OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
The White House had to make an embarrassing admission after it was learned that Joe Biden “misspoke” about a visit he claimed he made to the Tree of Life synagogue.
Of course, many people may accuse Biden of bald-faced lying about his visit to the synagogue after the mass shooting in 2018 that killed 11 congregants, but fact-checkers may disagree, so we will say “misspoke.”
“I remember spending time at the – you know, going to the – you know, the Tree of Life Synagogue, speaking with the – just – it just is amazing these things are happening – happening in America,” he said in a typical Biden-like sentence to a group of more than 1,000 Jewish leaders at a virtual event.
But he did not go to the synagogue, the Tree of Life told The New York Post.
The White House issued a statement to The Post saying that Biden “was referring to a call he had with the Tree of Life rabbi in 2019.”
Because a phone call and a visit are so similar in nature.
Biden’s initial false statement received widespread criticism and was featured in segments on CNN and Fox News.
The 2018 mass shooting at the Tree of Life was the worst anti-Jewish hate crime in US history.
Biden has a reputation for making false or embellished claims and dropped out of his first presidential campaign in 1988 due to a plagiarism scandal. But at nearly 79 years old, his mental acuity also is a frequent matter of public debate.
In one infamous misstatement, Biden in 2020 claimed he “had the great honor of being arrested” in South Africa when he was “trying to get to see [Nelson Mandela] on Robbens Island,” where Mandela was in prison until 1990. He said Mandela thanked him for it.
Biden later admitted, “I wasn’t arrested, I was stopped. I was not able to move where I wanted to go.”
But, again, in that case, he did not bald-faced lie, he simply “misspoke.”
“President Biden kindly called me on my cell phone as I was sitting in Dulles Airport awaiting a return flight to Pittsburgh after I testified before Congress in July 2019,” Rabbi Hazzan Jeffrey Myers said in the White House statement.
“In a heartfelt way, he extended his condolences and asked how we were doing. We spoke about the challenges of antisemitism, and he made clear he would confront it with us as president. The conversation meant a great deal to me, and I will always be grateful for his kind words and continued support of our community,” he said.
But at the event on Thursday, Biden could also not remember the name of the famous Jewish song “Hava Nagila” as he spoke about his daughter marrying a Jewish man.
“We wanted to have a co-confessional wedding,” he said. “And we had a chuppah on the altar, and […] it was co-officiated. Now, some of you aren’t going to like this, but it was co-officiated by a Catholic priest as well as a Jewish rabbi.”
“I only asked one thing,” Biden said. “There’s a psalm-based, there’s a hymn, my favorite hymn in the Catholic Church based on a psalm, and it’s — it’s a psalm that talks about life. And so, I asked if that psalm — that hymn in the Catholic Church.”
“And it says, ‘May He lift you up on Eagle’s wings and bear you on the breath of dawn, and let the light shine upon you,’ et cetera, and — ‘and hold you in the palm of his hand.’” He said before going on to mention the Jewish song.
“And they played and … I’m my mind, I’m going blank now. What’s the song that is played where everybody is on the chair?” he said. “I can’t remember it. Anyway. And that’s the song that was played.”