Full Text Israel Political Brief March 20, 2016: Vice President Joe Biden’s Speech to the 2016 AIPAC Policy Conference

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Israel Political Brief March 20-22, 2016: 2016 AIPAC Policy Conference Schedule

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General Sessions

Source: AIPAC

Sunday Evening, March 20

Joe Biden
Joe Biden
Vice President of the United States
Watch live stream starting at 7 p.m. ET.

Monday Morning, March 21

Watch live stream starting at 8 a.m. ET.
Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton
Democratic Presidential Candidate

Kevin McCarthy
Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)
House Majority Leader

Steny Hoyer
Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD)
House Democratic Whip

Isaac Herzog
Isaac Herzog
Chairman of Zionist Union and Leader of the Opposition
Israeli Knesset

Monday Evening, March 21

Watch live stream starting at 5 p.m. ET.
Ted Cruz
Ted Cruz
Republican Presidential Candidate

John Kasich
John Kasich
Republican Presidential Candidate

Donald Trump
Donald Trump
Republican Presidential Candidate

Paul Ryan
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)
Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives

Tuesday Morning, March 22

Watch live stream starting at 8 a.m. ET.
Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister of Israel
(Address via Satellite)

Robert Menendez
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
Senate Foreign Relations Committee

 

Full Text Israel Political Brief March 9, 2016: PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Vice President Joe Biden in a joint statement transcript

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PM Netanyahu and Vice President Joe Biden in a joint statement

Source: PMO, 3-9-16
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this morning issued the following statement at the start of his meeting with US Vice President Joe Biden:

“Mr. Vice President, Joe, it’s good to welcome you again in Jerusalem. You’re here with your wife Jill and your wonderful family: your daughter-in-law Hallie, your grandchildren Natalie and Hunter. And I hope you feel at home here in Israel because the people of Israel consider the Biden family part of our family. You’re part of our mishpucha. And I want to thank you personally for your, for our personal friendship of over 30 years. We’ve known each other a long time. We’ve gone through many trials and tribulations. And we have an enduring bond that represents the enduring bond between our people.

As you well know, the last 24 hours have been very difficult for Israel, including this morning. Twelve people were injured in five terrorist attacks. An American citizen, Taylor Force, was murdered. Taylor was a graduate of West Point, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, a graduate student of Vanderbilt University. And I want to extend our deepest condolences to his family and wish the injured a speedy recovery. And I know I speak for you because you’ve said these very words.

Joe, I appreciate your strong condemnation of terrorism. Nothing justifies these attacks. But unfortunately President Abbas has not only refused to condemn these terrorist attacks, his Fatah party actually praised the murderer of this American citizen as a Palestinian martyr and a hero.

Now, this is wrong. And this failure to condemn terrorism should be condemned itself by everybody in the international community.

We have taken many steps in recent months to fight Palestinian terrorism, and we’re taking even stronger measures now.

I believe that to fight terror, all civilized societies must stand together. And while Israel has many partners in this decisive battle, we have no better partner than the United States of America. It’s a partnership anchored in common values, confronting common enemies and striving for a more secure, prosperous and peaceful future.

I see your visit here as an opportunity for us to further strengthen this great partnership. We’ve just been discussing some of the challenges we face. The first one is the persistent incitement in Palestinian society that glorifies murderers of innocent people, and calls for a Palestinian state not to live in peace with Israel, but to replace Israel. And we are witnessing, regrettably, the collapse of states throughout the Middle East, the rise of ISIS and Iran’s relentless aggression and terror in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, the Golan and Gaza, and elsewhere in the region and around the world.

But we’re also standing before great opportunities, and I think some of them stem from these great challenges. The first opportunity is to deepen ties between Israel and the moderate Arab states, and this could help us build a solid foundation for peace and stability. We can also make Israel energy independent, an exporter of natural gas to the region and beyond. And we can use Israel’s advanced technology to continue to better our world – in agriculture, in water, in cyber and in many other areas. And I know, Joe, that one area is particularly close to your heart. We were discussing that just now – the battle against cancer in which you are taking a leading role.

Israel is making important strides in this field, and I have no doubt that Israel can contribute even more by working together with the United States of America. And that’s just true across the board, in every field. America and Israel are stronger when we work together. So I look forward to continuing to work together with you and President Obama to strengthen the remarkable and unbreakable alliance between our two countries.

Joe, my friend, welcome to Jerusalem.”
US Vice President Joe Biden issued the following statement at the start of his meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:

“It’s true that Prime Minister Bibi and I go back a long way. I joked some time, a long time ago when you were at the Israeli consulate, we met outside of a, in a parking lot outside of a restaurant where I was meeting with some American Jewish leaders, and we became close friends and I later signed a picture for you that I, as a joke I said ‘Bibi, I don’t agree with a damn thing you say, but I love you.’ And the joke was, I would have been a member of the Labour party, not the Likud party. We were joking about what party we’d be in.

We’ve been friends, our families have been friends, you have come to know my sons, my daughter you’ve met, and I have made it an important part of my family’s life that as my children and grandchildren approach the age of 15, the first place I’ve taken them is in Europe, to Dachau, the second place is to Israel. And my deceased son Beau who died eight months ago – and thank you for your great personal concern, and I know you knew him – I brought along his two children who are ten and twelve, whose grandmother is Jewish and got raised in a Jewish family, their mum, because I want them to see that they’re not too young to understand all of what you talked about: that this is a commitment that goes deeper than security, and I appreciate your welcome. And my granddaughter, love of my life named after my deceased daughter Naomi, she’s coming, she’s on a visit here with her boyfriend whose family lives here, she’s a senior at Penn.

But all kidding aside, it’s been a close relationship. And it’s been one that is of consequence not only for Israel but for the United States and for freedom loving people all over the world. But as you said, we started our discussion about the most recent heinous terrorist attack yesterday in Jaffa and Jerusalem and Petah Tikva, my wife and my two grandchildren and granddaughter are having dinner on the beach not very far from where that happened. I don’t know exactly whether it’s 100 meters or 1,000 meters, and it just brings home that it can happen.

It can happen anywhere at any time. And what Bibi and I talked about was not just the death of Taylor, Taylor Force who served two tours, one in Afghanistan and one in Iraq, West Point graduate, a brilliant future. But we talked about the other wounded and the students he was with, and our instinct was the same. We both said ‘Let’s go to the hospital. Now. Let’s go see them. Let’s go see the families and meet with them.’

The reason I cite that, and as a personal note, is the instinct is the same ‘Let’s go see; let’s go touch; let’s go let those families know how much we care about them; let them know that that expression ‘if you don’t go get the terrorist, they’ll come to you.’’ And we’re dealing with it all over the world. So my condolences to Taylor’s family and all those who were victims of the attack yesterday and every day.

