When President Joe Biden publicly addressed the intensifying Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Oct. 10, he began by hitting all the right notes. By the time he walked slowly away from the podium, though – ignoring questions from reporters, as he usually does – Biden had provided nothing that would have comforted the people of Israel or their supporters in the United States. Perhaps worse still, he said very little that would give the Jewish state’s enemies pause for thought. The current US administration, it appears, intends to mostly sit this one out except for the occasional barrage of outrage at the atrocities being committed.
With a couple of notable exceptions, Democrat officeholders can’t bring themselves to unequivocally condemn the Islamist terror group Hamas for its surprise attack on Israel that has claimed the lives of 1,000 or more civilians, including at least 14 Americans. Members of the so-called Squad, well known for their anti-Israel sentiments, have provoked disgust even among some of their fellow Democrats for callous responses to the recent violence and their refusal to acknowledge unprovoked acts of terrorism.
“As the world is condemning Hamas’s attacks, we must also oppose an Israeli military response that has already taken the lives of hundreds of Palestinians, including nearly two dozen children,” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) wrote on X (formerly Twitter). Back in 2019, Omar drew heavy criticism for describing the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center with the words “some people did something.”
In what seemed like a backhanded swipe at those in his party who have taken to blaming Israel for the coordinated wave of terrorist violence, Biden said:
“In this moment, we must be crystal clear: We stand with Israel. We stand with Israel … There is no justification for terrorism. There’s no excuse. Hamas does not stand for the Palestinian people’s right to dignity and self-determination. Its stated purpose is the annihilation of the state of Israel and the murder of Jewish people.”
Unconvincing Response to Israel Crisis
The commander-in-chief went on, bemoaning the “loss of innocent life” and asserting that “Israel has the right to respond – indeed, has a duty to respond – to these vicious attacks.” His voice descended into a now-characteristic whisper, and it began to sound as if a eulogy for the slaughtered was all Americans could expect. That turned out to be more or less the case.
Other than a pledge to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome defense system, provide hostage rescue advice to the Israelis – something they hardly need – and stepped-up security in American cities, Biden offered nothing of substance. Naval assets in the form of a carrier group are heading for the eastern Mediterranean, and Biden did deliver a less-than-convincing warning to any third-party state that might be thinking of getting involved in the conflict. He did not specifically mention Iran, Hamas’ chief sponsor.
No responsible US politician would publicly telegraph America’s specific plans for military action on hostage rescue operations, and Biden can hardly be criticized for declining to do so. However, his remarks contained little resolve beyond the expected vague promise to stand by Israel. If the actors waiting in the wings – Iran, Hezbollah, and perhaps even the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood – were supposed to have been left quaking in their boots by the US leader’s words, this speech missed the mark. It did nothing to dispel the growing concern many feel that America under Joe Biden is not projecting any serious strength or resolve when it comes to dealing with the enemies of the United States and its allies.