Arab Americans furious over Biden’s Israel stance
Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., on why Democrats can’t assume Trump can’t win Michigan as Biden trails the former president by 8 points in the state.
JERUSALEM — President Biden slapped sanctions on four Israeli settlers Thursday for violently targeting Palestinians in the disputed West Bank territory.
The White House’s unprecedented executive order to penalize Israelis while the Jewish state wages a war against the Palestinian Hamas terrorist movement in Gaza and Palestinian terrorist cells in the West Bank sparked intense anger among supporters of the Middle East’s only democracy.
“While I have no tolerance for violence, Biden’s selection of four Israeli Jews for sanctions, especially when Palestinian violence is far more prevalent and lethal, is just pure politics,” David Friedman, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel and a key architect of peace between Arab nations and Israel, told Fox News Digital.
“Meanwhile, Biden is permitting hundreds of people on the Terror Watch List to enter the USA illegally and refuses to enforce sanctions on Iran. This order represents a huge hit to the prestige of the presidency. No one is falling for it.”
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Biden’s criticism of Netanyahu’s government sparks anger with Israeli president set to address Congress. (Getty Images)
Friedman, who served under President Trump, further excoriated Biden for singling out Israeli Jews for sanctions while Palestinian violence flourishes in the West Bank, according to the envoy and other experts.
“The order targets anyone acting against peace and stability. On that basis, Biden must sanction all members of the Palestinian Authority, which pays terrorists to kill Jews. But we know he won’t. He’ll roll out the red carpet for them.”
Friedman’s comment about Biden playing “pure politics” appears to be a reference to Biden’s efforts to court Arab-American votes in the state of Michigan. Biden’s punitive measures against the four Israelis coincided with a campaign visit Thursday to Michigan, the state with the largest Arab-American community, in a push to shore up falling support among many community members who object to Israel’s war to root out Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip.
Biden’s executive order stated that it is aimed at a “threat posed by the situation in the West Bank, including, in particular, high levels of extremist settler violence, forced displacement of people and villages, and property destruction. Such actions constitute a serious threat to the peace, security, and stability of the West Bank and Gaza, Israel, and the broader Middle East region and undermine the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States.”
David Friedman, U.S. ambassador to Israel, and Steven Mnuchin, U.S. Treasury secretary, listen during a press conference on Israel and Bahrain establishing full diplomatic ties in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., Sept. 11, 2020. (Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
The executive order also noted: “I find that these actions constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, and I have declared a national emergency to deal with that threat.”
The four Israelis sanctioned are David Chai Chasdai, Einan Tanjil, Shalom Zicherman and Yinon Levi. The Biden administration’s punitive action has also triggered outrage because Israel’s judiciary has either taken legal action against the Israelis or is in the process of litigating claims against the extremists.
A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office on X regarding the executive order said, “The overwhelming majority of residents in Judea and Samaria are law-abiding citizens, many of whom are currently fighting – as conscripts and reservists – to defend Israel.”
It concluded by stating that, “Israel acts against all Israelis who break the law, everywhere; therefore, exceptional measures are unnecessary.”
Israel sentenced Chasdai in 2016 to six months in jail for planning to attack a Palestinian village. Israel’s Supreme Court is hearing a case against Levi for vandalizing Palestinian olive trees and water wells. Tanjil is facing charges for assaulting an Israeli activist in 2021.
Shalom Zicherman faces an indictment from 2022 for attacking left-wing Israeli activists near the ancient city of Hebron.
People march to the outpost of Eviatar near Tapuah junction, West Bank, April 10, 2023. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Biden’s sanctions bar the four men from commerce with Americans in the U.S. and travel to the U.S.
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“Calling Israelis ‘settlers’ is an ahistorical slur,” former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “Judea and Samaria are the rightful homeland of the Jewish people. For Biden to target these Israelis — especially as he shows weakness and deference to Iran — is a reckless policy.”
Israelis who live in Judea and Samaria prefer the term residents over “settlers” because of the connotation of invasion applied to settlers. From the legal perspective of Israel’s government, the region of Judea and Samaria is disputed territory.
Most of the international community claims the territory is being occupied by the Israeli government. Israel seized Judea and Samaria in response to a self-defense war carried out by multiple Arab nations against the existence of the Jewish state in 1967.
Pompeo, who like Friedman served during the Trump administration, recently appeared in a documentary with the former ambassador titled “Route 60: The Biblical Highway.” The film covers major Christian and Jewish biblical sites along Route 60 in the Holy Land.
Palestinian terrorists take up positions during a confrontation with the Israeli army in Jenin July 3, 2023. (Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP via Getty Images)
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Yisrael Medad, who lives in Shiloh in Samaria, told Fox News Digital, “I think the executive order does a disservice to the cause of justice.
“There are many more Arab residents of the same territory that deserve the restrictions more, including members of the Palestinian Authority governing bodies. Actually, Mr. Biden should push applying the terms of the Taylor Force Act first.”
Two Israeli brothers were shot and killed by a Palestinian terrorist on the West Bank. (Nadav Goldstein/TPS)
Congress passed the Taylor Force Act, named after West Point graduate Taylor Force, who served in Afghanistan and Iraq. A Palestinian terrorist stabbed Force in 2016. The act seeks to stop economic aid to the Palestinian Authority until it pulls the plug on its monetary subsidy system to Palestinians convicted of terrorism and their family members. The program has earned the infamous name “Pay to Slay.”
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the Palestinian leadership at the presidential headquarters in Ramallah. (Palestinian Presidency/Handout/Anadolu via Getty Images)
When asked about what is motivating Biden to punish Israelis living in settlements, Medad, who has written extensively about the area, said, “He is doing so to placate Mahmoud Abbas (the president of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank), who Israel refuses to see a part of the post-Gaza War arrangements as well as help out his election campaign, which is threatened by pro-Palestine activists quite openly.”
He argued the violence in the region is “Terrorist killings of Jews, official incitement to terror by the Palestinian Authority and the like.”
Palestinians inspect scorched cars in a scrapyard, in the town of Hawara, near the West Bank city of Nablus. (AP Newsroom)
In a recent opinion article for the Jerusalem Post, Medad disputed U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller, who said Dec. 6 that there has been “unprecedented levels of violence by Israeli extremist settlers targeting Palestinians and their property.”
According to Medad, Israeli media reported in early November that, when contrasted with 2022, “there has been an overall almost 50% decrease in incidents in which Jews were engaged in violent offenses in Judea and Samaria.” Some half a million Israelis and an estimated three million Palestinians live in the West Bank.
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State Department spokesman Matthew Miller (Screenshot/State Department)
When asked about Ambassador Friedman’s criticism, the U.S. State Department referred a Fox News Digital press query to spokesman Miller’s press briefing Thursday.
“The president and the secretary have both raised our concerns with their Israeli and Palestinian counterparts about the level of violence in the West Bank and stressed that Israel must do more to stop violence against civilians and hold accountable those responsible for it,” Miller said during Thursday’s State Department briefing.
Miller also noted that, “We continue to make clear that expectation to the government of Israel, and as we do, the United States will also continue to take actions to advance the safety, security and dignity of Israelis and Palestinians alike.”
Benjamin Weinthal reports on Israel, Iran, Syria, Turkey and Europe. You can follow Benjamin on Twitter @BenWeinthal.