Feeling Biden’s pain: ADL and N.Y. Post


It’s not everyday that you find the Anti-Defamation League and The New York Post criticizing Israel.

Here’s the N.Y. Post in an editorial:

We have no problem with Israel’s decision to build in east Jerusalem, which it considers part of its indivisible capital.

But the timing of the announcement was an unnecessary slap in the face to the vice president of the United States.

Israel has few enough friends; such an insult to its closest ally makes no sense.

And the ADL’s Abe Foxman:

One doesn’t have to accept the most cynical interpretation of that announcement, and I surely don’t, that the prime minister knew about it, to recognize what a disaster it was. Whatever the motivation and whoever the responsible party, it is the government of Israel that justifiably is held accountable for converting an optimal moment in U.S.-Israel relations into a moment of crisis. The crucial point is that the government had an obligation to anticipate what might go wrong during the vice president’s visit and to give firm instruction to all cabinet members about avoiding such pitfalls, particularly on the subjects of settlements and East Jerusalem.

That the administration was angry was not surprising. First was the sense of personal embarrassment to Mr. Biden, especially since part of his mission was to enhance the relationship. Second was the need to separate itself from the Israeli actions, lest it be perceived that the coincidence of the Biden presence and the building announcement be linked in the minds of the Palestinians and Arab world. And third, with the proximity talks in the works, the administration undoubtedly saw a vociferous reaction as necessary to mitigate Palestinian anger so that the talks would proceed.

Still, Foxman added, Biden could have handled things better:

While much of this is understandable, there needs to be some stepping back so that there are no long-term deleterious results from this contretemps. The vice president’s comments in his Tel Aviv University address softening the U.S. response was helpful. Less helpful were his comments that Israel’s announcement on building in East Jerusalem was endangering American troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is the kind of rhetoric that does exactly what Mr. Biden has studiously avoided doing, linking the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to America’s larger Middle East challenges, and it unnecessarily calls into question Israel’s role as an ally and the impact on American interests. The Mearsheimer and Walts of this world will delight in this kind of criticism of Israel.

It is also in America’s interest not to let this unfortunate incident give the Palestinians another excuse not to do what is right, to finally negotiate a compromise peace with Israel and to stop the preaching of hatred. I’d like to see some of the kind of passion and emotion just exhibited in criticism of Israel be employed to condemn the continuous teaching of hatred of Israel in Palestinian schools and television and in the ongoing honoring and martyrdom of Palestinian terrorists who murder Israeli civilians.

Meanwhile, the Zionist Organization of America says the whole mess was Biden’s fault — and claims he violate his own doctrine in the process:

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has criticized Vice-President Joseph Biden for his public condemnation of Israel for its announcing the construction 1,600 homes for Jews living in eastern Jerusalem. Biden’s public criticism violates his own ‘Biden Doctrine’ as stated in his November 2001 address at the ZOA Brandeis Dinner in Philadelphia’s Adams Mark Hotel. In that address, then-Senator Biden said “Why is it that the one ally we have in that part of the world [Israel], that we have the right to publicly chastise them? We would not do that with any other friend … As much as the Middle East is always on our minds, the best thing we can do is keep it off the US and world press.” He also said that such criticism “emboldens those in the Middle East and around the world who still harbor as their sacred goal the elimination of Israel … It is not for you to tell them [Israel], nor for me, what is in their best interests. We should give them the right to determine what chances they will take” (Melissa Radler, ‘Biden says Israel, US should not argue publicly,’ Jerusalem Post, November 6, 2001).

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