The Facts on Joe Biden and Israel

 

This fact sheet presents the truth about two issues of concern to Jewish voters – Israel and anti-Semitism. Please share this page with others and check back periodically for updates.

Key Points:

  1. Joe Biden’s consistent support for Israel spans his entire five-decade career in public life, since he was first elected to the Senate in 1972. No candidate for president in either party has ever run with as long and as strong of a pro-Israel record as Joe Biden.
  2. As Vice President, Joe Biden played key roles in ensuring Israel’s security, including through his support of unprecedented levels of security assistance to Israel.
  3. Biden opposes the global BDS movement and opposes cutting or conditioning military aid to Israel.
  4. Biden opposes unilateral steps by either side that could jeopardize a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is the best way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state.
  5. Biden supports resuming U.S. aid to the Palestine Authority for humanitarian and security cooperation purposes consistent with the requirements of the Taylor Force Act, which is supported by Israel. 
  6. The Obama-Biden administration compiled a better record on Israel at the UN than any previous administration.
  7. The record shows that Democratic support for Israel in Congress remains strong.
  8. Donald Trump has made Israel less safe. Iran is now closer to nuclear weapons than when he took office, and he has had a series of reckless policies in the region that have endangered Israel’s security on its borders.
  9. Trump and his Republican allies have repeatedly engaged in anti-Semitic rhetoric, and have emboldened white nationalism and hatred.
  10. Only Joe Biden is strong on Israel and the values that most Jewish Americans support. This is because Biden’s support for Israel stems from his own values, which align with the values shared by most Jewish Americans.


Joe Biden’s Israel Record At a Glance


The best way to understand where Joe Biden stands on Israel is to
read his policy positions on Israel for yourself and to read the Iran and Israel sections of the Democratic Platform on pages 79 and 80.
Joe Biden’s stalwart support for Israel and his commitment to protect Israel’s security and strengthen our two nations’ partnership is deeply personal and spans his entire career. Since he was first elected to the Senate in 1972 and traveled to Israel in 1973, Biden’s commitment to Israel has been unshakeable. Biden has fought in the Senate for critical aid to Israel, calling it “the best $3 billion investment we make,” and opposed any effort to cut or condition aid to Israel. In fact, he’s called such efforts “outrageous.”

As vice president, Biden helped ensure unwavering support for Israel’s security. During the Obama-Biden Administration, he was a key advocate in securing support for lifesaving technologies like the Iron Dome, David’s Sling, and Arrow 3 anti-rocket and missile defense systems. Biden helped shape the unprecedented $38 billion, 10-year, Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. and Israel signed in 2016, the largest such military aid package in U.S. history.

Biden has led efforts to oppose the delegitimization of Israel, whether in international organizations or by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement here at home.

Biden took historic steps to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. The Obama-Biden Administration imposed crippling multilateral sanctions, which brought Iran to negotiations, paving the way for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that prevented a nuclear-armed Iran.

When Hamas attacked Israel, Biden made key calls to get an emergency appropriations bill through Congress to replenish Iron Dome defensive missiles. The Obama-Biden administration also firmly opposed Hamas. President Obama condemned Hamas, saying he has “no sympathy for Hamas.” The former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power also condemned Hamas at the U.N.

Prior to serving as Vice President, Joe Biden compiled a strong record on Israel in the U.S. Senate. Biden’s first foreign trip as Senator in 1973 was to Israel, when he met with Prime Minister Golda Meir and then-Ambassador Yitzhak Rabin. During his career in the Senate, he met with the nine Israeli Prime Ministers, from Meir to Ehud Olmert.

Biden was also a leading opponent of proposed sales of advanced weapons systems to Saudi Arabia and other Arab states in the 1970s and 1980s, such as F-15 fighters and AWACS radar aircraft. You can watch Biden speaking in the Senate against arms sales to Saudi Arabia that could endanger Israel:

Biden proudly calls himself a Zionist, saying “You don’t have to be Jewish to be a Zionist, and I’m a Zionist.” He cosponsored the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006, which banned direct U.S. assistance to the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority. The Act was enacted into law in December 2006.

