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 311 (R) (photo credit: Toru Hanai/Reuters)
US Vice President Joe Biden 311 (R)
(photo credit: 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 States.
“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.
Shawn Nili, 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 way.”
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.
“He 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.
“I want to believe it,” Paul added, “but they said the same thing last year.”