US Vice-President Biden Returns to Jerusalem

US Vice-President Joe Biden was in town this week.

When he visited five years ago,

it was a blog-worthy occasion, a very no-frills visit,

as compared to a US Presidential visit to Jerusalem, Israel.

But this visit was not like last time.

no parking near Beit Hanasi for Biden visit

The big red no-parking signs were not warnings for the

upcoming Jerusalem Marathon street closings,

but for Vice-President Biden’s visit to

President Reuven Rivlin at Beit Hanasi,

the official residence of the Israeli President.

red carpet out for Joe Biden visit and shade up

The red carpet was unfurled,

and for an extra layer of security, this blue tarp was erected.

Beit Hanasi set for Biden

Flags, flowers and podiums were arranged.

food for press at beit hanasi for Biden visit

Hamentashen were among the sweets served to munch.

There was a long delay and wait,

because the VP stayed longer than planned

 with Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Finally, it was show time.

Rivlin waits for Biden to arrive

Key players were in their positions.

The motorcade arrived.

A huge US vehicle with DC license plates

and adorned with US and Israeli flags

Biden in special DC car at beit hanasi

 pulled up along the carpet with swarms of security,

VP Biden greeted by Reuven Rivlin

and the United States Vice-President.

International press lined the way ready to report.

Such coordination,

Rivlin and Bedin walk into Beit Hanasi

 even their ties matched.

I was late for a meeting and left after the speeches,

Biden and Rivlin shake hands

right after the official hand shake.

US cars of motorcade Biden

The waiting cars of the motorcade filled the driveway,

Beit hanasi security screen

while security shades blocked the view.

This was a full scale production,

everyone knew that Joe Biden was here this time.

And don’t you know it,

as soon as I turned around to leave there she was–

another one of those Arab girls!

Arab girl driving lesson

Crazy layers of security, a street lined with police cars,

bomb squads whose photos I cannot share,

and there was an Arab girl having a driving lesson.

What a Difference a Day Makes!

At first it seemed that no one even noticed,

 United States Vice-President Joe Biden was visiting  Jerusalem.

There is a difference when you are not number one,

but only number two.

As Vice-President Biden was to arrive, it was quiet around the Citadel Hotel.

 Biden arrived for breakfast at Beit HaNasi, the President’s Residence, 

on the first day of his visit. 

No United States flag was flying to greet a Vice-President. 

The temperature was already rising, 

the dirty air was not good for clear photos.

There were no paparazzi around Beit HaNasi,

  just a few big vans, some red police tape and one ambulance.

Security was very light, a real contrast to the bus blocking this intersection

and many streets being closed for hours before President Bush’s visit. 

At least the US Vice-President rated a security helicopter circling overhead

when he was arriving and leaving from meetings.

No complaints were heard from the residents of Jerusalem,

who were able to get around both by car and on foot. 

Unless you were stuck in traffic when his entourage was on the move,

you would not have known that Joe Biden was here.

Then, an announcement about new housing plans in the northern

Jerusalem neighborhood of  Ramat Shlomo 

and reports of his visit made headlines around the world.


A little perspective on housing:

to get anything built in Jerusalem takes time, a lot of time.

Something as simple as the addition of a small porch,

that all the neighbors agree on, can take ten years to be done legally.

One of Jerusalem’s biggest problems is the lack of housing,

especially affordable housing.

After the Safdie Plan failed to pass due to environmental concerns

there simply are not enough places for the people to live.

The real shame is that media coverage and world’s outrage

at this badly-timed announcement seems to have left no time

and space to cover the really disturbing news

of the massacres going on in Nigeria,

including  the slaughter of many young children…

When Vice-President Joe Biden left for Tel Aviv today,

the entire world was aware of his every move.

What a difference one day makes in Jerusalem!