As Israel prepared to remove Palestinian families to make way for settlers in East Jerusalem, and launched airstrikes on Gaza that demolished homes and killed hundreds of Palestinians, including scores of children, Democrats in Washington experienced what one pollster called a “tectonic” shift. Newly elected representatives such as Cori Bush and Marie Newman were calling attention to American complicity in Israeli practices. Even more traditionally pro-Israel senators, such as Bob Menendez and Chris Coons, offered unusual criticism, with Menendez describing being “deeply troubled by reports of Israeli military actions.” For a generation, Democrats had stood, almost unanimously and unconditionally, behind Israel; now, suddenly, even some of the most reliable supporters were wavering.
President Joe Biden, for his part, gestured to this context by stating that “Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live safely and securely.” But at every turn, he has remained true to his long-standing and nearly unquestioned support for Israel: He defended Israeli military actions, saying the airstrikes were not a “significant overreaction”; declined to call publicly for an immediate cease-fire; and pledged to replenish Israel’s air defense system. (In response, over 500 Biden campaign alumni published a letter calling for him to do more to protect Palestinians and hold Israel accountable.)
This is a sign of a broader trend: Even as Biden has tacked left on domestic issues, his foreign policy approach is largely trapped within an outdated consensus. Despite the global crises and endless conflicts that have engulfed American politics over the last two decades, Biden is recycling past judgments about alliances, security needs, and overall dominance, not only on Israel but also on China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba, and the list goes on. When Biden declares that “America is back” and “ready to lead the world,” he is signaling a shift in tone, not substance. The United States’ preexisting, Manichean vision of the globe—with its “unshakable” allies and “rogue” states—remains entrenched. The problem is that this vision exacerbates the very crises that Biden now imagines can be resolved by simply going back to the well.
Read the full article in The New Republic.