United States’ President Joe Biden on Thursday, October 19, made a case for Americans to support Congress in passing $100 billion in supplemental funding, including billions in wartime aid for Israel and Ukraine.
The recent address was his second from the Oval Office, and it is coming after he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli President Isaac Herzog. In an impassioned speech, Mr. Biden said that America must again act as a “beacon to the world,” and insisted that the needs of the people of Israel and Ukraine are vital to the United States’ national security interests.
Biden stated that Hamas, the group that launched the cross-border raids in Israel on October 7, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is conducting a war against Ukraine, are similar threats as they both want to destroy a neighboring democracy.
“Hamas and Putin represent different threats, but they share this in common: They both want to completely annihilate a neighboring democracy, completely annihilate it.
“We can’t let petty partisan, angry politics get in the way of our responsibilities as a great nation. We cannot and will not let terrorists like Hamas and tyrants like Putin win. I refuse to let that happen.
“American leadership is what holds the world together. American alliances are what keep us in America safe. American values are what make us a partner nation you want to work with. To put all that at risk – we walk away from Ukraine, we turn our backs on Israel – it’s just not worth it.”
Biden also said that support for both wars is “vital for America’s national security.” He warned more broadly that the United States’ adversaries and competitors “are watching.”
“History has taught us that when terrorists don’t pay a price for their terror, when dictators don’t pay a price for their aggression, they cause more chaos and death and more destruction. They keep going. And the cost and the threat to America in the world keep rising. If we don’t stop Putin’s appetite for power and control in Ukraine, he won’t limit himself just to Ukraine.
“If we walk away and let Putin erase Ukraine’s independence, would-be aggressors around the world would be emboldened to try the same. The risk of conflict and chaos could spread in other parts of the world – in the Indo Pacific, in the Middle East, especially in the Middle East.”
While Mr. Biden reaffirmed the United States’ intense commitment to Israel and the Israeli people, he also stressed the humanity of Palestinians who simply want peace. He also strongly condemned any displays of hatred against Jews, Muslims or Palestinians here in the United States.
However, passing any aid is impossible for now. Congress has been paralyzed for over two weeks without an elected House speaker. Republicans have been unable to elect a new speaker after a small group of Republicans voted with Democrats to oust Rep. Kevin McCarthy earlier this month.
Israel suffered more than 1,400 deaths in the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas, and 3,500 were injured. Thirty-one U.S. citizens were among the dead, and 13 remain unaccounted for, some of them believed to be held hostage by the U.S.-designated terrorist group. Mr. Biden told reporters on the way back from Tel Aviv that “we’re going to get people out, and quickly” but said he couldn’t discuss details.
Meanwhile, Israel is continuing airstrikes on Gaza, where Palestinian officials say almost 3,800 have been killed. Mr. Biden said Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi agreed to allow up to 20 trucks of humanitarian aid into Gaza through the Rafa gate. But if Hamas confiscates the aid or doesn’t allow it through, the humanitarian aid will cease.