President Joe Biden appears to have gained some ground among Republicans when it comes to his response to the war between Israel and Hamas, as former President Donald Trump faced criticism from top Republican lawmakers and Israeli officials over his initial response.
Hamas, designated a terrorist organization by the United States, led the deadliest Palestinian militant attack on Israel in history on October 7. Israel then launched its heaviest airstrikes to date on Gaza. As of Sunday, more than 1,300 people had been killed in Israel, the Associated Press reported. According to the Gaza Ministry of Health, over 2,300 people were killed in Gaza, the AP reported.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country was “at war” and had stopped supplying Gaza with food, fuel, electricity and medicine. Israel has called up 360,000 army reservists to prepare for a likely ground offensive in the area, which is estimated to be home to around 2.3 million people. Although this offensive was expected to begin today, it has been postponed for now.
Israel is an issue that has increasingly divided Republicans and Democrats in recent years. Progressive Democrats have become much more critical of the Israeli government, while some have expressed strong support for the Palestinians. Biden himself had previously clashed with Netanyahu over his government’s controversial shift to the right.
At the start of the latest conflict, all eyes were on the president to see how he would respond if the United States’ most important ally faced a historic crisis. Biden reiterated his administration’s firm support for Israel in the face of Hamas’ aggression.
He has expressed strong, unconditional support for Israel, even as a faction of progressive Democrats has expressed concerns about the treatment of Palestinians. As a result, Biden was praised by Republicans and Democrats alike, while Israeli officials expressed their gratitude to the administration.
Conversely, Trump’s early response to the war was met with significant backlash as he brought up an old dispute with Netanyahu and called Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant an “idiot.” He also called the Iran-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, which the U.S. also calls a terrorist organization and which has repeatedly exchanged fire with Israel since the conflict began, “very smart.”
“This was a big mistake,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, told NBC News. Meet the press on Sunday, referring to Trump’s comments about Israel. Although Graham also highlighted the Trump administration’s policies and actions that he sees as positive for Israel, the Republican senator praised Biden’s response to the conflict.
“I want to applaud President Biden for his strong statement in support of Israel,” the senator said.
Trump’s former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, who is challenging him for the Republican Party’s nomination in 2024, also sharply criticized his comments. “It makes America look weak,” Haley, who previously served as governor of South Carolina, told CNN State of the nation on Sunday.
“This is not the time to bash a leader,” she said, referring to Trump’s comments about Netanyahu.
A number of other Republicans criticized Trump last week over his comments, particularly expressing concern over his comments in which he called Hezbollah “very smart.”
“Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, the largest state sponsor of terrorism, these are states and organizations that are focused on eliminating Israel from the face of the earth. That’s not smart or good,” New York Republican Mike Lawler told NBC News on Thursday.
In a post on It is never acceptable to praise deranged murderers or undermine one of our closest allies.” their darkest hour.
On Thursday, Israeli Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi condemned Trump’s comments. “[It is] “It is shameful that a man like this, a former US president, promotes propaganda and spreads things that hurt the spirit of Israeli fighters and its citizens,” Karhi told Israeli broadcaster Channel 13. “We don’t have to worry “Care about him and the nonsense he spews.”
Meanwhile, polls released Sunday by ABC News and Ipsos showed a small but notable positive sign for Biden among Republican voters. The polling data found that Republican approval of Biden’s response to the Israel-Hamas conflict is significantly higher than the minimal single-digit approval he receives from conservative voters on issues such as inflation, gun violence and Iranian foreign policy. Comparatively, almost one in five (18 percent) of GOP voters rated the president’s handling of the escalating Middle East war positively.
This data comes from a conservative magazine National Review published an article praising Biden for “creating distance between the far left and the center of his party in the minds of voters” on the Israel issue.
“Biden is finally calling the shots again. His top priority today is not to gloss over irreconcilable divisions between centrist Democrats and progressives, who too often invoke the rubrics of “oppressed” and “oppressors” to excuse or explain away acts of violence. “It’s about separating the latter from the public consciousness and thereby preserving his party’s appeal to the vast majority of Americans whose instinct is to sympathize with Israelis,” wrote Noah Rothman, a senior writer for the magazine , on Wednesday.
“This may sound surprising, but overall the president has shown tremendous, unwavering support for Israel at a critical time,” said Matt Brooks, chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition The New York Times last week. “The American people and the international community saw a president who stood shoulder to shoulder with Israel.”
Trump’s former ambassador to Israel, David M. Friedman, a Republican, praised Biden’s response to the crisis.
“While I have been and remain deeply critical of the Biden administration, the moral, tactical, diplomatic and military support it has provided to Israel in recent days has been extraordinary. As someone who lives in Jerusalem and has children who are Israeli citizens.” “I am deeply grateful. “I pray that American support continues in the difficult days ahead,” he wrote in a Thursday post.
Whether Biden’s support for Israel will be enough to break the political polarization that divides Americans remains to be seen. Trump appeared to make an effort to correct his initial stumble, reiterating his strong support for Israel and even calling for a ban on Palestinian supporters on college campuses.
Biden has also faced significant criticism from Republicans over his efforts to improve relations with Iran. Many have described these efforts, as well as the chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal, as a sign of foreign policy weakness. They argued that these Biden policies have emboldened America’s enemies.
Newsweek has emailed the White House and Trump press officials seeking comment.