Biden rejects allegations of genocide against Israel in Gaza

President Biden said what is happening in Gaza is not genocide and reiterated his support for Israel as he hosted a White House celebration for Jewish American Heritage month Monday.

Biden addressed dozens of guests gathered in the Rose Garden, where he rejected claims that Israel is carrying out genocide in Gaza, criticized an International Criminal Court request for a warrant against Israeli leaders for war crimes and pledged support for Israel in its war against Hamas.

“I know today’s reception falls on hard times. The trauma of Oct. 7 and its aftermath … is still fresh and ongoing for many of you,” Biden said, referencing the Hamas attacks last year that killed more than 1,000 Israelis.

“Let me be clear, contrary to allegations against Israel made by the International Court of Justice, what’s happening is not genocide. We reject that,” he added. “And we’ll always stand with Israel in the threats against its security.”

Other Biden officials have in recent weeks similarly rejected the suggestion that Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, which has killed tens of thousands of Palestinians and left scores without access to adequate food, water and medicine, is genocide.

Among the guests at Monday’s reception were Attorney General Merrick Garland, Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.), Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.). Biden also recognized the parents of Hersh Goldberg-Polin, an Israeli American who is being held hostage by Hamas.

Biden said his administration was working to negotiate the release of the remaining hostages who were taken Oct. 7, “and we’re going to get them home.”

The president has tried to walk a careful line with his approach to Israel in recent weeks, defending its right to respond to Hamas and repeatedly condemning antisemitism in the wake of the attack. But, at the same time, he is also calling for Israel to allow more aid into Gaza and urging the country to do more to protect civilians.

On Monday, Biden was steadfast in his support of Israel.

“We stand with Israel to take out Sinwar and the rest of the butchers of Hamas,” Biden said, referring to Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar. “We want Hamas defeated. We’ve worked with Israel to make that happen.”

The president also condemned instances of antisemitism on college campuses and elsewhere, which have sharply risen in the months since the Oct. 7 attacks in Israel.

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

Second gentleman Doug Emhoff, who is Jewish and has been at the forefront of the White House’s efforts to combat antisemitism, also addressed the crowd Monday.

Emhoff told attendees there is “no one fighting harder to combat hate and to unite our country” than Biden and Vice President Harris. But he acknowledged the difficulties many Jewish people around the country, including himself, have faced in recent months in particular.

“Some days it’s really challenging for me to put myself out here and do this work publicly. And I know it’s hard for you, too,” Emhoff said. “But we keep fighting because we have no choice but to fight.”

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