Vice President Biden issued an apology for his remark on Wednesday, in a statement released to Business Insider.
“Abe Foxman has been a friend and advisor of mine for a long time,” Biden said. “He’s correct, it was a poor choice of words, particularly as he said coming from ‘someone as friendly to the Jewish community and open and tolerant an individual as is Vice President Joe Biden.’ He’s right.”
Vice President Joe Biden is facing strong criticism from Jewish groups, after he used the term “Shylocks” to refer to money lenders in a recent speech.
Biden made the remark while speaking about his son’s year of service in Iraq, according to the Daily Mail, recounting discussions the younger Biden had with others about financial difficulties back home.
“That’s one of the things that he finds was most in need when he was over there in Iraq for a year, that people would come to him and talk about what was happening to them at home in terms of foreclosures, in terms of bad loans that were being… I mean these Shylocks who took advantage of these women and men while overseas.”
As CNN notes, the term “Shylock” derives from the antagonist of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. The character, who is a Jew, is depicted as a ruthless moneylender, memorably demanding a pound of flesh in place of an unpaid loan. Shylock is one of the most hated characters in all of Shakespeare’s plays, and over time, his name came to be synonymous with negative stereotypes of Jewish people.
Abraham Foxman, national leader of the Anti-Defamation League, issued a rebuke against Biden’s comment on Tuesday.
“When someone as friendly to the Jewish community and open and tolerant an individual as is Vice President Joe Biden, uses the term ‘Shylocked’ to describe unscrupulous moneylenders dealing with service men and women, we see once again how deeply embedded this stereotype about Jews is in society.”
“Shylock represents the medieval stereotype about Jews and remains an offensive characterization to this day,” Foxman asserted, adding “The vice president should have been more careful.”
Vice President Biden has made race-related slip-ups before while speaking in public. In a 2007 remark, he referred to Barack Obama as one of the first mainstream African-Americans to be intelligent and clean-cut. Speaking about his home state of Delaware just a year earlier, Biden made a comment referring to “slight Indian accents” in establishments like 7-11 and Dunkin’ Donuts.
— Jessica Chasmar (@JessicaChasmar) September 17, 2014
Earlier this month, Biden made headlines for another speech he gave at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in New Hampshire, in which he spoke out about the threat of ISIS militants. Sparing nothing in his fire-and-brimstone rhetoric, Biden promised that U.S. forces would follow ISIS militants to “The gates of hell,” as The Inquisitr previously noted.
Joe Biden, who is considering a 2016 Presidential bid, is in Iowa on Wednesday to speak at an event for a liberal Catholic social justice group.
[Image via The Daily Mail]