 

Sen. Kamala Harris is a strong friend of Israel and the Jewish community:

 

Senator Harris sponsored Senate resolutions condemning the 2018 Tree of Life shooting and the April 2019 Chabad of Poway shooting. She also introduced a bipartisan resolution condemning racial, religious and ethnic hate crimes, as well as all forms of bias and discrimination, incitement to violence, and other forms of animus targeting these communities across the United States that specifically mentioned the vandalism of Jewish cemeteries and bomb threats targeting Jewish community centers.

Senator Harris sent a letter to Trump opposing the potential unilateral annexation of the West Bank, noting that peace between Israelis and Palestinians is possible only through direct negotiations and an agreement that results in two states for two peoples.

The Senator opposes the global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel and also opposes legislation that would infringe on First Amendment rights.

The first resolution Harris introduced as a Senator, S. Res. 6, emphasized that “a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must come through direct, bilateral negotiations without preconditions for a sustainable two-state solution.”

She also supported the JCPOA and supports negotiating a return to an improved form of the deal that will ensure Iran cannot acquire a nuclear weapon.

Senator. Harris has visited Israel several times and has close ties to the California Jewish community.


A Biden-Harris Administration Will:


Sustain our unbreakable commitment to Israel’s security
– including the unprecedented military and intelligence cooperation deepened during the Obama-Biden administration, and the guarantee that Israel will always maintain its qualitative military edge.

Work with Israeli and Palestinian leadership to support peace-building efforts in the Middle East. Biden will urge Israel’s government and the Palestinian Authority to take steps to preserve prospects of a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and avoid actions, such as unilateral annexation of territory and settlement activity, or support for incitement and violence, that diminish prospects for two state solution.

Reverse the Trump Administration’s destructive cutoff of diplomatic ties with the Palestinian Authority and cancellation of assistance programs that support Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation, economic development, and humanitarian aid, consistent with the requirements of the Taylor Force Act, including that the Palestinian Authority end its system of compensation for individuals imprisoned for acts of terrorism.

Urge Arab states to move beyond quiet talks and take bolder steps toward normalization of ties with Israel.

Firmly reject the BDS movement — which singles out Israel and too often veers into anti-Semitism — and fight other efforts to delegitimize Israel on the global stage.

Hold Iran’s government accountable and rejoin a diplomatic agreement to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, if Iran returns to compliance with the JCPOA, using renewed commitment to diplomacy to work with our allies to strengthen and extend the Iran deal, and push back against Iran’s other destabilizing actions.

Ensure that support for the U.S.-Israel alliance remains bipartisan, reversing Trump’s exploitation of U.S. support for Israel as a political football, which harms both countries’ interests.

Support the critical economic and technological partnership between the United States and Israel, further expand scientific collaboration and increase commercial opportunities, and support cooperation on innovation throughout the region.

 

The Obama-Biden administration was pro-Israel


President Obama provided record amounts of aid to Israel
, including the $38 billion MOU negotiated toward the end of his second term, which remains the largest aid package ever provided to Israel. He secured funding for Iron Dome above and beyond what Congress originally appropriated (Obama’s support for Iron Dome sharply contrasted with the frosty reception accorded Iron Dome from the Bush administration). It was also the first U.S. administration to provide bunker-busting bombs to Israel. President Obama took military and intelligence cooperation between the U.S. and Israel to unprecedented levels.

The Obama administration compiled a stronger record of voting with and defending Israel at the U.N. than previous administrations . He also responded immediately and affirmatively when Prime Minister Netanyahu  personally asked Obama for help with the Israelis trapped in the Egyptian embassy and with the Carmel forest fires.

Finally, the Obama administration enforced harsh sanctions against Iran and  negotiated the Iran Deal, which took the single biggest threat to Israel’s existence off the table.
 


The Democratic Party is pro-Israel


A review of key legislation brought to the floor by Democratic leadership in 2019 and enacted by the Democratic-controlled House in the 116th Congress presents an accurate assessment of Democrats’ strong support of Israel.

