Biden commits support to Israel

By Jed Layton, Hinckley Institute Journalism Program

WASHINGTON D.C.8212;Sen. Joe Biden assured the National Jewish Democratic Council on Tuesday that the Obama-Biden ticket is committed to Israel, and urged Jewish-Americans to ignore smear tactics suggesting Obama is Muslim.

Speaking to a crowd of roughly 300 people at the Hilton Washington, Biden asked his audience to imagine a future different from the past eight years.

“Imagine an energy policy that frees us from the tyranny that no audience understands more than you,” he said to Jewish dignitaries and special guests. “Imagine a country that was once again respected around the world.”

In his first address to a Jewish audience since being selected as Barack Obama’s running mate, Biden attempted to alleviate concerns. Earlier in the election, Jewish voters were the target of e-mails suggesting Obama is Muslim.

Biden told his audience to overlook the smear strategies of the McCain campaign and others.

“We have to ignore all the malarkey, ignore all the distractions and ignore the e-mails and get behind Barack Obama straight up, folks,” he said.

Biden also reassured the audience of the campaign’s commitment to Israel.

“My support for Israel came from my stomach, goes to my heart and ends up in my head,” Biden said. “I promise you, I guarantee you … I would not have joined Barack Obama’s ticket as vice president if I had any doubt, even the slightest doubt, that he shares the same commitment to Israel.”

Rouvin Weill, a high school student from Maryland, attended the speech with a few classmates. He said he had heard of rumors that Obama was Muslim, but he was more concerned about how Sen. Obama or Sen. McCain would help the nation of Israel.

“Israel is in a tricky situation,” Weill said. “It is very dependent on American support. So it is important for me to know how both candidates will treat that country.”

Biden said Obama would support Israel first by ending the war in Iraq and then confronting countries in the Middle East that could be a threat to Israel’s security.

“Imagine a president who would call on the Arab States now to being normalizing relations with Israel where there is consequences for their failure to do so,” he said.

The Jewish vote has long been Democratic, said Ira Forman, the NJDC executive director. He said Jews lean Democratic 2-to-1 in polls. States with the highest Jewish population8212;California and New York8212;are already leaning heavily Democratic. But other swing states with high Jewish populations, such as Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, make the Jewish vote essential for Democrats.

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Editor’s Note: Jed Layton is reporting from Washington, D.C. through the Hinckley Institute Journalism Program and Shantou

Ma Jing / Hinckley Institute Journalism Program

Sen, Joe Biden addressed the Obama-Biden ticket?s commitment to Israel at the National Jewish Democratic Council.