I’m really warming up to Joe Biden. I must confess that I wrote a dismissive blog post about his selection as Obama’s V.P. nominee. But that was then, this is now. Republicans, and apparently Aipac’s right-wing cohort has been carping about Biden’s alleged soft support for Israel. Which motivated a sharp riposte from the candidate. And I gotta tell you that after reading this I thought, “This guy’s got guts, kol hakavod lo (“more power to him”):
Biden dismissed the prominent role played by the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC, saying the group “doesn’t speak for the entire Jewish community,” and it “doesn’t speak for the state of Israel, no matter what it insists on any occasion.”
The Delaware senator also attacked critics who have questioned his support of Israel saying, “I will take a back seat to no one, and again, no one in AIPAC or any other organization, in terms of questioning my support of the State of Israel.”
I think I can count on one hand the number of times a candidate for higher office has defended himself from such an attack by publicly fighting back and attacking Aipac by name. As I said, that takes guts. And I don’t think Joe Biden is foolish. He knows what he can and can’t get away with. He is confident enough in his record to warn Aipac that their supporters are mouthing nonsense and that he will take them to task by name if they persist. I think too he knows that Aipac no longer rules the roost in DC. They used to maintain their power with an iron fist. But I think that now there is more room to breath for candidates.
On a related note: The Nation has just published an in-depth profile of Israel at 60 by Eric Alterman in which he quotes Shlomo Avineri taking another swipe at Aipac:
AIPAC, Avineri adds, “is basically a right-wing lobby and a lobby for Likud–it is not a lobby ‘for Israel.’ After Oslo, it lobbied openly against an agreement signed by the Israeli government. Forgive me,” he adds, “I have a bias against someone who lives in New York and tells us not to give up ‘our’ land.”