In February 2019, Republicans moved to include language clearly and specifically condemning anti-Semitism in an unrelated bill. Democrats unanimously voted to include the language, and then 177 Republicans voted against the entire bill, including the anti-Semitism language. But the bill passed with 100% Democratic support and 18 Republican votes. In March, the House passed H. Res. 183, which clearly and specifically condemned anti-Semitism. No Democrats voted against, but 23 Republicans did.
In July 2019, the House passed H.R. 1837. The bill passed unanimously providing for enhanced cooperation between the U.S.and Israel, security assistance for Israel (including codification of the record $38 billion Memorandum of Understanding entered into between the U.S. and Israel during the Obama administration), and justice for United States victims of Palestinian terrorism.

In July 2019, the House also unanimously passed H.R. 1850, which imposes sanctions with respect to foreign support for Palestinian terrorism.

In July 2019, the House passed H. Res. 246, which condemned BDS and supported a two-state solution, with support from over 90% of House Democrats. More Democrats than Republicans voted for this resolution (the Democratic majority is large because moderate Democrats replaced Republicans in toss-up and Republican leaning districts, not because some left-leaning Democrats replaced other left-leaning Democrats).

In December 2019, the House passed H. Res. 326, which reaffirms the U.S. commitment to a two-state solution, our “ironclad” commitment to maintaining military assistance for Israel, and support for humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians. The resolution is almost a definition of what it means to be pro-Israel. Yet Republicans overwhelmingly opposed it.

 The overwhelming majority of Democratic members of Congress, which includes some who voice disagreement with particular policies of Israel’s current government, are firmly supportive of Israel’s safety and security. The votes prove it.
 


The Iran Deal took the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran off the table and Trump walked away to fulfill an irresponsible campaign promise


Before Iran received sanctions relief under the deal, Iran removed two-thirds of its centrifuges, including every single nuclear enrichment centrifuge at the Fordow facility
. Iran reduced its vast stockpile of enriched uranium to far less than the amount needed for even one nuclear bomb–a reduction of 98 percent. Iran also removed the core of the Arak reactor and filled it with cement. Iran was forced to redesign that facility to ensure it cannot be used to produce weapons-grade plutonium.

All of Iran’s pathways to nuclear weapons were blocked, and to ensure that remained the case, the international community  had 24/7 access to all known sites, including the right to inspect any site within 24 days under the most intrusive inspections regime any country has ever agreed to. Many important restrictions imposed on Iran by the Iran Deal lasted beyond 15 years and some, including a ban on nuclear weapons, were permanent.

In return, we gave Iran access to its own money. It was not a payment from the U.S., and the amount of sanctions relief came to about $50 billion (the $1.7 billion additional payment we sometimes hear about was to settle unrelated litigation with Iran, and that payment saved U.S. taxpayers money). Only someone as unskilled at deal making as Donald Trump would think that giving Iran access to its own money in return for Iran blocking all of its paths to a nuclear weapon was a bad deal. 
Democrats have unanimously opposed Trump’s reckless 2018 decision to walk away from the Iran nuclear deal with nothing to replace it, and today, Iran is moving forward on the path to nuclear development as a result.

 

President Trump has made Israel less secure and weakened the U.S.-Israel relationship 


Trump’s approach toward Israel has been heavy on rhetoric and light on substance, undercutting security and stability for America and Israel, and diminishing prospects for the two-state solution Israel needs to remain Jewish and democratic.

President Obama left Israel with the largest military aid package in U.S. history, totaling $38 billion, including unprecedented support of critical missile defense programs. Trump has largely confined himself to symbolic gestures, such as moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, where Israel’s presence had not been contested for decades. Both moves were clumsily handled, not negotiated, and signaled the Trump administration’s approval of unilateral action exactly when it should have been signaling the urgency of a negotiated two-state solution.

By recklessly withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria in late 2019, Donald Trump abandoned our Kurdish allies, left a security vacuum for Iran to exploit on Israel’s northern border, and left many of our allies – including Israel – wondering if they would be next.

