I was 32 at the time, a rising presence in American Zionist circles listed in “Who’s Who in American Jewry - 1985” and four years since rabbinical ordination. I sat on the executive committee of the American Zionist Federation and regularly attended meetings of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in my capacity as national executive director (a title now known as Executive Vice President) of the Herut Zionists of America (HZA). As this article unfolds, this personal background soon will be relevant.
Photo: Rabbi Prof. Dov Fischer with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, 1985
The leading liberal-center-conservative party when Israel was founded was the Herut (Freedom) party. In a country dominated through its first thirty years by Marxist socialists, it was — and still is — regarded as “right wing” to be just-plain classical liberal. Herut was liberal-centrist in that it stood for ideas comfortably consonant with capitalism, free speech, equal opportunity for all ethnicities, and respect for religious values. In time, Herut merged with a smaller party, The Liberal Party, which focused more on free-market capitalism as its primary concern. They were called Gachal (Gush Herut-Liberalim, i.e. the merger of Herut and the Liberals). Later, they both consolidated with a few other splinters to form a newly named party that remains the leading political force among the center-right, the “Likud” (literally the “Consolidation”).
Zionists in America often express their Zionism — whether capitalist, socialist, theologically heterodox, Orthodox, ethnically Sephardic, and so on — by associating with a Zionist organization promoting a viewpoint consonant with one of the Israeli parties closest to their own views. The Herut Zionists of America later were renamed “Likud-USA” and “Likud North America” as the Likud Party’s name “stuck.”
I was HZA’s chief professional officer based in the national headquarters in New York. My role included traveling the country with Israel’s Herut/Likud leaders of that time like Prime Ministers Menachem Begin and Yitzchak Shamir, and future Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. I made speeches and oversaw the development, growth and expansion of regional chapters, while also assuring our programs for teenagers and on-campus college chapters were robust. I fundraised and oversaw finances. And I produced public events offering media-focused public forums for political figures to announce they shared our perspective that Jews are entitled to permanent sovereignty over Judea and Samaria. We often hosted rising Herut/Likud stars like Israel’s then-new U.N. ambassador, Benjamin Netanyahu. This necessary background, too, becomes relevant soon below.
Photo: Rabbi Prof. Dov Fischer with Benjamin Netanyahu, then-Israeli Ambassador to U.N. 1985
As 1985 approached, it devolved on me to produce the organization’s largest-ever national convention. I reserved the top-tier Hotel Pierre, hired the most exquisite kosher caterer in New York, assured we would have strong national representation in attendance, and I lined up speakers like Israeli ambassador to America, Meir Rosenne, and my big coup: the charismatic Ariel Sharon (twenty years before he turned), thanks to our personal friendship (that ended when he left Likud) then going back a few years.
Next, my biggest task of all: get one Republican U.S. Senator and one Democrat U.S. Senator, each with impeccable pro-Israel credentials. The person assigned to get the Republican (my boss) flaked on me and failed to produce. I personally got the Democrat: the junior senator from Delaware, newly reelected to a second term, Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr.
In those mid-1980’s days, as I recall, a reasonable speaking honorarium included paying $5,000 plus airfare to New York, a top-flight hotel and all kinds of related living accoutrements. When I sealed the deal with Senator Biden’s office, I was, frankly, relieved: I had secured a big name, up-coming star to speak at our convention. This reinforced HZA as a major player in the eyes of Jewish newsmedia and in American Zionism. That was my job and my goal.
And then I got a phone call from a Biden staffer in Washington, D.C. I do not remember his name. The quotes that follow are not precisely verbatim after 38 years, but I remember the gist incredibly well. I skip the phatic language and cut to the chase:
Staffer: The Senator is looking forward to speaking to your group.
Staffer: I am calling about the Senator’s $5,000 honorarium.
Staffer: The Senator has a practice that he prefers not leaving a footprint or record of certain groups he has spoken for.
Me: I’m sorry. What does that mean?
Staffer: We are wondering: Many of the Zionist organizations have young people’s groups that are schooled in the groups’ ideologies and viewpoints. Do you have any?
Me: Yes, we have a teens group called “Betar” and a new college group called “Tagar.”
Staffer: OK. That college group: Do they have chapters on college campuses?
