President Joe Biden’s statement on the occasion of Israel’s 75th Independence Day suggested: “The United States recognizes the resilience of Israel’s democracy—the bedrock for our robust and special relationship.”
“On behalf of the people of the United States, I extend our best wishes to the people of Israel as they celebrate 75 years of statehood,” Biden’s statement began, adding, “When David Ben-Gurion declared Israel’s independence in 1948, he announced the birth of a state “based on freedom, justice, and peace.” Just 11 minutes later, President Truman announced that the United States would be the first nation to recognize the government of Israel. Today, we are still proud to be counted among the first of Israel’s friends and allies.”
One of Biden’s favorite stories about his friendship with Israel goes back to a meeting he says he had back in 1973 with then-Prime Minister Golda Meir. 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 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.”
It’s all 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. He was finally admitted to the Delaware bar in 1969, and only in January 1971 took office representing Delaware’s 4th district in Congress. He won his US Senate seat in 1972.
The details of Biden’s story are a little strange even if we accept that it took place in the summer of 1973. Biden visited Egypt in 1973, before he visited Israel, and supposedly passed a message from the Egyptians to Meir. To remind you, Biden was the junior Senator from Delaware at the time, a complete unknown outside DC.
An Israeli government official’s summary of the meeting noted that Biden appeared raw politically, and insisted Israel should withdraw unilaterally from the “occupied territories” as a way of reaching peace with its neighbors. Golda disagreed. During the menorah lighting in December 2021, President Biden recalled: “She invited me to come over because I was going to be the liaison between she (sic.) and the Egyptians about the Suez.” Of course, in his early years in the Senate, Biden was focused on consumer protection and environmental issues, not foreign affairs.
Whatever Joe Biden told Golda Meir on the eve of the 1973 war, his notion that Israel must give up its liberated territories to achieve peace with its neighbors remains intact.
The Republican Jewish Coalition released its own Independence Day statement, suggesting “Internationally, Biden continues to undermine and endanger our friends and allies, who suffer the consequences of his humiliating incompetence. From the disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal to allowing China to infiltrate our sovereign airspace, to eroding our special relationship with Israel, the Biden administration’s fecklessness knows no bounds.”
The president’s statement concluded: “Today, as we mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel, we reaffirm our enduring friendship and commitment to Israel’s security. Yom Ha’atzmaut Sameach!”