In 2020, Trump released an aspirational “peace plan” declared “dead on arrival” by much of the world, and his encouragement of unilateral annexation by Israel of parts of the West Bank could permanently impeded prospects for a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which has been the position of consecutive Republican and Democratic administrations.

Trump’s attempt to take credit for the agreement between Israel and the UAE to move toward normalization is designed to obscure the fact that Israel and the UAE had been moving in this direction for years and that the greatest threats to Israel, the potential for a nuclear-armed Iran and the failure to achieve a two-state solution, have increased under Trump. The agreement between Israel and the UAE leaves many questions unanswered, including whether the U.S. will provide F-35s to the UAE, which could erode Israel’s qualitative military edge. Moves toward normalization of relations between Israel and any Arab country are positive developments, but it is too early to determine the significance of these preliminary steps.

Similarly, it remains to be seen whether the agreement with Kosovo and Serbia will result in even symbolic progress other than another photo opportunity that Trump can use to mask his foreign policy failures.

Trump has increased instability in the region and generated regional security threats that Israel has been forced to handle on its own. Trump’s policies in the Middle East have consistently weakened the security of Israel and our regional allies.

 

Trump’s actions have impeded prospects for a two-state solution


The Trump administration’s proposed peace plan was “
dead on arrival despite being touted by the White House as the “deal of the century” and a solution to Israel’s challenges.  The administration proposed a plan that was conceived with no input from the Palestinians, and was unanimously rejected by the Arab League.

Trump’s plan made a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict more elusive by codifying extreme measures such as annexation and the transfer of Arab citizenship. If Israel unilaterally annexes large areas of the West Bank, as envisioned in Trump’s plan, it will permanently call into question Israel’s future as both a democratic and Jewish state.

Trump’s  proposal sparked major protests in Jordan, jeopardizing the stability of an already fragile but crucial regional ally. Netanyahu’s announcement that he would annex the West Bank and Jordan Valley has also put a long-standing peace agreement between Israel and Jordan, vital to Israel’s security, at risk.

Israel’s new coalition agreement conditions a vote for unilateral annexation on U.S. approval. The failure of the Trump administration to oppose annexation calls into question its commitment to Israel’s survival as a Jewish, democratic state.

 

Trump’s policies are making the Middle East more dangerous for Israel


Trump’s abrupt announcement of U.S. withdrawal from northern Syria made it easier for Iran, Hezbollah, and other terrorist groups to target Israel from Syrian territory.
Additionally, the poorly planned U.S. withdrawal opened the door for increased Iranian, Turkish and Russian influence across the Middle East, altering the regional dynamics and leaving Israel more vulnerable.

When Israeli security officials voiced concern about the hasty Syria withdrawal, which caught Israel by surprise, Trump suggested Israeli could fend for itself and did not need more assistance from the United States. He told the press: “Israel is going to be good. We give Israel $4.5 billion a year.”

Trump’s decision to abandon the Kurds in northern Syria left Israeli officials questioning the reliability and credibility of the Trump administration, leaving them to wonder if Israel might be the next U.S. ally to be abandoned.

Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA diminished U.S. credibility to the extent that only the Dominican Republic voted with the U.S. when the UN Security Council rejected Trump’s request to extend the arms embargo against Iran. Trump’s bid to snapback sanctions against Iran also  failed. Trump’s recklessness has unraveled the international coalition President Obama assembled to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. His withdrawal from the Iran Deal has isolated the U.S., not Iran, and has weakened our ability to combat Iran in international fora.

Trump has failed to take action against Iran in some instances and used excessive force in others. By not responding after Iran struck oil fields in Saudi Arabia, Trump sent the message that the administration would not necessarily step in to protect its regional allies – including Israel – against Iranian aggression.

On the other hand, Trump’s decision to kill Qassem Soleimani did not make Israel or other U.S. allies safer. In fact, Iran immediately threatened to retaliate against Israel and could still do so.

