Did the Biden Administration Remove the Star of ‘Israel’ From the American Flag?

Murad Jandali | 9 months ago




With the escalation of U.S. President Joe Biden’s rhetoric against the Israeli government led by Benjamin Netanyahu, which he described as including the most extremist figures since Golda Meir, all forms of American–Israeli support, coordination, and consultation continue to an extreme degree.

Although the Netanyahu government was formed in December 2022, the Israeli PM was never invited by Biden to the White House, an unusual U.S. behavior toward “Israel.”

Usually, U.S. presidents are quick to invite Israeli PMs to visit the White House when their governments are formed. However, Biden is at odds with Netanyahu in dealing with the Palestinian file in light of settlement expansion, judicial amendments in “Israel,” Israeli–Chinese relations, Israeli–Russian relations, and the Iranian file.

Since 1948, “Israel” continues to look like the 51st state of the United States, and despite all its differences with some administrations, it has been supported by the United States and covered by it for its criminal policies against the Palestinians.

It is noteworthy that the current crisis is not the first of its kind in the relationship between the two countries, as it happened during the era of former U.S. presidents, especially Jimmy Carter, George Bush Sr., and Barack Obama, and here it is happening during the era of the current President, Joe Biden.


Extremist Policies

Disputes between the Israeli government and the U.S. administration have emerged again after an interview that the U.S. President gave, on July 9, 2023, with CNN.

In the interview, Biden said, “Israeli government ministers who want to settle everywhere in the West Bank are part of the problem.”

Biden added, “Some government ministers, such as Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, are the most extremists I can remember.”

“The Israeli president is going to be coming,” Biden told CNN when asked what it would take for Netanyahu to get an invitation to the White House.

Biden said last March that he did not intend to invite Netanyahu to the White House in the near future.

He expressed at the time his concern about the judicial amendments and the protests that led to them, which filled the streets of occupied Palestine with millions of settlers, and the violent incidents that took place in the aftermath.

In turn, Netanyahu responds to Biden by saying that “Israel makes its decisions according to the will of its settlers, and not based on external pressures, including our best friends.”

Similar to Netanyahu’s statements, National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir responded to Biden’s statements to CNN, by saying: “Israel is an independent country and not another star in America’s flag.”

The Israeli Channel 13 also quoted a source close to Netanyahu as saying: “Biden is rude, even Obama did not speak in this way.”

But the opposition in “Israel” had a different opinion, as the opposition leader and head of the There is a Future party, Yair Lapid, said, in a statement carried by Channel 13, that President Biden was right when he said that this is the most extremist government in the history of “Israel.”

On his part, Itamar Eichner, an analyst in the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, said on July 11, “The harsh statements of the U.S. president, who has been a staunch supporter of Israel for 5 decades, are a clear message to Netanyahu against the real owners in his government,” referring to Smotrich and Ben-Gvir.

Eichner indicated, according to a report by Anadolu Agency on July 12, that “the problem goes beyond relations between states. In fact, Biden touches on the issue of whether Israel is still a strategic asset for the United States, in addition, he is trying to exert internal pressure on Israel.”

Eichner considered, “The timing is not a coincidence. Biden sends a clear message to Netanyahu: “If you do not control your extremist policies against the Palestinians, you can forget inviting the White House, normalization with Saudi Arabia, and the expansion of the Abraham Accords.”

With US mediation, four Arab countries, the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco, normalized ties with “Israel” in 2022.

The U.S. administration has repeatedly declared its rejection of Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, yet the Netanyahu government has escalated settlements since its formation at the end of last year.

In a related context, Washington opposed last month an Israeli decision to approve the construction of about 5,700 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank.


Uneven Interests

In the same context, American journalist Thomas Friedman addressed, in an analytical article published on July 11 in The New York Times, the issue of the current tension between “Tel Aviv” and Washington.

Friedman commented on the meeting of Israeli President Isaac Herzog and U.S. President Joe Biden in Washington in the coming days, pointing out that it is Biden’s usual way of indicating that his problem is not with “Israel” but with Netanyahu’s extremist government.

“Biden will send a message to Herzog that when the interests and values of the U.S. government and the Israeli government differ to this extent, a reassessment of the relationship is inevitable,” he added.

