Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg Criticize Israeli ‘Occupation’

Joe Biden and Benjamin Netanyahu (Debbie Hill / AFP / Getty)
Debbie Hill / AFP / Getty

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.”

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.”

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.

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.

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