60 Minutes’ Scott Pelley on Sunday night asked President Joe Biden: “Because of what we’re seeing in the Middle East, is the threat of terrorism in the United States increased?” The president responded: “Yes. I had a meeting this morning with the Homeland Security people, with the FBI … for the better part of an hour to discuss how we make sure that we prevent a lone wolf and/or any coordinated effort to try to do what was done in synagogues before, do what was done to Jews in the street. We’re making a major effort to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported early Monday, citing a senior administration official, that President Biden is considering a trip to Israel in the coming days, which would be as powerful a show of support for Israel as can be imagined in the wake of the October 7 Hamas atrocities.
The AP suggested that Biden’s visit would be viewed by Iran as a provocation, and evoke anger among Arabs considering the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip in preparation for an invasion and may result in broadening the Israel-Hamas confrontation into a regional war.
The President’s response, in his 60 Minutes interview, was simple: “Israel is going after a group of people who have engaged in barbarism that is as consequential as the Holocaust. So, I think Israel has to respond. They have to go after Hamas. Hamas is a bunch of cowards. They’re hiding behind the civilians. They put their headquarters where civilians are and buildings and the like. But to the extent they can … the Israelis are gonna do everything in their power to avoid the killing of innocent civilians.”
Pelley asked if Biden agreed with the Israeli total siege of the Gaza Strip.
President Biden: “I’m confident that Israel is going to act under the rules of war. There are standards that democratic institutions and countries go by. And so, I’m confident that there’s gonna be an ability for the innocents in Gaza to be able to have access to medicine and food and water.”
Pelley: “Would you support an Israeli occupation of Gaza at this point?”
President Biden: “I think it’d be a big mistake. Look, what happened in Gaza, in my view, is Hamas and the extreme elements of Hamas don’t represent all the Palestinian people. And I think that it would be a mistake for Israel to occupy Gaza again. But going in and taking out the extremists – the Hezbollah is up north but Hamas down south – is a necessary requirement.”
Pelley: “Can you foresee US troops in combat in this new Middle East war?”
President Biden: I don’t think that’s necessary. Israel has one of the finest fighting forces in the country. I guarantee we’re gonna provide them everything they need.”
If by “everything they need” Biden meant bunker busters, Israel should be able to eliminate the Hamas rats where they’re holed underground.
Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan told the Sunday news shows that the US was not “making requests or demands of Israel with respect to its military operations,” but instead was “simply stating our basic principles — the principles upon which this country is based and all democracies, including Israel, are based. It’s what makes us different from the terrorists, that in fact, we respect civilian life.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu invited President Biden to visit during their conversation last Saturday. And while some sources in the White House confirmed the presidential visit, others said the president may not arrive soon or at all, due to the security situation in Israel.
Office pool anyone?