Vice President Joe Biden sought on Tuesday to ensure the Jewish vote in the upcoming presidential elections this fall by telling the Rabbinical Assembly of his friendship with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
CBS News reported that as Biden took the podium, the rabbi who introduced him told him, “You are with friends, sir.”
Making an implicit point that Netanyahu has more than one friend in the United States, Biden called for a moment of silence for the passing of the prime minister's father, Benzion.
The vice president then added an anecdote about once signing a photo for “Bibi” with this inscription: “I don't agree with a damn thing you say, but I love ya.”
Biden told the crowd that President Obama “deserves the credit” for restoring U.S. influence in the global community, protecting Israel and mobilizing other nations to put pressure on Iran, the CBS News report added.
“No president since Harry Truman has does more for Israel's security than Barack Obama,” Biden said.
He credited Obama for strengthening America's position in the region and for imposing “the most damaging sanctions in this century” to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
“We were the problem,” he said of the global view of the United States before the president took office. “We were diplomatically isolated in the world, in the region, in Europe. The international pressure on Iran was stuck in neutral.”
He added, “We were neither fully respected by our friends nor feared by our opponents. Today it is starkly, starkly different.”
Biden’s remarks came a day after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sought to defend Israel for its actions in the Middle East.
Obama has come under fire for his policy on Israel. In his foreign policy speech last May, Obama called for a return to the 1949 armistice lines (often erroneously called 1967 borders) as a starting point for negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.
Obama’s policy on Israel may have come at a price. Recent reports have indicated that Obama has lost 16 percent of his support among U.S. Jews and may lose the elections in key states like Florida, come November.
The reports were based on a recent poll by the Public Religion Research Institute, which showed that 62 percent of 1,004 American Jews surveyed said that they would vote for Obama. The key concern for Obama is that this is a sizeable downturn from 2008, when he got 78 percent of the Jewish vote.