Let me say in no uncertain terms: the United States of America condemns these acts and condemns the failure to condemn these acts. This cannot become an accepted modus operandi. This cannot be viewed by civilized leaders as an appropriate way in which to behave even if it appears to inure to the benefit of one side or the other. It’s just not tolerable in the 21st century. They’re targeting innocent civilians, mothers, pregnant women, teenagers, grandfathers, American citizens. There can be no justification for this hateful violence, and the United States stands firmly behind Israel’s right to defend itself as we are defending ourselves at this moment as well.

That’s why we’ve done more to bolster, help bolster Israel’s security than any other administration in history. Across the board we’ve raised our security cooperation and military intelligence fields to unprecedented levels. And we’ve provided a historical amount of security assistance. We’ve ensure Israel has the most advanced weapons, including one of the most effective missile defense systems in the world. At the same time we are struggling to increase our missile defense capability because of the threat from North Korea.

It doesn’t mean we don’t disagree, but you never need to doubt that the United States of America has Israel’s back. And we know Israel has our back as well, I might add. It’s not a one way street. We’re committed to making sure that Israel can defend itself against all serious threats, maintain its qualitative edge with a quality, a quantity sufficient to maintain that. And it’s critical because Israel lives, as Bibi knows better than anyone, lives in a very, very tough neighborhood – a tough and changing neighborhood. Living some little sense of hope, but an awful lot of consternation.

All has changed since I started coming here when I first met with Golda Meir, and her assistant, a fellow named Rabin. I sat across the desk for an hour as she flipped those maps up and down, chain smoking, telling me about the Six Day War. And I had just come from Egypt and I was one of the few people allowed to go to the Suez Canal, I’m still not sure why. And all this activity was occurring in the desert, they kept telling me it was sand storms. And I came back and I said to the Prime Minister, I think there’s going to be another war. I think they’re getting ready to go to war again.

Well, several months later the Yom Kippur war occurred. I was just a rooky; I had no idea what it was. But I’ll never forget from that moment on, the intensity of the relationship has grown, but the face of the enemy has changed. The face of the enemy has changed and morphed in many ways.

But it also presents some small opportunity. And that is that that’s why it’s absolutely… we’re united in the belief that a nuclear armed Iran is an absolutely unacceptable threat to Israel, to the region and to the United States. And I want to reiterate which I know people still doubt here. If in fact they break the deal, we will act. We will act. And all their conventional activity outside of the deal is still beyond the deal, and we will and are attempting to act wherever we can find it.

And together we’re seeking ways to advance our shared security interests and address, as I said, the new realities of the region. I just came from two days in the UAE, I’ll be heading to Jordan, I was at the Camp David conference, the GCC’s meeting with the President later in April, and as I said, I spend a lot of time as you do with the King of Jordan, I’m heading over from here to see him, and I want to make a couple points.

If you had talked in the region as a whole, four years ago, about whether any Arab states were under some conditions prepared to make peace, real peace with Israel, it would have been, at least I would have said, there’s no shot. Common enemies make the, you know, you know, the enemy… Anyway, you get the torrent. And so I think there are possibilities here. I did not come with a plan. I just came to speak to a friend and to be able to have an open discussion in a closed room, where we brainstorm the whole range of things.

But it is not all hopeless. It is not all hopeless. We will crush Daesh. We will crush ISIS. Together we will crush them. They will not be sustained. I promise you. It will take time, but they will not be sustained. And they’re losing ground every day in Syria, but really losing ground – they’ve lost 40% of the ground they had in Iraq. It’s hard. It’s difficult. But it requires coalitions. It requires cooperation. Most of all, it requires people realizing what their self-interest is. And as we Catholics say, these folks have had an epiphany. They’ve realized that they’d rather be in your orbit than in the orbit of Daesh and ISIS and terrorism, and al-Nusra, et cetera.

And so, if we’re lucky and smart and tenacious, over the next six months, year, eighteen months, we can actually make some real progress. But progress always requires taking a chance and that’s one of the things we’re going to discuss.

And so, I’m here in the region to discuss shared threats that we face and how to advance common security. That includes seeking resolutions to the crisis in Syria and our shared commitment to destroying ISIL. Bibi and I talked very, just a few moments ago. I doubt that you would have thought either of us, was saying as old friends, you know, it’s good we’re cooperating with Russia in Syria. Right? I mean, that would not have come out of either one of our mouths – at least mine – four or five years ago, but the truth is Russia has seen the Lord on some of these issues as well.

It also includes our efforts to ensure that Iran complies with its obligations under the nuclear deal and jointly address the remaining challenges Iran poses to the region. And I’m also back here in Israel to talk to Bibi about the great opportunities that exist in the region, especially new opportunities relating to energy. It’s funny that in the last five years the United States, North America, has become the epicenter of energy in the world. Well, guess what? Little old Israel is about to become the epicenter of energy in this entire region, and can have a profound, profound positive impact on relationships from Egypt to Turkey to Cyprus to Greece to Jordan. And it’s not easy getting there, but you have the tools now to be able to get there. And so, you know, the only way to assure, in my view, the future of a Jewish, democratic State of Israel – and by the way, that’s what in ’48 it called for, a Jewish state, okay? We should get over all of this. It was a Jewish state that was set up – is that the status quo has to break somewhere along the line here in terms of a two state solution. Even though it may be hard to see the way ahead, we continue encourage all sides to take steps to move back toward the path to peace – not easy – and for the sake of Israel, and I might add, for the sake of the Palestinians in the region. But the kind of violence we saw yesterday, the failure to condemn it, the rhetoric that incites that violence, the retribution that it generates, has to stop. There can’t be, there cannot be unilateral steps to undermine trust. That only takes us further away, further and further away from an outcome we know in our hearts is the only fundamental outcome, the only outcome that is the ultimate guarantor.

So what I want, I urge everyone to work to restore the calm for the Israelis and you’re already trying it, Bibi, and the Palestinians alike to… so they can go about their daily lives without fear – easier said than done – so that the vision of two states and two people can endure.

Bibi, I want to thank you again for your partnership and at a more personal level for your personal friendship, and I look forward to the discussions we are going to have today with our teams. On a personal note, I want to say how much I’m looking forward to my young grandchildren seeing everything from Yad Vashem to the Wall, the things that are the stuff of which cultures are made. I want them to understand for themselves that the relationship between the United States and Israel is more than the relationship of two governments. It’s a bond between people, forged a link by successive generations and grounded in an abiding commitment to Israel’s security – a bond that can never be broken. It’s something that Bibi knows I take personally and I assure you, so does the President.

