From the Left



The Bibi Bogeyman: Democrats' Feeble Wobble on Hamas Risks Sinking Biden

Jeff Robbins on

You can blame Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for plenty of things, and plenty of Israelis do. These include his cynical maneuvering to avoid being held to account on criminal charges, his alliances with nut jobs in his coalition government and the gross negligence that left Israel vulnerable to Hamas' invasion of Israel and its genocidal massacre of Israelis on Oct. 7.

But here's what you can't blame him for: Hamas' invasion itself. Or that Hamas purposefully consigns Palestinians to death by hiding in tunnels underneath their homes, schools and hospitals, making it impossible to stop Hamas without killing innocents. Or that Hamas refuses to release the hostages it holds, or that it has rejected one ceasefire proposal after another. Or that Hamas knows that whatever it does or doesn't do, the world, including many Americans, will blame Israel for the bloodshed that Hamas has caused.

This is patently obvious. But you'd never know it from listening to some Democratic politicians, whose business it is to stick a finger in the air to ascertain which way the hard left's wind is blowing and then to blow in that direction.

The resulting formulaic talking points are increasingly vapid, and utterly predictable. Here goes: "Of course Israel has the right to defend itself. And Hamas can't control Gaza, and they really should release the hostages. But we cannot support Bibi Netanyahu and his extremist right-wing government."

Huh? Let's think: If we stipulate that Hamas invaded Israel, committed a mass slaughter, pledges to keep doing it and is intentionally causing the deaths of Palestinian civilians by making it impossible for Israel to stop Hamas without killing them no matter what steps Israel takes, then what, precisely, is Israel supposed to do to keep Hamas from maintaining control of Gaza and repeating Oct. 7? A rain dance?

The Blame-It-On-Bibi mantra, so feeble, has taken hold among Democrats because it is so convenient. Convenient, yes, but also mindless, for two reasons.

First, all that speeches like that of Sen. Chuck Schumer do is bolster Hamas' strategy of waiting for America to pressure Israel to back down, which would reward Hamas, hand it a victory and enable it to regroup and keep up its slaughter campaign.

Second, it is mindless because Israelis themselves, who dislike Netanyahu, nevertheless agree with Israeli's prosecution of the war, because they believe they have no other choice. And indeed they don't.


Israelis aren't the only ones who see it that way. According to a Pew Research survey released last week, nearly 60% of Americans believe that Israel's reason for fighting Hamas is valid. That's nearly four times the number who disagree. Twenty-six percent of Americans say they're "not sure."

And despite the enviable publicity lavished on American Jews who denounce Israel, a meaningful percentage of whom are asked by The New York Times to publish guest opinion columns, fully 89% of American Jews believe that Israel's fight against Hamas is legitimate -- compared with 7% who disagree. Sixty-two percent told Pew they specifically agree with how Israel is conducting the fight.

This is unwelcome news for Jewish Voices for Peace, which wishes to remind us that the fight against Hamas is not in their name, or for commentators like Peter Beinart, whose gig consists of earnestly telling those who ask him to do so that American Jews are abandoning Israel in droves.

The Democrats' wobble on Israel is a nod to the notion that Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D. Mich., has a chokehold on President Joe Biden's reelection prospects. But the data indicates that in their frantic scramble to placate Team Tlaib, Democrats may be dooming the very president they want to see reelected. American Jews, who staunchly support Israel against Hamas, comprise significant voter blocs in states whose electoral votes the president needs -- like Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and, yes, Michigan.

Blaming Bibi for this conflict is just a thin veil for blaming Israel. It is one part pander, one part blather. Neither is helpful to the president's cause.


Jeff Robbins, a former assistant United States attorney and United States delegate to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, was chief counsel for the minority of the United States Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. An attorney specializing in the First Amendment, he is a longtime columnist for the Boston Herald, writing on politics, national security, human rights and the Mideast.

Copyright 2024 Creators Syndicate Inc.




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