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Saving Hamas

The Palestinian terror organization refuses to release hostages while clinging to its last stronghold in Rafah. So why is the Biden administration throwing the full weight of the U.S. government at Israel to prevent it from routing Hamas?

by
Lee Smith
May 02, 2024
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani in Riyadh, on April 29, 2024

EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani in Riyadh, on April 29, 2024

EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Reports are circulating that the Israelis are planning an operation in Rafah to eliminate the last Hamas stronghold in Gaza. If so, the Netanyahu government will be acting against the very public wishes of the Biden administration, which has spent the last half year moving heaven and earth to save a terrorist organization from destruction. Bizarrely, the White House’s statements and actions show that Hamas’ survival is more important than the security of a traditional American partner, Israel; more crucial to American interests than the preservation of the U.S.-led order of the Middle East; more precious than the dozens of American lives that Hamas ended on Oct. 7; more valuable than however many Americans and Israelis are still alive in the terror army’s tunnels.

Why? As the money and prestige that the U.S. has invested month after month in protecting Hamas demonstrate, the Biden administration sees the terror group as a valuable asset.

A day after the massacre, before Israel’s campaign against Hamas even began, Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote that he was encouraging the Turkish government’s “advocacy for a cease-fire.” It makes no difference that the tweet has since been deleted, since the White House has produced no shortage of evidence since that its top priority is to deter Israel from defeating Hamas, by increasing Israel’s vulnerabilities at every turn, and conditioning aid on Israel adopting a purely defensive posture.

The Biden administration has stopped Israel from entering Rafah by demanding it produce plans to protect the civilian population, piously insisting that “even one civilian death is too many.” That would be a hard task in any military scenario, but given that Hamas hides among noncombatants, the White House’s policy openly reinforces the terror group’s political and military strategy.

What distinguishes the Palestinians from other ethno-national groups born of the breakup of the multiethnic empires of Europe and the Levant after World War I is that their claim on the world’s attention issues largely from their willingness to hire themselves out as terrorist mercenaries.

The president abdicated America’s historical role of vetoing anti-Israel activity at the U.N. Instead, the U.S. delegation abstained from a key Security Council resolution in March demanding an immediate cease-fire—thereby putting America’s diplomatic weight behind Hamas’ demand that it should be allowed to keep its hostages and continue ruling Gaza. The White House then sanctioned Israeli civilians on the West Bank for crimes dreamed up by left-wing pro-Palestinian organizations, while ignoring a Palestinian terror wave aimed at murdering Jewish civilians who were guilty of crimes like stopping at a red light, buying gas, and herding sheep. Much of the false reporting supporting the pro-Hamas offensive is channeled through U.S. Army Gen. Michael Fenzel. The U.S. Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority are spending taxpayer resources to build a Palestinian terror army on the West Bank that may soon be repurposed for Gaza, too.

By compelling Jerusalem to “surge” food aid and energy to Gaza, the White House broke Israel’s siege, and demanded an ally resupply its adversary at wartime. Whenever Israel goes on the offensive, Biden and aides publicly threaten to stop resupplying arms. After Iran’s massive missile and drone attack last month, administration officials let on that if Israeli retaliatory strikes exceeded meager U.S. limits, the White House would hobble Israel’s air defense systems. Thus, the Israelis were forced to adopt the battle-tested American military strategy of bombing sand.

The White House has used CIA Director William Burns as one of its main instruments of diplomatic deterrence. He’s traveled to Egypt, Qatar, and elsewhere for endless hostage negotiations with the Palestinian terrorist organization. That none of these negotiations has gone anywhere is the point. Burns’ jawboning is designed to stall Israel’s war while legitimizing the act of hostage-taking, even as it’s become increasingly clear that many of the hostages whose release he is supposedly negotiating for are dead.

To emphasize its evenhandedness in the conflict between a key U.S. military ally and a designated foreign terrorist organization, the White House has amplified Hamas propaganda that has repeatedly been shown to be false. The president himself and the secretary of state enthusiastically repeated accusations that Israel intentionally murdered World Central Kitchen aid workers. Without evidence to support USAID head Samantha Power’s claims of rampant famine in Gaza, the administration and its validators began calling it a “reported famine.”

To fight the mythical famine, Biden is sending thousands of U.S. troops to build a $320 million pier to resupply Hamas—an arrangement that will turn American forces into human shields to deter Israeli military operations against the terror organization. By leaking fake news, most recently an internal State Department memo alleging Israeli war crimes, that Israel was hindering aid to starve Gazans, the administration laid the groundwork for arrest warrants likely to be issued by the International Criminal Court. While the warrants reportedly target Netanyahu and other members of Israel’s war cabinet, the action is likely to set a precedent broad enough to justify arresting any Israeli who served in the Gaza campaign.

It’s useful to remember that what distinguishes the Palestinians from other ethno-national groups born of the breakup of the multiethnic empires of Europe and the Levant after World War I is that their claim on the world’s attention issues largely from their willingness to hire themselves out as terrorist mercenaries.

During the Cold War, the Palestinians were used by the Soviets against the U.S. and American interests and allies. Regional powers like Nasser’s Egypt, Assad’s Syria, Saddam’s Iraq, and Ghaddafi’s Libya used the Palestinians to advance their own interests, against the superpowers and/or each other. Not infrequently, Palestinian factions fought each other on behalf of their Arab patrons.

It was through this nonstop violence that the Palestinian cause flourished. The Palestinians won a place in regional and then international forums not because of a world-historical injustice done to an ad hoc confederacy of minor Levantine bloodlines. Rather, it was because if you didn’t employ a mercenary gang of Palestinians against your enemies, you would be exposed to a terror campaign waged by a rival band of Palestinians, sponsored by your rivals.

