When U.S. President Joe Biden visited Israel earlier this month, he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and visited victims of the Oct. 7 massacre by Hamas that left more than 1,400 persons dead in Israel. As the first American president to visit Israel in a time of war, he listened to their stories and heard their pleas.
His visit, Ruderman Family Foundation president Jay Ruderman says, was “huge” for Israel.
“To tell Israelis, ‘We will support you in whatever you need,’ to visit during war, it’s huge,” he said. “It’s also a powerful message to the world and the United States where America is strongly behind Israel.”
Biden’s actions mirrored his words of support. Last week, the U.S. Navy dispatched the USS Mount Whitney—the flagship of the United States Sixth Fleet—to the Eastern Mediterranean, and the president has asked Congress to approve $14 billion in funding to Israel as part of a $105 billion military aid package that also includes aid to Ukraine.
“Biden understands this is a battle between good and evil—pure evil that’s manifested in the form of Hamas,” said Ruderman, who previously served as the liaison between the IDF and Diaspora Jewry, and as leadership director for AIPAC in Israel. “They beheaded people. Shot them randomly. They wanted to kill everything in their path.”
This strong showing of support, Ruderman said, is not done purely to show sympathy. America is backing Israel at this critical moment because the world now has “terror on its doorstep. The IDF is the frontline to stop it.”
‘Radical left voices mean nothing’
After spending 20 years in Iraq and Afghanistan, Ruderman argues, the United States is understandably not keen to have an active military presence in the region again; therefore, it is helping equip Israel to stop the spread of terrorism before it’s too late, he said. Yet there is a vocal minority within elite academic institutions and political corridors of power in the United States that is opposed to Biden’s approach.
Ruderman dismisses these voices—most notably from the notorious “Squad” in the U.S. House of Representatives—as “politically insignificant.”
“The president of the United States—the leader of the Democratic Party—came out so strongly in favor of Israel,” he said. “These radical left voices mean nothing to him.”
Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) have been the most vocal of the lawmakers advocating for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas before the hostages are released. This is only one example of how members of the Squad have “lost their humanity,” according to Ruderman.
“It’s disgusting. This is the worst attack on Jews since the Holocaust. Hamas acted like animals and they blame that on Israel?”
He singled out Tlaib, who accused Israel of bombing Al-Ahli Araba Hospital in Gaza City even though Israeli and American forensic evidence demonstrated that the destruction was caused by an errant rocket fired by Palestinian Islamic Jihad. As of this writing, Tlaib’s tweet is still up on X (formerly Twitter).
“It’s completely irresponsible. There are people who have an interest in this conflict and are flaming it and spreading it,” Ruderman said.
Ruderman points out that recent polls show that the American people are hardly in lockstep with the mindset of “The Squad.”
“The majority of Americans are solidly behind Israel. They see this as a fight between good and evil,” he said.
‘Inability to protect Jewish students’
While Ruderman believes that “The Squad” doesn’t pose a threat to the U.S.-Israel relationship down the road, he can’t say the same for elite American institutions that are making their campuses an increasingly hostile environment for Jewish students.
“Things are bad in the United States. It’s not just anti-Israel sentiment but antisemitic sentiment. You’re seeing schools like the University of Pennsylvania calling for Jewish genocide,” Ruderman said, referring to a recent rally where a speaker claimed that the Israeli civilians murdered in the Oct. 7 attack were “legitimate targets.”
“College campus leadership has been very weak. Not only in their inability to decry the worst recent atrocity to happen to Jews but their inability to protect their own Jewish students. I have no problem with supporting the rights of Palestinians, but when you dismiss the fact that the leadership in Gaza is run by antisemitic terrorists, then you’re not smart at best or lost your humanity at worst,” he said.
Higher education in the United States prides itself on protecting its minority populations but fails to consider Jews as such, he noted. “Jews aren’t seen as a minority. Shame on these universities who see themselves as world centers of learning.”
“There are many brave Jews standing up on college campuses who are defending Israel. They’re documenting these actions being taken and statements being made by students, so people understand there are consequences for their words. It’s a difficult time for Jews. Most understand that this is not just a fight for Israel but a fight for the Jewish people as a whole,” Ruderman said.
Since the Oct. 7 terrorist attack, the Ruderman Family Foundation has pledged more than $600,000 in emergency relief grants, including grants to support mental-health services and strengthen civil defense systems in the ultra-Orthodox community.
“Everyone knows someone who has either been killed or taken hostage. Everyone is going to funerals and shivas. The current government is not functioning. It’s on Israeli society and private organizations to protect their own people,” Ruderman lamented. “This is the worst crisis Israel has experienced since 1948.”
Despite these hardships, the fact that most Israelis are doing whatever they can to help and that Jews in America are beginning to understand that this war is very much one of Israel’s survival gives Ruderman hope for the days ahead for Israel and humanity as a whole.
Originally published by Israel Hayom.