It has come to this: Joe Biden is one of the few administration figures making sense on Israel. On Charlie Rose’s PBS show, he sounded fed up with the second-guessing and attacks on Israel:
“I think Israel has an absolute right to deal with its security interest. I put all this back on two things: one, Hamas, and, two, Israel’s need to be more generous relative to the Palestinian people who are in trouble in Gaza,” Biden said, according to a transcript of the interview, in which he went on to discuss Hamas’s control of Gaza.
“[The Israelis have] said, ‘Here you go. You’re in the Mediterranean. This ship — if you divert slightly north you can unload it and we’ll get the stuff into Gaza.’ So what’s the big deal here? What’s the big deal of insisting it go straight to Gaza? Well, it’s legitimate for Israel to say, ‘I don’t know what’s on that ship. These guys are dropping eight — 3,000 rockets on my people,’” Biden said.
He also asked for an Israeli investigation, not one by the UN, and said the flotilla wasn’t the way to bring in humanitarian relief.
It’s hard to know if he is again off the reservation or if he is previewing an administration walk-back on the hang-Israel-out-to-dry approach to this incident. Some perceived in the Jerusalem-housing flap that Biden tried to turn the heat down before the White House’s political flacks turned it back up. That maybe speaks well of Biden’s instincts but poorly of his influence.
If we’ve learned anything in this administration, it is that Obama is the only one who matters, and unless and until we hear him publicly expressing similar statements and debunking the notion that this was a humanitarian effort, we should remain skeptical.