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Biden Needs to Stand By His Promises, Not Try to Appease Anti-Israel Voters

US President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address at the US Capitol, March 7, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz

President Biden finds himself in a political predicament: by providing military aid and diplomatic support for Israel, he has alienated many Arab voters in Michigan, a swing state that may be crucial for his re-election bid. On the other hand, his failure to veto last week’s UN Security Council Resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire, and his increasingly harsh rhetoric about Israel’s defensive war in Gaza, has had the same effect on many Jewish voters.

Aside from his own personal views, Biden’s action at the UN and his attacks on Israel seem partly intended to mollify Arab voters and bring the progressive wing of his party back into the fold before a tough election. But it’s likely that Biden can’t win back these voters without instituting an arms embargo against our longstanding ally while it is at war, something he is loath to do.

In attempting to placate these voters, all Biden has succeeded in doing is to alienate another set of voters: American Jews who support Israel. While Jews certainly don’t vote solely based on what is best for Israel, many Jewish people were initially heartened by Biden’s strong response to the Hamas massacre on October 7, and the defensive war Israel launched in response. But now many Jewish voters are questioning Biden’s promise that he would stand by Israel until it was able to fully defeat Hamas.

Furthermore, the US abstention at the United Nations has had horrible consequences for Israel, the Palestinians, and all people who want to see peace in the region. Hostage negotiations were making progress with Hamas until that resolution, at which point Hamas abruptly reverted to its original position. The timing was no coincidence. Hamas felt emboldened by the UN resolution — and the US abstention — and decided time and the international community were on its side. Biden’s move was a grave misstep, and one that will have major real world consequences.

Although Arab Americans have a strong presence in swing states, so do Jews — like the many Jewish people that live in the suburbs surrounding Philadelphia.

Arab Americans who don’t vote for Biden don’t have a viable alternative, and it would hurt their interests to abandon him. They aren’t going to like Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban 2.0, or Trump’s racist language and even harsher criticism of the Palestinians. Biden’s political fortunes are much more secure if he doesn’t drive voters who care about Israel into the arms of Trump. Viewed through this lens, his decision to abstain from the UN vote was particularly shortsighted. Not only did it undermine the hostage negotiations, but it may have hurt his re-election campaign.

It also signaled to our allies and enemies that the US is an unreliable, fair-weather friend. It demonstrated weakness of will, and a lack of steadfastness that will reduce confidence in the commitments we make and the positions we take. That is bad for our standing in the world, and bad for Biden. One of the advantages that Biden touts against his opponent is the image of the steadfast elder statesman in contrast to Trump’s erratic buffoonery. But Biden’s flip-flopping on Israel has harmed that image he so carefully cultivated. It was as reckless politically as it was geopolitically.

In these precarious times, the US needs a steadfast leader. Someone who can be counted on to make difficult decisions and stick to them, even if a vocal minority in his party is alienated by them. We need a leader whose commitment to our allies is not subject to the vicissitudes of domestic politics. Unfortunately, we do not have that leadership at this crucial time.

Kenneth Blake is a former state prosecutor. He teaches Critical Thinking and Government in Petaluma, CA.

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Air Canada cancelled two flights to Tel Aviv due to the Iranian missile attack—leaving some travellers to seek alternatives, or consider postponing their trips

After a weekend overnight shutdown of Israeli airspace, during which time Iranian missiles and drones attacked the country, Canadians ware cautiously optimistic that travel to and from Ben Gurion Airport will resume regular schedules later this week. Air Canada cancelled departures from Toronto on Saturday and from Tel Aviv on Monday—the latter despite the airport […]

The post Air Canada cancelled two flights to Tel Aviv due to the Iranian missile attack—leaving some travellers to seek alternatives, or consider postponing their trips appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Harvard University Wants Antisemitism Lawsuit Dismissed, Denies Injury to Students

Students accusing Israel of genocide at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, US, Nov. 16, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Lawyers representing Harvard University in Massachusetts have requested the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by six Jewish students who accused the school of ignoring antisemitic discrimination.

According to The Harvard Crimson, the university said in a court filing that a lawsuit, as well as a period of discovery during which its conduct would be thoroughly examined, was not necessary due to the “tangible steps” it has taken to combat antisemitism in just the past few months. Additionally, the school argued that the civil suit, led by graduate student Shabbos Kestenbaum and Students Against Antisemitism, lacked standing.

