By Justin Sink - 09/17/14 11:10 AM EDT
Vice President Biden on Wednesday said he made "a poor choice of words" when using the term “shylocks” during a speech earlier this week.
Biden made the comment during a speech to the Legal Services Corp., while telling a story about his son, Beau, providing legal assistance to fellow soldiers after they returned from war.
“People would come to him and talk about what was happening to them at home in terms of foreclosures, in terms of bad loans that were being — I mean, these shylocks who took advantage of these women and men while overseas,” Biden said.
The term, which makes reference to the Jewish villain in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, is controversial, with some arguing it has anti-Semitic connotations.
Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, told Yahoo News that “shylock represents the medieval stereotype about Jews and remains an offensive characterization to this day.”
“The vice president should have been more careful,” Foxman added.
“When someone as friendly to the Jewish community and open and tolerant an individual as is Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenOvernight Healthcare: Blame game over Zika funding Biden: US 'preferred a different outcome' on Brexit Abortion is weakness for Clinton VP favorite MORE, uses the term 'shylocked' to describe unscrupulous moneylenders dealing with service men and women, we see once again how deeply embedded this stereotype about Jews is in society," he continued.
In a statement issued Wednesday, Biden sad Foxman was "right."
“Abe Foxman has been a friend and advisor of mine for a long time," the vice president said. "He’s correct, it was a poor choice of words, particularly as he said coming from ‘someone as friendly to the Jewish community and open and tolerant an individual as is Vice President Joe Biden.’ He’s right.”
— This post was originally published at 9:18 a.m. and last updated at 12:08 p.m.