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Biden Is Making a Serious Mistake on Israel — and the World Is at Risk

US President Joe Biden speaks about student protests at US universities, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, during brief remarks in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington, US, May 2, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Nathan Howard

The Biden administration recently announced that it will withhold military aid from Israel if the IDF launches an operation in Rafah, the last Hamas stronghold in Gaza and the likely location of many Israeli hostages.

Israel — which sees defeating Hamas in Rafah as absolutely necessary for its safety and survival — subsequently began preliminary operations in Rafah’s outskirts. The White House responded by carrying out its threat with respect to certain weapons shipments. There are several possible reasons why President Biden may be taking such a path, but — paradoxically — none of them are likely to be served by this decision.

Israel has defied the United States before, despite threats to military aid. President Truman was strongly against David Ben-Gurion’s decision to declare independence in 1948. Though Truman was a strong ally — and though America recognized Israel’s statehood — the US also joined an international arms embargo against the new country. President Reagan, another strong ally, was enraged by Israel’s 1981 bombing of Iraq’s nuclear reactor and halted the sales of F-16 fighter jets, though he relented two months later.

The present threat from the White House is ostensibly based on a concern for civilian casualties in Rafah due to its large population concentration. This is a unique situation created by the structure of the Gaza war: since October, Israel has defeated Hamas’ battalions in stages, starting from northern Gaza and moving south. In contrast to most armies worldwide, the IDF sacrificed the element of surprise by moving civilians out of combat zones at each stage, with many eventually ending up in Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost city.

As a result, Rafah came to contain more than a million people, fully half of Gaza’s population.

However, the White House’s concern is fundamentally unfounded: in the past two weeks, Israel has already moved more than 600,000 people out of Rafah, largely to one of the many “humanitarian islands” established by the IDF throughout Gaza. These “islands” provide access to humanitarian aid and field hospitals, with many offering superior medical care compared to Gaza’s conventional hospitals.

No military in history has moved so many civilians out of a war zone, so quickly and safely, and the evacuation is still continuing. These and other strategies have helped to produce the lowest civilian to combatant casualty ratio in human history, nine times lower than the UN global average.

In addition to being disconnected from the present reality in Rafah, the White House’s threat is unlikely to inhibit Israel’s military activities. Military aid is typically ordered months in advance, for resupply rather than for immediate need, therefore, by the time current supplies run low, the Rafah activities will likely be long since over. Moreover, the specific weapons Washington is withholding are heavy ammunition of the sort that is less relevant in urban warfare. The White House has indicated it may extend this policy to other weapons, but it’s currently unclear whether Washington truly wants Israel to halt its operation, or merely wants to make a show of objecting to it.

Why would the White House pursue a nonsensical and ultimately ineffective strategy of publicly breaking with Israel?

One possibility relates to elections. Some far-left lawmakers and activists are vocally hostile to Israel, including calls to end military support and echoing the “river to the sea” chant (widely understood as a call for Israel’s destruction).

A recent survey by TIPP Insights, in coordination with my organization, RealityCheck, shows that 59% of Democrats believe (erroneously) that Israel is committing genocide, a sentiment reflected in the violent anti-Israel and anti-America protests on college campuses.

Yet by catering to the far left, candidate Biden may cost himself the middle, and perhaps lose more votes than he gains. Candidates who “capture the middle” are historically more likely to win by large margins, such as Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, and John F. Kennedy. Indeed 80% of Americans support Israel over Hamas, and mainstream lawmakers in both parties oppose Biden’s policy: Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called withholding weapons “obscene” given that Israel is “at a time of great peril,” and Democratic Congressman Ritchie Torres (NY) said, “America cannot claim that its commitment to Israel is “iron-clad” and then proceed to withhold aid from Israel.”

Shortly after October 7, I was interviewed on an Arab language television program. The interviewer was puzzled that the US would support Israel at all, given Washington’s criticisms throughout 2023 over Israel’s judicial reform controversy.

