top stories

Biden’s Response to Israeli War Meets Centrist Praise and Liberal Anger


When President Biden delivers a prime-time Oval Office address on Thursday about the wars in Israel and Ukraine, it will be his third major speech on the Mideast conflict as he grapples with a fragile Democratic coalition that is closely watching how he handles the outbreak of violence.

In his remarks last week and again on Wednesday in Tel Aviv, Mr. Biden sought to put no daylight between the United States and Israel — though in his second speech, he warned the Israelis not to “be consumed” by their rage about the Hamas attack this month that killed more than 1,400 people. He pleaded with the Israelis not to overreact, as he said the United States did after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

The centrist Democrats who make up the core of Mr. Biden’s political base were nearly unanimous in their praise.

“I am grateful to have @POTUS thoughtful leadership in this moment,” Representative Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri wrote on social media. “As we continue working save the lives of hostages and hold Hamas accountable, I encourage him to continue using his platform to call for restraint and the protection of innocent Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland said Mr. Biden “speaks for me and speaks for all of America” on Israel. And Richard Haass, the former chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations, called the Wednesday speech “nothing less than masterful.”

And while Biden campaign officials insist they aren’t planning to use the Israel trip as campaign fodder, Representative Jake Auchincloss of Massachusetts forecast what could become the sort of contrast the president’s aides and allies make with former President Donald J. Trump should he win the Republican presidential nomination.

“Joe Biden flew into a war zone to stand with Israel,” Mr. Auchincloss said late Wednesday. “Trump wouldn’t even visit a cemetery of American war dead.” (Mr. Trump, in 2018, canceled a planned trip to a French cemetery, and his aides cited the rainy weather.)

Liberal Democrats who have been critical of how Mr. Biden has tethered the White House to Israel as the Israelis carry out attacks on the Gaza Strip focused their attention Wednesday on amplifying attention on antiwar demonstrators who marched around the Capitol and renewed their calls for a cease-fire.

“We cannot bomb our way to peace,” wrote Representative Cori Bush of Missouri. “We need a cease-fire,” said Representative André Carson of Indiana. And several left-wing members of Congress reposted a message from Pope Francis in which he called the situation in Gaza “desperate” and pleaded that “the weapons be silenced; let the cry for peace be heard from the poor, from the people, from the children!”

Some used especially heated language: Representative Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, speaking outside the Capitol, said, “We are literally watching people commit genocide and killing a vast majority, just like this, and we still stand by and say nothing.”

Some Democrats began attacking their party colleagues who are skeptical of the Israeli war effort. Representative Jerry Nadler of New York condemned the organization behind the Capitol protest, and Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida told Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota that “you have been training your outrage on the wrong party” after Ms. Omar reiterated her call for Mr. Biden to seek a cease-fire.

Progressive activists circulated a video of Dilawar Syed, a deputy administrator of the Small Business Administration, being booed while speaking at a vigil for Wadea Al-Fayoume, the 6-year-old Palestinian boy from the Chicago suburbs who was killed in what prosecutors said was an attack motivated by hate for Muslims amid the fighting in Israel and Gaza.

Another meme circulating on left-wing social media showed a stylized Mr. Biden behind the wheel of a convertible with the caption “Genocidin’ with Biden.”

And Josh Paul, a career State Department official, announced his resignation because of the Biden administration’s “blind support for one side,” which he said was leading to policy decisions that were “shortsighted, destructive, unjust and contradictory to the very values we publicly espouse.”





Source link