Biden Kneels Before Israeli President’s Chief of Staff

Biden kneeling before outgoing Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. Photo: White House.

I thought I’ve seen it all!

On July 5, 2021, Alison Weir, the daring and indefatigable Executive Director of If Americans Knew, posted a photograph of Joe Robinette Biden prostrating himself in front of outgoing Israeli President Reuven Rivlin – right smack in the White House’s Oval Office – the world’s nerve center of supreme power.

My title, Biden Kneels Before Israeli President’s Chief of Staff, is a direct quote from Ms. Weir’s email missive.

For those interested in the Palestine/Israel and the Near Eastern/American 73-year danse macabre, If Americans Knew is a hard-hitting gold mine and great source of factual information you will see in few print, digital, or live telly media.

Ms. Weir states that in 2015 a Yitzchak Ravits had asked the outgoing Israeli President to:

… assist Mordechai Yitzchak Samet, serving a 28-year prison term in a US federal prison for racketeering and swindles. In 2015 Yitzchak Ravitz helped lobby President Rivlin for his assistance in securing the release of a Haredi man, Rabbi Mordechai Samet, imprisoned in the U.S. for swindling millions of dollars from Americans.

According to the U.S. judge who sentenced Samet: ‘Mordechai Samet lived a life of unremitting fraud. For many years, Mordechai Samet’s life has been completely dedicated to the pursuit of crime. He defines the word ‘racketeer.’

Samet was convicted on 33 counts of racketeering, money laundering conspiracy and other charges. A local newspaper reported that the conviction was part of ‘a criminal case that began suddenly one morning in March 2001 when federal agents swept into the Hasidic community of Kiryas Joel [a new town in New York] and began rounding up suspects.

‘In all, 14 men, most from Kiryas Joel, were accused of taking part in schemes that netted more than $5.5 million. Using dozens of fictitious identities, the group allegedly obtained tax refunds and business loans they didn’t deserve, among other scams.’

Thus it was that the outgoing Israeli president’s recent visit to the White House was an orchestrated charade during which Rivka Ravitz (Reuven Rivlin’s chief of staff)  was introduced to Joe Biden. Rivka Ravitz is married to the same Yitzchak Ravitz – the same character who had lobbied leniency for the Haredim convicted felons.

Could it be that Rivka Ravits, in her capacity as the chief of staff of Israel’s outgoing  president, was going to (or had done so) petition Biden for a leniency/pardon/clemency for convicted felon Mordechai Samet in the same manner that Trump was asked to pardon Jonathan Pollock, the convicted Israeli spy, who, after landing in Israel, admonished American Jews to spy on Israel’s behalf?

To their credit, most members of the American Jewish community are ashamed of what’s been happening in Israel and Occupied Palestine.

The setting for this very tragic theater of the absurd was the Oval Office. Those present included outgoing Israeli president Reuven Rivlin, Rivka Ravits (Rivlin’s chief of staff) Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Middle East and North America Coordinator, Bart McGrack, Senior Adviser to the Middle East and North Africa, and Julie Schweier, Adviser in charge of Israeli and Palestinian matters.

When “Rivlin had mentioned to Biden that Ravitz, 45, a key adviser for years, runs a household of 13 in addition to her demanding job when the president knelt before her to express his admiration. Rivlin clasped his hands in apparent surprise as he and Ravitz looked down on Biden, who lowered one knee to the floor and bowed his head.”

What was Joe Robinette Biden, the president of the mightiest country in the world, thinking about, when he knelt down and bowed his head? There was no teleprompter  to keep him on script; there was no Kamala Harris to deflect from this absurd display of improper emotional faux pas; there was no Jill to save the day, pat him on the back, and ameliorate the situation with a sharp quip. Instead, there was an egregious display of either Senility or, better yet,  pure and simple, Sheer Servility, a tragic Shakespearean submissive subservience and an historic cringing and groveling by a toadying old man, the current King Lear of our White House.

How preposterous of you, Joe.

Even the maniacally deranged Donald Trump would have never knelt down for anybody (not even God) in the Oval Office, or anywhere else.

And, Mr. President, what about Palestinian mothers whose entire families (over the last 73 years) were blown to pieces (in the tens of thousands)  compliments of your military largesse? Are their brown children, brothers, sisters, mothers, and relatives expendable, Joe? And, are they the children of a lessor God?

Ms. Ravitz’s bio states that she was born in the US to ultra orthodox parents; she moved to Israel at a young age; got married at age 18 to Avraham Ravitz, son of “the mythical Knesset member from Torah Judaism … and so married politics.” Yitzchak Ravits, her husband, “is the former deputy mayor of the haredi Israeli settlement Beitar Illit,  where the family lived for many years. Such settlements are illegal under international law.” The reputable  Mondoweiss “reports that Beit Illit is known as a bastion of Jewish extremism:

.. in the settlement of Beitar Illit, south of Jerusalem … anyone interested in renting a flat is checked by a ‘demographics committee.’ … Residents say Beitar is patrolled by a self-styled ‘modesty police’, which bullies youngsters to toe the line … David Biton, a 19-year old trainee baker who lives with his parents in Beitar Illit, says he was beaten up [Taliban and Islamic State-style] by two ultra-orthodox men recently after being seen chatting to girls. ‘I tried to put together a group of youngsters to testify against them, but everyone was too afraid.’

Ravitz is also “a member of the religious party Degel HaTorah. Haredi Israelis, also known as ultra-orthodox, [who] have fundamentalist, sometimes extreme views about Jews and Judaism.”

In a 1988 article the respected Israeli author Israel  Shahak  states that the Haredim sect is a “Judeocentric [sect].  The essence of Haredi thought is the notion of an abyss separating the Jews from the Gentiles.”  Further, in his book Jewish Fundamentalism,” Shahak writes: “The fact is that certain Jews, some of whom wield political influence, consider Jews to be superior to non-Jews and view the world as having been created only or primarily for Jews.” Even the respected Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reported “that some in ultra-orthodox communities ‘are taught that non-Jews aren’t quite human.’”

Israeli media report that after Biden knelt, “the two presidents spoke at length about the commitment to strengthen relations between the two countries.” Biden announced: “My commitment to Israel is known and engraved in the rock.”

For over 40 years Biden has been an ardent supporter of every foreign war and intervention, always in the vanguard of flexing military muscle over diplomacy, and perhaps the most ardent supporter of Israeli wars, brutality, settlement expansion, billions of unlimited taxpayer dollars (no questions asked) in outright gifts,  and is fully supportive of human rights violations – whether it is Israel, the corrupt Gulf sheiks, or third world dictators.

So, Dear Joe Biden, the next time you kneel for confession, ask the Good Lord, that Rock of Ages, to engrave justice, human rights, decency, and peace, in your hardened mind and callous heart.

“And Jesus wept.”

Raouf J. Halaby is a Professor Emeritus of English and Art. He is a writer, photographer, sculptor, an avid gardener, and a peace activist.