On Thursday, President Biden spoke from the Oval Office about the wars between Israel, Hamas and Ukraine. The New York Times recorded his remarks.
Hello, fellow Americans.
We are at a turning point in the history of mankind. It's one of those moments when the decisions we take today will determine the future for many decades. This is what I would like to discuss with you tonight.
Earlier this morning, I had returned from Israel. It's said that I am the first American President to visit Israel during a time of war. I met the prime minister, members of his cabinet and, most importantly, Israelis who personally experienced the horrors of Hamas' attack on the 7th October. In Israel, more than 1,300 people were killed including 32 Americans. Hundreds of innocents including infants, elderly people, Israelis and Americans have been taken hostage. As I told families of Americans held hostage by Hamas we are pursuing all avenues to bring them home. As president, the safety of Americans who are being held hostage is my highest priority.
Hamas, a terrorist organization, has unleashed unadulterated evil on the world. But, sadly, Jews know better than anyone else that people will do anything to cause pain to others.
I was shocked and deeply hurt by the people of Israel. They were strong, determined and resilient, but also angry. I spoke to President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority and reiterated the United States' commitment to the Palestinians' right to dignity and self-determination. Hamas terrorists' actions don't remove that right.
Like many others, I am heartbroken at the loss of Palestinian lives, including the explosion that occurred in Gaza hospital, but was not caused by Israelis. We mourn the loss of every innocent life. We cannot ignore the humanity and innocence of innocent Palestinians, who want nothing more than to live in peace.
The assault on Israel is reminiscent of the nearly 20-months of violence, terror and tragedy that the Ukrainian people have suffered since Putin's all-out invasion.
We have not forgotten mass graves, bodies with signs of torture and rape being used by Russians as weapons, nor the thousands and thousands Ukrainian children who were taken to Russia against their will, stealing them from their parents.
Hamas is a different threat than Putin, but both share one thing in common. Both want to annihilate the neighboring democracy. Hamas has stated that its purpose is to destroy Israel and murder Jews. Hamas is not the Palestinian People's representative. Hamas uses Palestinians civilians as human shiels. Innocent Palestinian families suffer greatly because of this.
Putin continues to deny that Ukraine ever existed as a real state. He says that the Soviet Union is responsible for Ukraine. He claimed that the Soviet Union created Ukraine.
We're not going to withdraw.
These conflicts may seem distant, so it's only natural to wonder: Why is this important to America? Let me explain why ensuring that Israel and Ukraine are successful is crucial for America's security.
History has shown us that when terrorists and dictators do not pay for their acts of terror and aggression, it causes more death, more destruction, and more chaos. They continue. The cost of war and threats to America, the world and its peoples continue to rise.
If we don't stop Putin from his appetite for power and controlling Ukraine, he will not limit himself to Ukraine. Putin has already threatened, quote, to remind Poland that the western part of their country was a Russian gift. A former Russian president, one of Putin's top advisors, called Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania Russia’s Baltic Provinces.
All of these are NATO allies. NATO has been keeping peace in Europe for 75 years. It has also been a cornerstone for American security. If Putin attacks an ally of NATO, we will defend NATO to the fullest extent, as a treaty demands.
We will have something we don't want. We do not want American troops to fight in Russia or against Russia.
We know that beyond Europe, our allies and, perhaps most importantly, our competitors and adversaries are watching. They are also watching our response to the situation in Ukraine. If we stand by and allow Putin to erase Ukraine's sovereignty, other aggressors will be encouraged to do the same. Conflict and chaos may spread to other parts of world, including the Indo-Pacific region, the Middle East and especially the Middle East. Iran supports Russia in Ukraine and Hamas, as well as other terrorist groups. We'll keep them accountable.
The United States, along with our partners in the Middle East region, are working together to create a more stable Middle East. The Middle East will be more stable and better connected with its neighbors through innovative projects such as the India, Middle East, and Europe rail corridor, which I announced at the summit of world's largest economies this year. This will lead to more predictable markets, greater employment, reduced rage and grievances and less war. The people benefit. Both the Middle East and us would benefit from this.
American leadership is the glue that holds the world together. America is safe because of American alliances. American values make us an attractive partner for other countries. It's not worth putting all of that at risk by walking away from Ukraine or turning our backs on Israel.
It's for this reason that I will send an urgent budget request tomorrow to Congress to fund America's needs in national security, and to support our key partners, such as Israel and Ukraine. This is a wise investment that will pay off for American security over generations. It will help keep American troops safe and help us create a more peaceful, prosperous and safer world for our children.
We must ensure that Israel has the resources it needs to protect its people, both today and in the future. The security package that I am sending to Congress, and the Congress's response to it, is an unprecedented commitment for Israel's safety. It will sharpen Israel’s qualitative military advantage. We've committed ourselves to this: the qualitative edge. Iron Dome will continue to protect Israel's skies. We will make sure that other hostile actors know Israel is stronger than ever to prevent the conflict from spreading.
