Vice President Joe Biden addressed the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. on March 20, 2016. He spoke passionately about the importance of the security of Israel and America’s commitment to defend Israel.
At roughly the 29 minute mark of the speech, he said that “One thing is certain: the United States will constantly and forever have Israel’s back….no administration has done more to advance the security of Israel than we [this administration] have. Our commitment to Israel’s qualitative military edge is unquestionable; it will not change.” Putting aside the enormity of the pending threat of Iran from the JCPOA, the statement strikes many people in the Israeli government as accurate.
However passionately Biden spoke about the importance of Israel’s security and America’s commitment to such, he confused the cause of safety, with the contours of the basic history of the Jewish State. At three different occasions Biden spoke about the Holocaust and the current anti-Semitism in Europe. He stated that Israel needs to exist “as the ultimate guarantor of security for Jewish people around the world…Never, never, never again! And without Israel, there is no guarantee.”
The pro-Israel crowd rose to its feet in a standing ovation (video 33:30).
I was sad.
- “Never Again” is universal. It is the moral, ethical and primary responsibility of every government to protect each and every one of its citizens. It is true that many countries throughout history have turned on the Jews. But in 2016, I expect the Vice President of the United States of America to stand a foot taller and declare twice as loud as the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls who said “if 100,000 Jews leave, France will no longer be France. The French Republic will be judged a failure.”
”Never Again” should not just be a slogan inside of Israel; it must be the slogan of every country in the world. How could a leader of the greatest country in the world pawn off the security of Jews to Israel alone?
- Modern Israel is the Third Jewish State. Israel was not created as a reaction to the Holocaust in World War II. It was not made as the United Nations’ pen for holding people out of harm’s way. That is a mischaracterization that President Obama has made repeatedly over his term. In his interview in The Atlantic in 2015, Obama compared the security of Jews to American blacks when he said “There’s a direct line between supporting the right of the Jewish people to have a homeland and to feel safe and free of discrimination and persecution, and the right of African Americans to vote and have equal protection under the law. These things are indivisible in my mind.”
Israel was established in international law as the homeland of the Jewish people in 1920 in the San Remo Agreement, well before World War II. The 1922 British Mandate for Palestine clearly stated that the reason for the Jewish homeland in Palestine was specifically because of “the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.” The mandate facilitated Jews to move there, acquire property and citizenship once again.
Does the myopic view of Vice President Biden seeing and describing Israel solely as a safe haven for Jews matter?
Without an understanding of Jewish history that dates back more than 3000 years in the land, and the international law that gives Jews the option of living throughout the land, Jews have no real rights. They are interlopers and recent arrivals in “Arab lands,” rather than the indigenous people. They are only entitled to security – and that security could be in an arbitrary, very small part of the holy land.
That is why the Obama administration calls Jewish homes east of the Green Line (EGL) as “illegitimate.” That is why the administration could propose “settlement freezes.” It leads to a view that Jerusalem, the holiest city to only one religion (Judaism), that has been the capital city of only one people in history (Jews), could be subject to negotiation and division.
When Biden said (video 20:45-22:45) that settlements hurt the chance for peace with Palestinian Arabs, he wasn’t just advocating splitting the land; he was segmenting his logic and ignoring facts. To him, Israel has no inherent rights and Jews have no freedom to live where they want. Israel and Jews are only entitled “to exist” with security.
For their part, the Democratic administration argues that Palestinians are entitled to “dignity and self-determination.” And if that “dignity” means anti-Semitic laws, banning Jews and squashing the freedoms and rights of Jews, this administration will support it – as long as Israel has security.
Such a view destroys there ever being peace between Israel and Arabs.
The underlying reason preventing peace is the Arabs’ refusal to recognize the basic and fundamental rights Jews have for living in the land – regardless of whether it is under an Israeli flag, a Jordanian flag or a future Palestinian flag. Sadly, the Obama administration holds the same position.
Perhaps, sadder still, is watching a pro-Israel community applaud.
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