Commentary Magazine


Contentions

More on Biden and the Threat to Cut Off Aid to Israel

From the New York Times, June 23, 1982:

 At the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, however, both Mr. Begin and several senators were said by participants at the meeting to have been bristling with anger….The bitterest exchange was said to have been between Mr. Begin and Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., Democrat of Delaware, who told the Israeli leader that he was not critical of the Lebanon operation but felt that Israel had to halt the policy of establishing new Jewish settlements in the West Bank….

After the meeting, Mr. Begin said: ”I enjoyed the session very much. I believe in liberty, that free men should freely discuss problems and if they have differences of opinion they should voice them in sincerity.”

”I said it was a lively discussion,” he said. ”If you want to use other adjectives. …” He paused, then said, ”Lively is enough.”

From the New York Times, June 24, 1982:

Reporting on his meetings with the members of Congress, Mr. Begin said one of the senators had threatened to cut off aid if Israel continued creating settlements in the West Bank. The senator is reported to have been Joseph R. Biden Jr., Democrat of Delaware,

Mr. Begin cited the incident to give voice to a feeling that is held in his entourage – that Israel has rendered military service to the United States in battle-testing American arms.

”Sir, do not threaten us with cutting aid,” Mr. Begin said, in recounting his reply. ”First of all, you should know that this is not a one-way street. You help us, and we are very grateful for your help, but this is a two-way street. We do a lot for you.”

The Times did not report on the detail that Biden pounded on the table as he raged at Begin, but since I’ve actually seen Biden pound on a table several times in small meetings with journalists over the years,  it sounds right to me.