So for, as I said, we’ve known each other a long time. We’ll probably, you know… When we get together, our key staffs have heart attacks, because we’re supposed to be meeting with all of them and we get talking and we just leave them all behind. We leave everything for them to straighten out. But it’s the nature of the friendship and it’s the nature of the relationship, so I still think, Bibi, there’s a lot we can get done.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief May 31, 2015: PM Netanyahu’s Condolences to the Biden Family on the death on Beau Biden

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PM Netanyahu’s Condolences to the Biden Family

Source: PMO, 5-31-15

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in his statement at the end of his meeting with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier:

“I would like to offer Israel’s sincere condolences to my good friend Vice President Joe Biden on the passing of his son Beau. Vice President Biden spoke many times to me about Beau over the years, we’ve known each other for many, many years. And in his all too short life, Beau Biden achieved a great deal, and gave so much. Our thoughts and our prayers are with the entire Biden family at this difficult time.”

Israel Musings April 25, 2015: Obama WH-Israel thaw continues on Yom Haatzmaut, but not towards Netanyahu

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Obama WH-Israel thaw continues on Yom Haatzmaut, but not towards Netanyahu

April 25, 2015

After Congressional Democrats warned President Barack Obama and the administration, their harsh rhetoric towards Israel and its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would cost the Democrats votes in the 2016 elections, Obama has been trying to placate and improve relations especially…

Full Text Israel Political Brief April 23, 2015: Vice President Joe Biden’s Remarks at the 67th Annual Israeli Independence Day Celebration

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Remarks by Vice President Joe Biden the 67th Annual Israeli Independence Day Celebration

Source: WH, 4-23-15 

Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium
Washington, D.C.

7:29 P.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Ron, Mr. Ambassador, my name is Joe Biden, and everybody knows I love Israel.

I was thinking as Ron was saying that he doesn’t know what it’s like in Catholic families — whether we argue as much as allegedly occurs in Jewish families.  Well, I settled all that.  Two of my three children married Jews.  (Laughter.)  And you want to see what happens then.  (Laughter.)

As a matter of fact, my daughter — I — the dream of every Irish-Catholic father is for his daughter to marry a Jewish surgeon.  (Laughter.)  And she did.

But I want you to know I think the only time on record, at least in the state of Delaware, in the oldest Catholic church in the state, the second oldest — 1842 — we signed the ketubah in the Catholic rectory.  (Laughter.)  Not a joke.  (Laughter.)  Not a joke.  I think that’s a first.  We had a chuppah on the altar, handmade, magnificently, beautiful chuppah.  And we had a Catholic priest, Father Murphy, and a rabbi, and it was hard getting a rabbi, by the way.  (Laughter.)  I had to go up to Montgomery County to find one.  (Laughter.)  And the reason why — Montgomery County, Pennsylvania — and the reason he came is his mother loved me.  (Laughter.)  But — and my daughter asked me, she said, Daddy, what do you want played at the wedding?  I said, just one — maybe the concluding hymn could be “On Eagles’ Wings”.

And so the rabbi was a wonderful guy, literally presided over 75 percent of the wedding.  The vows were administered by the Catholic priest.  And as the wedding party was departing, as the bride and groom were departing down the aisle, they played the hora.  (Laughter.)  So I figured it out.  One way to end arguments is to marry.  (Laughter.)

Look, the fact of the matter is that 77 years [sic] ago, at midnight on May 14, 1948, against all odds, in the wake of searing tragedy, defiant in the face of overwhelming military numbers massed on its borders, the modern State of Israel was born.   (Applause.)

What you did next was no less than miraculous.  You were blessed with one of the greatest generations of founding fathers and mothers of any nation in the history of the world — Ben-Gurion, Meir, Begin, Sharon, Rabin, Peres.  They all fashioned Israel into a vibrant, vibrant democracy.

And in the process, you built one of the most innovative societies on Earth.  In the process, you defended your homeland and became the most powerful military in the entire region.  And all these years later, things have changed, but the danger still exists.  But the people of Israel still live in a dangerous neighborhood.  And just to be an Israeli — it still demands uncommon courage.

Much has changed, but two things have remained absolutely the same: the courage of your people and the commitment of mine.  (Applause.)

So today, we celebrate your independence and our friendship, which was born just 11 minutes after Israel’s founding.  And President Obama and I are proud to carry forward the unbroken line of American leaders –- Democrat and Republican —- who have honored America’s sacred promise to protect the homeland of the Jewish people.

It’s no secret that, like administrations before us, as the Ambassador said, we’ve had our differences.  I have been here for a long time, for eight Presidents.  I’ve witnessed disagreements between administrations.  It’s only natural for two democracies like ours.  As Ron said, we’re like family.  We have a lot to say to one another.  Sometimes we drive each other crazy.  But we love each other.  And we protect each other.   (Applause.)

And it’s hard to see with these lights, but I suspect I know many of you personally.  As many of you heard me say before, were there no Israel, America would have to invent one.  We’d have to invent one because Ron is right, you protect our interests like we protect yours.  (Applause.)

So let’s get something straight.  In this moment of some disagreement occasionally between our governments, I want to set the record straight on one thing:  No President has ever done more to support Israel’s security than President Barack Obama.  (Applause.)

Just look at the facts.  Each time a rocket has rained down from Gaza, President Obama stands up before the world and defends Israel’s right to defend itself like any other nation.

Under President Obama, with the United States Congress, America has provided $20 billion in military assistance to Israel -– and cutting edge weaponry needed to maintain the qualitative advantage against any potential opponent.

You all know the stories of Iron Dome.  What you may not know is that next year, we will deliver to Israel the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter –- our finest -– making Israel the only country in the Middle East with a fifth-generation aircraft.  No other.  (Applause.)

And we continue to discuss, as the Israeli military here and the intelligence communities will tell you in Israel as well as here — we continue to discuss what more must be done in the near term and the long term to continue to strengthen Israel so she can maintain that edge.  (Applause.)

Our commitment to protect Israel’s security in my case and many of your case is not just political or national interest, it’s personal.  It’s personal for me and it’s personal for the President.

You’ve heard me say this many of my friends out there before, but it bears repeating on this day, it began at my father’s dinner table.  My father was a righteous Christian.  We assembled to eat, to have discussions — and occasionally eat.  My father talked about how he could not understand why there was a debate among Americans or why there was a debate among American Jews about whether or not we should have recognized Israel; why there would be any debate about why we hadn’t done more; why we hadn’t — that’s where I first learned about not bombing the railroad tracks.  I learned from my father about the concentration camps.  And the first thing I did with my children when each of them turned 15, I took them to Europe, flew them directly to Dachau, and made them spend a day there with me.  And I’ve done the same with my grandchildren.  My grandchild Finnegan as recently as just a month ago where we met with a 94-year-old survivor of Auschwitz, as well as Dachau.  He showed us the camp because he was proud — proud — to welcome the Vice President and his granddaughter.

All you have to do to understand is stand on the Golan and look down.  I remember the first time I did that as a young senator.  All you have to do is wander throughout Israel.  All you have to do is take that helicopter ride the entire length of the fence.  All you have to do is just look at the map.  All you had to is set foot at Yad Vashem -— and you understand.

