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Joe Biden Is Obama’s Iron Dome

Veep aims to inoculate from criticism on Israel

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Vice-President Joe Biden.(AP)

Joe Biden has just left the stage here at AIPAC, following a rousing, funny, slightly defensive, at times discursive, but overall loving speech before the assembled masses here.

The stats on his speech:

38 minutes
6.5 standing ovations
11 jokes thrown
6 jokes landed
One really long Golda Meir story

First, credit must be paid to Biden’s rhetorical skills. In an environment like this, it seems impossible not to love him and, noting the strength of his record, if an audience was ever geared to love a man, it was this one. Following his stride onto the stage, he was met by Ehud Barak, who promptly gave him a long bearhug.

Early in the speech, Biden feigned this little gaffe, which adroitly showed how chummy he is with Barak, while talking about how the two have been coordinating on security matters:

“Ehud and I, I mean, the Defense Minister and I spent a lot of time on the phone…”

That was only the beginning of the Biden master class. The speech started with a whisper, Biden name-dropping his late friend Tom Lantos–the only Holocaust survivor to serve in Congress (saved by Raoul Wallenberg)–whose wife was in attendance. He pumped the crowd up with an extended love-letter to Ehud Barak (“I’m a fan of this man.”), which turned into a standing ovation for the outgoing defense minister.

He spoke about learning about the need for a Jewish state at the dinner table with his father. The message was simple: Never be dependent on anyone else for your security. This was a refrain he would repeat throughout the speech.

Then, Biden dropped his whisper and turned into a shout as he went from personal to political in acting as emissary for President Obama to the crowd, a task which seemed considerably more difficult than representing himself. This was understandable: Participants streaming into the venue were treated to animated maps of the Middle East with Israel the target of lobs–vitriolic and other. It was Biden’s job to deflect criticism of the president about the various dangers facing Israel that AIPAC had been trumpeting.

He listed them immediately: the tenuous footing of the Middle East in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, Iran, its nuclear program and its sponsorship of Hamas and Hezbollah, and the efforts to delegitimize Israel across the world. Biden called them all existential threats: “All pressures similar but different, all put enormous pressure on Israel.”

At one point during the shouting, Biden, as he was listing all of the Obama administration’s efforts to support Israel’s military advantage and enhance security cooperation, turned to face Barak, who was seated feet away on the stage and waited for a nod from Barak, which came (with, perhaps, a scintilla of envy at the performance). Iron Dome. Intelligence. Military aid. On he went.

“I’ve served with 8 presidents,” he bellowed. “And no one has done more to physically secure Israel than President Obama.”

He went onto to defend the administration’s approach to Syria–which Senator John McCain had just pilloried moments before–explaining that “Assad must go” but that it wasn’t in American’s interest to supplant one murderous regime with another and that the Syrian opposition had to be vetted. He spoke about the lack of other credible alternatives in Egypt and, of course, spent time reaffirming that Iran would not get a nuclear weapon citing the “shared strategic committment to prevent Iran for acquiring a nuclear weapon, Period, End of discussion.”

Despite all the muscularity, he only got half of a standing ovation when he averred that President Obama “doesn’t bluff.” That might have been the most telling moment of all.

It was a classic Biden performance, delivering a salesman pitch that his boss could never (and would never) give.

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Dear Press:

As an active member of AIPAC, I can ensure you that AIPAC has achieved great success this past month and continues to grow strong by advocating, through bipartisanship, to strengthen, protect and promote the U.S.-Israel relationship in ways that enhance the security of Israel and the United States.  This includes building strong commercial and military ties between the two closest allies.

In the past month alone, AIPAC members wrote to members and representatives of Congress and the Senate, in thanking them for their support on the following issues, that AIPAC lobbied for:

(1) Preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability. In the Senate, members have passed a resolution (S. Res. 65) declaring that the United States will stand by Israel should it feel compelled to take military action in its own defense against Iran. In the House, members have passed the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act (H.R. 850), which authorizes the president to impose sanctions on any entity that maintains significant commercial ties to Iran.
AIPAC members urged their House and Senate members to support both measures in order to send a strong message that the United States will act to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

(2) Strengthening the U.S.-Israel strategic cooperation by officially designating Israel as a “major strategic partner.” Such a designation will help the two nations maximize the benefits of their alliance, which includes both commercial and military ties.

(3) Supporting the full $3.1 billion in security assistance to Israel that the U.S. committed to for fiscal years 2013 and 2014 and beyond, as well as the $211 million in additional funding for the Iron Dome.

These are huge successes in which AIPAC was a part of, thus, continuing to enact public policy that strengthens the vital U.S.-Israel relationship.

Special thanks to Joe Biden for supporting legislation in ensuring that the US and Israel are kept safe, secure, strong, and united.


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Joe Biden Is Obama’s Iron Dome

Veep aims to inoculate from criticism on Israel

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