Biden to American Jews: We Can’t Protect You, Only Israel Can

Last September, Joseph Biden said the following to a group that included many leaders of Jewish organizations and Jewish officials in the Obama administration:

I had the great pleasure of knowing every prime minister since Golda Meir, when I was a young man in the Senate, and I’ll never forget talking to her in her office with her assistant—a guy named Rabin—about the Six-Day War. The end of the meeting, we get up and walk out, the doors are open, and … the press is taking photos … She looked straight ahead and said, “Senator, don’t look so sad … Don’t worry. We Jews have a secret weapon.”

I thought she was going to tell me something about a nuclear program. She looked straight ahead and she said, “We have no place else to go. We have no place else to go.”

Folks, there is no place else to go, and you understand that in your bones. You understand in your bones that no matter how hospitable, no matter how consequential, no matter how engaged, no matter how deeply involved you are in the United States … there’s only one guarantee. There is really only one absolute guarantee, and that’s the state of Israel.

In response, reports Jeffrey Goldberg, “There was applause, and then photos, and then kosher canapés.”

This is a stunning statement. The Vice President of the United States, a man sworn to uphold and protect the Constitution, which is committed to securing “the Blessings of Liberty” for all of its citizens and guarantees all of its citizens the equal protection of its laws, tells a group of American citizens that the only real protection they have in this world, the only real guarantee of their rights and safety, is not the US government—their government—but the government of another nation.

Imagine a sitting Vice President telling a group of Mexican-American citizens that no matter how much they have contributed to the American project, no matter how much they participate in local government or Congress, no matter how critical they are to the American economy, they should not look to the American government to protect them from harm but should instead look to the government of Mexico.

When Malcolm X sought to have the United Nations intervene to protect African Americans from persecution—the United States long ago having abandoned any pretense of securing rights for African Americans—it drew the hostility and attention of the State Department, the Justice Department, and the FBI. But here is a sitting Vice President telling Jewish Americans that they should do a version of the same. And instead of criticizing him, which is how an earlier generation of Jewish Americans would have responded, they applaud him.


  1. msobel March 22, 2015 at 3:56 pm | #

    I think it would be useful for you to explain in very simple terms the reasons that such a statement is seen as politically necessary. I think it explains the bubbameister that modern day zionism has become.

  2. lazycat1984 March 22, 2015 at 5:37 pm | #

    The total devotion to Israel as such, as opposed to democratic elements among the Israeli body politic has led to this unsurprising pass. If Hitler had won or broke even in WW2, I guess we’d have German -Americans wringing their hands over the security concerns of Germans living in colonies in the East where dastardly slavic terrorists were taking potshots at their concrete guard towers.

    The right wing Israel lobby seems bent on creating anti-semitism in places it either never existed in order to drive settlement. I guess they ran out of jews in Russia who were eager to live on plundering the Palestinians?

  3. walt March 22, 2015 at 5:43 pm | #

    Reminds me of official German government statements before the Soccer World Cup held there a few years ago about vast swathes of the country, esp. the Eastern parts, where safety of “visible minorities” could not be taken for granted:

    Black visitors to the World Cup in Germany are being
    urged to keep away from parts of the country where
    they could be at risk of racially motivated attacks.

    The “no-go-areas” is a phrase coined by Germany’s
    former official spokesman Uwe-Karsten Heye, who
    recently warned of places in the country where
    non-white foreigners, who include all Asians, could
    not enter without fear of being assaulted by neo-Nazis
    and other right-wing elements.

    “There are small and medium-sized towns in
    Brandenburg, as well as elsewhere, which I would
    advise a visitor of another skin colour to avoid going
    to. As “they might not leave alive,” he added.

  4. Edward March 22, 2015 at 7:59 pm | #

    Biden used to describe himself as “Israel’s best friend in the Senate”. As chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, he ensured that not one anti-war voice was included in his committee’s hearings concerning invading Iraq, that there were no questions raised about Bush’s dodgy claims of Iraqi WMD.

    • jonnybutter March 22, 2015 at 9:42 pm | #

      Maybe he’s just permanently out over his skis

      • Edward March 23, 2015 at 9:21 am | #

        Did Saddam Hussein steal his skies? I am not familiar with the reference.

        • jonnybutter March 23, 2015 at 1:35 pm | #

          The reference is from when Biden announced the administration’s support for gay marriage in the United States before it was official – before Obama himself did. Biden has a habit of getting carried away with his mouth.

          • Edward March 23, 2015 at 2:21 pm | #

            jonnybutter, I have to admit I am still somewhat lost. How do skis fit into a comment about gay marriage?

          • jonnybutter March 23, 2015 at 4:28 pm | #

            Hi Edward. It’s a metaphor, and has nothing to do with gay marriage per se.

            Just imagine, if you will, skiing down a steep hill with your body getting far in front of your skis – it is a precarious position to be in. Biden talks too much and gets carried away, thereby putting himself in a precarious and/or ridiculous position. Listening to his own voice intoxicates him. He is imprudent.

          • Edward March 23, 2015 at 8:43 pm | #

            Thanks, jonnybutter. I am not a skier as you can probably tell.

          • jonnybutter March 23, 2015 at 9:19 pm | #

            I’m not a skier either, Edward. The metaphor came from the Obama administration. I thought it was funny in a waspish way.

          • Edward March 24, 2015 at 10:24 am | #

            I agree– it’s a funny metaphor.

  5. Stephen Zielinski March 22, 2015 at 10:22 pm | #

    Of course, if one were a Jew and wished to live a secure life, the United States would be one country in which you would want to live. The Jewish Question does not exist here.Yet, the Israel Question is always on the agenda. But no one of any consequence blames American Jews for Washington’s support for Israel. Why blame America’s Jews when their preferences do not drive Washington’s policies?

    • Joe Catron (@jncatron) March 23, 2015 at 1:23 am | #

      “But no one of any consequence blames American Jews for Washington’s support for Israel.”

      Decent people who aren’t outspokenly racist don’t. But the Zionists always seem eager enough to implicate ’em.

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