Former U.S. ambassador to Israel David M. Friedman has lauded President Joe Biden‘s response to the unfolding events in Israel and Gaza.
Biden has exuded strength and congeniality toward the longtime U.S. ally, saying in an address on Tuesday evening that Israel has not just a right but a duty to defend itself against the “pure unadulterated evil” perpetrated by Hamas, a Palestinian militant group designated by the U.S. as a terrorist organization.
On Saturday, Hamas led the deadliest Palestinian militant attack on Israel in history. Israel subsequently launched its all-time heaviest airstrikes on Gaza. As of Thursday, at least 1,300 people had been killed in Israel, the Associated Press (AP) reported, citing the Israeli military. At least 1,350 people had been killed in Gaza, according to authorities there, the AP said. Militants are also holding an estimated 150 people taken hostage from Israel.
“In Judaism there is an obligation of ‘Hakarat Hatov’—saying thank you to those who perform good deeds,” Friedman posted to X, formerly Twitter. The Republican served as ambassador from 2017 to 2021 in former President Donald Trump‘s administration.
He continued: “While I have been, and remain, deeply critical of the Biden Administration, the moral, tactical, diplomatic and military support that it has provided Israel over the past few days has been exceptional. As one living in Jerusalem with children who are Israeli citizens, I am deeply grateful. I pray that American support continues in the difficult days ahead.”
Newsweek reached out to Friedman for comment via The Friedman Center for Peace through Strength on Thursday.
Grant Reeher, political science professor at Syracuse University, told Newsweek via phone that Biden’s response is a microcosm of the typical U.S. response to major world events on a global stage.
“[The response has] been very clear, very resolute, it’s been unequivocal, and it’s not making some of the folks in the Democratic electorate or caucus happy,” Reeher said. “The question is where it goes from here in concrete assistance, and if Israel gets engaged in some activities and we in a sense help them, it could complicate things.”
The president has also focused primarily on the attacks on innocent people rather than Palestinian rights, Reeher added, which has made for a clearer overall stance.
“Politically, I think he’s right, but it’s not driving him,” he said. “I think this is what he really believes and the country has a long history of supporting Israel in times like this.”
Biden was immediately chastised by Senator Josh Hawley and others for hosting a barbecue at the White House for staffers and their families, complete with live music, one day after Hamas attacked citizens in Israel.
Conservatives also made noise about a press “lid” on Monday, in which Biden did not meet with or take questions from the press. Biden administration officials explained that even though he was not in public sight, he was working tirelessly behind the scenes—including speaking with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.
The White House National Security Council (NSC) has repeatedly dismissed claims Iran has received part of or all of the $6 billion in frozen Iranian money previously freed up in exchange for the release of five American detainees.
On Thursday, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby reiterated to reporters that Iran has not accessed a single dollar of that frozen cash.
Biden has also been critiqued for his administration’s approval in April 2021 to provide $235 million in aid to Palestinians, including $150 million in humanitarian assistance for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and $75 million in economic and development assistance in the West Bank and Gaza.
The move was described as being completely antithetical to the previous administration, in which Trump blocked nearly all UNRWA aid in 2018 due to severed ties with Palestinians.