The spin cycle regarding President Biden’s decision to withhold certain weapons from Israel seems to have settled on the idea that it’s mostly symbolic. It won’t put Israel in existential danger, the Jewish state can survive without the latest batch of 2,000-pound bombs, etc. It’s a “small warning shot to Israel, yes, but not at all a shift in policy,” as one senior congressional aide told the Wall Street Journal.

The truth is, that congressional aide doesn’t actually know for sure. Joe Biden almost surely doesn’t know either. No one really knows where this is going, and nothing in politics happens in a vacuum.

For example, in the same article, the Journal reports that the White House is also deciding what to do with a tank ammunition transfer and a State Department weapons transfer to Israel. “If Washington were to proceed with them, it would have to seek approval from key leaders in Congress, where it would face strong opposition from Democrats who want the administration to use weapons sales to coerce changes in Israeli policy.”

Indeed, a shift—and this is a shift, no matter what congressional aides tell reporters—could easily encourage others to take concrete action to show their displeasure with Israel. If Biden is willing to hold up weapons transfers, Bernie Sanders is going to put Chris Murphy, Tim Kaine, Elizabeth Warren, Chris Van Hollen, and others in the Senate under pressure to have something to show for all their whining. That’s certainly true in the House as well, at least as far as each chamber can actually make or force material policy changes.

Everything the Biden administration does now with regard to Israel gets put under the microscope.

And not just by Congress. I was pleased to see UK Foreign Minister David Cameron, the former prime minister who believes he is also the current prime minister, quash the idea that Britain would join the Biden weapons embargo. But unlike in the American case, a UK move would not have a ton of real-world impact. Said Cameron, “The U.S. is a massive state supplier of weapons to Israel. We do not have a UK government supply of weapons to Israel, we have a number of licenses, and I think our defense exports to Israel are responsible for significantly less than 1 percent of their total. That is a big difference.”

That is a big difference! But the impression left by Cameron’s response is that the UK might have reacted as the Biden administration has were Cameron in Biden’s maximum-stability lifestyle sneakers. Which raises further questions, such as: If there are areas in which the UK can hurt Israel over Rafah, is it considering doing those things?

It’s worth asking because the U.S. sets the tone on myriad foreign-policy issues for the Western alliance. And Israel is one such issue.

In February, the Biden administration unveiled sanctions against Jews in the West Bank whose behavior the U.S. interprets as running counter to America’s strategic interests. It was a vague, broad executive order targeted at one specific religious group in one specific area of one specific country. And its intent was merely to blow a spitball at Israel and be seen doing so, to get progressive activists off Biden’s back.

But then the other kids saw it and thought, “Hey, that looks like fun!” And soon the UK had taken some potshots at a few naughty settlers, too. Not to be left out, France and Poland and Germany got in the game.

A couple of weeks ago, with the tentifada raging, Biden figured he’d toss his party’s base some more avocado toast by hitting the settlers and Jewish organizations in the West Bank some more. Soon, France was promising to join in again. Last week, the UK added its own second round of sanctions on Jews over the green line.

Europeans can’t let the Americans look like they’re tougher on Israel—that’s Europe’s whole thing!

Biden can’t control how far European copycats go when they take his lead. He might not even be able to control how far the U.S. Congress takes it. That’s the problem with hitting the first domino without knowing if there’s a second domino within striking distance. It’s reckless. And a reckless foreign policy aimed at punishing our allies is unlikely to be cost-free.

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