newsIsrael at War

Minister Chikli to JNS: Biden’s response to anti-Israel campus protests ‘disappointing’

There are calls for increased military pressure on Iranian terror proxies Hamas and Hezbollah.

Israeli Minister for Diaspora Affairs and Combating Antisemitism Amichai Chikli (right) and Bryan Leib, a senior fellow at the Center for Fundamental Rights, wave to the crowd at CPAC Hungary on April 25, 2024. Credit: Courtesy of CPAC Hungary.
Israeli Minister for Diaspora Affairs and Combating Antisemitism Amichai Chikli (right) and Bryan Leib, a senior fellow at the Center for Fundamental Rights, wave to the crowd at CPAC Hungary on April 25, 2024. Credit: Courtesy of CPAC Hungary.

Israeli Minister for Diaspora Affairs and Combating Antisemitism Amichai Chikli deplored on Thursday U.S. President Biden’s response to the sometimes violent anti-Israel demonstrations sweeping across American university campuses.

“Biden said he condemned the demonstrations but also those who don’t understand what’s going on with the Palestinians. To me that was very disappointing,” Chikli told JNS on the sidelines of the Conservative Political Action Conference Hungary 2024.

Also attending the event in Budapest, hosted by the Center for Fundamental Rights, are Israeli Minister of Innovation, Science and Technology Gila Gamliel (Likud), Knesset member Amit Halevi (Likud) and Knesset member Ohad Tal (Religious Zionism).

Protests in support of Hamas have led to arrests at campuses, including Columbia University, Yale University, New York University, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Southern California and The Ohio State University.

“The harassment against Jewish students and support for Hamas should be condemned, period,” Chikli said. “When they wear kaffiyehs and chant for globalized intifada, they are saying they want more Jews to be murdered and women to be raped.”

In an interview with JNS in December, Chikli said: “Universities that were unable to issue an unequivocal condemnation of Oct. 7 are in a colossal crisis from a moral point of view. Moral relativism has created a moral abyss. Truth has become a relative term.”

He advocated increased pressure “by all means” on academic institutions that tolerate antisemitism, noting “the massive foreign funding of American universities by Qatar, which many Americans were unaware of.”

‘They only understand force’

Shifting to the Middle East, Chikli on Thursday called for more decisive actions against Iran. 

“America possesses an enormous amount of responsibility and power. They can be far more effective. We saw it with the previous [Trump] administration. [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps general] Qassem Soleimani’s elimination created real deterrence,” Chikli said. 

IRGC Quds Force Commander Soleimani was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Iraq in January 2020. Assassinated in a vehicle leaving Baghdad Airport, he was close to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and played a strategic role in Tehran’s entrenchment efforts throughout the Middle East.

By contrast, Chikli compared the West’s recent approach to Iran to the appeasement of Adolf Hitler before the outbreak of World War II and the Holocaust.

“Treating Iran is like treating a wild beast. When you feed the beast, it wants more; when you appease it, it feels like it has power. This is the philosophy in the Middle East. They only understand force,” said Chikli on Thursday.

“When Biden says ‘don’t,’ who is he saying this to? Iran or Israel? I am not sure,” he added. 

Earlier this month, Iran fired more than 300 missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles from its territory towards Israel. Jerusalem retaliated on April 19, reportedly bombing an S-300 air-defense battery near the Natanz nuclear site in the Isfahan province.

Chikli described the response to Tehran’s first-ever direct attack on the Jewish state as “a nice beginning,” urging additional measures to confront the mullahs.

In this respect, he called for increased military pressure on Iranian terror proxies Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

“I don’t think with Hezbollah, negotiations are the way. With terrorists, you need to go and kill the bastards; that’s it,” Chikli said. 

‘We would already be in Rafah’

An Israeli was killed overnight on Thursday in a Hezbollah anti-tank missile attack on the Mount Dov region close to the northern border with Lebanon. The man was identified as Sharif Suad from the Bedouin town of Sallama in the Galilee in northern Israel.

Hezbollah has killed nine civilians—Israelis as well as a foreign worker—and 11 IDF soldiers since it began its current round of attacks on Oct. 8, at the behest of Iran. Tens of thousands of Israelis are unable to return to their homes and are currently living in temporary housing arrangements. 

While Chikli said Israel still has “true friends in the Democratic Party,” the Biden administration has hamstrung Jerusalem.

“Pay attention to the words of Qatar’s formal representative to the Arab League [Essa Al-Nassr] who said [on Monday] that Oct. 7 was just the beginning,” Chikli said. “No sanctions against Qatar, no demands to move Hamas’s leadership away, they are paying no price. All the pressure is on the State of Israel. We would already be in Rafah if it wasn’t for that,” he added.

Israel’s War Cabinet met on Thursday afternoon to discuss the Israel Defense Forces’ pending operation in Rafah city, where four of Hamas’s six remaining Gaza Strip battalions are entrenched.

The IDF said on Wednesday that it was readying to deploy two reserve brigades to Gaza as preparations continue for a ground invasion of Rafah, including evacuating noncombatants to a humanitarian zone.

The city along the Egyptian border is also where Jerusalem believes that the terrorist group is keeping most of the 133 remaining hostages.

Chikli related to the propaganda video released by Hamas on Wednesday of 23-year-old dual U.S.-Israeli citizen Hersh Goldberg-Polin, who has been held hostage by the terrorist group in Gaza since Oct. 7.

“He lost his hand [during the Palestinian terror invasion] and is now in the hands of Hamas,” said Chikli. “I hope now the Biden administration will give us the support to finish the job in Rafah to eliminate Hamas and bring about the conditions to return our people.” 

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