Vice President Joe Biden made an extraordinary claim today about President Barack Obama’s record on Israel while speaking to the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Conference. Israel National News reports:
The Obama administration has been better for Israel than the last eight administrations, Vice-President Joe Biden told a large crowd at the AIPAC conference Monday. “We’ve stood shoulder to shoulder over the past 40 years defending the legitimate interests of Israel,” Biden told an enthusiastic audience, “but no administration, no President has done as much to physically secure the State of Israel as Barack Obama,” Biden said. In the midst of what Biden called “the Great Recession,” the U.S. has upped its aid to Israel, providing $1.3 billion in military aid in 2012.
In addition, Biden said, President Obama has worked more closely with Israeli security officials than any other president in the last thirty years. “I can say with certitude that I don’t know when anytime in the last eight administrations that there has been as much security coordination,” Biden said. “The teams working with Israel are tired of all the international flights, they go so much,” the Vice-President quipped. “Our commitment to Israel has not changed and it will not change as long as he and I are President and Vice-President of the United States.”
Biden acknowledged that there were policy differences between Israel and the U.S., but said they were not relevant to U.S. support for Israel. “I have been there for a lot of Prime Ministers, and we have always disagreed on tactics. But we have never disagreed on the principles – that Israel must do it on its own,” Biden said, adding that it was the role of the U.S. to ensure that that was the case.
Biden’s remark would come as news to many observers. The Obama administration has consistently maintained a tense relationship with the current Israeli government, including and especially Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Most notably, President Obama has reportedly outright stated that “Israel doesn’t know what its own best interests are.”
This statement prompted Netanyahu to fire back, “I think everyone understands that only Israel’s citizens are those who will be the ones to determine who faithfully represents Israel’s vital interests.”
Obviously, under Obama’s standards, Biden’s statement makes more sense. After all, if the United States knows what’s best for Israel better than Israel, than any President who simply follows his own opinions will be the most pro-Israel President in existence. By contrast, defining Israel’s interests as Israel sees them, Biden’s statement is difficult to stomach.