Withholding Weapons from Israel Makes the US Weak
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and a group of like-minded colleagues want to sink the proposed $735-million sale of a Boeing-built arms guidance kit to Israel. The Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) kit converts unguided or "dumb" bombs into precision-guided munitions. The goal, according to Politico, is "leverage to push the Israelis to drop their resistance to a ceasefire."
In fact, Israel's resistance is not to a ceasefire, but to the continued rocket attacks by Hamas into Israeli civilian centers. The Biden administration has no leverage at all with Hamas and is pushing desperately for an Iran deal, which precludes asking Iran to rein in its Hamas terror proxy. For America to consider punishing Israel is nasty at best and counterproductive of AOC's stated goal at worst. Would she prefer that Israel use "dumb" bombs to defend itself and its people?
We've seen this before.
In 2009, Barak Obama's administration blocked the delivery of six Apache helicopters to Israel on the grounds that Israel might use them in Gaza.
During Israel's 2014 response to Hamas rockets and mortars fired into Israel, President Obama accused Israel of "heavy-handed battlefield tactics" and halted the supply of Hellfire missiles. Military equipment supplied to Israel would also have to be vetted individually in the White House instead of shipped by the Pentagon according to prior agreements. The irony of withholding precision missiles — precision being the operative word — was lost on the White House.
Irony abounded also because the Obama administration itself used Hellfire missiles against terrorists. A Hellfire killed American citizens Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Kahn in Yemen and an Italian aid worker in Pakistan. Among others.
But the administration in 2014 appeared — like AOC & Co. today — to have been influenced by press stories about damage in Gaza, which ultimately proved to be concentrated in areas where Hamas was stockpiling munitions and rockets and conducting command-and-control operations that included firing more than 2,700 rockets and missiles that July. Today's Hamas total is more than 4,000 rockets in far less time and with far greater accuracy.
In 2014, Israel struck a UNRWA-administered school, prompting cries of outrage, but UNWRA later admitted that it had covered up that Hamas had used the school for military operations.
The 2021 equivalent is the feigned outrage of the AP and Al Jazeera over Israel's destruction of a high-rise building in which they worked that was also the known home of Hamas offices and capabilities. Everyone in the building received an hour's notice to evacuate — approximately 59 minutes and 35 seconds more warning than Israeli civilians have to find shelter from Hamas rockets.
In 2014, Israel concluded that the U.S. was not a reliable supplier of either helicopters or missiles and adapted the Spike anti-tank missile technology to the Apache while retaining Hellfire capability.
(Side note: Spike has a feature missing in Hellfire — the operator can change target mid-course or abort if targeting information changes. This is not trivial. During the Yugoslav war, NATO aircraft launched a missile at a then-empty bridge near Belgrade. By the time the missile hit, a civilian train was crossing and was destroyed. NATO planes hit a bridge where a school bus had arrived after the missile was launched; a number of children were killed. This is not an indictment of NATO forces — many of whom have now adopted Israel's Spike — but a demonstration of Israel's determination to create ways to minimize civilian casualties.)
In 2014, the U.S. should not have cut off the sale of weapons in the middle of battle. It was bad policy, signaling the unreliability of the U.S. as an ally.
In 2021, the signal is the same.
The Biden administration has its sights firmly set on restoring the Obama administration's flawed JCPOA (the Iran deal). American officials have made it clear they will not concern themselves with Iran's ballistic missile program; human rights violations; or support for proxy terror armies including Hamas, Hezb'allah, and Yemen's Houthis. The terror designation against the Houthis has been removed, and secretary of state Antony Blinken is considering what Trump administration sanctions against Iran could also be lifted in exchange for an Iranian promise.
Throwing Israel under the bus sets up the current conundrum: Hamas feels free to fire rockets from among its civilians into Israeli civilians (two war crimes in one) because it doesn't care in the least who gets killed as long as Israel gets blamed and Iran is happy. Israel has to defend its people by eliminating as much of the Hamas threat capability as it can while trying to spare Palestinians imprisoned by Hamas.
As happened in 2014, Israel will likely weather the storm of 2021 — both the Hamas disregard for human life and the foolish virtue-signaling by AOC & Co. now joined by the president telling the Israeli prime minister to hurry up and stop.
But the vision of the United States abandoning an ally under fire and licking the sidewalk in front of the Iranian mullahs, who are enemies both of us and of them, will be hard to erase.
Shoshana Bryen is senior director of The Jewish Policy Center and editor of inFOCUS Quarterly.
Image via Max Pixel.
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