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Biden and Obama Photo: Reuters
Biden and Obama Photo: Reuters
 
Pollard Photo: AP
Pollard Photo: AP
 
 

Biden agrees to meet Jewish leaders on Pollard

US vice president hosts Jewish leaders, political rivals for Rosh Hashana toast, says 'Israel is America's closest, most morally-based friend'

Yitzhak Benhorin
Published: 10.06.11, 01:09 / Israel News

WASHINGTON – At an annual event held at the US Vice President's residence in honor of the Jewish New Year, US Vice President Joe Biden said that "Israel is America's closest, dearest, and most morally-based friend".

 

Biden added that there is no alternative to America's commitment to Israel.

 

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After the meeting, several Jewish leaders approached Biden and asked him to meet in order to advance the subject of Jonathan Pollard's release. Biden agreed to their request.

 

ADL Director Abe Foxman presented Biden with a long list of senior political figures and US defense officials who support pardoning Pollard.

 

Foxman told Ynet: "Several of us approached the vice president and told him that this issue is a cause for concern. You are a friend and we need to talk about this. He agreed to hold a meeting and that's what was important to us. There is a consensus in the Jewish community that it's time for a pardon. Biden listened. He is a friend"

 

Among the guests present at the event were Biden's political rivals from the Republican Party, such as House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor, as well as leaders of the American Jewish community, including Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

 

Biden, who hosted the Jewish leaders as in every year, told his guests that he is worried by the attempts to de-legitimize Israel.

 

'Over my dead body'

Last week, The New York Times reported that Biden met with 15 rabbis in Florida and commented on his reluctance to release Pollard, who was imprisoned in 1986 after he was convicted of spying for Israel.

 

“President Obama was considering clemency, but I told him, 'Over my dead body are we going to let him out before his time is up,'" Biden reportedly told the group. “If it were up to me, he would stay in jail for life.”

 

According to the NYT, Biden admitted to the rabbis that "the administration had made a few missteps in its handling of the Israel relationship," but made no further reference to the Pollard issue.

 

Obama is said to be relying on Biden for help with one particular core group of voters – American Jews. The US Jewish community tends to vote Democratic, but given their disapproval of the Obama Administration's policies towards Israel, those votes can no longer be considered "a sure thing."

 

 

 

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