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Jill Biden's Tour in Israel Focused on Muslims, Ignored Jews

Jill Biden’s tour last week in Israel focused on Arabs and Bedouins and ignored Jews, except for a visit to graves.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 3/16/2010, 1:13 PM / Last Update: 3/16/2010, 1:30 PM

White House

Last week’s four-day tour of Israel and the Palestinian Authority by Dr. Jill Biden, wife of the Vice President of the United States, focused on Arabs and Bedouin but ignored Jews, except for a visit to a cemetery, according to a review of their itinerary.

While Vice President Joe Biden was denouncing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for the government’s announcement of progress in a building plan for Jews in part of Jerusalem, his wife visited Muslim children and a Bedouin group funded by the New Israel Fund (NIF). The organization, which also funds organizations that are rabidly anti-Zionist, has recently come under fire for using foreign money whose sources are not revealed. Sixteen of the organizations that it funds gave over 90% of the anti-Israel reports to the Goldstone commission that investigated Operation Cast Lead in Gaza last year.

The Bidens landed in Israel Monday evening, and Jill Biden began her official tour Tuesday morning with a visit to teachers and children at the integrated Peace Pre-School program at the Jerusalem International YMCA.  

Her only visits to exclusively-Jewish areas were to graves and the like: the gravesites of Theodore Herzl and former Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin at Mt. Herzl, and the Masada fortress overlooking the Dead Sea.

The following morning she made a stop at the Augusta Victoria Hospital, the central office of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), which is closely tied with the Palestinian Authority. LWF claims that the hospital is “located in areas under Israeli control, making access by West Bank Palestinians extremely difficult, and perhaps impossible, [without] special arrangements.”

The rest of her tour included a visit to a music center in Ramallah, and a visit to the Sidreh-financed Bedouin women craft center north of Be’er Sheva.

The NIF latched on to Jill Biden’s visit to Sidreh, an NIF-funded group, to argue that proposed Israeli legislation would endanger its existence because of the requirement that the NIF and other non-government organizations (NGOs) divulge their sources of funding.

"This joint effort between NIF and the U.S. government significantly supports unmet needs in Israel," NIF director Daniel Sokatch said. "We especially appreciate Dr. Biden's visit at a time when the values of these programs must be publicly demonstrated."

An NIF official at the center complained to Dr. Biden of what she called a “smear campaign” against the group because of revelations of financing anti-Zionists with the use of money from foreign governments. Dr. Biden did not comment.

Instead, Dr. Biden told the Bedouin, "I am a working woman, too, and I know how important it is to be independent.”