What might be the biggest nightmare our nation faces today with Joe Biden as President? One might say it’s the looming massive unemployment at the hands of Biden’s economic policies. Another might say it’s the escalating use of Cancel Culture against conservatives that Biden seems to be supporting. Others might point to weak foreign policy that favors several of America’s chief foreign adversaries — like China and Russia. Others point to the current vacuum that exists between the U.S. and Israel. Why is that? Our most powerful and loyal ally in the Middle East has been shunned so far by President Joe Biden.
Most of the Middle East nations’ leaders are holding their collective breath, waiting to see how the relationship between the Jewish nation and the newly elected President are going to look. After all, every U.S. administration in modern history made as a priority to send to the World a message of unity between the U.S. and its strongest ally in the Middle East: Israel. That one administration that for eight years was at best standoff-ish with Israel was the Obama Administration. Obama was “cool” to his relationship with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. How will Obama’s Vice President proceed with the U.S./Israeli relationship?
As of Friday, February 5, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to wait by the phone for a long-anticipated call from the White House. Just as Netanyahu took his time congratulating President-elect Joe Biden on his election victory over President Trump in November, so now-President Biden is taking his time getting back to him. This would never have happened with Trump. Phoning Netanyahu was at the top of his to-do list when he took office in 2017. Four years later, Netanyahu has been sent to the sidelines. The pampered Trump foreign confidant finds himself being punished, sent to stand in the corner.
“This may not be deliberate,” an Israeli diplomatic said. “The Americans are not really focused right now on Netanyahu and his business; they have other things to deal with. Maybe Biden just doesn’t feel like handing Netanyahu an electoral advantage on the eve of Israel’s elections. After all, Biden is fully aware of who he is dealing with and knows how Netanyahu’s office will spin the first phone call between them.”
Either way, tensions in the prime minister’s office are sky high and being projected all the way to the Israeli Embassy in Washington, where newly installed Ambassador Gilad Erdan is trying to solve the mystery of the presidential silence. How come Biden picked up the phone to Jordan’s King Abdullah back in November and has still not called Netanyahu? Nonetheless, assuming the coveted phone call does take place in the coming days, no one has any doubt that despite the unfashionable delay, Netanyahu will leverage it for all its worth, describing to Israeli voters his intimate relationship with the former senator and vice president over some four decades.
Behind the scenes, Israel’s concerns are mounting. Jerusalem noted nervously Biden’s failure to mention Israel or the Iranian threat in his first foreign policy speech, delivered late last week. And there are other signs as well. Some in Jerusalem are recalling that before being appointed as the Biden administration’s special representative for Iran, Robert Malley expressed criticism over last year’s assassination of Iran’s nuclear program head Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, attributed by foreign media to Israel. Others are pouring over the recent conciliatory statements about Iran from Washington in recent weeks regarding the U.S. desire to renegotiate with Iran on an amended nuclear agreement.
“Things are not so simple,” another senior Israeli diplomatic source said. “There are complex differences between us and the Americans over the perception of the Iranian threat.” According to the source, at this point Netanyahu has accepted the recommendations of his aides to wait patiently for the start of an intimate, secret dialogue with the Biden administration and avoid public criticism of the president and his people.
Nonetheless, the March 23 elections are looming in Israel, and if cornered politically, Netanyahu will presumably abandon his commitment to a calm dialogue with Washington and embark on fiery and threatening speeches against Iran. Iran has served in the past, and continues to do so, as one of Netanyahu’s strongest electoral cards, and he will not let any possible discussions with Biden sway him from using it once again. “Eventually, Netanyahu will do whatever he thinks will help him get elected,” one of the prime minister’s close associates said.
The source recalled how Netanyahu went behind President Obama’s back, and arranged with leading Republicans to address a joint session of Congress in a effort to scuttle the imminent nuclear deal with Iran — just two weeks before Israel’s March 2015 elections. “The Americans are increasingly concerned now over the Zionist threat rather than the Iranian threat,” the source stated. “Their overriding goal is to calm Netanyahu down. Still, delaying a phone call from Biden may not be the best way to achieve this goal.”
Trust, or rather lack of trust, is the main obstacle to establishing a credible communications channel between the White House and the prime minister’s office. Netanyahu and Biden do, indeed, go back years and have enjoyed a cordial relationship. On the other hand, Netanyahu does not believe a single word the Americans are saying now, especially when it comes to Democrats.
