President Joe Biden‘s propensity for public speaking slip-ups has become a staple criticism among his opponents—but part of his latest speech, given in Israel, appears to have been misheard by some, including the spokeswoman for Russia’s Foreign Ministry.
On Wednesday, in the midst of heightened conflict between Israel and Hamas, the president gave a speech in Tel Aviv, which led Russian state media to run a report in which it was suggested he said he was born in Israel.
An article by Russian state media organization Tass, published on October 18, 2023, stated that the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Biden had claimed he was born in Israel.
“Just now, [U.S. President Joe] Biden has claimed that he was born in Israel. This means he should not have been elected U.S. president,” she was quoted as saying.
The article repeated Zakharova’s claim but added that “open sources” say he was born in Pennsylvania in 1942.
The claim appears to be based on a speech that Biden gave in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, October 18, 2023.
As is stated by the White House transcript, Biden spoke about how “The State of Israel was born to be a safe place for the Jewish people of the world.”
He then said “That’s why it was born.” It appears this is where Tass’ and Zakharova’s claim came from.
A recording of Biden’s speech suggests he could have been mistaken for saying “That’s where I was born.”
The comments can be heard from 22:18 in the video below.
This misconception was shared across social media.
A post on X, formerly Twitter, by user @Sprinter99800, posted on October 18, 2023, viewed 2.5 million times, which included a video of the president’s comment, stated: “Joe Biden said he was born in Israel. Joe Biden’s official birthplace is Pennsylvania.”
While it may have been misheard, the context of Biden’s speech and the established facts of Biden’s birthplace should have made it obvious that he did not say he was born in Israel.
Biden’s parents were born in the U.S. with lineage in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
The Constitution requires presidents to be “natural-born citizens” of the United States.
Although Biden’s habit of making public gaffes has been well-reported, there have been a number of misleading claims about him that have played into this reputation too.
Earlier this year he was falsely accused of falling asleep during a meeting with Israel’s President Isaac Herzog, and at a community engagement event in Lahaina, Hawaii, following the region’s wildfires in August 2023.
Biden has made a number of widely shared verbal gaffes during his presidency, including making an unwitting reference to “Black and Tans” while visiting Ireland, and mistaking Canada for China during an address to the Canadian Parliament.
Newsweek has contacted the Russian government and Tass for comment.
Biden was not born in Israel. As the public record shows, he was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in 1942. Israel was not proclaimed as a nation until 1948.
The claim was based on misheard comments he made in Tel Aviv earlier this week.
FACT CHECK BY Newsweek’s Fact Check team