Biden’s strategy of cognitive dissonance is straight from a previous anti-Israel playbook
Joe Biden and Barack Obama, 2008
Some people are fretting that US President Joe Biden has not yet picked up the phone to call Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. They worry that this may betoken a new coolness by the United States towards Israel.
To which one can only wonder: what planet are such people living on?
For Israel scarcely needs the absence of a phone call to tell it that it has a grave problem with the new occupant of the White House.
The Biden administration has resumed funding UNRWA, reopened the Palestinian mission to Washington and recommitted itself to the “two-state solution.” It has thus re-empowered the Palestinians’ agenda of demonising and blackmailing Israel in order to destroy it, and afforded the Palestinians status while they do so.
It has also said it wants to return to the disastrous 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, brokered by former President Barack Obama, whose terms allowed the regime to obtain nuclear weapons with only a short delay while enabling money to pour in to fund its war against Israel and the west.
Although the administration is currently saying that Iran must first return to “full compliance,” the regime’s continuing breach of that deal by increasing its number of advanced centrifuges to enrich uranium suggests it believes that America will soon cave in.
This is doubtless due to Biden’s instant moves against Iran’s foes in the Gulf. These moves include America’s “temporary” pause on the sale of F-35s to the United Arab Emirates and its “re-examination” of the Trump administration’s designation of the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen, against whom Saudi Arabia is fighting, as a terrorist organisation.
Even more telling are some of Biden’s appointments. The new American envoy to Iran, Robert Malley, whitewashed Yasser Arafat’s duplicity at Camp David and, as Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) has observed, “has a long track record of sympathy for the Iranian regime and animus towards Israel”.
More sinister yet is the appointment of Maher Bitar as senior director of intelligence at the National Security Council. A long-standing anti-Israel activist, he spent years promoting the BDS movement and its campaigns. As a student in 2006, he was on the executive board of the poisonous Muslim Brotherhood-linked Students for Justice in Palestine, which hounds Jewish students on campus and disseminates antisemitic propaganda.
As Daniel Greenfield pointed out on FrontPage.org, while studying in Britain at Oxford’s Refugee Studies Centre Bitar wrote in a paper that Israel’s “political existence as a state is the cause for Palestinian dispossession and statelessness”.
In other words, far from advocating a two-state solution, Bitar thinks that Israel —America’s key ally in the Middle East — should not exist at all.
Yet this individual will now handle some of the most heavily classified intelligence available to the United States. He will decide what information America’s intelligence community shares with foreign intelligence services.
As Greenfield observes, given the way the Obama administration spied on Israel when the NSA eavesdropped on Israeli leaders’ communications during the run-up to the Iran nuclear deal, there is now a real danger that under Bitar America may obstruct Israeli efforts to curtail the Iranian nuclear program.
Israel is therefore staring at an administration that is an active threat to its security —so much so that Jerusalem must surely be concluding that it can no longer share its most sensitive intelligence with the United States.
At the same time, administration sources have tried to smear a US Jewish cyber expert with the charge of dual loyalty. Anne Neuberger, director of cyber security at the National Security Agency, was appointed by Biden as deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology on the National Security Council.
“National security experts” then told the Mother Jones website of their “concerns” that her family foundation had donated money to AIPAC.
Mother Jones duly saw fit to list the Neuberger family’s significant charitable activities in the Jewish community and its connections with AIPAC before reporting these anonymous experts’ claim that the Israeli government maintains “an aggressive campaign of espionage against the United States and has a deep interest in U.S. cyber policy”.
Yet having deployed the dual-loyalty weapon against a Jewish official, the administration announced that it “embraces and champions” the definition of antisemitism developed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.
The examples involving Israel provided by this definition, including comparing Israel to the Nazis, calling Israel racist and applying a standard to Israel that isn’t applied to other countries, have caused Israel-bashing progressive Jews to object to it.
Its adoption by the administration has accordingly delighted Israel-supporting Jews. Yet events have already suggested that it’s a meaningless gesture.
In addition to the Neuberger smear, a case in point is the vaccine libel — the claim that Israel is resisting its legal duty to provide Covid vaccines to the Palestinians in the disputed territories. In fact, it has no such legal duty; yet it has indeed provided the Palestinians with vaccines and other equipment to protect against the virus when they have asked for it.
Denying all of this promotes the lie that the Jews of Israel are deliberately helping cause the spread of disease and death among the Palestinians by refusing to make available to them a life-saving vaccine.
It thus plays into the appalling history of antisemitic blood libels over the centuries —claims that Jews have poisoned wells, murdered Christians to consume their blood or otherwise spread death and disease to the world.
This presents Jews as evil, a mortal threat to others and a blight on humanity. It incites the impulse to eradicate such an evil, which over the centuries caused countless massacres, pogroms and eventually the Nazi attempt to wipe the Jewish people off the face of the earth. And presenting Israeli Jews as similarly evil fuels exactly the same impulse to destroy them.
Yet Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), who regularly bashes Israel and supports BDS, told a news programme: ]I think it’s really important to understand Israel is a racist state and that they would deny Palestinians, like my grandmother, access to a vaccine, that they don’t believe that she’s an equal human being that deserves to live, deserves to be able to be protected by this global pandemic.
