For the Biden administration, there are no red lines on Israel

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at the J Street National Conference in Washington, DC, December 4th, 2022. (credit: Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo)
At the J Street Conference this past weekend, Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivered a speech fit for AIPAC.

By Peter Beinart | Jewish Currents | Dec 6, 2022

Blinken didn’t say that settlements violate international law—another longstanding US position that Trump overturned and the Biden administration has failed to restore.

When J Street announced that Secretary of State Antony Blinken was speaking at its national conference, it raised the possibility that the Biden administration had finally had enough. Faced with an incoming Israeli government dedicated not merely to entrenching Israel’s control over millions of stateless Palestinians but willing to threaten those who resist with expulsion, perhaps the Biden administration finally found the contradiction between its words and its actions too great to bear. Since taking office, the president has repeatedly vowed that “human rights will be the center of our foreign policy”—even as his administration stood by while Israel criminalized Palestinian human rights groups and demolished homes in Masafer Yatta in the West Bank. Maybe when faced with the prospect of continuing to unconditionally subsidize a government that not only practiced apartheid but flirted with mass ethnic cleansing, the Biden administration would finally change course.

That hope has now been dashed. In his speech, Blinken didn’t part ways with Benjamin Netanyahu, Bezalel Smotrich, and Itamar Ben-Gvir. He parted ways with J Street. On Saturday night, when J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami addressed the conference, he castigated AIPAC and other establishment Jewish groups that believe “the US should continue to provide billions of dollars without restrictions or oversight and protect Israel from any accountability in international institutions.” The next morning, from the same podium, Blinken endorsed AIPAC’s view. America’s “security assistance to Israel,” Blinken declared, “is sacrosanct.” He further boasted that “at the United Nations, we have consistently and vigorously pushed back against unjust anti-Israel bias.”

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