51 Anti-war Groups Push Biden to Use U.S. Military Aid to Pressure Israel

Think tank backed by George Soros and Charles Koch among signatories calling on Biden to leverage aid and ‘end Israel’s military occupation’

Alexander Griffing
Alexander Griffing
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Joe Biden speaks in Wilmington, Delaware on March 12, 2020.
Joe Biden speaks in Wilmington, Delaware on March 12, 2020.Credit: Matt Rourke
Alexander Griffing
Alexander Griffing

Presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is being urged by 51 anti-war groups to commit to a “principled foreign policy” that includes stopping the “endless cycle of war,” cutting the U.S. military budget and leveraging U.S. aid to “end Israel’s military occupation” of the West Bank.

The list of foreign policy principles were laid out in a letter sent to the former vice president this week, from groups that included IfNotNow, Moveon and Just Foreign Policy.

Perhaps the most notable name, though, was the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft – which was founded in 2019 with large donations from both George Soros and Charles Koch.

Letter to Biden by aharb90 on Scribd

The inclusion of the Quincy Institute, with its two well-known cross-partisan backers, highlights the wide spectrum of ideologies represented in the signatories of the letter, which was also sent to President Donald Trump.

The Quincy Institute touted its participation, writing on Twitter: “We’re proud to join 50 other groups in signing this letter, led by @demandprogress, calling on Joe Biden (and Donald Trump) to end endless wars and move the U.S. toward a foreign policy of diplomacy and multilateralism, not militarism.”

Demand Progress, which spearheaded the effort, is a civil liberties nonprofit that boasts of having “2 million affiliated activists fighting for the rights and freedoms needed for a modern democracy.”

The letter is broken down into 10 specific policy goals, beginning with repealing the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which the U.S. Congress passed in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks. The letter argues that it has since “resulted in the United States waging endless war in 80 countries, including lethal strikes in seven countries and direct combat in 14 countries.”

The House of Representatives voted to repeal the 2001 AUMF in late January 2020, but the measure effectively died in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Other policy goals laid out in the letter include “[s]upporting a just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” and “[e]ngaging with Iran.” The letter calls for the United States to cut the current $720 billion military budget by $200 billion and to refocus the national defense around diplomacy.

On Israel, the letter states that “[w]e call on you to use a combination of pressure and incentives, including leveraging the annual $3.8 billion in U.S. military funding to Israel, to get all parties to come to an agreement that upholds UN Security Council Resolutions and international law.”

The document outlines this as “ending Israel’s military occupation; disbanding Israel’s illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem; ending the Israeli military blockade of Gaza; and ending all attacks on civilians, be they Israeli or Palestinian.”

During the Democratic primary, Biden rejected rival Bernie Sanders’ proposal of withholding military aid from Israel as a means to push it to moderate its policies involving the Palestinians.

Speaking in rural Iowa ahead of the caucus, Biden said: “The idea that I’d withdraw military aid, as others have suggested, from Israel, is bizarre. I would not do that. It’s like saying to France, ‘Because you don’t agree with us, we’re going to kick you out of NATO.’” Biden mentioned Sanders by name, and added that some on the American political left give the Palestinian leadership “a pass” while readily criticizing Israeli leadership.

Biden did criticize Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, calling his leadership “counterproductive” and “extreme right.”

Biden told donors during an April virtual fundraiser that he would not reverse Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Instead, Biden committed to reopening a U.S. consulate in East Jerusalem to engage Palestinian leaders in talks about a “two-state solution.”

Biden doubled down in early May, telling the Jewish Telegraph Agency he would not only reopen the U.S. consulate in East Jerusalem, but also “be resuming our dialogue with the Palestinians and pressing Israel not to take actions that make a two-state solution impossible.”

Biden added that he “would resume the decades-long economic and security assistance efforts to the Palestinians that the Trump administration stopped.”