I’ve had the great privilege of knowing every Israeli Prime Minister since Golda Meir and more than just casually.  And I’ve worked with many of you in this room for up to 40 years.  You know me.  You raised me.  You educated me.  And I know you.

So believe me when I tell you:  It’s not only personal to me, it’s personal to President Obama, as well.  The President was raised with memories of his great-uncle, who marched with Patton’s Army to liberate Jewish prisoners from the horrors of Buchenwald.  As a young man, he grew up learning about Israel from the stories of Leon Uris’ in “Exodus”; the Six-Day War; and Moshe Dayan, with his eye patch and his courage.  I remember sitting in front of Golda Meir’s desk as she flipped those maps up and down, chain-smoking, talking about the losses of the Six-Day War, sitting next to her military attaché at the time, a guy named Rabin.

But Barack, as a young senator — being 19 years younger than I am, he heard about it.  He read about it.  As senator, Barack Obama went to a small town in southern Israel to see with his own eyes the lives of the families who live under threat of rockets -– families that he has helped protect as Commander-in-Chief, under Iron Dome.

As President, he stood in Jerusalem, and declared to the whole world, “Those who adhere to the ideology of rejecting Israel’s right to exist, they might as well reject the earth beneath them or the sky above, because Israel is not going anywhere.  So long as the United States of America is there, Israel will never be alone.”  (Applause.)  He means it.  He means it.  You know I mean it.  I’m telling you he means it.

That’s my President.  He understands the need for Israel to have the right and the capacity and the capability to defend itself.  At the same time, he says, “we have Israel’s back” — and you can count on it.

The same commitment to the survival and security of Israel is fundamental to our strategy for the entire Middle East.  And then we get into the controversial piece.  Iran.  Remember this is the President who made it for the first time in American history a declared policy of the United States to use all the instruments of our power to prevent -— not contain, prevent –- Iran from ever acquiring a nuclear weapon.  He stated that all options are on the table -— then he made sure of what did not exist before.  He made sure we spent the time and money and the research to develop the capacity required to act against their capacity to develop a weapon if ever needed.

Over the skepticism of many, we worked with the U.S. Congress, our European allies, and Russia, China, to put in place the toughest sanctions regime in modern history.

We also knew the cost of not negotiating.  Midway through the last administration, the U.S. government refused to directly engage.  It insisted at the same time that Iran dismantle its entire program.

The result?  By the time President Bush left office, Iran had dramatically advanced its movement toward ability to acquire a nuclear weapon.  So we’ve taken a different approach, combining unprecedented pressure with direct diplomacy to find an enduring solution.

Negotiations began.  And we’ve come a long way.  And you’ve all seen the parameters that were put forward.  It’s a framework, only a framework — not a final deal.  A great deal of work lies ahead to see if Iran will actually enshrine the commitments that went into that framework as part of a final deal.

If they do, each of Iran’s paths to a bomb would be meaningfully and verifiably blocked.  Iran would cut its enrichment capacity by two-thirds; shrink its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98 percent.  Breakout time to create a weapon’s worth of bomb-grade material will go from two to three months, which it is today, to over a year.

The deal would ensure at least a one-year breakout cushion for a decade.  And for years after that, the breakout time would continue to be longer than it exists today.

We’ll prevent the Arak reactor from ever being a source of plutonium for nuclear weapons.  We will put in place the toughest transparency and verification requirements in history -— providing the best possible check against a secret path to the bomb.

This isn’t a grand bargain between the United States and Iran.  It’s a nuclear bargain between Britain, France, Russia, China, Germany, the EU, America and Iran.  It’s based on hard-hitting, hard-headed, uncompromising assessments of what is required to protect ourselves, Israel, the region, and the world.

And if the final deal on the table that doesn’t meet the President’s requirements, we simply will not sign it.

A final deal must effectively cut off Iran’s pathways to the bomb.  If it doesn’t, no deal.

A final deal must ensure a breakout timeline at least for one year for a decade.  If it doesn’t, no deal.

A final deal must include phased sanctions relief, calibrated against Iran taking meaningful steps to constrain their program.  If it doesn’t, no deal.

A final deal must provide a verifiable assurance to the international community demands to ensure Iran’s program is exclusively peaceful going forward.  If it doesn’t, no deal.

And if Iran cheats at any time and goes for a nuclear weapon –- every option we have to respond today remains on the table.  And your military will tell you, and more.

I’ve been involved in arms control negotiations since I was a kid in the Senate at 30 years of age — every major SALT agreement, START agreement, and toward the end, I was deeply involved negotiating when Brezhnev was still around, leading a delegation of senators.  But just like arms control talks with the Soviet Union —- another regime we fundamentally disagreed with, another regime whose rhetoric was outrageous and unacceptable, another regime whose proxies were forcefully making trouble, and we forcefully countered around the world –- we negotiated to reduce the nuclear threat to prevent a nuclear war.  And it kept us safer.  That’s what we’re attempting to do today.

We also continue to agree with Israeli leaders going back decades –- from Rabin to Sharon, whose funeral I had the great honor of eulogizing –- that a two-state solution is essential to Israel’s long-term survival as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people.   Consistent with our commitment to Israel’s security and survival, the United States stands ready to help Israel decide — if they decide — how to get there and if they want our help in getting there.

I’ll always remember what my friend and mentor, and Holocaust survivor who worked for me as my national security advisor before he became Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Tom Lantos once said.  He said, “the veneer of civilization is paper thin.  We are its guardians and can never rest.”

That’s why we must never retreat from fighting every scourge and source of anti-Semitism as we find it.  You see, in too many places where legitimate criticism crosses over into bigotry and anti-Semitism; where an explicitly anti-Semitic attack takes place at a kosher grocery store; assaults on religious Jews in the streets of major European capitals.  Some of you may remember how harshly I was criticized as Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee over 15 years ago when I held hearings on anti-Semitism in Europe.  Emerson said, society is like a wave, the wave moves on, but the particles remain the same.  Wherever, in whatever country, whatever circumstance it rears its head, we have to stop it.

Enough is enough.   We have to fight it everywhere we find it.

I’ll conclude — and my friends kid me and I imagine Ron may, as well — telling you the story about my meeting with Golda Meir.  The reason I do it had a profound impact on me, one of the most consequential meetings I’ve ever had in my life.  I think I’ve met every major world leader in the last 36 or 37 years in the world, in a literal sense.

But I remember meeting for close to an hour with her.  She went through what happened in the Six-Day War, and the price that was paid.  And I just had come from Egypt.  They let me go to Egypt and go to the Suez Canal.  And I was saying to she and Rabin that I thought that they were getting ready to attack again.  And everyone including my military and Israeli military thought I was crazy.

I remember driving from Cairo all the way to out to the Suez.  And you could see these great plumes of dust and sand.  But none it seemed isolated.  It turns out it was maneuvers taking place in the desert.  And I was really worried.  And we went through, and she painted a bleak, bleak picture — scared the hell out of me, quite frankly, about the odds.

