So far, U.S. President Joe Biden has mixed his criticisms from the left, driving a home agenda that is very bold for a lifelong centrist and traditional Democrat. His stimulus and infrastructure bills drive a shameless liberal agenda. And while the right to vote and environmental bills are dependent on the cooperation of conservative Democrats, such as Joe Manchin, the direction is not ambiguous.
Biden has, of course, learned important lessons from Obama’s years. Tactically, he doesn’t seem to want to immerse himself in sterile negotiations with Republicans in bad faith. Basically, it does not apologize, nor does it internalize policies that are popular among the average voter, such as raising the minimum wage or raising taxes on high-earners.
In both scores, Biden points out that the White House is further away from its two previous Democrats, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, who often ruled as if their main concern was gaining approval from the Wall Street Journal editorial page.
All this is good news. And yet, in the realm of foreign policy, at least in Israel-Palestine, Biden is still a 1990s Democrat, that is, unreserved and uncritical in favor of the Israelis. His administration’s reaction, or lack thereof, to the latest crackdown on Israeli atrocities – from forced evictions to the blockade of apartment blocks and media offices – is scandalous.
Palestinians, Israel, the Middle East region, and U.S. foreign policy would be great if they were in a healthier place if Biden takes the same general stance in Israel-Palestine since its inauguration: fearlessly, moving with the times and responding to the grassroots.
The moral and strategic failure of Israeli policy in the US
Certainly, if the U.S. had any humanitarian or moral reasons to be close to Israel, it was long overdue. Despite the propagandistic rhetoric on the other hand, more than half a century ago it was exactly the misfortune of little Israel that was attacked by enemy states that want to eradicate it from the last map.
The savagery of the Israeli occupation and the ongoing project of its location, not to mention the fact that it is the only nuclear power in the Middle East, makes it a sourceless persecution, not an unfortunate victim. He is never grateful to hear that Israelis use the language of victimism in the U.S. and elsewhere as the most ardent supporters when that rhetoric is more appropriate for Palestinians.
Aside from the obvious and obvious moral stain, there is little strategic benefit to the US constantly subsidizing bad behavior from Israel – the only thing that wins is the bad press.
Few should be surprised if Washington becomes more involved in conflict management or suggests that Israel submit to the traditional transactional nature of international politics. There is no collective appetite within the ring to publicly criticize Israeli actions like the ones we saw last month. And while Israeli protection of Israel has become comical, almost meager, from the Trump / Kushner point of view, the white checks have been the way the U.S.’s relationship with Israel has been operational before 2016.
International and domestic incentives for parity
If Biden wanted to change course from these long-standing moral and strategic failures, the three developments would allow him to work together.
The first is geopolitical: in the last decade many traditional alignments in the Middle East have changed. Changes in the domestic dispensations of major powers in regions such as the Arab Spring, the rise of ISIL (ISIS), the nuclear deal in Iran, and Turkey have combined to leave former alliances in disarray, creating alternative arrangements. Are Turkey and the US friends because of a shared member of NATO or rivals because of the Syrian civil war? Are Saudi Arabia and Israel enemies because they are not constantly in formal diplomatic relations or partners, given how they see Iran?
Precisely because the Palestinian issue has less resonance and is no longer the main flaw in the region – if nothing else, Trump’s “Abraham Accords” very drastically confirmed the symbolic fall of Palestinians in Arab capitals – the Biden administration should have a bigger place. for maneuver.
The second structural change lies in US domestic policy. Israel has gone from being a problem with strong and strict bipartisan consensus to having more partisan implications. This is partly because a new generation of liberals has incubated their political mobilization during the Black Age and systemic inequality, and partly because of the hateful figure of Benjamin Netanyahu, his antipathy to Barack Obama, and Donald Trump’s explosive embrace. , from one right-wing nationalist to another, have not been easily forgotten by Democratic voters. Taken together, these developments mean that Israel cannot count on broad support across the political spectrum.
Next to the partisan party, the media and the cultural environment are more conducive to a more balanced view of the US.
Surely, the main weight of the coverage remains in favor of Likud or AIPAC-style speeches. There have been green shoots on print, television and social media. The New York Times and MSNBC are airing Palestinian voices. Leading Democrats like Tim Kaine and Chris Murphy are teaming up with so-called Bernie Sanders and members of the so-called Squad (Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar or Rashida Tlaib) to oppose Israel’s unclassified aid to the US. Advocating for the rights and dignity of Palestinians is no longer a limited position.
World fame in the US is the third force that is changing Israel’s trajectory. The Biden administration has been in pain to point out, especially to outside audiences, that Trump was an aberration. Regardless of the veracity of this claim — in important domestic and international spheres, Trump was a continuation, not a contradiction of U.S. policy — giving Trump an almost performative emphasis on human rights is a golden opportunity for Biden. If he really wants to prove that “the US is back” and that he won’t see anything like Trump or Trumpism again, then what better way than to demand responsibility from Israel?
Biden’s tremendous record in Israel
All that being said, even if the political costs of changing Israeli policy are lowered, Biden would be the leader who will benefit the least. In short, he has a tremendous record against Israel.
Because of Barack Obama’s vice president, Biden often publicly or privately downplayed his leader’s policies against Israel. For example, during 2009 and 2010, Biden advised Obama that Netanyahu’s public pressure-fixing strategies did not call for a freeze on collocations, calling for “no clear day” between the U.S. and Israel.
In 2010, when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put pressure on Netanyahu to freeze the complete solution over the phone, and believing that he would move forward with negotiating a two-state solution, Biden continued with a more friendly call. it frightened Netanyahu to abandon what he saw as a divided administration. Biden Obama also opposed trying to abstain from UN resolutions condemning Israeli settlements in 2016, rather than vetoing them.
Recently, in the run-up to the 2020 elections, progressives believed they had gained certainty that the party’s convention platform would have references to Palestinians suffering from “occupation,” the first in history. But Biden personally intervened to ensure the word was deleted.
Be brave, Joe
Overall, Biden has not put the slightest pressure on Israel. His actions mean that the Palestinians do not deserve a lasting opinion that is worth spending the political capital that would be needed to really carry out their aspirations.
That embarrassment would be wrong in 2021. No one expects the US to turn around and accept the Palestinian state as loudly as it does for Kosovo, nor to punish Israel as if it were Venezuela.
But at least the U.S. can advance billions in aid and military equipment so that Israel does not challenge official U.S. policy. He can state in his rhetoric that he cares equally for the lives of Palestinians as Israel’s “right to defend itself”. It may stop providing diplomatic support to Tel Aviv at the UN because it is constantly complying with resolutions condemning Israel’s actions. And a client may be at a standstill while a state commits serious rights violations and war crimes, from a distance that is consistent with the values or interests it recognizes for itself.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the attitude of Al Jazeera’s editorial.