JERUSALEM, ISRAEL – I don’t agree with U.S. President Joe Biden on almost any of his domestic or foreign policies.
But when he does the right thing, I’m not afraid to say so.
And Biden did the right thing today.
He became the first American president to visit Israel during a time of war.
It gave us a big boost of superpower support when we need it most.
And it gave us a big boost of bipartisan support, which we also need.
Many Evangelical Christians are furious with Biden over his policies on abortion, LGBTQ issues, transgender issues, taxes, spending, and so much more.
So am I.
But Israel needs a friend in the White House right now.
The big question – and a very serious one – is this: Will President Biden stick with us through thick and thin?
If this war drags on – and as the international media and foreign governments do everything they can to paint us Israelis as the monsters, rather than Hamas who are the real monsters – will Biden and his team truly have our backs?
If the war really does expand with Hezbollah in Lebanon, will Biden truly have our backs?
If Iran makes a break out to complete its nuclear bomb program and Israel has to take out its nuclear facilities, will Biden truly have our backs?
When the UN Security Council wants to condemn us for committing “war crimes” even though we’ve been the victims of horrific and very real war crimes in the last two weeks, will President Biden truly have our backs?
I hope so.
I pray so.
But, honestly, I’m not convinced.
That said, here are three reasons why what Biden did today was right and good.
First, in a world where optics matter, President Biden showed Israelis – and our enemies – that he stands with the Jewish state.
“I want to say to the people of Israel, their courage, their commitment, their bravery is stunning,” Biden said as he sat before the cameras with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv. “It's really stunning. I'm proud to be here.”
That’s a big deal.
Woody Allen used to say, “90% of life is just showing up.”
Today, Biden showed up.
He ordered Air Force One to take him into a full-blown war zone that is only 12 days old, with rockets being fired from Gaza almost non-stop, and the possibility that the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terror organization in Lebanon could suddenly target Israel’s Ben-Gurion International Airport with precision-guided missiles, as well.
That sent to important message to Israelis, who are living through the darkest hour in our state’s modern existence since the War of Independence in 1948 when seven Arab armies attacked simultaneously.
Second, Biden made it clear to the world – and particularly to the international media – that it was Palestinian terrorists who bombed that hospital in Gaza last night, not Israel.
“I was deeply saddened and outraged by the explosion at the hospital in Gaza yesterday,” Biden told the world at Netanyahu’s side.
“And based on what I've seen, it appears as though it was done by the other team. Not you.”
That’s also a big deal.
For the last 24 hours, everybody in the mainstream media from the New York Times to CNN to Al Jazeera were accepting and repeating Hamas’ lies and propaganda without giving it a second thought.
Hamas said Israel bombed the hospital and killed 500 people, so that’s what the media reported.
These reporters, editors, and producers did not pause for one moment to ask themselves why they would accept at face value the word of people who butcher babies, burn Jews alive in their homes and cars, and gun down – point blank – hundreds of innocent Israel young people at a concert.
But it was a total lie.
Hours before Air Force One landed in Tel Aviv, Israel released incontrovertible evidence — including audio intercepts and video surveillance footage — proving that it was a malfunctioning rocket fired from inside Gaza by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, not Israel, that crashed into the hospital, causing explosions and many deaths and injuries.
By the time he arrived, it was clear that Biden had been briefed on the intelligence showing conclusively that it was a malfunctioning rocket of the PIJ that was responsible, not the IDF.
And Biden – to his credit – spoke the truth.
Let’s be honest: When Netanyahu says the IDF didn’t do it, the media doesn’t believe it.
Nor would they believe Donald J. Trump.
Given how left-wing and “progressive” the mainstream media is, they just might listen to – and believe.
Let’s certainly hope so.
Third, Biden’s visit to Israel today – and, even more, the hug that he gave Netanyahu on the tarmac – sent an important message to the terror masters in Iran that Biden’s grievances with Netanyahu have been set aside and the two leaders are working now as close partners.
Biden didn’t actually say that if Hezbollah launches a full-blown attack on Israel from Lebanon that there will be hell to pay.
He implied that Iran’s Supreme Leader and Hezbollah’s Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah wouldn’t just be picking a fight with Israel.
They would be picking a fight with the United States of America.
With Biden ordering not one but two U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups to the Eastern Mediterranean, Washington now has enough military muscle in the region to inflict serious damage on Hezbollah.
True – but why wasn’t Biden explicit?
If the Supreme Leader and Nasrallah smell weakness, they just might decide to unleash everything they have.
That’s why the Biden-Bibi hug was important.
But not enough.
Remember, Biden hasn’t welcomed Netanyahu to the White House because he was furious with Bibi over the judicial reform legislation here in Israel.
Biden certainly did not hug Bibi in New York when the two met last month on the sidelines of the opening fall session of the U.N. General Assembly.
Today, they were embracing as friends – and, more importantly, as allies – for all of their enemies to see and process.
I’m not going to be a cynic, but I’m a skeptic.
I’m still furious with Biden for appeasing the Iranian regime in so many ways over so many years.
And for pulling all U.S. forces out of Afghanistan on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
And allowing the Afghan government to collapse and be replaced by the Taliban.
And for being so hostile to the Saudi government for so long.
And for giving Israel’s prime minister the cold shoulder so publicly for so long.
