“I believe that President [Joe] Biden isolating Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu is a misguided policy and borders on what I would even call hypocrisy,” Abe Foxman, the former Anti Defamation League (ADL) head and one of the most senior leaders of the American Jewish community told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday, while visiting Israel.
Foxman explained that Biden not meeting with Netanyahu “also sends the wrong message [not only] to Israel’s enemies, but also to its friends and allies.” He stressed that “when friends disagree, they need to, and should meet, speak to each other. This lack of invitation has become a politicized issue.”
For this phenomenon, he gave examples from both the Left and Right: “Republicans in the US charge the president with animus Israel, that that’s why he’s not inviting the prime minister. On the other side, some of the progressives in the Democratic party would like to isolate the prime minister, even before he was elected; before the judicial reform.“Yet in terms of liberal Democrats, they have also made it a political issue, which I believe the White House sees as part of making them happy, while the president isn’t seeing the price.”
Foxman continued, saying that having spent a week in Israel “democracy may still be under assault, but I see a robust democracy and even though some are trying to undermine it. Many in this country are exercising dynamic democratic debate, hundreds-of-thousands on the streets, in the press and on social media.
“Democracy is under assault all over the world, including in America,” Foxman added. “We almost lost democracy in the last several years.” But this American Jewish leader, who holds plenty of criticism towards the current coalition, thinks that Biden needs to stop with the animosity and create dialogue with Netanyahu. “What about the special relationship between these two democratic countries?” He asked. “This sends a bad message for Israel and for America, because that special relationship is important, both for the countries but also for the region.
'Element of hypocrisy'
He added that he sees an “element of hypocrisy” here. “If you will, the president of the United States just welcomed the prime minister of India, a certainly flawed democracy with serious religious and civil rights abuses. He just welcomed Jordan’s King Abdullah to the White House, not exactly the paradigm of a democratic country.” He added that he is certain that “if MBS [Mohammed bin Salman, the crowned prince of Saudi Arabia] indicated that he would want to come to Washington, he would receive a warm welcome. This boycott is explored, misguided and it undermines the relationship.”
Foxman’s request to Biden would be to “invite his friend of 40 years, the prime minister of one of the closest allies, to the White House. And if there are concerns, differences, he should share them face to face.” Foxman explained that the lack of friendship from the White House is probably what has caused Netanyahu “visiting China before he even visits the US,” as prime minister. “That would be bad.”
Foxman, 82, was and still is considered one of the foremost Jewish leaders in the US. He served as the national director of the ADL for almost three decades and is currently the ADL’s director emeritus. He then served as vice-chair of the board of trustees at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City, until 2021. Foxman is a Holocaust survivor, born in what is today Belarus. He was left by his parents with his Polish Catholic nanny for three years while his parents were sent to a ghetto.
In December, Foxman told the Post that “If Israel ceases to be an open democracy, I won’t be able to support it. If Israel becomes a fundamentalist religious state, a theocratic nationalism state, it will cut Israel off from 70% of world Jewry.”
Foxman emphasized on Tuesday that it’s not as if he has changed his mind about this government or the judicial reforms, but that he continues to be “concerned with democracy in Israel and the racism expressed by several government ministers; the extremism and hyper nationalism and the attacks by Palestinians, encouraged by government ministers. I continue to be concerned with some of the coalition agreements which are yet to be enacted.”