Biden-Harris and the US-Israel Relationship: the Jury Is Still Out
In the days leading up to the 2020 presidential election, the MirYam Institute hosted a debate titled: “Which Presidential Ticket Is Best for the US-Israel Relationship?” At the debate’s conclusion, the Biden-Harris ticket was declared the winner. Perhaps this was prescient, as Biden and Harris went on to win the November 3 election.
The future Biden administration will usher in a new era of American governance and politics. Although this proposed agenda seems popular amongst one-half of the American public, I nevertheless remain skeptical as to whether the Biden administration will be the best for the US-Israel relationship. My skepticism stems from the Biden campaign’s recent actions and the embrace by some in the Democratic Party of ideologies that view Israel as an “oppressor” state.
Over the summer, some in the Biden campaign reportedly privately apologized to former Women’s March leader Linda Sarsour following public condemnation of her anti-Israel rhetoric. At the beginning of November 2020, it was reported that the Palestinian Authority established direct lines of communication with the Biden campaign — though this has never been confirmed. Most troubling, Kamala Harris’ chief of staff, Karine Jean-Pierre, stated this summer that Democratic candidates had “made the right call” in boycotting the annual AIPAC conference. Jean-Pierre declared that AIPAC’s values were “not progressive.” Although none of these actions by the campaign are determinative of the future Biden-Harris administration’s policies, they indicate that the US-Israel relationship may become much less amicable than in previous administrations.
Biden has called for unity and renewed cooperation with historic American allies. But the skeptic in me does not believe that such rhetoric or policy will apply to the State of Israel. The far-left of the Democratic Party has embraced the collective ideologies of “Critical Race Theory,” “intersectionality,” identity politics,” and “wokeness.” Although each of these ideologies warrants its own unique discussion, there is significant overlap in their respective world view. In short, these ideologies divide the world into “oppressors” and “oppressed,” predominantly along the distinctions of race and class. These ideologies believe that “white people” occupy the positions of oppressors within the United States and the West. “Black, brown, and indigenous peoples” are viewed as being oppressed victims at the mercy of the oppressor class. And, as it turns out, Jews do not fit neatly into this bifurcated framework.
At first glance, it should appear that Jews would clearly fall within the victim category. After all, Jews have been oppressed for millennia. But in the world view of the radical left, Jews are not victims, but rather members of the oppressor class. Their perceived economic success in the United States, and the presumed but wrong belief that all Jews are of Ashkenazi heritage, places Jews at the apex of the oppressor hierarchy.
With no knowledge of, or exposure to, Mizrahi, Ethiopian, or Sephardic Jews, the charge of “all Jews are white” allows Jews to be collectively grouped into the previously-stated oppressor class. These assertions are then further supported by the Palestinians being portrayed as victims within the mainstream media narrative.
Although Biden may not personally believe in these ideologies, there is a substantial portion of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party that does. A Biden-Harris administration may claim to be able to control or stymie the most radical voices in the party, but I remain doubtful.
These ideologies are powerful, ascendant, and demanding to be heard. And coupled with the Biden campaign’s recent interaction with various anti-Israel groups, they resonate that much more clearly. At the present moment, however, the potential Biden-Harris administration seems intent on maintaining bipartisan support for Israel. Whether that view is able to hold remains uncertain.
Micah Q. Jones is a publishing Adjunct at The MirYam Institute, a US Army veteran, and recipient of the Bronze Star Medal for Meritorious Service. He is a litigation associate in the Boston office of an international law firm.
The MirYam Institute is the leading international forum for Israel-focused discussion, dialogue, and debate, focused on campus presentations, engagement with international legislators, and gold-standard trips to the State of Israel. Follow their work at www.MirYamInstitute.org.