The president is at risk of losing support from Muslim, African American, and young voters in key swing states.
As I recently wrote in these pages: “The unpopularity of President Joe Biden’s Israel-Gaza policy among Arab Americans, African Americans, and young people could well flip the electoral vote to hand former President Donald Trump the 2024 election. A few tens of thousands of these voters in a handful of swing states who likely would have voted for Biden but vote for Trump, a third party, or just stay home could well be enough for Trump to win the presidency legally.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has responded to Biden’s mild attempts to convince him to negotiate a cease-fire deal to release the hostages and to avoid a massive ground attack on Rafah by essentially telling Biden to “f**k off.”
After a 40-minute phone call with Biden earlier this week Netanyahu rejected calls to continue negotiating a cease-fire for hostage release deal and wrote on X: “My position can be summed up in two sentences: 1. Israel rejects out-of-hand international diktats about a final-status solution with the Palestinians… 2. Israel will continue to oppose unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state.”
If Biden and his congressional allies could break up the bill into separate parts for military aid and border security, they can further break up the bill into separate parts concerning the proposed arms sales for Israel and those for Ukraine.
As The Wall Street Journalreported: “Biden has shown no willingness to use the biggest tool in his arsenal: weapons sales to Israel. The president has dismissed any talk of slowing arms sales to Israel, U.S. officials said, and instead has largely relied on the bully pulpit to try to express discontent.” Biden’s so-called “bully pulpit” has been totally ineffective and instead demonstrates nothing but Biden’s weakness in the face of Netanyahu giving him the middle finger. Among other things, it shows that Netanyahu would like to help his friend Donald Trump defeat Biden.
Meanwhile, Biden and his Democratic allies in Congress have continued to tie a proposed bill for $60 billion in much-needed supplies to Ukraine to help them stave off Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression with $14.1 billion in new military aid to Israel, which is completely unneeded to pursue a guerrilla war against Hamas which lacks most advanced weaponry.
That bill originally included the bipartisan compromise with Senate Republicans on so-called “border security.” But when House Republicans rejected that compromise, the Democrats stripped the border security provisions from the bill and are now trying to get the rest of the bill, including the military aid to Israel and Ukraine, past reluctant House Republicans.
If Biden and his congressional allies could break up the bill into separate parts for military aid and border security, they can further break up the bill into separate parts concerning the proposed arms sales for Israel and those for Ukraine (plus aid to Taiwan and humanitarian aid for Palestinians).
Biden must stop advocating for more unconditional military aid to Israel. Instead, he can add conditions that Israel: (i) stop the slaughter of innocent Palestinian civilians in Gaza; (ii) agree to a hostage for cease-fire deal; and (iii) commit to a pathway to a two-state solution which both recognizes Israel’s right to exist with security and the right of Palestinians to their own sovereignty, at the very least.
As Democratic U.S. Sens. Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Dick Durbin (Ill.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Chris Van Hollen (Md.), and Peter Welch (Vt.) wrote in The Washington Post: “Given the lack of a meaningful response to the Biden administration’s appeals to the Netanyahu government, the responsibility to lead falls upon the United States. It falls on the United States because we are the largest provider of military assistance to Israel. It falls on us because the United States has supplied many of the bombs and artillery shells that Israel has employed in its Gaza campaign.”
Biden putting conditions on further aid to Israel is not only the morally right thing to do and consistent with American values; it could help prevent Biden’s Electoral College loss to Trump due to the defection of Muslim, African American, and young voters in key swing states.
A Trump victory would be cheered by Netanyahu, Putin, and other authoritarian rulers around the world.