by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
President Biden deserves credit for taking a solidarity trip to a wartime Israel after the gruesome Hamas terrorist attacks that killed 1,400 Israelis and captured hundreds more. “We’re going to stand with you,” he declared in Tel Aviv in an emotional and at times moving speech after meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “We’ll walk beside you in those dark days, and we’ll walk beside you in the good days to come.”
The weeks and months ahead will put his vow to the test.
After the terrorist attacks of October 7, many in the pro-Israel community braced themselves for the prospect of Biden trying to draw false equivalence between Hamas’s barbaric crimes and Israel’s actions to defend itself. Nonetheless, in the intervening period, Biden has spoken unequivocally about the especially evil nature of Hamas’s attacks on civilians, which have already claimed the lives not only of Israeli civilians and children, but also of 31 Americans (as many as 13 Americans are believed to be hostages). And the president has pledged ongoing support for Israel’s efforts to defend itself.
Biden’s trip to Israel came in the wake of an egregious case of media malfeasance that added more fuel to an already raging conflict. On Tuesday, Hamas claimed that an Israeli air strike on Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza had killed 500 people. Despite many reasons for skepticism, including the fact that the terrorist group often blames Israel for acts of Palestinians, leading global news organizations — from the New York Times to the BBC — uncritically ran with the Hamas claim. In the firestorm that followed, a summit that was to include Biden and the leaders of Jordan, Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority was canceled, and mobs descended on Israeli and U.S. embassies. By the time Biden had landed in Israel, Israel had provided video evidence and audio intelligence intercepts pointing to a misfire of a rocket aimed at Israel from Palestinian Islamic Jihad.