Gary Epstein
And now for something completely different . . .

Say It Ain’t So, Joe

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Americans living in Israel watch what is transpiring in the United States with shock and dismay.  We know America’s values.  We lived and learned American values.  We love America.  And now we feel betrayed because we feel that Israel is still embodying those values and the United States seems to have lost its way.

American foreign policy is being dictated by a vocal group of anti-capitalists who revile America.  At long last, President Biden, have you no shame?  You seem to be a decent man.  Will you allow your decency to be defeated by political exigency?

When news emerged of the rape and torture and mutilation and kidnaping by Hamas on October 7, you reacted from the heart.  You expressed your support for Israel and condemnation of the brutal terrorists.  And it was reassuring to us that your soul had that spark of humanity and decency.  And it was still more reassuring to hear your pledge that Israel would have your total support, irrevocably.

But you are a political creature to your very core, and you have apparently made an assessment of the mood of your party and it caused you to emerge on the dark side.  I think that you are wrong in your political assessment, but I know, beyond the shadow of any doubt, that you are wrong on any calibration of decency and morality.

As a matter of policy, Hamas kills and rapes and kidnaps innocents.  It uses its own people as human shields in order to limit the damage Israel is willing to inflict and, even more callous, to increase its own civilian casualties.  This is not a secret.  It is their game plan. You know it.

And yet you seek to tie Israel’s hands with reckless language (”over the top”), you criticize and sanction Jewish “terrorists” in Judea and Samaria without a single word about Palestinian terrorism which is a thousand times more prevalent, you raise the possibility of withholding arms from Israel, your witless vice president suggests that there is distance between Israel’s government and its people (she is actually right; the people are far more hawkish), and you have the unmitigated gall to attempt to dictate the manner in which Israel conducts its existential war against an enemy pledged to annihilate it.

You know, and Admiral Kirby has stated, that Israel is not bombing indiscriminately and that it follows protocols that put its own soldiers at risk to minimize civilian casualties.  You know that Hamas, and not Israel, is responsible for food shortages in Gaza, to the extent that they exist.  You know that Hamas is the stumbling block in every negotiation, and yet you strengthen their negotiating position by calling into question America’s support for Israel.

For God’s sake, man, for once in your political life, stake out a moral, decent position, and stick with it.

This is not Afghanistan, where we can cut and run, as you did, leaving America’s honor behind.  We have nowhere to go.  Hamas has made it clear that it will repeat October 7 over and over again if it is given the opportunity.  We wish to deprive them of that opportunity.  You should support our efforts.

For the moment, put aside the trauma and grief caused in Israel by the brutal terrorist attack on October 7.  In the old days, those alone would have been sufficient to rouse the constant and unconditional support of the United States for its only democratic ally in the Middle East.

Just focus on the Americans that the Constitution charges you to protect.

Americans were killed on October 7.  Americans were taken hostage on October 7. We see all sorts of threats and red lines directed at Israel, but not a single harsh word directed at Hamas.  Your red line is an Israeli attack on Rafah, where the Hamas munitions, armed forces, leaders, and hostages are located.  Really? Where is the red line for Hamas?  Where is the demand, the ultimatum, that the hostages be released?  Where is the strength of America?  Where is the pride and dignity and honor of America?

Here’s an idea.  Taking civilian hostages is a war crime.  Kidnaping Americans violates American law.  You are the President of the United States.  The Commander-in-Chief of its armed forces.  Do something on behalf of your citizens.

Why don’t you proclaim to the world that until the hostages are released, not only will you do nothing to restrain or influence Israel in its efforts to destroy Hamas and secure the return of the hostages, but you will actively encourage them to proceed?

Why don’t you proclaim to the world the obvious truth that everything that has happened in Gaza since October 7–every damaged building, every casualty, every death–is the fault of Hamas and its patron, Iran?

Why don’t you proclaim to the world that until the Palestinians revoke their policy of pay-for-slay (another violation of US law), the Palestinians will receive not a single penny in US funds?

Why don’t you finally, once and for all time, acknowledge that UNRWA is a malign force that has destroyed the prospects of generations of Palestinians by maintaining them as perpetual refugees and perverting the educational process under its aegis into an anti-semitic propaganda nightmare?  Why don’t you suspend all funds to UNRWA, as you would to any other organization that supports and promotes terror?

While there has been an epidemic of antisemitic activities in the United States on your watch, you remain incapable of criticizing it without making simultaneous reference to Islamophobia. You seem to be in thrall to CAIR, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib.  These are not figures with whom you should be associating your “brand.”

You take such pride in canceling student debt, yet have little to say about the fact that campuses, such as your beloved University of Pennsylvania, have become cesspools of antisemitism on your watch.  You know that it is Hamas, and not Israel, that seeks to engage in genocide, yet you remain silent while those in your party slander the only Jewish state in the world, the only democracy in the Middle East, America’s staunchest ally.

You seem always to be able to adjust your sails to try to catch the prevailing winds.  You changed your position on abortion.  You changed your position on forced bussing.  You changed your position on same sex marriage. The list is endless.

I get it.  You are a politician.  You want to be elected. Michigan is important.  Your left flank is exposed to the crazies.  I get it.

But if you bail out on Israel in these dire times, history will not forget and will not forgive you.

About the Author
Gary Epstein is a retired teacher and lawyer residing in Modi'in, Israel. He was formerly the Head of the Global Corporate and Securities Department of Greenberg Traurig, a global law firm with an office in Tel Aviv, which he founded and of which he was the first Managing Partner. He and his wife Ahuva are blessed with18 grandchildren, ka"h, all of whom he believes are well above average. He currently does nothing. He believes he does it well.
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