What Middle East watchers call the “Palestinian veto” refers to the ability of Palestinian terrorists to destabilize any given regional order that doesn’t suit the ambitions of whoever their dominant patron happens to be. For instance, the 1979 Israel-Egypt peace treaty came about only because Egyptian President Anwar Sadat insisted on keeping the Palestinians out. Unlike Jimmy Carter, Sadat didn’t care about a comprehensive peace in the Holy Land with the Palestinians front and center—he knew that giving the Palestinians a seat would give the Soviets and their Arab allies an opening to derail an agreement he needed to advance Egyptian interests.

On whose behalf were the Palestinians acting when they destabilized the region with their gruesome Oct. 7 attack? Iran—but also the Biden administration. The two share an interest in collapsing the traditional U.S.-led order of the Middle East that Donald Trump had restored, after Barack Obama began the process of dismantling it.

Up until Obama, the pillars of America’s security architecture were the Persian Gulf’s oil-rich Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia, and, in the eastern Mediterranean, Israel and Egypt. Early in his first term Obama signaled he intended to undo that order when he gave a speech in Cairo and invited officials from the Muslim Brotherhood, existential enemies of the military regime then led by Hosni Mubarak. Within two years, the White House withdrew its support for Mubarak during the Arab Spring revolutions and ushered in a Muslim Brotherhood government. Egypt became the first pillar of the old U.S. security order to fall.

Obama’s aides made it clear that his second term would be devoted to securing a nuclear deal with Iran. The purpose of the deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was not to prevent an Iranian bomb—in fact, the agreement legalizes the clerical regime’s nuclear weapons program. Rather it was to realign U.S. interests with Tehran while stiffing traditional U.S. partners, especially Riyadh and Jerusalem, the other regional pillars of the American order. To cap off his eight years of dismantling the instruments of U.S. policy in the Middle East, Obama’s final foreign affairs initiative was to push a U.N. Security Council resolution adopting the Palestinian position that Israel was in violation of international law by occupying, among other places, historic Jewish holy sites.

Then came Donald Trump, who not only reversed Obama’s realignment but reinforced Washington’s traditional security architecture. Trump’s first official trip was to Saudi Arabia. He explained that the U.S.-Saudi alliance was good for the U.S. because it meant affordable oil, investment in America, and American jobs. Trump defended the Saudis when retired U.S. spies, The Washington Post, Obama operatives, and foreign intelligence services joined in an information operation to isolate Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after the murder of former Saudi intelligence official Jamal Khashoggi.

That was only the beginning, as step by step Trump erased Obama’s legacy in the Middle East, and restored the pillars of the American-led regional security order. He backed the military regime in Cairo, and moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. He acknowledged Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, the Jordan Valley, and large parts of the West Bank. The Trump-brokered normalization agreements between Israel and other regional states, known as the Abraham Accords, reaffirmed the U.S.-led regional order by binding our allies to each other—and thus to America.

Crucially, the Abraham Accords also ignored the Palestinians. After all, the Palestinians could never normalize relations without forfeiting their ability to project power and demand tribute. Like Sadat, Trump and his diplomats understood that peace could only be made by sidelining the Palestinians and whoever was sponsoring them, in this case Iran.

Naturally, the Abraham Accords were repugnant to the Obama faction. The normalization deals undid Obama’s balance of power project—i.e., strengthen U.S. adversaries at the expense of allies—and pushed the left’s longtime darlings, the Palestinians and the Islamic Republic to the margins. Accordingly, the Biden administration unfroze money to fill Iran’s war chest and undermined regional normalization under cover of expanding it to Saudi Arabia. Any direct talks between Israel and Saudi, the steward of Islam’s holy shrines, would, if only for the sake of protocol, have to involve the Palestinian cause. Thus, the Biden administration put the Palestinians at the center of the region again.

That’s how we got to Oct. 7. Contrary to the Biden administration’s talking points, the Iranians didn’t see Saudi-Israeli normalization talks as an existential threat; rather, they correctly saw it, and other Biden moves, as an invitation to disrupt and destabilize the regional order that Trump had rebuilt. Subsequently, in traditional regional fashion, the Iranians mobilized their Palestinian proxy.

And yet for many good-faith observers, it remains a mystery why Obama and then Biden sought to undo the U.S. order of the Middle East, an arrangement that has kept a volatile and strategically vital region relatively stable. Is it ego alone that requires Obama and his party must be proven right, and that Trump’s successes must be transformed into failures at America’s expense—and at the additional price of destroying the prospects of a relatively hopeful future for Middle Easterners?

The key fact is this: The regional order that Trump restored has long been part of the formula that ensures continued U.S. domestic peace and prosperity. To put it another way, the moves made by Obama and now Biden are not primarily about destabilizing the Middle East. Rather, they are designed to destabilize the United States.

The Biden team’s moves to shelter Hamas are best understood in the context of a revolutionary program of domestic initiatives that aim to reconstitute American society on a new basis, and which in turn require the outright rejection of the country’s history and culture, its existing social arrangements, and constitutional order. The current regime has weaponized the security state, labeled its opponents “domestic terrorists,” and waged a third-world-style campaign against the opposition candidate because it’s a revisionist faction. Its political and cultural manifesto is a program for remaking America, whether through social pressure, or censorship, or bureaucratic fiat, or threats of violence, or actual violence. Among other devices to transform America, the Biden administration has opened the border to at least 7 million illegal aliens (and counting), many from places in the Middle East where Hamas is revered, and for whom political violence means steady, well-paid work.

It’s not the traditional U.S.-led order in the Middle East that the revisionist faction, Obama’s faction, is most determined to dismantle but rather the existing order in the U.S. And it’s not Israel that it’s most keen to grind into dust, but America. For the party that Obama remade in his image to triumph at home, the Palestinians must win.

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