America’s Betrayal of Israel
A decade of perverse U.S. policy sets the stage for mass murder
By Liel Leibovitz
I am writing this on Saturday, as news outlets report hundreds of Israeli dead, and dozens, if not hundreds, of soldiers and civilians kidnapped by Hamas terrorists and taken into Gaza.
It is never a good idea to write anything as events are still rapidly unfolding, especially as neither I nor anyone else can answer the only question that ultimately matters—namely, “what happens now?” But we can answer another, much more rudimentary and no less urgent question: Who’s at fault?
There will be plenty of time to pore over how a cataclysmic disaster of this magnitude could happen, and who—from Bibi down to the IDF Chief of Staff, head of intelligence, et al.—failed to protect the lives of Israelis. A lot of it will have to do with people who should have known better—including former prime ministers and former and current high level security officials—abandoning the core commitment of defending Israel and instead entertaining themselves by cosplaying some game of Demokratia, complete with donning handmaid outfits and ululating about fascism. Hysterics about your political opponents being the enemies of democracy may be fun in Kalorama; in Sderot and Ofakim, and even in Tel Aviv, there’s a price to pay for abandoning the real world and indulging in fetish play.
But the bigger mistake on the part of the Israelis is that over the past few years they have gotten the power equation that governs their lives backwards: Instead of understanding themselves to be citizens of a strong but beleaguered country whose first responsibility is to protect itself, they luxuriated in the fantasy that the United States was and always would be their protector—when in fact the ruling party in America has decided that Israel is a liability.
Watch this video. That’s a Hamas drone taking down an Israeli Merkava tank. A drone operated by an organization sponsored and trained by Iran applying both Iranian tactics and, most likely, Iranian hardware to attack Israel. This happened weeks after America sent Iran six billion dollars, and one week after we learned that the American government had over the past years ceded whole parts of its own intelligence units to Iranian spies.
The stage for this attack was not set in or by Israel. It was set by the United States.
For the better part of the last decade, the United States has pursued a foreign policy designed to strengthen Iran and enable it to form a strong sphere of influence in the region. This is the idea behind what Tony Badran and Michael Doran called “the Re-Alignment,” a vision of a new world order in which America partners with Iran in order to “find a more stable balance of power that would make [the Middle East] less dependent on direct U.S. interference or protection.” Those words aren’t Badran and Doran’s; they’re Robert Malley’s, Barack Obama’s lead negotiator on the Iran Deal who, as Semafor reported this week, helped to infiltrate an Iranian agent of influence into some of the most sensitive positions in the U.S. government—first at the State Department and now the Pentagon, where she has been serving as chief of staff for the assistant secretary of defense for special operations. Biden himself, in an op-ed in The Washington Post, spoke of “an integrated Middle East,” using the phrase no less than three times to make clear that his administration was intent on pursuing his predecessor’s commitment to seeing Iran not as a U.S. foe but as our collaborator.
And the Biden administration wasn’t just talking the talk. It was also walking the walk, from unfreezing billions in assets to make it easier for Tehran to support its proxy, Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon, to sending huge cash infusions used primarily to pay the salaries of tens of thousands of unvetted “security personnel.” And while the Trump administration halted all aid to the Palestinians—directly because of the “pay for slay” policies that support the families of those who slaughter Israelis—the Biden administration was quick to reverse the decision.
Lots of people argued that this was simply clear-minded realpolitik after decades of disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Bullshit. Here’s how you know this policy was, and is, motivated not by what’s best for America but by what would kneecap the Jewish state: Because it extended to inside Israel’s borders.
In addition to creating the external circumstances for terror, the Biden administration did everything in its power to derail Israel’s democratically elected government and prevent it from being able to see an attack like today’s coming. That the Israelis let themselves fall for this was stupidity of criminal order. But the invisible hand here was America’s. Biden himself took to CNN to call Netanyahu’s government “the most extreme” he’s ever seen, and lost no opportunity to lecture his Israeli counterpart about democratic values. The former U.S. ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides, took the unprecedented step of intervening in the country’s domestic affairs, announcing ominously that he “think[s] most Israelis want the United States to be in their business.” And if words weren’t enough, the administration also sent American dollars to support the anti-Netanyahu NGOs organizing the protests that brought Israel to a halt for months. Netanyahu was famously denied an invite to the White House; his key opponent, opposition leader Benny Gantz, had no such problem.
