Today Israel is living in “interesting times,” as the saying goes. The northern border is tense, as Iran continues its efforts to transfer more dangerous accurate missiles to Hezbollah in Lebanon, and to build up its bases in Syria, while Israel continues to intercept them. Recently an ground-to-air missile fired at an Israeli aircraft missed its target and continued on until it eventually exploded several hundred kilometers to the south, near Dimona (speculations that this was actually an attempt to attack the nuclear research center nearby are most likely incorrect).
Meanwhile, the nuclear negotiations with Iran are moving rapidly in the direction of a return to the original, worthless, deal, and probably an end to sanctions – including sanctions for non-nuclear terrorism that are not related to the deal.
You have probably also heard about civil disturbances in Jerusalem. Western media have (of course) focused on a demonstration in which anti-Arab Jews chanted “death to Arabs,” but left out or minimized the fact that it was prompted by social media videos showing Arabs slapping and kicking Haredi Jews on the light rail system in Jerusalem. Arabs have rioted in the area around the old city for several days, throwing rocks, fireworks, and firebombs at police, and attacking Jewish passers-by. I’ve seen horrendous videos showing groups of young Arabs surrounding Orthodox Jews, beating and kicking them mercilessly. As far as I know, no one has been murdered yet, but if the riots continue it is certain to happen. Demonstrations in sympathy with Jerusalem Arabs have started to take place in other Arab towns.
If that isn’t enough, Hamas or other factions in Gaza attacked southern Israel with a barrage of at least 36 rockets and mortar shells yesterday. They were either intercepted by Iron Dome or fell in open areas, with only some minor damage to buildings and agricultural equipment. But the potential for serious escalation remains.
It’s Ramadan, so some of this is inspired by the usual religious indignation that Jews have the chutzpah to exist in places that Muslim Arabs believe they shouldn’t. But all of these phenomena have a common contributing factor: the growing feeling on the part of Israel’s enemies that America is behind them, or at least that America will not stand behind Israel.
The Biden Administration’s series of appointments of people with clear anti-Israel attitudes to numerous positions related to security and foreign policy – the worst being the choice of Rob Malley as head envoy to the Iranian nuclear talks – sends a strong message, as does resuming aid to the Palestinian Authority and to the poisonous “refugee” agency UNRWA, and rejoining the UN’s ludicrously anti-Israel “Human Rights” Commission.
Meanwhile, the increasingly powerful left wing of the Democratic Party has been flexing its muscles: Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, as well as other Democratic officials, spoke to the convention of the phony “pro-Israel pro-peace” J Street organization, calling for the ouster of PM Netanyahu and the restriction of military aid to Israel, and falsely saying that Israel was obligated by international law to provide Covid vaccinations to Palestinians in the PA and Gaza. They also excoriated former president Trump for his pro-Israel actions. Warren’s speech was particularly harsh.
In the US Congress, Rep. Betty McCollum (D, MN) introduced a bill that
Prohibits Israel from using US taxpayer dollars in the Occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem for the military detention, abuse, or ill-treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli military detention; to support the seizure and destruction of Palestinian property and homes in violation of international humanitarian law; or, to extend any assistance or support for Israel’s unilateral annexation of Palestinian territory in violation of international humanitarian law.
The chance of such a bill passing are minuscule, and the Congress responded with a letter signed by some 330 members opposing the placing of conditions on the use of US military aid by Israel. But regardless of that, the bitterly anti-Israel and even antisemitic tone of McCollum’s bill, along with the list of cosponsors, indicates the depth of opposition to Israel by a growing faction of US lawmakers.
One can understand how all of these signals are received and decoded in Tehran, Ramallah, and Gaza, and as presented to the Palestinian street by Arab media. President Biden himself has said little, and has so far avoided the open conflict with Israel’s PM that characterized former president Obama. But the actions of his administration and much of his party speak loudly enough, and are amplified by those in the region that want to create problems for Israel.
Israelis are worried about the rioting in Jerusalem developing into another “stabbing intifada” like the period between 2015 and 2018 in which Palestinian terrorists murdered dozens of Jews. They are concerned that the rocket fire from Gaza will escalate into yet another war, in which hundreds of rockets a day will fall on Israeli towns and cities as far north as Tel Aviv. They can imagine the northern border erupting into a war with Hezbollah like the one in the summer of 2006; only this time, Hezbollah has 130,000 rockets that can hit every point in Israel. And of course, they can see Iran obtaining nuclear bombs under the protection of an international agreement that will criminalize Israel’s actions to prevent it.
They also know that Western media will cover all of these occurrences by following the now-standard procedure of “it all started when Israel hit back.” The disturbances in Jerusalem, in particular, have been presented as state-supported Jewish extremism, rather than what they were, primarily an outbreak of vicious Arab violence against soft targets which triggered a (rare and universally condemned) Jewish response. I can only imagine how another war with Hamas or Hezbollah would play in the NY Times and on CNN and NPR.
You probably remember those T-shirts bearing a picture of Israeli fighter jets and the legend “Don’t worry, America, Israel is behind you.” The joke, of course, was that the reality was the reverse. Unfortunately, that may no longer be the case.