Reaping the Harvest

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) hugs US President Joe Biden upon his arrival at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport on October 18, 2023, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas.... Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) hugs US President Joe Biden upon his arrival at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport on October 18, 2023, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. Biden landed in Israel on October 18, on a solidarity visit following Hamas attacks that have led to major Israeli reprisals. (Photo by Brendan SMIALOWSKI / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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I want to flag this post from Barak Ravid, writing in Axios. Much of it is important detail on a general story you know if you’ve been following things: The Biden White House is out of patience with Benjamin Netanyahu. While Biden’s steadfast support for Israel has been transformative within the broader Israeli body politic, Netanyahu himself is still the same man: taking everything offered with pro forma gratitude and stiffing most things, if not everything, asked in return.

This is anything but surprising. We’d be wrong to imagine the White House is terribly surprised either. Joe Biden knows this man. What is always important to remember is that almost everyone working these questions in the Biden White House was working them, usually one or two rungs down, in the bad old Obama days when Netanyahu notoriously plotted with the president’s domestic political enemies but added the deeper indignity of doing it publicly, not even doing him the courtesy of concealment. They all know this guy.

One thing we learn is that Netanyahu and Biden haven’t spoken in almost three weeks, the last time being on December 23rd when Biden cut off the conversation and hung up on him.

None of this is surprising. It was baked into the situation when the original October 7th massacres happened with Netanyahu as prime minister. The fact the event itself thoroughly discredited him in Israel just added to the uncanniness of it. To no one’s surprise he continues to put his personal freedom and political survival before all other priorities. It’s time for Biden to make publicly clear that his support for Israel is not support for Netanyahu and that the latter is not only an obstacle to U.S. interests but Israeli ones as well.

Let me go back to things I was writing here at TPM during the Obama years and saying in conversations with people in the Israeli political and defense worlds at the time. For clarity, I don’t put these forth as my views. They were views of many others of the same political perspective. I refer back to it because it sheds light on the layers of acrimony between Netanyahu’s Israel and many of its erstwhile U.S. defenders.

It was galling to many American Jews to see Netanyahu plotting against a president they supported, not to mention the offense of any foreign leader so brazenly meddling in domestic U.S. politics. I’ve mentioned a number of times since October 7th that it is hard to overestimate the damage caused by having a generation of Americans learn about Israel through the prism of a long-serving Israeli prime minister plotting against a U.S. president they not only supported but viewed as central to their aspirations about America’s future. But beyond the anger over Netanyahu’s open alliance with the U.S. Republican Party was an additional point: do you not realize the folly of staking the U.S.-Israel alliance on the most rapidly declining political demographic in American society? How does that work out exactly?

Of course, from the perspective of 2024 it’s not like it’s Democratic majorities as far as the eye can see. But the same gist still applies. At the most basic level, many of us predicted in 2014 precisely the dynamic of of the politics of 2024 — young voters, especially progressive voters and people of color, seeing Israel through a much different and less forgiving prism than their parents’ generation. You’re sowing the seeds of your own undoing and, what’s worse, you’re going to come crying to us for help when you reap this harvest and we’re not going to be able to provide much. And here we are.

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