Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly, Day One
6:20pm: I didn't think I would actually enjoy Vice President Joe Biden's speech as much as I did. While certain parts seemed like blatant political plugs (After emphasizing his support for the State of Israel, Biden said, "President Barack Obama feels exactly the same way I do."), there were also points made that were inspirational, and that brought facts to light of which I was previously unaware.
Biden stressed that no other administration has done more for the security of Israel than the current one has. The Prime Minister told him that himself. Biden also focused on the importance of suppressing Iran's nuclear program. But I can't help but wonder why, then, are we not in Iran, instead of Iraq or Afghanistan? Or maybe not instead of, but in addition to, if they are both such "worthy" causes (the quotes are my addition). Clearly, however, his point was well-received, judging by the thunderous applause after Biden said, "We are absolutely committed to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons."
Applause also ensued after Biden pointed out the current administration's commitment to end the war in Iraq, using the fact that 100,000 combat troops have been brought home since Obama was inaugurated. Biden ended his speech with: "I am proud and have always been proud to stand with you, and proud that the United States stands with Israel." Cue applause.
According to Duke University's own Rabbi Jeremy Yoskowitz, "It is clear that Vice President Biden feels a deep personal connection to Israel and the Jewish people and it is our blessing to have him as a friend. It was wonderful to hear his words of friendship and commitment."
I am inspired after Biden's speech, and even more so after hearing the words of David Simon, who spoke about the need to give back to New Orleans. He stressed that, "Nobody gives like the tribe" and that the Jewish Federations are giving to communities in general, not just Jewish causes. According to him, $1.2 million of the $14 million raised went to non-Jewish causes. This is an inspiring number, and I am glad that the Jewish community is reaching out to the rest of the world. I have always felt that those who can should give to those who need it most, regardless of their religious, political, or cultural beliefs.
Samantha Tropper is a student at Duke University.