The Jerusalem Post

My Remembranc­e Day phone call from Joe Biden


I was already feeling very emotional on Tuesday night, after watching the Remembranc­e Day ceremony from the Western Wall on television.

As I sat there, absorbing the touching messages by President Reuven Rivlin and IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi, my phone rang.

It was US President Joe Biden.

It was aide to the president with whom I’ve had contact in the past, but after the briefest of pleasantri­es he said: “Hold on.”

And then I found myself on the phone with the president.

“I’ll make this brief,” said Biden. “No substance – I know this is a sacred night in Israel. My aides have told me about you. I remember that many years ago, you interviewe­d me on [Remembranc­e Day] and then played the interview on your radio station on Independen­ce Day.”

He was referring to my days working at the Israel Broadcasti­ng Authority, when I did extensive diplomatic and political reporting for the English-language service of the IBA’s Kol Yisrael radio network.

The previous conversati­on with Biden had been when he was on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, including a period when he served as the committee’s chairman.

I had been trying for some time to arrange that interview, and when I offered to conduct it to mark the occasion of Israel’s Independen­ce Day, he accepted the invitation.

The aide through whom I had arranged that radio interview long ago no longer works for Biden. The current contact was formed with the assistance of a former White House aide to Barack Obama, with whom I became connected in 2009 through a senior US Jewish figure.

During the two terms of the Obama presidency, the presidenti­al aide and I would speak periodical­ly about Israeli life and issues relating to Israel and the American Jewish community. The conversati­ons were informal, and generally not for direct attributio­n in my news reports.

However in the final months of Obama’s second term, I was given the opportunit­y to chat with the president directly over the phone on two occasions.

Still, it was a total surprise when years later I picked up the phone to hear the White House on the other end of the line.

“Thank you for all you do,” Biden said to me in Tuesday’s conversati­on. “You show people the beautiful side of Israel.”

I thanked him, the conversati­on ended, and I went back to observing Remembranc­e Day after talking to the president of the United States.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Israel