New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman asked U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken if Jewish lives matter more than Palestinian Muslim and Christian lives, speaking during a Q&A at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Wednesday.
“Given the high civilian casualties in Gaza: Do Jewish lives matter more than Palestinian and Muslim lives, Palestinian Christian lives given the incredible asymmetry in casualties?” the long-time critic of Israeli government policies vis-à-vis the Palestinians posed to the senior Biden administration official.
“No. Period,” Blinken quickly and sharply replied.
He then elaborated on his answer, saying that it is “gut-wrenching” and “heart-breaking” to see the “suffering among innocent men, women and children” in Gaza. Blinken claimed that the administration’s efforts to push Jerusalem to deliver more humanitarian aid to Gaza and better protect civilians were seeing results.
“Israelis have to live with security; they can’t have a repeat of October 7. No country would accept a repeat of October 7. … It’s hard to overstate the psychological impact on the country as a whole after what happened on that day,” the diplomat explained.
“There are large swaths of the world…, large numbers of people don’t believe that October 7 actually happened. They don’t believe that Hamas slaughtered men, women and children. That it executed parents in front of their kids. That it executed kids in front of their parents. That it burned families alive. They don’t believe it,” Blinken said, warning about the dangers of dehumanization, which he suggested applies to both Israelis and Palestinians.
Blinken and other Biden administration officials, including U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan in an address at Davos on Tuesday, are pushing Palestinian statehood as part of a larger regional acceptance of Israel by Arab countries in a post-Israel-Hamas war scenario.
Blinken stressed the importance of a Palestinian state during an interview with CNBC in Davos on Tuesday.
“You have to resolve the Palestinian question,” Blinken said. “Arab countries are saying this. … Look, we’re not going to get into the business, for example, of rebuilding Gaza only to have it leveled again in a year or five years and then be asked to rebuild it again,” he added.
“You’re in a place right now, where, again, Arab countries, including countries like Saudi Arabia, are prepared to do things in their relationship with Israel they were never prepared to do before. That opens up an entirely different future, a much more secure future,” said Blinken.
“In terms of Israel’s own security, the Arab piece of the equation and the Palestinian peace—that’s the way to true lasting security,” he added.