Biden pays tribute to 'fierce spirit' Joe Lieberman -- without mentioning Israel support

NEWS: Biden pays tribute to ‘fierce spirit’ Joe Lieberman — without mentioning Israel support

President Biden issued a statement Thursday paying his respects to the late former Sen. Joe Lieberman, lauding his liberal record while steering clear of his staunch backing of Israel amid deep division within the Democratic Party over the Middle East.

Lieberman, 82, who represented Connecticut in the Senate for 24 years and was the first Jewish candidate on a major party’s presidential ticket, began voicing concerns about Biden’s shifting stance on Israel shortly before his death Wednesday due to complications following a fall.

“He was principled, steadfast, and unafraid to stand up for what he thought was right. He was a friend. Joe’s fierce spirit of independence is the essence of the American story,” Biden said of Lieberman in his statement.

President Biden hailed Joe Lieberman’s ‘fierce spirit of independence.’ REUTERS

“Joe championed the environment, gun safety, and reproductive freedom. He wrote landmark legislation repealing discriminatory restrictions on LGBTQ Americans serving in our military. He played a key role in the creation of the Department of Homeland Security in the wake of 9/11.”

Absent from the statement was any acknowledgement of Lieberman’s support of America’s Middle Eastern ally.

Early in Biden’s term of office, Lieberman lauded the president’s approach to conflict between Israel and Hamas, saying during an earlier round of fighting in May 2021 that Biden had exercised “quiet and effective diplomacy” and was “not drawn in by the left of the Democratic Party to essentially take a stand against Israel.”

Near the end of his life, Lieberman began to sour on Biden as the president struggled to navigate the Israel-Hamas war following the Oct. 7 terror attack.

“We have become concerned about what appears to be a weakening of support for Israel by President Biden, Vice President Harris and some other leading Democrats,” Lieberman wrote in a statement drafted hours before his death with attorney Alan Dershowitz and published Thursday by the Wall Street Journal.

Joe Lieberman was seeking to recruit someone to challenge President Biden and Donald Trump in the general election. AP

“We are especially concerned about the possibility that some of this weakening may be influenced by domestic political fears of losing electoral support from anti-Israel voters who have threatened to stay home unless the Biden administration pulls away from Israel.”

Lieberman and Dershowitz then warned Biden: “You can no longer simply count on our vote just because Jews traditionally have voted Democratic.”

Notably, Lieberman was the founding chairman of No Labels, which is actively trying to recruit a third-party presidential candidate, which many observes have warned could spoil Biden’s prospects.

President Biden has backed Israel in its war against Hamas but sought to pressure the US ally into being more careful about civilians. AP

Biden has been confronted with near-open revolt in his party as progressives fume over his refusal to call for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip. In the Feb. 27 Michigan Democratic primary, more than 100,000 voters marked their ballot “uncommitted,” spooking the president’s re-election campaign in what is likely to be a key battleground state.,

The president has also publicly stated that Israel’s response to the attack has been “over the top” and publicly proclaimed an invasion of the city of Rafah to be a “red line.”

Joe Lieberman began souring on President Biden’s approach to Israel before his tragic fall. Douliery Olivier/ABACA/Shutterstock

On Monday, the US also declined to veto a UN resolution calling for an “immediate” cease-fire in Gaza, drawing the wrath of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who scrapped plans to dispatch a delegation to Washington to iron out differences over a potential Rafah campaign.

The White House has insisted that despite appearances, Biden’s position on Israel has not been skewed by party politics.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also paid tribute to the late senator. REUTERS

“Sara and I grieve with Hadassah and the entire Leiberman [sic] family on the passing of our beloved Joe Leiberman [sic]. Joe was an exemplary public servant, an American patriot and a matchless champion of the Jewish people and the Jewish state,” Netanyahu wrote on X after news broke of the former senator’s death.

“He was also an extraordinarily kind and loyal personal friend.”

Earlier Thursday, before releasing his written tribute, Biden praised Lieberman as a “good man” during a quick exchange with reporters on the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.

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