Immediately after the battle, when Israeli soldiers withdrew, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Palestinian Islamic Jihad scrubbed the battle scene to erase all traces of what just happened. The PA refused to let Israeli forensic doctors examine the body of the journalist or hand over to Israeli authorities the bullet that killed her – at least, until much, much later.
Palestinian propaganda immediately erupted and said that Shireen Abu Akleh was intentionally murdered by the IDF.
On May 19, fifty-seven Democrat members of the US House of Representatives asked the FBI and the US State Department to launch an investigation. The IDF launched its own investigation, and, on September 5, published a report. It noted that “there is a high possibility that Ms Abu Akleh was accidentally hit by IDF gunfire that was fired toward suspects identified as armed Palestinian gunmen”.
As early as July 4, the US State Department had issued a statement saying there is “no reason to believe that this was intentional but rather the result of tragic circumstances during an IDF-led military operation against factions of Palestinian Islamic Jihad on May 11, 2022, in Jenin, which followed a series of terrorist attacks in Israel”.
With that, the file could have been closed. It was not. On November 14, the FBI, at the request of the Department of Justice, decided to launch its own investigation to “elucidate the conditions of the death of Shireen Abu Akleh”. Israeli authorities immediately announced that they would refuse to cooperate with it. “IDF soldiers”, said Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, “will not be interrogated by the FBI or by any foreign body or foreign country, no matter how friendly.”
By asking the FBI to launch an investigation against the IDF, the Biden administration revealed an unprecedented distrust of a democratic ally of the United States. The Biden administration contributed to the false idea that Israeli soldiers had deliberately assassinated a journalist, and provided grist to the mill for Palestinian terrorist organizations and anti-Israeli propagandists across the world.
This request was just another serious step in the obstinate and incessant hostility that the Biden administration has shown toward Israel since Biden took office.
The January 28, 2021 appointment as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs of Hady Amr, a man who wrote “I was inspired by the Palestinian intifada” and who falsely accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing,” was a significant step that promised the worst.
Two days before that, on January 26, 2021, the Biden administration not only restored relations with the Palestinian Authority, but resumed most of the financial aid that had been suspended by the Trump administration — but they failed to ask the Palestinian leaders to stop financing and supporting terrorism.
The Biden administration also announced its willingness to return to a basically fictitious “two-state solution.”
A speech by Deputy U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Mills, announcing these decisions, defined the “settlements” as “an obstacle to peace”. He left out that many Palestinians regard the entire state of Israel as one big settlement to be dismantled.
Since then, any construction of homes in the existing Israeli suburbs has been condemned by the State Department in the strongest terms. By contrast, the Biden administration has never made the slightest remark concerning the massive illegal Palestinian construction intended to create “facts on the ground” or “land grabs” in both the West Bank and Israel’s Negev desert.
After the Hamas missile offensive suffered by Israel in May 2021, President Biden recognized Israel’s right to defend itself (could he do less?), then insistedon the need to “marshal international support for the people of Gaza and the Gaza reconstruction efforts”. He did not speak once of the material and human damage suffered by Israel. He never directly incriminated Hamas and did not say a word that the missile technology used by Hamas had been supplied to terrorists by the Iran’s mullahs.
Then, during his visit to Israel in July 2022, Biden made a point of showing that he did not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the entirety of Jerusalem. Before going to an Arab hospital in the eastern part of the city, he demanded that the Israeli flags be removed from the presidential car and prohibited any Israeli politicians or journalists from accompanying him. Once in the hospital, he inaccurately compared the United Kingdom’s occupation of Ireland to Israel’s presence in the West Bank, thereby implying that he considered Israel a colonial power that was occupying Palestinian territories by force, despite the Arabs having started — and lost — all the wars in the region since Israel’s independence in 1948:
“My background and the background of my family is Irish America, and we have a long history … not fundamentally unlike the Palestinian people with Great Britain and their attitude toward Irish-Catholics over the years, for 400 years.”
Only Barack Obama had been more insulting to Israel. In his Cairo speech in May 2017, Obama compared Israel to the pre-Civil War slave-holding Southern Confederacy.
The Biden administration’s desire, repeatedly affirmed, to reopen the former United States consulate in Jerusalem to “manage diplomatic relations with the Palestinian Authority” came up against Israel’s legitimate objection. Israel correctly noted that to create a quasi-embassy of the US to the PA, which is not a state, in Israeli territory would constitute an extremely serious violation of the sovereignty of Israel over its territory. The suggested move was rightly definedby Professor Eugene Kontorovitch, of George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia School of Law, as a way “to recognize Palestinian claims to Jerusalem”.
On a more deadly front, on July 14, 2022, Biden signed a Joint Declaration on the US-Israel Strategic Partnership, and promised he would “never allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon”. Since the first days of coming to power, however, on January 29, 2021, the Biden administration has done its utmost to reach a new “nuclear deal” with Iran’s mullahs that would enable them to have not only nuclear weapons, but up to $1 trillion dollars, which would quite certainly not be used for human rights.
America’s negotiators — led by Robert Malley and Russia, mediating supposedly on behalf of the US, as the Americans are not even allowed in the room — have not stopped making concessions. The Biden administration lifted sanctions on Iran and allowed the mullahs to receive billions of dollars which they immediately used accelerate their quest for nuclear weapons and financing terrorist organizations. The Biden administration has never even asked Iran’s regime to stop threatening Israel with destruction. On November 10, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said that Iran had enough 60%-enriched uranium to reprocess into fuel for at least one nuclear bomb, and confirmed that Iran is dangerously approaching the nuclear threshold.
