by Judah Waxelbaum
Joe Biden has spent nearly 50 years on the political stage. In that time, he has repeatedly proven that he is no ally to Israel. The Biden platform is a delicate balance of establishment Democratic talk points when it comes to Israel. It is rare you get a candidate with this extensive of a political record; it would be criminal to ignore it.
American voters must look past the campaign and focus on Biden’s time in the Senate and as vice president. In 1982, prime minister Menachem Begin testified in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Then-senator Biden told Begin that US aid to Israel could be cut off if actions in the West Bank did not cease.
Begin responded, “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.” Biden slammed on the dais, clearly angry with what Begin was saying.
Begin continued, “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.”
All American Jews and those claiming to be allies of Israel should know of this exchange. When Biden states he will not threaten Israeli aid, this moment should be brought up every time. To those who wish to ignore this hearing due to its age, you do not get to choose when Biden’s career began. Biden was already in his second term in the Senate when he attacked Begin. He was not ignorant of the issue; he was a senator in 1973 when Richard Nixon green-lighted Operation Nickel Grass to helped Israel in the Yom Kippur War.
Biden’s career as vice president was not any better for Israel. The Obama administration oversaw the lowest point in the US-Israel relations since Israel’s establishment in 1948. Biden was party to regular leaks of Israeli intelligence and political attacks targeting Israel on the global stage. In 2010, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the US to mend relations. The prime minister was taken in and out of the White House through a side door with no official media related to the visit.
Biden also worked to pass the Iran nuclear deal, which Israel heavily opposed. There are reports that in a 2014 meeting, Obama threatened to shoot down Israeli fighter jets should they target facilities in Iran.
Biden does not get to run on the Obama-Biden record and play coy to these events. It is no coincidence that a month before Netanyahu addressed the House of Representatives, the Obama administration decided to declassify a 386-page report on Israeli nuclear capabilities. The report left details on France, Italy and other NATO nations’ programs blacked out.
During Netanyahu’s stay in Washington to address Congress, the White House declined to meet with Netanyahu. The White House claimed this was standard policy due to Netanyahu nearing an election. During the same period, Biden and secretary of state John Kerry traveled to Munich to meet with Labor leader Isaac Herzog, Netanyahu’s opponent in the election.
To paint a clear picture of how Biden sees Israel, he once gave a speech on how Israel was damaging peace negotiations in the region hours after a terrorist killed 21 people in a Jerusalem bus bombing. Biden views Israel as a prop; he has no real care for the country or its security. If he did care, he would not have sat by as the Obama administration pursued policies the Israelis warned would put their safety in danger.
We should reject Biden’s rhetoric and look at his record. With nearly 50 years to reflect on, Biden does not get to tell us what a Biden administration would look like; we have already seen it.
Judah Waxelbaum is the western regional vice chair for the College Republican National Committee. He tweets under @JudahWaxelbaum.