Biden snubs Netanyahu, won’t invite him to the White House; Israel must remain proud – opinion

Four decades ago, late Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin told then-Senator Joe Biden: I am not a Jew with trembling knees.

By Ronn Torossian, Special to World Israel News

Any country, any relationship, indeed anything in life has its good and bad. There are good days and there’s bad days. There are good decisions and bad decisions.

Regardless of how one feels about judicial reform – and how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu handled the situation – the Jewish State of Israel, with the challenges it faces worldwide on a daily basis, must always be protected.

Against this backdrop, U.S. President Joe Biden said he would not invite Netanyahu to the White House “in the near term,” and media reports indicate that there are tense relations between the Biden administration and the Israeli government at the moment due to the initiative for judicial reform.

While many Israelis – and friends of Israel – have concerns over the reforms, for the American president to refuse to meet the democratically elected prime minister of Israel – and to scold him in public – is wholly inappropriate.

In a world where Iran continues its activities to build a nuclear bomb, with the Russia-Ukraine situation, with Saudi issues, for the Biden administration to decide to play hardball with Israel is a lot.

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History often repeats itself.

On June 22, 1982, Biden – a senator from Delaware at the time – confronted then-prime minister Menachem Begin during his Senate Foreign Relations committee testimony, threatening to cut off aid to Israel. Begin forcefully responded:

“Don’t threaten us with cutting off your aid. It will not work. I am not a Jew with trembling knees. I am a proud Jew with 3,700 years of civilized history. Nobody came to our aid when we were dying in the gas chambers and ovens. Nobody came to our aid when we were striving to create our country. We paid for it. We fought for it. We died for it. We will stand by our principles. We will defend them. And, when necessary, we will die for them again, with or without your aid.”

Biden reportedly banged the table with his fist, and Begin retorted, “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.”

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Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the leader of the Zionist Revisionist movement, whose philosophy both Begin and Netanyahu have embraced, stated in 1940: “We hold that Zionism is moral and just. And since it is moral and just, justice must be done, no matter whether Joseph or Simon or Ivan or Achmed agree with it or not.”

There have been some very scary scenes coming from Israel this week, yet no matter what, the State of Israel is more important than solely the (very important) issue of judicial reform.

Ronn Torossian is an entrepreneur writing from Tel Aviv.