Biden has always assured funding to Israel, he’s pragmatic on the Iran deal, and will repair the damage Trump has done to US foreign policy
By Robert Sugarman, former Chairman of the Anti-Defamation League and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
There is a lot of misinformation circulating about the policies a Biden-Harris administration would pursue in the Middle East, particularly with regards to Israel. I’d like to set the record straight and to explain why in four pivotal areas – security assistance, the Iran threat, the Palestinian issue and American leadership around the world – Vice President Biden and Senator Harris will be better for America, Israel and the Jewish people.
Joe Biden understands that America has a moral obligation to always have Israel’s back, and he has made clear that “$3 billion a year to Israel is the best investment America makes” in the region. He has a solid, decades-long record of strong support for Israel and, in particular, for security assistance, without conditions, to the Jewish state.
As a senator, he stood up to President George H.W. Bush, urging him to provide loan guarantees to Israel without conditions. Last year, when Biden faced pressure to adopt far-left positions during the Democratic primaries, he instead condemned the notion of conditioning aid to Israel as “absolutely outrageous.”
As vice president, he played a significant role in ensuring that Israel received the funds necessary to finance Iron Dome, which saved countless Israeli lives and that Israel received the largest long-term package of military assistance from the United States to any country in the world to date. Furthermore, this year Biden insisted that the 2020 Democratic Platform reflect an “ironclad” commitment to delivering that robust aid – again, without any conditions.
On Iran, the Democratic Platform reflects the Biden-Harris view that the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, while not perfect, “was always meant to be the beginning, not the end” for strong multilateral negotiations, led by the US, to pressure Tehran into accepting more extensive and lasting restrictions, both on the nuclear program and on Iran’s other threatening activities. While sanctions imposed on Iran by the Trump Administration have had a positive effect – as did the unprecedented sanctions on Iran by the Obama-Biden Administration before it – President Trump’s pull-out from the Iran nuclear deal has made matters worse. It has deprived the US of the ability to snap back tough multilateral sanctions provided in the deal to prevent or respond to Iran’s violations. As a result, Iran is closer to a bomb today and has built up its stockpile of enriched uranium with impunity, to an amount ten times higher than permitted under the deal.
The normalization agreements with the UAE and Bahrain are positive steps and have brought Israel closer to forging relationships with Arab states in the region, as was moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem. But the greatest and most immediate threats to Israel’s very existence – Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria and Iran – remain as strong and ominous as before. And had the UAE not insisted that Israel refrain from unilateral annexation of parts of the West Bank which Trump had encouraged, it could potentially have foreclosed forever a two-state solution, the only long-term pathway for ensuring Israel’s future as both a Jewish and democratic state.
Biden and Harris are committed to working with both sides to achieve that outcome, while at the same time ensuring the security of Israel. They are committed to sustaining Taylor Force Act restrictions prohibiting economic assistance to the Palestinian Authority until it ends its outrageous payments to the families of terrorists, while, at the same time, restoring humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people and security coordination that benefits all sides.
Finally, the Trump Administration has upended decades of US foreign policy. It has alienated its long-term allies and cozied up to the authoritarians who pose the greatest threat to US interests. The President has failed even to question President Putin about Russia’s offering bounties to encourage the killing of US troops in Afghanistan. In one telephone call with Turkish President Erdogan, President Trump pulled out most of the US troops from Northern Syria, giving the Turks carte blanche to massacre Syrian Kurds who, at a cost of 10,000 lives, were the backbone of the successful fight against ISIS. And, his personal diplomacy with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has not led to any diminution of that country’s nuclear ambitions, the latest example of which is the unveiling just this week of the largest missile in the North Korean arsenal.
Biden and Harris, on the other hand, recognize that America, Israel and the Jewish people are strongest when the United States rises to its global responsibilities and exerts leadership in the world. They will reestablish the trusted relationships with America’s long-standing allies so they can together act to combat shared threats, such as Iranian aggression, terrorism and global anti-Semitism. And, they will not shy away from confronting our enemies when they threaten our interests.
One last thought. We live at a time when increasing polarization, scapegoating, and misinformation threaten the safety and security of the Jewish people around the world. As my friend and mentor Abraham Foxman, who served as National Director of the Anti-Defamation League for twenty-five years, has said: “After decades of progress, following successive generations of rising metrics of safely and security, Jews are filled with fear and anxiety. President Trump shoulders a good measure of the blame.”
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris understand the toxic nature of these dangerous trends and will take the right steps to put America back on track, as a reliable global leader and friend of the Jewish people and the Jewish state.