Furthermore, Netanyahu believes most of Biden’s key foreign policy appointments do not bode well for Israel. Many of them served in the Obama administration and were involved in what he regards as the disastrous nuclear agreement with Iran. Netanyahu is preparing for a worst-case scenario. Biden, too, has been fully briefed and realizes what he is taking on once he starts talking to Netanyahu and his people. None of this sounds positive for the prospects of relations between the sides, especially since the moderating forces on the Israeli side will no longer be in office once a new government is formed.
Officials in Jerusalem believe the Jan. 31 declaration by Secretary of State Anthony Blinken that Iran was just months, and possibly weeks, away from obtaining sufficient fissile material for a bomb were exaggerated and deliberate. According to Israeli diplomatic and security sources, Blinken knows that the figure he mentioned was inaccurate and relates only to fissile material and not to Iran’s ability to manufacture a nuclear warhead and install it on a delivery vehicle. They believe Blinken’s declaration was intended to provide a convincing rationale for a speedy return to negotiations with Iran and perhaps even a nuclear agreement, as if to say that the new administration was saving the world and rolling back Iran’s ambitious nuclear program.
Netanyahu’s people were underwhelmed by Blinken’s forecast, to put it mildly. Israeli security officials are more concerned by the gaps in perception with the Americans. “Generally speaking, the Americans want to get out of the Middle East as fast as possible,” an Israeli security source told one news source on condition of anonymity. “They do not view a nuclear-wannabe Iran as a threat or danger; they have the capabilities of a world power and a different timetable than ours. For us, Iran as a threshold state is very dangerous and a nuclear-capable Iran is an existential threat, whereas America can handle both options. It has different capabilities, its distance from Iran is far greater and its triggers are completely different.”
That’s why Israeli officials are convinced that the faster Israel engages with the new U.S. administration on the issue, the better. “Preparations have begun and feelers have already been put out there,” the second senior Israeli diplomatic source admitted. “Our problem is that the Americans have started putting out feelers to Iran, at the same time. We are actually entering a race, and no one knows how we will run the race, given the current administration. It will not be simple, in any case.”
There’s no doubt there’s mutual “need” between Israel and the U.S. The U.S. as Israel’s number one and most powerful ally is a must-have for the Israelis. For the U.S., Israel is our strongest and most committed Middle Eastern supporter. Without the Jewish people in that part of the World the U.S. would be constantly on guard flying solo on intelligence and influence in the region.
I guess that’s called “Quid Pro Quo.” But isn’t that what foreign policy is all about anyway?
Not only are the Israelis holding their “collective breath” over the Netanyahu and Biden relationship moving forward. Americans — especially conservatives — are petrified at the prospects of Biden rekindling the Iran nuclear deal that Biden/Obama initiated without Congressional support that gave the Iranians $150 billion to use in their so-called “peaceful” nuclear energy industry. Intelligence sources in the Middle East maintain Iran continues to in violation of that agreement to push forward with their nuclear weapons production. Those same sources say Iran never stopped that production, even while the U.S. was still part of the agreement.
One thing in all this uncertainty is the certainty that the U.S. relationship with Israel MUST remain strong and mutually supportive. Whether Biden pushes forward with Netanyahu to build on the excellent relationship between our two nations remains to be seen. Joe hasn’t even called Benjamin since the November election. It’s worrisome that Biden appears to be shunning Israel while warming up to Iran.
If Biden reopens the door to Iran and heeds the mullah’s demands for the cancellation of U.S. sanctions as a mandatory trigger for U.S. negotiations with the Iranians on nuclear issues, the fear in the Middle East for Iranian terror attacks will heighten dramatically and immediately. That will certainly escalate the wrong things between the U.S. and Israel. And Iranian terror will most certainly show its ugly head once again inside the U.S.
Let’s pray that Biden is smarter than to allow that to happen. But if he listens to John Carrie about this one thing, Netanyahu may need to ring Israel’s panic bell. And the same bell will need to ring in the U.S.
God help us!
To hear “TNN Live’s” Show from Monday, February 8th, click on this link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1N0wSoRbRtM2p_FDcdZDEwt1zOt8KoVuk/view?usp=sharing