Biden’s pattern with Israel: public support, private rebuke


It’s a story Joe Biden loved to tell for decades: welcomed a 30-year-old senator to Israel on his first visit in 1973 and schooled him in a six-day war. The danger still faced by Gorda Meir and Israel in chain smoking giving him a hug for his grandmother before passing through.

However, the classified Israeli government memos portray a less anodyne version of Byden’s meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister that day, “showing a lack of diplomatic experience” when a young Senator expressed concern. On land seized by Israel on the west bank of the Jordan River and in the Gaza Strip many years ago, reporting that it “showed enthusiasm” personally. This document was published last year Israeli channel 13.

For Biden, it was the beginning of familiar dynamics. For nearly fifty years in national affairs, he has often booked the toughest messages for private talks with Israeli leaders, publicly honing his image as an unwavering supporter of Israel.

This pattern still applies, as Biden delivered the sharpest message to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the conflict with Hamas in Gaza, with little in public.

Biden puts more pressure on the ceasefire from some Democrats and UN Security Council members as Hamas rockets flew toward Israel for days and Israeli airstrikes struck Gaza. I resisted the call to do so. Biden told Netanyahu on Wednesday in his fourth conversation in eight days that he was hoping for a “significant escalation” by the end of the day on the way to a ceasefire, according to a White House phone call.

But a few hours later, Biden talked about the need to face accelerating global challenges, so he didn’t even mention the Gaza War or his diplomacy in his graduation speech at the United States Coast Guard Academy. did.

Washington was the stage in 1982 when Biden was in a group of US lawmakers who had a tense meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Biden reportedly urged the start to stop the construction of the Israeli settlement on the west coast, but some of his colleagues were critical of other aspects of Israeli policy.

After the meeting, Massachusetts Democratic Senator Paul Tsongas told reporters, “I haven’t seen such an angry session with a foreign head of state for eight years in Washington. It’s no exaggeration. “

Overall, Biden adhered to the US establishment line of reaffirming his financial commitment to Israel, regardless of his actions against Palestinians, and to the Jewish-American audience his personal to their community. Frequently reminded me of intimacy. In a 1986 Senate floor speechHe provided ample defense of US aid to Israel — calling it “the best $ 3 billion investment we make” and apologizing to colleagues for their support of the country. I urged you to stop.

Biden tells the Jewish audience about building bonds with the nine Israeli Prime Ministers who overlapped with his time in the elected duties, and the horror of the Nazis’ efforts to drive the Jews out of Europe. Recalling what he taught him about, of his children visiting the Dachau concentration camp. On the light side, he often jokes that when his daughter married a Jewish surgeon, he gave him all the dreams of an Irish Catholic father.

However, there was a moment when Biden’s frustration with Netanyahu pervaded the public.

Netanyahu as Vice President after Biden and President Barack Obama were embarrassed by Israeli leaders approving the construction of 1,600 new apartments in the disputed East Jerusalem during Biden’s 2010 visit to Israel. Made the dinner party wait.

Netanyahu tried to heal his hurt feelings at dinner. However, after the meal, Biden warned the prime minister in a statement saying the move undermined the Obama administration’s efforts to persuade Palestinians to resume peace talks.

As tensions between Obama and Netanyahu continued, Biden pointed out in a 2014 speech at the Jewish Federation of North America that he and Netanyahu were “still companions,” but the relationship was somewhat complicated.

Biden said he had written a photo of Netanyahu saying, “Bibi, I don’t agree with you, but I love you.”

In a Q & A session with voters on the campaign trail in late 2019, Biden called Netanyahu a “counter-effect” and “far-right” leader, while Palestinian leaders “incited” the conflict and “Jews.” I ate everyone who was. ” .. He also suggested that some of the political left of the United States give the Palestinian Authority a “pass” when criticizing Israel’s leadership.

When the Biden White House negotiated the current crisis, the president and his advisers said Israelis were unlikely to respond to international resolutions and public demands by the United States, and their best leverage would be behind the scenes. Officials said it had calculated.

At the same time, the White House is more likely to have a very high casualty event or other provocative action by either side, which can make it more difficult to reach a ceasefire the longer the conflict. I have in mind that it will be.

Aaron David Miller, a former Middle East adviser to the Democratic and Republican administrations, says Biden will lead the US recovery from the global epidemic and reduce Hamas’ military power by focusing on emerging markets. Economic and strategic competition with China, which said it showed patience with Netanyahu’s campaign.

“This isn’t Joe Biden, who is on the verge of crisis as a young senator or chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,” said Miller, a senior researcher at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “This isn’t even Joe Biden as Vice President. This is Joe Biden as President in the face of an imminent crisis and an agenda that will turn your head. The last thing he wants to do. Is to realize that we are stuck with this problem. “

Biden tested the concept when he visited Michigan this week while sitting in the cab of an electric Ford truck he was taking for a test drive.

Reporters asked Biden if he would ask questions about the ongoing Israeli-Hamas conflict.

“Unless you come in front of the car when I step on it, that’s not the case,” Biden counterattacked. He added that he was making fun of him, but then ran into the gas and hurried away.


Associated Press writers Darlene Superville in Washington and Bill Burrow in Atlanta contributed to this report.