Biden accepts use of word ‘Shylocks’ was a poor choice

Jewish organisation reprimands gaffe-prone US vice-president

US vice-president Joe Biden has acknowledged that his use of the word "Shylocks" – a word considered anti-Semitic by some – in a speech on Tuesday was "a poor choice".

The gaffe-prone politician used the phrase, derived from the name of the ruthless Jewish moneylender in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, at a law conference.

Recalling the experience of his son Beau helping members of the US military who had received bad loans and mortgages, the vice-president referred to “Shylocks” to describe lenders who take advantage of military personnel serving overseas.

US Jewish organisation the Anti-Defamation League reprimanded Mr Biden, saying that he “should have been more careful” in his speech.

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"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 servicemen and women, we see once again how deeply embedded this stereotype about Jews is in society," said the league's national director Abraham Foxman.

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is News Editor of The Irish Times