Jewish Groups React to Biden’s State of the Union

Jewish groups offered varying reactions to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address on February 7.
February 10, 2023
Chip Somodevilla / Staff / Getty Images

Jewish groups offered varying reactions to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address on February 7.

Over the span of 73 minutes, Biden proclaimed that the economy was rebounding, COVID-19 is no longer plaguing the nation and that “our democracy has faced its greatest threat since the Civil War.” He also claimed that his presidency has seen various bipartisan achievements, such as infrastructure and a law that helps “veterans exposed to toxic burn pits.” Biden called on Congress to “finish the job” by passing bills to make the richest Americans “pay their fair share,” ban assault weapons and address the ongoing border crisis.

Some Jewish groups praised Biden’s speech.

“President Biden demonstrated tonight that he has the back of ordinary Americans, and he’s getting important things done to improve our lives,” President and CEO Mark Mellman said in a statement. “Whether it’s creating 12 million new jobs, rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, holding down prescription drug prices, or raising real wages over the last six months, President Biden is rebuilding our country and its vital middle class. But President Biden’s work goes beyond the material. He is restoring the soul of America and fighting to ensure our democracy remains strong, as does our mutually beneficial alliance with Israel. DMFI is committed to helping him finish the job.”

Jewish Democratic Council of America CEO Halie Soifer similarly said in a statement, “An overwhelming 77% of Jewish voters helped elect President Biden in 2020. Two years into his administration, he has achieved historic progress for the American people by growing the economy, creating a record 12 million jobs, and ensuring the lowest unemployment rate in decades. He’s also taken meaningful action on climate change, gun violence, infrastructure, and prescription drug prices. He’s worked to defend our democracy, promote equality, and restore the soul of our nation by taking action against the rise of antisemitism and right-wing extremism.” Soifer added that Biden “will remain laser-focused on addressing the needs of the American people” despite “Republican obstruction and extremism.”

J Street tweeted that Biden’s speech was “a clarion call to defend our democracy.” “This is our moment,” they tweeted. “We need to rise to it.”

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted that it was “very important” that Biden “called out the threat of violent extremism.” “We need vocal leadership from all levels of government to fight this hate,” he wrote.

Others were more critical of Biden’s speech.

“American families are poorer and the United States is weaker under the feckless Presidency of Joe Biden,” Republican Jewish Coalition National Chairman Senator Norm Coleman and CEO Matt Brooks said in a statement. “Soaring inflation has risen a staggering 13% since Joe Biden was elected, pushing hard-working American families to the financial brink, with 4 in 10 Americans saying they are worse off financially since Joe Biden was elected – the highest percentage on record. On the world stage, from Afghanistan to Iran, from China to Russia, adversaries of the United States are emboldened, and threatening the security of our friends and allies.”

As for the issue of antisemitism, Coleman and Brooks pointed out that Biden didn’t mention anything about how “every single Democrat in the House of Representatives voted to defend notorious antisemite Ilhan Omar and keep her on the critical Foreign Affairs Committee.” “Joe Biden has been a creature of Washington, D.C. for 50 years, so it’s no surprise that his State of the Union address was yet another tone-deaf exercise in fact-spinning to fit a grossly out-of-touch narrative that Americans living outside of D.C. are sick and tired of hearing,” they said.

Gabriel Noronha, a fellow at the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA), tweeted that Biden’s speech was “missed opportunity” because there was “zero mention of Iran or the incredible Iranian revolution.”

Richard Goldberg, senior adviser to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), replied to Noronha’s tweet by saying that the omission of Iran from Biden’s speech was “by design.”

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