knesset conversation

Stefanik: There is no excuse for Biden to block aid to Israel

Vice presidential hopeful says that ‘with God’s help’ Trump will return to office and ‘support Israeli independence and security’


Elise Stefanik in the Knesset on May 19th, 2024

House Republican Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) rebuked President Joe Biden for blocking some weapons shipments to Israel while speaking at an event in the Knesset on Sunday, promising that former President Donald Trump will pursue more favorable policies for Israel if he returns to the White House.

“I have been clear at home and I will be clear here: There is no excuse for an American president to block aid to Israel – aid that was duly passed by the Congress,” Stefanik told attendees at a meeting of the Knesset Caucus for Jewish and Pro-Israel Students during a visit to Israel.

Stefanik, the No. 3 Republican in the House, also rapped Biden for “eas[ing] sanctions on Iran, paying a $6 billion ransom to the world’s leading state sponsor of terror, or to dither and hide while our friends fight for their lives.”

“No excuse. Full stop,” she added.

Stefanik vowed that the U.S. “will not rest until the hostages are back home,” and said that the war in Gaza is one between “the forces of good and evil.”

“Total victory starts with wiping those responsible for Oct. 7 from the face of the earth,” she said.

Stefanik, whose name has been floated as a possible running mate for Trump, said that she has “been a leading proponent and partner to President Trump in his historic support for Israeli independence and security.”

She listed examples of that support, including moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, the Abraham Accords and moving Israel to CENTCOM.

Be’ezrat Hashem, we will return to this strategy soon,” Stefanik said, using the Hebrew phrase for “with God’s help.”

The topic of Sunday’s caucus meeting, attended by Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana and the caucus’ two chairmen, MK Dan Illouz (Likud) and MK Moshe Tur-Paz (Yesh Atid) and dozens of supporters and activists, was campus antisemitism. 

In a widely viewed hearing, Stefanik asked the presidents of Harvard, University of Pennsylvania and MIT whether “calling for the genocide of Jews violate [their] code of conduct or rules regarding bullying and harassment?”

At the Knesset, Stefanik recalled that she asked the question because she felt the university presidents were avoiding answering questions directly. 

“I thought to myself, how can I ask this in a straightforward, moral way to force them to answer,” she said. “One after one said it depends on the context. Let me tell you – it does not depend on the context.” 

“Over the years, I have been in a lot of high-profile committee meetings, but I never witnessed anything like the moral depravity of that hearing. There is a reason that is the most-viewed testimony in the history of the U.S. Congress. That is because it exposed the moral rot at the heart of the so-called elite universities,” she said.

Stefanik contrasted the many IDF soldiers fighting in Gaza who are “of college age in America” with “the pro-Hamas protests on college campuses in America…with signs calling for a final solution, chanting ‘death to Israel’ and ‘death to America.’” 

“Those views do not reflect the views of the American people. The American people stand firmly behind you,” she said, and read from George Washington’s letter to the Jewish community of Newport, R.I..

Stefanik said that colleges and universities are “on notice” following an expanded investigation into campus antisemitism, including foreign donations, accreditation and “antisemitism inherent in woke DEI” 

“We must not let the extremism in elite corners conceal the deep, abiding love for Israel among the American people. Most Americans feel a strong connection to your people. They have opened their hearts to you in this dark hour,” Stefanik said.

Quoting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said Israel will fight alone if it has to, Stefanik said: “It is our duty as Americans to ensure that Israel does not stand alone. We must never let Israel stand alone. I am confident that our relationship will not just endure, but will emerge stronger than ever before.”

Ohana showed Stefanik a large map of Israel that IDF soldiers found in a school in Khan Younis, Gaza, in which the entire land is labeled Palestine.

“This is what ‘from the river to the sea’ means,” Ohana said. “It means the eradication of the State of Israel and the Jewish people. This is something that none of us should tolerate.” 

Ohana said that “behind the calls for cease-fire lurk the sinister rebirth of an ancient hatred. Underneath their ideals, these so-called ‘activists’ were normalizing violence against Jews.”

Still, the Knesset speaker said that the Jewish people “are stronger than ever before in Jewish history, and when we say never again, we mean never again.”

Illouz opened the meeting by saying that “the administrations of Penn, Columbia and Harvard stand with evil. You, congresswoman – you stand with good.”

The Canada-born legislator recounted a recent North American campus speaking tour, and said he saw “a clear division between campuses where antisemitism runs free and campuses where antisemitism is not allowed. … In places where a firm red line is drawn against antisemitism, it’s not allowed to thrive. However, on campuses where the administration tries to appease these bullies, antisemitism runs free.”

“That lesson is relevant to the broader conflict here in Israel,” he added. “Some call for appeasement, for making deals to end the war with Hamas. No. You don’t make deals with terrorists – you defeat them. … This is the only path forward to a better future for Israelis and Palestinians.” 

Stefanik also met with Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz who thanked her for her support for Israel and called “to act to ensure bipartisan support against a Palestinian state that will be a prize to Hamas and Iran who will use it to destroy Israel.”

Katz said the U.S., together with Europe, should initiate a new round of sanctions against Iran to stop its nuclear program.

Stefanik also met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog and with hostages’ relatives. She also planned to visit religious sites and areas attacked by Hamas on Oct. 7.

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