Yesterday, I and President Netanyahu discussed the importance of Israel operating under the laws of warfare. This means doing everything possible to protect civilians during combat. Gazans urgently require food, water, and medicine.
In discussions yesterday with leaders of Israel, Egypt and the Palestinians, I was able to secure an agreement on the first shipment from the United Nations of humanitarian aid for Gaza's civilians. We will be able to deliver life-saving humanitarian aid for Palestinians if Hamas doesn't steal or divert this shipment.
We cannot, as I said in Israel - no matter how hard it is - give up the peace. We can't give up the two-state solution.
Israel and Palestinians deserve the same to live in dignity, safety and peace.
We have to be honest at home. In recent years too much hatred has given too much air, fueling racism and antisemitism in America.
The intensity is also increasing in light of the recent events which led to horrific threats and terrorist attacks, which have both shocked us and broken our hearts.
The terror attacks of Oct. 7 have left deep scars in the Jewish Community. Jewish families are worried today about being targeted at school, for wearing religious symbols, or just going about their everyday lives. I know that many in the Muslim American, Arab American, Palestinian American, and other communities are outraged, hardened, and saying, "Here we go with Islamophobia, and the distrust seen after 9/11."
A mother was brutally knifed just last week. In the United States a six-year-old boy was killed in his home near Chicago. Wadea was his name. Wadea is a proud American and a proud Palestinian American.
This is not something we can ignore. Antisemitism must be condemned without hesitation. Without equivocation, we must also denounce Islamophobia.
You are all Americans. You are all America.
We are in a time when we must work harder than ever before to maintain the values that define us. We are a nation that values religious freedom and freedom of speech. We have the right to disagree and debate without fear in schools, workplaces or communities.
We must stop vilifying each other and see one another as Americans, not as enemies.
Yesterday, when I was in Israel, I told the Israelis that we, too, felt enraged by 9/11. We sought justice and achieved it, but we also made mistakes. So, I warn the Israeli government not to become blinded by anger.
Let us not forget our identity in America. We reject any and all hate, whether it is directed at Muslims, Jews or anyone else. Great nations are known to do this. We are a great country.
In regards to Ukraine, I ask Congress to ensure that we continue to provide Ukraine with the weapons it needs to defend itself and its country, without interruption. This will allow Ukraine to stop Putin's brutality.
They are succeeding. Putin thought that he could take Kyiv, and the whole of Ukraine within a few days when he invaded Ukraine. Putin continues to fail, even though it has been over a full year since his invasion.
Kyiv is still standing because of the courage of the Ukrainians. Ukraine has recovered more than 50% of the territory that was once occupied by Russian troops. More than 50 countries from around the globe, led by the United States, are supporting Kyiv.
What would happen to us if we left? We are an essential nation.
Putin, meanwhile, has bought attack drones and ammunition from Iran and North Korea in order to terrorize Ukrainian cities.
I said from the beginning that I would not send American soldiers to fight in Ukraine. Ukraine only asks for help. It wants weapons, munitions and the ability to drive Russian forces from their territory. Air defense systems that can shoot down Russian missiles and stop them before they can destroy Ukrainian cities.
Please let me clarify something.
We send Ukraine the equipment that we have in our stocks. We use the money that Congress has allocated to us for new equipment and stockpiles. Equipment made in America that protects America. Arizona Patriot missiles made for air defense batteries. Artillery shells are manufactured in 12 different states, including Pennsylvania, Ohio and Texas. There's so much more.
Just as they did during World War II in building up the arsenal for democracy and freedom, patriotic American workers today are doing the same.
Let me conclude with this:
Earlier this summer, I took Air Force One on a secret flight from the United States to Poland. Then I took a train with blacked out windows to Kyiv for a 10-hour journey each way. This was to show solidarity with the Ukrainian people on the anniversary of their courageous fight against Putin. It's been said that I was the first American since President Lincoln to enter a conflict zone not under the control of the United States military.
I was accompanied by a small group, mostly security personnel, and a couple of advisers. When I got off the train and saw Zelensky - President Zelensky - I didn't really feel alone. I brought the idea, the promise, of America to those who today fight for the same things that we fought 250 years ago, freedom, independence, and self-determination. As I walked with President Zelensky through Kyiv, air raid sirens blaring in the distance I felt more strongly than I ever have before that America is still a beacon for the world.
As my friend Madeleine Albright has said, we are the indispensable nation.
There are people in the world tonight who have hope due to us. We are the reason they believe in a brighter future. We are trying to remember them. Who are we waiting for?
Time is of the essence.
I am aware of the divisions that exist in our own country. We must get over them. We cannot let petty, partisan and angry politics get in our way as a great country. We will not and cannot let terrorists such as Hamas or tyrants such as Putin win. I will not allow that to happen.
We must remember, in moments such as these, who we are. We are the United States of America. The United States of America. There is nothing that we cannot do together.
Thank you, my fellow Americans. May God bless and protect you all.