Vice President Joseph Biden offered a forceful defense of Israel’s security posture at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on Sunday night, delivering what is likely his last speech to the group after a 30-year career in public service drew him close to the pro-Israel organization.
The speech, before a record crowd of 18,000 in the capital’s Verizon Center Stadium, included several lines that drew standing ovations from the crowd– perhaps none more so than the vice president’s admonition of Palestinian leadership for its failure to condemn a months-long spate of stabbings, vehicular attacks and shootings of Israeli and American civilians by Palestinian militants.
“No leader has the right to tolerate terrorism,” Biden said. “There is no excuse for remaining silent.”
Biden’s visit to Israel earlier this month was marked by such violence: The murder of Taylor Force, an American, just blocks away from where he was conducting business and where his family was dining in Jaffa. “We could hear the sirens,” he said, adding: “I condemn the failure to condemn those atrocious acts of violence.”
By declaring that terror is terror, “plain and simple,” Biden was placing some distance between himself and the original reaction of the administration’s secretary of state, John Kerry, who in October suggested the spree of violence could amount to frustration over Israel’s settlement activity.
“There’s been a massive increase in settlements over the course of the last years,” Kerry said at Harvard at the time, when the attacks picked up in pace, “and now you have this violence because there’s a frustration that is growing.”