Officials Keep Admitting Biden’s Anger at Israel Isn’t Real

Since October 7, US officials have been quietly admitting in the press that Joe Biden fully supports Israel’s war — and that talk about the president’s supposed anger at massive civilian casualties in Gaza is purely PR to keep the war going.

Joe Biden speaks on the Senate's recent passage of the national security supplemental bill, which provides military aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, on February 13, 2024, in Washington, DC. (Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images)

Buried in one of the recent spate of stories about how President Joe Biden is really, really upset with Benjamin Netanyahu when no one’s looking — part of a newly urgent press campaign by the White House to distance the president from his own increasingly unpopular policy on the brutal Gaza war — was a telling line: “Yet, even as Biden has escalated his rhetoric, he is not yet prepared to make significant policy changes, officials said. He and his aides continue to believe his approach of unequivocally supporting Israel is the right one.”

Besides comically negating the fourteen paragraphs that came before it emphasizing Biden’s supposed unhappiness with Israel’s conduct in the war, the line corroborates what has been, from time to time, explicitly stated in reporting on Gaza: that Biden is and has been consciously and deliberately helping Israel carry out what the International Court of Justice has now ruled is plausibly a genocide.

A January 8 report in Politico based on conversations with US officials, for instance, stated that while some in the administration thought the White House needed to stay friendly with Israel to influence its actions, “another factor” was driving Biden’s policy of enabling Netanyahu: the administration “agrees with the idea that Hamas must be uprooted and degraded as much as possible.”

In a December 28 Hebrew-language report in the Israeli outlet Walla, a senior US official is quoted remarking on a “difficult conversation” between the two world leaders over Netanyahu’s refusal to release Palestinian tax money Israel had frozen: “The feeling was that the president is going above and beyond for Netanyahu and taking political risks every day but when Bibi’s moment comes to give something back and take political risk he is unwilling to do so.”

This suggests it’s not that Biden doesn’t realize his Gaza policy is torpedoing US global standing and risks losing an election he believes will decide the fate of American democracy; he’s consciously taking that risk.

In a November 13 Times of Israel report, an anonymous Biden official complained about Netanyahu’s rejection of letting the Palestinian Authority govern Gaza and postwar planning more generally, because it meant international pressure would mount on Israel to end its campaign. “The diplomatic umbrella the US and other Western countries are providing Israel to continue operating in Gaza constricts, as civilian casualties mount,” the official explained. “Refusal to cooperate with — and even inhibiting — [our] efforts constrict that umbrella even more.”

According to a November 4 Axios report, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Israeli officials that the administration’s push that month for a “humanitarian pause” — which Biden officials misleadingly hyped as a meaningful humanitarian measure that was no different from a general cease-fire — was really just a public relations effort to take international pressure off the United States and make it easier for Israel to carry on with its killing.

“We don’t want to stop you, but help us help you get more time,” three separate officials recalled Blinken saying.

Some observers noticed that this was Biden’s approach, like former Israeli diplomat and politician Danny Ayalon. “The United States, just as much as Israel . . . would love to see Hamas eliminated as a military force,” he told Israeli channel i24News in December. “Biden is very skillfully, in a political maneuver, making the right, I would say, decisions, in terms of giving Israel the time to eliminate Hamas.”

Ayalon believed that Biden’s public statements about letting in more humanitarian aid and demanding that Israel minimize casualties were simply him “trying to assuage all those critics in a way that will allow Israel to continue with the operation” — but the important thing was that “he’s letting Israel finish the job,” said Ayalon.

Sure enough, according to a November 2 CNN report, Biden and his advisors warned Israeli officials “with growing force” — not that their indiscriminate bombing and policy of collective punishment were unacceptable, but that the brutality of the war effort and the resulting global outcry gave them limited time to do it. Biden reportedly warned Netanyahu that the constant horrific footage of civilian suffering coming out of Gaza could make it harder for him to move forward, while an unnamed senior US official said that “the problem for [Israel] is that the criticism is getting louder, not just among their detractors, but from their best friends.”

A separate NBC News report from November 29 states that in the early weeks of the war, Biden personally boasted to his staff that his policy of unconditional support for Israel — enacting the rejected advice he gave then president Barack Obama when Biden was vice president — had been vindicated by the supposed “successes” he had had in influencing Netanyahu in this war. The report notes that comments like these “subsided” as public outrage over Biden’s actions began to far outweigh the praise.

But stunningly, the report relays the five sources that formed its basis, saying, “Biden’s confidence in his strategy has not wavered” but rather, “if anything, it has hardened,” even as his administration started more publicly pressing Israel to kill less civilians.

This is just one of several reports that state that it’s Biden, and just about Biden alone, in the administration who is the driving force behind what looks more and more like a self-destructive US policy.

“The problem is no one can rein in Biden, and if Biden has a policy, he’s the commander-in-chief ― we have to carry it out. That’s what it comes down to, very, very, very unfortunately,” one frustrated US official worried about a wider regional war breaking out told HuffPost. State department officials and staffers told the Guardian that “the president’s entire Middle East approach is being guided by the White House and in many sense the president himself, defying the recommendations of policy experts.”

It’s only with time that we’ll get a clearer, more concrete picture of what’s going on in the White House and the decision-making on this war. But there’s a coherent picture that’s been painted by this reporting: of Biden near-singularly setting a policy of unconditional support for Israel’s horrific military campaign, issuing public statements of concern solely as a way to buy Israel and his own administration more time to keep the war going, and where the only private US pressure on Netanyahu is motivated by White House fears that public outrage at Israeli crimes will cause what it sees as a premature end to the operation. That a US president would facilitate the horror we’ve seen in Gaza out of political expediency is depressing; that he would do it because he genuinely supports it is something else entirely.