Late in The Court Jester, the beloved 1955 film parody of the Robinhood tale, Danny Kaye’s traveling jester, Hawkins, is hypnotized into thinking he is a confident, swashbuckling swordsman: the Black Fox. At the sound of fingers snapping, he reverts to his jester persona—though a single snap will put him back in the mind of a hero. He goes back and forth like this several times during a swordfight with one of the movie’s main villains.

I find myself of late listening carefully for any snapping when President Biden or top administration officials are addressing the question of U.S. Mideast policy. Will we be hearing from the Black Fox or from Hawkins?

Luckily, this morning at the UN’s kangaroo Court of Justice, the Black Fox showed up. The “Court” is being asked to “rule” on whether Israel should immediately withdraw from all territories over which the Palestinians may one day establish sovereignty. It is an effort by a large group of nations to enable Hamas to take over the West Bank before the group is defeated completely. The Hamas lifeline would also result in a purge of the Palestinian Authority, several rounds of bloody chaos, and the death of the two-state solution.

The U.S. State Department’s legal adviser, Richard Visek, testified today at the Hague that this would in fact be a bad idea. “Hamas’s attacks, hostage-taking and other atrocities, the ongoing hostilities and the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza and the violence in the West Bank reinforce the United States resolve to urgently achieve a final peace that includes the full realization of Palestinian self-determination,” Visek said.

Visek also, correctly, pointed out that you cannot solve this conflict “through an advisory opinion addressed to questions focusing on the acts of only one party.”

This attempt to sabotage the peaceful resolution of the conflict on behalf of the Palestinians is being supported by dozens of governments around the world. On the pro-peace side is… the U.S.

A similar spectacle took place yesterday at a different venue of the same circus. A UN Security Council resolution put forth by Algeria called for an immediate cessation of Israel’s counteroffensive in Gaza but did not call for the return of the hostages Hamas is holding. The resolution, in other words, called on the world body to save Hamas. So the U.S. vetoed it.

“Any action the council takes right now should help not hinder these sensitive and ongoing negotiations,” U.S. Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said. “Demanding an immediate unconditional cease-fire without an agreement requiring Hamas to release the hostages will not bring endurable peace.”

There have been, however, some concerns in recent days that Hawkins and not the Black Fox would show up to the UN proceedings. Biden administration officials have been kicking around their own draft of a Security Council resolution on Gaza, which would be an unforced error almost no matter the text. Yet the text under consideration was about as harmless as such an error can be, calling for a temporary ceasefire “as soon as practicable.”

Sometimes Hawkins really does show up. Biden’s recent press conference, in which he angrily called Israel’s “conduct” in Gaza “over the top,” is one example. Another was when the president sent a groveling troupe to badmouth Israel to Arab-American leaders in Michigan in a bid to keep their votes this November. One such “community leader” that the administration is trying to gain an audience with is the publisher of the Arab American News; a freelancer for that publication was recently arrested for writing, “I am going to kill every Jew in ft. Wayne” in a message to the Fort Wayne, Indiana, police. He also told the CIA he planned to “shoot every pro-Israel U.S. government official in the head.”

The Biden administration’s repeated warnings to Israel not to initiate a ground operation in Rafah also smack of Hawkins-like goofballing. One such warning was issued before Israel rescued two hostages in Rafah, and another such warning was issued after. In other words, even an Israel-supportive administration is struggling to adapt to the facts on the ground.

Yet it must be said that when it comes to Israel and Hamas, the administration has been much more swashbuckler than jester. The impossibility of predicting which one will show up on any given day creates uncertainty and a sensitivity to bad news among Israel’s supporters. But the odds have been in the favor of those who want to see the monsters of Hamas brought to justice. May the president find the resolve to ensure that continues.

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