On June 29, after the US Supreme Court effectively killed affirmative action in education as well as the Biden administration’s student debt forgiveness, President Biden went on the attack, promising to restore the damage caused by the heavily right-leaning court, which the Black community in America said was illegitimate. When asked at a press conference: “Is this a rogue Court?” the President responded: “This is not a normal Court.”
At that point, Israel’s ambassador to the US Michael Herzog did not feel an irresistible urge to warn POTUS that questioning the validity of the Supreme Court of the United States is a grave mistake that would contribute to social instability and a loss of the public’s trust in the judicial system. Ambassador Herzog said no such thing because, you know, he is a sane diplomat who knows better than to become involved in the internal politics of his host country.
Enter Tom Nides, America’s most recent ambassador––he’s going home in August––to Israel who’s been giving a bad name to colonialism since his appointment, in December 2021. In a report headlined “US Ambassador Warned Israel Against ‘Going Off the Rails’ With Judicial Overhaul,” the Wall Street Journal’s Dov Lieber and Michael Amon suggested “Departing diplomat Thomas Nides says he told Netanyahu to ‘slow down’ on judicial overhaul.”
“It is unusual for a US administration to weigh in on matters seen as purely domestic, but Nides said the overhaul raised questions about Israel’s democratic credentials and the US-Israeli bond, which he called as close as family,” the WSJ reported on Monday.
Right away you can detect the distinction between the two diplomats, Herzog and Nides. Here’s a hint: one of them is not an arrogant American from the Midwest who thinks Israel should heed his sage advice.
“Comments by Biden and other senior US officials against the planned judicial overhaul have angered senior Israeli officials, who accused the US of not understanding the judicial legislation and of unwarranted interference in internal Israeli matters,” wrote Lieber and Amon.
In a CNN interview last weekend, President Biden called Netanyahu’s coalition partners “the most extreme” members in any Israeli government he had seen since Golda Meir. But journalists the world over have found it impossible to determine exactly when Biden met Meir. As usual, the president is no help.
In 2015, as VP, Biden said this was “one of the most consequential meetings I’ve ever had in my life.” In December 2021, during a Chanukah menorah lighting ceremony in the White House, Biden said that the future Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was present at the meeting and that Meir told him Israel had a “secret weapon,” which was: “We have no place else to go.”
But in his 2021 recollection, Biden began the familiar story with: “And during the Six-Day War, I had an opportunity to – she invited me to come over because I was going to be the liaison between she (sic.) and the Egyptians about the Suez, and so on and so forth.” According to this version, Meir referred to him as “Mr. Ambassador.”
Like all things trivial, the event has been fact-checked: Biden’s meeting took place some five weeks before the 1973 Yom Kippur War, not in 1967. How do we know? First, because Golda took office in 1969, and because in 1968, Biden earned his law degree from Syracuse University, ranked 76th out of 85 students in his class, after being caught plagiarizing a law review article.
Lieber and Amon noted that Nides was the first US ambassador to Israel in 50 years without a plan for peace between Israel and its PA Arab neighbors. Nides even declared upon assuming his office: “I did not come here to negotiate a two-state solution. I came here to do practical things.”
But then his boss in the White House continued to measure everything the Israelis do based on how likely it is to jeopardize the two-state solution.
Have we said recently that Jews become nervous whenever the word “solution” is used in proximity to the word “Jewish?”
There was one more sage advice from the departing ambassador: “I think the important thing for the security of the state of Israel is to keep things calm in the West Bank.”
The Netanyahu government this week announced an incredibly costly plan aimed at keeping the Palestinian Authority alive: it will loosen restrictions on the Ramallah VIPs movement within the green lines, invest billions in establishing industrial parks in the PA, abandon its commitment to excise from the taxes and customs Israel collects in the PA’s behalf the amount the PA is paying every month to terrorists behind bars and their families. The PA rejected it, by the way
As to the judicial reform (which the WSJ insists on calling “overhaul”): President Biden should ask someone to explain to him the difference between setting minuscule limits on the supreme court and a coup d’état. If he hasn’t done so already, the president should ask a legal expert on Israeli law to explain. He needs it, having graduated 76th out of 85 in his class.