In a recent press conference, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked to clarify the administration’s decidedly ambiguous stance on the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement. Her non-answer raised more than a few eyebrows.
On his official website titled optimistically “Joe Biden and the Jewish Community: A Record and a Plan of Friendship, Support and Action”, the president claims to oppose BDS.
What he said before being elected
“Biden has led efforts to oppose the delegitimization of Israel, whether in international organizations or by the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement here at home,” the site claims.
This policy seemed to be reflected in statements made by UN Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield at her Senate confirmation hearing in which she pledged to work against BDS, which she described as “unacceptable” as it “verges on anti-Semitic.” This pro-Israel intention was marred by her confirming Biden’s intention to rejoin the UN Human Rights Council, which former President Trump left due to its anti-Israel bias.
A straight answer
At the press conference on Thursday, Psaki was asked about Greenfield’s statements. With such a clear anti-BDS campaign policy statement, the question should have been easy to answer, making Psaki’s waffling perplexing.
“I don’t have anything more for you on our position,” Psaki replied, in what is becoming a characteristic non-answer. “The President has spoken to this as a candidate and prior as vice president, but I don’t have anything new and I’m happy to get back to you if there’s anything I can get you from the national security team.”
Another reporter pressed the question. After claiming that Israel was properly targeted by the UN for “violating international law, he asked, “Linda Thomas Greenfield also said she would be standing against the unfair targeting of Israel, the relentless resolutions that are proposed against Israel unfair. Is that the position of the white house?”
Psaki again demurred, refusing to provide any answer at all.
With such a public stance opposing BDS, Biden’s choice in staffers is inexplicable. Last week the new administration announced two appointees who were absolutely anti-Israel. Biden tapped Maher Bitar as his senior intelligence adviser for the National Security Council. Bitar, a “Palestinian” American, wrote a scholarly paper while at Oxford about the Israeli “military occupation” and another about the effects of the “Nakba” (catastrophe), the term used to decry the founding of the state of Israel. Bitar worked for UNRWA and Samantha Power, who was recently be the head of the United States Agency for International Development. Power has also been accused of being anti-Israel, though not to such a marked degree.
Last week, Biden also appointed Avril Haines as director of national intelligence. In May, Haines, who self-identifies as a Jew, was one of 30 former intelligence national security officials who signed a letter to the Democratic Party saying their platform should include language critical of Israel, express sympathy with the Palestinians, and object to Jews living in Judea and Samaria as preparation for a two-state solution. Prior to her appointment, Haines headed Columbia World Project which included scholar-members who supported the anti-Semitic Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement and who advocated trying Israeli soldiers for war crimes.
Blatant anti-Semitic views
Two weeks ago, Biden appointed Kristen Clarke as his candidate to head the US Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. While attending Harvard as an undergraduate and acting as the president of the Black Students Association, Clarke invited several speakers to address the organization who were notorious for their extreme and blatant anti-Semitic views. When confronted by the other students for her choices, Clarke claimed their anti-Jewish theories were based in “indisputable fact.” Clarke has never apologized for her actions or statements.
Biden also appointed Reema Dodin as the Deputy Director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs. Dodin, the US-born daughter of Arab-Israeli immigrants, has made statements praising suicide bombers and BDS.
This trend is intensifying unabated as Biden just appointed Robert Malley as a special U.S. envoy for Iran. Malley was the lead negotiator on the 2015 Iran nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)