Biden lashes out over criticism of his 'Zioinism'

Thursday, September 04, 2008 |  Ryan Jones

As a self-described "Zionist," US Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden on Wednesday reacted harshly to speculation that his pro-Israel record may not be as strong as he professes.

Biden is fond of pointing out how in a previous interview with a Jewish television channel he stated that, despite not being Jewish, he was a "Zionist."

Immediately following his selection as Democratic presidential hopeful Barak Obama's running mate, however, Jewish American Republicans and other conservative supporters of Israel began pointing out that he has had a less-than-rosy relationship with the Jewish state.

For instance, during Menachem Begin's term as Israel's prime minister, Biden reportedly threatened to support an end to US financial aid to Israel if Jews did not stop building homes in Judea and Samaria.

Israel's Army Radio reported this week that in a meeting with Israeli officials three years ago, Biden insisted that Jerusalem would just have to accept the reality of a nuclear-armed Iran, as diplomatic efforts vis-a-vis the Islamic Republic were certain to fail and military intervention was out of the question.

The Republican Jewish Coalition has also pointed to a number of Senate bills that, despite being endorsed by the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), were voted against by Senator Biden.

In a conference call with Jewish media on Wednesday, Biden reacted angrily.

"They think they know the Senate better than I do. They don't know the Senate better than I do," said the candidate in reference to AIPAC's lobbying work on Capitol Hill. "I take a backseat to no one - including AIPAC - when it comes to supporting Israel."

Other Republicans and American supporters of Israel said they were unsurprised by Biden's behavior, noting that they have long been aware that the senator's support for the Jewish state is only skin deep.

Looking at his deeds, rather than just his words, Biden "does not show himself strong for the defense of America much less for Israel," said Richard Hellman, director of Christians' Israel Public Action Campaign, a Washington lobby group.

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