Biden: The Israelis remind me of English oppressors of Irish Catholics, or something

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

This looks worse than any reference to “breakfast tacos” — a lot worse. On his trip to the Middle East, Joe Biden took the obligatory visit to the West Bank to assure the Palestinians that he still supports a two-state solution. Rather than just stick to policy, Biden decided to offer his thoughts on ethnic conflict, and … it got every bit as bad as you’d think.

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Maybe even worse than you’d imagine, in fact:

Say what? Let’s put aside the fact that this situation resulted from two attempts by Arab nations to annihilate Israel in 1948 and 1967, which makes this not in the least akin to the 800 years of Anglo-Norman domination of Ireland. Biden appears to go out of his way to accuse Israel of oppressing the Palestinians, and at the same time insulting our close allies in the United Kingdom who still find themselves ruling a significant slice of Ireland to this day.

This followed a previous attempt by Biden to establish his Irish bona fides with the Israelis, as RTÉ reported yesterday:

Mr Biden was meeting Israel’s President Isaac Herzog, whose Belfast-born father is also a previous President of Israel. Mr Herzog spoke of it being “a great day for the Irish” as he met Mr Biden in Jerusalem.

The two men spoke of their shared Irish heritage.

Isaac Herzog’s father, former Israeli President Chaim Herzog, was born in Belfast and grew up in Dublin, where he became Ireland’s bantamweight boxing champion. Mr Herzog’s grandfather, Rabbi Yitzhak Isaac HaLevi Herzog, was rabbi of Dublin after the Irish declaration of independence.

Mr Biden inscribed the guestbook in the presidential residence saying that: “From our shared Irish roots to our shared love of Israel, we are united in heart and spirit.

“May our friendship endure and continue to grow! That is the Irish of it, as my grandfather Finnegan would say. God bless you, Joe.”

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I’d bet that Herzog and the Israelis find Biden’s gasbaggery about being Irish a lot less charming today. The British likely find it a lot less charming as well, not just for historical reasons but also because the issue of Northern Ireland has become a lot more acute with Brexit and the trading issues that were blindingly obvious all along.

It’s true that both sides of the Troubles adopted the iconography of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before the Good Friday agreement ended the violence:

But that doesn’t make the two situations at all analogous. They aren’t — not in history, not in the root conflicts, not even in philosophies. The IRA and the militant loyalists adopted the iconography for PR purposes only, and it mattered very little to the overall conflict. (For instance, the Irish didn’t expel the Brits from a half-dozen or more majority-Irish countries in the region at the time of partition, just to cite one small difference between the two situations.)

Besides, these old pictures have it backwards. Do Palestinians march around with Irish flags and Israelis with the Union Jack? No? That’s what’s wrong with this analogy, let alone having Biden draw it in public.

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And besides, even if one wants to draw some sort of analogy to it, why do so while working on a diplomatic mission to strengthen ties between the Israelis and the Sunni nations? What possible benefit will Biden or the US derive from insulting the Israelis and the British by making this stupid observation as a personal suck-up to Palestinians? Why do so while still in Jerusalem in particular, where the Israelis and the British will take offense and where it will raise the stakes on the Saudis to demand concessions up front when Biden goes to meet with Mohammed Bin Salman?

Oh, right — Biden finally admitted that the meeting is on, after insisting for months that he wouldn’t meet with MBS:

President Joe Biden plans to meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a sit-down he had earlier insisted would not take place, when he arrives Friday for a controversial visit to Saudi Arabia.

The White House said Friday that Biden and top administration officials would meet with the crown prince and Saudi ministers after the president meets one-on-one with King Salman.

Biden had sought to distance himself ahead of the trip from the crown prince, who the U.S. intelligence community concluded was behind the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. When asked in June if he would be meeting with the crown prince, who is also widely referred to as MBS, Biden told reporters he would not. “I’m not going to meet with MBS,” he said then. “I’m going to an international meeting, and he’s going to be part of it.”

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Biden is a walking, talking diplomatic disaster. This entire sequence puts paid to the notion that he’s some sort of expert in foreign policy and diplomacy. He’s just as bad at those areas as he has proven to be in … well, every other area of the presidency.

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John Stossel 1:00 PM | June 15, 2024
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