US President Joe Biden claimed that he met with former Israeli PM Golda Meir during the Six-Day War – a time before she held the office and while he was still in law school.
Speaking at a menorah lighting for Hanukkah on Thursday, Biden claimed he had been a “liaison” between Israel and Egypt at the time. In fact, Biden was still a student at the Syracuse University College of Law during the brief 1967 conflict – and Meir herself would not be elected prime minister for another two years.
“I have known every – every [Israeli] prime minister well since Golda Meir, including Golda Meir,” Biden declared, adding that Meir had invited him to “be the liaison between she and the Egyptians about the Suez.”
It appears Biden was actually referencing a meeting with Meir he had before the 1973 Yom Kippur War, six years later.
Biden’s efforts to tout his Israel credentials left out certain details of what actually did transpire between him and Meir on his 1973 trip there as a young senator, however.
Upon arriving from Cairo, Egypt, Biden apparently told Israel to offer “unilateral withdrawals from areas with no strategic importance” in the West Bank and Gaza, according to an Israeli memo from the time.
Biden cited talks in Cairo in which Egyptian officials had accepted “Israel’s military superiority,” the Times of Israel reported.
His advice apparently did not impress Meir and Syria and Egypt attacked Israel less than six weeks later. The memo described the young Biden as being full of respect for Meir, but having “made comments that signaled his lack of diplomatic experience.”
The memo notes that Biden felt it was “impossible to have a real debate in the Senate about the Middle East as senators were fearful of saying things unpopular with Jewish voters.”
Biden was also reportedly critical of the Nixon administration for being “dragged by Israel.” The president has seemingly left such hesitation in the dust in recent years, describing himself as a “Zionist” in 2007.
It’s not the first time Biden has embellished or mis-remembered his place at historically significant moments, from claiming he was arrested while trying to visit Nelson Mandela during South African apartheid to exaggerating his role in US civil rights marches during the 1960s.