Because he was Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and Vice President, Joe Biden is supposedly an expert on foreign policy. But just like everything else he has done in his public career, Biden is prone to screwing up. It’s hard to discern where he stands on Israel. As the VP (or as I like to call him the SCHMOTUS) he couldn’t publicly oppose his anti-Israel boss. But when he was in the Senate making his own decisions, at times, he seemed very supportive of America’s strongest ally in the middle east. But at other times some of his actions were negative and disturbing. Note: SCHMOTUS stands for Schmo of the United States Joe Biden Israel
Even before he joined Barack Obama on the 2008 ticket, Biden seemed to agree with the future president that the Israeli “settlements” were the root of all evil. The problem with that stance is it prevents peace. During the Bush administration, there were Israel/Palestinian talks despite that Israel was expanding those communities. When Obama/Clinton made settlements an issue, it gave the Palestinians an excuse to stop talking, so they stopped.
A great example of Biden’s over-emphasis on the settlement issue was a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in 1982. The committee was interviewing the Israeli Prime Minister, Menachem Begin.
Biden tried to intimidate Menachem Begin by pounding his fist and raising his voice threatening to cut off US aid to Israel. If he did the slightest bit of research on the PM, he would have known that threatening is not the way to get what you want from Begin. The phrase “speaking truth to power” doesn’t do him justice. Menachem Begin saw himself as a protector of the Jewish People who lost much of his family in the Holocaust and spent a year in a Russian gulag. Begin saw much of the world do nothing about the Holocaust, and was determined not to allow it to happen again. That’s one of the reasons he made peace with Egypt despite the objections of Jimmy Carter.
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On June 22 of 1982, Menachem Begin testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
During that committee hearing, at the height of the Lebanon War, Sen. John Biden (Delaware) had attacked Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria and threatened that if Israel did not immediately cease this activity, the US would have to cut economic aid to Israel.
“Don’t threaten us with cutting off your aid. It will not work. I am not a Jew with trembling knees. I am a proud Jew with 3,700 years of civilized history. Nobody came to our aid when we were dying in the gas chambers and ovens. Nobody came to our aid when we were striving to create our country. We paid for it. We fought for it. We died for it. We will stand by our principles. We will defend them. And, when necessary, we will die for them again, with or without your aid.”
Note: When Begin said, “Nobody came to our aid when we were dying in the gas chambers and ovens.” He wasn’t talking about the American heroes and those of our allies who put their lives on the line or lost their lives fighting Hitler. He was talking about the fact that FDR could have saved up to 200,000 of Hitler’s victims but didn’t want more Jews in the US. Churchill could have saved tens of thousands also but lacked the courage.
Not learning his lesson, Senator Biden Senator raised his voice at Begin and banged twice on the table. Begin responded.
“This desk is designed for writing, not for fists. Don’t threaten us with slashing aid. Do you think that because the US lends us money it is entitled to impose on us what we must do? We are grateful for the assistance we have received, but we are not to be threatened. I am a proud Jew. Three thousand years of culture are behind me, and you will not frighten me with threats. Take note: we do not want a single soldier of yours to die for us.”
The NY Times reported on the aftermath of the meeting:
After the meeting, Mr. Begin said: ”I enjoyed the session very much. I believe in liberty, that free men should freely discuss problems and if they have differences of opinion they should voice them in sincerity.”
”I said it was a lively discussion,” he said. ”If you want to use other adjectives. …” He paused, then said, ”Lively is enough.”
After the meeting, Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) approached Begin and praised him for his cutting reply. To which Begin answered with thanks, defining his stand against threats.
Liberal Jewish news service JTA believes Biden’s stance is dependent on the way the wind blows. They use this example from 2013:
Within two months in 2013, Vice President Biden spoke to AIPAC and then its bete noir, J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group. The thrust of his AIPAC speech at the beginning of March? Israeli leaders, including Netanyahu, want peace, and the Arabs need to step up.
“Israel’s own leaders currently understand the imperative of peace,” he said. “Prime Minister Netanyahu, Defense Minister Barak, President Peres — they’ve all called for a two-state solution and an absolute secure, democratic and Jewish state of Israel to live side by side with an independent Palestinian state. But it takes two to tango, and the rest of the Arab world has to get in the game.”
The thrust of his J Street speech, mid-April? Netanyahu was taking the country in the “wrong direction.”
“I firmly believe that the actions that Israel’s government has taken over the past several years — the steady and systematic expansion of settlements, the legalization of outposts, land seizures — they’re moving us and, more importantly, they’re moving Israel in the wrong direction,” he said.
At times during his Senate years, Biden screwed up some easy ways to look pro-Israel. He didn’t sign his name to non-binding pro-Israel letters that were supported by the overwhelming majority of his senate colleagues. Here are some examples:
- May 1993, Kennedy/Grassley Letter urged President Bubba Clinton to press Syria to allow Syrian Jews to leave the country. 73 Senators signed the letter.
- March 1998, Mack/Lieberman Letter urging the Clinton Administration not to pressure Israel, 82 Senators signed. Sen. Biden didn’t.
- November 2001, Bond/Schumer Letter. The letter had 89 signers. Biden was not one of them.
- March 2004, Schumer-Hatch-Clinton-Smith sent a Letter Urging Kofi Annan to reverse support for the International Court of Justice Hearings on Israel’s Security Fence, 79 Senators signed, Biden wasn’t one of them. Maybe he couldn’t find a pen or something/
- December 2005, Talent/Nelson Letter Urging Pres. Bush #43 to press Palestinian leadership to bar terrorist groups from participating in Palestinian Legislative Elections 73 co-signers: Sen. Biden did not sign this letter, he had to have found a pen by then.
- June 2008, Landrieu/Collins Letter to President Bush supporting Israel’s quest for peace, 77 Senators signed Biden wasn’t one of them.
Two months before he was elected Vice President, the Jerusalem Post reported that in 2005 Biden told Israeli officials that they should have to get used to a nuclear Iran:
Army Radio reported that the Delaware senator was heard saying in closed conversations with Jerusalem officials three years ago that he was firmly opposed to an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Biden, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, reportedly claimed that Israel would likely have to come to terms with a nuclear Iran
Robert Gates was correct when he said Biden was a Foreign-policy screw-up. Regarding Israel, his positions are strange and inconsistent. Is it that he is too lazy to understand, not smart enough to comprehend, or trying to satisfy different constituencies? In the end, it doesn’t matter because if he is all over the place regarding America’s number one ally in the middle east, how can he be trusted to run our foreign policy?
Joe Biden Israel
Joe Biden Israel
Joe Biden Israel