President Joe Biden on Wednesday detailed actions to be taken by his administration to secure Jewish communities in the United States following the outbreak of war between the Islamist militant group Hamas and Israel. On the same day, former President Donald Trump, the current frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, faulted Israel for being attacked by the terrorist group Hezbollah.
Biden, along with Doug Emhoff, the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, held a roundtable at the White House with Jewish community leaders on Wednesday. At the event, Biden condemned the attacks on civilians in Israel, which he described as “pure cruelty against the Jewish people.” He went on to address concerns about how the situation has impacted Jewish communities in the U.S.
“I have asked members of my team, including Homeland Security Secretary [Alejandro] Mayorkas and Attorney General [Merrick] Garland, to work intensively with our Jewish community partners, so many of you here, to set up security around Jewish life in America — identify, prevent, and disrupt emerging threats that occur,” he said.
Biden added, “We’re also going to continue to condemn and combat antisemitism at every single turn — at every turn.”
The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI released a public safety notice on Oct. 7 that said the agencies had not identified specific and credible threats related to the attacks in Israel. On Oct. 10, Homeland Security released a statement providing resources for faith and community leaders in response to the situation.
On Thursday, Biden also dispatched Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Israel, where he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and condemned the “brutality and inhumanity” of the attack.
Meanwhile, at a rally Wednesday night in Florida, Trump blamed Israeli leadership for new attacks on Wednesday by Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed terrorist organization in Lebanon whose goal is to destroy Israel. Hezbollah fired rockets at northern Israel on Wednesday, days after the Hamas attack.
Trump accused Israel’s defense minister of giving Hezbollah the idea to attack Israel, saying, “They have a national defense minister or somebody saying, ‘I hope Hezbollah doesn’t attack from the north,’ so the following morning they attacked.”
“You know, Hezbollah is very smart,” Trump said. “They’re all very smart.”
Republicans, including those running against him for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, slammed Trump for his comments.
“It is absurd that anyone, much less someone running for President, would choose now to attack our friend and ally, Israel, much less praise Hezbollah terrorists as ‘very smart,’ ” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis tweeted Wednesday night.
“After Hamas slaughters hundreds of Jewish families, and Israel confronts an unprecedented security crisis, Donald Trump attacks the Israeli govt and praises Hezbollah terrorists,” former Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) tweeted Thursday morning. “Are Republicans really going to nominate this dangerous man to be President of the United States?”
The White House also criticized Trump for his comments.
“Statements like this are dangerous and unhinged,” White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement. “It’s completely lost on us why any American would ever praise an Iran-backed terrorist organization as ‘smart.’”
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.