American president Joe Biden is a known risk-taker. His planned visit to wartime Israel on October 18th involves risks he has never faced before. Viewed from this prism, this will be an unusual visit, with many pains and pleasures, joys and jeopardies. Unmindful of conflicting possibilities, Mr Biden is determined to be in Israel on the decided day. His visit comes at a time when West Asia is convulsing in a major conflict.
Erecting Huge Challenges
Undeniably, this is a moment of reckoning, for Mr Biden and the Arab-Israeli equation. The visit will erect huge challenges, not only for him and his office, to American politics and global security as well. Mr Biden need not be pilloried for planning this visit to express America’s solidarity with an ally. As he plans to endorse Israel’s vow to exterminate Hamas, the visit is being hailed by politicos of the West.
The West is clearly impressed. More so because Mr Biden has declared that during his visit he would persuade Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to exercise restraint in targeting civilians during Israel’s imminent ground offensive. Mr Biden plans to focus also on “the critical need for humanitarian assistance to get into Gaza, as well as the ability for innocent people to get out.” This is a cause for celebration, no doubt. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/israel-hamas-gaza- humanitarian-aid-john-kirby/
Video Courtesy: YouTube/Al Jazeera English
Carries Many Other Risks
Yet, the visit is highly risky. It is still not clear how Israel or Palestine would view the avowed purpose of the visit. Mr Biden has plans to meet with the political heads of Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. The plans can induce pains because Mr Biden would be there primarily for showing solidarity with Israel. There is a physical risk too as these regions are teeming with fanatics and hate-mongering anti-West radicals.
The visit carries many other risks. Mr Biden will be there to spell out America’s approval for Mr Netanyahu’s exterminate-Hamas initiatives. However, in the same breath, he will be telling Mr Netanyahu that images of Israel targeting innocent civilians and children in Palestine would kill the sympathies Israel earned on October 7th when Hamas launched a surprise terrorist attack. This effort is bound to fail before an unrepentant Netanyahu. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/oct/12/is rael-hamas-war-gaza-civilian-deaths
Not a Stranger to Follies
Many in Bibi’s government too are sure to see such an advice as meaningless neutrality. Though Mr Biden is expected to focus on the brutal response of Israel and highlight the travails of innocent Palestinian civilians, his reluctance to impose conditions for consigning weapons to Israel will be seen by many as duplicitous. Already, global peace organisations are saying Mr Biden’s visit smells of double standards.
The writing on the wall is loud. When pro-Palestinian marches are now usual happenings in New York and Europe, it would have been wise on Mr Biden’s part to assess the direction of the popular narrative before deciding on his Israeli visit. Without such a check, venturing out to Israel when the war seems to be at its peak is seen as foolhardy. Mr Biden is not a stranger to such perceived and real follies during his presidency. https://santamariatimes.com/opinion/guest/the-folly-of-biden- on-the-picket-line-guest-commentary/article_1d8d37ff-86e5- 58d6-9875-a0001a624b13.html
Sirens Echoing in His Ears
Mr Biden’s abrupt decision to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan is a classic example. His short trip to Ukraine in February for a solidarity show is another example. None of these decisions served their intended purposes wholly. Reason why this visit is imprudent and reckless. This Israeli visit exposes Mr Biden to a major security risk. He will be there with war sirens echoing in his ears, while he holds talks in bunkers.
Mr Biden’s Israeli visit carries ideological risks too. He has never approved Mr Netanyahu’s divisive politics and his attempts to emasculate the judiciary. The latter’s initiatives to expand the Jewish settlements in disputed territories have always been unacceptable to Mr Biden. Yet, the American president is visiting Israel to express solidarity with the controversial Netanyahu. Unacceptable, this has the sickly stench of double standards. https://poliphoon.com/bibi-is-throttling-the-free-press/
The Benny Gantz Myth
Mr Biden may argue in his defence that he is still visiting Israel because Israel’s defence minister Benny Gantz is a centrist. This is a big myth. Mr Gantz is a radical former militarist, who caused needless civilian deaths. Not surprising that Mr Biden’s visit to Israel carries enormous political risks too. His waffling over Israeli occupation of Gaza is quite ambivalent. These could influence the outcome in America’s next presidential election. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/10/11/israeli-pm- netanyahu-opposition-leader-gantz-to-form-emergency-unity- govt
The Poliphoon’s Last Word
Worse, Mr Biden is yet to condemn Israel for cutting off the supply of food, fuel and electricity to Gaza. This is saddening many Americans, who see Mr Biden’s aversion to condemn Israel as being insensitive. Such negative perceptions have come to haunt Mr Biden’s Israeli visit. Arabs are already whining about collective punishments given by Israel. This whining will drown in the loudness of Israeli cheers welcoming Mr Biden.