The Associated Press reports that presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden is dwindling down his list of potential running mates down and Obama National Security Advisor Susan Rice remains one of the favorites. An Atlantic piece from May, explains the political logic behind such a pick: “[T]he interest Biden has expressed in Rice reflects his concerns that the ongoing economic and public-health crisis the U.S. faces may require him to pick a strong national-security hand as his running mate.”
When asked in 2011 how much of her job as U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations was about Israel, Rice joked that it was 100%, then explained, “It’s a significant part of my job. It’s not the majority of my time, because I am the U.S. permanent representative. But it is never the smallest piece. It is always there.”
Rice solidified herself as something of a critic on Israeli policy during the Obama era. There are numerous examples of strong rhetoric, there’s not a lot to point to in terms of action. For instance, in 2017 Rice dismissed AIPAC praise for a Trump speech on Iran as “BS“. However, she didn’t do much to stand up the lobbying group when she had the means to. Here she was back in 2012 (then an ambassador to The UN) in a speech at the AIPAC Synagogue Initiative Lunch.
“Ladies and gentlemen, not a day goes by — not one — when my colleagues and I don’t work hard to defend Israel’s security and legitimacy at the United Nations,” she told the crowd.
She then provided detailed evidence to back up this claim. She bragged about denying Palestine UN membership, cited the security council resolutions on settlements that Obama had vetoed, the administration’s refusal to participate in the Durban conference, its defense of Israel’s nuclear program, and a number of additional highlights.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we will continue to be guided by our principles. In word and deed, President Obama has insisted that the United States be clear and consistent: the treatment Israel receives across the UN system is unacceptable,” said Rice, “Efforts to chip away at Israel’s legitimacy have been met with the unflinching opposition of the United States. And they always will be.”
In 2017 she gave another speech to AIPAC, but this time she was unsuccessfully trying to sell the concept of the Iran Deal to the group. The pitch was framed within the context of continued aggression toward Iran, aggression that the Obama administration supported:
One final word on Iran: even if we succeed in neutralizing the nuclear threat from Iran, we will still face other threats—Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism, its gross violations of human rights, its efforts to destabilize neighboring states, its support for Assad and Hamas and Hezbollah, its intolerable threats against Israel. Our sanctions against Iran on these issues will remain in place. We will continue to counter Iran and the full range of threats it poses. Tehran must understand—the United States will never, ever waver in the defense of our security or the security of our allies and partners, including Israel.
In 2015, former Middle East adviser Dennis Ross blamed Rice for increasing tension between the United States and Israel, as a result of her “combative” tone. While Rice did repeatedly clash with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli government was certainly never held accountable for its actions.
A year after Ross’s allegations, Rice promised Israel the single largest military aid package in United States history and the Obama administration kept her word: $38 billion over the course of a decade. Rice told the the American Jewish Committee Global Forum that the deal would “constitute a significant increase in support” and stressed that support for Israel was a bipartisan affair: “Israel’s security isn’t a Democratic interest or a Republican interest—it’s an enduring American interest.”
Jewish Insider asked former Anti-Defamation League national director Abe Foxman what he thought about Rice emerging as the potential frontrunner for the spot. “We had differences, but she was always there and listened,” he said, “She served Obama — so she was true to his worldview, but I found her to be fair. She understood Jewish history, and she was a friend of Israel.”