PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Mr. Secretary, my good friend Tony, thank you for your important visit here today. Thank you, thank President Biden, and thank you to the American people for your incredible support for Israel in our war against the barbarians of Hamas. I thank you in English; I want to thank you in Hebrew as well.
Mr. Secretary, your visit is another tangible example of America’s unequivocal support for Israel. Hamas has shown itself to be an enemy of civilization. The massacring of young people in an outdoor music festival; the butchering of entire families; the murder of parents in front of their children and the murder of children in front of their parents; the burning of people alive; the beheadings; the kidnappings – of a young boy – not only kidnapped, molested, hurt, attacked; and the sickening display of celebrating these horrors, the celebration and glorification of evil.
President Biden was absolutely correct in calling this “sheer evil.” Hamas is ISIS, and just as ISIS was crushed, so too will Hamas be crushed. And Hamas should be treated exactly the way ISIS was treated. They should be spit out from the community of nations. No leader should meet them. No country should harbor them. And those that do should be sanctioned.
Tony, my friend, I say to you, I say to all of us: There will be many difficult days ahead, but I have no doubt that the forces of civilization will win. And the reason that’s true is because we understand what is the first prerequisite of victory. It’s what you just said in our meeting: moral clarity. This is a time – a particular time, a special time – that we must stand tall, proud, and united against evil.
Tony, you are taking that stand. America is taking that stand. Thank you for being here today. Thank you, America, for standing with Israel today, tomorrow, and always.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Mr. Prime Minister, I’m grateful to be back in Israel in this incredibly difficult moment for this nation – but, in fact, for the entire world.
If you’ll permit me a personal aside, I come before you not only as the United States Secretary of State, but also as a Jew. My grandfather, Maurice Blinken, fled pogroms in Russia. My stepfather, Samuel Pisar, survived concentration camps – Auschwitz, Dachau, Majdanek.
So, Prime Minister, I understand on a personal level the harrowing echoes that Hamas’s massacres carry for Israeli Jews – indeed, for Jews everywhere.
I also come before you as a husband and father of young children. It’s impossible for me to look at the photos of families killed – such as the mother, father, and three small children murdered as they sheltered in their home in Kibbutz Nir Oz – and not think of my own children.
This was just one of Hamas’s countless acts of terror – in a litany of brutality and inhumanity that, yes, brings to mind the worst of ISIS. Babies slaughtered. Bodies desecrated. Young people burned alive. Women raped. Parents executed in front of their children, children in front of their parents. How are we even to understand this, to digest this?
And yet, at the same time – at the same time that we’ve been shocked by the depravity of Hamas, we’ve also been inspired by the bravery of Israel’s citizens: the grandfather, who drove over an hour to a kibbutz under siege, armed only with a pistol, and rescued his kids and grandkids; the mother who died shielding her teenage son with her body, giving her life to save his, giving him life for a second time; the volunteer security teams on the kibbutzes, who swiftly rallied to defend their friends and neighbors, despite being heavily outnumbered.
And we are lifted by the remarkable solidarity of the Israeli people, demonstrated in the long lines of people giving blood, in the hundreds of thousands of reservists who’ve mobilized, some rushing home from abroad, people around the country opening their homes to fellow citizens displaced from the south.
The people of Israel have long – and rightly – prided themselves on their self-reliance, on their ability to defend themselves, even when the odds are stacked against them.
The message that I bring to Israel is this: You may be strong enough on your own to defend yourself – but as long as America exists, you will never, ever have to. We will always be there, by your side.
That’s the message that President Biden delivered to the prime minister from the moment this crisis began. It’s the message that I and my other colleagues in the government have delivered to our Israeli counterparts on a daily – even an hourly – basis.
It’s the message that I bring with me to our discussions today, and it’s what I’ll affirm when I meet with the members of Israel’s newly formed national emergency government. We welcome the government’s creation and the unity and resolve that it reflects across Israel’s society.
