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December 04, 2006

Biden Warns Bush and Baker: Don't Link Israel to Iraq

The keynote speaker at the Israel Policy Forum event was Senator Biden.

The senator from Delaware had this to say:

I'm concerned by reprots suggesting that the Iraq Study Group will link a renewed effort to advance the Arab-Israeli peace process with a solution in Iraq. I am not opposed to a bigorous peaace process ... But the notion that an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement would end a civil war in Iraq defies common sense.

Israeli-Palestinian peace should be pursued aggressively on its own merits, period. Not as some sort of diplomatic price to make the Arab states feel good so they will help us in Iraq.

He called such thinking "dangerously naive." We're in agreement with the senator there. Other problems should be solved first, and therein lies the key to solving the Israeli-Palestinian problem. We hope Baker and Bush do take note.

The rest of Biden's speech wasn't so good. He spoke of a regional conference to deal with solving Iraq, and he insisted Iran and Syria should be there too. He said that they "have powerful interests in preventing a full-blown civil war."

Actually the evidence is that Iran is doing everything it can to further terrorism and chaos in Iran. And chaos in Iraq is in Iran's interest: It keeps the world distracted from its nuclear program and other wrong-doings. Similarly for Syria, it distracts the world from its attempts to destroy Lebanese democracy.

There were some (unintentionally) amusing parts to Biden's speech. He spoke of his plan for Iraq (his federalism plan) and urged people to take a look at his Web site for more details, which he said is www.platformforiraq.com. At least that's how it sounded to me and those sitting next to me. It's actually www.planforiraq.com. And on the Baker-Hamilton Comission, Biden said he "will reserve judgement on the actual report" until he sees it, but then he went on to say "But I am concerned about news reports on two aspects ..."

On Israeli-Palestinian peace prospects, one of the reasons Biden gave for renewed hope in peace is that:

The Arab states may finally be waking up to the dangerous shifts in the region ... To put it simply, the Arabs are terrified of Iran ... They are terrified of the role Iran is playing in Iraq, terrified of its support for Hezbollah and Hamas, and terrified of its nuclear program.
We agree they are scared of Iran. But what's strange is that Biden's analysis of the threat Iran poses from the view of the Arab states doesn't match his view of the threat it poses to America. Or at least not to what he tells Americans.

For example in February 2005 he is reported to have said that Iran's "emotional needs" must be addressed through a non-aggression pact. And earlier this year he called for "direct talks" with Iran and said no military action should take place now as there is no "imminent threat."

When hearing the name Biden, we always think of the famous exchange between Biden and Prime Minister Begin. As Moshe Zak recounted in a March 13, 1992, piece in the Jerusalem Post:

In a conversation with Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, after a sharp confrontation in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the subject of the settlements, Begin defined himself as "a proud Jew who does not tremble with fear" when speaking with foreign statesmen.

During that committee hearing, at the height of the Lebanon War, Sen. John Biden (Delaware) had attacked Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria and threatened that if Israel did not immediately cease this activity, the US would have to cut economic aid to Israel.

When the senator raised his voice and banged twice on the table with his fist, Begin commented to him: "This desk is designed for writing, not for fists. Don't threaten us with slashing aid. Do you think that because the US lends us money it is entitled to impose on us what we must do? We are grateful for the assistance we have received, but we are not to be threatened. I am a proud Jew. Three thousand years of culture are behind me, and you will not frighten me with threats. Take note: we do not want a single soldier of yours to die for us."

After the meeting, Sen. Moynihan approached Begin and praised him for his cutting reply. To which Begin answered with thanks, defining his stand against threats.

Posted by Daniel Freedman at December 4, 2006 10:41 PM

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