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President Biden gave a speech to the country on Thursday night with a theme that, for a change, a majority of Republicans and Democrats can agree with: American leadership, national interest, and our values all mean that we need to support both Israel and the Ukraine.
The most recent polling shows that about 70% or more of the American public supports Israel over Hamas, but young people who have not been through the past wars and struggles of Israel and who are far removed from the Holocaust have higher support for Hamas. They have been indoctrinated by the progressive left and the institutions of higher learning that have miseducated our youth. How exactly can an antisemitic terrorist group that is completely intolerant of women’s rights and the rights of LGBTQ people possibly be supported by a third or more of our youth? It shows the degree to which our institutions have failed us.
Despite these pockets of support for Hamas, however, the president was speaking for the overwhelming majority of Americans of both parties on Thursday night who believe Hamas is nothing more than a terrorist group bent on destroying Jews and Israel. They believe in the president’s clear and unambiguous stands.
On Ukraine, a majority of Americans continue to support funding for Ukraine against Vladimir Putin according to the recent CBS News and Harvard CAPS/Harris polls. Oddly, a growing segment of Republicans oppose funding while Democrats more enthusiastically support defending Ukraine. But the checkbook is not unlimited and there are limits to America’s support and a belief that a lot of the funds are wasted in corruption.
Ironically, President Biden appears to have found his footing on these issues even after the disastrous retreat from Afghanistan and his desire to pull back from American involvement overseas. That same president on Thursday proclaimed the importance of American leadership in the world, a classically Republican theme aside from the Trump base.
The president’s address for the first time in recent weeks did point a finger at Iran for being behind the support of terrorism but he stopped short of any bellicose threats even as warships are being moved into the region. Obviously, the administration for the past nearly three years had returned to the Obama policy of trying to negotiate with Iran to bring it into the fold.
This policy is in tatters as Iran and with its direct threats is showing it is genuinely is more interested in death to Israel and America than any deal and was just playing the administration while it armed the terrorists. The missiles from Yemen Thursday were a direct message from Iran that it is ready to unleash all its proxies against Israel and the US. Clearly the muted language from Biden means there are still those in the administration who believe they can head off Iran through talk.
Another odd element of the speech was the brief treatment of American deaths and hostages. It would be generally expected that a US president would demand the unconditional return of those hostages. The president didn’t throw down such a gauntlet presumably because there are either negotiations going on through back channels or because there is a strategy behind not letting Hamas appear to have the upper hand as the Iranian terrorists did in seventies.
This is America, so you never get 90% of the country supporting anything anymore. But even after Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, the country still believes in American leadership against the axis of evil currently headed by Russia and Iran. But unlike in those past battles, the citizens of Israel and of the Ukraine share a fierce spirit of self-determination and are willing to fight against all odds for their homelands.
Biden was definitely affected by his experience with Golda Meir when she told the young lawmaker in 1973 not to worry about Israel surviving because “We have nowhere else to go.”
This is just as true today for both the Israelis and the Ukrainians and that may be what distinguishes these conflicts from the ones in which America was trying to remake the cultures and institutions. Those were largely unsuccessful.
In these two cases, citizens of both countries are fighting fiercely to protect and defend themselves from destruction and that is precisely what makes them better bets for us to assert our values, open our checkbook, and strike two blows against evil.
Of course, there are larger questions in the Middle East about how we get to a two-state solution and a long-term peace in the region, but we were on the verge of a historic alignment extending the Abraham Accords that might have led to that result. All of that is on the table now until Iran and its proxies are again in check.
In a country that has been so divided for so many years, Israel and Ukraine are issues around which majorities of both parties can reasonably coalesce.
Of course, that will require one more thing: a functioning Congress.