Biden jokingly threatens to run over a reporter asking about Israel as he test-drives new electric Ford truck

Biden Ford
President Joe Biden drives the new electric Ford F-150 Lightning at the Ford Dearborn Development Center in Michigan on May 18. Nicholas Kamm/Associated Press
  • Biden joked he would run over a reporter asking about Israel as he test-drove Ford’s new truck.
  • “No, you can’t – not unless you get in front of the car as I step on it,” he said.
  • Biden has faced criticism from Democrats over his approach to recent violence in the Middle East.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

As President Joe Biden on Tuesday test-drove Ford’s new electric F-150 Lightning pickup truck, he joked that he would run over a reporter asking about Israel.

“Mr. President, can I ask you a quick question on Israel before you drive away, since it’s so important?” a reporter said.

“No, you can’t – not unless you get in front of the car as I step on it. I’m only teasing,” Biden said, with laughter heard in the background. Then he floored the vehicle and drove away, to the apparent delight of the reporters nearby.

-JM Rieger (@RiegerReport) May 18, 2021

Biden has faced an onslaught of criticism from fellow Democrats in Congress over his approach to recent violence in the Middle East. Israel has pummeled Gaza with airstrikes as Hamas fires thousands of rockets in its direction. Lawmakers critical of Biden’s Israel policy have urged the president to show more concern for Palestinian rights.

The Israeli government’s airstrikes in Gaza have leveled residential buildings and killed dozens of civilians. Rights groups have accused both sides of war crimes as the death toll rises.

At least 213 Palestinians and 12 people in Israel had died in the fighting as of Tuesday, according to The Associated Press.

But Biden has so far refused to explicitly criticize Israel or raise questions about human-rights violations amid the Israeli military’s offensive in Gaza. The president has offered steadfast support to Israel, touting its right to self-defense, while bashing Hamas for firing rockets toward civilian areas.

The Biden administration also blocked efforts in the UN Security Council to release a statement calling for a cease-fire and condemning the violence in Gaza. Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz thanked the administration for its support in this regard.

“My sincere thanks to the U.S. Administration … for rightly preventing the unjust U.N. Security Council statement criticizing Israel’s actions in Gaza,” Gantz said in a tweet on Monday.

Biden has also tiptoed around the issue of a cease-fire.

Amid escalating pressure from top Democrats and the international community, the White House on Monday said the president in a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “expressed his support for a ceasefire.”

Biden briefly spoke with Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a vocal critic of the president when it comes to Israeli-Palestinian issues, as he arrived in Michigan on Tuesday.

Tlaib, who has family in the West Bank, in a tweet directed at Biden on Monday said, “If you support a cease-fire, then get out of the way of the U.N. Security Council and join other countries in demanding it. Apartheid-in-chief Netanyahu will not listen to anyone asking nicely. He commits war crimes and openly violates international law.”

The president lauded Tlaib for her advocacy in remarks on Tuesday at a Ford plant in Dearborn, Michigan.

“I admire your intellect, I admire your passion, and I admire your concern for so many other people,” Biden said in comments directed at the Michigan Democrat. “It’s from my heart, I pray that your grandmom and family are well. I promise you I am going to do everything to see that they are safe on the West Bank. You’re a fighter, and God thank you for being a fighter.”