And all of a sudden she looked at and she said, would you like a photograph?  And I said, yes, ma’am.  And those double-blind doors opened up into that hallway — not hallway.  It looks like — it’s a foyer.  And we walked out, and the press was standing there.  We didn’t say anything.  We just stood side by side.  And she must have thought I looked worried.  And it’s an absolutely true story.  She didn’t look at me, she spoke to me.  She said, Senator, you look so worried.  I said, well, my God, Madam Prime Minister, and I turned to look at her.  I said, the picture you paint.  She said, oh, don’t worry.  We have — I thought she only said this to me.  She said, we have a secret weapon in our conflict with the Arabs.  You see, we have no place else to do.

I was criticized in the national press a couple weeks ago when I said that, in fact, every Jew in the world needs there to be an Israel.  And it was characterized by some of the conservative press as saying that I was implying Jews weren’t safe in America.  They don’t get it.  They don’t get it.  Israel, Israel is absolutely essential — absolutely essential — security of Jews around the world.  And that’s why you have never farmed out your security.  You’ve accepted all the help we could give.  The most admirable thing about you is you’ve never asked us to fight for you.  But I promise you, if you were attacked and overwhelmed, we would fight for you, in my view.  (Applause.)

The truth of the matter is we need you.  The world needs you.  Imagine what it would say about humanity and the future of the 21st century if Israel were not sustained, vibrant and free.

We’ll never stop working to ensure that Jews from around the world always have somewhere to go.  We’ll never stop working to make sure Israel has a qualitative edge.  And whomever the next President is — Republican or Democrat — it will be the same because the American people, the American people are committed.  The America people understand.

So I say happy birthday, Israel.  Happy Independence Day.  May God bless you and may God bless and protect the United States of America.  Thank you all so very much.  (Applause.)

END
7:52 P.M. EDT

Israel Political Brief November 10, 2014: VP Joe Biden at Jewish Federations General Assembly: US will never abandon Israel

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Joe Biden at Jewish Federations General Assembly: US will never abandon Israel

Source: Jerusalem Post, 11-10-14

Vice President Joe Biden spoke at the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly on Monday and said that the United States will never abandon Israel….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief March 4, 2013: VP Joe Biden & PM Benjamin Netanyahu Stress Points of Unity in Speeches at AIPAC 2013

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Biden and Netanyahu Stress Points of Unity in Speeches to Pro-Israel Group

Source: NYT, 3-4-13

Michael Reynolds/European Pressphoto Agency

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., right, with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual policy conference in Washington on Monday.

The thundering ovations, slickly produced videos and legions of lawmakers were the same as ever. But something was missing as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee convened here this week for its annual conference: tension….READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief March 4, 2013: Vice President Joe Biden’s Speech at AIPAC Policy Conference 2013 — Discusses President Obama’s Position on Iran & Nuclear Weapons

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF


ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Full text of Biden’s speech at AIPAC policy conference

Source: Haaretz, 3-4-13

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden addresses convention held by pro-Israel lobby group; says President Obama is not bluffing on stopping Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden addresses the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) 2013

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden addresses the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) 2013 Policy Conference, March 4, 2013, in Washington. Photo by AP

Remarks by the Vice President to the AIPAC Policy Conference

Source: WH, 3-4-13 

Walter E. Washington Convention Center
Washington, D.C.

10:35 A.M. EST

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Mr. President.  (Applause.)  It’s great to be here.  It’s great to be here.  (Applause.)  Hey, Debbie.

Ladies and gentlemen, oh, what a difference 40 years makes.  (Laughter.)  I look out there and see an old friend, Annette Lantos.  Annette, how are you?  Her husband, Tom Lantos, a survivor, was my assistant, was my foreign policy advisor for years.  And Tom used to say all the time, Joe — he talked with that Hungarian accent — he’d say, Joe, we must do another fundraiser for AIPAC.  (Laughter.)  I did more fundraisers for AIPAC in the ‘70s and early ‘80s than — just about as many as anybody.  Thank God you weren’t putting on shows like this, we would have never made it.  (Laughter.)  We would have never made it.

My Lord, it’s so great to be with you all and great to see — Mr. President, thank you so much for that kind introduction.  And President-elect Bob Cohen, the entire AIPAC Board of Directors, I’m delighted to be with you today.  But I’m particularly delighted to be with an old friend — and he is an old friend; we use that phrase lightly in Washington, but it’s real, and I think he’d even tell you — Ehud Barak, it’s great to be with you, Mr. Minister.  Great to be with you.  (Applause.)

There is a standup guy.  There is a standup guy.  Standing up for his country, putting his life on the line for his country, and continuing to defend the values that we all share.  (Applause.)  I’m a fan of the man.  (Applause.)  Thanks for being here, Ehud.  It’s good to be with you again.

Ladies and gentlemen, a lot of you know me if you’re old enough.  (Laughter.)  Some of you don’t know me, and understand I can’t see now, but in the bleachers to either side, I’m told you have 2,000 young AIPAC members here.  (Applause.)  We talked about this a lot over the years.  We talked about it a lot:  This is the lifeblood.  This is the connective tissue.  This is the reason why no American will ever forget.  You’ve got to keep raising them.  (Applause.)

Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve stood shoulder to shoulder, a lot of us in this auditorium, defending the legitimate interest of Israel and our enduring commitment over the last 40 years.  And many of you in this hall — I won’t start to name them, but many of you in this hall, starting with Annette Lantos’s husband, who is not here, God rest his soul — many of you in this hall have been my teachers, my mentors and my educators, and that is not hyperbole.  You literally have been.

But my education started, as some of you know, at my father’s dinner table.  My father was what you would have called a righteous Christian.  We gathered at my dinner table to have conversation, and incidentally eat, as we were growing up.  It was a table — it was at that table I first heard the phrase that is overused sometimes today, but in a sense not used meaningfully enough — first I heard the phrase, “Never again.”

It was at that table that I learned that the only way to ensure that it could never happen again was the establishment and the existence of a secure, Jewish state of Israel.  (Applause.)  I remember my father, a Christian, being baffled at the debate taking place at the end of World War II talking about it.  I don’t remember it at that time, but about how there could be a debate about whether or not — within the community, of whether or not to establish the State of Israel.

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.  (Applause.)  Everybody knows it’s real.  But I want you to know one thing, which some of you — I’ve met with a lot of you over the last 40 years, but the last four years as well.  President Obama shares my commitment.  We both know that Israel faces new threats, new pressures and uncertainty.  The Defense Minister and I have discussed it often.  In the area of national security, the threats to Israel’s existence continue, but they have changed as the world and the region have changed over the last decade.