Me: I have just been launching the thing. We have a few so far.
Staffer: Do you have any of that college group’s chapters at a campus near the Pierre Hotel where the Senator will be speaking for your group?
Me: I think we may have one, maybe at NYU or a bit farther away at Brooklyn College.
Staffer: The Senator would like to have his $5,000 honorarium paid by that college group of yours for a speech at the college chapter nearest the Pierre Hotel.
Me: I don’t understand. Are you saying Senator Biden would like to speak to our college group, too?
Staffer: No, the Senator cannot fit that college group in his plans while he is in New York. He just wants the honorarium to be made to appear as though he spoke to them, not to Herut Zionists of America.
Me: Again, I apologize. I am new at all this. Are you asking me to falsify the source of payment for Senator Biden’s honorarium?
Staffer: You are not falsifying anything. You are getting the speech you want by the Senator you want for the price you agreed on. The Senator is getting the $5,000 you agreed to pay him. It’s just a bookkeeping matter, to make it look like the college students are paying him for speaking at their campus instead of him speaking at The Pierre to your group. But, don’t worry, it will be your group that he speaks to.
It was a lie. It was this young rabbi’s sharpest introduction to the world of lies and deceit that is Washington, D.C.
I did not know quite what to do. We already had mass-mailed publicity all over the country that a U.S. senator — Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware — would be speaking at the convention. The cost-benefit ratio left me virtually no choice. I could not cancel this liar now. Well, I could have, but I did not. That’s on me. I told my chapter chairman of that Tagar college chapter that he needed to give me a Tagar-account check payable to “Sen. Joseph Biden” (or whatever the designated payee was) for $5,000, and our national office reciprocally would give the chapter an HZA reimbursement check for $5,000. He asked why. I did not say.
I never discussed this with my wife nor revealed this to anyone else until now.
Photo: Rabbi Prof. Dov Fischer with Sen. Joseph R. Biden (D-DE) 1985
For nearly half a century, I have known first-hand that Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. plays games with money: how he gets it, who gives it to him, how its source is disguised, how it later can be re-characterized if it is uncovered. If he finagled with me, how many other speaking honoraria has he camouflaged these past 38 years? And what else? Biden’s is a lifelong pattern of deceit. It is sleight of hand: scoop in the cash, but don’t leave crumbs, cover the tracks, let the curious and suspicious exhaust themselves on wild goose chases trying to find out how the money got from Point A to Point B to Point C to its ultimate destination at Point JRB. (Jr.) It is part felony, part magic show. Nothing up his sleeve.
Fire a prosecutor investigating Burisma. Hunter’s laptop a Russian ploy. Never talked to Hunter about his businesses. Buy a Hunter Biden painting.
If Joe Biden would go to that much trouble to cover-up and hide a purely legitimate every-day honorarium — reasonably priced for a U.S. Senator at $5,000, paid by a then-significant organization that often hosted Israeli prime ministers, then a distinguished constituent of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and negotiated with a rabbi then already somewhat prominent and listed in “Who’s Who in American Jewry” — to what lengths might he go to cover up tens of millions obtained wrongfully from sources in China, Ukraine, Russia, and G-d knows where else while leveraging his power as Vice President of the United States, enriching his family/ Might he also possibly compromise American national interests?
We may never know where the Biden Family money is, or how they got it, or who remitted it, who cashed it, who transferred it, where it went, where it next went, where it went after that, where it is now, where it will be after this article is published — but Xi and Zelenskyy and Putin know “too much.” To what degree is Biden’s present foreign policy dictated by his consuming fear they will reveal what House investigators and bogus special counsel David Weiss cannot — or deliberately will not — unearth?
Has Biden sent Ukraine more than $110 billion because that is in America’s national interest or as “hush money” to keep Zelensyy quiet? Does he nevertheless send Ukraine significantly less than needed to beat Russia outright or to drive her back, assuring a never-ending faucet leak of tens of billions, because Biden needs to keep Putin quiet, too? And is America’s weak foreign policy toward China dictated by Biden’s need to keep Xi quiet?
Adapted by Rabbi Prof. Dov Fischer for Arutz Sheva from a version of this article that first appeared here in The American Spectator.
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