‘Stop now’: Jill Biden privately calls for an end to the Gaza conflict

One of the strongest voices in the White House calling for an end to civilian casualties in Gaza is the person closest to the president: Jill Biden.

At a meeting with members of the Muslim community at the White House on Tuesday night, a guest told President Biden that his wife had disapproved of his coming to the meeting because of Mr. Biden’s support for Israel in its war against Hamas.

Mr. Biden replied that he understood. The first lady, he said, urged him to “stop it, stop it now,” according to an attendee who overheard his remarks.

Salima Suswell, founder of the Black Muslim Leadership Council, recounted the scene in an interview, adding that she wrote out the president’s remarks because it was so striking to hear that the first lady felt strongly about the conflict.

“He said she said, ‘Stop it, stop it now, Joe,'” Ms Suswell said.

When asked about the president’s remarks, White House officials said Wednesday that there was no light on the conflict between Mr. Biden and the first lady and that the president was as outraged by the civilian casualties as his wife. Officials said the first lady was not calling on Israel to end its efforts against Hamas.

“Just like the president, the first lady is heartbroken by the attacks on aid workers and the ongoing loss of innocent life in Gaza,” Elizabeth Alexander, the first lady’s communications director, said in a statement. “Both want Israel to do more to protect civilians.”

The first lady is not alone in urging her husband. A number of Mr. Biden’s closest allies, including Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware, have pressed the president to do more to increase humanitarian aid to Gaza and end the war, including supporting limits on military aid to Israel.

Mr. Biden is facing growing alarm among other Democrats over his support for the war, as well as letters of internal dissent, including objections from officials in about 40 government agencies.

But the first lady occupies the most influential space in Mr. Biden’s inner circle and is one of the few people who offers him an unfettered opinion on matters of politics and policy.

dr. Biden has historically opposed American involvement in overseas conflicts, in part because Beau Biden, Mr. Biden’s eldest son, enlisted in the Delaware Army National Guard in 2003 and was deployed to Iraq in 2008. She supported the decision to withdraw American troops. from Afghanistan, despite the deadly, chaotic effort that followed.

“I think she trusts my intuition as a spouse,” she told The New York Times in a 2021 interview, “not as a politician or an adviser.”

A person attending a White House event during the winter of 2022 was surprised by the first lady’s emotional response to someone praising President George W. Bush’s legacy: “He sent my son to war,” Dr. Biden, a reference to Beau, whom she raised from infancy. “He sent my son to war.”

The conflict in Gaza is different. US troops are not on the ground, but Biden’s unwavering support for Israel over the past six months has put him squarely at odds with the majority of Americans who now oppose Israel’s campaign in Gaza, according to until the recent vote. Some Democratic voters in battleground states including Michigan and Wisconsin are warning the president that they will withdraw their support if he continues to stand with Israel.

Biden made remarks to the group on Tuesday when he released a statement saying he was outraged by the deaths of seven aid workers at the World Central Kitchen who were killed in Israeli airstrikes on Monday night. But so far there is no indication that the first lady’s private calls have prompted the president to change his policy toward Israel.

Mr. Biden is scheduled to speak with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday, a senior administration official said. The official, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said Mr. Biden’s anger and frustration had peaked in recent weeks.

Mr. Biden’s continued support for Israel has made it difficult for the first lady to campaign the way she has during decades of marriage. Like her husband, dr. Biden was interrupted at several campaign events by people protesting America’s involvement in the conflict.

U Arizona in March, the Women for Biden event led by dr. Biden was interrupted by protesters who demanded to know why the Bidens support the “genocide” in Gaza.

At other events that month, in Wisconsin and Vermont, people gathered outside Democratic Party offices and the homes of donors to protest America’s support for the war. Introductory address on March 23, which Dr. Biden held at Human Rights Campaign Dinner in Los Angeles he was interrupted by a group of people who jumped out of their seats and started shouting “cease fire now”.

In the event, the first lady remained silent as the protesters were removed from the room with supporters chanting “four more years”. After they left, she continued her speech.

Leave a Comment