Israel is testing the bounds of friendship; don’t good friends say ‘you’re wrong’? Skip to content

Israel is testing the bounds of friendship; don’t good friends say ‘you’re wrong’?

If the United States is supposed to be a “friend” of Israel, aren’t we also supposed to tell them when they are wrong?

6 min read

President Biden has managed to attract scorn from every conceivable side of the ongoing and bloody conflict in Gaza, from American Muslims and proponents of the Palestinian cause to those who maintain the administration has proved insufficiently devoted to the security of the Jewish state.

It is not a position any presidential candidate, Democrat or Republican, hopes for in an election year, especially in a contest expected to be extraordinarily close. Michigan is in play with a substantial number of Muslim voters in the Detroit area who assert Biden isn’t doing enough to end the conflict. They are joined by many college-age voters — a key voting segment in the president’s re-election hopes — protesting Israeli brutality and calling on the White House to act.

And there likely will be concern among Democrats in areas like New York or New Jersey with a large Jewish voting bloc, although it should be noted that polls show a majority of Jews in the U.S. have little use for the corrupt and creepy Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister calling the shots in Gaza.

Biden has been playing centerfield for the most part, supporting a ceasefire while demanding that Hamas release Israeli hostages. And he has now informed Israel that he intends to withhold a U.S. shipment of offensive weapons headed its way if it opts to invade the city Rafah, the last habitable stronghold remaining in Gaza, which would further endanger the brutalized civilian population.

That declaration has drawn contempt from Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, of Louisville, who, with House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-LA, has sent a letter to Biden informing the president that “we were alarmed by media reports that your Administration had delayed the delivery of a variety of weapons shipments bound for Israel. This news flies in the face of assurances provided regarding the timely delivery of security assistance to Israel.”

On Wednesday, McConnell posted on X that, “The Biden Administration says their commitment to Israel is ‘ironclad.’ If they mean it, then it’s time to stop bending to pressure from campus communists and give our ally the time, space, and support it needs to destroy the terrorists threatening Israelis and Palestinians, alike.”

Really Mitch? It’s “campus communists” bending Biden’s ear? That’s cheap even for you.

Now might be a good time to report that McConnell’s old guiding light, former president St. Ronald Reagan, halted arms shipments to Israel. Twice. He imposed a six-year ban on cluster weapons to Israel in 1982 – ironic since cluster weapons are involved again this time — and then called off delivery of F-16 fighter jets during a period of Middle East unrest. If that’s not enough, St. Ronnie’s successor, George H.W. Bush, hit the brakes on $10 billion in loan guarantees during his tenure in an effort to bring an end to Israeli settlement activity in occupied territories.

But they were Republicans and, in Mitch World, that makes it okay. Don’t know if they were beholden to campus communists as well.

McConnell isn’t alone in the Commonwealth’s congressional delegation excoriating Biden’s actions on Gaza. Rep. Andy Barr (R-Lexington), perhaps smelling a one-way ticket to the U.S. Senate in 2026, said recently the president “has turned his back on our ally, Israel, and is in lockstep with Hamas sympathizers.”

This statement was made while Biden was pushing Congress to approve a $26 billion aid package to Israel that included $9.1 billion in humanitarian assistance. Well, that’s one way to turn your back on a pal. And that money will remain in the pipeline if he stalls arms shipments.

And, for what it’s worth, Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Somerset), in his Spring 2024 “Update from Hal” dispatched to constituents, announced that Biden is “considering a proposal to bring Palestinian refugees from Gaza to the United States,” a move, according to Hal, that would “unequivocally create a national security risk on our own soil.”

The proposal, which has not been implemented, would involve only those refugees who have immediate family members who are American citizens or permanent residents. They would probably be too emaciated as a result of the famine for which Israel is responsible to do any spying on U.S. soil anyway.

So, given all this, let’s start by noting that opposition to initiatives undertaken by the government of Israel, led by the aforementioned creep Netanyahu, doesn’t automatically make you an antisemite, any more than protesting those initiatives makes you one of Mitch’s “campus communists.’’ Obviously, without argument, much opposition to anything Israel does may be the result of antisemitism. But sometimes, as Freud reputedly said, a cigar is just a cigar and the opposition comes from that country’s actions, not its religious base.

The current troubles were launched on Oct. 7, 2023 when Palestinian militant marauders, led by Hamas, initiated what can only be described as an assault on humanity. The invaders entered southern Israel and proceeded to massacre at least a thousand civilians. It was all the result of, apparently, age-old hostilities.

Israel, understandably, wasn’t about to sit on its hands after the attack. It set about the task of destroying Hamas, a militant group that won control of Gaza after winning a majority of the seats on the Palestinian Legislative Council in January 2006 and then emerging victorious after an internecine fight with another Palestinian group the following year.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres acknowledged at the time of the attack, “the legitimate grievances of the Palestinian people.” But, he added, “nothing can justify these acts of terror and the killing, maiming and abduction of civilians.”

So Israel went about the task of destroying Hamas, a worthy goal. But the way the nation has gone about it stretches any definition of humanity.

Gaza is a 141 square mile strip bordered to the south by Egypt and to the north and west by Israel. Before the latest conflict it was home to an estimated 2.3 million residents, with an unusually high proportion being children. Sunni Muslims constitute more than 99 percent of the population. The remainder are Arab Christians. No Jews live in Gaza. It is a particularly poor territory, largely as a result of a blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt for security reasons.

Israel’s response has proved particularly devastating, essentially decimating the entire strip to rubble, rendering it inhabitable save for the city of Rafah, which is now the collection point for hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees with nowhere to go.

It has been bloody, particularly upon the civilian population. According to the Gaza Ministry of Health, more than 34,000 people have died as a result of Israeli attacks and more than 77,000 have been wounded. About 72 percent of those killed are women and children – hardly what one would consider Hamas fighters.

Those are Gaza-based figures, so make of them what you will. But there are other outlets, including NPR, reporting those totals are considered the most reliable available. Thousands more remain unaccounted for, “either missing under the rubble, buried hastily in side streets, or decomposing in areas that can’t be safely reached.”

You may have noticed that McConnell, Barr, and others have not once – not once — bothered to mention the inhumane toll taken on the Palestinian population. And it does not appear that Israel and its supporters care very much at all about the collateral damage to women and children.

This does not appear to be a precision offensive by any stretch. Hospitals and schools have been destroyed by Israeli missiles. The U.N. reports more than 240 aid workers have died in Gaza since the beginning of the war. Seven World Central Kitchen workers, in Gaza on April 1 to help feed a civilian population on the doorstep of famine, were killed in an Israeli airstrike.

By the way, those workers reportedly were in central Gaza after delivering more than 100 tons of food to a warehouse and were driving in what is referred to as a “deconflicted zone” in three armored cars when an Israeli airstrike hit. According to reports, Israel was informed about the existence and logistics of the convoy which, nonetheless, was nailed multiple times.

Netanyahu claimed responsibility for the unintended strike but also said things like it happen in war.

In other words, too bad. Tough.

There’s a lot more in play here. People are starving and they’re trapped in a city that is on the verge of a massive attack with nowhere to hide. There’s nothing left.

Guys like McConnell and Barr can bloviate about our friend Israel all they want. But part of being a friend is telling your buddy when he or she is wrong, in this case to the tune of almost 35,000 souls.


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