Reflections on the Biden vs. Begin Collision
For the Delaware Democrat, mean-spirited ignorance remains the rule.
Back on May 10, Hamas fired seven rockets into Jerusalem, followed in short order by 3,200 rockets into Israeli cities. Targets included homes, apartment blocks, schools, kindergartens and an oil storage tank. Israel responded with strikes on targets in the Gaza Strip, and that prompted Joe Biden’s call to Benjamin Netanyahu, pushing for “a significant de-escalation today on the path to a ceasefire.”
Biden also encountered Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who was on record that “apartheid-in-chief Netanyahu will not listen to anyone asking nicely.” Biden told her, “You’re a fighter and God thank you for being a fighter.” Back on June 22, 1982, Sen. Biden met a fighter of a different sort, Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin, a veteran of Israel’s war of independence and survivor of Arab wars against Israel from 1948 onward.
Under the Camp David Accords, brokered by President Jimmy Carter, Israel returned to Egypt the Sinai Peninsula, occupied during the 1967 war. Begin and Anwar Sadat were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1978. On June 22, 1982, while Israel was tangling with the PLO in Lebanon, Menachem Begin appeared in a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. Sen. Biden told Begin that if Israel did not immediately cease building settlements in Judea and Samaria, the United States would cut off economic aid to Israel.
“Don’t threaten us with cutting off your aid. It will not work,” Begin responded. “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 then raised his voice at Begin and banged twice on the table.
“This desk is designed for writing, not for fists.” Begin said. “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.”
According to the New York Times, after the meeting 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.” Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, New York Democrat, spoke in support of Begin, as did Republicans S.I. Hayakawa of California, and Rudy Boschwitz of Minnesota.
One might think that Biden, from a state of 1900 square miles, might have shown more understanding of Israel, a nation of 8,550 square miles, less than the area of New Jersey.
As Dan Gelernter notes in “Palestine Shouldn’t Exist,” when Israel declared independence in 1948, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Yemen immediately invaded. The invaders “encouraged the Arabs living in Israel to flee, promising they’d get a much better deal on land once the Jews had all been killed,” but they weren’t. The fledgling state defeated the invaders, who refused to settle the Arabs they encouraged to leave Israel. Syria offered free land to potential cultivators, “provided he was neither Jewish nor Palestinian.”
By contrast, as David Horowitz shows in “Why Israel is the Victim,” the sole Jewish state has welcomed Palestinian Arabs and “there are more than a million Arabs living safely in Israel where they enjoy more citizen rights than the Arabs living in any Arab country, or for that matter the Muslims living in any Muslim country. If Arabs treated Jews half as well, there would be no Middle East ‘problem.’” Unfortunately, “the ethnic cleansing of the Jews has always been the objective of Arabs and Palestinians.”
The late David Fromkin charted the background of this conflict in A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East. Joe Biden shows little familiarity with that book or scholarly works of any kind. As Mark Bowden explained in a 2010 Atlantic profile, “Biden is not an intellectual,” and “makes few references to books and learned influences in his speeches and autobiography.”
In a presidential debate last October, Biden said Hitler “in fact invaded Europe,” the sort of ignorance one would expect from the drunk at the end of the bar. Joe Biden opposed the operation to kill Osama bin Laden and criticized President Trump for taking out Iranian terrorist Qassem Soleimani. Now Biden ignores Hamas, cozies up to Iran, and as in 1982, tightens the screws on Israel.
“As over 3,000 rockets are fired into Israel, the establishment of the Democratic Party seems paralyzed over how to respond to the latest Middle East war,” Victor Davis Hanson explains in “Why Does the Left Hate Israel?” Democrats are “in terror also that anti-Israelism is becoming synonymous with rank anti-Semitism. And soon the Democratic Party will end up disdained as much as was the British Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn.”