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Stefanik rebukes Biden in Knesset speech for curbing weapons to Israel : NPR

Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., questions Columbia University President Nemat Shafik during a House committee hearing on anti-Semitism in higher education on last month.

Mariam Zuhaib/AP

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Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., questions Columbia University President Nemat Shafik during a House committee hearing on anti-Semitism in higher education on last month.

Mariam Zuhaib/AP

One of the leaders of the Republican Party in the US House of Representatives, Representative Elise Stefanik, addressed the Israeli parliamentary caucus on Sunday, where she called for full military aid to support the war against Hamas in Gaza.

Stefanik, who represents a conservative district in northern New York, said the United States should provide “the State of Israel with what it needs, when it needs it, without conditions to achieve total victory over to evil.”

Writing on social media, Stefanik framed his speech as a rebuke to President Joe Biden, who has curbed the delivery of some weapons to Israel amid growing concern over the humanitarian crisis and civilian deaths in Gaza.

Speaking to CNN earlier this month, Biden said he would hold back bombs and artillery shells if Israel escalated fighting in Rafah, a Gaza town where large numbers of Palestinian refugees have gathered.

“If they go into Rafah, I’m not providing the weapons that have been used historically to take care of Rafah, to take care of the towns,” Biden said.

The Biden administration refused a 2,000-pound bomb delivery to Israel but later announced plans to move forward with $1 billion in military aid.

In his speech, Stefanik, who chairs the Republican conference in the House of Representatives, blasted the idea of ​​any restrictions that could hinder the fight against Hamas.

“Total victory begins, but is only just beginning, with the erasure of those responsible for October 7 from the face of the earth,” Stefanik said.

Hamas launched an attack in Israel on October 7 that killed around 1,200 people, including civilians, according to the Israeli government.

In the months that followed, the Israeli army waged a military campaign inside Gaza that left more than 35,000 people dead, including many civilians, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

The violence in Gaza has drawn international condemnation of Israel and sparked a protest movement on college campuses in the United States.

Stefanik denounces the “moral rot” of American universities

Stefanik spoke before a Knesset panel focused on concerns about anti-Semitism on college campuses around the world.

In recent months, Stefanik has played an increasingly prominent role in House committee hearings focused on concerns about allegations of anti-Semitism at American universities.

Faced with pressure from politicians, college campuses across the United States have used police to disperse pro-Palestinian protests. Students, including some Jewish activists, have mobilized to force their universities to divest from Israel or companies that profit from the war.

During his speech at Tel Aviv, Stefanik accused pro-Palestinian activists of “calling for intifada and genocide” against Jews.

“These views, although aired by some radical Democratic members of Congress, do not reflect those of the American people,” Stefanik said.

Stefanik said her efforts to oust top U.S. university officials, whom she accuses of tolerating anti-Semitism, will continue.

Some critics have accused Republicans of exploiting their legitimate fears about anti-Semitism to attack progressive ideas and liberal leaders.

“When loud voices attempt to exploit concerns around anti-Semitism to advance this broader reactionary and extremist agenda, we need to understand what is going on there,” said Amy Spitalnick, CEO of the Jewish Council for public affairs, in an interview with NPR last month.

The debate in the United States over anti-Semitism and support for the war in Gaza comes at a time when Israeli politicians are divided over how to continue the fight against Hamas.

Benny Gantz, a centrist member of Israel’s war cabinet, said he would leave the coalition government unless Prime Minister Benjamin Netanhahu develops a concrete plan for the future of Palestinians in Gaza.

“We need a strategic reversal,” Gantz said in a televised speech Saturday, calling the current situation a “moment of truth” for Israel.

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