A protester holds a mock newspaper with a list of people killed in Gaza at a pro-Palestinian rally outside ‘The New York Times’ building in New York City on November 9, 2023. David Dee Delgado/Reuters

An excellent place to start to assess the strength of the US-Israel alliance is through the lens of America’s leading media sources.

A New York Times headline in February read, “The Shaky U.S.-Israel Alliance.” Perhaps it was aspirational, as the Times has spent decades highlighting Israel’s faults, minimizing Palestinian incitement while promoting peace plans repeatedly rejected by Palestinians.

But to many members of the president’s party, the Times is gospel, the first public source to check to start the day. A few years ago, I asked a friend who was a chairperson in the House, a pro-Israel Democrat, where members get their news from: without hesitation, The New York Times, NPR, and The Washington Post.

The Times for years has had a disproportionate focus on the US-Israel alliance, more often than not highlighting why Israel does not deserve the close relationship. In November 2023, one month after October 7, when the full brutality of the atrocities was known, more than 500 Democratic appointees and Biden administration staff protested the president’s support of Israel. In reporting this story, the Times editorialized the news article, being exasperated that “there is no serious discussion inside the administration of a meaningful change in policy, such as cutting off the arms supply to Israel.”

Israelis are deeply appreciative of America support from the administration, especially in international bodies, despite viewing American micromanagement of the war as counter productive for the war aims.

President Joe Biden is part of the last generation of Democratic leaders who think of the Israel-US relationship in terms of shared values and mutual security interests. Many of today’s up-and-coming leadership, on the other hand, have been educated in the milieu of anti-Zionist academia, viewing Israel through a binary lens and accusing Israel of land theft and ethnic cleansing.

In their quest for historical immortality, every American president, Republican and Democrat, has returned to the holy grail of peace-making between Israelis and Palestinians, only to be repeatedly disappointed. A root cause of problems in the US-Israel relationship is the American failure to accept that, more times than not, it is the Palestinian Authority that is the intransigent one, having no willingness to sign an end-of-conflict agreement, permanently accept a Jewish state, end payments that incentivize terrorism, or change their educational system to end incitement of hatred.

Now the administration may be further destabilizing the relationship in the shadow of October 7 by prematurely calling for a return to the two state for two people formula, with reports that America may unilaterally declare support for a Palestinian state.

Rewarding Palestinians for the worst Jewish massacre since the Holocaust is incomprehensible not only to most Israelis but to anyone who understands that this would constitute a Hamas victory and undermine the administration’s goal of bringing Israel into new alliances with Arab neighbors. The administration’s preferred choice to lead the new state, the current Palestinian Authority, views two states as an Arab state in the West Bank and a binational state in Israel; in other words, the end of the Jewish state.

As Israeli President Isaac Herzog said, speaking at the Munich Security Conference, “You cannot accept a peace process with neighbors who engage in terrorism. The very idea runs contrary to human nature.”

Israel has blame, too. Its dysfunctional electoral system has elevated vocal representatives of extreme minority parties into leadership positions, Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, who are cited by anti-Israel critics as representative of the Israeli electorate, to undermine the US-Israel alliance.

With this background, it is an excellent place to begin to analyze the state of the US-Israel relationship five months into its existential war against radical Islamism, of which Hamas is just one facet. Pro-Hamas rallies, misnamed pro-Palestinian, receive their pseudo-intellectual backing from the halls of academia, the far Left of the Democratic party, and anti-Israel NGOs like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, which have been alleging Israeli war crimes and genocide for years.

An insightful example to analyze the strength of the US-Israel alliance in the administration is a Washington Post article, which views the war and Biden’s relationship with Israel through the eyes of 19 senior advisers to the president who spoke on the condition of anonymity, lobbying the president to “impose conditions on its support of Israel” even as Israel is fighting a war of survival and deterrence against a genocidal terrorist adversary. One of the Biden officials said, “I don’t think anybody can look at what the Israelis have done in Gaza and not say it’s over the top.”

The influential head of the Progressive House Caucus, representing 103 members of Congress, nearly 50% of Democrats in the House of Representatives, said that if Israel doesn’t agree to a Palestinian state, something Israelis regard as rewarding the Hamas massacre, it “should cause us to reset our relationship of unconditional support to [this] government.” It should be mentioned that at least four members of the progressive caucus are strongly pro-Israel, including Jimmy Panetta.

Biden has recently become much more critical of Israel publicly. Biden’s support of Israel through the first four months of the war represents the old Democrat party and its staunch support for the US-Israel relationship based on both values and US security interests.

What was once a bipartisan issue, the US-Israel relationship, has become so much like every issue in America: a scorched earth policy, especially among the young, many of whom believe Israel is a conquering imperialist Western bully. After two generations of anti-Zionism being mainstreamed on college campuses, those students have turned into leading anti-Israel voices in Congress and the media.

