Former vice president Joe Biden and South Bend, Indiana’s Mayor Pete Buttigieg told a radical anti-Israel group that Israel’s “occupation” was a problem after being ambushed by the group during campaign appearances in New Hampshire this weekend.
The group, IfNotNow, is a left-wing fringe organization that defended Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) when she used antisemitic language to attack supporters of Israel. It has also recited prayers for Hamas terrorists killed while trying to infiltrate Israel.
In the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primary, the group has ambushed several candidates, asking them about the Israeli “occupation” — without specifying what that means. Israel withdrew completely from Gaza in 2005, and most Palestinians in the West Bank live under Palestinian Authority administration. (To some radicals, “occupation” means the existence of Israel itself.)
Last week, they scored a victory wen Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) promised them she would end Israel’s occupation. Now the group is touting two more successes.
Biden told an activist that “occupation is a real problem,” He said there was “no answer but a two-state solution”. While “the settlements were unnecessary,” he said that Palestinians had to “be prepared to stop the hate.” Asked whether he would pressure Israel, as president, Biden pointed to his record: “Do you know anything about my record? … You know I have.”
.@JoeBiden just said ‘The Occupation is a real problem’ and we’re happy to hear it: this is a baseline position every 2020 candidate needs to take. But when we asked @JoeBiden if he’d pressure Israel to end the Occupation, he deflected to his record. pic.twitter.com/1AIQ7Ubl3g
— IfNotNow (@IfNotNowOrg) July 13, 2019
Though often touted as a supporter of Israel, in 2010 Biden condemned Israel’s decision to build apartments in a Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem, resulting in one of the most serious diplomatic rifts between the two countries in decades.
Similarly, Buttigieg — who has become more critical of Israel — told IfNotNow that “the occupation has to end.”
“The Occupation has to end” — @PeteButtigieg
An important step for both Mayor Pete & the Democratic party. It’s clear that this is the baseline position for 2020 candidates on Israel: acknowledge Israel’s military Occupation as the reality on the ground and call for it to end. pic.twitter.com/h8hqs8dOtn
— IfNotNow (@IfNotNowOrg) July 12, 2019
However, Sen. Cory Booker — who has likewise moved in a more anti-Israel direction over the years — disappointed activists by refusing to take the bait.
Yesterday, we asked @CoryBooker “Do you believe the Occupation is a human rights crisis for Palestinians?” He got visibly frustrated.
He admits: “If that’s your issue I would understand if you want to support somebody else”
— IfNotNow (@IfNotNowOrg) July 14, 2019
IfNotNow was critical of Biden’s response, but called it a new “baseline” for 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.