The Zionist Politics of Joe Biden

Photograph Source: U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv – CC BY 2.0

When I voted for Joe Biden in the last election, I had yet to discover our American president’s uniquely potent commitment to the state of Israel nor his fanatical adherence to Zionism.   I’ve seen him in a film clip smiling enthusiastically and saying. “If I were Jewish, I’d be a Zionist.” I watched a short film, a collage of images of the president, ranging from his first forays into politics to the present, all proudly proclaiming his Zionism, the granite hard right driving force embodied by  Netanyahu. The president has recently acquired a new nickname, “Genocidal Joe.” I was able to see on public TV Biden and Netanyahu, their arms wrapped around each other, hugging one another with mutual admiration. What I saw was the American president handing weapons of massive destructive power and billions of dollars into the lap of the Zionist state. The image of their embrace means something morally disgusting. It is a giant bloody finger-pointing at the American-backed Zionist assault on Palestine. What it means, what it point is the annihilation of the Palestinian people whose land Israel has stolen and now occupies.

Against all these blatantly visible horrors, now and then the president of the most powerful nation on earth, daintily and deferentially, reminds the Israeli military to stop bombing everything in sight.  Please go easy, and play by the rules!  Kill away! We gave you the weapons—but please, be a little more accurate when you drop our two-thousand-pound bombs on the terrorists. Try to minimize the wanton slaughter of innocent people. In response, Netanyahu spits in our obliging president’s face.  After seven months of piling up a literal mountain of Palestinian corpses, Biden seems to have put his little foot down on the mass murder of the civilians in Rafah.

But this seeming stance of opposition is an illusion. It is thoroughly political. Biden’s relentless loyalty to Zionist Israel for almost seven months as the latter in full view of the world has sought to starve and annihilate the Palestinians, their lives, homes, churches, universities, hospitals, monuments, even their cemeteries and hastily buried bodies, concealing the dead as if they were part of the rubble. Lickspittle Biden has still not demanded a permanent ceasefire; and at most would temporarily pause sending the death-raining weaponry.  Hugging the likes of Netanyahu is an image that means something, i.e., vast rubble of a great culture and many thousands of dead Palestinians, mostly women and children.

Biden’s devotion to the Zionist cause remains constant.   And somewhat mysterious, in my opinion.  The president, like me when I was a practicing Catholic in my boyhood, must, I assume, do the sacrament of confession.  As I recall, you kneel in the enclosed confessional booth, and when the priest slides the grated window open, you say: “Bless me Father, for I have sinned, . . .”  And you then proceed to narrate your offenses, and at the end the priest prescribes your penance.  Usually, repeating certain prayers. It’s difficult for me to imagine how our Catholic president handles his complicity in the mass murder of thousands of innocent people.

What inspires Biden’s devotion to Zionism? We should note that Zionism was despised by many of the most famous and distinguished Jews.  In 1930 there was a campaign for the Yishuv, a Jewish settlement in Palestine, and one of the organizers, Chaim Koffler,  sent a letter to Sigmund Freud requesting a written endorsement of what in effect Elan Pappé today identifies as the” ethnic cleansing” of the natives of Palestine.  Freud took his time replying: “I do not think that Palestine could ever become a Jewish state, nor that the Christian and Islamic worlds would ever be prepared to have their holy places under Jewish care. It would have seemed more sensible to me to establish a Jewish homeland on a less historically-burdened land.”

In response to the conflict between Jews and Arabs over rights to the land and its historical remnants, Freud replied that “the baseless fanaticism of our people is in part to be blamed for the awakening of Arab distrust. I can raise no sympathy at all for the misdirected piety which transforms a piece of a Herodian wall into a national relic, thereby offending the feelings of the natives.” Freud concluded that he was the wrong person to solace “a people deluded by unjustified hope.” Upon reading Freud’s reply, Dr. Koffler left a note on the letter’s top corner, “Do not show this to foreigners.” It took 60 years before the letter was published.

Let’s have a look at a letter written by Albert Einstein about the Zionist project, written from Princeton on January 21, 1946,  in response to a request by the Anglo-American Commission on Palestine.  Einstein’s letter was very clear and concise:

I am in favor of Palestine being developed as a Jewish Homeland but not as a separate State. It seems to me a matter for simple common sense that we cannot ask to be given the political rule over Palestine where two thirds of the population are not Jewish. What we can and should ask is a secured bi-national status in Palestine with free immigration. If we ask more we are damaging our own cause and it is difficult for me to grasp that our Zionists are taking such an intransigent position which can only impair our cause.”

Very truly yours,
A. Einstein [in autograph]

It ought to be obvious that Einstein would be appalled by the latest effort to annihilate the Palestinian people, their homes, culture, and infrastructure,  and in full view of the entire planet—the entire genocidal spectacular, lavishly underwritten by the very “Anglo-American Commission” that asked Einstein for his blessings.

