Biden time! Will VP cause a stir in his address to GA?

Biden’s anticipated address at the GA comes after his March Israel trip, a goodwill tour that devolved into a crisis in US-Israeli relations.

By HILARY LEILA KRIEGER, GIL STERN STERN SHEFLER
October 6, 2010 00:38
2 minute read.
Joe Biden pointing finger

Biden finger 311 AP. (photo credit: AP)

WASHINGTON – US Vice President Joe Biden, whose visit to Israel earlier this year ended with a crisis in bilateral relations, will be headlining the 2010 General Assembly of Jewish federations in New Orleans this November, according to the organization.

Biden will be joined by Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni and Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren at the Jewish Federations of North America’s (JFNA) three-day convention themed “The Big Embrace in the Big Easy.”

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Biden’s participation follows last year’s planned appearance of US President Barack Obama, who subsequently pulled out to attend the memorial service for the Fort Hood shooting victims. Then-White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel took his place.

“We are proud to be hosting Vice President Biden at the GA,” North American chairs Steve and Judy Silverman said in a statement e-mailed Tuesday to JFNA leadership.

JFNA representatives could not be reached for comment by deadline, nor could White House officials.

Biden’s anticipated address at the GA also comes after his March trip to Israel, a goodwill tour that devolved into a crisis in US-Israeli relations after the Interior Ministry announced plans to expand building in a Jewish neighborhood of east Jerusalem during the visit.



After several weeks of tension, the White House engaged in an intensive outreach effort to the Jewish community.

“Many efforts have transpired since March. The administration has made many efforts to reach out to the community, and those efforts have been successful in many ways,” said Nathan Diament, director of the Orthodox Union’s Washington office, who didn’t see a connection between the two Biden appearances.

“It makes perfect sense that they would send the president or the vice president to the GA,” he said. “It’s engaging with a significant community at one of its largest gatherings.”

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The GA routinely attracts thousands of participants from federations in more than 150 Jewish communities in the US and Canada. The umbrella organization of the federations, the JFNA’s Washington office also lobbies on certain domestic and international issues important to federation members.

“It’s a statement about the importance of the Jewish community to this White House as well as the importance of the issues that the Jewish federations engage in day-in and day-out,” said Democratic strategist Matt Dorf of Biden’s attendance. Dorf’s public relations firm represents the JFNA’s Washington office.

He dismissed the suggestion that part of the importance of the Jewish community was connected to the midterm elections to be help in early November.

“This visit stands on its own,” he said. “It has nothing to do with electoral politics.”

Diament, who is not affiliated with the JFNA, welcomed Biden’s participation.

“It’s obviously very important that the White House continue to reach out to the community, and it’s good news that it’s not being done in the context of a crisis,” he said.


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