Up to this point, U.S. President Joe Biden has confused his critics from the left, piloting a domestic agenda that is remarkably bold for a life-centric and traditional Democrat. Their stimulus and infrastructure projects advance a freely free agenda. And while the voting rights and environmental factors he favors depend on the cooperation of more conservative Democrats, such as Joe Manchin, the direction is unambiguous.
Biden has obviously imbued important lessons from the Obama years. Tactically, it seems he doesn’t want to engage in futile negotiations with bad faith Republicans. Essentially, it does not apologize for or downplay policies that are popular with both the grassroots and the middle class, such as raising the minimum wage or raising taxes on high-wage earners.
On both sides, Biden depicts a departure from his two most immediate Democratic predecessors in the White House, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, who often ruled as if his primary prime minister had had the approval of the White House editorial board. in the Wall Street Journal.
All this is good news. Yet, in the realm of foreign policy, at least in Israel-Palestine, Biden is still very democratic in the 1990s, that is, an unreserved and uncritical supporter of Israel. The reaction of his administration, or lack thereof, to the latest cycle of Israeli atrocities – from forced evictions to the leveling of apartment blocks and media offices – is outrageous.
The Palestinians, Israel, the Middle East region, and U.S. foreign policy find themselves much in a healthier place if Biden assumes the same stance on Israel-Palestine that he has adopted more generally since his inauguration. : fearless, moving with the times, and responds to the base.
The moral and strategic failure of Israeli policy in the United States
Of course, if there was ever a humanitarian or moral reason for the United States to stand unequivocally alongside Israel, it was extinguished a long time ago. Despite the propaganda talk points to the contrary, the image of the lucky little Israel, besieged by enemy states wanting to wipe it off the paper, had been accurate last time more than half a century ago.
The brutality of Israel’s occupation and the relentlessness of its settlement project, not to mention its status as the only nuclear power in the Middle East, make it an unsympathetic intimidator, not an unfortunate victim. He never ceases to thank you for hearing Israel’s most loyal supporters in the United States and elsewhere use the language of victimhood when such rhetoric is best suited for the Palestinians.
Aside from the obvious and palpable moral stain, there is little strategic benefit for the United States from continually sustaining bad behavior by Israel – the only thing it gains is a bad image.
Washington’s reluctance to be more uniform in managing the conflict, or even inducing Israel to submit to the usual transactional nature of international politics, should surprise few. There is only a collective appetite in the Belt to publicly criticize Israeli actions like the ones we saw last month. And while U.S. support for Israel has become comical, almost malicious, under the Trump / Kushner approach, blank checks have characterized the modus operandi of the U.S. relationship with Israel since before 2016.
International and national incentives for equality
If Biden wishes to change course from these long-standing moral and strategic failures, three developments in conjunction give him the opportunity to do so.
The first is geopolitical: the last decade has renewed many traditional alignments in the Middle East. The Arab Spring, the rise of ISIL (ISIS), Iran’s nuclear deal and changes in national dispensations in major regional powers such as Turkey have come together to leave their former alliances in disarray, giving birth to alternative dispositions. Are they Turkey and its American friends, because of their common membership in NATO, or rivals, because of the Syrian civil war? Are Saudi Arabia and Israel enemies, because of the continued absence of formal diplomatic relations, or partners, because of how they view Iran?
Precisely because the Palestinian question has less resonance and is no longer the central fault line in the region – if nothing else, Trump’s much-ballyhooed “Abraham Accords” have confirmed the symbolic relegation of Palestinians to Arab capitals – the Biden’s administration should have more room for maneuver.
The second structural change is in U.S. domestic policy. Israel has been transformed from a problem where there was a fierce and strident bipartisan consensus to one with more partisan implications. This is partly because a new generation of liberals had their political mobilization incubated in an era of Black Life Matters and systemic inequality, and partly because of the odious figure of Benjamin Netanyahu, whose antipathy towards Barack Obama and the Donald Trump’s full embrace, from one right-wing nationalist to another, has not been easily forgotten by Democratic voters. Together, these developments mean that Israel can no longer count on broad support from across the political spectrum.
Alongside the partisan angle, the media and cultural environment in the United States are more conducive to a more balanced approach.
To be sure, the dominant weight of coverage continues to favor Likud-style or AIPAC-style talking points. But there have been green shoots in every one of the media, television and social media. The New York Times and MSNBC broadcast Palestinian voices. Mainstream Democrats like Tim Kaine and Chris Murphy join the likes of Bernie Sanders and members of the so-called Squad (Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar or Rashida Tlaib) to push against unqualified American support for Israel. Support for Palestinian rights and dignity is no longer a fringe position.
The third force driving a change of course on Israel is the global reputation of the United States. The Biden administration has been reluctant to point out, especially to the outside public, that Trump was an aberration. Leaving aside the veracity of this claim – in important national and international arenas, Trump was a continuation, not a contradiction of U.S. policy – Trump’s almost performative de-emphasis on human rights offers Biden an opportunity. dorata. If he really wants to show that “the United States is back,” and that nothing like Trump or Trumpism will be seen again, then what better way than to hold Israel accountable?
Biden’s terrible record in Israel
All that said, even if the political costs of a change in Israeli policy were reduced, Biden would be one of the least likely leaders to profit. Simply put, it has a scary record when it comes to confronting Israel.
As Vice President of Barack Obama, Biden has publicly or privately endorsed his leader’s policy in Israel several times. For example, throughout 2009 and 2010, Biden warned Obama against his strategy of public pressure from Netanyahu to freeze the settlements, arguing instead that there should be “no daylight between” the United States and Israel.
When in 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pressured Netanyahu on a phone call for a complete freeze on the establishment, and also with credible assurances that he was moving forward with the negotiation of a two-state solution, Biden followed up with a call. more conciliatory, one that encouraged Netanyahu to ignore what he saw as a divided administration. Similarly, Biden opposes Obama’s desire to abstain, rather than veto, UN resolutions condemning Israeli settlements in 2016.
More recently, in preparation for the 2020 elections, progressives believed they had ensured that the party’s platform at the convention contained references to Palestinians suffering from an “occupation,” a historic first. But Biden intervened personally to ensure the cancellation of the floor.
Go fat, Joe
Overall, Biden has been reluctant to exert even the slightest pressure on Israel. His actions reflected his persevering vision that the Palestinians were not worth spending the political capital they would need to truly push their aspirations.
Such timidity goes wrong in 2021. No one expects the United States to execute a coup and support the paternity of the Palestinian State with its voice for Kosovo, or to sanction Israel as if it were Venezuela.
But at the very least, the United States can make its billions of advanced military aid and equipment conditional on Israel not challenging official U.S. policy. He can point out in his rhetoric that he cares as much about Palestinian lives as he does about Israel’s “right to defend”. It can stop offering Tel Aviv diplomatic protection to the UN, where it vetoes consistent resolutions condemning Israeli actions. And it can stop engaging in the scourge that ensues while a client state commits gross rights violations and war crimes is also at a distance consistent with its values or self-prosecuting interests.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.