No Daylight

October 10, 2023

President Biden has been busy. In the days since Hamas invaded Israel on October 7, Biden has called Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and our key Western allies. He’s directed the Pentagon to move critical naval and air assets into the Eastern Mediterranean. He has delivered a statement pledging America's support for Israel as it prepares its response to the deadliest day in the history of the Jewish State. He’s organized a rare joint statement with major European powers condemning Hamas. "Our countries will support Israel in its efforts to defend itself and its people against such atrocities," wrote the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, the U.K., and the United States. In a further demonstration of solidarity, the White House exterior was lit in blue and white on the evening of October 9.

These are solid moves. But they are also, except for the military aid and prepositioning of U.S. forces, rhetorical and gestural in character. Which is why I can’t help feeling a certain anxiety about the solidity of the White House response in the months ahead. It is easy, in this age of social media performance, to get so caught up in words and poses that one misses the facts on the ground. The situation in Israel is so dire, and so significant, that it would be a grave mistake if the inspiring speeches and press releases of the past few days do not result in consequential action. The way to support Israel in its coming trial is through actual commitments. Not vaporous memes.

The first step is to replenish the U.S. weapons stockpile in Israel. The arms have been there since the Yom Kippur War 50 years ago, and it is fitting that America should once again help Israel in its hour of need. The Pentagon says it is sending weapons. Send more.

Israel requires precision-guided munitions as well as the components of the Iron Dome and other layered missile defenses. And Israel will need them for the long haul. America can’t just send a few systems and turn away. The river must flow until Hamas is no more.

Complicating matters is the fact that parts of the U.S. stockpile in Israel have been diverted to Ukraine. Yet the shortages that plague the defense industrial base are not a reason to throw up our hands and pretend we can avoid the reality of the situation in either theater of war. The strains on the supply chain are instead a reminder that we should massively invest in America’s defenses.

A buildup of incredible scope is how you show that America supports Israel and our other democratic allies. It’s how you convince Putin and Khamenei and Xi that they should remain in their cages. Anything less is unserious.

The Ukraine parallel is ominous. That war rages still. It too came about because of a collapse in deterrence. And Biden’s Ukraine policy has struck all the right notes. The problem is the rhythm of the policy. This president is so fearful of escalation that he has denied Ukraine the weapons it needs to punch through Russian lines. For Biden to follow a similar course in Israel would be unacceptable. It’s not for him to decide what the Israelis or the Ukrainians need, and when. They know best. If we truly have Israel’s back, we will give Israel what it asks for. And as quickly as possible.

Israel needs more than weapons. It would benefit, for example, from the sort of intelligence assistance that only America can provide. Above all, Israel deserves America’s diplomatic cover and moral support. The peace movement will spring to action as soon as Israel takes the fight to Hamas in Gaza. It is happening already. You see the effort to shackle Israel in the calls for restraint or a ceasefire or in the more virulent, anti-Semitic forms of anti-Israel protest. In time, it will come to the European Commission and to the United Nations and to other multilateral institutions. People will say Israel has gone too far, that too much blood has been shed, that the "cycle of violence" must come to an end. Resolutions will be proposed that demand Israel halt its justified war on a genocidal terror organization.

America must veto these proposals. That is what a friend does. To waffle—or worse, to succumb—to international pressure would be more than a betrayal. It would stain this nation’s honor.

For Israel’s cause is just. It has done nothing, absolutely nothing, to provoke hundreds of terrorists to invade its country, infiltrate dozens of communities and IDF posts, murder hundreds of innocents, and seize more than a hundred captives. Unless you count the very existence of a Jewish State as a provocation—which Hamas and its fellow travelers in the West do. To their eternal shame.

Right now, moral support of Israel may seem to be symbolic or easy, compared with the hard work of military logistics and the backroom wheeling and dealing necessary to give Israel the time to finish the job. Soon, however, international opinion will mobilize against Israel. The pleas for surrender will be echoed by the "democratic" socialist squad here at home. If the Biden administration truly stands with Israel, it will ignore the jackals, explain why Israel is right, and continue to replenish the weapon stocks of the Jewish State until Hamas has no power over Gaza and the terrorists scatter to the wind.

What Biden cannot do is follow the example of his former boss. "When there is no daylight [between America and Israel], Israel just sits on the sidelines, and that erodes our credibility with the Arab states," Barack Obama told the Washington Post back in 2012. As usual, he had things precisely backwards. America gains credibility among the nations of the world when we follow through on our promises, support our allies, and act from a position of strength. Obama’s second term demonstrated the costs of "daylight" between America and Israel, and it is a price everyone still must pay.

The Abraham Accords signed under Donald Trump proved Obama wrong. Israel’s allies multiply when it is strong, and when American support is unequivocal. That is the model the Biden administration must follow if it wants to make good on its pledges of support. It must work tirelessly to allow the Israelis to destroy the military capability of Hamas and to demonstrate Israel’s capacity to destroy its enemies.

This will not be easy work. America must demonstrate continual support for the IDF in the face of inevitable media criticism and global upheaval. If we falter, then the adversary, whether he is in Moscow or Tehran or Beijing or Pyongyang, will feel emboldened. In this new world, where conflicts from Eastern Europe to East Asia are beginning to merge into one, America cannot afford to waver. The U.S.-Israel alliance must be more than pieces of paper. It must be more than an emotionally satisfying Tweet. There must be no daylight between us.