Why is Joe Biden so obsessed with Israeli settlements? - opinion

To obsess, according to the dictionary, is to “preoccupy or fill the mind of (someone) continually, intrusively, and to a troubling extent.”

 US PRESIDENT Joe Biden, at the time serving as vice president, has dinner with then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, during his visit to Israel in 2010.  (photo credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)
US PRESIDENT Joe Biden, at the time serving as vice president, has dinner with then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, during his visit to Israel in 2010.
(photo credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)

Israel hadn’t even yet approved the reported plans for constructing some Jewish homes, and already the Biden administration was publicly condemning it. This is the very definition of an obsession, and it’s profoundly unhealthy.

To obsess, according to the dictionary, is to “preoccupy or fill the mind of (someone) continually, intrusively, and to a troubling extent.”

And what is meant by “troubling”? Well, the origin of the word “obsess” is – again, according to the dictionary – “in the sense of ‘haunt, possess,’ referring to an evil spirit.” In other words, it’s a feeling that is irrational, or very close to it – focusing on something relentlessly, even if there’s no logic or reason for doing so.

According to media reports, the Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria is currently considering giving its long-overdue approval to some Jewish housing construction. It probably will give the approval next week. But it hasn’t happened yet.

All of the construction plans are in the portion of Judea and Samaria that Israel controls in accordance with the Oslo Accords. There is not one word in the accords that prohibits Israel from building there. Moreover, the Palestinian Authority signed the Oslo agreement. So even the PA long ago agreed to Israel building there.

 PRIME MINISTER Yitzhak Rabin shakes hands with PLO chairman Yasser Arafat, as US president Bill Clinton looks on at the White House at the signing of the Oslo I Declaration of Principles on September 13, 1993. (credit: GARY HERSHORN/REUTERS) PRIME MINISTER Yitzhak Rabin shakes hands with PLO chairman Yasser Arafat, as US president Bill Clinton looks on at the White House at the signing of the Oslo I Declaration of Principles on September 13, 1993. (credit: GARY HERSHORN/REUTERS)

Not only that, but the vast majority of the construction plans are within areas such as Gush Etzion, which are close to the pre-1967 boundaries and which everybody knows Israel will never surrender. Yet now we have the Biden administration out-PA-ing the PA, by blasting Israel’s rumored “expansion of settlements,” as State Department spokeswoman Jalina Porter put it.

Except that Israel’s action would not involve “expanding” any settlements. It would be building apartments and houses within existing cities and towns. Porter said that building homes for Jews within existing communities “exacerbates tensions and undermines trust between the parties.” Israel had hoped to head off such unfair accusations by simultaneously authorizing 1,000 homes for Palestinian Arabs within Israeli-controlled areas as part of the announcement.

Which means that, in effect, the Biden administration is now saying that building homes for both sides “exacerbates tensions” between the two sides. But, not surprisingly, the Israeli gesture has been ignored by both the Biden administration and the international news media.

Which is why such Israeli gestures are almost always a waste of time. They sound fair and nice. But neither the White House nor The Washington Post could care less. They don’t want Jews building new homes in Judea and Samaria. Period.

That’s also why you never hear about the PA’s constant construction of Arab homes in Judea and Samaria. Even though it’s obviously unfair to complain only about Israeli construction and never complain about PA construction, the administration and the media just won’t condemn the PA for it. Ever.

WE’VE BEEN through all this before – the one-sided accusations, the exaggerated and inaccurate criticism, the denunciations of housing construction that is perfectly legal and consistent with Oslo. In fact, we’ve been through it all before with Joe Biden himself.

The year was 2010. Then-vice president Biden was visiting Israel. Almost exactly at the moment Biden was speaking at a press conference with Israel’s prime minister, “somebody” leaked to the press that the Israeli government supposedly had just announced plans to build 1,600 Jewish homes in “occupied east Jerusalem.”

It was not some new plan; it was an ordinary housing construction project that had been awaiting bureaucratic approval for years. And the government did not “announce” it at the moment of Biden’s visit; the old plan just happened to advance a bit through the normal bureaucratic channels.

Not only that, but the plan was not for 1,600 “homes,” which made it sound as if Israel was going to build 1,600 separate houses. It was for 1,600 apartments in apartment buildings (taking up less than one-tenth of the land that houses would require).

And they weren’t in “occupied east Jerusalem,” a term used to falsely imply that it was in some Arab neighborhood. The apartments were to be built in Ramat Shlomo, an existing Jewish neighborhood in northern Jerusalem. But alas, poor Ramat Shlomo happens to lie just beyond the pre-1967 lines, which in Biden’s eyes means it was born in sin.

So, Biden responded to the leak by publicly denouncing what he called “the steady and systematic expansion of settlements.” Even though it was within an existing Jerusalem neighborhood. Even though Israel had already frozen most construction because of pressure from the Obama-Biden administration.

Biden’s public accusation was wrong and unfair. He was condemning something that had not happened and mischaracterizing it in order to make it look like something that it wasn’t.

I don’t know what it is about the prospect of more Jewish apartments that drives Biden or his advisers to engage in such irrational behavior. All I know is that such behavior has all the classic signs of an obsession – a very unhealthy obsession.

The writer is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995, and the author of A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror.