by Hugh Fitzgerald
Like psychiatrists, who famously give their patients a “50-minute hour,” Biden gave visiting Prime Minister Naftali Bennett 50 minutes of his time, though at this point it appears that Bennett was the soothing psychiatrist and Biden the patient. A report on the meeting is here: “At first meeting, Biden pledges to Bennett that Iran will ‘never’ get nukes,” Times of Israel, August 27, 2021:
US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett concluded their first face-to-face meeting at the White House on Friday, with the American leader pledging that Iran will “never” get a nuclear weapon, and saying that though he prefers a diplomatic solution, there are “other options” should that fail.
Biden’s statement that Iran will “never” get a nuclear weapon — he’s made such a statement several times before — must be taken with a grain of salt, given that his negotiators in Vienna have been offering concession after concession to Iran, if it will only return to the J.C.P.O.A., which by itself guarantees that by 2030 Iran will legally be able to acquire nuclear weapons. Furthermore, the many years during which Iran has kept hidden nuclear sites and activities from I.A.E.A. inspectors suggests that it hardly matters to the progress of Iran’s nuclear program if it “returns” to the 2015 nuclear deal or not. Tehran was cheating when the treaty was in force, has been cheating ever since, and there is no reason to think it will not continue to cheat, keeping the I.A.E.A. inspectors from doing their work as it has done in the past.
Furthermore, such a pledge that Iran will “never” get a nuclear weapon comes just at the moment in history when the world can see the worth of Biden’s pledges. All eyes are on the unfolding debacle in Afghanistan, and the thousands of Afghan interpreters and helpers who, having been assured by the Americans that they would never abandon them, are now stranded in Kabul, or even in the countryside, frantic with fear, as it has become obvious that the Bidenites will indeed be leaving many of them behind, to face the Taliban alone.
Speaking after their one-on-one meeting, which lasted about 50 minutes, Biden said the two leaders’ teams would discuss “the unwavering commitment that we have in the United States to Israel’s security” as well as “ways to advance peace and security for Israelis and Palestinians.”
Is that the same “unwavering commitment” to Israel’s security that has caused the Biden administration to look with disfavor at the expansion of existing Jewish settlements in the Jordan Valley, control of which is so critical for Israel’s security? Is it the same “unwavering commitment” that has prompted Biden to ignore the Taylor Force Act, and to pledge a renewal of hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the PA, despite its continued insistence on its “Pay-For-Slay” program, whereby the PA gives large monthly stipends both to imprisoned terrorists, and to the families of slain terrorists, a program which both rewards past, and incentivizes future, terrorists?
He said they would “discuss the threat from Iran and our commitment to ensure Iran never develops a nuclear weapon… We’re putting diplomacy first and seeing where that takes us. But if diplomacy fails, we’re ready to turn to other options.”
If there really is such a commitment by Biden to “ensure [that] Iran never develops a nuclear weapon, why is Israel doing all the heavy lifting? It’s true that the Americans helped the Israelis develop the Stuxnet computer worm that in 2010 was introduced into Iranian centrifuges, causing about 1,000 of them to spin out of control and destroy themselves, but since then it has been up to Israel, very much on its own, to slow down Iran’s race to the bomb. Between 2010 and 2012 Mossad agents managed to assassinate four of Iran’s top nuclear scientists. In 2018 Mossad agents again managed to locate, then blast through 32 steel doors to reach, Iran’s entire nuclear archive, consisting of 110,000 documents which the agents managed to spirit back to Israel, providing the Americans and the IAEA with important information on nuclear facilities that Iran had managed until then to keep hidden. In 2020 Mossad agents sabotaged a centrifuge plant at Natanz, and a year later, Mossad agents again destroyed the replacement plant at Natanz that the Iranians had built 50 meters underground.
Biden added that the US supported Israel developing “deeper ties” with its Arab and Muslim neighbors, though he did not use the term “Abraham Accords,” as seems to be administration policy toward the deals mediated by the previous administration.
The Biden Administration has been distinctly less enthusiastic about the Abraham Accords than was the Trump Administration. It has chosen not to expend any diplomatic capital on persuading other Muslim states to join, as the Trump Administration did, for example, when it offered to approve the sale of F-35s to the UAE and recognized Morocco’s claim to the Western Sahara.
The American leader also committed to replenishing Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, which saw heavy use during May’s 11-day conflict with Hamas in Gaza. And he said he’d direct his team to work toward getting Israel into the US visa waiver program, “and get that done.”
Replenishing the Iron Dome missile defense system was already a done deal, thanks to Congress, in June; essentially, Biden is “re-committing” to what the American government had already been committed, trying to get credit for what had been done in Congress.
Biden said that he and Bennett had “become close friends,” adding that “I’ve known every Israeli prime minister since Golda Meir, gotten to know them fairly well, and I look forward to establishing a strong personal relationship with you.”
It’s a little unnerving to hear Biden claim that after a 50-minute discussion, and a handful of phone calls, he and Bennett had become “close friends.” “Friends” perhaps, but “close friends”?This is akin to those people who absurdly claim to have “350 close personal friends.” Why does Biden always feel the need to exaggerate? Why did he not simply say, truthfully, “I’m glad we had a chance to become better acquainted”?
Bennett thanked Biden for his support of Israel, especially during the May conflict with Hamas in Gaza.
“That’s where friendship is really tested,” he said. “And Israel knows that we have no better or more reliable ally in the world than the United States of America.”…
True, but there have been lapses in the “reliability” of that “reliable ally” that no Israeli leader, including Bennett, should forget. Remember President Eisenhower pressuring Israel to withdraw from the Sinai in 1957? Or President Carter treating Egyptian President Anwar Sadat as a veritable Prince of Peace, while undermining Prime Minister Menachem Begin at every turn, during the Camp David negotiations? Bennett should be reminded about Secretary of State James Baker who, during the administration of George H.W. Bush, continuallly browbeat Israel over what he described as “illegal settlements” in Judea and Samaria.
Both leaders opened their statements acknowledging Thursday’s deadly terrorist attack by the Islamic State in Kabul, Afghanistan, which led to the deaths of dozens of Afghans and at least 13 US servicemembers. Biden said that “our hearts go out to all those we’ve lost” in Afghanistan while vowing to “complete the mission” in the country.
“The prime minister and I talked about it slightly,” said Biden, “and he’s a military man, gone to war and lost a friend.”
Biden might have said a bit more about Bennett’s military career. He served in the most elite units, Sayeret Matkal and Maglan. Why not mention that “he’s a military man, who fought for his country in two of the most elite units in the IDF”?
Bennett offered his “condolences and deep sadness” on behalf of the Israeli people to the US. He said the US soldiers killed were there to save lives and that this was “the very definition of courage and sacrifice. May they rest in peace.”
Especially on this day, he said, he wanted to stress that Israel “always stands together with the United State of America unequivocally.”…
Yes, quite right, Israel has always “stood together with the United States.” It’s the other way round that Bennett should be on the alert about: the claim that the U.S. always “stood with Israel” overlooks the severe disagreements – think of the anti-Israel Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama — that have arisen in the past.
A most satisfactory encounter, for one simple reason: the near total absence of the “Palestinians.” Biden did mention that members of “the teams” (Americans and Israelis) would be discussing “ways to advance peace and security for Israelis and Palestinians.” But that was it. No mention of “occupied territory,” no browbeating of Bennett about settlements, no mention of a “two-state solution.” All passed over in silence. May there be many more such 50-minute hours, in which the “Palestinians” hardly make an appearance.
First published in Jihad Watch.