Biden’s policy on Israeli extremism is – kiss Netanyahu’s ass

Philip Weiss & Michael Arria

Mondoweiss  /  February 28, 2023

A picture says 1000 words, and this one is getting attention round the world: the Israeli government’s photo of a meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the U.S. ambassador and at least three Democratic senators on February 24 – two days after Israeli forces killed 11 Palestinians in occupied Nablus, many of them civilians.

The Democratic Senators– Chuck Schumer, Mark Warner and Jack Reed– are all jollying Netanyahu. While Nides celebrated bipartisan Senate delegations to Israel of at least 16 senators, saying all the Senate leadership” had come to Israel, including Mitch McConnell and Schumer, who was “probably on his 500th trip.”

“Netanyahu and his far-right allies are leading Israel to the edge of the abyss. Sen. Chuck Schumer’s response was to provide him cover with a smile and a hug, stifling any momentum building toward real accountability,” Haaretz’s Ben Samuels commented on the photo.

The trip was praised on Twitter by U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides. “Bipartisanship is alive and well in Israel!!,” he tweeted. “What a great time having Senator Schumer and Senator McConnell along with their Senatorial delegations here.”

In the last day Nides has issued statements of condolence for Israeli victims of the Palestinian attacks, but said nothing about the Jewish settler rampage in Huwara that killed a Palestinian and torched businesses, homes, and cars.

“It is the crudest possible form of racism to express concern for the lives of one racial group and silence (i.e., contempt) when it comes to the losses among another racial group. Have you no shame?” writes scholar Saree Makdisi.

But that is U.S. policy under Joe Biden. Nides and Schumer (who has often said his name in Hebrew means “guardian” of Israel) are affirming the Biden doctrine of embracing Benjamin Netanyahu and pretending that there is no extremist government in Israel.

The State Department went out of its way to clap Netanyahu on the back in the wake of the settler rampage in Huwara. “We appreciate Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Herzog’s statements calling for a cessation of this vigilante violence…”

When a reporter asked if it is not “imperative” to point out that members of Netanyahu’s government who are “outright fascistic” have praised massacres and laughed at Israel’s supposed agreement not to build more Jewish colonies in Palestinian territories, State’s Ned Price demurred.

None of these members are the prime minister of Israel. We work directly with the prime minister, with his team, with our direct counterparts. 

This is absurd. Netanyahu has himself scoffed at that summit agreement in Jordan to freeze settlements. And as for the settler rampages, they are government-approved “pogroms,” Americans for Peace Now said in a statement yesterday.

“We hold the Israeli government responsible for its failure to prevent the settlers’ large-scale attack on Palestinians on Sunday, for its dismissive reaction to the pogrom, and for its ongoing settlement activity…. The settlers’ rampage went unhindered by Israeli troops who were present at the scene. … Only a handful of settler suspects were detained. They were immediately released…According to press reports, Israeli authorities sought to let the settlers ‘vent’ their anger.” 

“This is nothing short of state incitement—exactly what we’d expect from a govt dominated by supremacists and other extremists,” Khaled Elgindy says of the rampage.

The head of Americans for Peace Now, Hadar Susskind, called for American government actions to punish Netanyahu and Israel, presumably including withdrawal of aid. “The time has come for the Biden administration to hold the government of Israel accountable for both its unrestrained settlement activity and its enabling of settler violence. These are two sides of the same coin. Our government has a large toolbox with which it could show Netanyahu and his government that it will not tolerate the Israeli government’s illegal, violent West Bank frenzy.”

This will not happen. Biden is going out of his way to show that There Is No Daylight between him and Republicans in support of Israel. Just a week ago Secretary of State Tony Blinken was able to water down a U.N. Security Council resolution that would have condemned Israel over settlement expansion.

As usual, devotion to Israel (and its lobbying groups) transcends party. As Biden knows, the Israel lobby has even helped grow a conservative faction inside the Democratic Party. This week, (while Huwara is burning) we have a bipartisan letter from 18 congress members calling on the UN to fire Special Rapporteur Francesca Albanese over her alleged bias against Israel. Today the Jewish Insider reports that Democratic Rep. Ritchie Torres (NY) and Republican Rep. Mike Lawler (NY) are introducing a bill that would create an ambassador for the Abraham Accords. And here is Nides welcoming that “phenomenal delegation” of Republican Senators led by Mitch McConnell to Israel earlier this week.

So the Israeli government’s extremism will go unchecked by a White House administration that is about to seek reelection. Even when it expresses fullthroated racism.

The Israeli minister of public diplomacy said yesterday– in English, to reach the world — that the conflict has nothing to do with land but is about murderers “programmed to seek Jewish blood.” Galit Distel Atbaryan of Netanyahu’s Likud Party said:

Don’t be misled and don’t be naive, it’s not a war over territory. No, it’s a fundamentalist religious war of brainwashed murderers who are programmed to seek Jewish blood since age zero. There are hypocrites who wake up to condemn violence here, only when it suits their narrative of a so-called ‘occupying apartheid country.’”

The only good news is that some of the press is waking up, and so is public opinion, we can hope. BBC today did extensive coverage of the “settler rampages.” The press corps at the State Department yesterday was highly dubious of the Biden line. Here are some of the questions:

So the Israelis arrested a handful of these vigilantes, and then have released most of them. So I’m wondering if you’re satisfied with the Israeli response to that settler violence?…

I noticed in your tweet yesterday you referred to the shooting that – in which two Israelis were killed as a terror – or terrorism, whereas the settler violence was separated. Was that deliberate? And if yes, how do you differentiate or decide when to use the word “terrorism” versus when not to?

As Khaled Elgindy said today of a US envoy’s visit to Palestinians in Huwara in an expression of sympathy: “Come on, you can say it: it’s called terrorism.”

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-2006

Michael Arria is the U.S. correspondent for Mondoweiss