Trump cut off all aid to the Palestinian Authority Security Forces, despite Israeli officials describing this aid as “critical to Israeli security.” Instead of considering Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s request to reinstate the aid, the president responded “if it is that important to Netanyahu, he should pay the Palestinians $12 million” himself.
 

Understanding President Obama’s abstention on UN Resolution 2334


Fixating on a lone U.N. vote to call Obama’s commitment to Israel into question is absurd
. By that standard, every previous administration’s commitment to Israel could be called into question, because every previous administration since at least 1967 abstained and voted against Israel more than the Obama administration.

What made Obama different from previous administrations in this respect was not that he broke with Israel on a U.N. vote, which all administrations have done, but that he only did it once, and on a vote with little if any practical effect on Israel.
J.J. Goldberg wrote that U.N. Security Resolution 2334 “broke no new ground and said nothing that the council hadn’t said many times before. If there was anything surprising about it, it was the fact that by abstaining, the Obama administration broke its own record as the only administration since 1967 that hadn’t permitted a single anti-Israel resolution from the Security Council.”
Goldberg notes that of the 29 previous anti-Israel resolutions that the U.S. allowed the U.N. to approve, “13 explicitly stated that the Fourth Geneva Convention is applicable to Israel’s rule in the territories it captured in 1967, which makes civilian Israeli settlements illegal.”

Doug Bloomfield wrote that 2334 was “not a condemnation of Israel but of its settlement policies, and it is not one-sided; it also harshly criticizes Palestinian incitement and terrorism. The American refusal to veto the measure was intended to tell Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that his government’s accelerated settlement construction and inflammatory rhetoric were dangerously threatening chances for a two-state solution.”

Jane Eisner wrote that: “For all the hue and cry over Resolution 2334, the dire warnings from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the condemnation of Obama’s decision, there has been precious little consequence to the U.N. action. The United States hardly abandoned Israel – not with the largest military package in the history of the world signed before Obama left office.”
Former U.S. ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro is on record as describing claims by unnamed sources that the U.S. controlled the timing of this resolution as “a garbage claim, made by someone who doesn’t know what they are talking about.”

Samantha Power’s speech at the U.N. explaining the abstention is worth the time of anyone genuinely interested in understanding the Obama administration’s position on the resolution and the reasons for its abstention.
 

Trump has fueled the rise of anti-Semitism and white nationalism


According to one recent
poll, 81 percent of American Jews have been more concerned about anti-Semitism since Donald Trump became president. According to another poll, 68 percent of Jewish voters feel less secure than they did two years ago, and 71 percent of Jews disapprove of the way President Trump has handled the issue of anti-Semitism.

Trump has repeatedly made anti-Semitic remarks towards American Jews, including accusing them of being “disloyal” to Israel by voting for Democrats, saying they “don’t love Israel enough,” and suggesting that his Jewish supporters vote for him only to protect their wealth. Trump’s presidential campaign trafficked in anti-Semitic tropes, including Jewish money in politics and other anti-Jewish stereotypes. In October 2018, Trump promoted an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory on Twitter. Trump accused Jews of dual loyalty at the 2018 White House Hanukkah Party and in April 2019 in Las Vegas. Trump said in August 2019 that American Jews who vote Democratic — that’s about 80% of us — are either ignorant or “disloyal.” When asked to clarify, he said he meant “disloyal to Israel.”

In December 2019 Trump again invoked anti-Semitic tropes about dual loyalty and Jewish avarice that Jewish groups denounced. Trump issued an executive order on anti-Semitism four days after making anti-Semitic remarks that many Jewish groups denounced and that were anti-Semitic as defined by his own order.

Trump’s record predates his presidency: A 1991 book that Trump admitted was accurately quoted him saying that “The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.”

White nationalists and neo-Nazis support and are emboldened by Trump, and he only makes matters worse by refusing to clearly condemn them. After the horrific anti-Semitic attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue in October 2018, the synagogue’s rabbi said he told Trump “Mr. President, hate speech leads to hateful actions. Hate speech leads to what happened in my sanctuary, where seven of my congregants were slaughtered. I witnessed it with my eyes.”

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