Reports of an impending visit to Israel by a US secretary of state should normally give cause for diplomatic delight, highlighting as they do the strong and profound bilateral relationship that exists between the two countries.
As perennial allies with shared values and common strategic and national interests, it is only natural that a huddle by senior American and Israeli officials would be expected to bolster the bonds of fraternity.
But in light of the Biden administration's barely concealed hostility toward Israel's new government, and some utterly outrageous public statements it has made in recent weeks, the possible arrival of Secretary of State Antony Blinken in the coming weeks hardly seems like a cause for celebration.
Brandishing a level of chutzpah that seems reserved exclusively for the Jewish state, various Biden administration officials have felt free to offer comments about everything ranging from the proposed reform of Israel's legal system to a visit by an Israeli government minister to the Temple Mount.
Sadly, the public has become all too accustomed to such behavior, as though it is normal and acceptable for Washington to interfere in the Jewish state's internal affairs. But it most assuredly is not.
It is time to call out President Joe Biden and his crew for the implicit contempt they demonstrate for Israel and its democratically elected leadership.
TAKE, FOR example, remarks that Blinken made last month at a conference held by the far-left J Street group in Washington, where he said, "We expect the new Israeli government to work with us to promote our shared democratic values."
That may sound innocuous enough, but it is in fact a thinly veiled and downright offensive bit of criticism. After all, does anyone seriously think that Israel's new government is not fully committed to promoting "shared democratic values"?
Blinken did not say that he "expects" Israeli officials to continue breathing or eating or watching Netflix because it is obvious that they will do so. The only reason to broach the subject of a commitment to democracy was to cast doubt on it, something that, with all due respect, no American secretary of state has the right to do.
Similarly, in November, even before the new Israeli coalition had been formed, US Ambassador Thomas Nides blasted the idea that Israel might annex parts of Judea and Samaria, using language more suited to a pub than a podium.
Speaking to the KAN broadcasting network, Nides said, "Our position is quite clear: We do not support annexation. We will fight any attempt to do so, which is, by the way, the position of most of the Arab countries."
"Fight any attempt to do so"? The US administration is, of course, free to formulate its own policies, however wrongheaded they might be. And it is equally free to debate and discuss them, both in public and in private, with its ally in Jerusalem. But to threaten a government that hadn't yet even come into existence with a "fight" over a long-standing policy dispute is hardly a sign of even the minimal respect one would expect between true allies.
A similar attitude was on display after National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir visited the Temple Mount on January 3. That same day, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said that Washington was "deeply concerned" by the visit, asserting that such "unilateral actions" are "unacceptable." Two days later, Nides piped in, saying during a radio interview that Ben-Gvir's visit was "obviously provocative."
Whatever one may think of Ben-Gvir, every Israeli, regardless of race, religion or creed, has the right to visit the Temple Mount, which is sovereign and liberated Israeli territory. And that same right extends to members of Israel's government.
For senior American officials to denounce the visit is breathtakingly patronizing. Apparently, the Biden administration seems to think it can berate Israel as a chaperone might chastise a mischievous teenager.
This free-flowing haughtiness has now reached even deeper into Israel's domestic debates.
This past weekend, Washington appeared to criticize the planned overhaul of Israel's legal system. It seems the State Department issued a statement to reporters stressing that "Israel's independent institutions are crucial to upholding the country's thriving democracy," as though such a reminder was needed.
This pattern of behavior, and Israel's acquiescence to it, needs to change. There is no other American ally on Earth – not England or Germany or Australia or Canada – that is subjected to such brazen condescension. It does not befit the US relationship with Israel and only serves to provide ammunition to our foes.
No one is suggesting that the two countries must agree on everything. But the Biden administration can and must find a more mature way of expressing its views.