Vice President Joe Biden spoke Saturday night in Orlando to thousands of Reform Jews at their biennial convention.
He sounded some familiar notes (settlements bad, but even allies disagree; U.S.-Israel alliances is rock solid; the Obama administration will continue to strengthen Israel’s security, will not let Iran go nuclear, and will fight efforts to delegitimize the Jewish state).
And then there was the strongly worded reference — albeit not by name — to Ran Baratz, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pick to serve as his media chief. After announcing the potential appointment, it surfaced that Baratz, a former university lecturer, posted on Facebook in March that Obama’s reaction to Netanyahu’s speech to Congress was “modern anti-Semitism.” He also has mocked Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.
Baratz has apologized — both for the comments and for not informing Netanyahu about them. For his part, the prime minister has criticized the comments — but has not backed off his plans to appoint Baratz.
Biden was met with strong applause when he told the Reform gathering that there should be “no tolerance” for such comments.
Here’s the full Biden quote:
“This is one thing I do want to say — we should always be respectful of one another. There is no excuse, there should be no tolerance for any member or employee of the Israeli administration referring to the president of the United States in derogatory terms. Period. Period. Period. Period. There is no justification for an official Israeli voice degrading the secretary of state, who has worked so hard, so long for the security of Israel. Not withstanding those terrible comments, no one, no one, no one can undermine our relationship and the security of the Jewish and democratic State of Israel.”