To name just a few of Biden’s Middle East policies I disagree with.
But he did the right thing today.
And I’m grateful.
Never have Israelis needed bipartisan support in Washington, and from all the American people, more than we do right now.
TRANSCRIPT OF PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN’S MEETING WITH PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU ON OCT. 18, 2023
Mr. Prime Minister, thank you very much. Look, folks, I wanted to be here today for a simple reason. I wanted the people of Israel, the people of the world, to know where the United States stands.
I've had my great Secretary of State here. He's been here for a lot, but I wanted to personally come and make that clear.
The terrorist group Hamas has slaughtered, has been pointed out, over 1,300 people. And it's not hyperbole to suggest they slaughtered – slaughtered – including 31 Americans as part of that. And they've taken scores of people hostage, including children.
You said, imagine what those children hiding from Hamas were thinking. It's beyond my comprehension to be able to imagine what they're thinking, beyond my comprehension.
They've committed evils that – and atrocities that – make ISIS look somewhat more rational. You know, Americans are grieving with you. They really are. And Americans are worried. Americans are worried because we know there's a... this is not an easy field to navigate, what you have to do. But the fact is that Israel, as they respond to these attacks, seems to me that they have to continue to ensure that you have what you need to defend yourselves, and we're going to make sure that occurs.
As you know, and we have to also bear in mind that Hamas does not represent all the Palestinian people, and it has brought them only suffering.
You know, years ago, I asked the Secretary of State when he and I were working in the Senate, to write something for me. And he said, you wrote a line that I think is appropriate. He said, it's not we lead. Not just. Well, I won't go into it. I'll wait later. Taking too much time. But the point is this, that I was deeply saddened and outraged by the explosion at the hospital in Gaza yesterday. And based on what I've seen, it appears as though it was done by the other team. Not you.
But there's a lot of people out there. Not sure. So we've got a lot... we've got to overcome a lot of things. And also means encouraging life-saving capacity to help the Palestinians who are innocent, caught in the middle of this. And, well, at any rate, that's... that's who we are. Not just me, but I mean, that's who the United States is. And it's just not the example of our power. It's the power of our example. It's almost as important, the world is looking, we, Israel has a value set like the United States does and other democracies. And they're looking to see what we're going to do. So. Mr.. Prime Minister, I'm very happy to be back in Israel with you. Thank you for having me. And I'm looking forward to having a thorough discussion about where everybody goes from here. But thank you.
And I want to say to the people of Israel, their courage, their commitment, their bravery is... is stunning. It's really stunning. I'm proud to be here.
TRANSCRIPT: PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU'S REMARKS AT THE START OF HIS MEETING WITH US PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today (Wednesday, 18 October 2023), at the start of his meeting with US President Joe Biden:
Mr. President – Joe – I want to thank you for coming here today and for the unequivocal support you have given Israel during these trying times. A support that reflects the overwhelming will of the American people. I have seen your support every day in the depth and breadth of cooperation that we have had since the beginning of this war. A level of cooperation that is truly unprecedented in the history of the great alliance between our two nations. We see that support in your steadfast commitment to provide Israel with the tools we need to defend ourselves, we see that support in the clear message you send our enemies not to test our resolve and in the two American carrier battle groups you sent into the region to back up those words with action.
But above all, Mr. President, the world sees that support in the moral clarity that you have demonstrated from the moment that Israel was attacked. You have rightly drawn a clear line between the forces of civilization and the forces of barbarism. You described what Hamas did as sheer evil. It is exactly that. Hamas murdered children in front of their parents and parents in front of their children, they burnt people alive, they raped and murdered women, they beheaded soldiers, they searched for the secret hiding places where parents hid their children. Just imagine, Mr. President, the fear and the panic of those little children in their last moments as the monsters discovered, found out their secret hiding places. Hamas kidnapped women, children, elderly, Holocaust survivors. I know you share our outrage on this and I know you share our determination to bring these people back.
On October 7th, Hamas murdered 1,400 Israelis. Maybe more. This is in a country of fewer than 10 million people. This would be equivalent to over 50,000 Americans murdered in a single day. That’s twenty 9/11s. That is why October 7th is another day that will live in infamy.
Mr. President, you rightly said that Hamas is worse than ISIS. The German Chancellor, who visited here yesterday, said that Hamas were the new Nazis. You’re both right. And just as the civilized world united to defeat the Nazis and united to defeat ISIS, the civilized world must unite to defeat Hamas. I can assure you, Mr. President, Israel is united to defeat Hamas and we will defeat Hamas and remove this terrible threat from our lives. The forces of civilization will prevail, for our sake, for your sake, for peace and security in our region and in the world.
Mr. President, for the people of Israel there is only one thing better than having a true friend like you standing with Israel and that is having you standing in Israel. Your visit here is the first visit of an American president in Israel in a time of war. It is deeply, deeply moving. It speaks to the depth of your personal commitment to Israel. It speaks to the depth of your personal commitment to the future of the Jewish people and the one and only Jewish state. So I know I speak for all the people of Israel when I say thank you, Mr. President. Thank you for standing with Israel today, tomorrow and always."
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Joel C. Rosenberg is the editor-in-chief of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and the President and CEO of Near East Media. A New York Times best-selling author, Middle East analyst, and Evangelical leader, he lives in Jerusalem with his wife and sons.