Many American Jewish observers welcomed Barack Obama's selection of Sen. Joseph Biden as his vice-presidential running mate. As a member of the Senate since 1973, and the serving chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Biden is a seasoned political player and foreign policy heavyweight. His experience, it is argued, will make up for Obama's inexperience; his moderate liberal views will make up for Obama's radical liberal views.
Biden has a track record of often supporting Israel. And as he entered the Democratic presidential primaries last year, he stepped up his pro-Israel pronouncements. In an interview with the Forward for instance, Biden rejected the anti-Israel call to distance the U.S. from Israel in a bid to ratchet up Arab support for the U.S. As he put it, "In my 34-year career, I have never wavered from the notion that the only time progress has ever been made in the Middle East is when the Arab nations have known that there is no daylight between us and Israel. So the idea of being an 'honest broker' is not, as some of my Democratic colleagues call for, the answer. It is being the smart broker, it is being the smart partner.
But while Biden's rhetoric on America's relationship with Israel is firm, his positions on issues critically important to Israel's national security call into question his willingness to stand by Israel. He is a staunch supporter of an Israeli transfer of the strategically critical Golan Heights to Syria and has harshly criticized the Bush administration for its refusal to support Israeli negotiations with Syria. At the same time, he downplays the significance of Syria's strategic alliance with Iran and its sponsorship of terrorists in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority. Belittling those ties, Biden has claimed repeatedly and without a shred of evidence that the Syrians really want to put all of that behind them.
Biden's positions on Iran are even more troubling. Over the past decade, since Iran's ballistic missile program and its nuclear program came into full view, Biden has distinguished himself both for his refusal to support tough U.S. diplomatic moves against Iran and for his absolute opposition to the notion of a U.S. military strike on Iran's nuclear installations. In 1998, Biden was one of only four senators to vote against the Iran Missile Proliferation Sanctions Act, a bill that punished foreign companies and other entities that sent Iran sensitive missile technology or expertise.
In February 2005, at a speech before the global Davos Conference, Biden said that Iran's quest for nuclear capabilities is understandable and called on the U.S. to address Iran's "emotional needs" by signing a non-aggression pact with the mullocracy.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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