“Without minimizing at all the importance of the need to address energetically antisemitism at the university, plaintiff’s dissatisfaction with the strategy and speed of Harvard’s essential work does not state a legally cognizable claim,” said the motion to dismiss, as quoted by The Crimson. “Consequently, the amended complaint should be dismissed.”

Harvard University recently received an “F” grade for its handling of antisemitism in a first-ever Campus Antisemitism Report Card issued by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

Since Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel, students have stormed the campus calling for the destruction of the Jewish state, terrorizing students and preventing some from attending class.

In November, a mob of anti-Zionists — including Ibrahim Bharmal, editor of the prestigious Harvard Law Review — followed, surrounded, and intimidated a Jewish student. “Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame!” the crush of people screamed in a call-and-response chant into the ears of the student who —as seen in the footage — was forced to duck and dash the crowd to free himself from the cluster of bodies that encircled him.

In February, a faculty group posted on social an antisemitic cartoon which showed a left-hand tattooed with a Star of David dangling two men of color from a noose.

These incidents, and more, are currently being investigated by the US House Committee on Education and the Workforce, which is probing Harvard’s handling of skyrocketing instances of antisemitic intimidation and harassment on campus.

Proclaiming that Harvard “failed Jews repeatedly,” Kestenbaum told The Crimson that he would not stand down.

“Harvard’s meritless motion to dismiss our lawsuit only proves our point: It has never taken the concerns of us Jewish students seriously, and has no plans to start now,” he said in a statement. “We will continue to apply maximum pressure in both the court of law and the court of public opinion … We hope that donors and prospective students follow closely.”

No Ivy League school earned better than a “C” in the ADL’s landmark report, a grade awarded to Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. Four others — Columbia University, Brown University, Cornell University, and the University of Pennsylvania — received “D’s” while Harvard and Princeton University both received “F’s.”

“Every campus should get an A — that’s not grade inflation, that’s the minimum that every group on every campus expects,” ADL chief executive officer Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement announcing the report. “They deserve a learning environment free from antisemitism and hate. But that hasn’t been the experience with antisemitism running rampant on campus since even before Oct. 7.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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Israel Sets New Standards for Saving Wounded Troops in War

Israeli soldiers scan an area while sirens sound as rockets from Gaza are launched towards Israel, near Sderot, southern Israel, Oct. 9, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Amir Cohen

The Israeli army’s chief medical officer told a recent gathering of NATO and allied officials about the striking success of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in saving injured soldiers during the war against Hamas in Gaza.

According to IDF Medical Corps chief Elon Glassberg, the army has brought the time between the moment of injury and seeing a senior medical practitioner to under four minutes, and in many cases under one minute. One reason for the speed is that the IDF has changed its strategy for treating wounded soldiers from the typical field hospitals to which soldiers are evacuated and treated — and in serious cases transferred via helicopter to a hospital — to a system that brings doctors to the battlefield with soldiers.

The new system has, according to Glassberg, more than 670 doctors and paramedics embedded within combat groups in Gaza. As a result, wounded soldiers are given immediate care.

Additionally, the new policy calls for airlifting every wounded soldier to a hospital via helicopter, which are on standby at all times and outfitted to be like flying emergency rooms, staffed with surgeons and intensive care doctors.

The IDF has conducted over 950 such operations in the helicopters, according to Glassberg, bringing approximately 4,200 soldiers to hospitals. In the field, 80 soldiers were saved due to quick doses of plasma and 550 had bleeding stopped before the flights.

Of course, helicopter times to hospitals vary and are not predictable on the minute. The current time from moment of injury to arriving at the hospital stands at one hour and six minutes. This is in comparison to an average time of two hours and ten minutes during the 2014 Gaza War, also known as Operation Protective Edge.

The new processes by the IDF are saving lives. According to Glassberg, the current rate of death among wounded soldiers is 15 percent. In Gaza today, however, 6.3 percent of soldiers who are injured end up succumbing to their wounds, showing how quick action is key in ensuring the injured soldiers can return home after the war — or, in many cases, back to the battlefield.

Glassberg also pointed out how the IDF is continuing to learn how to best protect soldiers in the future. For example, he noted, a majority of deaths occurred due to injuries to parts of the body that are not protected by bulletproof vests. Therefore, Israel is already discussing new vests to give to soldiers to lower the casualty count.

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