‘Utterly Disgraceful’: Republicans Blast Biden’s Interference In Israeli Democracy

President Joe Biden continues to interfere with Israeli domestic affairs as he keeps openly pressuring the democratically elected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his coalition to not pass unilateral reforms to their judicial branch according to The Washington Free Beacon. The Democratic president also sharply said he will not meet the Israeli prime minister “in the near term”. Biden emphasized his desire for “genuine compromise” between the government and the opposition on the judicial reform issue.

Prominent Republicans took to social media to sound the alarm over the political norms that Biden was violating.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) commented that the Biden’s stance on Israel was “[u]tterly disgraceful. Biden gleefully hosts anti-American radicals like Lula, while shunning close American allies like Netanyahu. It’s clear that Biden and his officials are high from funding what they believe to be successful anti-government protests in Israel.”

Nikki Haley (R), the former governor of South Carolina and a 2024 presidential candidate, similarly decried Biden’s words. She wrote that “[i]t’s outrageous for Joe Biden to lecture Israel on a matter that is entirely their domestic concern. We would never want the Israeli government to push America on issues surrounding our Supreme Court, and they wouldn’t do it. We should let Israelis decide this themselves.”

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) weighed in by saying that “Prime Minister Netanyahu is an Israeli patriot, statesman, and most importantly, a great friend of the United States of America. Free societies have vigorous and open debate. Israel is no exception. I support Prime Minister Netanyahu, and America’s support for Israel’s strong, vibrant democracy is unwavering. Now is an important time for Americans to stand together in support of our long, mutually respectful, and important friendship with Israel.”

Well before either Cruz’s, Haley’s, or the Speaker’s comments,  Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) took to the Senate floor and denounced the detailed role the American government was playing in trying to stymie the Israeli judicial reforms as “troubling” and “a clear violation of the usual State Department policy.”

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There is much irony in Biden’s statement about the need for compromise. It was his party with his blessing after all that explored the prospect of unilaterally packing the American Supreme Court. He also heaped praise and encouraged an attempt by Democrats to unilaterally alter America’s election system. In none of these cases was it deemed appropriate for foreign leaders to way in on internal American politics.

In contrast to Israel, President Biden has not issued such a partisan statement about conditions in France despite the fact that there are mass protests there.

Further incredulity abounds about American partiality when the American State Department issues patently false statements when it claims that “[a]ny notion that we are propping up or supporting these protests or the initiators of them is completely and demonstrably false.” This ignores that the head of the State Department openly confronted Netanyahu and sided with the protester’s demands to slow down the reforms.

It also similarly ignores that Biden’s ambassador dismissed an Israeli government minister’s concerns about their interference in Israeli democracy and said “I really think that most Israelis do not want America to stay out of their business.” (Also, the State Department’s claim about it initiating funding of a prominent anti-Netanyahu and anti-reform organization only during the Trump administration is wrong.)

Defenders of Biden’s statement may point out that his criticism is out of a genuine belief that is, according to Politico, shared by his staff the White House of the “authoritarian leanings” of the reforms proffered by Netanyahu’s coalition. However, Alan Dershowitz, famed legal scholar who also opposes the reforms, has noted that the reforms “would not undercut democracy. In some respects, it would make Israel more democratic”.

If the reforms were passed as first proposed it would in the words of Mr. Dershowitz “turn Israel into, God forbid, Canada or New Zealand or Australia, or many European countries…It would not turn it into an autocratic country.”

The point here is not whether the reforms are good or bad or whether they should be voted up or down or moderated here or there. Israelis across the political spectrum have opinions on that and ought to be (and are) free to express them. The problem is that a foreign country, the United States, has elected to openly intervene to tell the Israelis what to do about their domestic affairs.

Such partisan interventions in a fellow democracy will be poisonous to American-Israeli relationship over time. It is best to, as Prime Minister Netanyahu put it, recognize that “Israel is a sovereign country which makes its decisions by the will of its people and not based on pressures from abroad, including from the best of friends.”

 

 

 

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