President Joe Biden began his first visit to the Jewish state since taking office.

By United with Israel staff

Air Force One touched down at Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod Wednesday afternoon, carrying President Joe Biden, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and other Biden administration officials for the president’s first trip to Israel since taking office.

Israeli leaders, including President Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Yair Lapid, held a scaled-down reception for the presidential delegation on the tarmac, at the request of the Biden administration, which cited coronavirus concerns in its request to scrap the traditional hand-shaking and photo ops upon arrival.

The president was taken to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Israel’s Holocaust Memorial museum, where he took part in a wreath-laying ceremony.

Biden met with two Holocaust survivors and wrote the following in the Yad Vashem guest book:

“It is a great honor to be back – back to my emotional home. We much never, ever, forget because hate is never defeated. It only hides. We must teach every successive generation that it can happen again unless we remember. That is what I teach my children and grandchildren. Never forget.”

At the airport arrival ceremony, Biden recalled his past nine visits to Israel and declared himself a “Zionist.”

“My first visit was as a young senator from Delaware in 1973, just a few weeks before the Yom Kippur War. I had the privilege of spending time with Prime Minister Golda Meir.”

“I was sitting next to one of her aides, his name was Rabin. I look back on it all now, and I realize that I had the great honor of living part of this great history of” Israel.”

“You need not be a Jew to be a Zionist. The fact is that, since then, I’ve known every single prime minister, and it has been an honor. I’ve formed a strong working relationship with each of them. And now, this is my tenth visit.”