Biden tells a heckler calling for ceasefire: ‘I think we need a pause’

From the beginning of Hamas’ current war against Israel, I’ve tried to applaud Joe Biden’s consistent position of public, unambiguous support for Israel, leaving it to Bibi Netanyahu as to what the military response would look like. I use the word “public” here because we’ve continued to hear reports suggesting that Biden was privately pushing for “restraint” in Gaza. We also know that he’s been under pressure from many of his own supporters and party members to call for a ceasefire for “humanitarian reasons.” 

During some remarks Biden delivered last night in Minneapolis, we may have seen the first serious crack in Biden’s armor. His comments were interrupted by a protester who yelled “ceasefire.” Biden responded to the interruption by saying, “I think we need a pause.” 

Biden was speaking to an audience of 200 people at a fundraiser when one person in the audience shouted out, “As a rabbi, I need you to call for a cease-fire right now.”

“I think we need a pause. A pause means give time to get the prisoners out,” Biden responded.

“I’m the guy that convinced Bibi to call for a cease-fire to let the prisoners out. I’m the guy that talked to Sisi to convince him to open the door,” he added, referring to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

He was referencing the news earlier Wednesday that American citizens are among those who began to leave Gaza through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt. 

Up until his comment, the White House had said it would start considering support for a “humanitarian pause” to allow aid into Gaza. But, it has rebuffed pressure from progressives and activists for a cease-fire in Gaza, arguing that it would only help Hamas.

The heckler, who told reporters present that her name was rabbi Jessica Rosenberg, was escorted out by security while singing “cease-fire now.” Biden went on to say that he understands the emotions around the conflict in the Middle East.

“This is incredibly complicated for the Israelis. It’s incredibly complicated for the Muslim world as well … I supported a two-state solution; I have from the very beginning,” he said. “The fact of the matter is that Hamas is a terrorist organization. A flat-out terrorist organization.”

Biden is trying to thread the needle here, looking to continue to support our ally while trying to mollify his left flank who are pressing for a complete end to the war. His spokesperson later clarified that the President was suggesting a “temporary pause” in military operations in Gaza to allow “civilians to receive aid and for foreign nationals trapped on the strip to leave Gaza.”

Not long after that, Israeli Ambassador Michael Herzog went on NewsNation to say that Israel does not “need urging.” He insisted that Israel is already “ramping up” humanitarian aid, with the number of trucks being allowed into Southern Gaza “doubling” on a regular basis. If Hamas doesn’t steal the aid, there will be “no limits” on incoming supplies or people being allowed to leave.

We should be clear that there is a huge difference between “humanitarian aid” with or without a “pause” and a ceasefire. When dealing with Hamas, both are problematic. A complete ceasefire would be nothing but a total victory for Hamas. As Ed reported yesterday, a Hamas spokesperson had already publicly declared that the terror organization will repeat the 20/7 attacks “over and over” until Israel is “annihilated.” So Hamas must be destroyed.

But even the delivery of aid is complicated. Hamas has already been caught stealing fuel from a hospital after Israel restarted fuel shipments. And previously released hostages have testified to the vast amounts of supplies they are hoarding in the tunnels while the civilians on the surface are left to suffer. In other words, there isn’t all that much “pausing” that Israel could do without backsliding significantly against their attackers. And getting aid to the people who genuinely need it is no walk in the park either.

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