Finally, my teacher at Columbia University, Hanna Arendt, one of the great philosophers of the twentieth century, ended by equating  Zionism with Nazism.  So what does Joe Biden see that justifies the ethnic cleansing, the carnage and breath-taking atrocities?  What inspiring insight does Joe Biden have that the extraordinary minds of Einstein, Freud, and Hanna Arendt missed?

We might catch a clue looking at the beliefs of Christian Nationalists.  It is firmly believed by some Christians that before God’s Kingdom can be established on earth, the Jews must return to their homeland.  This seems to explain why many Americans are biased toward Israel and why their belief, divinely sanctioned,  allows them to tolerate the mass extermination of Palestinians. The Haaretz reporter Gideon Levy has stated that Israelis have persuaded themselves that they are God’s chosen people, which entitles them to humiliate, starve, and massacre Palestinians, without feeling too bad about it.  In fact, 95 percent of Israelis support the war and many think the operations need to be ramped up. Note here the parallel to the Nazis who used their racist mythologies to justify killing Jews.  Does Biden also believe the Jews must return to their supposed homeland before the Second Coming is possible? Is there a malevolent religious myth that he’s bizarrely attached to or is it the boundless largesse of the AIPAC coffers that captured Biden’s heart and soul? And is it simply a crucial device for maintaining a bulwark of the American empire in the Middle East?  As I said, I voted for Biden; what got me was his soul rhetoric.  Sad to say, the only rhetoric that remains is the rhetoric of forty thousand dead souls crying out for justice.

One more example of a witness that sharply differs from the American president. The great, socially engaged philosopher and mathematician,  Bertrand Russell, died on February 2, 1970. On the last day of his life, he wrote the following about the Middle East.

“The latest phase of the undeclared war in the Middle East is based upon a profound miscalculation. The bombing raids deep into Egyptian (Palestine today) territory will not persuade the civilian population to surrender but will stiffen their resolve to resist. This is the lesson of all aerial bombardment. The Vietnamese who have endured years of American heavy bombing have responded not by capitulation but by shooting down more enemy aircraft. In 1940 my own fellow countrymen resisted Hitler’s bombing raids with unprecedented unity and determination. For this reason, the present Israeli attacks will fail in their essential purpose, but at the same time they must be condemned vigorously throughout the world. The development of the crisis in the Middle East is both dangerous and instructive. For over 20 years Israel has expanded by force of arms. After every stage in this expansion Israel has appealed to “reason” and has suggested “negotiations”. This is the traditional role of the imperial power because it wishes to consolidate with the least difficulty what it has already taken by violence. Every new conquest becomes the new basis of the proposed negotiation from strength, which ignores the injustice of the previous aggression.

The aggression committed by Israel must be condemned, not only because no state has the right to annex foreign territory, but because every expansion is an experiment to discover how much more aggression the world will tolerate. The refugees who surround Palestine in their hundreds of thousands were described recently by the Washington journalist I.F. Stone as “the moral millstone around the neck of world Jewry.” Many of the refugees are now well into the third decade of their precarious existence in temporary settlements.

The tragedy of the people of Palestine is that their country was “given” by a foreign Power to another people for the creation of a new State. The result was that many hundreds of thousands of innocent people were made permanently homeless. With every new conflict their number have increased. How much longer is the world willing to endure this spectacle of wanton cruelty? It is abundantly clear that the refugees have every right to the homeland from which they were driven, and the denial of this right is at the heart of the continuing conflict. No people anywhere in the world would accept being expelled in masse from their own country; how can anyone require the people of Palestine to accept a punishment which nobody else would tolerate? A permanent just settlement of the refugees in their homeland is an essential ingredient of any genuine settlement in the Middle East.

We are frequently told that we must sympathize with Israel because of the suffering of the Jews in Europe at the hands of the Nazis. I see in this suggestion no reason to perpetuate any suffering. What Israel is doing today cannot be condoned, and to invoke the horrors of the past to justify those of the present is gross hypocrisy. Not only does Israel condemn a vast number of refugees to misery, not only are many Arabs under occupation condemned to military rule; but also Israel condemns the Arab nations only recently emerging from colonial status, to continued impoverishment as military demands take precedence over national development.

All who want to see an end to bloodshed in the Middle East must ensure that any settlement does not contain the seeds of future conflict. Justice requires that the first step towards a settlement must be an Israeli withdrawal from all the territories occupied in June 1967. A new world campaign is needed to help bring justice to the long–suffering people of the Middle East.”

Michael Grosso, PhD, studied philosophy at Columbia University. He has taught philosophy and the humanities at Kennedy University, City University of New York, and New Jersey City University. He is on the Board of Directors of the American Philosophical Practitioners Association.