One idea floating around my inbox this afternoon is that part of Israel’s complete military collapse today was caused by a massive Iranian cyber attack that hacked its systems and prevented it from seeing what ought to have been obvious. That this could not only be true but related to the U.S. having recently given a team of Iranian agents high-level access to U.S. intelligence, which could very well have included information about Israeli systems, is not nearly as far-fetched a scenario as many would like it to be. And to the extent that we ever find out the truth about any of this, it will be because of Elon Musk, without whom we’d only have access to state-approved propaganda.
It doesn’t matter what words Biden says today. When you champion Iran; when you send it and its proxies money; when you reward Palestinian violence; when you go out of your way to portray Bibi as a dangerous fascist; when you finance and champion his opponents, contributing to further instability and unrest; when you hand over U.S. intelligence keys to Iranian agents; when you have your spokespeople declare it “disinformation” for people to connect obvious dots; when you do all of this, you know what is going to happen. You mean for it to happen.
Here today, then, is the challenge for Israel’s leadership: Can you accept that this is what’s happening? Can you imagine a future for the Jewish state decoupled from America? Because you must.
For at least a decade now, we’ve been told that part of what makes Israel so mighty and so safe is its superior technology, developed in partnership with America. Who, went this line of argument, needs to worry about missiles when we have Iron Dome and F-35 stealth fighter plans as part of a 3 billion dollar military aid package? Who cares about guns and grenades when we’ve developed high level cybersecurity systems that can strike at will? The war of the future, we’ve been promised, will be waged on computer terminals, in cyberspace—not in dusty border towns.
And then came a gaggle of Gazans with Kevlar vests and pick-up trucks and small arms that brought Israel to its knees. “Start-up Nation” has been ravaged by reality. It is clear that the dream Israel’s elites have entertained for the past decade—to become part of the global set of people who make all the money and all the decisions and have all the right opinions and fashionable friends—has soured into a nightmare.
And now it’s time to wake up. Stop prattling about the “cycle of violence,” about faults on both sides, about “the occupation,” about Bibi’s cabinet appointments, or any other distraction.
Re-root yourself in what you should never have forgotten—which is that we have enemies not because of what we did or didn’t do here or there, or on this day or that one, or because our hasbara isn’t good enough or because it is too good, or any other pointless argument. It is because we have vicious enemies, and they hate us. Instead of trying pathetically to curry favor with American overlords by scrubbing Judaism from your streets, pray to HaShem to fulfill the promise made to Isaiah (35:4) and deliver vengeance.
Reject, with great force and wrath, the death cult that has gripped so much of American political, public, and intellectual life and that sees virtue in prompting up benighted regimes in the name of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We don’t need an integrated Middle East, because we don’t wish to integrate with the murderous Mullahs and their packs of wild animals. We have our own interests, and if we’re smart—and if we wish to survive—we’ll never forget it again.
Iran Helped Plot Attack on Israel
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps gave the final go-ahead last Monday in Beirut
DUBAI—Iranian security officials helped plan Hamas’s Saturday surprise attack on Israel and gave the green light for the assault at a meeting in Beirut last Monday, according to senior members of Hamas and Hezbollah, another Iran-backed militant group.
Officers of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps had worked with Hamas since August to devise the air, land and sea incursions—the most significant breach of Israel’s borders since the 1973 Yom Kippur War—those people said.
Details of the operation were refined during several meetings in Beirut attended by IRGC officers and representatives of four Iran-backed militant groups, including Hamas, which holds power in Gaza, and Hezbollah, a Shiite militant group and political faction in Lebanon, they said.
U.S. officials say they haven’t seen evidence of Tehran’s involvement. In an interview with CNN that aired Sunday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said: “We have not yet seen evidence that Iran directed or was behind this particular attack, but there is certainly a long relationship.”
“We don’t have any information at this time to corroborate this account,” said a U.S. official of the meetings.
A European official and an adviser to the Syrian government, however, gave the same account of Iran’s involvement in the lead-up to the attack as the senior Hamas and Hezbollah members.
Asked about the meetings, Mahmoud Mirdawi, a senior Hamas official, said the group planned the attacks on its own. “This is a Palestinian and Hamas decision,” he said.
A spokesman for Iran’s mission to the United Nations said the Islamic Republic stood in support of Gaza’s actions but didn’t direct them.
