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How Much More Proof Does Biden Need That Netanyahu Is Not a U.S. Ally?

Benjamin Netanyahu's eye-rolling video, in which he accused the Americans of holding up an arms shipment and yet again evoked Winston Churchill, is him playing politics – it's the only thing he knows how to do.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a memorial ceremony for the victims of the 1948 Altalena affair, in Tel Aviv on June 18, 2024. (Credit: Shaul Golan /Agence France-Presse(AFP) // Haaretz),

Who knew? We did. Who didn't? The Biden administration and some congressional Democrats.

On Tuesday, after everything U.S. President Joe Biden has done for Israel since October 7, here was the Israeli prime minister standing all made-up and festive in front of a camera, pretending to be distraught, faking a worried, grimacing expression and sanctimoniously accusing the United States of not standing with Israel.

After Biden provided over $14 billion in emergency military aid, after authorizing the sale of dozens of F-35 and F-15 jets, after dispatching two aircraft carrier strike groups to the Mediterranean, Benjamin Netanyahu just stood there and accused the Americans of holding up arms shipments.


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Typically, he evoked Winston Churchill asking Franklin D. Roosevelt to send arms to a besieged Britain in 1941. Because, of course, Hamas is the German Wehrmacht and this is World War II.

His behavior warrants whole new definitions of the words "ingratitude," "cynicism," "mendacity" and "manipulation." Here he was, in all his ingrate splendor, rolling his eyes in a video clip, putting on an agonized face. Here was the prime minister of Israel whining and callously distorting and fabricating a narrative that the United States was halting arms shipments to Israel, implying that Biden is preventing Israel from "total victory" – a guarantee he smugly and weirdly utters every day.


An anti-Netanyahu protester holding up a pro-Biden sign during a demonstration in Jerusalem on Tuesday.  (Credit: Leo Correa/AP  //  Haaretz)


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But this should not have come as a surprise. Tuesday's statement was months in the planning, and it was transparently clear that this is his con job to those who chose not to live in denial about it. The United States' decision to suspend a "strategic dialogue" session and consultation meeting on Iran this Thursday is hardly proportionate to Netanyahu's ludicrous and premeditated attack.

Early on, after blaming Military Intelligence, the Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet security service for failing him on October 7, he resorted to implicitly blaming the United States. The man who shirked all responsibility for the tragically flawed policy of intentionally strengthening Hamas, and who rejects any accountability for the October 7 debacle, has been in the business since November of manufacturing a parallel narrative.

For the prime minister, this wasn't about the Hamas attack but about the world, particularly the United States, trying to foist a Palestinian state on Israel. That is why the United States is preventing a decisive Israeli victory the IDF admits is unattainable but Netanyahu keeps rambling on about. The Americans want to force Israel into negotiations with the Palestinians.

This is the man who in 1991 arrogantly accused the Americans of getting it all wrong in the Middle East and was designated persona non grata by then-Secretary of State James Baker III. The man who, in a House of Representatives hearing in 2002, advised the Americans to invade Iraq because it would stabilize and democratize the Middle East. The man who influenced then-President Donald Trump to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018 because "there's a better deal." Now he is again blaming the United States and dares compare it to Britain in 1941, before the German invasion of the Soviet Union and Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Seemingly detached and untethered from reality, Netanyahu knew exactly what he was doing on Tuesday. In fact, Biden was warned that this was coming as early as November – and again in December, January and every month since. The prime minister was deliberately planning a confrontation with the Americans so he could blame Biden for his failures.

His evocation of Churchill is especially ridiculous. This is Churchill's full quote from a radio broadcast on February 9, 1941: "The other day, President Roosevelt gave his opponent in the late presidential election [Wendell Willkie] a letter of introduction to me, and in it he wrote out a verse, in his own handwriting, from Longfellow, which he said, 'applies to you people as it does to us.'


A left-wing protester holding up a derogatory poster of U.S. President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in Kolkata, India, on Wednesday.  (Credit: Bikas Das/AP  //  Haaretz)

"Here is the verse: 'Sail on, O ship of state! Sail on, O union, strong and great! Humanity with all its fears, with all the hopes of future years, is hanging breathless on thy fate!'

"What is the answer that I shall give, in your name, to this great man, the thrice-chosen head of a nation of a hundred and thirty millions? Here is the answer which I will give to President Roosevelt: 'Put your confidence in us. Give us your faith and your blessing, and, under providence, all will be well. We shall not fail or falter; we shall not weaken or tire. Neither the sudden shock of battle, nor the long-drawn trials of vigilance and exertion, will wear us down. Give us the tools, and we will finish the job.'"

So according to Mr. Netanyahu, who with no merit or justification habitually likens himself to Churchill, Britain in February 1941 – standing all alone against Nazi Germany, which had already occupied most of Europe – is analogous to Israel in 2024, fighting a barbaric terror organization in Gaza.

But that's Netanyahu's manipulation: this war is actually against Iran, so how could Biden halt arms? The fact that the United States put on hold just one shipment of 3,500 bombs while armaments keep flowing is, of course, irrelevant to Netanyahu. In fact, the United States has given Israel, proportionately, much more than it gave Britain after World War II broke out when Germany invaded Poland in September 1939.

Netanyahu is playing politics. That's the only thing he knows how to do. The video is just a prequel to his visit to Washington, where he invited himself in cahoots with the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives to address a joint session of Congress on July 24. He is doing so to hurt Biden and turn Israel into a larger partisan wedge issue ahead of the U.S. presidential election on November 5.

He will pay lip service and thank the United States and Biden, only to then attack the president for pressuring him during "an existential war." The only existential threat Israel may be facing is from Mr. Netanyahu himself, given the ineptness of his management of the war over the past eight months.

"No friend of Israel should participate in this circus," Thomas Friedman wrote in The New York Times on Tuesday. This is Netanyahu colluding with Republicans to weaken Biden. Need proof? Hours after the video was released, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell made the same accusation on the Senate floor. What a coincidence.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell speaking during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday. He repeated the talking points from Benjamin Netanyahu's video on the same day.  (Credit: Anna Moneymaker/Agence France-Presse(AFP)  //  Haaretz)

President Biden, this is the man you see as an American ally. He isn't. The man you were suspicious of, yes, but believed you could reason with. You cannot. The man you genuinely believed you could influence and rein in with logic. You can't. The man you thought you could trust at a time of crisis. Nah.

The man you thought you could cooperate with and provide invaluable military aid to has taken you for a ride. He is mendacious, manipulative, cynical and desperate. And in July, he plans to come to Washington to address a joint session of Congress, nefariously "invited" by sinister Republicans and gullible, enabling Democrats – both placing petty politics above reason and common sense.

He is coming to weaken, hurt and damage you, Mr. President. Your bona fides on Israel are unassailable, but you've been taken for a ride that may prove to be very costly. Benjamin Netanyahu is not your ally.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, your bona fides on Israel are unassailable, but you've been conned as well by someone you know very well. It is not too late to retract the invitation and postpone his address until after the U.S. election in November.

[Alon Pinkas is a senior writer on Israeli and American politics for Haaretz. A former diplomat, he served as Israel’s consul general to New York and as a foreign policy adviser to multiple foreign and prime ministers.]