'Long History' | 

Joe Biden slammed for comparing Israel-Palestine conflict to the Troubles

The US president, who has roots in Co Mayo and Co Louth, is in the Middle East for the first time since taking office in early 2021 and arrived in Israel on Wednesday to hold talks with Israeli leaders.
Joe Biden

Joe Biden

Neasa CumiskeySunday World

Joe Biden came under fire this week when he compared the conflict between Israel and Palestine to the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

The US president, who has roots in Co Mayo and Co Louth, is in the Middle East for the first time since taking office in early 2021 and arrived in Israel on Wednesday to hold talks with Israeli leaders.

He has also met with Palestinian leaders in the occupied West Bank ahead of talks with Saudi leaders and other Gulf allies in Jeddah on Saturday.

“My background — the background of my family is Irish American,” he said near the beginning of his speech at the Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem.

“And we have a long history not fundamentally unlike the Palestinian people, with Great Britain and their attitude toward Irish Catholics over the years, for 400 years.”

Biden then quoted a verse from Seamus Heaney’s The Cure at Troy, a verse adaptation of Sophocles’ Philoctetes.

He said: “History teaches us not to hope on this side of the grave. But then, once in a lifetime, that longed-for tidal wave of justice rises up, and hope and history rhyme.”

He said that the poem was “classically Irish, but it also could fit Palestinians” and added that “it is my prayer that we’re reaching one of those moments where hope and history rhyme.”

Mr Biden also referenced his heritage as he penned an inscription in the guestbook in the presidential residence in Jerusalem upon his arrival.

"From our shared Irish roots to our shared love of Israel, we are united in heart and spirit,” it read.

"May our friendship endure and continue to grow! That is the Irish of it, as my grandfather Finnegan would say. God bless you, Joe."

Many outraged social media users ranted about the President’s speech online, with some suggesting that Biden is ruining America’s relationship with the UK.

“Nothing to see here, just our ‘foreign policy expert’ president insulting two of our closest allies, Britain and Israel, in an effort to buddy up to a group of people led by terrorists,” John Cooper of the Heritage Foundation tweeted.

Political correspondent Jim Geraghty said: “I’m not sure that Irish-Americans who have lived relatively comfortable lives should run around saying ‘we’ have suffered terrible pain because of the Troubles. It’s like blurring the line between empathy and stolen valour…”

And author Ali Shihabi added: “There goes the post Brexit ‘special relationship’”.

It comes after President Herzog bestowed the Israeli Presidential Medal of Honour upon the US leader at a ceremony in Jerusalem last week in recognition of his 50 years of support for the country as a politician.

“I can say without hesitation that being known as a friend of Israel and receiving this award today is among the greatest honours of my career,” Mr Biden said.

The president said he would not avoid talking about human rights when he visits Saudi Arabia on the second leg of his Middle East trip and stressed that his position on the murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi was "absolutely" clear.


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