By: Morton A. Klein
March 11, 2010
ZOA Criticizes Biden’s Condemnation Of New Israeli Housing For Jews In Eastern J’lem
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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).
The ZOA is also critical of Vice-President Biden on substantive grounds, even had Biden’s criticism been delivered in private, because his condemnation of Jewish construction in eastern Jerusalem reiterates an essentially racist policy of opposing Jews living in part of Jerusalem, Israel’s capital city, but not Arabs. His criticism perpetuates the myth that Jews living and building homes in Jerusalem harms peace. But Jews living and building in eastern Jerusalem has nothing to do with the absence of peace or the harming of peace prospects because the lack of peace stems from Palestinian rejection of Israel as a Jewish state, incitement to hatred and murder, refusal to arrest terrorists and outlaw terrorist groups. No matter what shape any future agreement may have, Jews living in eastern Jerusalem is not part of the problem or an obstacle to any genuine peace any more than Arabs living in western Jerusalem are. Biden’s condemnation is also objectionable because Jewish construction in Jerusalem was specifically excluded from Israel’s unilateral and unreciprocated 10-month construction freeze in Judea and Samaria.
The specific statement by Vice-President Biden in Ramallah yesterday was, “It’s incumbent on both parties to build an atmosphere of support for negotiations and not to complicate them … The decision by the Israeli government to advance planning for new housing units in east Jerusalem undermined that very trust, the trust that we need right now in order to begin as well as produce — have profitable negotiations. That is why I immediately condemned the action. As we move forward, the United States will hold both sides accountable for any statements or actions that inflame tensions or prejudice the outcome of talks, as this decision did” (‘Remarks by Vice President Biden and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas,’ March 10, 2010).
Additionally, while wrongly condemning Israel for merely building apartments for Jews in eastern Jerusalem, Biden did not criticize Palestinian Authority (PA) incitement to hatred and murder, the honoring of terrorists and other genuine vicious Palestinian anti-peace acts, such as the condolence calls by senior PA officials, including prime minister Salam Fayyad to the families of terrorists killed after murdering a Jew; the PA honoring of terrorist Dalal Mughrabi, who commanded the terrorists that perpetrated the 1978 coastal road bus hijacking, in which 37 Israelis, including 12 children, were slaughtered; PA sermons dripping with anti-Semitic bile, including a recent one in which a cleric called, quoting Muhammad, for the murder of Jews; and the Fatah emblem which depicts Israel draped in Palestinian headdress, with a picture of arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat and a Kalashnikov rifle on either side.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “Vice-President Biden’s criticism of Jewish construction in eastern Jerusalem is due to the Obama Administration adopting an essentially racist policy of opposing the free movement and residence of Jews in part of Jerusalem. This in turn is based on an equally unacceptable idea that any future Palestinian state must be Jew-free. Yet it was the Obama Administration that officially accepted Israel’s position that it would keep building in eastern parts of Jerusalem and that its unilateral and unreciprocated freeze on Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria would not apply there. In fact, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised this deal at the time. Yet, the Obama Administration has pocketed the deal while still criticizing Israel for construction projects that fall outside its terms. This is unfair, unwise, and not honorable.
“Vice-President Biden could not have put the issue of criticizing Israeli internal decisions better than he did in 2001. Now, he not only wrongly criticizes building homes for Jews as an obstacle to peace, but ignores genuine, vicious, hateful, anti-peace acts by the PA. It is only by pressuring the PA to reform Palestinian society by ending terrorism and the incitement to hatred and murder that feeds it that peace can ever come.
“Accordingly, his words of condemnation of Israel for building homes for Jews are blatantly inconsistent as well as being morally indefensible and strategically unwise. He should withdraw them.”