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History As It Happens

May 16, 2024

President Joseph Biden's decision to pause bomb shipments to Israel over its planned invasion of Rafah provoked a curious charge from Republican legislators. They accused Biden of "abandoning" Israel despite his steadfast support of the Jewish state not only for much of the past seven months (since the 10/7 Hamas attack) but also for most of his decades-long career in Washington. The truth is that every U.S. administration since 1948 has supported Israel, but rarely has the support come without any conditions or criticisms. In this episode, historian Jeremi Suri discusses the deep historical roots of the "special relationship" between the two countries. In the context of the past 75 years, President Biden's move to withhold certain weapons because they may be used to kill Palestinian civilians is the kind of politics that has often tested, but not severed, the bilateral bond.