Between Israel and Hezbollah, Biden is choosing shame — and risking war

President Biden has a choice: no daylight between the United States and Israel, or an Israel-Hezbollah war no one wants now.

For months his administration has chosen daylight — and has risked war. It needs to reverse course.

After Hamas’ barbaric Oct. 7 attack on Israel, the Biden administration backed Israel with both rhetoric and weapons, sending two aircraft carriers to the region to signal Hezbollah and its Iranian sponsor that an all-out attack on Israel’s north would draw a robust American response.

Instead, Hezbollah initiated a war of attrition that quickly forced over 60,000 Israelis living near the Lebanon border to leave their homes, in an ongoing barrage that has so far killed 10 Israeli civilians and 16 soldiers.

On Sunday Hezbollah fired 20 rockets on Lower Galilee, its deepest rocket attack yet.

Israel, in turn, has attacked Hezbollah from the air and with artillery, killing over 360 fighters, including senior commanders, and destroying infrastructure in southern Lebanon.

The IDF seeks to create a buffer zone to put Israeli residents outside the firing range of Hezbollah’s anti-tank missiles, enabling those displaced to return home and reducing Hezbollah’s ability to stage an Oct. 7-like ground invasion.

Thus far, Israel hasn’t used ground forces to clear out a buffer zone — a move that could trigger a full-blown war potentially involving Iran and engulfing the whole region.

But it might be freer to act soon, as its major operations in Gaza begin to wind down or if a formal cease-fire agreement with Hamas is reached.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah doesn’t appear to fear an Israeli ground incursion, and his Iranian sponsor recently threatened Israel with an “obliterating war” if it invaded Lebanon.

Yet the Biden administration, averse to any conflict with Iran, believes it can avoid an Israel-Hezbollah war by distancing itself from its Israeli ally — dovetailing with its conviction that doing so helps the president’s reelection.

Thus, the administration is denying Israel the weapons it needs to combat Hezbollah, including 2,000-pound bombs and precision guidance kits such as Joint Direct Attack Munitions.

On June 23, Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff Gen. C.Q. Brown publicly communicated the administration’s caution: “Based on where our forces are, the short range between Lebanon and Israel, it’s harder for us to be able to support [Israel] in the same way we did back in April.”

In other words, Israel should not expect a repeat of the terrific April 14 US-coordinated multilateral military action that helped defend Israel against a massive Iranian missile and drone barrage.

Brown’s comments pulled the rug out from Israel, shocking senior military officials I’ve spoken with.

In the wake of the hugely successful April 14 defense, Biden pressed Israel not to retaliate, signaling to Iran and Hezbollah that Washington might not support significant Israeli military action against either party.

Senior Israeli military and civilian officials believe Hezbollah and Iran are mistakenly convinced that Israel will not risk a major war without US support — so they can continue attacking, and even escalating.

Yet the Israelis say they cannot tolerate the northern situation much longer.

Even if a Gaza ceasefire leads Hezbollah to stop its assault, Israel still sees a northern buffer zone as imperative.

The perception of the US position is critical: The more it’s seen as willing to back Israel in a war with Hezbollah, the more likely Hezbollah will agree to a buffer zone, and the less likely war becomes.

To prevent another war, the administration should communicate no daylight between it and Israel.

Biden should welcome Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House when he visits Washington this month to speak to a joint session of Congress.

Netanyahu hasn’t yet been invited to the executive mansion since becoming premier again in late 2022, even as Biden has hosted the leaders of Kenya, Columbia, Brazil and the Philippines.

Finally, the administration must openly provide Israel all the ammunition it would need to conduct a war against Hezbollah.

This might not only prevent war now but would also advance the regional and global position of the US, as it supports an embattled ally against the vile Iran axis that attacks Americans and threatens American strategic interests.

In 1938, shortly before Britain abandoned its Czech ally in the Munich agreement and precipitated World War II, Winston Churchill wrote: “We seem to be very near the bleak choice between War and Shame. My feeling is that we shall choose Shame, and then have War.”

The Biden administration now faces that same choice.

Michael Makovsky, a former Pentagon official and author of “Churchill’s Promised Land,” is CEO of the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA).

Originally published in The New York Post.