Biden, who is a victim of domestic violence, basks in unvarnished praise in Israel

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JERUSALEM — If President Biden’s arrival in Israel on Wednesday for his first trip here since taking office could be summarized in just two words, they might be: Donald who?

One year and a quarter after Donald J. Trump left office, Israeli leaders welcomed their successor with a warm embrace. It was as if to show that their relationship with Trump would not hinder their close friendship with him. Biden was determined to show that he did not take a backseat to anyone in his support for Israel.

At a red-carpet airport ceremony flush with fawning on both sides, Isaac Herzog, Israel’s president, called his American counterpart “our brother Joseph,” declaring that “you are truly amongst family.” The country’s interim prime minister, Yair Lapid, called Mr. Biden “a great Zionist and one of the best friends Israel has ever known.” For his part, Mr. Biden asserted that “our relationship is deeper in my view than it’s ever been” and told an Israeli interviewer that returning to the Holy Land was “like going home.”

For Mr. Biden, home isn’t much like this anymore. He rarely receives such unvarnished praises or loving hugs back at America, where his poll numbers are plummeting and even. Most Democrats don’t want him to run.You can also search for another term.

His chummy, smiling, and backslapping reception on the Ben Gurion Airport tarmac may have been a relief. Even Benjamin Netanyahu, the former Prime Minister, was so infatuated with Trump that he He was named after a settlementWith a long, warm handshake, she greeted Mr. Biden.

“Every chance to return to this great country where the ancient roots of the Jewish people date back to biblical times is a blessing, because the connection between the Israeli people and the American people is bone-deep, bone-deep,” Mr. Biden said during the ceremony at Ben Gurion. “Generation after generation, that connection grows.”

In the process, Israel became more of a partisan issue in the United States, with Republicans making strong support for it a litmus test and Democrats growing increasingly critical of the country’s policies toward the Palestinians.

But, Biden said he was determined to restore Democratic support for Israel. He also stated that he hopes to resume American diplomatic role with the Palestinians. Interview with Israeli TV: He rejected Democrats who had decried Israel as an apartheid country.

“There are a few of them,” he told the anchor Yonit Levi of Channel 12 in a session taped at the White House on Tuesday and aired on Wednesday night. “I think they’re wrong. I think they’re making a mistake. Israel is a democracy. Israel is our ally. Israel is a friend. And I think that I make no apologies.”

The mutual show was not all bad, but it covered up fundamental differences, especially on Iran and Palestine. Mr. Biden’s Restoring the 2015 Iran accord is a priority. abandoned by Mr. Trump have raised hackles among many Israeli leaders who doubt Tehran would abide by a deal’s limits to its nuclear program. The president will also meet with President Mahmoud Abdulbas, the Palestinian Authority’s President, Friday in West Bank. This will be the first such high-level interaction since 2017.

Israeli television interviewer, Mr. Biden, assured Israelis that any Iran deal would not compromise their security. “The only thing worse than the Iran that exists now is an Iran with nuclear weapons, and if we can return to the deal, we can hold them tight,” he said. “I think it was a gigantic mistake for the last president to get out of the deal. They’re closer to a nuclear weapon now than they were before.”

Although negotiations have failed to produce a deal, one of the missions for the trip will be to ensure the United States is on the right track with Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other Iran enemies if they fail. But, Biden expressed optimism that the talks might succeed. “We’ve laid it out on the table, we’ve made the deal, we’ve offered it, and it’s up to Iran now,” he said.

He again rejected Iran’s insistence that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps be taken off the foreign terrorist list as part of any agreement, even if holding to that position meant killing the deal. Asked if he would use force against Iran to stop it from obtaining a nuclear weapon, he answered, “If that was the last resort, yes.”

Biden has a long relationship with Israel. Nearly half a century ago, he first traveled to Israel as a newly elected senator in 1973. There, he met Golda Meir who is the famous Israeli prime minister. He has been to meet every prime minister since.

For the first day of his 10th visit to Israel, Mr. Biden chose two symbolic statements by receiving a briefing on Israel’s latest defense against rocket attacks and visiting the country’s iconic Yad Vashem memorial for Holocaust victims.

One of the weapons that he saw was a prototype for a new laser defense system, which Israeli leaders described as a strategic game-changer.

The weapon is also known as the Iron BeamThis laser, which will be used to complement the Iron Dome anti-missile interception system, has been developed over two decades worth of research and experimentation. Although it’s still years away from deployment officials stated that the laser is capable of knocking down missiles, rockets, mortar rounds, drones, and anti-tank weapons.

Mr. Biden’s focus on the joint work between Israel and the United States on Iron Dome and Iron Beam was as important strategically as symbolically. Iron Dome is a remarkable tool for protecting Israel against rocket attacks. Iron Beam can blind any drone that is headed towards civilians.

But to Mr. Biden, it was also a way of engaging Israel’s government in significant work with the United States. That effort has been underway since President George W. Bush brought Israel and the United States into a joint effort to sabotage Iran’s nuclear centrifuges with a cyberweapon called “Stuxnet,” helping forge a closer relationship between American and Israeli cyber engineers.

Two Holocaust survivors met Mr. Biden at Yad Vashem. Rena QuintAnd Giselle CicowiczThese men were held at concentration camps for a time and later emigrated to America.

The two women were seated on chairs. Mr. Biden approached them and spoke to them for several moments. He then clasped their hands, kissed their cheeks, and they knelt down.

Afterward, Ms. Cycowicz, 95, said: “When I came to America, I did not know a soul there. And I made so many new friends. And now I have been invited to meet the most important person in the world.”

Adding his to name to the memorial’s visitor book, the president wrote, “We must never, ever forget because hate is never defeated, it only hides.”

But Mr. Biden’s encounter with the two Holocaust survivors also undercut what appeared to be a White House effort to build justification for avoiding a politically damaging moment later in the trip. On Friday, President Biden will fly from Israel to Saudi Arabia. There he will meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He is regarded as the mastermind in the brutal assassination attempt on Jamal Khashoggi.

Mr. Biden’s team, knowing that images of the president shaking hands with the crown prince would be embarrassing, had hinted to reporters the president might forego all handshakes in the Middle East because of the virulent new Covid-19 subvariant.

The president was only able to follow the program for a short time. After he had disembarked Air Force One, the president refused to shake hands with Mr. Lapid, and offered them fist bumps. He was not a stranger to close contact, as he smiled and patted their arms.

When brought over to pose with parliamentary leaders, he dispensed with the no-handshake rule altogether, grasping Mr. Netanyahu’s hand for an especially prolonged and seemingly friendly greeting.

When he arrived at Yad Vashem he was clear that he had given up on the idea of keeping his distance. Even though he wasn’t following the instructions, the survivors had received the memo. “He asked permission to kiss me, and he kept on holding my hand,” said Ms. Quint, 86, “and we were told not to touch him.”

David E. SangerContributed reporting

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