Steve Shalot
Health & Medical Correspondent for ISRAEL DAILY NEWS PODCAST

The ‘Potomac Two-Step’ and Israel

For several months now, I’ve been paying attention to the news coming out of Israel about the current state of emergency. As a Jew living in the United States I’ve borne witness to the disturbing and horrifying displays of antisemitism and hatred which has surpassed anything I’ve seen directed against any ethnic group in all my years. I was alive during the Yom Kippur War – a high school student here, and I remember the bumper stickers which said “Burn Jews Not Oil” in reference to the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973, in the aftermath of US military resupply of the IDF. Today, those days seem like a picnic. The advent of social media, with “instant truth,” and immediate censure have made the situation only worse. We are losing the war on social media. Welcome to my soap box.

The war against Hamas, and by extension, Hezbollah in the north is well into its fifth month as of this writing, and the pressure on Israel to cease its military operation against Hamas in Gaza is increasing exponentially. Just today, US Vice President Kamala Harris said in an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” that any major military operation in Rafah would be a “huge mistake,” and a “red line.” She further went on to say that “I have studied the maps. There’s nowhere for those folks to go,” she said, referring to Palestinian civilians taking refuge in Rafah.

So now we learn after three years that Harris is a military expert, delivering insights that Israel’s best generals have yet to learn. When she was asked what kind of consequences would be in store for the Jewish State if such an armored and infantry advance into Rafah proper would take place, she said “We’re gonna take it one step at a time.” However, earlier this month Biden took “two steps” back, and said there will be no red line, and that he would leave the Iron Dome replenishments intact. Thank you Mr. President.

Meanwhile, her approval ratings according to a USA TODAY poll stand at just 38% amongst registered voters, lagging behind President Joe Biden, whose approval ratings stand at a whopping 41%. Harris was given one key job by the Biden Administration; that of “Border Czar,” a task at which she has failed dismally. Illegal immigration across the US Southern Border is at an all time high, with violence against US Border Patrol Agents and even Texas National Guardsmen increasing and becoming more serious every day.

But with regard to the situation in Gaza, and especially in Rafah, Harris regards the “innocent” Palestinian civilians in the same regard as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who, in a press “availability session” given in Israel on February 4th said:

“The families in Gaza whose survival depends on deliveries of aid from Israel are just like our families. They are mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, who want to earn a decent living, send their kids to school, and have a normal life. We must not lose sight of that.”

This is nothing short of a grave insult to the American People. The realities on the ground would seem to contradict this view, with multiple instances videoed by Hamas terrorists, journalists, and even UNRWA workers of thousands of these “innocents” robbing, murdering and raping their helpless Israeli victims of October 7th.

In the meantime, all along, Israel has been supplying humanitarian assistance to Gaza including fuel, water, food, and electricity through multiple routes, only to have that aid hijacked at gunpoint by Hamas terrorists because they consider the welfare of the Palestinians held hostage under their heels to be of their least concern.

Just two days ago, the IDF opened a new entry point for humanitarian assistance to enter Gaza through “Gate 96,” a point for delivering supplies into the northern area of the Strip; this according to Colonel Moshe Tetro, head of Israel’s Coordination and Liaison Administration for Gaza. In an interview given at Gate 96, Colonel Tetro contradicted the assertions of the United Nations, the US, and the EU that there is widespread starvation and famine in Gaza by saying, “As much as we know, by our analysis, there is no starvation in Gaza. There is a sufficient amount of food entering Gaza every day.” This past Thursday, a convoy of seven trucks entered Gaza through Gate 96, which the colonel said was the third time the route was used.

Yet as always, Israel is held to a higher moral standard than any other military in the world  while other Arab nations refuse to allow the exit of unarmed civilians from Gaza. Most notable among these countries is US ally Egypt, which has recently  added to its  border wall with Gaza cement and barbed wire. However, there has been zero US pressure on Egypt with its vast territory to allow in any refugees. Jordan has been especially critical of Israel at least in public, while behind closed doors, who knows what the two countries are saying to each other. It is no secret that Israel has provided military advice to King Abdullah to prevent an ISIS attack on the Hashemite Kingdom.

Closely related to the humanitarian aid situation in Gaza is the issue of casualties of civilians – noncombatants. President Biden sticks to his number of “30,000” as if it were the Word of God. These casualty numbers all come from the Gaza Health Ministry, the same people who brought us the number of “500 dead” from the Islamic Jihad misfiring of a rocket outside of a Gaza hospital. Now the number of dead Palestinian civilians is surging way past 30,000 according to the ministry. Perhaps tomorrow their estimates will exceed the total population of Gaza. Given the political and social media war on Israel it wouldn’t surprise me.

In another shocking development over the last few days, a visiting retired Israeli Brigadier General Amir Avivi was told by an unnamed female US State Department official that the IDF is systematically raping Palestinian women in Gaza! This accusation came to light in an interview with General Avivi during an interview on 103 FM, according to the Jerusalem Post. Recounting his meeting, the General said “It was a meeting that shook me. We sat there, talked about the situation, and suddenly she accused Israel of systematically sexually abusing Palestinian women.” This same woman accused Israel of not providing evidence that Hamas is stealing humanitarian aid and “you are starving the population.”

