Right-wing political figures in Israel assailed United States President Joe Biden for criticizing Benjamin Netanyahu the Prime Minister on Tuesday, labeling him “weak” and asserting that Israel is “more democratic” than the United States.
The criticism followed Biden’s declaration that Israel required political change and that he wouldn’t invite Netanyahu to visit the White House, despite doing so for every other elected Israeli leader as well as for both predecessors of Netanyahu’s.
Biden went against Tom Nides, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, who just hours earlier, had guaranteed an invitation would be extended after Netanyahu halted his government’s continuing judicial reforms in the face of growing opposition.
Israeli leaders, such as the country’s former envoy to the U.S. Michael Oren — condemned Biden’s effort to meddle in domestic affairs, particularly as the danger of a nuclear-capable Iran loomed, presumably a common threat.
According to the Times of Israel, Oren stated, “I don’t believe a country that recently went through an uprising is in a position to be preaching about democracy to Israel, or in fact anyone. Telling us what is democratic and what isn’t is just not precisely a position to be in.”
Others were even more direct, saying that Israel is “not another star on the American flag,” including the far-right Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir.
Since the disorganized American departure from Afghanistan, criticism of Biden has been building in the Middle East. Democrats’ newly discovered animosity toward Saudi Arabia, which is driven by internal political vengeance against President Trump, who got along well with the Saudis, as well as the Saudis’ flight to China, which helped broker a warming of relations between Iran and the Saudis.
But the critique hasn’t typically been this direct until now.
“There is no chance the US will meddle in Israel’s internal affairs,” according to a member of Netanyahu’s Likud Party. “He’s telling us what to do in a democracy, so how is that right?” He went on to say that the proposed judicial changes in Israel were “probably a little bit more democratic” than the system presently in use in the US.
At the beginning of his presidency, Biden himself contemplated judicial reforms, forming a commission to examine “packing” the U.S. Supreme Court judges who are liberal. His party members have also criticized the Court.
Biden’s criticism was well received by opposition figures; many had allegedly asked for American intervention on their behalf. Some criticized Netanyahu for what they claimed was the worst U.S.-Israeli relations problem in many years.
Although Israel and the United States have close defense ties, Israeli right-wing leaders mocked Biden, with one saying that the Democratic Party will not win the 2024 elections “even if a toaster or an iron was running against them.” Others stressed that Israel can protect itself if necessary. By declaring that Israel had passed legislation to comply with American regulations to enable Israeli citizens to enter the country without a visa and by virtually joining other world leaders at a State Department summit on democracy, Netanyahu attempted to resolve the conflict.
Despite the current crisis and a Gallup survey showing Dems. favoring the Palestinians compared to the Israelis for the first time since the poll’s inception, Netanyahu referred to the U.S.-Israeli alliance as “unshakeable.”
On Tuesday, representatives from the governing and opposition parties gathered to discuss judicial reforms.