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Biden at Biennial: What did the Vice President Say?

Biden at Biennial: What did the Vice President Say?

Speaking to the 5,000 attendees at the URJ Biennial in Orlando on Saturday, November 7, Vice President Joe Biden offered sincere words on many issues of importance to our Movement. He spoke with gratitude about the URJ’s leadership on domestic social justice issues such as gun violence prevention and immigration reform, congratulating those gathered on passing a resolution on the Rights of Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Individuals just a few days before. It was very meaningful to hear that the Vice President not only acknowledged and commended the Reform Movement for the work we have done for many years, but also for the work we are doing today, and will continue to do in the years to come.

Much of the Vice President’s speech focused on his own commitment to Israel and to honoring the memory of the Holocaust. He talked at length about how his father made sure that, even as a young adult, his family knew what had happened during the Holocaust and understood that such a tragedy should never occur again. Biden has carried this commitment with him, taking his own children and grandchildren to visit Dachau and working to provide aid to Holocaust survivors who live in poverty.

On Israel, the Vice President was emphatic about his support for the Jewish state: "There's nobody in American policy today,” he said, “not one single person, who I will take second place to in my affection and defense of Israel." He discussed the Obama administration’s efforts to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, described the depth of security cooperation between the U.S. and Israel and stressed the importance of reaching a two-state solution and stopping settlement growth. Biden also forcefully condemned efforts to delegitimize Israel, likening it to anti-Semitism.

Biden’s strong statements and moving stories about his support for Israel and for peace resonated with many of those gathered. As we continue our work, whether it is to closely monitor the Iran nuclear deal’s implementation, defend Israel from its many detractors, support peace efforts in the region and ensure that Holocaust survivors get the recognition they deserve, the Vice President’s words will likely be ringing in our ears.

You can view the full video of Vice President Biden’s speech here, and learn more about our work on Israel, anti-Semitism and the Holocaust on our issue pages.

Jacob Kraus is the campaign organizer at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, leading the Reform Movement’s Urgency of Now campaigns for criminal justice reform and immigrant justice. Based at the Union for Reform Judaism offices in New York City, Jacob grew up in Cincinnati, OH, where his family is affiliated with Rockdale Temple. He is a 2015 graduate of Macalester College.

Jacob Kraus

Published: 11/13/2015