For months, the Biden administration pressured Israel to accept an off-shore gas deal with Hezbollah-run Lebanon, now effectively a satrapy of Iran. The deal fundamentally alters Israel’s maritime borders, denies Israel tens of billions of dollars and allows Hezbollah, Iran’s terrorist proxy, to receive billions of dollars potentially to be used to further threaten Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid bowed to pressure and accepted the deal in early October. Israeli Prime Minister-elect Benjamin Netanyahu defined the deal as a historic surrender to Hezbollah and said that when he officially becomes Prime Minister, he will neutralize the deal. Without intense pressure from the Biden administration, the deal would not even have been discussed by Israeli politicians, let alone accepted. Lebanon expert Tony Badran explained in detail that the Biden administration wants to “give as much money as possible to Lebanon” — with full knowledge that it will be money given to Hezbollah. Hezbollah is believed to have 200,000 rockets and missiles pointed at Israel. “All land and sea targets of Israel are in the range of Hezbollah missiles, ” Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said in July. Why is the Biden administration helping an Iranian proxy militia to get rich to destroy Israel?
Since June 13, 2021, Israel has had a weak government, led by rotating Prime Ministers Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid, who refrained from making any negative remarks about the Biden administration’s positions on Palestinian terrorism or Iran. After the fall of the government, new elections took place on November 1, and were won by a coalition of right-of-center and religious parties, led by Netanyahu.
The Biden administration — evidently unable to see that it was a new wave of Arab terrorism inside Israel that had most likely propelled voters to elect its new government — in a move perhaps unprecedented, then abruptly lobbied to keep some of Israel’s democratically-elected religious politicians out of government. Meanwhile, only last week, the Biden administration begged Venezuela’s illegitimate and brutal dictator, Nicolás Maduro, to sell the US its low-quality crude oil, while denying a loan to US ally Guyana, which is a producer of light, sweet oil.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan hinted that if Itamar Ben Gvir becomes a minister in Israel’s new government, they would not work with him. US Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides also made clear to Netanyahu that the Biden administration was opposedto the possible appointment of Bezalel Smotrich as defense minister. Ben Gvir and Smotrich will nonetheless be part of the Israeli government and have important positions, but tensions between Israel and the Biden administration will almost certainly erupt in the near future.
Nides recently gave a speech suggesting that if the new Israeli government deviates from the positions of the Biden administration, the relationship between the United States and Israel could suffer:
“I’m confident that these men and women [in the new government] understand the importance of this bilateral relationship and understand that we have shared values and everyone wants to achieve the same thing”.
Is that a threat?
Just as the launching of an FBI investigation against the army of a democratic ally of the US has no precedent, the attempt to interfere in the composition of a government of a democratic ally also has no precedent. The nationalist stancesof Ben Gvir and Smotrich may displease the Biden administration, but trying to secure their exclusion from the government of Israel is unconscionable and speaks volumes both about how the Biden administration behaves, and what it thinks of Israel.
Biden last week said that he wanted to upgrade U.S. ties with the Palestinian Authority, and promoted Hady Amr to a new post: special envoy to the Palestinians. Amr met members of the outgoing Israeli government and saidthat his mission is to “strengthen the Palestinian Authority”. He did not say a single word about the increase of shootings, stabbings, firebombs, and stoning attacks against Israelis in Jerusalem and in the West Bank; on the recent Jerusalem bus stop bombings, or that the PA continues to finance terrorism and murdering Israeli Jews. In this context, strengthening the PA can only mean strengthening terrorism and murder.
“It is important to note,” the journalist Caroline Glick remarked, “that the Biden administration is totally committed either to not noticing anything that is happening, or to denying that what is happening has any significance”.
The time when support for Israel in the United States was bipartisan is unfortunately over. The Biden administration’s proclamations of friendshiptoward Israel cannot hide actions of relentless hostility. While the Republican Party now has pro-Israeli positions, the Democratic Party includes representatives who not only hate Israel but do not even try to deny it.
Ilhan Omar wrote tweets saying that “Israel has hypnotized the world”, and adding “may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel”.
Rashida Tlaib spoke of the “brutal apartheid government of Israel”.
Their party did not disavow them. That there are 57 Democratic house members to ask the FBI and the State Department to launch an investigation into Israel, apparently with a desire to harm Israel, is a reality that Israel must urgently take into account.
US support for Israel at the United Nations has saved Israel from many negative and damaging decisions; that has changed. Until December 23, 2016, the United States vetoed anti-Israeli resolutions presented to the UN, but that day, President Barack Obama decided to not use the veto power of the United States and to allow a resolution to be adopted demanding that “Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem”.
On November 10, 2021, the Biden administration chose to not reject a UN General Assembly Resolution that said:
“[Palestinian] refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date … compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property”.
The text claimed that there are 5.7 million Palestinian refugees, and endorsed the “right of return” to Israel of people who have never lived there. The “return” of these people to Israel would mean flooding Israel’s Jewish people with a hostile population, and ultimately the destruction of Israel.
US military aid remains important to Israel; it accounts for 20% of the IDF budget. Decades ago, Israel began working towards military autonomy. Israel now domestically produces many of its most essential weapons. Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders see that the US is no longer a reliable ally, and that Israel must depend ever more on its own strength. The diplomatic strategy led for years by Netanyahu, and the Abraham Accords, mean that Israel now has ties with a number of regional states that were formerly its enemies — a change welcomed by all of the parties.
At a conference recently organized in Tel Aviv, Professor Alan Dershowitz said:
“The future Israel-American relationship is in grave danger…. Israel must prepare to go to it alone without the support of the US, and it must adopt a doomsday strategy in relation to US-Israeli relation; it can and it will because Israel has the will to survive and it will survive.”
In spite of the Biden administration.
Dr. Guy Millière, a professor at the University of Paris, is the author of 27 books on France and Europe