Magazine article Tablet Magazine

Biden's Brief, Bibi's Bombast, Simon's Sermon

Magazine article Tablet Magazine

Biden's Brief, Bibi's Bombast, Simon's Sermon

Article excerpt

We're into day three of the Jewish Federations of North America's General Assembly in New Orleansthe biggest institutional-Jewish confab of the year. What's gone on so far?

Vice President Biden, one of the more trusted-by-some administration members (he is certainly more trusted-by-some than the president, anyway) gave a speech of reassurance Sunday: "We are absolutely, unequivocally committed to Israel's security," he declared. "Period. Period." (One more, and we would have had a hockey game.) Then, much like the last time the administration sent Biden to reassure the some by whom it is not trusted, Israel announced new building in East Jerusalem, which the United States promptly condemned (though, don't worry, Biden is "not taking this personally").

But Biden's red meat was a turkey club compared to Prime Minister Netanyahu's address yesterday. Echoing what he reportedly told administration officials in private (and he meets with Secretary of State Clinton today), he focused primarily on the dangers of Iran and its honing-in nuclear weapons program. He also warned of worldwide anti-Semitism and declared, to cheers, "The authors of the Goldstone report owe Israel's army an apology." As for the peace process, he reiterated his (rejected) demand that his Palestinian interlocutors recognize Israel as a Jewish state. "Israel must always be a place that each of you can call home," he told the crowd.

Ron Kampeas observed that the speech's "swagger" confirmed "that Netanyahu feels empowered by the Republican sweep last week of the House of Representatives to trump the Obama administration's emphasis on peacemaking with the Palestinians with his own priority: Confronting Iran. …

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