Navigate to News section

Biden’s Brief, Bibi’s Bombast, Simon’s Sermon

What’s cooking in New Orleans

Marc Tracy
November 09, 2010
Lousiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Prime Minister Netanyahu Sunday.(Flickr/PM Netanyahu)
Lousiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Prime Minister Netanyahu Sunday.(Flickr/PM Netanyahu)

We’re into day three of the Jewish Federations of North America’s General Assembly in New Orleans—the biggest institutional-Jewish confab of the year. What’s gone on so far?

Vice President Biden, one of the more trusted-by-some administration members (he is certainly more trusted-by-some than the president, anyway) gave a speech of reassurance Sunday: “We are absolutely, unequivocally committed to Israel’s security,” he declared. “Period. Period.” (One more, and we would have had a hockey game.) Then, much like the last time the administration sent Biden to reassure the some by whom it is not trusted, Israel announced new building in East Jerusalem, which the United States promptly condemned (though, don’t worry, Biden is “not taking this personally”).

But Biden’s red meat was a turkey club compared to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s address yesterday. Echoing what he reportedly told administration officials in private (and he meets with Secretary of State Clinton today), he focused primarily on the dangers of Iran and its honing-in nuclear weapons program. He also warned of worldwide anti-Semitism and declared, to cheers, “The authors of the Goldstone report owe Israel’s army an apology.” As for the peace process, he reiterated his (rejected) demand that his Palestinian interlocutors recognize Israel as a Jewish state. “Israel must always be a place that each of you can call home,” he told the crowd.

Ron Kampeas observed that the speech’s “swagger” confirmed “that Netanyahu feels empowered by the Republican sweep last week of the House of Representatives to trump the Obama administration’s emphasis on peacemaking with the Palestinians with his own priority: Confronting Iran.”

Not everyone was onboard: Five protestors affiliated with the left-wing Jewish Voice for Peace were removed after interrupting Netanyahu’s speech and accusing him of “de-legitimizing Israel” for supporting the loyalty oath.

Oh! Back on Sunday, none other than David Simon—the Baltimore Sun reporter, television writer (Homicide, The Wire, and the NOLA-based Treme), and pick-up curmudgeon (he will write for your high school newspaper, as long as you grant him 3000 words)—spoke about the Baltimore Federation (his father was big in B’nai B’rith back in the day). “This is a Holocaust in slow motion,” he said of America’s urban black communities. He then created a television show about the Warsaw Ghetto.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.