Joe Biden is signalling his differences with Barack Obama on Israel. He won’t allow any “daylight” between Israel and the United States, won’t air dirty laundry in public, won’t ever lower military aid to Israel, says a surrogate.
And the American left is “equally wrong” to Donald Trump on Israel issues, because it doesn’t fault Palestinians for not recognizing “the right and reality of the Jewish state.”
The group has ties to the right wing organization AIPAC, which is famous for its effort to assure there is never “daylight” between the U.S. and Israeli governments.
Here are some of Blinken’s comments. On not airing dirty laundry:
Joe Biden believes strongly in keeping your differences to the greatest extent possible, between friends, behind doors– having it out as necessary, but maintaining as little daylight as possible in public. You don’t want to put people in a corner, when it comes to your friends and partners, in public. You’re much more effective when you have a difference of opinion when you disagree on a policy matter in dealing with it in private– doing it clearly, forcefully, effectively, but not airing to the greatest extent possible any dirty laundry in public.
Biden is against annexation because it will set back the two-state solution, and endanger Israel’s future as a Jewish state, Blinken says, but Biden won’t lower the nearly $4 billion we give to Israel if it goes forward with annexation.
He is resolutely opposed to [conditions on aid]. He would not tie military assistance to Israel to any political decisions it makes. Period. Full stop. He said it, he’s committed to it.
Blinken never directly criticized Israel in the call, never mentioned occupation, settlements, or human rights violations against Palestinians. Though he repeatedly criticized Palestinians for alleged incitement and not recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.
Biden loves Netanyahu and looks forward to working with him, to “sustain and deepen the military and intelligence cooperation” between the countries, Blinken assured. “He is known respected and liked across the body politic in Israel.”
Blinken told of a visit to Netanyahu as Israeli Finance Minister during the Second Intifada in the early 2000s, when Biden was a senator from Delaware, and Blinken was a staffer for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:
With great glee, he [Netanyahu] pointed to a photo on his desk. The photo was a signed photograph from Joe Biden, and it said, “Bibi you’re wrong about everything but I love you.” That’s the nature of the relationship, and that makes a huge difference when it comes to working closely together closely to get things done….
Blinken said that Biden would reverse efforts from the right and left to make Israel a political football, “something that is profoundly damaging to Israel and also the United States.”
We’ve had decades of Republicans and Democratic administrations alike making sure that support for Israel was done on a bipartisan basis…. I believe profoundly we need to keep it that way. Republican and Democratic administrations alike have worked to ensure Israel has the means and the right to defend itself…
Trump has called the Democrats an “anti-Israel party,” and that rhetoric is going to “get worse as we get closer to the election,” Blinken said.
That’s profoundly wrong and profoundly dangerous to the relationship, bad for Israel, bad for the United States.
Then Blinken faulted the left, for being just as wrong as Trump:
But equally wrong are those who dismiss the daily and existential threats that Israel faces or who don’t call out Palestinians for the very bad choices that they make. The failure to recognize the right and reality of the Jewish state.
There is of course room for legitimate criticism of some Israeli policies, but that doesn’t define the relationship and too often that slides into antisemitism. So we need to call that out as well. Our party, the Democratic Party, should model what has been a bipartisan consensus.
Why is supporting Israel so important for the U.S.? Blinken said that Israel is a “strategic partner” with the U.S. in dealing with the threats to our security from the region, including from Iran. And also a “profound partner in thinking about and working on some of the most profound problems.” From the pandemic, to climate change, to the use of technology– it is hard to think of a partnership that matters more, because Israel has the “same values” as we do, Blinken said.