In a recent meeting with Israeli first responders, President Joe Biden shared a deeply personal story, recalling the tragic car crash that took the lives of his wife and daughter back in 1972. This heartfelt moment took place during his visit to Tel Aviv, following the deadly Hamas attacks on Israel in October.
The President was engaged in a conversation with Dr. Jordanna Hadas Koppel, a New York-born physician who had been one of the first to provide medical assistance to injured children in the aftermath of the Hamas attacks. Dr. Koppel vividly described the chaotic scene, where she had been alerted to a “mass casualty event” and encountered children with harrowing stories of suffering.
In response to Dr. Koppel’s emotional account, President Biden opened up about his own experience with a similar trauma. He recounted receiving a devastating phone call in 1972, informing him that his wife, Neilia Biden, and their 13-month-old daughter, Naomi, had tragically lost their lives in a car accident. This tragic incident occurred while they were out shopping for a Christmas tree, with their car colliding with a tractor-trailer after passing a stop sign.
The President also expressed gratitude for the healthcare professionals who cared for his surviving sons, Beau and Hunter, who were three and two years old at the time and were also in the car during the accident. It’s worth noting that Joe Biden had been elected to the US Senate just weeks before this heart-wrenching tragedy struck his family.
This poignant moment took place during President Biden’s first-ever wartime visit to Israel as a US President. It marked the second time he had traveled to an active conflict area in the same year. During his visit, President Biden strongly condemned the Hamas attacks, which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,000 Israelis and left many more injured or held hostage in Gaza. He referred to these attacks as “atrocities that recall the worst ravages of ISIS” and criticized the militant group for what he described as “unleashing pure unadulterated evil upon the world.”
This powerful exchange between President Biden and Dr. Koppel serves as a reminder of the human cost of conflict and the importance of empathy and healing in the face of tragedy.