Friday, 12 Aug 2022 - 15 of Av, 5782

US President Biden In Israel: ‘You need not be a Jew to be a Zionist’

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The American leader said his affinity for the Jewish state grew from his father, who taught the family about the Holocaust and “imbued in us a sense of obligation that we all have.”

By JNS

U.S. President Joe Biden met with a warm welcome when he arrived at Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion International Airport on Wednesday and spoke of his long relationship with the Jewish State.

Speakers on the tarmac included Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Israel’s President Isaac Herzog, both of whom recalled Biden’s first visit to the country in 1973, just days before the start of the Yom Kippur War.

“It is a very personal visit because your relationship with Israel has always been very personal,” said Lapid. “You once defined yourself as a Zionist. You said that you don’t have to be a Jew in order to be a Zionist, and you were right. And in your case, a great Zionist, and one of the best friends Israel has ever known.”

Biden followed Lapid at the podium and said he still held such sentiments, recalling his 10 trips to Israel, including his initial one the year before Richard Nixon became the first American president to visit the country. He added that during his first visit, he had the honor of spending time with then-Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir and sat next to one of her aides, future Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

“I realize that I had the great honor of living part of the great history” of this nation, stated Biden. “And I did say, I say again, you need not be a Jew to be a Zionist.”

Starting when he was a senator and then vice president, Biden said he has known every Israeli prime minister since Meir and was honored to have built a strong working relationship with each of them.

“And now, this is my 10th visit, every chance to return to this great country—where the ancient roots of the Jewish people date back to biblical times—is a blessing,” he said. “Because the connection between the Israeli people and the American people is bone deep; it’s bone deep. Generation after generation, that connection grows. We invest in each other. We dream together. We’re part of what has always been the objective we both had.”

Biden said that his affinity for the State of Israel grew from his father, who he called a “righteous Christian” and who taught the family about what happened in the Holocaust and “imbued in us a sense of obligation that we all have.”

He then outlined his agenda for the visit, which is expected to last until Friday.

Gantz to Biden: We’ve made ‘groundbreaking’ strides in regional security cooperation

The Israeli defense minister accompanies the U.S. president on a tour of cutting-edge Israeli air defense systems, including the Iron Beam.

Israel and the United States have made “groundbreaking” strides together to enhance regional security coordination, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said after accompanying visiting U.S. President Joe Biden on a tour of cutting-edge Israeli air defense systems, which were transported to Ben-Gurion Airport to be reviewed by the U.S. leader, who is in the country for his first official visit as president.

Biden was shown the Arrow 3 and Arrow 4 missile defense systems, David’s Sling, the Iron Dome and Iron Beam, according to the Israeli Defense Ministry.

Arrow 3, a joint Israeli-American project led by the Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D) together with the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), “is considered the best interceptor of its kind in the world,” the ministry said in a statement.

“Its interception capabilities are high and long-range, reaching far beyond the atmosphere. In July 2019, the IMDO and the U.S. MDA completed a series of tests of the Arrow 3 weapon system in Alaska, and successfully demonstrated hit-to-kill interceptions of high altitude, exo-atmospheric targets,” the statement continued.

The system’s primary contractor is Israel Aerospace Industries, according to the ministry.

Biden was also shown the Arrow 4, a new interceptor that will replace the Arrow 2 system. The Arrow 4 will operate both inside and outside the atmosphere.

David’s Sling, made by Israeli defense firm Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, is a middle layer of Israel’s air defense array, complementing other systems.

The system is based on a two-stage interceptor missile with “exceptionally high maneuverability and speed capabilities,” the ministry said.

In addition, Biden viewed the Iron Dome system, which has intercepted more than 4,000 rockets, mostly fired by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic in Gaza, since becoming operational in 2011. The system can also shoot down cruise missiles and drones.

In 2019, the U.S. military purchased two Iron Dome batteries.

Finally, Biden viewed the Iron Beam laser interception system, jointly developed by Rafael, Elbit Systems and the Defense Ministry.

“The laser system is effective, precise, easy to operate and substantially more cost-effective than any other existing defense system,” said the ministry. “Israel is one of the first countries in the world to succeed in developing high-power laser technology to an operational standard, as well as the successful demonstration of mortar, rocket and UAV interceptions,” it said.

During the briefing, Gantz presented Biden with a UAV that was intercepted in a successful test of the high-powered laser system that took place in March this year.

“We are extremely appreciative of your leadership,” Gantz told the U.S. leader. “We are grateful for your steadfast support for Israel’s security and for the assistance that was approved, including $ 1 billion for the replenishment of Iron Dome systems” following the May 2021 conflict with Hamas, he added.

“Our regional cooperation includes countries that seek stability and peace. The regional architecture and stability that the U.S. is leading will promote economic growth and the protection of human rights in the region. I am certain that under your leadership and together with U.S. security organizations, we will continue developing defense cooperation on land, in the air, in the maritime arena and in cyberspace,” said Gantz.

He concluded his remarks by saying, “The unique bond between Israel and the United States is stronger than ever. The State of Israel is certain that the president will continue taking the measures necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

In an interview with Israel’s Channel 12 news President Biden said that  he would use force against Iran as a “last resort” to prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons, but stressed his preference to negotiate with the Iranians instead.

The network’s anchor Yonit Levi interviewed Biden hours before he set off from Washington for his first visit as president to Israel. The interview was broadcast Wednesday evening after Biden had arrived in the Jewish state.

Asked if the US would use force to stop Iran’s nuclear program, Biden replied “as a last resort, yes.”

“Iran cannot get a nuclear weapon,” he said.

Biden explained why he believes the failing 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers should be resurrected, saying that “the only thing more dangerous than the Iran that exists now is an Iran with nuclear weapons.”

Biden will hold bilateral talks on Thursday with Israeli officizals, including Israel’s Prime Minister Yair Lapid, in Jerusalem, where the two countries are expected to declare a ”united stand” on common foe Iran.

A senior official said the two leaders were due to signb a joint declaration on preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Biden in Israel: Day 2 timeline

The U.S. president will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, after which they will participate in the first-ever “I2U2” virtual summit along with the leaders of India and the UAE.

(JNS) The following is a timeline for U.S. President Joe Biden’s remaining Israel visit:

Thursday, July 14, 2022

11:15 a.m. — Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and U.S. President Joe Biden will meet privately and then hold an expanded meeting with their respective staff.

12:30 p.m. — Lapid and Biden will participate in the first-ever I2U2 virtual summit along with the leaders of India and the United Arab Emirates. The I2U2 was established in October 2021 following an initiative by the four countries’ foreign ministers.

1:30 p.m. — Lapid and Biden will hold a press conference.

5:30 p.m. — Lapid and Biden will attend a ceremony at the Israeli President’s Residence with Israeli President Isaac Herzog.

7:50 p.m. — Lapid and Biden will attend the opening ceremony of the Maccabiah Games at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem. The Maccabiah torch will be lit upon the opening of the games.

Friday, July 15, 2022 

Lapid and Herzog will escort U.S. President Biden to Air Force One prior to departure.

This schedule is tentative and will be updated as necessary.

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