Biden: Obama Made Me Do It

by Martin Peretz | March 11, 2010

I am a little embarrassed to be so self-referential this morning, but I am going back to my Spine from yesterday, “The Relentless Facts of Palestine.”

Vice President Biden knew he had to calm the waters in Israel a bit. And he did. So, to an audience at Tel Aviv University--said by some to be comparable to Cairo University, where President Obama delivered his June 4 speech, and which saying tells you how little most people understand the real differences among universities--Biden delivered the reassurances that probably nobody expected: “U.S. president Barack Obama and myself know that the U.S. has no better friend in the community of nations than Israel.” That is certainly the case, across the board politically and philosophically. And aesthetically, too, by the way. These two countries are the epitome of humanistic modernity.

Sill, in the back of everyone’s mind in the audience was Biden’s use of the word “condemn” when speaking about the release of a newly approved Israeli plan for building 1,600 new apartments in what he called East Jerusalem. Just a minor point here: The designated units would be in North Jerusalem, not in the eastern part of the city that carries the yolk and passion of holiness--a troublesome yoke and a troublesome passion.

In any case, Biden knew that his condemnation raised questions and objections, and not just from Israelis or Zionists or Jews. So he explained that he thought that the announcement of the construction “undermined the trust required to conduct the negotiations.” And, therefore, “I--at the request of President Obama--condemned it immediately.” This is all reported in a Jerusalem Post article, “US has no better friend than Israel,” published today.

I was correct in my intuition that it was really Obama doing the condemning. You may draw your own conclusions.

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