For months, I’ve kind of marveled at the Biden administration’s continued material and logistical support for the Israeli effort to extirpate Hamas in Gaza—not least because its people from top to bottom seemed to be almost tortured by the fact that they were doing it.

That’s why, on a podcast last week, I suggested there was something almost Balaam-like in Joe Biden’s behavior—Balaam being a Gentile prophet in the Hebrew Bible. He has  supernatural powers and is paid by the king of Moab to curse the Jews. Instead, Balaam finds himself praising the Jews because God puts those words of praise in his mouth. What else but supernatural intercession could explain Biden finding himself, in the middle of an effort to condemn Benjamin Netanyahu, saying to MSNBC’s Jonathan Capehart that the only reason Hamas could really want a ceasefire would be to regroup?

And how, in declaring that Israel should not go into the final Hamas redoubt in Rafah, could he add, “It is a red line but I’m never going to leave Israel. The defense of Israel is still critical, so there’s no red line I’m going to cut off all weapons so they don’t have the Iron Dome to protect them.”

My time of marveling is almost at an end. Today, Netanyahu informed his fellow Israelis that Biden had told him Israel should not enter Rafah, and that the Israeli PM told the American president there was no alternative. “We have a disagreement with the Americans about the need to enter Rafah,” Netanyahu reported to the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee of the Knesset. “I made it clear to the president in our conversation, in the clearest way, that we are determined to complete the elimination of these battalions in Rafah. There is no way to do it except by going in on the ground.”

Stuff is going to happen now, over the next week. Negotiations over hostages are going to heat up. American officials (Secretary of State Blinken primary among them) are traveling to talk ceasefire. An Israeli delegation headed by Bibi intimate Ron Dermer will go to DC to be briefed on some magical American plan to win with war without having to, you know, actually win the war.

This cannot hold. Israel has to go into Rafah. America is now saying flatly Israel should not go into Rafah. What this says to me is this:

Israel is going to go into Rafah, at which point Biden will cease being Balaam and he will go flat-out negative. He will say America had a plan and Israel refused to take it up. He will say Israel has chosen to endanger Palestinian lives. He will say he was more patient and more supportive than any American president has ever been (which is true), but that enough is enough and he’s had it and Israel is doing wrong.

I do not believe that I’m in any position to give military guidance to the Israelis, and they would be stupid to take it if I did. But if Israel has the means and the ability and the plan at hand to do what it needs to do in Rafah to win this war, it should do so as soon as it is possible to do it. This dynamic with the Biden administration cannot get better, and Israel would be better off establishing facts on the ground and showing progress in the destruction of the final pieces of Hamas’s terror infrastructure than it would be if its continuing inaction simply accelerates speculation that it can maybe be talked out of finishing what it was forced to start after October 7.

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