“The decisions made by the Palestinian resistance are fiercely autonomous and unwaveringly aligned with the legitimate interests of the Palestinian people,” the spokesman said. “We are not involved in Palestine’s response, as it is taken solely by Palestine itself.”
A direct Iranian role would take Tehran’s long-running conflict with Israel out of the shadows, raising the risk of broader conflict in the Middle East. Senior Israeli security officials have pledged to strike at Iran’s leadership if Tehran is found responsible for killing Israelis.
The IRGC’s broader plan is to create a multi-front threat that can strangle Israel from all sides—Hezbollah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in the north and Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas in Gaza and the West Bank, according to the senior Hamas and Hezbollah members and an Iranian official.
At least 700 Israelis are confirmed dead, and Saturday’s assault has punctured the country’s aura of invincibility and left Israelis questioning how their vaunted security forces could let this happen.
Israel has blamed Iran, saying it is behind the attacks, if indirectly. “We know that there were meetings in Syria and in Lebanon with other leaders of the terror armies that surround Israel so obviously it’s easy to understand that they tried to coordinate. The proxies of Iran in our region, they tried to be coordinated as much as possible with Iran,” Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, said Sunday.
Hamas has publicly acknowledged receiving support from Iran. And on Sunday, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi talked to Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Ziyad al-Nakhalah and Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh.
Iran has been setting aside other regional conflicts, such as its open feud with Saudi Arabia in Yemen, to devote the IRGC’s foreign resources toward coordinating, financing and arming militias antagonistic to Israel, including Hamas and Hezbollah, the senior Hamas and Hezbollah members said.
The U.S. and Israel have designated Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist organizations.
“We are now free to focus on the Zionist entity,” the Iranian official said. “They are now very isolated.”
The strike was intended to hit Israel while it appeared distracted by internal political divisions over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. It was also aimed at disrupting accelerating U.S.-brokered talks to normalize relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel that Iran saw as threatening, the senior Hamas and Hezbollah members said.
Qaani launched coordination among several militias surrounding Israel in April during a meeting in Lebanon, The Wall Street Journal has reported, where Hamas began working more closely with other groups such as Hezbollah for the first time.
Around that time, Palestinian groups staged a rare set of limited strikes on Israel from Lebanon and Gaza, under the direction of Iran, said the Iranian official. “It was a roaring success,” the official said.
Iran has long backed Hamas but, as a Sunni Muslim group, it had been an outsider among Tehran’s Shia proxies until recent months, when cooperation among the groups accelerated.
Representatives of these groups have met with Quds Force leaders at least biweekly in Lebanon since August to discuss this weekend’s attack on Israel and what happens next, they said. Qaani has attended some of those meetings along with Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah, Islamic Jihad leader al-Nakhalah, and Saleh al-Arouri, Hamas’s military chief, the militant-group members said.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian attended at least two of the meetings, they said.
“An attack of such scope could only have happened after months of planning and would not have happened without coordination with Iran,” said Lina Khatib, director of the SOAS Middle East Institute at the University of London. “Hamas, like Hezbollah in Lebanon, does not single-handedly make decisions to engage in war without prior explicit agreement from Iran.”
The Palestinian and Lebanese militias’ ability to coordinate with Iran will be tested in the coming days as Israel’s response comes into focus.
Egypt, which is trying to mediate in the conflict, has warned Israeli officials that a ground invasion into Gaza would trigger a military response from Hezbollah, opening up a second battlefront, people familiar with the matter said. Israel and Hezbollah exchanged fire briefly on Sunday.
Hamas has called on Palestinians in the West Bank and Palestinian citizens of Israel to take up arms and join the fight. There have been limited clashes in the West Bank, but no reports of clashes between Arabs and Jews inside Israel, as happened in May 2021 when Israel and Gaza last engaged in extended combat.
The Iranian official said that if Iran were attacked, it would respond with missile strikes on Israel from Lebanon, Yemen and Iran, and send Iranian fighters into Israel from Syria to attack cities in the north and east of Israel.
Iran’s backing of a coordinated group of Arab militias is ominous for Israel. In previous conflicts, the Soviet Union was the ultimate patron of Israel’s Arab enemies and was always able to pressure them to reach some type of accommodation or recognize a red line, said Bernard Hudson, a former counterterrorism chief for the Central Intelligence Agency.
“The Soviets never considered Israel a permanent foe,” he said. “Iran’s leadership clearly does.”
Articles from The Tablet