U.S. presidential candidates have rallied behind Israel after Hamas attacked the country Saturday, leading Israel to declare war.
As of Monday, about 800 people in Israel have been killed and nearly 2,400 wounded, with over 150 civilians taken hostage into Gaza. Palestinian authorities have reported nearly 700 deaths and 3,700 casualties.
President Joe Biden
The president quickly condemned the attacks Saturday, calling them “unconscionable” and pledged to give Israel “what it needs to defend itself.”
“Israel has the right to defend itself and its people, full stop,” Biden said in a speech at the White House Saturday. “There’s never a justification for terrorist attacks and my administration’s support for Israeli’s security is rock solid and unwavering.’’
Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, Israeli officials told The Associated Press.
Biden’s critics have pointed to the administration’s decision to free $6 billion in blocked Iranian funds in exchange for American hostage releases, amid reports that Iran participated in planning the attack on Israel. White House officials rejected this criticism, noting that the money given to Iran “has yet to be spent by Iran and can only be used for humanitarian needs,” AP reported.
Trump blamed Biden for the attack, pointing to the hostage negotiation with Iran — as well as decreased sanctions on Iran and “our country’s perceived weakness” under Biden — as contributing factors.
In a speech in New Hampshire on Monday, Trump spoke for over an hour — on topics ranging from his indictments to football — before mentioning the Israel-Hamas war. When he did, he attacked Biden.
“I can’t imagine how anybody who’s Jewish or anybody who loves Israel — and frankly, the evangelicals just love Israel — I can’t imagine anybody voting Democrat, let alone for this man, who’s totally — he was shot 30 years ago. He’s more shot now. But the problem was all caused by crooked Joe Biden,” Trump said.
Trump also used the war to push his immigration policies, calling to “reimpose the travel ban on terror-afflicted countries,” a reference to his executive orders that banned travel to the U.S. from several Muslim-majority countries. Trump also claimed the “same people that attacked Israel” are crossing the U.S. southern border from Mexico.
The Florida governor called for the U.S. to give its “full support” to Israel as they “hunt down and eradicate” Hamas.
“Hamas committed these acts for two simple reasons: they hate the Jewish people, and they are evil cowards,” DeSantis said in a statement. “They were empowered by Joe Biden’s appeasement of Iran and a desire to ruin further normalization of ties within the Arab world with Israel.”
DeSantis proposed three actions: freezing any funding the Biden administration provided to Iran; cut off any foreign aid to Hamas; and “immediately shut down America’s wide-open southern border to ensure we are in a position to better protect Americans here at home from these real threats.”
The former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations called this a “moment of moral clarity.” Of all the Republican candidates, Haley proposed the most detailed plan for aiding Israel.
In addition to providing “arms and intelligence” to Israel, Haley called for advising all regional governments, particularly Lebanon, that they must not allow the use of their territory for this war. She also called for freezing the $6 billion in aid promised to Iran and redirecting it to Israel, in addition to other sanctions on Iran.
She called for the end of U.S. taxpayer support for Palestine or “United Nations-backed entities that side with Hamas or fail to denounce antisemitic activity.”
During a campaign event in Iowa Sunday, Haley said it is a battle between “right and wrong” and “good and evil.” “I have always said, and I strongly believe, you can’t destroy what God has blessed — and God has blessed Israel,” she said.
The U.S. senator called the attack on Israel an “assault on Western civilization” and said Biden “funded these attacks.”
“We didn’t just invite this aggression, we paid for it,” Scott said in a post on X. “Iran is the biggest funder of Hamas. This is the Biden $6 billion ransom payment at work.”
Scott repeated the claim during campaign stops on Monday.
Ramaswamy said he was “appalled by the barbaric and medieval Hamas attacks.”
“I stand with Israel and the U.S. should too,” Ramaswamy said in a short post on X.
Ramaswamy has been criticized by other candidates for his proposals to withdraw aid from Israel, which Ramaswamy says is a mischaracterization. At an event in New Hampshire on Sunday, he said he would not end aid to Israel “until Israel tells us they are ready for it.”
The former vice president pointed to several of his fellow Republican candidates as complicit in the attacks, saying they have “embraced the language of isolationism and appeasement.”
“This is also what happens when you have leaders in the Republican Party signaling retreat on the world stage,” Pence said at an event in Iowa.
He specifically mentioned the “voices of appeasement like Donald Trump, Vivek Ramaswamy and Ron DeSantis” for abandoning the ideal that “America is the leader of the free world.”
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Kennedy, who announced his candidacy as an independent on Monday, applauded “strong statements of support from the Biden White House for Israel” and called for continued support.
“Statements of support are fine, but we must follow through with unwavering, resolute, and practical action,” he said in a post on X. “America must stand by our ally throughout this operation and beyond as it exercises its sovereign right to self-defense.”
At his campaign announcement in Philadelphia Monday, Kennedy was introduced by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who called for peace in Israel.
https://www.deseret.com/2023/10/9/23910087/biden-trump-pence-scott-haley-desantis-support-for-israel What have presidential candidates said about Israel?