How can any Israeli just not be charmed by good ole’ Joe Biden? Time and again, especially when courting Jewish voters or when appearing on behalf of his boss Barack Obama before Jewish audiences, America’s Vice President has ebulliently let us know that some of his best friends are Zionists.
He has even famously stated: “I am a Zionist.” He instantly then added straight-faced: “You don’t have to be a Jew to be a Zionist.” We might never have grasped this elusive truth, had he not enlightened us.
During the 2008 Vice-Presidential debate, Biden announced that “no one in the United States Senate has been a better friend to Israel than Joe Biden. I would have never, ever joined this ticket were I not absolutely sure Barack Obama shared my passion.”
Of course, it’s up to the listener to decide whether Obama is as friendly to Israel as Biden says or whether Biden has grown as unfriendly as Obama. One thing is indisputable – Biden has placed himself and Obama in the identical category.
Whatever we may think of it, Biden clearly considers what he hypes as his “Israel’s staunchest ally” status to be a license to tell us off when he deems us deserving of rebuke. After all, bosom buds accrue special privileges. This dates way back to long before his March boycott of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to the joint houses of Congress.
Back 1982, Senator Biden (D-Delaware) threatened to cut off aid to Israel. In subsequent years he hotly denied this but Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s late right-hand man Yechiel Kadisha’i unequivocally confirmed Biden’s bullying in many conversations we held.
Biden lost it on June 22, when Begin spoke at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Kadisha’i described Biden as behaving “like a meshuggner.” Biden railed against settlements and banged excitedly on his desk to accentuate his verbal admonishments.
More recently, in 2010, Biden warned us (at Tel Aviv University) that “the status quo is not sustainable.” Obviously doubting our abilities to comprehend so weighty a message, he slowly and deliberately reiterated the portentous mantra with extra emphasis on the really important syllables, so that even dim-witted vassals can get the point and get scared.
Our left-leaning media did all it could to amplify the implicit intimidations. Opinion-molders prone to running with the pack and going with the flow were duly aghast with angst.
Considering that, on average, historical memory in our midst isn’t retained beyond two-weeks’ worth, most of us tend to forget how big a deal it was five years ago. Esteemed tendentious commentators claimed to be shaken to their sensitive cores by the wagging finger and bitchy barbs of the harsh critic who, with that trademark mischievous twinkle ever-present in his eyes, kept declaring his undying love for Israel.
But upon cooler reflection, they might have realized that in effect Biden warned that if we don’t rush to slash our own throats our enemies might shortly decapitate us.
Was that hackneyed time-is-against-Israel theme reason to lose our heads? Apparently it wasn’t because at the Israeli Embassy’s recent Independence Day do in Washington, Biden reassured us that “we love each other and we protect each other.”
Then, never one to sidestep an opportunity to put his foot in his mouth, Biden basically advised Israelis to blindly rely on his promise that in the current dealings with Iran Obama would “put in place the toughest transparency and verification requirement providing the best possible check against a secret path to a bomb.”
But what if, as Israel consistently contends, no transparency is possible?
Biden blithely dismissed our misplaced mistrust: “If the final deal on the table does not meet the president’s requirement, we simply will not sign it.” Sounds simple, assuming that Obama’s requirements mesh with our own.
Not a problem, exclaimed Biden, patronizingly pledging that “if you were attacked and overwhelmed, we would fight for you.”
Music to our anxious ears? Not quite. Subliminal in Biden’s “we have your back” guarantee is the notion that Israel can allow itself to be weakened to the point of being overwhelmed. Put differently, Israel can take the chance of entrusting its fate to the goodwill of others.
To be fair, though, Biden is hardly the first American in high places to condescendingly treat Israel like a suppliant subordinate even if out of avowed good intentions.
The recommendation that we tone down our existential paranoia is by no means original. Israel had always steadfastly rejected any suggestion that foreigners fight its battles. Besides the not insignificant matter of losing control over our most vital interests, experience has taught us that dependence on foreigners won’t earn us brownie points.
It never did. Portraying the Allies as fighting for Jews was a favorite Nazi propaganda set-piece and a line used by anti-Semites to keep America out of WWII. It was Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s nagging fear that isolationists would ascribe to him totally unmerited philo-Semitic sentiments.
And in this 21st century George W. Bush had to fend off charges that he took on Saddam at Israel’s behest and sent American boys to in effect fight for the Jews – yet again. Still, although this anti-Semitic canard hasn’t lost its flavor, assorted American politicians keep periodically proposing that the US take over Israel’s defense.
