REVISION | IN LIGHT OF FORMER VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN’S STATEMENT ON ANTI-SEMITISM, WE URGE HIM AND OTHER LEADERS IN THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY TO PUBLICLY AND EMPHATICALLY REBUKE THE RAPIDLY GROWING ANTI-SEMITISM WITHIN THEIR PARTY
(Washington, D.C., May 21, 2020) In quoting Former Vice President Joe Biden’s remarks on a call with donors, EMET shared that Biden stated, “Criticism of Israel’s policies is not anti-Semitism. But too often that criticism morphs into anti-Semitism.” He further stated, “We have to condemn anti-Semitism (on the left) And I’ve gotten into trouble for doing that. Whatever the source, right, left or center.”
His comments, on the phone call, while they are very welcome words, need to be followed up by firm public action and forceful, meaningful rebuke. Perhaps we are wrong, but we have searched the internet, and we have not found recent evidence of his public repudiation of a plethora of anti-Semitic statements coming from members of his own party.
We are extremely concerned about the Corbynization of the democratic party and are wondering where the leaders of the democratic party are in publicly calling them out.
As the presumptive democratic nominee for President, Joe Biden is a leader of his party. Unfortunately, in the many anti-Semitic comments coming out of several democratic members of Congress over the last few years, we did not see any forceful public censure or rebuke from Mr. Biden. Where was the rebuke when Congresswoman Ihan Omar famously stated, among other things, “It’s all about the Benjamin’s baby,” or when Congressman James Clyburn made statements diminishing the pain and suffering of victims of the Holocaust?
Former Vice President Biden now has an abject opportunity to demonstrate that his words are not hollow. Last week on May 15th, while Jews throughout the world were celebrating Israeli Independence Day, Ms. Tlaib put out an extremely biased, anti-Semitic and historically inaccurate and libelous tweet, accusing Jews of ethnic cleansing.
If this were the case, why are there approximately 1,890,000 Arabs, which constitute 20.95% of the population living in Israel today? Why are there Israeli-Arab supreme Court justices and Israeli- members of their Parliament, who use their perch to criticize Israel, the one healthy, vibrant democracy in the region?
In light of the fact that the United States government includes in its definition of anti-Semitism, “the denial of the Jewish people of a right for self-determination,” this statement qualifies as anti-Semitic. Now is the time for Mr. Biden to follow up his words with firm and forceful action.
We would like to reiterate in no uncertain terms that yesterday’s Press Release in no way constitutes an endorsement of Mr. Biden’s presidential campaign. It was simply meant as an admonition about the growing anti-Semitism within the left wing of the democratic party, and for leaders within his party to follow this advice and to call out anti-Semitism, as soon as we see it, as our State Department’s Special Envoy for anti-Semitism, Elan Carr, has often stated.
Biden recently stated that, if elected president, he “will reopen the U.S. consulate in East Jerusalem, find a way to re-open the PLO’s diplomatic mission in Washington, and resume the decades-long economic and security assistance efforts to the Palestinians that the Trump Administration stopped.”
Unfortunately, EMET did not include the full context and transcript for the presumptive Democratic nominee’s recent campaign statements. Those also included Biden declaring, “I do not support annexation” (a term that incorrectly presumes that Israel does not have the right to exercise legal sovereignty over Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria – a right that EMET fully believes is a legal, moral, sovereign, and national security mandate for Israel). Biden further warned the Jewish participants on the call that “Israel needs to stop the threat of annexation and stop settlement activity, because it will choke off any hope for peace.”
We could not disagree more. We believe that history has demonstrated that the Palestinians have taken the overwhelming generous Clinton parameters as a base line, have strung along many world leaders in protracted negotiations, and have met each offer with a renewed wave of violence. We at EMET believe that much of the world has caved into the Palestinians untenable demands and that that the Trump Peace Plan is the first one that finally does not reward Palestinian violence and decades of intransigence.
It is also important to look at Biden’s words in the full context of his decades’ long career in public office as well as other statements he has made on the campaign trail since empty words to a group of Jewish donors are meaningless without action.
What we do know is that over his long career, Biden spent, eight years as Barack Obama’s right-hand man. He stood by and cheered on while Obama opted to insert “daylight into the U.S.-Israel relationship,” refusing to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem (labeling such a move “short-sighted and frivolous”) and recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital, and of course pushing through the JCPOA which put Iran on an expedited path to nuclear hegemony in the region. Finally, UN Resolution 2334 was an abhorrent, unprecedented, departure from the policy of all prior U.S. administrations which have always vetoed anti-Israel resolutions in the UN Security Council.
Says EMET Founder and President, Sarah Stern, “Biden should act on his own words. He should lead the charge to call out his colleagues for their anti-Semitic tweets, statements, and policy endeavors, and none should ever be elevated to important positions within his Cabinet. We are watching a slippery slope, where there has been an alarming erosion of the taboos against anti-Semitism in so many institutions of American society. It is now rapidly metastasizing everywhere, and most chilling is now found in the chambers of Congress. Now is the time for Mr. Biden to demonstrate that his words are not hollow. Not to say something against it, gives a tacit, silent seal of approval that this sort of highly inflammatory language against the state of Israel and the Jewish people is acceptable.”
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