We work in politics, so we endeavor to be diplomatic. But there’s no diplomatic way of articulating the current situation: The Biden Administration’s Middle Eastern foreign policy approach is a slow-burning failure. And as you’ll see below, that belief isn’t rooted in one’s party or ideology – no one thinks that Team Biden’s approach to Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, etc… is working. So, the question is simple: When is the Biden Administration going to get it together? As far as we’re concerned, the longer they wait to right the ship the more likely the risk of a wider conflagration.

Rockets Fired at Israel

As Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad continue to incite violence against Israel at the Temple Mount, in recent days Israel has once again endured (and responded to) rocket fire from terrorists on her doorstep. Terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired several rockets at Israel on Friday and Saturday. Early Monday morning (local time) a rocket was fired from Lebanon landing near an Israeli kibbutz. In all cases, the rockets did not hit inhabited areas. And in all cases, the Israelis maintained their zero-tolerance policy for such terrorism by responding to the rocket fire.

It's worth remembering that while the terrorists launching these projectiles seek to maximize innocent pain and suffering, Israel endeavors to minimize civilian casualties in every one of its military actions – no matter how large or small.

Terrorists Continue Using Human Shields

Speaking of protecting civilians, those who’ve been engaged with CUFI for a few years will recall that in 2018, the Sanctioning the Use of Civilians as Defenseless Shields Act was introduced right as that year’s CUFI Summit began, and by the end of the year, we had successfully turned this bill into law.

While this legislation enables the Administration to impose sanctions on those entities using human shields – as Hamas, Hezbollah and its ilk commonly due by firing rockets from civilian population centers – as of yet, the Biden Administration has yet to act. In fact, at the end of 2021, a bipartisan group of lawmakers wrote to Secretaries Yellen and Blinken pressing the Biden Administration to “faithfully and fully implement” the legislation.

“While the U.S. government has taken other strong measures to combat Hamas and Hizballah in recent years, it has yet to sanction Hamas and Hizballah leaders for their use of human shields. Imposing such sanctions would make clear that the U.S. government does not tolerate the use of human shields and would encourage like-minded countries to take similar measures against this war crime,” the letter notes.

We concur with the lawmakers who signed this letter. Unfortunately, the Biden Administration has done precisely nothing on this front which is not only a political and moral failure but an open door for the proliferation of this tactic in further rounds of conflict.

Iran’s Military Windfall

Speaking of failures, we read with dismay reports out this week showing that Iran expanded its military budget by 11% last year. Despite Iran’s rather dire economic situation, we’re not surprised the Islamic Republic has chosen to build bombs rather than schools or infrastructure. Nor are we surprised that President Trump’s maximum pressure campaign worked when it was being implemented, as Iran’s military budget fell by 20% from 2018 through 2020.   

There’s no complicated algorithm at play here. Strong sanctions, at a minimum, hamper an evil regime from being able to maximize military spending and support for its proxy forces. And we know the Biden Administration understands this, as depriving Moscow of funds is a significant part of the effort to undermine Russia’s illegal, immoral and inhumane invasion of Ukraine. As such, we’ve come up with no logical explanation for the Biden Administration’s policy of extending to Iran (nearly) every benefit and courtesy for at best a very limited and weak nuclear agreement.

When you’ve committed your career to working as a pro-Israel advocate, it’s tough sometimes to avoid the cliché that the more things change, the more they stay the same. This is because Israel’s enemies have turned Jew-hatred into a foundational religious tenet, and there is a large segment of the U.S. foreign policy establishment that has turned appeasement into policy guidance. But that doesn’t mean one gives up – quite the opposite. You keep pushing, you keep moving forward no matter the how steep the climb. And at the CUFI Action Fund that’s exactly what we’re doing. No, the news from the region this week isn’t good. But when we roll out our legislative agenda for the 2022 July CUFI Washington Summit, we’ll be tackling the very issues you’ve just read about.

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