The Arab Spring, at once full of both hope and uncertainty, has required Israel — and the United States — to reassess old and settled relationships.  Iran’s dangerous nuclear weapons program, and its continued support of terrorist organizations, like Hezbollah and Hamas, not only endanger Israel, but endanger the world.  (Applause.)  Attempts of much of the world to isolate and delegitimize the State of Israel are increasingly common, and taken as the norm in other parts of the world.

All these pressures are similar but different, and they put enormous pressure on the State of Israel.  We understand that.  And we especially understand that if we make a mistake, it’s not a threat to our existence.  But if Israel makes a mistake, it could be a threat to its very existence.  (Applause.)  And that’s why, from the moment the President took office, he has acted swiftly and decisively to make clear to the whole world and to Israel that even as circumstances have changed, one thing has not:  our deep commitment to the security of the state of Israel.  That has not changed.  That will not change as long as I and he are President and Vice President of the United States.  (Applause.)  It’s in our naked self-interest, beyond the moral imperative.  (Applause.)

And to all of you, I thank you for continuing to remind the nation and the world of that commitment.  And while we may not always agree on tactics — and I’ve been around a long time; I’ve been there for a lot of prime ministers — we’ve always disagreed on tactic.  We’ve always disagreed at some point or another on tactic.  But, ladies and gentlemen, we have never disagreed on the strategic imperative that Israel must be able to protect its own, must be able to do it on its own, and we must always stand with Israel to be sure that can happen.  And we will.  (Applause.)

That’s why we’ve worked so hard to make sure Israel keeps its qualitative edge in the midst of the Great Recession.  I’ve served with eight Presidents of the United States of America, and I can assure you, unequivocally, no President has done as much to physically secure the State of Israel as President Barack Obama.  (Applause.)

President Obama last year requested $3.1 billion in military assistance for Israel — the most in history.  He has directed close coordination, strategically and operationally, between our government and our Israeli partners, including our political, military and intelligence leadership.

I can say with certitude, in the last eight Presidents, I don’t know any time, Ehud, when there has been as many meetings, as much coordination, between our intelligence services and our military.  Matter of fact, they’re getting tired of traveling back across the ocean, I think.  (Laughter.)

Under this administration, we’ve held the most regular and largest-ever joint military exercises.  We’ve invested $275 million in Iron Dome, including $70 million that the President directed to be spent last year on an urgent basis — to increase the production of Iron Dome batteries and interceptors.  (Applause.)

Not long ago, I would have had to describe to an audience what Iron Dome was, how it would work, why funding it mattered.  I don’t have to explain to anybody anymore.  Everybody gets it.  (Applause.)  Everybody saw — the world saw firsthand why it was and remains so critical.

For too long, when those sirens blared in the streets of the cities bordering Gaza, the only defense had been a bomb shelter.  But late last year, Iron Dome made a difference.  When Hamas rockets rained on Israel, Iron Dome shot them out of the sky, intercepting nearly 400 rockets in November alone.  It was our unique partnership — Israel and the United States — that pioneered this technology and funded it.

And it is in that same spirit that we’re working with Israel to jointly develop new systems, called Arrow and David’s Sling, interceptors that can defeat long-range threats from Iran, Syria and Hezbollah — equally as urgent.  (Applause.)  And we are working to deploy a powerful new radar, networked with American early warning satellites, that could buy Israel valuable time in the event of an attack.  This is what we do.  This is what we do to ensure Israel can counter and defeat any threat from any corner.  (Applause.)

But that’s only the first piece of this equation.  Let me tell you — and I expect I share the view of many of you who have been involved with AIPAC for a long time.  Let me tell you what worries me the most today — what worries me more than at any time in the 40 years I’ve been engaged, and it is different than any time in my career.  And that is the wholesale, seemingly coordinated effort to delegitimize Israel as a Jewish state.  That is the single most dangerous, pernicious change that has taken place, in my humble opinion, since I’ve been engaged.  (Applause.)

And, ladies and gentlemen, it matters.  It matters.  To put it bluntly, there is only one nation — only one nation in the world that has unequivocally, without hesitation and consistently confronted the efforts to delegitimize Israel.  At every point in our administration, at every juncture, we’ve stood up on the legitimacy — on behalf of legitimacy of the State of Israel.  President Obama has been a bulwark against those insidious efforts at every step of the way.

Wherever he goes in the world, he makes clear that although we want better relations with Muslim-majority countries, Israel’s legitimacy and our support for it is not a matter of debate.  There is no light.  It is not a matter of debate.  (Applause.)  It’s simple, and he means it:  It is not a matter of debated.  Don’t raise it with us.  Do not raise it with us.  It is not negotiable.  (Applause.)

As recently as last year, the only country on the United Nations Human Rights Council to vote against — I think it’s 36 countries, don’t hold me to the exact number — but the only country on the Human Rights Council of the United Nations to vote against the establishment of a fact-finding mission on settlements was the United States of America.

We opposed the unilateral efforts of the Palestinian Authority to circumvent direct negotiations by pushing for statehood and multilateral organizations like UNESCO.  We stood strongly with Israel in its right to defend itself after the Goldstone Report was issued in 2009.  While the rest of the world, including some of our good friend, was prepared to embrace the report, we came out straightforwardly, expressed our concerns and with recommendations.

When Israel was isolated in the aftermath of the Gaza flotilla in 2010, I was in Africa.  We spent a lot of time on the phone, Ehud and — the Defense Minister and I.  (Laughter.)  And Bibi and I spent a lot time on that phone with my interceding, going to the United Nations directly by telephone, speaking with the Secretary General, making sure that one thing was made clear, Israel had the right — had the right — to impose that blockade.  (Applause.)

Ladies and gentlemen, that’s why we refuse to attend events such as the 10th anniversary of the 2001 World Conference on Racism that shamefully equated Zionism with racism.  (Applause.)  That’s why we rejected anti-Semitic rhetoric from any corner and from leaders of any nation.  And that’s why I’m proud to say my friend, the new Secretary of State, John Kerry, spoke out against the kind of language in Ankara just this Friday.  (Applause.)  By the way, he’s a good man.  You’re going to be happy with Kerry.

And it was in the strongest terms that we vigorously opposed the Palestinian bid for nonmember observer status in the General Assembly, and we will continue to oppose any effort to establish a state of Palestine through unilateral actions.

There is no shortcut to peace.  There is no shortcut to face-to-face negotiations.  There is no shortcut to guarantees made looking in the eyes of the other party.

Ladies and gentlemen, Israel’s own leaders currently understand the imperative of peace.  Prime Minister Netanyahu, Defense Minister Barak, President Peres — they’ve all called for a two-state solution and an absolute secure, democratic and Jewish State of Israel; to live side by side with an independent Palestinian state.  But it takes two to tango, and the rest of the Arab world has to get in the game.  (Applause.)

