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When America is Wrong

Biden's threat to stop sending ammunition to Israel if it launches a large-scale operation in Rafah carries dramatic significance.


A month and a half ago, we published a policy paper in which we questioned the wisdom of entering Rafah. We received several responses to this article, including from a senior IDF officer, who emphasized the strategic importance of cutting off the oxygen pipeline to Hamas. Nevertheless, we believe that by deciding to enter Rafah, Israel will pay a significantly higher price. The unprecedented wave of antisemitism in the West, the international isolation, the damage to the relationship with the US, and the setback on the possibility of creating a regional alliance against Iran, all require at the very least a reassessment of the feasibility of entering Rafah.

Soldiers in Rafah

The shaky relationship between the Israeli and American governments is, of course, at the core of Biden's decision. Israel could have acted more wisely if it had set an agenda for the day after, if it had taken the initiative to increase humanitarian aid, and if senior government elected officials had refrained from speaking out against the US. It may be that if all this had happened, the administration would not have threatened Israel in such a manner.


And yet, let's not be mistaken, the decision is an American one, not an Israeli. When Biden supported Israel at the beginning of the war, we thought that this support was nothing less than miraculous  in view of the trends in the Democratic Party. Biden put his shaky relationship with Netanyahu aside and supported the 'idea' of Israel. Biden did this again a few weeks ago by standing with Israel during the Iranian attack. Now, Biden's shift in direction is not only rhetorical but strategic, and it reveals either a superficial American understanding of the Middle East or a moral and strategic failure.


The way the administration pressures Israel benefits Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran, fuels the wave of protests on campuses, and, more than anything, is thwarting the hostage deal and the prospects of reaching a ceasefire. The tension between Israel and the US is like oil in the engine wheels of the Mukawama (resistance) axis and is part of its strategy. Every time the tension between Israel and the US becomes visible, Hamas hardens its stance.


The meaning of the American threat is a direct attack on the idea of Israel. It signifies a sharp shift from American support for the goal of dismantling Hamas to support for reaching a ceasefire at any cost. The American threat severely damages Israel's image of strength and encourages the Iranians and Hezbollah to increase friction with Israel. It also sends a negative message to the countries of the Abraham Accords and endangers the regional alliance. Even if Israel is wrong about Rafah, as we believe it is, the Administration’s response is disproportionate and dangerous. It abandons Israel, and does not serve America's interests either.


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Saraa Barhoum
Saraa Barhoum
13 Μαΐ

Whoa, or Dakka, at least. The Biden administration has signaled limits on aid, but the polls and Congress say otherwise. Israel need better Hasbara, which we have known for decades, and to have the "10th man" whose job is to disagree with the defense establishment. Where were Apache and and Cobra helos on 7/10? We'll find out the day after machar...

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