Joe Biden is the candidate for Israel

Getty Images

Six years ago, terrorist organization Hamas launched rockets onto Israel, which was perilously close to losing an element of its defensive shield. I remember it and recall how Joe Biden acted as vice president.

Biden would often tell me how his support for Israel was formed. He was a young kid sitting at the dinner table. It was around the time of the debate on the establishment of the modern state of Israel. His father was unable to comprehend how anyone could oppose this historic step. To this Irish American Catholic salesman, it was obvious why Israel had to exist. The establishment of a state for the Jewish people was the only way to fulfill the promise of “never again” after the tragedy of the Holocaust.

It was the first time Biden ever heard that phrase, and he never forgot the lesson. When Israel is in trouble, you simply cannot sit still. You have to act quickly. When I talked to Biden about Israel, the conversation always came back to that dinner table with his family. It is ingrained in his memory and imprinted on his soul. It is more than a pleasant story. It is the foundation for why Israel can always count on Biden in its hours of need.

In the summer of 2014, Hamas had started shooting a barrage of rockets toward Israeli schools and backyards around the Gaza border. The Israeli military deployed its Iron Dome system, designed to stop and destroy the kinds of shorter range missiles used in a remarkable feat of technological development built with assistance from the United States. But the rockets were coming so fast and so furious that Iron Dome batteries were running out, and Israel would be left without its first line of defense.

I was a member of Congress at the time, and several of us received a call from a representative of the Israeli Embassy, who pleaded with us to fund an emergency package to replenish the Iron Dome stockpile. I spoke with numerous members of the House Appropriations Committee about how to get this done. But it turned out the wheels were already turning as Dan Shapiro, the American ambassador to Israel, had sent the message to the National Security Council, and it was with the Oval Office.

The unmistakable answer of President Obama and Vice President Biden was swift to get it done. That is when Biden went to work, talking to the Democratic and Republican leaders on Capitol Hill, hammering out the details, and making sure the process would be expedited. The measure passed, the bill was signed, and the aid was sent to Israel.

The Jewish state was in trouble, but with Biden at the White House as vice president, we did not sit back or wait. We moved fast and got it done. That is what Biden has always done. That is what his lifetime of commitment to Israel looks like. That is the kind of determination and resolve that Biden would bring to the table as president of the United States.

First, his administration would maintain an ironclad commitment to Israel and uphold every letter of the memorandum of understanding signed by the United States and Israel in 2016, which included the unprecedented $38 billion investment to bolster security for this key ally.

Second, his administration would certainly fight hard against any attempt to unfairly single out and delegitimize Israel, whether this comes from the United Nations or the boycott and sanctions movement, while protecting the right to free speech in the United States, which simply must not allow challenges to the existence of Israel or any antisemitism.

Third, his foreign policy would restore the pursuit of a peaceful two state solution negotiated by the parties themselves that ensures the future of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. Finally, when Palestinian officials incite terror, spew lies about the Jewish people, or teach hatred to many children, Biden would not hesitate to strongly call it out.

When Israel makes its decisions to expand settlements or march toward annexation that would preclude those hopes for a Palestinian state, and which violate positions held in the United States for decades, officials in his administration would explain why that is wrong. The best course for Palestinian rights is to deepen these security ties with Israel, renounce violence, reform curriculums, and build the economy.

Harry Truman, the president who first acknowledged an independent Israel, had a frame on his desk that read “the buck stops here.” When Israel is in trouble, we should not have to look anywhere but the Oval Office to know where the buck stops. If Biden is president, he will not tweet or delay. He will act quickly and do what is right.

Steve Israel represented New York in Congress for 16 years and was the chairman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee from 2011 to 2015. He is now the director of the Institute of Politics and Global Affairs at Cornell University. You can find him on Twitter @RepSteveIsrael.

Tags Democrats Election Government Israel Joe Biden Politics President Security

The Hill has removed its comment section, as there are many other forums for readers to participate in the conversation. We invite you to join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.

More Campaign News

See All
See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video