What Biden says now was also suggested by Indiana Republican Richard Lugar (who preceded Biden as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and who was four years afterwards succeeded by Biden). In 2003 Lugar advocated the dispatching of American troops to uproot Hamas terrorists. The French, ever eager for superpower status at Israeli expense, launched “consultations” with other Europeans about the feasibility of policing us as well.
With unconcealed “we-told-you-so” exultation, Israel’s Left asserted at the time that imposing someone else’s law and order upon unruly us is the only logical way to end “the cycle of violence.” Let’s, for the sake of argument, subscribe to this view and assume that it’s best to become a docile protectorate.
But then what?
Heeding Biden (like Lugar) would only leave more American boys with the distorted impression that they’re fighting for Jews – like their great grandfathers were manipulated to believe in the 1940s.
If anything unites America’s political fringes – and lots in-between – it’s the uncommon alacrity to blame Jews for whatever ails the world, even if few would candidly admit this in our era of disingenuous political correctness. Nonetheless, already during the first Gulf War uber-conservative Jew-baiter Pat Buchanan insisted that America attacked Iraq at Israel’s behest (although Israel was Scudded as a result of a war it had nothing to do with and although the elder Bush scarcely disguised his antipathy to Israel).
Buchanan wasn’t alone. In early 2004 soon-to-retire Senator Fritz Hollings (D-South Carolina) wrote an op-ed for Charleston’s Post and Courier charging that the second Iraqi war was fought for Israel, to win Jewish votes for the younger Bush.
Hollings pinpointed the cabal to three latter-day Elders of Zion: Defense Policy Board member Richard Perle, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, and columnist Charles Krauthammer. Hollings went on to defend his article in a Congressional speech. To put things into context, he once called fellow-Democrat Howard Metzenbaum “the senator from B’nai B’rith.”
It may have been tempting to dismiss Hollings’s rants about Jewish neoconservatives brainwashing Bush were it not for the powerful echoes his diatribe set off. Retired Marine Corps General Anthony Zinni, whom Bush-the-son himself incredibly dispatched to this region in the role of honest broker, had to be taken more seriously.
Like Hollings, Zinni maliciously suggested that Israel was guilty of hijacking American foreign policy through its neocon strike force, which instigated the invasion of Iraq in order to bolster Israel’s position. Zinni homed in exclusively on Jewish names: Wolfowitz; Perle; Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith; National Security Council member Eliot Abrams; and Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, Lewis “Scooter” Libby.
“I think it’s the worst kept secret in Washington, that everybody – everybody I talk to in Washington – has known and fully knows what their agenda was and what they were trying to do,” ex-envoy Zinni expounded on 60 Minutes in May 2004.
Unsurprisingly this spurious Jewish connection attracted instant knee-jerk support from neo-Nazi David Duke. But more disconcertingly, others were coming out of the woodwork too – on the opposite side of the political spectrum. Cindy Sheehan, the American anti-war activist whose soldier-son fell in Iraq, quickly joined the screeching Judeophobic chorus.
These are just a few samples of what can be expected if Americans were sent to truly fight for Israel. These aren’t esoteric episodes dredged from the dark recesses of an irrelevant past. What was continues to be what is. Even in a seemingly changing world, some things never change.
So it’s thanks but ‘no,’ Joe.
We Israelis are capable as no other to take care of ourselves. However, we’re often wary of using the force at our disposal. We’re deterred by our role as the universal killjoy who provokes international displeasure. When the world courted Saddam, we destroyed his nuclear reactor and were roundly condemned for our good deed. Invariably the world seeks to restrain us and rescue the villains – like Tehran’s ayatollahs at the present time.
Superpowers who want to preempt a nuclear Iran or to resolve the Palestinian conflict, need only abstain from appeasing genocidal enemies who bay for our blood – not send troops.
Biden himself could benefit from recalling Begin’s unfazed response to his senatorial temper tantrum of 33 years ago:
“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.”
Our Brilliant Sarah is back !!!
We need you Sarah.
I have really missed your column – so glad to see it’s back and that you are telling it like it is.
You are a very cynical lady, dear Sarah.
You should learn to be a little more positive like your Uncle Noody.
Thanks for once again leaving me with absolutely no hope.
The inability for “Noodle” to arguably accept reality and confuse it with positivity / negativity are two different concepts. Furthermore “Uncle Noody” you come across on this occasion as somewhat patronising. It won’t have a bearing on the reputation of a literary premier league writer like Sarah Honig, but it does give an insight into your questionable thought processes and logic.
