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Tags: golda meir

Setting Record Straight on Biden's Meeting With Golda Meir

golda meir seated outdoors surrounded by israeli soldiers
Golda Meir in 1973 (Getty Images)

Micah Halpern By Friday, 10 December 2021 11:46 AM EST Current | Bio | Archive

President Biden likes to tell stories. The problem is that some of those stories, while based on truth, are filled with inaccuracies.

The president has a penchant for retelling his stories, often with the very same inaccuracies. Honestly, I will never understand why some trusted friend or trusted adviser doesn’t correct him.

Getting the facts right in a story is important — especially for a president of the United States. We are all listening to him. The world is listening. Missing details and mixing up details is, on numerous levels, truly troubling.

One case in point took place during the annual White House Hannukah party, when President Biden told — actually retold — a story I have heard from him dozens of times over the years. After reading reportage of his Hannukah party reminiscence, I decided that I need to set the record straight.

It is a story Joe Biden retells at almost every Jewish event. It is the story of the now-president’s first visit to Israel and his first meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir.

At the White House Hannukah party, speaking of Golda Meir, recalling an event that took place during the Six Day War, this is what the president said: "And during the Six-Day War, I had an opportunity to — she invited me to come over because I was going to be the liaison between she and the Egyptians about the Suez, and so on and so forth."

Later in the story, Biden suggested that Meir had referred to him during the meeting as "Mr. Ambassador." And he added that Yitzhak, who would later become an Israeli prime minister, was also in the room.

Biden explained that Golda told him how difficult the military situation was, but that she was very optimistic and that Israel will succeed because “we have a secret weapon.” Biden asks what the Israeli secret weapon was? And Golda responds — “We have nowhere else to go!”

President Biden claims that that exchange was one of the most essential and influential lessons he has ever learned — not just about Israel and the Middle East, but in general. He claims that it was inspirational.

In truth, the entire story is totally absurd!

If the president wants to embellish his role in a story, making himself a central part of the diplomatic retinue, that’s forgivable.

The Six Day War took place in 1967. It is also known as the “67 War” as in the war which took place in 1967.

In 1967, Joe Biden was still in law school.

Still not absurd enough? Golda Meir was not prime minister of Israel during the Six Day War. Levi Eshkol was prime minister. Golda was elected prime minister in 1969. She served during the Yom Kippur which took place in 1973.

And that’s when the meeting in question takes place.

Sometimes your dates get messed up. But correct them! Sometimes one war blends with another. Correct that, too!

There’s more. There is no record that the Israeli prime minister deputized Biden. Actually, the Israeli notes of the meeting have Golda Meir referring to the 30-year-old senator, still in his first year as a United States senator, alternately as “son” and “senator.”

Anyone who knows any history cringes when they hear this story.

It is cringeworthy for several reasons. Most notably is that Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir’s major failure as prime minister was that Israel was caught flatfooted, completely surprised, by a multifront attack on Israel’s holiest day of the year. On Yom Kippur, when the entire country shuts down, when everything is closed — even radio broadcasting, which made it very difficult to call up military reserves.

In the end, Golda was forced to resign because of her failing.

These mistakes are coming from someone who is presumed to have detailed knowledge of the Middle East. Joe Biden is presumed to be the senior world leader working on a strategy for peace and part of that strategy entails securing and enabling the safety of allies like Israel.

This story illustrates a lack of basic knowledge. It does not succeed, as the president intends, as a quaint story illustrating how his life was shaped by the great destiny of Israel.

Golda was an impressive person on the world stage. She was the first and only female Israeli prime minister. She was identifiable world over.

She was the third female elected primeminister and head of government in the world. The first female prime minister was Sirimavo Bandaranaike. She served as the prime minister of Ceylon, which is today known as Sri Lanka.

Bandaranaike was first elected on July 21, 1960. She served three terms. The second female prime minister was Indira Gandhi, India’s first female prime minister. She was elected on January 24, 1966.

Golda was the third. She was elected on March 17, 1969. That is almost 2 full years after the Six Day War.

I hope that someone on Biden’s team reads this essay and has what it takes to correct “the Jewish story.” It is not quaint — it is dangerous. It demonstrates a lack of knowledge and a disregard for facts and common knowledge.

It invites questions on other “factual” reminiscences and comments.

Micah Halpern is a political and foreign affairs commentator. He founded "The Micah Report" and hosts "Thinking Out Loud with Micah Halpern," a weekly TV program, and "My Chopp," a daily radio spot. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern. Read Micah Halpern's Reports — More Here.

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President Biden likes to tell stories. The problem is that some of those stories, while based on truth, are filled with inaccuracies.
golda meir
Friday, 10 December 2021 11:46 AM
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