Speaking to a roundtable of Jewish leaders at the White House on Wednesday afternoon, U.S. President Joe Biden appeared to confirm recent reporting, which many had questioned, of Hamas terrorists decapitating babies.
“I never really thought I would see and have confirmed pictures of terrorists beheading children,” Biden said.
White House aides and spokespeople later backtracked that statement, referring reporters to prior news stories, rather than evidence that U.S. officials had confirmed independently.
“This attack was a campaign of pure cruelty. Not just hate, but cruelty,” he said. The president noted that the Hamas attack “echoes the worst and matches, and in some cases exceeds, the worst atrocities of ISIS.”
“The miracle of Israel is Israel. It’s Israel itself. The hope it inspires. The light it represents to the world,” Biden said. “I truly believe were there no Israel, no Jew would be safe. It’s the only ultimate guarantee.”
Doug Emhoff, the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, opened the discussion. “Like all Jews, I feel a deep visceral connection to Israel and its people,” he said. “There are no two sides to this issue. The images we saw will be seared into our brains forever.”
Also present, per the pool report, were National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan; Homeland Security Adviser Liz Sherwood-Randall; Melissa Rogers, director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships; Tiffany Eppelheimer, senior director for counterterrorism and transnational crime at the National Security Council; and Shelley Greenspan, White House Jewish liaison.
The 23 Jewish leaders present, according to the pool, came from the Jewish Federations of North America, the American Jewish Committee, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Hadassah, AIPAC, B’nai B’rith International, Hillel International, the Anti-Defamation League, J Street, as well as Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Chassidic groups.