STATON: Joe Biden Is Stuck Between The River And The Sea

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Joe Staton Contributor
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President Joe Biden’s constituency is split over Israeli support, and his lack of a stance might cost him the presidency.

Anti-Israel protestors interrupted yet another graduation ceremony May 4, with the University of Michigan being the latest victim of this pompous, nationwide display.

The news coverage of nationwide campus protests in the U.S. has largely been about the behavior of the protestors and their profiles, but the events have highlighted a very stark reality for the current President and his campaign, a fracture that we are witnessing in real time within the Democrat party. 

Columbia University staff who stood with protestors highlighted one part of Biden’s base: the anti-traditionalist types. These professors are the ones who have been leading the charge, teaching our youth to hate the roots and founders of its nation, that capitalism is repressive and now, that Israel is an evil, Zionist regime that seeks to kill innocent civilians.

But not all Democrats identify with these ideas. The most obvious example of this? The House’s recent vote on historic aid to Israel.

In late April, The U.S. House voted to pass a foreign aid package that included $26 billion in aid to Israel by a vote of 366-58. But, there were still thirty-seven Democrat defectors.

And this isn’t the only source of data to highlight the fracture in Biden’s base. Seventy-five percent of Democrats now oppose Israel’s military action in Gaza, according to a Gallup Poll released in March.

This number is up from 63 percent in November, but still leaves one-third to a quarter of Democrats who support Israel’s actions in Gaza. Not to mention that supporting Israel’s actions is much stronger of a stance than supporting their right to defend themselves.

Those who are the strongest of the anti-Israel protesters often state, “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free.” In short, it’s a veiled way of saying they wish for the State of Israel to be wiped off the map.

So, what does the President think? 

Well, I’ve looked. And looked. And looked some more. 

The more you look for concrete statements that would give clarity to voters and the world, the more you realize that there hasn’t been much of a stance at all.

After the State of the Union speech on a hot mic, the President said he told Prime Minister Netanyahu that he needed a “come to Jesus moment about the bombing occurring in Gaza, seemingly indicating that he would strong-arm the Prime Minister. 

Biden’s vague statement was followed up by Secretary of State Antony Blinken vaguely warning of a “change in policy” that would result if the Administration did not “see changes” they wanted to see. But just three weeks later, the President signed the historic aid package that included $26 billion to Israel.

Biden’s mixed messaging is obvious. The conflict is nuanced, sure, but his actions to placate both sides of the issue have not resonated well.

For the more traditional Democrat voters who support Israel, this softly stated defense of Israel’s ability to defend itself might work. But for the Columbia professor and protester types, this will not suffice.

Multiple polls, like a recent morning consult poll, have shown five to 10 percent of Biden’s 2020 voters considering either voting for Trump or someone else. And young voters in swing states like Michigan are considering casting third party votes to voice their displeasure of the President’s handling of the issue. 

Is the President to blame for the unwillingness to compromise that anti-Israel protestor types hold? No. But the reality of the Democrat base is that a number of voters hold views on Israel that lead to actions like those who shouted down an 89-year old holocaust survivor testifying in front of the City of Berkeley on Holocaust remembrance day.

This sect of voters does not want a partial compromise. They do not want a President who flip flops on support for Israel. Quite frankly, they don’t believe the state of Israel should exist. And the question is, will these people swallow their pride and pull the lever for Biden in November?

These people are not necessarily known for their humble ways, and with former President Trump up significantly in polls compared to where he was in both 2016 and 2020, President Biden might want to think about how to better address this issue.

Joe Staton works as a senior staffer in the Ohio state Senate. He writes on his Substack, Publius, and produces his weekly faith-based podcast, “True North.” The views in this article represent the views of Joe Staton and not the Ohio Senate or Republican Sen. George Lang.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller.