US wants Israel to 'take out Sinwar, other Hamas butchers'

Backing Israel’s fight against Hamas, Biden says Gaza campaign ‘is not genocide’

At White House event attended by families of some hostages, US president stresses he’ll give Israel everything it needs to defend itself, vows unrelenting effort to free hostages

US President Joe Biden greets guests after speaking at a reception celebrating Jewish American Heritage Month in the Rose Garden of the White House, May 20, 2024. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images via JTA)
US President Joe Biden greets guests after speaking at a reception celebrating Jewish American Heritage Month in the Rose Garden of the White House, May 20, 2024. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images via JTA)

US President Joe Biden said Monday that his administration is united with Israel in its mission to destroy the terror group Hamas and rejected claims that the war in the Gaza Strip is a genocide.

“Contrary to allegations made against Israel in the International Court of Justice, what’s happening is not genocide,” Biden said at a White House event marking Jewish American Heritage Month. “We reject that.”

The US, Biden stressed, “stand[s] with Israel to take out Sinwar and the rest of the butchers of Hamas,” referring to Hamas’s Gaza leader Yahya Sinwar.

“We want Hamas defeated, and we’re working with Israel to make that happen,” he said.

Biden said Israel was the victim dating back to the October 7 attack by Hamas terrorists, who killed 1,200 people and took 252 hostages amid acts of brutality and sexual assault. Israel responded with a campaign to destroy Hamas and free the hostages.

Among those present at the event were the families of some of the hostages.

“I’ll always ensure that Israel has everything it needs to defend itself against Hamas and all its enemies,” Biden said, reiterating that US support for the safety and security of Israelis is “ironclad.”

The crowd of several hundred in the Rose Garden cheered and applauded those remarks, which were seemingly made in reference to the recent, controversial, pause in the delivery of US bombs to Israel over concerns about their use in Gaza.

Biden added that he is working to boost humanitarian aid for Palestinian civilians in Gaza but stressed that the crisis is Hamas’s doing.

The president noted that American-Israeli hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin’s parents Rachel and Jon were in the audience and pledged not to cease his efforts to bring their son home, though the indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas have been stalled.

“We’re going to get them home, we’re going to get ’em home, come hell or high water,” Biden said.

Rachel Goldberg, the mother of Hersh Goldberg-Polin who was kidnapped from the Nova music festival, speaks at the rally for a hostage deal in Tel Aviv, May 18, 2024. (Hostages and Missing Families Forum/Paulina Patimer)

Rachel Goldberg and Jon Polin also addressed the event. Polin urged those attending to help keep all the hostages who are still in Gaza at the front of the American mind. “We all need to be fighting every day all day to bring them home,” he said.

The president also decried antisemitism, specifically on college campuses, where some pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel protests have devolved into attacks on Jewish students. A prominent accusation at the rallies was that Israel was committing genocide in Gaza.

“In America, we respect and protect fundamental rights of free speech, protest peacefully. That’s America,” he said. “But there’s no place in any campus in America, any place in America for antisemitism, for hate speech that threatens violence of any kind against Jews or anyone else.”

The surge in antisemitism is “despicable” and must stop, Biden said.

Also addressing the event was second gentleman Doug Emhoff, who lamented the antisemitism Jewish students are facing on college campuses amid the wave of anti-Israel protests.

Emhoff, who is Jewish, stressed that the Biden administration has the backs of Jewish students amid the escalation of hate and is working to combat it.

Vice President Kamala Harris gets a hug from second gentleman Doug Emhoff n the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, May 13, 2024. (Susan Walsh/AP)

Biden also spoke of the International Criminal Court prosecutor seeking arrest warrants for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (alongside Hamas’s leaders), calling the development “outrageous.”

Biden in recent months has faced growing political pressure from his own Democratic Party over his handling of the Gaza conflict, as the Palestinian death toll climbed and the war created dire humanitarian conditions in the territory.

Netanyahu, too, has come under heavy pressure at home to end the war. Thousands of Israelis have joined weekly demonstrations calling on the government to reach a deal to bring home Israeli hostages in Hamas captivity, fearing that time is running out.

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