I answered, “Israel is a democracy, and that makes Israel part of a global family of democracies. Families don’t always agree, but that doesn’t make them enemies.” I realized an important truth in that moment: dissent is rare in dictatorships (which includes effectively all of the Arab world) and therefore not always understood. America’s enemies see dissent as a sign of weakness and an opportunity to attack, while America’s allies, who are watching events in Israel closely, worry whether they can trust America with their survival.

Congressman Torres articulated this concern when he said, “The mixed messaging makes a mockery of our credibility as an ally. No one will take our word seriously.”

The White House strategy is disconnected from events in Gaza, unlikely to be effective as leverage against Israel, and not even likely to achieve the more cynical goal of winning votes. So one has to ask, why is President Biden endangering Israel’s security, America’s precious credibility, and the safety of the entire free world — by playing into the hands of Iran, Hamas, and other malicious actors?

Daniel Pomerantz is the CEO of RealityCheck Research.

The post Biden Is Making a Serious Mistake on Israel — and the World Is at Risk first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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White House Calls Netanyahu’s Comments on US Weapons Deliveries ‘Perplexing,’ ‘Disappointing’

US White House National Security Communications Adviser John Kirby speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, US, June 17, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz

The White House expressed “deep disappointment” over criticism from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the United States on Thursday amid tensions between the two allies over Israel‘s war in Gaza.

“It was perplexing to say the least, certainly disappointing, especially given that no other country is doing more to help Israel defend itself against the threat by Hamas,” White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters.

The White House response came as national security adviser Jake Sullivan and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken planned meetings with Netanyahu’s two top aides to discuss the Gaza conflict.

Netanyahu on Tuesday issued an English-language video in which he said Blinken had assured him that the Biden administration was working to lift restrictions on arms deliveries to Israel, an exchange the top US diplomat declined to confirm.

In a rare account of normally private diplomatic conversations, Netanyahu also said he told Blinken that it was “inconceivable” that in the past few months Washington was withholding weapons and ammunition to Israel.

Kirby addressed the comments in a briefing with reporters, saying the US had directly expressed displeasure to Israel.

“I think we’ve made it abundantly clear to our Israeli counterparts through various vehicles our deep disappointment in the statements expressed in that video and our concerns over the accuracy in the statements made,” Kirby said.

“The idea that we had somehow stopped helping Israel with their self-defense needs is absolutely not accurate,” he said.

Israeli national security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi and Ron Dermer, Israel‘s minister for strategic affairs, will speak with Sullivan as a larger, more formal “strategic dialogue” meeting was being rescheduled, according to a White House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Blinken will meet with the Israelis at 3 pm, according to a senior State Department official.

Blinken said weapons shipments — with the exception of one with 2,000-pound bombs — were moving as usual given Israel faced security threats beyond Gaza, including from Hezbollah and Iran. He declined to comment on his private exchange with Netanyahu during a news conference on Tuesday.

The United States in May paused a shipment of 2,000-pound and 500-pound bombs due to concern over the impact they could have in densely populated areas but Israel was still due to get billions of dollars worth of US weaponry.

Scrutiny on Israel‘s conduct in its military operation in Gaza has increased as the Palestinian death toll from the war in the Hamas-run enclave has increased. Israeli officials argue they have gone to unprecedented lengths to try and avoid civilian casualties, noting Hamas terrorists embed themselves within the larger population and use civilian sites as military operation centers.

The war started when Hamas-led Palestinian terrorists stormed across the border and attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and taking 250 others hostage.

Biden in April warned Israel that the US would stop supplying it weapons if Israeli forces launch a large-scale offensive in Rafah, a city in southern Gaza that is considered the last major bastion of Hamas.

The post White House Calls Netanyahu’s Comments on US Weapons Deliveries ‘Perplexing,’ ‘Disappointing’ first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Israeli Actress Shira Haas Wins Award for Role in Upcoming TV Series ‘Night Therapy’

Shira Haas on the set of “Night Therapy.” Photo: Nati Levi

Israeli actress Shira Haas was awarded the Special Jury Prize at the Monte Carlo Television Festival on Tuesday night for her role in an upcoming Israeli television series titled “Night Therapy” that will premiere later this month.

Haas stars in the 10-part psychological drama alongside Yousef Sweid (“Munich Games,” “Game of Thrones”), as well as Lucy Ayoub, Yaakov Zada Daniel, and Firas Nassar, all of whom have starred in the popular Israeli series “Fauda.”