This, coming on the heels of the International Court of Criminal Justice and South Africa’s accusations of Israeli genocide committed against Palestinians in Gaza, widely seen as an attempt to deflect international attention away from their corrupt, disintegrating government.

So why is this IDF Operation in the city of Rafah so crucial to Israel defeating Hamas? The reason is that the four remaining intact battalions of Hamas terrorists are hunkered down in the tunnels underneath Rafah, probably cowering behind the remaining Israeli hostages whose fate grows more dire every day. Some of the hostages may even be above ground, in apartments like the two hostages who were rescued a couple of weeks ago in Rafah by an IDF special forces team. The United States knows this. The United States also knows that Israel has accomplished the most difficult round of urban warfare since the end of the Second World War with the least amount of military casualties and more hard fighting to come.

Also, why did the Biden Administration undergo such a dramatic reversal of its policy since October when, to their credit, they stood by us, shoulder to shoulder in this, our most desperate fight since the Yom Kippur War of October, 1973, and some would argue the 1948 War of Independence?

The answer of course is politics, what I call “The Potomac Two-Step.” Joe Biden desperately wants the Muslim vote in Michigan and Minnesota, (his “Two-State Solution”). He is also under pressure from the many pro-Hamas people in his administration, especially those in the US State Dept like Hady Amr, serving as US Special Representative for Palestinian Affairs since November 22, 2022 and others. Amr is most noted lately for applying pressure on Israel not to allow any major operation against the growing  Palestinian terrorist infrastructure in northern Samaria.

It should be noted that the armed Palestinian Security Forces are US trained and equipped, and frequently engage in attacks on IDF personnel and Jewish civilians in Judea and Samaria. They are not punished, but when Jewish “settlers” fight back, they have their bank accounts frozen and are subjected to anything the US can throw at them, even though they have never been charged in an Israeli court. This is political hypocrisy at its finest. Meanwhile the Biden Administration treats Iran with aid in the form of billions of dollars, in a continuation of the failed Obama era reset of the Middle East Security situation where Iran was supposed to be a “stabilizing influence” in the region. We see how well that is playing out!

On Friday, a rare US-backed resolution in the United Nations calling for a ceasefire in Israel failed. This resolution is indeed a deeply troubling milestone in US-Israeli relations, because in the past it has usually been the US blocking anti-Israel resolutions in the UN. More evidence of a troubling shift in the US policy is Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer’s outrageous attempt at meddling in internal Israeli affairs by calling for new elections in Israel and calling the Netanyahu led coalition an impediment to peace. He, like the rest of the Democrats, including NINETEEN Democratic Senators penned a letter to Pres. Biden which called for a cessation of hostilities in Gaza and the establishment of a Palestinian State under “technocrat administration,” whatever that means. This would be tantamount to a “Final Solution” for the Jewish State.

The United States is not the only ally of Israel making the Rafah Operation a “Red Line.” President Emmanuel Macron of France is openly calling for a complete ceasefire in Gaza and has embraced a highly critical stance of Israel. He has called for a mid-November international conference on Gaza.

According to the BBC, Macron called on Israel to stop killing Gaza babies and women, while paying lip service to October 7th. Speaking just a day after a humanitarian aid conference in Paris about the war in Gaza, he said that it’s clear there must be a long-term humanitarian ceasefire to protect all civilian non-terrorists.

However, we have not heard a peep from the international community about the 143 remaining hostages in Gaza. As for Washington, all of the Biden Administration’s “experts” on the Middle East are mostly those people like Amr, with huge Arab-leaning sympathies.

To his credit, Bibi has responded to these international threats and accusations from around the world (I’ve only mentioned a very small amount of these) by standing by the huge majority of Israelis and Jews from around the world, who demand nothing short of a total destruction of Hamas, the return of the hostages to their families, and peace for the communities of the south and the more than 60,000 displaced Israelis near the border with Lebanon (actually Hamas) to return home.

It seems that now neither side is making an attempt to hide the rift in Israeli-US relations. According to the “Rolling Stone Magazine,” Bibi intends to cross Biden’s ‘Red Line’ to invade Rafah, saying “We’ll go there. We’re not going to leave.”

The Jewish People, both in the Diaspora and in Israel need to be even more united than on October 8th, trust our vaunted IDF and Israel’s leaders, and do whatever is necessary to eliminate the terrorist scourge that threatens not just Israel’s, but Jewish existence around the world. Politics will always be there – for later, just NOT now.

About the Author
Dr. Steven Shalot, DPM is a journalist and editor for Independent authors. He is the health and medical correspondent for the “ISRAEL DAILY NEWS PODCAST” with Shanna Fuld. An independent freelance writer and book editor for Jewish publications, he is also the former senior editor of "Podiatry Management Magazine," Kane Comm. He is passionately devoted to Israel, the Conservative movement, and Jewish life, history & spirituality . . . and writes about whatever comes to mind!