“We cannot let terrorists win. We cannot let them win. And I know that we will not, thanks to the resilience of the Israeli people,” said Chair Cardin.
WASHINGTON – This week, U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, co-led introduction of a bipartisan resolution with Senate leadership in support of Israel, which garnered support from 99 Senators. Chairman Cardin also delivered a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate reaffirming U.S. support for Israel and denouncing Hamas’ horrific attack, highlighting the urgent need to confirm Jack Lew as U.S. Ambassador to Israel.
“It is difficult to comprehend the evil we witnessed last week … there were over one thousand innocent Jewish people going about their lives in Southern Israel. …Hamas massacred them all,” said Chair Cardin.
“We must not rest until our Committee, our Congress, and our nation has done everything we can to support Israel in this time of need,” continued Chair Cardin. “So to my colleagues on both side of the aisle here in the Senate, let’s work together to support Israel. And to those who committed these atrocities, we will hold you accountable for these crimes against humanity, no matter how long it takes.”
A copy of the Chair’s remarks, as delivered, have been provided below.
I come to the floor today to express my shock and horror at what Hamas has done in its terrorist attack on Israel. It is difficult to comprehend the evil we witnessed last week. Before Saturday, October 7th 2023, there were over one thousand innocent Jewish people going about their lives in Southern Israel. There were young people at a music festival; grandparents outside of their homes; children celebrating birthdays; mothers with little babies in their arms.
Hamas massacred them all.
We have not seen this kind of atrocity since the early days of the ISIS caliphate. Tragically, we must not only mourn the death that Hamas left behind, we must try to rescue the hostages—some of them American citizens—that Hamas dragged back to Gaza.
For the Jewish community around the world—and for all Israelis—this was the most horrific week in generations. Some of the toughest in Israel’s entire history. So, I want to make one point crystal clear: The United States stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the State of Israel. Seventy-five years ago, Harry Truman was the first world leader to officially recognize Israel, only eleven minutes after its creation. He did that, because the United States and Israel share common values. And for over seven decades, the relationship between our two nations has only gotten stronger and deeper.
So despite the pain that many of us feel from these barbaric attacks—and we will continue to feel—now is the time for us to show our total support for Israel. Not just in words, but by our deeds. This is exactly what we are doing.
From the bottom of my heart—I want to thank the United States’ embassy team in Israel and our embassies across the region for their tireless efforts. Even as they themselves have taken over from rocket fire, American diplomats have stepped up to work hand in hand with Israel, to serve over a half a million Americans that are there.
In fact, across the Biden Administration, public servants have been working around the clock to help Israel and make sure it has everything it needs to defend its people. President Biden has had several calls with Prime Minister Netanyahu offering America’s full support. He’s also ordered the USS Ford’s carrier strike group to the Eastern Mediterranean.
A warning that Hezbollah in Lebanon and the regime in Iran needs to hear loud and clear. Do not join this conflict. Don’t even think about it. The United States and our allies and partners will not tolerate such action.
Our secretaries of State and of Defense are working non-stop to coordinate the flow of security assistance to Israel and planeloads of U.S. defense items have already landed. And they have both been in the region working with our partners to shore up support for Israel.
Congress also has to make sure we do everything we can, to help come together to help Israel. Bipartisan congressional support has always been the bedrock of the U.S.-Israel relationship. In the days since this attack, I have been talking with my colleagues throughout the Senate and House. I’ve had several conversations with the Republican Ranking Member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee—Senator Risch.
And I’ve let the Administration know, our committee is prepared to work quietly and quickly in a bipartisan manner to support Israel. That is why earlier today I introduced—along with Senator Risch and more than 91 cosponsors—a bipartisan resolution that sends a clear message that America stands with Israel. Always has, always will. And over the course of the next days and weeks and months, I will be leading my colleagues to make sure Israel gets everything it needs to defend itself and its people.
That means replenishing Israel’s air defenses so that they have what they need to repel the rocket attacks. That means authorizing supplemental money for Israel’s defense as it navigates the aftermath of this attack. And, as Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, that means getting the President’s nominee for Ambassador to Israel—Jacob Lew—confirmed and in his post as soon as possible. We need a confirmed Ambassador in Israel to assist in these efforts.
We also need to be pushing back against the narrative Hamas is trying to spread across the global community. The idea that there is some equivalency between Israel’s security operations and the Hamas terror attack. There is no equivalency here. This is about Israel’s right to defend itself against a designated terrorist organization. It’s about freeing abducted citizens—women, children, old people—who have been held hostage.
Now I’m concerned about the safety and welfare of the Palestinians. Because Hamas doesn’t care one bit about the safety and welfare of millions of Palestinians, their lives, and their humanity. During their terror attack on Israel, Hamas also killed Arabs—including a heroic ambulance driver who went to help the wounded people at the music festival. That’s because that’s what decent humans do—they help in times of need. Hamas has made them pay with their lives.
So most Palestinians want no part of what Hamas is doing. And I believe we must find a way to support safe passage to those residents of Gaza who are trying to get out. We also need to make sure that innocent people stuck there get the food and water and medical needs that they so desperately desire. The best thing we could do for the Palestinians in Gaza, is to make sure Hamas can never do this again. Finally, as we look to the future, we must not allow this conflict to derail the normalization process that has been in works between Israel and Saudi Arabia. This would be an absolute game-changer and Hamas knows that.
Agreeing to normal relations is the stepping stone to peace and prosperity for Israel, and for the entire region, including the Palestinian people. A stable and prosperous Middle East that includes a stable and prosperous Palestinian state is one of the best ways to undercut Iran’s resistance ideology and Hamas’s goal of destroying Israel. They don’t want a Palestinian state at peace with Israel and accountable to the Palestinian people.
Madame President, we cannot let terrorists win. We cannot let them win. And I know that we will not, thanks to the resilience of the Israeli people.
Early on the morning of October 7th, an Israeli journalist who lives near the border of Gaza heard mortar rockets flying overhead. He rushed with his wife into a safe room in his home with three-year old and one-year old daughters. When he knew Hamas had infiltrated their kibbutz he thought, “We’re going to die here.”
He called his father who lived in Tel Aviv. His father told him, “You have to be quiet. You have to be locked.” His father—a retired general in his sixties—was going to get in his car and come rescue them. He told his son—“Nobody, nobody, can stop me.” Over the next ten hours, the grandfather fought his way south. He got to the door of his son’s house and found the dead bodies of terrorists outside.
He called out to his son to open the safe room door. From inside, one of the girls recognized his voice and shouted—“Grandfather is here!” Grandfather is here…that’s when they knew they were safe. That’s the kind of courage Israelis have. The kind of bravery that will see Israel through this terrible tragedy.
And we must not rest until our committee, our Congress, and our nation has done everything we can to support Israel in this time of need. So to my colleagues on both side of the aisle here in the Senate, let’s work together to support Israel.
And to those who committed these atrocities, we will hold you accountable for these crimes against humanity, no matter how long it takes.