OpinionU.S.-Israel Relations

Biden’s foul language

Is a change coming in U.S. policy towards Israel?

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks from Nantucket, Mass. about the hostage release on Nov. 24, 2023. Source: YouTube/White House.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks from Nantucket, Mass. about the hostage release on Nov. 24, 2023. Source: YouTube/White House.
Stephen M. Flatow. Credit: Courtesy.
Stephen M. Flatow
Stephen M. Flatow is president of the Religious Zionists of America. He is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995, and author of A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror. (The RZA is not affiliated with any American or Israeli political party.)

Poor Joe Biden. The special counsel investigating Biden’s retention of classified documents found at his home and office justified his belief that criminal charges should not be brought by saying a jury wouldn’t convict a “well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory” who has “diminished faculties in advancing age.”

We know that the president fumfers frequently and mixes up names, dates and places. I was on the receiving end of one of his “word salads” at a lunch about 20 years ago after I commented on his negative remarks about then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Suffice it to say, he never addressed my comment and ran out the clock on the meeting.

However, comments made by the president over the past few days show he’s not just easily confused but also a mean old man who knows how to cuss.

Evidence of the former abounds whenever Biden goes off-script during a speech. That’s nothing new for a man who has been in politics for most of his adult life and believes he is Lincoln giving his second inaugural address every time he takes the podium. I believe that’s not only true of Joe Biden but of other elderly politicians as well.

I was once on the speaker’s platform at an event with the late New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg. He got up to speak with the text in his hands. But as he approached the microphone, he folded the speech and put it in his pocket. I heard his aide standing next to me audibly sigh because he knew what was coming next: A rambling talk about why Lautenberg was running for office again at the age of 78. (This was a man who, in his first campaign for the Senate in 1982, hinted his opponent was over the hill because she was 72.)

But two recent incidents show that Biden may have, like Fonzi, “jumped the shark” when it comes to U.S. support for Israel during the current war, making some very nasty comments about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Given the president’s snippiness at recent press conferences, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised to learn that Biden first called Netanyahu “a f***ing guy” and followed up by calling him an “***hole.”

Biden wouldn’t be the first president to have what are now called “hot mic” moments, in which words are said that are not really intended for widespread publication, as they would make the speaker look bad or insult an important person.

Here are three incidents:

In 1984, during a microphone test before a radio address, then-President Ronald Reagan joked, “My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.”

“The Gipper,” a former radio announcer, was just being funny. But in humor there is often truth. Underlying his comment was his belief that the Soviet Union was an evil empire. The Russians didn’t think it was funny, but we have to remember that the USSR’s demise began under Reagan.

In 2006, during the G8 Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, George W. Bush was caught on a hot mic addressing then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair with the phrase “Yo, Blair.” All was well, though, because the remark drew attention to the close relationship between the two leaders.

During a summit in South Korea in 2012, Barack Obama was caught telling then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he would have more flexibility to negotiate on issues like missile defense after his reelection. Obama said, “This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility.” Medvedev responded positively by saying, “I will transmit this information to Vladimir [Putin],” who was serving as Russian prime minister at the time.

But remember that Israel is an American ally and Biden jumped to its aid following the Oct. 7 massacre. He traveled to Israel and sought to neutralize a possible threat to Israel from the Hezbollah/Iran axis by moving two U.S. Navy carrier task forces to the eastern Mediterranean. As the Israel-Hamas war continues, however, Biden’s support may be wavering. Are these comments from the president an indication of this?

At the end of the day, Biden’s comments are far beyond the red line of acceptable diplomatic talk. His language was crude and severely demeaning to a democratically elected prime minister. The lack of response from major Jewish organizations is a sad commentary on how they view Biden and Netanyahu.

We can only hope that Biden’s public coarseness about Netanyahu was a one-off event and not an indication of imminent American policy changes.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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