Tuesday night, the place to be was Washington DC, at the National Jewish Democratic Council’s meeting. Vice Presidential candidate Joseph Biden, Jr. and Senate candidate Al Franken were among the guests and speakers at this gathering.

Franken, a comedian, former SNL writer, radio talk show host, and Harvard lecturer, is the Democratic candidate for a U.S. Senate seat in Minnesota. It is a Senate seat that was been held by Senators Boschwitz and then Wellstone, and it is currently held by Senator Norm Coleman. With three Jews holding the seat in succession, Franken is hoping that Minnesota voters will be willing to continue the tradition of maintaining it as a Jewish seat, albeit a Democratic one. “I’ve made the argument that Minnesota is just not ready for a gentile in the Senate,” quipped Franken. Franken got more than a few laughs when he stated that his Republican Jewish rival was for school prayer, but that Franken would support school prayer only if the prayer was the Sh’ma.

Later in the evening, Biden stepped up to the podium, in his first speech to a national Jewish organization since the Democratic convention. Biden, who needed some water, said, “Never eat a handful of peanuts before a speech.” Biden reinforced the Democratic ticket’s support of Israel, as well as the bills that he and Obama has sponsored, co-sponsored, and voted on in the past, including Obama’s co-sponsorship of the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006, which banned U.S. assistance to the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority.

Biden told a story of how his first trip abroad was to Israel several decades ago, and how he has met the last nine Israeli Prime Ministers, beginning with Golda Meir and her then political aide, Yitzhak Rabin. “My support for Israel begins in my stomach, goes to my heart and ends up in my head.” (I was unsure whether, by “stomach,” he meant that he eats at Amsterdam Falafel in the Adams-Morgan neighborhood of NW DC)

Biden, who was in the Senate when he helped to stop AWACS sales to Saudi Arabia (but failed), added, “I promise you, I guarantee you — I guarantee you — I would not have joined Barack Obama’s ticket as Vice President if I had any doubt, even the slightest doubt, that he shares the same commitment to Israel that I share.”

Knowing that American Jews, contrary to perception, are not one issue voters, Biden listed his ticket’s proposed policies for energy, healthcare, and other domestic issues. He also discussed what he called a “pretty successful smear campaign” against Obama, which has been calling him a closet Muslim. According to a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, a tenth to a fifth of American voters think Obama is a Muslim. Remarkably, this perception actually grew over the Summer in a secondary follow-up poll.

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  • I would be remiss if I did not mention the joke Biden told to open his speech, one concerning Yeshiva University, which, he said, was as true for Irish Catholics as it is for Jewish people. It was a joke he used to reinforce the variety of support for his ticket. Every year, YU would scull against Harvard’s rowing team and lose. So, like Moses, they sent spies to investigate the landscape. One YU student went to the Charles River to spy on Harvard’s team and called the YU coach on his cell, saying, “I figured out the secret of their success. Harvard has eight guys rowing and only one guy yelling.”

  • I really hope that Biden isn’t making a connection between Amesterdam Falafelshop in DC and Israeli food. With only that place as a basis (not that it is Israel at all) I wouldn’t think much of Israeli food… it’s passable, not even “good”.

  • yes.. sorry.. i thought I edited that out. It should have said that he said he fought it but lost

    as for the amsterdam falafel shop… it is a joke.. he did not mention it. he sayd that it starts in his stomach and move to his heart… as in… he ate a falafel and it moves to heart burn. as for me… i enjoy amsterdam falafel. i have not found a falafel ball that is better in DC or NYC. Not on the UWS, not in Brooklyn, not on Kings Hwy, not on 38th St (Olympic) or 8th Ave (chicken bar)Their cabbage salad is great. Their hummus has the right balance. IAmsterdam is more polite and has better service than any other falafel spot I have been to, including Jerusalem, Haifa and TA. What do u recommend LB?

  • Yeah. What’s up with the proliferation of Dutch-based falafel chains? Here‘s one that I’ve been known to frequent.

    Some really cool animated graphics pop-up if you enter the US version and hit “store locations” under “restaurants”.

  • Courtesy of the American Jewish Committee, via Commentary:
    a poll of US Jewish voters finds 57% for Obama, 30% for McCain.
    Quoting the mag:

    The survey by the American Jewish Committee is ‘the first national poll of Jewish voters since the Democratic and Republican conventions’:

    Differences between Orthodox and non-Orthodox are pronounced in the support given the presidential candidates.

    Thus, Obama has the support of 13 percent of Orthodox Jews, as against 59 percent of Conservative Jews, 62 percent of Reform Jews, and 61 percent of the “Just Jewish.”

    Conversely, McCain draws 78 percent of Orthodox Jews, as against 26 percent of Conservative Jews, 27 percent of Reform Jews, and 26 percent of the “Just Jewish.”

    Jewish women (60 percent) are more likely than Jewish men (54 percent) to support Obama. Conversely, Jewish men (35 percent) are more likely than Jewish women (25 percent) to support McCain.

    Obama/Biden should be worried about these numbers, no?

    When are the grandkids arriving in Miami/Dade?

  • Retch. Which one of you is covering the Republican Jewish Coalition meeting? You know, for balance. 🙂

    By the way, it’s interesting that the Democrats keep blaming the “closet Muslim” smear campaign on the Republicans, when it was in fact started and promulgated by one of Hilary’s peeps. You know, kinda like the guy who tried to push through the not far off base allegation that Michelle Obama referred to white people as Crackers? Why not? Billy Jeff just called them that.

    Several examples (the reason I’m posting the links to the conservative blog rather than the sources is 1. I trust you know how to click on the links in the post and 2. to show you how prominent right wing blogs went out of their way to debunk the rumors, as did the McCain campaign):






    And my favorite Hillary quote:

    “Obama’s not a Muslim… as far as I know””

    Let’s also remind everyone that the NJDC was behind the recent “pressure” to cancel Palin from the anti-Ahmadinejad rally as well as the despicable “Bubbie vs the GOP” series. Those Jews have gone off the deep end and should be ashamed.

  • Biden was actually there when FDR took to television to announce US recognition of Israel back in ’39.

  • Haha. Yup, you know, back in 1929, FDR had a weekly TV show! I love how every question for Palin is a “gotcha”, but Biden making stuff up half the time or explaining only a quarter of a McCain bill just slides right by our oh so skeptical free press. In. The. Tank.