U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Israel on what may have been one of the bloodiest days in the current wave of terror – but it did not deter him from teaching two of his grandchildren that their commitment to Israel runs deeper than the issue of security.
Biden is in Israel for a two-day visit, together with his wife Jill and the two children of his deceased son Beau, whose mother-in-law is Jewish.
The vice president commented Wednesday morning during a news briefing in Jerusalem that he deliberately brought his grandchildren to Israel this time around. He said he wants them “to see; they’re not too young to understand all of what [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] talked about – that this is a commitment that is deeper than security.”
That’s a pretty gutsy statement coming from a man whose wife and grandchildren were eating dinner just down the beach as one person was being murdered in an attack, nine others injured.
During the news conference Biden firmly condemned the escalation in violence he encountered upon his arrival.
Biden had headed for a meeting at the Peres Center for Peace while his wife Jill and two grandchildren went to the beach for dinner.
But the meeting had barely started before he began to receive messages about one terror attack after the next – including one about a particularly bloody, gruesome attack “not very far from where” his family was having dinner.
Taylor Allen Force, a U.S. citizen, Vanderbilt graduate student, a graduate of West Point and a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq, was murdered in that attack. Force’s wife was among the nine others who were wounded.
Biden’s comments about that nightmare followed a brief statement by Netanyahu in which he pointed out that Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas refused to condemn the terrorist attacks. His Fatah faction “actually praised the murderer of this American citizen as a Palestinian martyr and a hero,” Netanyahu said.
The prime minister also pointed out the dangers inherent in the “persistent incitement in Palestinian society” that “glorifies murders of innocent people and calls for a Palestinian state not to live in peace with Israel but to replace Israel.”
Gaza’s ruling Hamas terror organization – who will automatically gain citizenship in any Palestinian Authority sovereign state – released an official statement praising the attacks. The group called them “heroic operations” and cited them as proof the wave of terror remains.
“Hamas celebrates the martyrs that have ascended through these operations and confirms that their pure blood will, God willing, be the fuel for escalating the intifada,” the terrorist group wrote on its home page.
Not that this is anything new in our neighborhood; but it is most likely a new experience for Biden. He undoubtedly hears about this from Israelis with whom he speaks, but equally likely rarely gives it much thought.
Clearly, he gave it a lot of thought this time.
“Let me say in no uncertain terms: The United States of America condemns these acts and condemns the failure to condemn these acts. This cannot become an accepted modus operandi,” Biden told reporters.
“This cannot be viewed by civilized leaders as an appropriate way in which to behave,” he continued. “It is just not tolerable in the 21st century.
“They’re targeting innocent civilians, mothers, pregnant women, teenagers, grandfathers, American citizens,” he exclaimed.
“There can be no justification for this hateful violence and the United States stands firmly behind Israel when it defends itself as we are defending ourselves at this moment as well.”
He commented that his own family was very close to the action. “I don’t know how [close], whether it was 100 meters or 1,000 meters,” he said, “but it just brings home that it can happen – it can happen anywhere at any time.”
Hana Levi Julian