Biden’s unforgivable betrayal of Israel

In warning Israel to hold off from Rafah, the White House has abandoned the fight against Hamas.

Brendan O'Neill

Brendan O'Neill
chief political writer

Topics Politics USA World

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Imagine if, in 2017, the world told the Kurds to hold off from attacking Raqqa. Imagine if, following their valiant liberation of 2,000 square miles of Syrian territory from the barbaric diktat of the Islamic State, the Kurdish-led forces were told to down arms. To leave Raqqa be. To leave intact the capital of the cruellest pseudo-state the modern world has known. We would have looked upon such a request as lunacy. We might even have considered it an essentially pro-ISIS position. After all, the flipside of telling the enemies of ISIS to cease fire is that ISIS would gain the breathing space to regroup, rearm and revisit its apocalyptic sadism on the people of Syria and beyond.

Well, just such an unhinged demand is being made right now, though of Israel, not the Kurds. From the White House to those whiffy tents on campus lawns, from the leader pages of the liberal press to the Israelophobic pulpits of social media, the cry goes out: don’t attack Rafah. If Israeli forces launch an invasion of that southern Gazan city, in pursuit of Hamas, it will be a bloodbath, the posing peaceniks cry. It would be ‘genocide in action’, insists former Corbynite bigwig John McDonnell. If you do it, President Biden warns Israel, we will stop providing you with certain weapons. In short: leave Rafah be. Which means leave Hamas be. Leave in peace the army of anti-Semites that butchered a thousand of your people – this, fundamentally, is the request being made of the Jewish State by the self-righteous of the Earth.

We need to talk about the cravenness, the outright iniquity, of the Western world’s lofty insistence that Israel back off from Rafah. It is presented to us as a ‘pro-peace’ position, underpinned by a pure urge to save life. But it could just as easily be seen as the antithesis of peace, as a position likely to benefit and even fortify the army of violent bigots that started this war and who seem hell-bent on continuing it. We know that huge numbers of Hamas militants have decamped to Rafah. We know they’re firing rockets from Rafah. We know some of these deadly devices have killed IDF soldiers while others have fallen on Israeli towns, with the intent of slaughtering the Jews who live there. In such circumstances, the cry ‘Hands off Rafah!’ is really a demand that Israel throw its own hands in the air and submit to the violent persecutions of its medieval foe.

The Western elites’ hostility to an Israeli incursion into Rafah is intense. British foreign secretary David Cameron says the UK will not support a ‘major operation in Rafah’ unless Israel provides us with a ‘very clear plan for how to protect people [there]’. Doesn’t he know Britain’s ‘right’ to make haughty demands of the Jews of the Middle East ended with the fall of Mandatory Palestine in ’48? The Guardian says any ‘intensification of [Israel’s] operation’ would be ‘unthinkable’. By Israel’s ‘operation’, it means its pursuit of Hamas, a movement, lest we forget, that was founded on the express promise of killing Jews, and which made good on that promise with its pogrom of 7 October. It’s ‘unthinkable’ to seek to defeat the fascists who exterminated hundreds of Jews just seven months ago? Really?

Biden’s intervention is the most striking – and unforgivable. He has threatened to deprive Israel of certain military hardware if ‘they go into Rafah’. This is the first time, as CNN notes, that Biden has ‘condition[ed] American weaponry on Israel’s actions’. His comments have caused ‘outrage’ in Israel, as well they might. They come off as political blackmail disguised as high moral principle. Pause your pursuit of Hamas or we’ll punish you militarily and economically – that’s what he’s saying. It is hypocrisy of the highest order that the state that funded and aided the Kurds’ hunting down of ISIS, including the Battle for Raqqa of 2017 in which thousands died, should now so pompously warn Israel not to do the same.

Biden’s Rafah warnings speak to the moral decay and geopolitical idiocy of his administration. Consider this: among the Israeli hostages still held by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, five are American citizens. It’s possible, likely even, that these Americans who languish in barbarous captivity are inside Rafah. It is extraordinary that the American president would openly threaten the army that’s committed to liberating these Americans. What a gutless abdication of moral responsibility and of the national interest itself. And for what? For the fleeting thrill of an electoral boost. Biden is clearly troubled by the student protests and by predictions that he might lose the backing of ‘progressives’ and some Muslim voters over his Israel stance. So he sacrifices an ally, and literal American citizens, at the altar of a few more ballots. If these are ‘the adults in the room’, I’d hate to see the kids.

Only one group of people benefits from Biden’s creeping betrayal of Israel. It’s not Israelis, that’s for sure, who have a clear moral interest in defeating the racist pogromists that threaten their security. And it’s not the Biden administration itself – they must know that nothing short of denouncing Israel as the New Nazis who should be boycotted out of existence will satisfy the vengeful urges of the Israelophobes who masquerade as peace activists. No, it’s Hamas. Biden’s instruction to Israel to stay out of Rafah is an implicit acceptance of Hamas’s right to stay in Rafah. The White House is conferring legitimacy, no doubt unwittingly, on Hamas’s cynical dominion of Rafah. It is an unconscionable position, as lethally foolish as it would have been to say ‘Leave Raqqa alone’ in 2017.

We need to call out the phoney pacifism of the ‘Hands off Rafah’ lobby. The architects of the worst anti-Jewish pogrom since the Holocaust are there. The racist militants who’ve promised to carry out more 7 Octobers – right up to ‘October 1,000,000’ – are there. Attacks on Israel are being planned there. Attacks on Israel are happening there. Rafah has been turned, by Hamas, into a base for its cosmic crusade against the Jewish State. The opposition to a clash in Rafah is less a plea for peace than an insistence that Israel accept war. That it learns to live with the existence, a few miles from its border, of a terrorist-ruled city from which deadly attacks on its soldiers and civilians will be launched. What poses as a defence of Palestinian life is really a devaluing of Israeli life.

Let’s be clear: all-out war in Rafah would be terrible. An estimated 1.5million Palestinians have fled there as a consequence of the conflict wrought by Hamas’s pogrom. The suffering that would flow from urban warfare in this teeming city will be unbearable. No one wants it. Not Israel, not the young IDF soldiers who will have to execute it, certainly not the people of Gaza. But if the pontificators of the Western world were serious about preventing war in Rafah, they’d be calling on Hamas to return the hostages and to surrender to Israel. That’s the only way this conflict ends: with the vanquishing of the fascists who started it.

Those of us who support Israel’s right to pursue the terrorists who invaded its territory and murdered its citizens have made a moral judgement: that war, awful as it is, is worth it if it defeats those pogromists. The fake peaceniks of the ‘pro-Rafah’ lobby have made a moral judgment too, though they rarely give voice to it. Their moral judgement is that it is preferable for the Jewish State to be surrounded by Jew-hating armies than for the Jewish State to take decisive action against its enemies. So you see, we are both ‘pro-war’, only one of us favours just war, and the other racist war.

Brendan O’Neill is spiked’s chief political writer and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. His new book – A Heretic’s Manifesto: Essays on the Unsayable – is available to order on Amazon UK and Amazon US now. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy

Picture by: Getty.

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Topics Politics USA World


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