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Rosen to the defense of Biden

Jack Rosen, the former president of the American Jewish Congress, and maybe the only person in the country to have backed Bill Clinton, then George W. Bush and now Barack Obama, sent along the following e-mail in defense of Joe Biden:

The smear campaign against Joe Biden on the internet, spread by viral emails, attributes to him all kinds of beliefs that he has never held. This is a man with a clear public record over many years, and it is a record of friendship and support. I think it is outrageous when some in the Jewish community unthinkingly or with malice pass on these scurrilous lies. Jews should know better than anyone how a small lie endlessly repeated becomes a big one, and how innocent people can be harmed by such falsehoods.

The Jewish community ought to take particular comfort in Obama’s choice of my friend Joe Biden as his running mate. I’ve known Joe for many years and we have discussed Israel and the Middle East privately many times. I can tell you, he is in private as he is in public: Joe Biden cares about Israel.

Nobody has a longer record on the issue, spanning nearly four decades. Joe’s relationships with Israeli leaders go back to Golda Meir and Moshe Dayan, and include virtually every top Israel figure ever since. He has been to Israel dozens of times.

Joe is the kind of friend who will be there on a rainy day. He supported Israel at times when it was not popular – like defending Israel’s right to use cluster bombs in the 1980s. He delivered multiple speeches in 2002 denouncing the false portrayal of Israeli military operations against terrorists in Jenin as a “massacre.” He voiced strong support for Israel during its 2006 war with Hezbollah. He has consistently defended Israel’s right to target terrorists who intend to strike at Israel. He said a few days ago, “Israel has an absolute right to defend itself. It doesn’t have to ask us.”

He is an outspoken supporter of the search for peace, but he also has a consistent record as a realist. For example, he was the original co-sponsor of the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 which banned direct U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Authority as long as it is led by Hamas. He is a fierce critic of Arab extremism, and constantly reminds his many friends in the Arab world that they need to do more to end their state of belligerency with Israel and to end the economic boycott against Israel.

On Iran, Joe supports tough and urgent diplomacy and economic pressure to prevent an Iranian nuclear threat. He regards the danger of Iranian nuclearization as one of the central challenges of our era. According to the Washington reporter for Ha’aretz, Joe Biden believes “options should not be taken of the table – that is, he isn’t willing to swear off the use of force as a last resort to prevent the nuclearization of iran “

Joe Biden has been steadfast in opposing the transfer of arms to Arab nations that might erode Israel’s qualitative edge. With Congressman Mel Levine, Biden spearheaded legislation in 1988 to modify the Arms Export Control Act so that American arms sales to Arab countries would be severely constrained in the absence of their reaching peace agreements with Israel. Levine recently said, “Joe Biden has been as consistently supportive of preserving Israel’s security as any Member of Congress.”

Joe has many, many ties to the American Jewish community. His daughter-in-law is Jewish, and he is close to his Jewish relatives. Many years ago, he was the one who discovered Tom Lantos, who he hired as an adviser early in his Senate career. Their relationship over the last thirty years was close, and Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor to serve in Congress, continued to be a mentor to Biden on the issues of Israel, genocide-prevention, and human rights.

Joe Biden is a man we can count on. His record speaks for itself.

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