- Wednesday, May 15, 2024

President Biden’s decision to pause bomb shipments to Israel over its planned invasion of Rafah provoked a curious charge from Republican lawmakers. They accused Mr. Biden of “abandoning” Israel despite his steadfast support of the Jewish state not only for much of the past seven months — since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack — but also for most of his decades-long career in Washington.

The truth is that every U.S. administration since that of Harry S. Truman in 1948 has supported Israel but rarely has the support come without any conditions or criticisms. Several presidents have pressured Israel to change its behavior when it appeared contrary to U.S. national interests.

For instance, President Eisenhower once threatened to expel Israel from the United Nations if it did not withdraw from Egyptian territory in 1957. President Reagan successfully pressed Israel to exit West Beirut in 1982, and Reagan’s successor George H.W. Bush threatened to withhold a loan to Tel Aviv in response to provocative settlement construction in the West Bank.

Even Truman, who recognized the new Jewish state 11 minutes after David Ben-Gurion declared its existence, declined to ship weapons to Israel during the 1948 war between it and several hostile Arab states.

In this episode of History As It Happens, historian Jeremi Suri discusses the deep historical roots of the “special relationship” between the two countries. In Mr. Suri’s perspective of the past 75 years, Mr. Biden’s move to withhold certain bombs is the kind of “tough love” that has often tested, but not severed, the bilateral bond.

Mr. Suri also discusses the pro-Palestinian encampment of his campus at the University of Texas at Austin, which was broken up by law enforcement in late April. 

History As It Happens is available at washingtontimes.com or wherever you find your podcasts.

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