioting in the US. Nor is there any evidence that antics is either antisemitic, anti-Israel or pro-Trump to the point of deliberately fomenting insurrection and attempting to stage a pro-Trump coup. BLM has been demonstrating (and occasionally some participants have gone over the top), but they haven’t invaded the Capitol in an attempted coup, they haven’t demanded that the result of the election be reversed because they didn’t like the result, and they are decidedly much nicer people, for the most part than the thugs who staged an insurrection on 6 January.

    Furthermore, a former US Ambassador to Israel (during the Obama years, which will make his views suspect to some people, Dan Shapiro confirmed my take on a Biden Presidency and Israel during a webinar on 18/1/21 at 19.00 GMT. The webinar is run by Judi Ferreira and goes under the general title of “lockdown university”. This episode may well have been recorded and may be available via YouTube.

    As for Leon, he clearly fails to see Trump for what he was, the worst President in US history (or vying for that title, if not actually THE worst). Plus, his actions in these last few weeks reveal him for what he truly is: a fascist who would destroy US democracy to stay in power. Does anyone doubt that if he had been able to overturn the result of the election, that might well have been the last one ever held in the US, except for staged ones, like in so many non-democracies around the world?

    Further, people are reading into what I have written what they expect or want to see, not what I have put down on paper. Thus, I make it clearable that Biden has stated very plainly to Bibi that he disapproves as (at the time) a potential future US President of the proposed annexation of parts of the West Bank (his term) BUT that this would NOT affect by one iota the very necessary defence pact between the US & Israel due to run until 2026. Nor have you taken account of the statements by many others as to his very positive feelings towards Israel.

    Again, my comments on now Vice-President Harris are similarly misinterpreted: the JLM article asserts quite plainly that she is probably more right-wing on Israel, that is more uncritically pro-Israel than Biden. I do agree on the views stated concerning Tlaib and the rest of the so-called “Squad” (see my article here on AOC about a year or so ago), but Speaker Pelosi command a slimmer majority in the House (only about 9) and she will brook no dissent from Administration policy just to satisfy the egos of a small group (of possibly antisemitic as well as anti-Israel) of Democratic Representatives.

    Now I must return to the rest of the comments, while celebrating the victory of democracy over fascism: even Mitch McConnel has tuned against Trump.

  7. Brian Goldfarb says:

    Assuming no-one else adds any comments to this thread, I wish to add a coda to my article and my comments.

    I have made it clear above (and elsewhere: search out my contributions to the engage online.wordpress.com website, when it was active as an anti the academic BDS movement in the UK, as well as elsewhere on Anne’s Opinions) that I spent my working life as a university lecturer and researcher. That meant that, to put it briefly, I needed the evidence (which I had to be able to cite, literally “chapter and verse”) to back up the points I made in lectures and tutorials – and which was demanded of students as well – as well as in any academic articles I wrote or comments I made on websites.

    I have stated in the body of the article not just my opinions and views but the evidence on which these are based. I have said before and I will say again that Obama was a disappointment (although a breath of fresh air, up to a point) because he had so little political experience before becoming President. Biden has been at the big table since 1973, when he was sworn in as a US Senator, with only a 4 year gap from 2016 to 2020 (being Vice-President from 2008-2016): that’s 44 years worth of top-level political experience.

    It seems to me that many of those unhappy with Biden as President are failing to cite evidence of what his short-comings are, or will be, especially with respect to Israel. You are just saying, in effect, I don’t like or trust him. Fair enough, your privilege. But why? what is your evidence that he will be bad for Israel? Or that Harris will be bad, if that “heartbeat away” happens before 2024?

    Obama was a disappointment, but Biden, with his (to that point) 36 years worth of bi-partisan “working both sides of the aisle” (as the Americans put it) to help Obama: he was also “the last person in the room” (according to both of them) before Obama finally made his decision, whatever it was.

    So, people who disagree with me, EVIDENCE followed by argument, please, not assertion. I used to demand this of the pro-BDS, anti-Israel trolls who turned up on Engage: most of them had none, and many slunk away. One even asked me, plaintively, where he might find this evidence. I pointed out to him, quite gently, that as he was arguing against me, he needed to find his own! He never re-appeared.

    Hopefully, that person might have started reading less biased sources and come to different conclusions.

    I have said before, here, that some 4 years ago, we (my wife and I) were in New York for the 2016 election. As the result came out, a good friend texted me saying that at last, a businessman had been elected to the Presidency. I replied that, first of all, even assuming that Trump was a successful businessman (which even in 2016 was dubious), the skills of being a successful businessman (or woman) were very different from those required of a successful politician. Remember, Trump had never held any elective office nor even run for one: the suspicion was that he didn’t expect to (a) get the Republican Party nomination, let alone (b) win the race. It was a ploy to regenerate his flagging businesses. After a few exchanges, my friend (a successful small business owner – no insult intended) ended the exchange with the following “never mind, Brian, even (his wife) thinks I’m nuts”!

    So, if anyone has read this far, please, evidence as to why the Biden-Harris Presidency is bad for the Jews, bad for Israel, bad for the world, and not just because “we don’t like him/her”.

  8. Brian Goldfarb says:

    Turns out that wasn’t my last comment after all! The following is from the Times of Israel (online) of 28/1/21: “The Obama-Biden administration made those planes available to Israel and only Israel in the region,” said Blinken, who served as Biden’s national security adviser, deputy national security adviser to the president and deputy secretary of state during the Obama administration.” The sale to the UAE has just been “suspended” by the Biden Administration.

    These planes are the F35 Stealth fighter-bombers and the reference was back to the 2016 US-Israel defence treaty, and are the ones the Trump Administration sold to the UAE.

    Now, what was that about Biden not being good for Israel…?

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