| The Rose Report |

America Needs Achdus Too

It’s time for the real Joe Biden — who turns 80 next month — to stand up


ix months before the 2020 presidential election, I profiled Joe Biden in our Pesach edition. My headline read: “Will the Real Joe Biden Please Stand Up?”

For a headline, it was long and clunky, but having followed Biden’s career since the early 1980s, when he was the junior senator from Delaware and I was a young journalist in the state capital of Dover, I felt that line personified Biden’s hot-and-cold approach toward Israel. Biden could bring an AIPAC audience to its feet with a speech that made him sound like Menachem Begin, and then a month later, he could deliver an address at J Street, where he would sound like Oslo architect Yossi Beilin, venting his wrath over Binyamin Netanyahu or Israeli settlements.

In the past two weeks, one genuine version of Joe Biden has stood tall, in words and more importantly in deeds.

Following the worst terrorist crime in Israel’s history, which has now claimed more than 1,400 Jewish lives, Biden flew to Israel, embraced Netanyahu at the airport, and soothed Israelis of all stripes with verbal and moral support. As commander in chief, he dispatched American military might to the region, warning Iran and Hezbollah not to mix in. Biden’s visit exhibited all the hallmarks of a statesman rising to the occasion.

I wasn’t surprised. As Biden has risen to prominence over the years, first as Barack Obama’s vice president and now as president, I have occasionally used my column to convey my experiences with Biden when covering him was part of my beat.

In one instance, Biden came to our studio for an interview suffering from a bad cold. Perhaps because he was under the weather and glum, he shared the details of how painful it still was to have lost his young wife and infant daughter in a car crash ten years earlier, even though he was happily remarried and had more children. He also lost his son Beau to a brain tumor in 2015. Biden is no stranger to family tragedy. The empathy and deep concern he has shown for Israel after the Simchas Torah attack is real.

After his one-day visit to Israel, Biden returned to Washington, D.C., and told a nationwide audience he was proposing a $106 billion aid package to be divvied up among Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, and security along the US-Mexican border.

This could end up being the Biden administration’s defining moment — one that unites Americans behind the common cause of defending allies from tyrants and terrorists, propelling him to a second term, or it could be another flop that gets torn to pieces in a sharply polarized Congress.

Biden can only pull this off with firm and decisive leadership and by plying every political skill he has acquired in his 50 years in public office. It’s time for the real Joe Biden — who turns 80 next month — to stand up, but many people are pulling Biden in different directions, including Biden himself.


Illusion of a Solution

The same, real Joe Biden who delivered one message to AIPAC and another to J Street now declares he has Israel’s back, but he’s made it clear that’s contingent upon Israel facilitating humanitarian aid to Gaza civilians. As we wrote last week, Israel is required under international law to create a safe zone in the Gaza Strip, which it’s done in the southern sector, as a prelude to a ground invasion in northern Gaza to eradicate Hamas’s terrorist infrastructure.

Some 750,000 Gazans, or about one-third of the Strip’s population, have reportedly fled south.

At the same time, an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 Israelis who live near Gaza and along the northern border with Lebanon have also fled their homes to avoid Hamas and Hezbollah rocket fire.

Nobody seems to talk about humanitarian aid for internally displaced Israelis. Israel has some 56,000 hotel rooms suitable for housing them, and at last count, more than 20,000 were filled with Jewish refugees who received government vouchers for the hotels. Many others are housed by relatives and friends. I’ve seen dozens of them in my Jerusalem neighborhood, unpacking car trunks stuffed with their belongings, not to mention carloads of kids. They need assistance, too. If that’s part of the aid package the president proposes for Israel, he ought to make this clear.

Biden has also insisted that Israeli leaders provide him with the endgame in Gaza. Even chess grandmasters normally don’t think more than three to five moves ahead. Warfare is no game, but we’re still at the opening moves stage. The battle is sure to take many unexpected twists and turns on the tortuous streets of Gaza. It’s unfair — and premature — to demand Israel show what the chessboard will look like when just the final pieces remain standing on the board.

President Biden has also tweeted on X (formerly Twitter) that all Israelis and Palestinians deserve safety dignity and peace and “as hard as it is, we cannot give up on peace,” adding: “We cannot give up on a two-state solution.”


Weakness Instead of Strength

Biden’s idea for the two-state solution involves inviting the Palestinian Authority to take control of Gaza if Israel succeeds in ousting Hamas.

That’s both unrealistic and a dangerous fantasy. The Palestinian Authority has little control over the territory it already administers in Judea and Samaria. The areas Israel ceded to the PA are also rife with terrorists who hate Israel and the Jews as much as Hamas does. Trading one hostile bad actor for another is no solution. If there is any message to convey about the endgame, Israeli leaders must explain to Biden that Israel will no longer tolerate terrorist entities alongside it or inside its borders. Biden is fond of quoting Golda Meir who told him when they met in Jerusalem in 1973 that we have to fight for our lives here because “we have no place else to go.” At some point, he will need a reminder.

If Biden has really turned a corner, then he must disavow his administration’s policy of empowering Iran, which began when Biden served as Obama’s vice president.

The US re-froze $6 billion in Iranian oil assets that it had released after Tehran released five American hostages last month. But that’s a small loss for the Iranians compared to an estimated $41 billion the Biden administration has enabled them to potentially earn this year alone by easing the Trump administration sanctions on Iranian oil exports. Iran uses some of this oil revenue to fund its terrorist proxies, including Hamas. The Biden administration should show more good faith by purging itself of senior staffers who have promoted its failed Iranian policies.

Also, much of Biden’s $106 billion plan is meant for domestic consumption. Pairing aid to Ukraine with aid to Israel is geared to Republican members of Congress who can’t stomach more aid to Ukraine but have a large appetite for aid to Israel. The proposal also includes some $3.5 billion in humanitarian aid to Gaza, and we all know whose pockets that will end up lining.

Biden also says his spending package will aid the US economy and create new jobs, which he will need to shore up his support after Bloomberg and Morning Consult released a poll last week showing he trails Donald Trump in most swing states that Biden won in 2020. The poll showed voters see Biden as weak on the economy and national security.

America has bigger problems than who’s going to be president in 2024.

Republicans have become a laughingstock for their inability to elect a House speaker. The House holds the power of the purse, and without a functioning body, the government can’t pass $106 in aid, much less $106 billion. Democrats too have their dissenters, and Biden seems to have lost control of his party’s messaging, as evidenced last week when certain progressive Dems stuck to the false report that Israel had bombed a Gaza hospital even after Biden made it clear that the “other team” did it.

Just as Israel’s foes pounced at a time when they perceived it to be weak and sharply divided, enemies and allies alike are taking long, hard looks at America’s political dysfunction. To protect allies and ward off its enemies, America must project strength and will. It can only do that once it overcomes its internal discord.

This is a lesson Israel just learned the hardest way possible.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 983)

Oops! We could not locate your form.