We’re delivering on our word – supplying ammunition, interceptors to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome, alongside other defense materiel. The first shipments of U.S. military support have already arrived in Israel, and more is on the way.
As Israel’s defense needs evolve, we will work with Congress to make sure that they’re met. And I can tell you there is overwhelming – overwhelming – bipartisan support in our Congress for Israel’s security.
Here in Israel, and everywhere, we will reaffirm the crystal-clear warning that President Biden issued yesterday to any adversary – state or non-state – thinking of taking advantage of the current crisis to attack Israel: Don’t. The United States has Israel’s back.
We’ve deployed the world’s largest aircraft carrier to the Eastern Mediterranean. We’ve bolstered the presence of U.S. fighter aircraft in the region.
We’re providing other support as well. We continue working closely with Israel to secure the release of the men, women, children, elderly people taken hostage by Hamas.
We’re pursuing intensive diplomacy throughout the region to prevent the conflict from spreading – and I’ll be doing that over the course of my trip in the coming days.
Too often in the past, leaders have equivocated in the face of terrorist attacks against Israel and its people. That’s why we’ve been adamant with all countries in the wake of these attacks: There is no excuse, there is no justification for these atrocities.
You heard the prime minister say it. This is – this must be – a moment for moral clarity.
The failure to unambiguously condemn terrorism puts at risk not only people in Israel, but people everywhere.
Look at what just happened. Individuals from 36 countries killed or missing in the aftermath of Hamas’s attacks. Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas – no region has escaped Hamas’s bloody reach.
Anyone who wants peace and justice must condemn Hamas’s reign of terror.
We know Hamas doesn’t represent the Palestinian people or their legitimate aspirations to live with equal measures of security, freedom, justice, opportunity, and dignity.
We know Hamas – instead of promoting the well-being of its citizens – rules repressively and dedicates the resources it has to terror tunnels and rockets.
We know Hamas didn’t commit its heinous acts with the interests of the Palestinian people in mind.
We know Hamas does not stand for the future that Palestinians want for themselves and for their children.
Hamas has only one agenda: to destroy Israel and to murder Jews.
No country can or would tolerate the slaughter of its citizens – or simply return to the conditions that allowed it to take place. Israel has the right – indeed, the obligation – to defend itself and to ensure that this never happens again.
As the prime minister and I discussed, how Israel does this matters. We democracies distinguish ourselves from terrorists by striving for a different standard – even when it’s difficult – and holding ourselves to account when we fall short. Our humanity – the value that we place on human life and human dignity – that’s what makes us who we are. And we count them among our greatest strengths.
That’s why it’s so important to take every possible precaution to avoid harming civilians.
And that’s why we mourn the loss of every innocent life, civilians of every faith, every nationality, who have been killed.
Tragically, the number of innocent lives claimed by Hamas’s heinous attacks continues to rise. Among those, we now know that at least 25 American citizens were killed. We join families in Israel, in the United States, around the world in mourning their immeasurable loss.
Nearly 15 years ago, my stepfather, who I alluded to earlier, Samuel Pisar, came here to Yad Vashem to perform the mourner’s prayer that he wrote to accompany Leonard Bernstein’s Third Symphony, “Kaddish.”
Reflecting on the unspeakable horrors that he’d endured as a boy in the Nazi concentration camps, he wrote: “That man / though created in your image / and endowed with the freedom to choose / between good and evil / Remains capable of the worst, as of the best / Of hatred, as of love / Of madness, as of genius.”
In this moment where evil, hatred, and madness have once more taken so many innocent lives, we must stand together resolved to confront what is worst among humanity with what is best.
We must provide an alternative to the vision of violence and fear, nihilism and terror presented by Hamas.
That is what the United States will do, standing with Israel, working together with its people – and all those in this region who remain committed to the vision of a more peaceful, a more integrated, a more secure, a more prosperous Middle East.
Thank you very much.