Washington Stand

Is the White House Playing Political Games with Israel’s Soldiers and Hostages?

Adjunct Fellow, Center for Religious Freedom
Demonstrators in support of Israel gather to denounce antisemitism and call for the release of Israeli hostages in Washington, DC, on November 14, 2023. (Stefani Reynolds via Getty Images)
Demonstrators in support of Israel gather to denounce antisemitism and call for the release of Israeli hostages in Washington, DC, on November 14, 2023. (Stefani Reynolds via Getty Images)

After having lived in Israel for more than 10 years – until 2017 – I suppose my emotional reaction to worrisome news from the Jewish State is a little more intense than some other Americans’ might be. My first response to reports of violence and death – wars and rumors of wars – is to immediately contact some half a dozen very well-informed Israeli friends to find out what’s really going on. Of course, what I primarily want to know is how serious are the reports? And what’s happening to them and their neighborhoods? Are their families alright?

But another question is always, “So … what are you hearing?”

My visit to Israel in August 2023 gave me a chance to happily celebrate life with my friends and their loved ones, and to catch up and enjoy face-to-face conversations. As always, there were the inevitable political questions, but mostly updates on our sons, daughters, grandchildren, and mutual friends. Concerns about potential conflicts are always relevant, but during those warm summer get-togethers, there was little talk of that.

However, just weeks after my return to the U.S., October 7, 2023 happened.

Early news broadcasts on that terrible morning were heart-stopping: some 1,300 Israeli women, men, children, and infants had been savagely tortured, gang-raped, mutilated, burned alive, and otherwise slaughtered by Hamas terrorists. The published accounts were physically sickening, and increasingly detailed subsequent news reports were horrifying. Videos of vicious abuses briefly appeared online, confirming the worst, most violent acts. Meanwhile, 253 hostages had been kidnapped. This assault included an attack on the Nova music festival in the same area adjacent to the Israeli-Gaza border. There Hamas terrorists killed more than 360 people and took as many as 40 hostages, many – if not most of whom – were viciously subjected to sexual violence.

In the days that followed, there was silence from my friends, nor did I comment on what I was learning from international reports. Rather than typical “bad news,” it felt like a terrible sickness had struck us all speechless. There were no words.

After the deadly offensive, the current chairman of Hamas’s “political bureau” and senior political leader of Hamas, had plenty to say. Ismail Haniyeh declared, “Today, the enemy has had a political, military, intelligence, security and moral defeat inflicted upon it, and we shall crown it, with the grace of God, with a crushing defeat that will expel it from our lands, our holy city of al Quds, our al Aqsa Mosque, and the release of our prisoners from the jails of the Zionist occupation.”

Of course, the next thing we knew was that Israel had declared all-out war against the Hamas terror group. A price had to be paid for the terrorists’ diabolical attacks, and rescues had to be attempted to return the remaining hundreds of captured innocents ?" many of whom have still not been freed. The Israeli response has been unsurprisingly fierce and violent.

Meanwhile, October, November, December, January, February passed. Now, in March of 2024, some of the hostages have been released, but another 130 are still held captive, and there are reports that around 30 victims are likely dead.

Shortly after October 7, Israel declared war on Hamas, and the world continues to watch the IDF’s determined efforts to decimate Hamas’s murderers and to destroy the terror group’s military infrastructure. These efforts also target Hamas’s maze of tunnels, along with caches of weaponry and stashes of cash in international currencies, hidden away in kindergartens, schools, hospitals, and family homes.

When Israel’s military launched its response to Hamas’s October 7 violence, the Biden administration was appropriately agreeable. President Joe Biden and his team expressed sympathy to the shattered survivors and the Israeli public’s horrified state of mind. It was, after all, the most violent attack on the country since the founding of Israel in 1948.

Today, however, that initially warm response has chilled. The more Israel’s military response succeeds in destroying the Hamas infrastructure in Gaza and its thousands of fighters – most of whom have been intentionally situated in residential areas, hospitals, schools, and mosques – the higher the human death toll has risen, including women and children. At the same time, of course, there is the agonizingly slow process of moving through the maze of tunnels that hide, not only remaining hostages, but also Hamas terrorist leaders and their minions.

Despite Joe Biden’s initial empathy for Israel, along with my Israeli friends, I am increasingly shocked by the ever-increasing arrogance of America’s leadership. Most amazing is their outrageous attempts to use this conflict to manipulate U.S. voters in the upcoming presidential election. There are two dangerous battles going on in Israel simultaneously – one against Hamas, but also continuous attacks by Hezbollah are striking Israel’s northern border. These parallel onslaughts are both funded and advised by Iran’s “Death to Israel” regime.

Yet today, in the midst of this significant international conflict, it seems that President Biden and his political allies, including Senator Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), are making efforts to overthrow the elected prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, by calling for new elections. This is happening during the most violent war that has taken place in Israel since its founding. Are these activities an attempt to influence Muslim voters in key states during America’s upcoming election? Sadly, that seems to be true.

Such political manipulation reflects shocking disrespect and disregard for Israel’s security and autonomy as a nation. It also insults the intelligence of those of us that recognize very well – in fact, more clearly than ever – those who wholeheartedly support the best interests of both the United States and Israel and those who do not. Painful as the Gaza conflict continues to be, alongside rumors of impending war at the Lebanon border, these betrayals of trust by the Biden administration will become increasing exposed as the U.S. approaches the presidential election on November 5.

Our responsibility as Christian believers is also becoming clearer now than ever: In the coming months, some actions are essential for those of us who love America and also support the State of Israel. We need to vigilantly watch, fervently pray, speak the truth, and stand with our allies and friends in Israel. They, their elected leaders, and their military men and women need our support today and every day – perhaps more than ever before.

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