We are under no illusions about how difficult it will be to achieve.  Even some of you in the audience said, why do we even talk about it anymore?  Well, it’s going to require hard steps on both sides.  But it’s in all of our interests — Israel’s interest, the United States’ interest, the interest of the Palestinian people.  We all have a profound interest in peace.  To use an expression of a former President, Bill Clinton, we’ve got to get caught trying.  We’ve got to get caught trying.  (Applause.)

So we remain deeply engaged.  As President Obama has said, while there are those who question whether this goal may ever be reached, we make no apologies for continuing to pursue that goal, to pursue a better future.  And he’ll make that clear when he goes to Israel later this month.

We’re also mindful that pursuing a better future for Israel means helping Israel confront the myriads of threat it faces in the neighborhood.  It’s a tough neighborhood, and it starts with Iran.  It is not only in Israel’s interest — and everybody should understand — I know you understand this, but the world should — it’s not only in Israel’s interest that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon, it’s in the interest of the United States of America.  It’s simple.  And, as a matter of fact, it’s in the interest of the entire world. (Applause.)

Iraq’s [sic] acquisition of a nuclear weapon not only would present an existential threat to Israel, it would present a threat to our allies and our partners — and to the United States.  And it would trigger an arms race — a nuclear arms race in the region, and make the world a whole lot less stable.

So we have a shared strategic commitment.  Let me make clear what that commitment is:  It is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.  Period.  (Applause.)  End of discussion.  Prevent — not contain — prevent.  (Applause.)

The President has flatly stated that.  And as many of you in this room have heard me say — and he always kids me about this; we’ll be in the security room — and I know that Debbie Wasserman Schultz knows this because she hears it — he always says, you know — he’ll turn to other people and say, as Joe would say, he’s — as Joe would say, big nations can’t bluff.  Well, big nations can’t bluff.  And Presidents of the United States cannot and do not bluff.  And President Barack Obama is not bluffing.  He is not bluffing.  (Applause.)

We are not looking for war.  We are looking to and ready to negotiate peacefully, but all options, including military force, are on the table.  But as I made clear at the Munich Security Conference just last month, our strong preference, the world’s preference is for a diplomatic solution.  So while that window is closing, we believe there is still time and space to achieve the outcome.  We are in constant dialogue, sharing information with the Israeli military, the Israeli intelligence service, the Israeli political establishment at every level, and we’re taking all the steps required to get there.

But I want to make clear to you something.  If, God forbid,
the need to act occurs, it is critically important for the whole world to know we did everything in our power, we did everything that reasonably could have been expected to avoid any confrontation.  And that matters.  Because God forbid, if we have to act, it’s important that the rest of the world is with us.  (Applause.)  We have a united international community.  We have a united international community behind these unprecedented sanctions.

We have left Iran more isolated than ever.  When we came to office, as you remember — not because of the last administration, just a reality — Iran was on the ascendency in the region.  It is no longer on the ascendency.  The purpose of this pressure is not to punish.  It is to convince Iran to make good on its international obligations.  Put simply, we are sharpening a choice that the Iranian leadership has to make.  They can meet their obligations and give the international community ironclad confidence in the peaceful nature of their program, or they can continue down the path they’re on to further isolate and mounting pressure of the world.

But even preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon still leaves them a dangerous neighbor, particularly to Israel.  They are using terrorist proxies to spread violence in the region and beyond the region, putting Israelis, Americans, citizens of every continent in danger.  For too long, Hezbollah has tried to pose as nothing more than a political and social welfare group, while plotting against innocents in Eastern Europe — from Eastern Europe to East Africa; from Southeast Asia to South America.  We know what Israel knows:  Hezbollah is a terrorist organization.  Period.  (Applause.)  And we — and me — we are urging every nation in the world that we deal with — and we deal with them all — to start treating Hezbollah as such, and naming them as a terrorist organization.  (Applause.)

This isn’t just about a threat to Israel and the United States.  It’s about a global terrorist organization that has targeted people on several continents.  We’ll say and we’ll do our part to stop them.  And we ask the world to do the same.  That’s why we’ve been talking to our friends in Europe to forcefully declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization.  This past month I’ve made the case to leading European heads of state, as Barack and Israelis know, together we have to continue to confront Hezbollah wherever it shows — sews the seeds of hatred and stands against the nations that sponsor campaigns of terror.

Ladies and gentlemen, the United States and Israel have a shared interest in Syria as well.  Assad has shown his father’s disregard for human life and dignity, engaging in brutal murder of his own citizens.  Our position on that tragedy could not be clearer:  Assad must go.  But we are not signing up for one murderous gang replacing another in Damascus.  (Applause.)

That’s why our focus is on supporting a legitimate opposition not only committed to a peaceful Syria but to a peaceful region.  That’s why we’re carefully vetting those to whom we provide assistance.  That’s why, while putting relentless pressure on Assad and sanctioning the pro-regime, Iranian-backed militia, we’ve also designated al-Nusra Front as a terrorist organization.

And because we recognize the great danger Assad’s chemical and biological arsenals pose to Israel and the United States, to the whole world, we’ve set a clear red line against the use of the transfer of the those weapons.  And we will work together to prevent this conflict and these horrific weapons from threatening Israel’s security.  And while we try to ensure an end to the dictatorship in Syria, we have supported and will support a genuine transition to Egyptian democracy.

We have no illusions — we know how difficult this will be and how difficult it is.  There’s been — obviously been a dramatic change in Egypt.  A lot of it has given us hope and a lot of it has given us pause, and a lot of it has caused fears in other quarters.

It’s not about us, but it profoundly affects us.  We need to be invested in Egypt’s success and stability.  The stable success of Egypt will translate into a stable region.  We’re not looking at what’s happening in Egypt through rose-colored glasses.  Again, our eyes are wide open.  We have no illusions about the challenges that we face, but we also know this:  There’s no legitimate alternative at this point to engagement.

Only through engagement — it’s only through engagement with Egypt that we can focus Egypt’s leaders on the need to repair international obligations — respect their international obligations, including and especially its peace treaty with Israel.  It’s only through active engagement that we can help ensure that Hamas does not re-arm through the Sinai and put the people of Israel at risk.  It’s only through engagement that we can concentrate Egypt’s government on the imperative of confronting the extremists.  And it’s only through engagement that we can encourage Egypt’s leaders to make reforms that will spark economic growth and stabilize the democratic process.  And it’s all tough, and there’s no certainty.  There’s no certainty about anything in the Arab Spring.

I expect President Obama to cover each of these issues in much greater detail.  I’ve learned one thing, as I was telling the President, I learned it’s never a good idea, Ehud, to steal the President’s thunder.  It’s never a good idea to say what he’s going to say the next day.  So I’m not going to go into any further detail on this.  (Laughter.)  But in much greater detail he will discuss this when he goes to Israel later this month, just before Passover begins.

