Joe Biden addressing the the 2012 Rabbinical Assembly National Convention
(Photo: Creative Loafing)
“The window has not closed in terms of the Israelis if they choose to act on their own militarily,” the Vice President told the congregation. “I would not contract out my security to anybody, even a loyal, loyal, loyal friend like the United States.”
This is not the first time Biden has made such a comment. During an appearance on the ABC’s “This Week,” Biden told George Stephanopoulos, “Look, we cannot dictate to another sovereign nation what they can and cannot do when they make a determination — if they make a determination — that they’re existentially threatened and their survival is threatened by another country.” Biden comments were immediately walked back by the Obama campaign.
The claim that Iran somehow poses an “existential threat” to Israel is of course a long-running propaganda line often employed to fear-monger about Iran’s nuclear energy program. This view, however, is not shared by numerous Israeli officials including former IDF chief of staff Dan Halutz, former Mossad head Ephraim Halevy, and current Mossad head Tamir Pardo. Even Israel’s hawkish Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who is leading the push toward an Israeli attack on Iran, said in 2009, “I am not among those who believe Iran is an existential issue for Israel. Israel is strong, I don’t see anyone who could pose an existential threat.”
Still, Biden declared, “We will prevent Iran from acquiring a nuke by whatever means necessary, period.” A strong claim, to be sure, but one that rings a bit silly considering that accordingto the United States, the IAEA, and Israel - Iran isn’t building nuclear weapons.
The Jewish Telegraph Agency reports that, during his speech today, the “vice president also called efforts to delegitimize Israel ‘the most significant assault’ on Israel since its independence.” In an effort to burnish the Obama administration’s Zionist credentials, Biden insisted, “At every point in our Administration, at every juncture, we have stood up for the legitimacy of the state of Israel.”
For Biden, it seems, Israel’s war crime light is still green…even if its armistice line isn’t.
In the strangest comment of the day, though, Biden spoke of internal Iranian politics:
“The dissension between Ahmadinejad and the Supreme Leader is palpable. They will not both be around two years from now, and my bet is that Ahmadinejad is gone.”
Clearly, Biden is nothing if not a deft gambler. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will absolutely not be in office two years from, but it’s not because of Biden’s prescient prophesy. Iran has constitutionally mandated presidential term limits, just like we do here in the U.S. Ahmadinejad is almost three years into his second terms as president, which means that, by 2014, he will undoubtedly be “gone” from the Iranian executive regardless of what tea leaves Biden is reading…or smoking.
But Biden has long had problems understanding and retaining facts when it comes to foreign policy. For instance, in his 2008 debate against Sarah Palin, he bizarrely claimed, among other things, that prior to 2006, the United States, together with France, “kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon” and insisted that the United States has the right and obligation “to keep the UN in line.” It is unsurprising that, at a campaign stop in Seattle in October 2008, Biden admitted, “I’ve forgotten more about foreign policy than most of my colleagues know.”
Regarding the Obama administration’s pro-Israel efforts, Biden told the crowd of rabbis, “I’m proud of our record. No president since Harry Truman has done more for Israel’s physical security than Barack Obama.”
Evoking Truman is a bold move. Yes, is it true that the only person in history to authorize a nuclear attack on a civilian population (twice) that resulted in calculated, deliberate mass murder, dismissed the advice of his own State Department officials when he recognized the nascent State of Israel on May 14, 1948, just eleven minutes after it declared itself a nation.
In November 1945, Truman reportedly told a gathering of U.S. diplomats who were urging a more balanced American approach to the looming Palestine issue, “I’m sorry, gentlemen, but I have to answer to hundreds of thousands who are anxious for the success of Zionism. I do not have hundreds of thousands of Arabs among my constituents.” Of course, there were hundreds of thousands of citizens of Arab descent living in the U.S. at the time, but since they were not as well organized or funded as their Zionist counterparts, from a political standpoint they might as well not have existed at all.
Of course, the same goes for Biden, his boss, and the U.S. Congress now.
Yet, in a diary entry written on July 21, 1947, Truman reacted harshly to demands made of him that day by his Treasury Secretary and staunch Zionist Henry Morganthau, Jr. regarding the Jewish refugees from Europe settling in Palestine. Truman wrote, “He’d no business, whatever to call me. The Jews have no sense of proportion nor do they have any judgement on world affairs.” He continued,
The Jews, I find are very, very selfish. They care not how many Estonians, Latvians, Finns, Poles, Yugoslavs or Greeks get murdered or mistreated as D[isplaced] P[ersons] as long as the Jews get special treatment. Yet when they have power, physical, financial or political neither Hitler nor Stalin has anything on them for cruelty or mistreatment to the under dog. Put an underdog on top and it makes no difference whether his name is Russian, Jewish, Negro, Management, Labor, Mormon, Baptist he goes haywire. I’ve found very, very few who remember their past condition when prosperity comes.
Biden didn’t relay this particular tidbit to the assembly of rabbis.