Though the Hur report and President Joe Biden’s petulant, angry response to it have gotten the most attention since the report’s release, something else Biden said during his impromptu Thursday presser has also sounded alarm bells, and is suggestive of Team Biden possibly laying the groundwork to turn on Israel.
According to the White House transcript, one of the numerous reporters shouting out questions to Biden as he was walking away from the podium asked for updates on the hostage negotiations.
“The hostage negotiations — can you provide an update of the hostage negotiations in Israel?” the reporter inquired.
When Biden returned to the podium, he seemed like he was going to answer that specific question before launching into a confusing, overall statement on the state of things between Israel and Gaza from his perspective:
The hostage negotiation, look — I’m of the view, as you know, that the conduct of the response in Gaza — in the Gaza Strip has been over the top. I think that — as you know, initially, the President of
Mexico[Egypt], El-Sisi, did not want to open up the gate to allow humanitarian material to get in. I talked to him. I convinced him to open the gate.
President Biden calls Israel's response in Gaza following the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas "over the top," and said he is pushing hard for increased aid and a "sustained pause in the fighting." pic.twitter.com/E98UOoE6UX
— CBS News (@CBSNews) February 9, 2024
One Biden apologist in the press, Axios‘ Barak Ravid, initially tried to suggest that Biden wasn’t talking about Israel when he said “over the top,” even though it was clear Israel was exactly who he was talking about:
I watched it and Biden didn't say the word Israel in reference tk "over the top". I think he was pointing to Hamas' response to the hostage deal proposal which he called two days ago "over the top" https://t.co/JDJxKZnmAA
— Barak Ravid (@BarakRavid) February 9, 2024
The next morning, however, Ravid was informed by a source at the Biden White House that he indeed was talking about Israel:
BREAKING: A White House official tells me Biden was referring to Israeli military operations in Gaza when he said last night that the response was "over the top"
— Barak Ravid (@BarakRavid) February 9, 2024
During the Friday press briefing, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre also confirmed that’s what Biden meant:
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE on Biden's criticism that Israel's fight against Hamas is "over the top": "He made it very clear in his comment he was obviously talking about Israel's conduct in Gaza" pic.twitter.com/mlNcgZVlfo
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) February 9, 2024
The remarks sparked concern among Jewish leaders considering on the same day he said he believed Israel’s response to the October 7th massacre by Hamas terrorists was “over the top,” Biden had sent senior members of his administration to Dearborn, Michigan to meet with Muslim leaders including one who has praised and defended both Hamas and Hezbollah:
A Thursday meeting between several senior Biden administration officials and Muslim leaders in Michigan drew scrutiny from leaders in the Jewish community over the inclusion of Osama Siblani, a Dearborn political activist and newspaper publisher who has in the past praised Hamas and Hezbollah, and claimed the U.S. government was “bought” by the “Zionist lobby.”
The meeting was part of the White House’s efforts to mend ties with Arab Americans who are displeased with President Joe Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war, particularly in Michigan, a key battleground state. Siblani has pledged not to vote for Biden this year. Those in attendance from the Biden administration included USAID Administrator Samantha Power, Principal Deputy National Security Advisor Jon Finer and Steve Benjamin, director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.
After the Oct. 7 terror attacks in Israel, Siblani, the paper’s publisher, defended Hamas. “Hamas is not a terrorist organization, and we have to say to them the terrorist is Benjamin Netanyahu and his government,” said Siblani.
He called the violence “unfortunate” but said it resulted from Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. “Yes, Hamas is radically approaching this situation, but that’s a result of oppression for a long period of time. So Hamas wants a Palestine to be independent,” Siblani said.
The New York Times reported on some of what was said at the meeting:
The Biden aide, Jon Finer, a deputy national security adviser, offered some of the administration’s clearest expressions of regret for what he called “missteps” it had made from the beginning of the violence, and he pledged that it would do better.
During the meeting on Thursday with Arab American political leaders in Dearborn, Mich., Mr. Finer said, “We are very well aware that we have missteps in the course of responding to this crisis since Oct. 7,” according to a recording of the gathering obtained by The New York Times. A National Security Council official confirmed the recording was authentic.
Mr. Finer added: “We have left a very damaging impression based on what has been a wholly inadequate public accounting for how much the president, the administration and the country values the lives of Palestinians. And that began, frankly, pretty early in the conflict.”
A day prior to the Michigan meeting and Biden’s “over the top” statement, Secretary of State Antony Blinken gave a speech in Tel Aviv essentially accusing Israel, without evidence, of “dehumanizing” the people of Gaza:
In a stinging rebuke of Jerusalem’s prosecution of its war against Hamas in Gaza, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday warned Israel that it does not have “a license to dehumanize others.”
“Israelis were dehumanized in the most horrific way on October 7, ”said Blinken in prepared remarks at a Tel Aviv press conference. “The hostages have been dehumanized every day since. But that cannot be a license to dehumanize others.”
Relatedly, on Thursday night, Biden issued a memorandum conditioning military aid to Israel on assurances that they won’t interfere with humanitarian efforts:
President Biden added a layer of scrutiny to U.S. weapons sales to Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan, issuing guidance on how they can be used and linking them to humanitarian assistance.
Under pressure from Senate Democrats critical of the civilian suffering in the Gaza Strip amid Israel’s war against Hamas, the president issued a memorandum Thursday night that outlined the new guidance. It requires the U.S. to receive assurances from those countries that weapons being used in an active conflict comply with international law, and that no efforts are made to obstruct the delivery of humanitarian assistance to civilians in a combat zone.
👆 The memorandum above is a direct threat to Israel's ability to wage war, that is what anti-Israel progressive Democrats have wanted for years now, this is what AOC & The Communist Squad have pushed. Israel's reaction is below. https://t.co/F4UYoJyp7v
— Ron M. (@Jewtastic) February 9, 2024
In my opinion a turn by the United States away from Israel is indeed underfoot, and the Biden administration is not being subtle about it, either. The extent of it, though, remains to be seen, as Biden continues trying to straddle the fence even though he has to be aware at this point that one side of the fence has vowed more October 7ths and the other side has, rightfully, committed to ensuring that never happens again.
— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —DONATE
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