This odious set of untruths fits the alliance definition of antisemitism. Yet the Democrat leadership has made no moves to censure Tlaib or other members of “The Squad” of congresswomen who regularly make anti-Israel or anti-Jewish comments. Instead, the Biden administration has appointed people who sympathise with Israel’s antisemitic and even genocidal enemies.
Adopting the alliance definition is part of the administration’s strategy of sowing mind-twisting confusion to cover its anti-Israel tracks. This strategy has been noted by Alex Joffe of the Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, who
says it was a signature of former President Barack Obama’s tenure.
He writes that the Biden administration’s “blatant and two-faced” approach is “classic Obama”. It involves “ample rhetorical support for Israel” intended to fool Democrats and some American Jews, which creates “creates cognitive dissonance and paralysis when actual policies that affect Israel negatively are implemented”.
It also involves giving up leverage, such as removing sanctions or resuming funding of organisations like WHO, UNWRA and the Palestinian Authority, but characterising those moves as a means of regaining leverage through direct engagement.
As some of us always feared about the result of the presidential election, this is indeed shaping up to be Obama’s third term. And once again, Israel is on its own in a diplomatic minefield where friends and enemies blur in a nightmarish haze.
Andy Ngo on his run-ins with Portland’s ‘anti-fascists’.
Antifa is a vague grouping of self-proclaimed ‘anti-fascists’, which has come to prominence in the US particularly since the election of Donald Trump. In 2020, many of its members were involved in rioting in a number of US cities.
Journalist Andy Ngo has had a number of run-ins with Antifa. In January 2021, Antifa activists successfully pressured a Portland bookshop into removing his new book, Unmasked: Inside Antifa’s Radical Plan to Destroy Democracy, from sale. Ngo has also been assaulted by Antifa activists. spiked caught up with him to find out more.
spiked: How did your book end up being dropped by a bookshop?
Andy Ngo: Powell’s Books is a Portland institution. It’s a business that has been around for decades in the same family. In January, Antifa tried to get Powell’s to ban my book. Activists organised protests outside its flagship downtown location, forcing it to shut. Activists say they have suffered because I have published their mugshots and arrest records in relation to their alleged involvement in riots throughout 2020.
Because of the cancel campaign, Powell’s issued a statement saying it would not be selling the book in its bricks-and-mortar stores at all, but it would still be available in its online catalogue.
The president and owner of the business then issued another statement, essentially accusing me of inciting violence. She also made judgements on the book, when neither she nor any of the protesters had read it – at the time, the book was weeks away from release.
Antifa activists know it is a book exposing who they are, what they do and how they organise. They view that very idea as a threat. Its content doesn’t really matter. They just don’t want the book to exist.
spiked: This is not the first time you have been targeted by Antifa, is it?
Ngo: In June 2019, I was beaten while covering Antifa demonstrations and riots in Portland. The activists were very angry at me for some columns I wrote, criticising their violent extremism. At that time, I was a lone voice in the Portland-based media, in that I was describing accurately what Antifa activists do and who they are. Even today, the local media still refer to them as anti-fascists who are opposing neo-Nazis and white supremacists. That claim is echoed by the national and international media.
Antifa activists are indiscriminate in who they target on the right. You can be a mainstream person on the right, or you can be somebody who is fringe or far right – they make no distinction. They label all of it as ‘fascism’ – and think that the appropriate response is therefore to assault people.
A lot of public figures get death threats, but Antifa activists take it further – they put graffiti around town in large letters saying, ‘murder Andy Ngo’, ‘kill Andy Ngo’. When Antifa set up its autonomous zone in Portland, activists wrote an address associated with me on part of the property they had occupied. It’s that type of incitement that takes it to another level.
Antifa also organises on Twitter, where activists use hashtags to provide real-time updates on where people can be found if they are out in public. That’s how they found the Portland mayor, Ted Wheeler, at a restaurant in January. He was assaulted.
spiked: Is the campaign against your book evidence of a broader trend against free speech?
Ngo: Cancel culture is accelerating. These people have had such success recently in getting the sitting president of the US deplatformed from every major social-media platform. This even spread to platforms Trump was not using, like Parler.
My concern is for people who don’t have the same reach as me. I can bring these intimidation efforts to people’s attention. But there are lots of other people who are great writers and independent journalists who don’t have the reach that I do, or are faced with being silenced on all these platforms. I’m thinking of the little man throughout all of this.
spiked: What do these tactics tell us about Antifa as a movement?
Ngo: Portland is quite an extreme example, where Antifa and other far-left extremists have been able to carry out violence against people and property with impunity.
The rioters target business areas. They just go in and smash things up with hammers and bats and initiate looting. Small businesses are really under the sword of Damocles, in that if they do anything to push back against this violent extremism, they get targeted further.
As much as I am critical of Powell’s Books for issuing a statement that essentially defames my character, it is operating in a city where law enforcement is unable to do anything. When Antifa activists make threats against a business, they carry them out, smashing windows and starting fires. That is the reality that business owners have to live with.
What makes Antifa truly dangerous is the mainstreaming of tenets of its ideology. You can see this in the reaction to the 2020 riots from the British and American media – they thought these riots were justified after George Floyd’s death, because it was an ‘emergency’.
People everywhere should be terrified, because there’s not much opposition to it.
Andy Ngo was speaking to Paddy Hannam.