I have to admit I’m a little jealous that he gets to be the one to say “this year in Jerusalem,” but I’m the Vice President.  I’m not the President.  (Applause.)  So I — when I told him that, I’m not sure he thought I was serious or not.  But anyway.  (Laughter.)

As will come as no surprise to you, the President and I not only are partners, we’ve become friends, and he and I have spoken at length about this trip.  And I can assure you he’s particularly looking forward to having a chance to hear directly from the people of Israel and beyond their political leaders, and particularly the younger generation of Israelis.  (Applause.)

And I must note just as I’m getting a chance to speak to 2,000 young, American Jews involved and committed to the state of Israel and the relationship with the United States, he’s as anxious to do what I got a chance to do when I was there last, Ehud with you, as you flew me along the line.  I got to go to Tel Aviv University to speak several thousand young Israelis.  The vibrancy, the optimism, the absolute commitment is contagious, and he’s looking forward to seeing it and feeling it and tasting it.

The President looks forward to having conversations about their hopes and their aspirations, about their astonishing world-leading technological achievements, about the future they envision for themselves and for their country, about how different the world they face is from the one their parents faced, even if many of the threats are the same.

These are really important conversations for the President to have and to hear and for them to hear.  These are critically important.  I get kidded, again to quote Debbie, she kids sometimes, everybody quotes — Democrat and Republican — quotes Tip O’Neill saying, all politics is local.  With all due respect, Lonny, I think that’s not right.  I think all politics is personal.  And I mean it:  All politics is personal.  And it’s building personal relationships and trust and exposure, talking to people that really matters, particularly in foreign policy.

So, ladies and gentlemen, let me end where I began, by reaffirming our commitment to the State of Israel.  It’s not only a longstanding, moral commitment, it’s a strategic commitment.  An independent Israel, secure in its own borders, recognized by the world is in the practical, strategic interests of the United States of America.  I used to say when I — Lonny was president — I used to say if there weren’t an Israel, we’d have to invent one.

Ladies and gentlemen, we also know that it’s critical to remind every generation of Americans — as you’re doing with your children here today, it’s critical to remind our children, my children, your children.  That’s why the first time I ever took the three of my children separately to Europe, the first place I took them was Dachau.  We flew to Munich and went to Dachau — the first thing we ever did as Annette will remember — because it’s important that all our children and grandchildren understand that this is a never-ending requirement.  The preservation of an independent Jewish state is the ultimate guarantor, it’s the only certain guarantor of freedom and security for the Jewish people in the world.  (Applause.)

That was most pointedly pointed out to me when I was a young senator making my first trip to Israel.  I had the great, great honor — and that is not hyperbole — of getting to meet for the first time — and subsequently, I met her beyond that — Golda Meir.  She was the prime minister.  (Applause.)

Now, I’m sure every kid up there said, you can’t be that old, Senator.  (Laughter.)  I hope that’s what you’re saying.  (Laughter.)  But seriously, the first trip I ever made — and you all know those double doors.  You just go into the office and the blonde furniture and the desk on the left side, if memory serves me correctly.  And Golda Meir, as a prime minister and as a defense minister, she had those maps behind her.  You could pull down all those maps like you had in geography class in high school.

And she sat behind her desk.  And I sat in a chair in front of her desk, and a young man was sitting to my right who was her assistant.  His name was Yitzhak Rabin.  (Laughter.)  Seriously — an absolutely true story.  (Applause.)  And she sat there chain-smoking and reading letters to me, letters from the front from the Six-Day War.  She read letters and told me how this young man or woman had died and this is their family.  This went on for I don’t know how long, and I guess she could tell I was visibly moved by this, and I was getting depressed about it — oh, my God.

And she suddenly looked at me and said — and I give you my word as a Biden that she looked at me and said — she said, Senator, would you like a photo opportunity?  (Laughter.)  And I looked at her.  I said, well yes, Madam Prime Minister.  I mean I was — and we walk out those doors.  We stood there — no statements, and we’re standing next to one another looking at this array of media, television and photojournalists, take — snapping pictures.  And we’re looking straight ahead.

Without looking at me, she speaks to me.  She said, Senator, don’t look so sad.  She said, we have a secret weapon in our confrontation in this part of the world.  And I thought she was about to lean over and tell me about a new system or something.  Because you can see the pictures, I still have them — I turned to look at her.  We were supposed to be looking straight ahead.  And I said, Madam Prime Minister — and never turned her head, she kept looking — she said, our secret weapon, Senator, is we have no place else to go.  We have no place else to go.  (Applause.)

Ladies and gentlemen, our job is to make sure there’s always a place to go, that there’s always an Israel, that there’s always a secure Israel and there’s an Israel that can care for itself.  (Applause.)  My father was right.  You are right.  It’s the ultimate guarantor of never again.  God bless you all and may God protect our troops.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END
11:09 A.M. EST

Israel Political Brief May 22, 2012: Vice President Joe Biden Reassures Jewish Leaders at Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations ‘All Options on Table’ with Iran

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Biden Reassures Jewish Leaders ‘All Options on Table’

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden told American Jewish leaders Tuesday “all options are on the table” to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.

Source: Israel National News, 5-22-12

VP Joseph Biden Meets with Conference of Presidents
VP Joseph Biden Meets with Conference of Presidents
Israel News photo courtesy of Joshua Roberts

Speaking with 70 leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in Washington, Biden and other senior Obama administration officials briefed the leaders on U.S. foreign policy.

The emphasis was on Iran, which secured an apparent agreement with the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency that Israel sees as not being strong enough to deter Iran from its nuclear ambitions. The deal is supposed to allow United Nations nuclear inspectors to visit Iran’s nuclear sites.

Iranian officials are to meet in Baghdad on Wednesday with the “P5 + 1,” comprised of the five United Nations Security Council permanent members and Germany.

Iran is to receive a proposal that is expected to include its agreement to shut down a high-grade uranium enrichment operation. Israeli leaders are strongly skeptical of any agreement that does not require Iran to stop all enrichment of uranium, a key element for a nuclear weapon.

At the meeting with Jewish leaders, the American officials, including Deputy National Security Advisor Dennis McDonough reiterated the administration’s “ironclad” commitment to Israel’s security.

The Conference leaders routinely meet with White House officials once a year, but Tuesday’s meeting was politically important because of the presidential elections in November.

Virtually all polls show that President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney, who has sewn up the GOP nomination, are running neck and-neck, with a marginal advantage to Romney.

Readout of the Vice President’s Meeting with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

Vice President Biden met today at the White House with representatives of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. The Vice President addressed the Obama Administration’s unprecedented support for Israel’s security; our steadfast opposition to any attempts to delegitimize Israel; and our commitment to a lasting, secure peace that is in the interest of Israelis, Palestinians and the United States. The Vice President also discussed a range of regional issues, including Iran. The Vice President praised attendees for their support of a strong relationship between the United States and Israel and the broad range of policy, charitable and intellectual pursuits in which they are engaged.

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