Melanie Phillips
Melanie PhillipsCourtesy

Melanie Phillips, a British journalist, broadcaster and author, writes a weekly column for JNS. Currently a columnist for The Times of London, her personal and political memoir, Guardian Angel, has been published by Bombardier, which also published her first novel, The Legacy, in 2018. To access her work, go to:

(JNS) Soon after the Hamas pogrom on Oct. 7, the United States sent two aircraft carriers, additional land-based warplanes, and eventually, a guided-missile submarine to the region. This was said to be a “clear message of deterrence” to Hezbollah and its patron Iran, warning them not to escalate the ensuing war between Israel and Hamas by attacking Israel from southern Lebanon.

With 150,000 precision-guided missiles embedded in Lebanon’s civilian population and able to target the whole of Israel, Hezbollah poses a vastly greater threat to Israel than Hamas.

But Hezbollah is already at war with Israel. Since the Hamas atrocities, Hezbollah has regularly been firing volleys of missiles into northern Israel, causing the evacuation of Israeli communities closest to the border and sending thousands of Israelis into their shelters.

Iran is also waging war against America itself. During the past month, Iranian proxies in the region have mounted drone and rocket attacks against U.S. air bases in Iraq and Syria at least 40 times. Dozens of American personnel have been injured and one American contractor died of cardiac arrest.

Yet the U.S. response has been feeble. It’s been limited to shooting down the drones and mounting a couple of airstrikes in eastern Syria against buildings categorized as “Iranian Revolutionary Guards-affiliated” weapons storage facilities, but otherwise doing nothing at all.

The Iranian and Hezbollah attacks keep coming. So, what exactly would it take to establish deterrence? At what point does the Biden administration decide that the war in the north has indeed escalated and requires a decisive response?

What’s the point of the mighty apparatus of war that America has sent into the region if it’s not going to use it?

And if we’re all asking that question, how does the U.S. think the Iranian regime will answer it?

America’s passivity is going hand-in-hand with a notable cooling of its original support for Israel. Immediately after the Hamas atrocities, U.S. President Joe Biden visited Jerusalem, pledged that the U.S. would stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel in the total destruction of Hamas and undertook weapons supply programs costing millions of dollars.

Now, however, there’s been an ominous change in the rhetoric. With Israel having trapped Hamas in the nerve center of its terrorist operations in Gaza City and poised to deliver a decisive blow, Biden had called for a three-day “pause” in Israel’s ground operation. Any such ceasefire would stop the IDF’s momentum, throw a lifeline to Hamas and make the terror group more likely to survive. Israel has now agreed to daily “pauses” of four hours to allow for aid and evacuation.

Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told a Senate hearing that, after Israel succeeded in ousting Hamas, “what would make the most sense would be for an effective and revitalized Palestinian Authority to have governance and ultimately security responsibility for Gaza.”

Seriously? That’s the same Palestinian Authority that incites jihadi holy war against Israel, pays rewards to terrorists and their families, teaches Palestinian Arab children to murder Jews and steal their land, and is presiding over a huge increase in murderous attacks on Israelis in the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria.

Not only is Blinken’s proposal a recipe for further Israeli bloodshed, it also ignores the elephant in the room. Israel isn’t just fighting Hamas and Hezbollah. It is fighting Iran.

Tehran funds and arms Hamas and, as Hamas has acknowledged, was behind the Oct. 7 pogrom. Iran funds and arms Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, Syrian militias, the Iraqi Shi’ites and the Palestinian Arabs in the disputed territories.

Israel is thus surrounded by a regime and its proxies whose aim is the annihilation of the Jewish state. If Iran isn’t stopped, Israel will before long face the ultimate nightmare of a genocidal enemy armed with nuclear weapons.

Even if Hamas is utterly destroyed, Hezbollah and Iran will still need to be dealt with. America needs to strike the head of the snake.

But the Biden administration studiously avoids identifying Iran as the real enemy. For the terrible truth is that Iran has been empowered by America.

The Obama administration’s 2015 nuclear deal would not only have enabled a nuclear-weaponized Iran after only a few years’ delay. It also funneled billions into Tehran’s coffers, which it used to accelerate its regional power grab and terrorist activities.

This strategy of empowering Iran has been continued by the Biden administration. It has groveled to Tehran in an attempt to restore the nuclear deal, relaxed sanctions once again and retaliated on only four occasions to the 90 attacks by Iranian proxies over the past three years on U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria.

Even now, the Biden administration still wants to bring Iran on its side. Even now, it is still banging the drum for a Palestinian Arab state despite the murderous terrorism against Jews incited by the people America wants to run it.

As a result, far from having Israel’s back, the Biden administration is aiming its knives at it.

The IDF is going to great lengths to protect Gaza’s civilians as much as possible in the middle of a war. It is warning them to evacuate targeted buildings through leaflets, phone calls and “knock on the roof” missiles. It set up a humanitarian corridor to the south, along which it has been guarding evacuees against attacks by Hamas.

Yet despite the fact that the United States took no such steps to protect Iraqi civilians when it flattened Mosul in its fight with ISIS, Washington is increasingly harassing Israel to do more to protect Gaza’s civilians.

This is clearly paving the way for Washington to abandon Israel in the event of a genuinely high civilian death toll in Gaza.

This malignant appeasement of Iran and harassment of Israel goes back to former President Barack Obama. In his recent remarks about the Hamas pogrom and the Gaza war, Obama equated Hamas’s “horrific” atrocities with Israel’s “unbearable” occupation and war.

But Israel hasn’t “occupied” Gaza since 2005. If Obama was referring to the disputed territories, what’s “unbearable” there is the daily and unremitting campaign of murderous attacks on Israeli Jews.

Obama’s attempt to shift the blame for the depraved onslaught against Israeli Jews onto Israel itself was despicable and morally degenerate. Worse, the Biden administration is stuffed with Obama retreads and acolytes. There’s worse still.

In September, the news platform Semafor and the London-based émigré opposition outlet Iran International reported sensationally on a large leak of Iranian government correspondence and emails.

These revealed that, in 2014, senior Iranian Foreign Ministry officials initiated a quiet effort to bolster Tehran’s image over its nuclear program through a network of influential overseas academics and researchers.

This involved Iranian infiltration of the Obama administration. At least two of the people on the Iranian network list were, or became, top aides to envoy Robert Malley. He was the point man on Iran under both the Obama and Biden administrations until he was placed on leave in June following the suspension of his security clearance.

The leaked materials showed that, in 2021, Malley helped infiltrate an Iranian agent of influence named Ariane Tabatabai, who was associated with the Iranian network, into the State Department to assist him in his negotiations with Iran.

Tabatabai then moved to the Pentagon, where she still serves as chief of staff to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations Christopher Maier in an office that oversees hostage recovery—including presumably the U.S. citizens now being held hostage by Hamas.

No one will say why Malley was suspended other than it was over a “mishandling of classified material.” The tight secrecy suggests that what he did was devastating to national security.

Meanwhile, as Lee Smith writes in Tablet: “Pro-Hamas and pro-Iran influencers inside the Pentagon are briefing that Israel is manipulating the U.S. into a war with Iran.”

Just whose side is America really on?