The October 7 attack by the Palestinian terrorist group known as Hamas exposed the deep antisemitism of the American far-left, which not only failed to condemn the atrocities carried out against innocent civilians — even children — but even celebrated them.
However, the attack also revealed a growing skepticism of Israel on the right. That is not yet evident in mainstream politics — Republicans are still united behind Israel — but is impossible to ignore online, and among young conservative influencers.
This, in itself, is a victory for the terrorists.
Just as Students for Justice in Palestine was thrilled to see Israeli teenagers running for their lives (“Settlers are already fleeing the land, their ‘dedication’ to the settler colony is easily broken”), so, too, Hamas was delighted that its attack prompted Americans, at least on the fringes, to question ties with Israel.
That reaction was dwarfed by massive public support for Israel, reflected in President Joe Biden’s historic solidarity visit. But the doubts are a win for Hamas.
That does not mean questions about foreign policy are illegitimate. Americans are weary of foreign wars, both those that we fight ourselves, and those that we spend billions of dollars to support.
Some wondered, quite understandably, whether another war in the Middle East could draw us in, or escalate to a much more destructive conflict with Iran, which is close to developing a nuclear weapon.
In that sense, Israel might suffer because of America’s policy failures in Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and now Ukraine, to which Biden unwisely linked aid for Israel in an Oval Office address Thursday.
Some critics claim to be motivated by a concern for “America First.” Actually, the “America First” policy of President Donald Trump worked because it promised full support to Israel.
For the four years that Trump was in office, there was no Palestinian war with Israel; nor, for that matter, did Russia invade any of its neighbors, as it did in the Bush and Obama administrations. It was the credible threat of a massive response that kept America safe from wars — not a commitment to stay out of any conflict.
When Trump took out Iranian terror general Qasem Soleimani in January 2020, then-candidate Biden criticized the attack, and claimed that it “takes us a heck of a lot closer to war.” It turned out to do the opposite, even though Biden campaigned for months on the idea that American soldiers had suffered head injuries when Iran responded with a missile barrage that didn’t kill anyone.
Trump’s resolve gave Arab states the confidence to sign the Abraham Accords with Israel, opening a path to peace in the region.
It was Biden’s weakness and withdrawal from the world, especially from our allies, that invited aggression.
Biden lifted sanctions on Russia and met with President Vladimir Putin before he met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. His disastrous management of the Afghanistan withdrawal gave terrorists confidence — and gave them American military hardware.
Moreover, as Breitbart News editor-in-chief Alex Marlow has documented, Biden’s ambivalence toward Israel inspired Palestinian terrorists to attack.
Supporting our allies is an “America First” policy. It is a policy with limits: once Ukraine had pushed back the Russian invasion in 2022, for example, the U.S. should have encouraged peace talks, rather than spending billions on more fighting to achieve little.
But as costly as it might be to help our allies defend themselves, it is even more costly not to do so. We learned, a generation ago, that the weak U.S. response to Al-Qaeda bombings in Africa and the Middle East encouraged the 9/11 attacks.
Yet that is not the only reason that defending Israel ought to be an “America First” policy. Israel is not Ukraine. It has a far deeper connection to the United States, one that goes back to the founding of the nation.
The early colonists in Massachusetts looked to the model of Biblical Israel as they built their new society. Later, as historian and ambassador Michael Oren has shown, many early American leaders — notably, President John Adams — embraced the idea of a revived Jewish state in the Holy Land itself.
In 1790, President George Washington, received a letter from the Jewish congregation at Newport, Rhode Island — whose Touro Synagogue remains the oldest in the U.S. — and replied with a declaration that remains a foundation for the concept of religious liberty in America.
His letter explained that “liberty of conscience” would be treated as an expression of our “natural rights,” not “tolerance” by one group to another. He also promised the U.S. would give “to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.”
And, crucially, President Washington promised that for “every one” of the “Children of the Stock of Abraham” in the U.S. “there shall be none to make him afraid.” It was an explicit commitment to fight antisemitism, though that word had not been invented yet.
Today, eighty years after the Holocaust, the safety and security of the State of Israel is seen by Jews as a guarantee of our own security. When Israel is attacked, we are threatened — as seen by the many threats to Jewish communities in recent weeks.
That does not mean Ameica must go to war over Israel, or support every Israeli policy. It does mean that when Israel is faced with the kind of attack that took place on Oct. 7 — whole families murdered; women raped and tortured; children and the elderly taken hostage — it is evident that the same evil spirit that propelled the Nazi genocide still thrives at the core of anti-Israel terror. The fact that pro-Palestinian demonstrations in the U.S. celebrated the attack showed that such hatred exists in the U.S. as well.
We, as Americans, must support Israel’s war of self-defense against a genocidal enemy because doing so is essential to the defense of liberty in our own country.
As we learned in the Second World War, when America turns a blind eye to the persecution of Jews, we also abandon our own defenses.
Support for Israel is an expression of, not a contradiction of, American patriotism. “America First” includes support for Israel, or it is not American at all.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.