by Melanie Phillips
Undermining Israel's security wasn't enough.
This article originally appeared at MelaniePhillips.substack.com.
Israel isn’t the only country that’s having to cope with a US administration threatening to undermine its security.
President Joe Biden last week ordered a senior American diplomat to issue a severe formal rebuke to Britain for the way it is dealing with the European Union over Northern Ireland.
Accordingly, Yael Lempert, the acting head of the US mission to the United Kingdom, issued a diplomatic reprimand to Britain’s Brexit minister, Lord Frost, and delivered a veiled threat that America’s proposed trade deal with Britain depended upon Boris Johnson’s government acceding to Biden’s demands.
The noxiousness of this rebuke — more commonly issued to adversaries than to an ally— doesn’t just derive from America interfering in the policies of a sovereign country. It’s also because, just as with Israel, this interference is based on an ignorant and dangerously partisan view that, under the guise of advancing peace, is in fact a powerful incentive to further violence and aggression.
Lempert told Frost that Biden wanted the United Kingdom to settle its dispute with the E. even if that meant making “unpopular compromises.”
She suggested that in his robust negotiations with the EU, Frost was threatening to undermine the 1998 Northern Ireland “Good Friday” peace agreement.
The row centres on part of the Brexit deal with the EU known as the Northern Ireland Protocol, which resulted from the British government’s desperate attempt to untie a Gordian knot created by the Good Friday Agreement.
That agreement brought to an end years of terrorist violence between Northern Ireland’s majority Protestants and its Catholic minority, and against the British who had tried to keep the peace in this province of the United Kingdom.
Crucially, it involved an open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
The agreement thus created a delicate balance between its guarantee to Northern Ireland’s Protestants that the island of Ireland would not be unified without their consent, and the simultaneous impression for Catholic Republicans of one seamless Irish territory of which the open border was a key feature.
Since the Republic of Ireland remains in the EU while Northern Ireland left it along with the rest of the United Kingdom, the problem arose of trade checks with the province that the EU would now require.
In order to avoid creating a “hard” border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland, the British government decided instead to leave the province inside the EU’s economic “single market.” This meant making the required EU checks on goods traffic between Northern Ireland and the British mainland.
This effectively created an invisible economic border down the middle of the Irish Sea, thus abandoning Northern Ireland’s Protestant Unionists to an anomalous limbo land. The only way through this political minefield was for people of good faith in Brussels and Dublin to adopt the lightest of touches to border trade controls.
According to Frost, the EU has been insisting instead on an over-the-top application of these controls, thus risking reigniting violent Protestant agitation.
Into this complex and potentially incendiary situation has waded Joe Biden. He is insisting that Britain cave into the EU.s demand for the protocol to be applied to the letter on the basis that this is needed to preserve the Good Friday Agreement.
What he fails to grasp is that, according to a key architect of that peace deal, Lord Trimble, the protocol itself subverts and undermines that agreement.
Accordingly, he wrote this week, the EU’s false claim that it was protecting the agreement in its fight with Britain was stirring up Protestant anger and rising tensions on the streets.
Yet Biden is actually backing that claim. Far from promoting peace, what he is advocating will instead further increase the risk of renewed sectarian violence in the province.
The similarities with his approach to Israel are striking. Over Northern Ireland, he is blackmailing Britain into abandoning its legal and moral obligations to the province’s Protestants and imperilling their security.
As seen in the recent hostilities between Israel and Hamas, when the United States demanded an Israeli ceasefire even while rocket barrages from Gaza were still being fired at Israeli towns, Biden also tries to pressure Israel into undermining its security and its defence of its people.
His administration’s approach to both these flash-points is based on a chronic failure to acknowledge reality.
Emotionally invested in Northern Ireland through his own Irish Catholic ancestry, Biden twists the facts to the Catholic narrative and totally ignores Britain’s legal and moral duty towards the Protestant community.
While he personally supports Israel, the administration he has created refuses to acknowledge the existential nature of Palestinian rejectionism. These officials view the Arab war against Israel instead through the distorting prism of moral equivalence, which twists the facts to indulge the Palestinians who aim to destroy it.
Just as Biden’s interference threatens to undermine the Good Friday Agreement, his administration’s interference in the Middle East by re-empowering the Palestinians, appeasing Iran and trying to drive a wedge between Israel and Saudi Arabia threatens to undermine the most important development for peace in the region for a century: the Abraham Accords.
Indeed, according to The Washington Free Beacon, the Biden administration won’t even use this term, ordaining that the accords be referred to only as “normalisation agreements.”
This petulance and spite towards a historic agreement that has made a mockery of the Foggy Bottom consensus on Israel and the Palestinians tells us that the Biden administration’s attitude to the Middle East is based not on realism or pragmatism, but on emotion and ideology.
It shows that the administration will deny hard facts in order to preserve fantasies, such as Palestinian “victimhood” and the illusory two-state solution, that define today’s progressive identity.
Israel itself is currently in the throes of unprecedented political convulsions. On Sunday, Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12-year stint as prime minister is set to end when an improbable coalition of rightists, leftists, centrists and the Arab Ra’am Party is due to be sworn in as Israel’s government.
With no-one able to say with certainty that such a coalition will even endure, it’s impossible to predict what its policies will be. No one can say whether the rightists will abandon principle and allow themselves to be held hostage by the left; or whether the left will swallow right-wing policies to stay in power; or whether the Ra’am leader really will abandon his Islamist holy war against Israel and settle for the pragmatic priority of improving the lot of Israel’s Arab citizens.
Despite these unknowables, there are hopes in the progressive world that the very existence of such a coalition will soften western hostility to Israel and break down barriers with the Biden administration.
Yet whatever the coalition does, western hostility won’t dissipate because it is based on an irrational hatred that treats any concession Israel may make as merely a further sign of its innate perfidy.
As for the Biden administration, stuffed with officials who either hate or are indifferent to Israel and the Jewish people, the only Israeli policies that would break down such barriers are those that would leave Israel twisting in the genocidal wind.
In Northern Ireland the Republican Sinn Féin Party, which has a history of rank antisemitism, promotes the left-wing Israel demonisation agenda, while the Republic of Ireland is one of the most extreme anti-Israel countries in Europe. In stark contrast, Northern Ireland’s Protestants have long been strong supporters of Israel. They identify with the Israelis’ struggle against existential foes, global disdain and perfidious “friends.”
With the Biden administration’s perverse interference in their own affairs, further endangering their security while doing the same to the Israelis, these two causes are now joined at the hip against an America that has lost the geopolitical plot.