Hi Sarah, you received a ‘lot of hits on your blogg’ from me, just ‘checking out’ when your latest Blogg Comments would befall on your ‘cult followers. Much thanks for this ‘new perspective on the ‘Jew Appeasers looking for Jew Support’ from the Joe Bidens of the world who continue to profess the ‘ridiculous, shop worn statements that ‘Some of My Best Friends are Jews” baloney. Especially brilliant was your last paragraph quoting Menachem Begin’s words re ‘one of Joe Biden’s tantrums’ of the past…I also remember Begin giving a ‘history lesson’ to Leslie Stall during her interview with him while she was ‘drifting off’ with her lack of knowledge of Israel vis a vis the Middle East….Begin was ‘my hero’, and I place him, along with Lincoln and Washington, to be one of the great leaders in behalf of their respective countries. Welcome back, we missed you!
A bear hug for you dear Sarah !!!!!
Great to have you back !
Joe Biden is just another spineless antisemitic Iran appeaser, like his sorry boss.
Obama, Kerry, Biden & co are simply TRAITORS !
Congress must stop these madmen now.
Hallelujah !! Praise the Lord – she’s back!!!! At last we have the return of reality, superb linguistics and prose and a pragmatic perspective on the events of the day. Welcome back Sarah. Literary life is dull without your input.
Google Prescott Bush
Welcome back, Kotter!
From the new york times of 2011:
By HELENE COOPER SEPT. 30, 2011
WASHINGTON — In the middle of a meeting with 15 rabbis in Boca Raton, Fla., last week, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. took a punch meant for his boss.
One of the rabbis asked why Jonathan Pollard, the Israeli spy convicted in 1986, was still in prison. Mr. Biden, on a mission to shore up support for President Obama, replied forcefully, according to several people at the meeting.
“President Obama was considering clemency, but I told him, ‘Over my dead body are we going to let him out before his time,’ ” Mr. Biden said. “If it were up to me, he would stay in jail for life.”
–Interesting choice of words. Most advisers would say “I would not recommend that, Mr President”. For a politician is “dead body” resignation? Is he that determined that Pollard die in solitary confinement?
“undying love for Israel”
–Any Jew who’s ever had a good Irish friend knows it eventually winds up (with the best of intentions) in a plea for conversion. The Irish have a kindly reputation and a bigoted disposition, the very opposite of the Jews.
“if you were attacked and overwhelmed, we would fight for you.”
–Jan Karski(the only triple pure righteous gentile) met Roosevelt in 1943 and pleaded for the Jews. “I have to go back to Poland, what can I give them, Mr President.”. FDR puffed out his chest and said “Justice! They will have Justice!”. The Nuremberg trials killed twelve.
Finally, considering that, what will happen if Iran gets the bomb, uses it and a half-million Jews die. What will Israel do? Ben Gurion, six years after the Holocaust, sold the honor of the Jews for a couple of bucks(Begin was in fierce opposition). Will the Jews demand the Nuremberg ratio and order the hanging of one Iranian general? Or not even that. Nobody believes in the “Samson option” any more; everyone knows the role of the Jews is to die for the sins of others.
That last line I wrote reminded me of this week’s parshah. It described the sin-offerings in the old temple. One dove (or goat) would be offered to God, the other set free to take the sins away (to Azazel, who-or-what(ever) he is).
In modern thought, a scapegoating is bad, a miscarriage of justice but in the olden times it was good, a ridding of the community of sin, which was, in those days, real, not an opinion. Even in the present day, believing Christians will still sometimes adhere to that, at least in theory. Perhaps Biden and Obama do too. All Iran’s sins get transferred to Israel, and when Israel is banished from the camp (of the UN tribe of nations) Iran will become pure, kindly and acceptable. (If you don’t believe this as reality, take it as poetry).
A majority of Jewish voters stateside believe the lies of Obama and Biden; in Israel, not so much, but they are a formidable minority, many with anti-Israel views long before Obama and Biden came along.
Can Jews here and in Israel effectively settle these differences between ourselves and present a more unified front against the maniacs in this world implacably hell-bent on our destruction?
Nice article with a depressing ending, because it summarizes most of Jewish history in one paragraph. Namely, down through the ages, Jews, including Israelis, have mostly had to rely on themselves, and have done a fairly good job of it, no thanks to used-car-salesmen types like Joe Biden. As Sarah rightly points out, it’s not hard to see through Biden’s thin veneer of amiability, cloaked in condescension. Biden has been a goverrnment official forever. He got rich in the 1970’s, lining his pockets with kickbacks from Amtrak subsidies. He hasn’t changed since then, and never will. In 2008, on an income of $215,000, Biden’s donations totaled one(1) piece of furniture worth $400, and $195 cash. What does that say about him? Not exactly the kind of guy you believe when he says, “We have your back.”
As the wizard said, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!”
Brilliant article, and its G-R-E-A-T to have Sarah back in business.
Thank you for writing this NOW.