DemDaily: “An Inflection Point In History”

October 20, 2023

President Joe Biden last night, addressed the country on the wars between Israel and Hamas, and Ukraine and Russia, appealing for new aid funding to both conflicts in the name of global and US national security.

Biden's remarks from the Oval Office followed his return from a 48-hour high-stakes diplomatic mission to Israel -- the first American president to travel there during a war -- in an effort to show support for Israeli and Palestinian citizens who have been under attack by Hamas militants since October 7.

"We’re facing an inflection point in history. One of those moments where the decisions we make today are going to determine the future for decades to come." - President Joe Biden

Biden, who met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel, said, "More than 1,300 people slaughtered in Israel, including at least 32 American citizens. Scores of innocents from infants to the elderly, grandparents, Israelis, Americans taken hostage...we’re pursuing every avenue to bring their loved ones home. As president, there is no higher priority for me than the safety of Americans held hostage."

Biden said he has also spoken to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and "reiterated that the United States remains committed to the Palestinian people’s right to dignity and to self-determination. The actions of Hamas terrorists don’t take that right away...We mourn every innocent life lost. We can’t ignore the humanity of innocent Palestinians who only want to live in peace and have an opportunity."

In tying the two conflicts together, the President said, "the assault on Israel echoes nearly 20 months of war, tragedy and brutality inflicted on the people of Ukraine, people that were very badly hurt since [Russian President Vladimir] Putin launched his all-out invasion. We’ve not forgotten the mass graves, the bodies found bearing signs of torture...thousands and thousands of Ukrainian children forcibly taken into Russia, stolen from their parents. It’s sick."

"Hamas and Putin represent different threats, but they share this in common. They both want to completely annihilate a neighboring democracy — completely annihilate it. Hamas’ stated purpose for existing is the destruction of the state of Israel and the murder of Jewish people. Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people. Hamas uses Palestinian civilians as human shields, and innocent Palestinian families are suffering greatly because of them."

"Meanwhile, Putin denies Ukraine has, or ever had, real statehood...If we don’t stop Putin’s appetite for power and control in Ukraine, he won’t limit himself just to Ukraine," said Biden, noting threats to Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. "These are all NATO allies. For 75 years, NATO has kept peace in Europe. And has been the cornerstone of American security. And if Putin attacks a NATO ally, we will defend every inch of NATO, which a treaty requires and calls for."

While making it clear that the US does "not seek to have American troops fighting in Russia or fighting against Russia," Biden said making Ukraine, and Israel, succeed is vital for America’s national security.

"American leadership is what holds the world together. American alliances are what keep us, America, safe." - President Joe Biden

"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 threats to America and the world keep rising."

"Beyond Europe, we know that our allies, and maybe most importantly our adversaries and competitors, are watching. They’re watching our response in Ukraine as well. And 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. Iran is supporting Russia in Ukraine, and it’s supporting Hamas and other terrorist groups in the region. And we’ll continue to hold them accountable."

"That’s why tomorrow I’m going to send to Congress an urgent budget request to fund America’s national security needs, to support our critical partners, including Israel and Ukraine. It’s a smart investment that’s going pay dividends for American security for generations, help us keep American troops out of harm’s way, help us build a world that is safer, more peaceful and more prosperous for our children and grandchildren."

In a somber and serious tone, Biden also warned against prejudice and retaliation at home in the US, pointing to the hate in recent years that "has given too much oxygen, fueling racism, a rise in antisemitism, Islamic-phobia, right here in America...We can’t stand by and stand silent when this happens. And to all you hurting, those of you who are hurting, I want you to know I see you. You belong. And I want to say this to you: You’re all America. You’re all America...we have to work harder than ever to hold on to the values that make us who we are. We’re a nation of religious freedom, freedom of expression. We all have a right to debate and disagree, without fear of being targeted in schools or workplaces or in our communities."

The President recalled his trip to war-torn Ukraine earlier this year in advance of it's one-year anniversary of the brave fight against Putin. "When I exited that train and met President [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy, I didn’t feel alone. I was bringing with me the idea of America, the promise of America, to the people who are today fighting for the same things we fought for 250 years ago: freedom, independence, self-determination. And as I walked through Kyiv with President Zelenskyy, with air raid sirens sounding in the distance, I felt something I’ve always believed more strongly than ever before: America is a beacon to the world, still, still."

Today President Biden unveiled a $106 billion proposal that primarily consists of funding for Ukraine and Israel.

While the US Senate will be able to move on it immediately, the US House is still frozen from action without a Speaker for the last 17 days. Following a failed third vote today, Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH) withdrew his candidacy.

In a less-than-veiled comment directed at House Republicans last night, Biden said, "I know we have our divisions at home. We have to get past them. 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."

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Kimberly Scott

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Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, AP, ABC, Reuters

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