In Reform Biennial Address |

Biden Defends Iran Deal, Reavows U.S. Commitment to Israel

Vice president says Hassan Rohani rose to power in Iran thanks to 'squeeze' of sanctions.

Allison Kaplan Sommer
Allison Kaplan Sommer
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Allison Kaplan Sommer
Allison Kaplan Sommer

SAN DIEGO - Two years ago, when the Union for Reform Judaism Biennial was held in U.S. President Barack Obama’s backyard in Washington, D.C., the leader delivered the keynote address to the gathering in person.

This year in California, those attending the event had to settle for a video address by Vice President Joseph Biden.

Biden had warm words for the Reform movement, saying that its active liberal politics on issue like immigration reform, gun control, and disability rights so lined up with his own that “I feel like I’m a part of you.”

In defending Obama’s record on Israel, he said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself “just a few weeks ago” said that “no U.S. president has done more for Israel than President Obama.”

He said it was because Iran had been “squeezed” with sanctions that a leader like Hassan Rohani, who was willing to negotiate toward an agreement, had come to power there.

Biden said he believed that over the next six months, the “sanction pressure on Iran will continue to grow ... during the interim agreement, as we work toward a final deal to give the world and us confidence and give Israel confidence that Iran will give up its ability to develop a nuclear weapon. That is the end state procedure.”

He added that “as we proceed, one thing is clear. We are absolutely unequivocally committed to Israel’s security, period.”

Biden made a joking reference to the excitement that Obama engendered among Reform youth in 2011 when he gave the movement’s youth group network NFTY a shout-out in his speech.

In the opening of his San Diego video address, Biden noted that “President Obama asked specifically for NFTY.”

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.Credit: AP