Reporter's Notebook: Personal politics
Biden’s AIPAC address assuages some, but others still in doubt when it comes to Obama.
US Vice President Joe Biden Photo: Toru Hanai/Reuters
WASHINGTON – US Vice President Joe Biden’s speech on Monday morning brought
comfort to many members of his audience at AIPAC, speaking as much about his own
personal allegiances to Israel as he did on specific policies of President
Barack Obama’s administration regarding the Jewish state.
He pointed out
that “all politics is personal,” recalling stories that amounted to a 40-year
career promoting Israel as a moral and strategic imperative for the United
“My father would say, were he a Jew, he would never, never
entrust the security of his people to any individual nation, no matter how good
and how noble it was, like the United States,” Biden said.
“My father was
right. You are right.
It’s the ultimate guarantor of ‘never again.’”
Those words touched the hearts of the Nili family, who traveled to Washington
from Calabasas, California, for the annual conference.
originally from Iran, left in 1979 in the wake of the revolution that has
forever shaped his view of his homeland.
“Iran shouldn’t have any right
to anything,” Shawn responded when asked about the Iranian regime’s argument
that it has the right to uranium enrichment.
“The government isn’t
reliable because the people aren’t reliable.”
Shawn’s daughter, Dorene,
said she was impressed by Biden’s sincerity.
Walking through AIPAC
Village, the conference’s massive food hall in the Washington Convention Center,
she said she was less worried about Biden’s support for Israel – at this point
well-established – than she was about that of Obama.
“He’s known all of
the Israeli leaders since before they were leaders,” Dorene said. “And since
he’s been there, basically since day one, he’s been supportive in a real
The conference attracted 13,000 people this year, nearly half of
whom were attending for their first time.
Biden’s speech was followed by
a short telecasted appearance by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who outlined
Syria, Iran and Palestinian statehood as the three topics of discussion with
Obama during his upcoming visit to Israel.
Paul Finkel, a retired
businessman from West Orange, New Jersey, said he hoped the vice president had
the courage of his convictions on Iran, smirking as he pondered the thought of
an Obama-led strike on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear facilities.
obviously wanted to curb worries among American Jews that Obama’s not as
pro-Israel as he should be,” Finkel said, hoping that the administration follows
Netanyahu’s lead on setting a red line in front of the Iranian regime.
want to believe it,” Paul added, “but they said the same thing last year.”