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May 23, 2013 8:26 am

Opinion: Biden’s Philo-Semitic Comments Went Too Far

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Vice President Biden and President Obama at the White House. Photo: wiki commons.

NY Magazine – Joe Biden spoke last night in honor of Jewish American Heritage Month. Biden has long, deep ties to the Jewish community — Obama actually picked him in 2008 in part to reassure skittish Jewish Democrats. Biden indeed offered fulsome, heartfelt praise in his remarks, before wandering into highly uncomfortable terrain and delivering a speech that is likely to be quoted by anti-Semites for years and decades to come. (It’s already the subject of excited discussion among the white supremacist community.) Biden’s remarks were not anti-Semitic. They were very, very philo-Semitic. The thrust of his largely unscripted monologue is that Jews have contributed enormously to the United States. That’s obviously a standard spiel for praising any ethnic group, but Biden took care to emphasize that Jews have not just contributed their share to the United States, but far more:

Joe Biden spoke last night in honor of Jewish American Heritage Month. Biden has long, deep ties to the Jewish community — Obama actually picked him in 2008 in part to reassure skittish Jewish Democrats. Biden indeed offered fulsome, heartfelt praise in his remarks, before wandering into highly uncomfortable terrain and delivering a speech that is likely to be quoted by anti-Semites for years and decades to come. (It’s already the subject of excited discussion among the white supremacist community.)

Biden’s remarks were not anti-Semitic. They were very, very philo-Semitic. The thrust of his largely unscripted monologue is that Jews have contributed enormously to the United States. That’s obviously a standard spiel for praising any ethnic group, but Biden took care to emphasize that Jews have not just contributed their share to the United States, but far more:

The Jewish people have contributed greatly to America. No group has had such an outsized influence per capita as all of you standing before you, and all of those who went before me and all of those who went before you …

You make up 11 percent of the seats in the United States Congress. You make up one-third of all Nobel laureates …

I think you, as usual, underestimate the impact of Jewish heritage. I really mean that. I think you vastly underestimate the impact you’ve had on the development of this nation.

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