Haas, who accepted her award from the Monte Carlo Television Festival via video because she was in the United States filming, took to Instagram to thank the festival for her award.

“This is such a special project for me, a personal and genuinely (ongoing) healing one, and I can’t wait for you all to meet Yasmin very soon,” she wrote, referencing her character’s name in the show.

Written and created by Raanan Caspi, “Night Therapy” is about an Arab-Israeli psychologist named Louie (Sweid) who struggles to raise his two children after his Jewish-Israeli wife commits suicide. To be more present for his children during the day and to better balance his work and home life, Louie decides to shift his practice so he sees patients at night. Haas plays one of his patients — a computer genius named Yasmin who rarely leaves her home and prefers to spend her time in the virtual world instead of the real one.

“Through the gateway and magic of the late clinic hours, and flashback scenes where Louie acts as an unseen observer to their problems, the series depicts refreshing points of view on life, which often require unusual treatments,” according to a synopsis provided by Yes Studios, which is distributing the show. “Combining absorbing therapy sessions — written with the input of practicing psychologists — with storylines and characters from Louie’s personal life, ‘Night Therapy’ is a touching, emotional and sexy new drama series.”

The show premieres on Yes TV in Israel on June 30 and is being sold internationally by Yes Studios. The series is directed by Gabriel Bibliowicz and produced by Dafna Danenberg, Aviram Avraham, and Benny Menache at Eight Productions.

Haas previously had starring roles in the hit Israeli television series “Shtisel” as well as the film “Unorthodox,” for which she won an award. She also became the first Israeli television actress nominated for a Golden Globe for her role in “Unorthodox.” Haas Tribeca Film Festival for starring in “Asia,” in which she played a terminally ill character, and additionally won two best supporting actress awards at the Israeli Academy Awards. She is reportedly scheduled to appear in Marvel’s upcoming film “Captain America: Brave New World” as an Israeli superhero named Sabra.

The post Israeli Actress Shira Haas Wins Award for Role in Upcoming TV Series ‘Night Therapy’ first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Swiss Museum Sells Monet Painting in Settlement With Heirs of Former Jewish Owner Forced to Sell Artwork During WWII

A partial view of Monet’s “L’Homme à l’ombrelle.” Photo: Kunsthaus Zürich via Wikimedia Commons

The largest art museum in Switzerland announced on Wednesday that it is selling a painting by Claude Monet as part of an agreement with heirs of the artwork’s original Jewish owner, who was forced to sell it during World War II when he fled Nazi Germany.

The Kunsthaus Zürich said it reached a “fair and just solution” and “amicable settlement” with the heirs of Jewish entrepreneur Carl Sachs regarding the painting “L’Homme à l’ombrelle” (“Man with a Parasol”) from the late 19th century. Proceeds from the sale will be allocated between the museum and Sachs’ family.

Sachs and his wife fled Nazi persecution in Germany and moved to Switzerland in 1939. He was forced to sell “L’Homme à l’ombrelle,” and several other pieces from his art collection, to the Kunsthaus Zürich in order to make a living. “The sale of Monet’s ‘L’Homme à l’ombrelle’ to the Kunsthaus Zürich was the first work that Sachs had to sell due to the acute financial emergency just a few weeks after fleeing Nazi Germany to Switzerland,” the museum explained.

“A swift sale was needed to provide the couple with money to live on, and he was therefore acting under duress,” the Kunsthaus Zürich said. Sachs died shortly afterward in December 1943 and by that point he had sold 13 artworks from his collection.

Philipp Hildebrand, the chair of Zürcher Kunstgesellschaft, said: “Of course we regret that this wonderful painting will leave the Kunsthaus. At the same time, this step underpins the seriousness of our provenance strategy and our fundamental attitude towards a transparent and solution-oriented approach to works in our collection in which there are substantiated references to Nazis [or] there is a situation of a persecution-related predicament.”

The post Swiss Museum Sells Monet Painting in Settlement With Heirs of Former Jewish Owner Forced to Sell Artwork During WWII first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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