Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
October 11, 2023
Good afternoon. And let me start by thanking you, Gilad. I’m truly grateful to have you as a friend here in New York, as a colleague at the United Nations. And I want to thank you Ted, and the entire team at AJC, for bringing the diplomatic community together. And also, for your tireless advocacy on behalf of the Jewish people and the state of Israel. You are a source of hope, you are a source of light, at a time when unadulterated evil has been unleashed on Israel and on the Jewish people.
And that’s what these attacks are, they are unadulterated evil. Carried out by Hamas, a terrorist group whose stated purpose is to destroy Israel and kill Jews – to kill Jews.
These attacks bear a stark resemblance to the atrocities carried out by ISIS. Hamas terrorists slaughtered more than a thousand innocent civilians, including at least 22 Americans. And reports estimate that more than 100 civilians were taken hostage.
But these numbers – as shocking as they are – do not do justice to the depths of horrors, the depravity of the violence. They do not do justice to the victims and their loved ones. Human lives are not just numbers.
And so, we must tell the stories of those who were executed, who were raped, who were kidnapped. Entire families, children, babies, Holocaust survivors, grandparents in wheelchairs.
And we must tell the stories of innocent civilians like Doron Asher Katz and her two young daughters, who were taken hostage while visiting their grandmother in southern Israel. Whose whereabouts, like so many others, are still unknown.
To my diplomatic colleagues, this moment is a test of the international community. It is a test of our common humanity. We cannot draw false equivalencies between Hamas’ outrageous attacks and Israel’s inherent right of self-defense under the UN Charter, and we cannot issue weak condemnations that fail to unequivocally denounce Hamas by name.
As President Biden made clear, Hamas does not stand for the Palestinian people’s rights to dignity and self-determination. The path of terror that Hamas is engaged on has not improved the life of a single person or done anything to advance peace and stability.
Let’s be clear here: For far too long, Israel has been unfairly targeted in the UN system, and that needs to change. Now is the moment to stand in solidarity with Israel.
For our part, the United States’ commitment to Israel is ironclad. You heard it from our President. You heard it from our Secretary of State. And it has been that way for more than 75 years.
Yesterday, I joined President Biden in the Situation Room to discuss the crisis. And following that meeting, the President spoke to Prime Minister Netanyahu, and then to the American people about our response. President Biden made clear that we’re surging additional military assistance to Israel, including ammunition and interceptors to replenish the Iron Dome.
We will ensure Israel has what it needs to take care of its people and defend itself from terrorist attacks effectively, consistent with the rule of law and the law of war. Unlike Hamas, which does not care to protect civilians.
The bottom line is, we support Israel. We support Israel as they hold terrorists accountable for these attacks and take necessary and proportionate action.
Over the past few days, I’ve been thinking a lot about my own visit to Yad Vashem. In 2021, I had the honor of rekindling the eternal flames in the Hall of Remembrance. That solemn ceremony – next to the crypt that held the ashes of Holocaust victims from across Europe – served as a poignant reminder for me that we must live up to a sacred promise: “Never Again.”
“Never Again”, my friends, is now. The eyes of the world are on us. The eyes of history are on us. We must condemn this barbaric violence, and we must combat the scourge of antisemitism.
And we must keep the memories of the victims of these attacks alive. Let us share their stories with the world. The families they built. The joy they spread. The Mitzvahs they performed. May their memories be a blessing. May we shun evil and do good. And may we seek peace. Am Yisrael Chai.