Friedman noted that “Biden’s willingness to enter into a confrontation with Netanyahu, before the 2024 elections, indicates that the U.S. president believes that he has the support not only of most Americans, but of most American Jews and most Israeli Jews.”

Recently, the Israeli and American media both talked about the deteriorating relationship between Washington and “Tel Aviv.” Foreign Policy commented in this regard, saying: “The relationship between Washington and Israel no longer makes sense.”

On its part, the Israeli newspaper Jerusalem Post reported that “Stephen David, professor of international relations at Johns Hopkins University, saw that the root causes of the erosion of the relationship between Washington and Tel Aviv are many, most notably the continuous settlement expansion, judicial amendments, the rise of the far-right, Israeli–Chinese relations, and others.”

“Shared values are the strongest relationship between Israel and the United States. Both countries are founded on Jewish and Christian values. Both are countries of immigrants. Both are liberal democracies,” David said.

However, he noted that this last principle is collapsing due to the tragedy of judicial reform and the issues with Palestine.

A March Gallup poll demonstrated for the first time since the poll’s existence that Democrats’ sympathies lay more with Palestinians than Israelis. 64% of Jews in the U.S. are Democrats, reported Pew Research.

“So the party that is the home to the American Jews is the party that is becoming much more hostile to Israel,” said David.

On June 25, the United States announced that it would not fund or participate in research and development projects or scientific cooperation in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, as reported by the Israeli Walla website, quoting U.S. State Department officials.

According to the report, this decision is important because it represents the Biden administration, which reverses the policy announced by the Donald Trump administration in 2020, when it allowed for the first time since 1967 to transfer U.S. funds for research and scientific projects in the settlements.

A senior U.S. State Department official confirmed that the Israeli government’s decisions regarding the expansion of settlements in 1967, and determining their future in the permanent settlement negotiations, are not in line with U.S. policy.

In response to this measure, 14 Republican U.S. senators sent a letter on July 11 to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, noting that they will do their best to delay approving the appointment of the Biden administration’s nominees for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs unless its policies regarding boycotting “Israel” change.

Republican lawmakers accused the Biden administration of overturning Trump’s decision without bringing the matter to public opinion and Congress, as reported by Middle East Eye.

This threat could delay the Senate’s approval of Biden’s nominees, and thus hinder his administration’s foreign policy since Democratic representatives are in a minority in the Senate.

It is assumed that the position of the U.S. ambassador to “Israel” will become vacant this summer after the departure of U.S. Ambassador Thomas Nides from the position.


Unlimited U.S. Support

In this regard, The Wall Street Journal launched an attack against U.S. President Joe Biden and his administration because of the White House’s position toward Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, noting that they treat Netanyahu and his coalition worse than the rulers of Iran.

The newspaper also indicated that “the criticism leveled by Washington against the plan for judicial amendments led by Netanyahu makes the Israelis feel that the U.S. stands by the opposition in Israel.”

“This is not a way to deal with a democratic ally, and it is not a way to seek to advance American interests while Netanyahu’s Likud party exists, as it has been for the past 25 years,” it added.

In turn, Palestinian journalist Iyad Hamad explained in a statement to Al-Estiklal that “the escalation of the dispute between the Israeli and U.S. administrations does not mean that there is a shift in the strategic alliance between them, because the elements of this alliance exist and have not changed since 1948.

“Despite the political storm that erupted between Netanyahu and the Obama administration, following the nuclear deal with Iran, it was not only months after that that the Obama administration provided the largest military aid package to Israel, amounting to about $38 billion,” he added.

The journalist Hamad pointed out that “politically, Washington is the first line of defense for Tel Aviv in the U.N., by preventing any condemnation or accountability of it in the Security Council. Economically, the US is the Israeli Occupation’s largest trading partner since the signing of the Free Trade Agreement in 1985. Militarily, “Israel” is the largest recipient of U.S. military aid since World War II.

“Therefore, no matter how intense the dispute between Washington and Tel Aviv intensifies, they remain formal differences that will not have any effect on the foundations of the existing strong relationship between them. In particular, Israel is considered a tool to achieve American interests in the Middle East,” he added.

Mr. Hamad concluded his speech by saying: “In conclusion, Israel is an extra star in America’s flag, even if Ben-Gvir tried hard to deny that.”