With the president not likely to make it through a second term or choosing at the Democrat convention to hand the reins over to Kamala Harris or perhaps Michelle Obama, will that mark a turning point in America where Democrat administrations will favor Palestinian aspirations over Israeli existential interests?

After Biden, will there be a return to the Obama philosophy of putting America on equal ground with every other nation, in which case international bodies of diplomats should have the final say? America is often alone in supporting Israel during the ridiculous debates on anti-Israel resolutions, in which the representatives overwhelmingly approve of various dictatorships at the UN.

There is no guarantee that future Republican administrations will be as loyal to Israel as in the past. The ascendency of the populist isolationist wing of the party, given voice by media personality Tucker Carlson, may well decrease aid not only to Ukraine and Taiwan but to the Jewish state. The transactional and impulsive former president Trump’s recent comments may indicate a less supportive position on the Israeli-US relationship in his second term.

The quintessential Israel lobby AIPAC, which for years had to weaken its legislative actions to get bipartisan support, finally saw the writing on the wall and created political arms to support pro-Israel candidates and contest anti-Zionist ones financially.

With Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu resisting President Biden’s pressuring Israel to refrain from attacking Rafah and to accept a long-term ceasefire, the Biden team has become exasperated with Israel not doing their bidding. They want to blame Bibi, but opposition leaders Benny Gantz, who is part of the emergency war cabinet, and Yair Lapid would not prosecute the war very differently, and they would have broad support of Israel’s citizens.


IN THE fourth month of the war, Biden has become not only more rhetorically critical of Israel but is following the recommendations of those who want to punish Israel and weaken the US-Israel bonds.

The administration issued a national security memorandum to ensure that US weapons were not committing war crimes, a blood libel against the Jewish state. The rhetoric created a moral equivalence, claiming that both Hamas and Israel are dehumanizing the other, while claiming that Israel’s actions are over the top.

Six months before October 7, veteran Middle East negotiator Dennis Ross wrote, “ Regardless of the mistakes either or both of us might make, the fundamentals of shared values and shared interests had come to ensure we would always find a way to right the ship and manage our ties successfully…The Middle East would lead the US to continue to rely on Israel. Its stability was the result of being the only democracy in the region, and those who threatened Israel also threatened us.”

Is that true for the US-Israel relationship now or in the future? And what should Israel do now to strengthen a relationship that is being severely tested?

To begin with, the Israelis need to convince the Biden administration to view the war with Hamas as a battle in a greater war with Iran and radical Islamism that is profoundly damaging American national security interests.

Iran is close to a nuclear weapon, and its proxy Hezbollah cannot stay on Israel’s doorstep, threatening hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens in the North, many of whom have been evacuated. Knowing that there is a good chance that in the near future Israel will have to push Hezbollah from its border, even though any US administration will not like it, Israel must convince whoever is in the White House that these are not wars of choice but are existential issues whose repercussions must be jointly planned for.

Israel must convince Biden that there can be no unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state and that any progress between Israel and the Palestinians cannot begin until all the hostages are returned and the Hamas infrastructure, if not ideology, is eradicated, just as America did not leave Iraq and Syria in ISIS hands.

Yes, there are Palestinians who want to find accommodation with Israel, but they are marginalized because America keeps returning to the perennially corrupt Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas.

If there is ever to be peace or a long-term truce between the parties, accepting the narrative of the other, whether true or not, would go a long way when a Palestinian leadership rises that prioritizes its people’s interests before its own. The Palestinians will also have to accept the Jewish narrative of their indigenous origin and the legitimacy of the return of Jews to that land for peace.

Palestinian revisionist history may be part of their narrative, but it also undermines America’s relationship with Israel. It is easy to empathize with the perceived victim when the victim is fast and loose with facts in context, as Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said regarding the October 7 massacre. “One should not continue focusing on October 7.”

America’s desire to be balanced negotiators, projecting onto another culture of how Westerners would respond to generous peace offers, has undermined advancing a realistic peace process while putting strain on the US-Israel relationship. Abbas could have had a state with ast Jerusalem as its capital 16 years ago. He couldn’t sign because no American president has been able to publicly say that Palestinians, for 75 years since Israel’s establishment, have been unwilling to permanently concede any land they think is theirs, anywhere from the “river to the sea.”

The US-Israel alliance is under a stress test. There is no guarantee for its future success. The leaders in Israel and America are likely to change soon. But until that day, for both nations’ security interests, they must keep their criticisms private and present a more unified face to a part of the world trying to humiliate both countries.

Anything short of that encourages the jihadists and their followers just to keep chipping away: a bus bombing here, an October 7 there, international shipping disrupted here, a car driven into a crowd there, until they believe Israel and the West will give up. Then their dream can come true: no more Jews, no more America to stand in the way of hegemony in the Middle East. ■

Dr. Eric R. Mandel is the director of MEPIN, the Middle East Political Information Network, and regularly briefs members of Congress and their foreign policy advisers about the Middle East.

By mepin