Vice President Joe Biden tried to pave the way for his boss’ first presidential trip to Israel with a high-volume defense of the Obama administration’s policy toward and relationship with the Jewish state.
Addressing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee this morning, Biden gushed about his upbringing with a “righteous Christian” father who taught his children about the phrase that’s “not used meaningfully enough — ‘never again.’”
The veep called the AIPAC community “my teachers, my mentors, and my educators.”
“President Obama shares my commitment,” Biden said. “We both know that Israel shares new threats… they have changed as the world and the region have changed over the past decade.”
He said the administration “especially” understands that if it makes a mistake on reining in Iran “it’s not a threat to our existence … but could be a threat to Israel’s existence.”
Biden said “our deep commitment” to Israel’s security “will not change as long as I and he are president and vice president of the United States.”
“While me may not always agree on tactics… we’ve always disagreed at some point or another on tactic,” he quipped, looking back to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who greeted the VP with a bear hug, for a nod to his assertion that the U.S. and Israel have “never disagreed on the strategic imperative.”
Biden added with “certitude” that of the past eight presidents, there have not been as many meetings between the two countries’ security officials as in the Obama White House. “We’re getting tired of traveling back and forth across the ocean,” he quipped, looking back at Barak again.
“No president has done as much to physically secure the state of Israel as President Barack Obama,” Biden said. “…Wherever he goes in the world he makes clear that even though we want better relations with Muslim countries … Israel is not a matter of debate — don’t raise it with us.”
He boasted about Iron Dome funding and other assistance “to buy Israel valuable time in the event of an attack.”
He continued to brag about the United States’ lone vote against a UN Human Rights Council resolution to establish a fact-finding mission on settlements, even though the Obama administration reversed the Bush White House’s course of boycotting the council in order to not legitimize the anti-Israel body.
Biden pitched the new secretary of State, currently on his first overseas trip, to the audience. “By the way, he’s a good man,” he said. “You’re going to be happy with Kerry.”
His voice rising to a shout, the veep said the administration’s policy “is to prevent — not contain –prevent.”
“Presidents of the United States cannot and do not bluff and President Barack Obama is not bluffing,” Biden said. “We’re not looking for war… our strong preference, the world’s preference, is for a diplomatic solution.”
“God forbid, if we have to act, it’s important that the rest of the world is with us,” he added.
Biden gave a few preview hints at Obama’s trip to Israel later this month, but stopped short of revealing too much. “I learned it’s never a good idea to steal the president’s thunder,” he said.
(Also read: “ Netanyahu: A Peace You Cannot Defend“.)