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Transcript: Majority Leader Schumer Remarks From Tel Aviv Press Conference Standing In Solidarity With Israel And Against The Brutal Attacks Of Hamas

Tel Aviv, Israel – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today delivered remarks at a press conference standing in solidarity with Israel. Following a day of meetings with Israeli government and military families and meeting families of hostages and victims of Hamas’s horrific attack, Senator Schumer was joined by Senators Cassidy, Rosen, Romney, and Kelly. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

We say this to the Israeli people: we have your back. We feel your pain. We ache with you. And we and our country will stand by you in these difficult times. Israel is a strong nation and at this moment we say to Israel: you are not alone. The United States stands alongside you as an unrelenting partner. As the first Jewish Majority Leader, and the highest-ranking Jewish elected official ever in America, I felt I had to be here. I wanted to be here, but I also felt an obligation to be here. And we had a good and productive meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu, National Unity Party Minister Chairman Benny Gantz, Defense Minister Gallant, Minister Ron Dermer, and the war council. We also met with President Isaac Herzog and Opposition Leader Yair Lapid. And we met with the families of the victims of this brutal attack, people who didn’t know if their relatives were dead or alive, and some of them already knew that they were hostages. When we met them, there was not a dry eye in the house. We cried openly, it was so moving. These people, what they’re going through because of the vicious, horrible, inhuman nastiness of Hamas.

We also experienced what Israelis experience almost every day. We were having a lunch up in the hotel and the sirens went off. We heard them, and we were all rushed into a shelter and had to stay there until the coast was clear. And then a few minutes ago, this press conference was delayed for the same reason. Look, there are no words for the horror that happened last Saturday. It shook me to my core. I think about it all the time. I see the pictures of the little children and I think what if this happened to my four-year-old grandson?

Most Jews killed in a single day since the Holocaust, more than on Kristallnacht. It was horrible. And when I was recently in China, and I met with the Israeli ambassador in Beijing, and that's where I first learned about what happened on a kibbutz, where Hamas herded everyone, about 100 people, into a room, a recreation room, and then slaughtered them. Machine-gunned every one of them down.

And it reminded me of a story in my family. My great-grandmother was the wife of a famous rabbi who had previously died in Chortkiv, a town in western Ukraine. The Nazis came in. They asked her to gather her greater family on the porch, approximately 35 people gathered from ages 88 to three months. The Nazis said you're coming with us - she said we're not going. They machine-gunned every one of them down. So, unfortunately, we all know the depth of the agony that Israel feels. And the world can't move on and say oh, well, that was yesterday. Because if we don't prevent the threat from Hamas from occurring, it'll happen again, and again, and again. Let's not forget that Hamas does not believe in any Jewish state.

If you read some of their covenants and charters, they would do to the Jewish people in the rest of Israel what they did to the people along the Gaza border. They must be stopped. And the viciousness of this attack I mean, it's just wrenching, young women raped and murdered side by side, babies’ throats slit in front of their parents, and then they shoot the parents and so many other things that we read about. So we cannot let this evil continue to prowl the earth. So, in the face of this horrific attack, we're here to share a message of resolute solidarity. We say to Israel: America will stand with its ally Israel, and I, along with my colleagues here, will lead the effort in the United States Senate to provide Israel with the support required to fully defend itself from this monstrous attack. Again to the Israeli people, America has your back.

The purpose of our trip has been threefold. First, to send a clear message to the Israeli people that the United States stands with Israel. Two, to meet with the leaders in Israel and discuss in detail what Israel needs in terms of resources, military, intelligence, and humanitarian and support, so we can put the best aid package together quickly. And three, to show that Israel's support is strong and bipartisan. Behind me are two Democrats and two Republicans. We have a lot of partisan divisions in America, but this isn't one of them.

Now, Israel, Israeli forces have already begun the work to extinguish the threat of Hamas. That is a goal that has to happen, has to happen. There's also an important mission to rescue hostages taken by Hamas, many of whom are women, children, elderly, some are Americans. As I said, we met with some of the families of these hostages. Today, as a parent or grandparent it's truly heart-wrenching. We wept as they told their stories. There were such beautiful, brave people. And every second seems like a day, as they're wondering what has happened to their child, to their parent, to their brother, to their sister.

And we told them we would do everything we could, including speaking to the president next week, who had to talk to these parents as well. But we're going to talk to him next week about the U.S. doing everything it can to help get the hostages released. The Biden administration and the Israeli government have assured us that that's happening.

Now these are two necessary tasks, eliminating the threat of Hamas once and for all, and freeing hostages. These tasks are made more difficult because, unlike Hamas, civilized democracies, like the U.S. and like Israel must hold themselves to a higher standard. The Biden administration has underscored that democracies like ours are stronger and more secure when we uphold the rule of law.

We echoed that to the Prime Minister of Israel and to every Israeli official we met. We told them that as well as military assistance, intelligence assistance, diplomatic assistance, we wanted humanitarian assistance, and I said to them, find the fastest safest and most efficient way to do so. We also told them it was really important, and it's difficult, we know it's difficult, but still we have to minimize civilian casualties in Gaza. As Senate Majority Leader, as I mentioned, the highest-ranking Jewish leader in American history, I'm doing everything in my power to ensure the Senate delivers the support Israel needs to accomplish these military intelligence and humanitarian goals. We will not just talk, we will act. We will work to move this aid through the Senate ASAP and the Israeli leaders made it clear to us they need the aid quickly. We heard from the Israeli leaders about what is needed and we heard about precision-guided munitions, we heard about Iron Dome replacement, we heard about 155-millimeter mortars. We heard about JDAMs and many other things. And we also talked about what kinds of intelligence help they needed, as well as diplomatic help that we might be able to do as well. The needs of course are quickly evolving over time.

So we will work with the Israeli government and the Biden administration to assemble the most generous package possible. When I return to Washington I'm going to direct Senators Murray, Reed, and Cardin, heads of the most relevant committees, to work with their ranking Republican members, the Biden administration, and my office and Leader McConnell’s to pull together a package that the Senate can take up as soon as possible, hopefully within the next few weeks.

Now people will ask, what about the House? We're not waiting for the House. We believe that if the Senate acts in a strong bipartisan way it may indeed improve the chances that the House, even with its current dysfunction, will act.

So the bottom line is that October 7th is a day that will no doubt live in infamy. My guess is I'll think of it every day for the rest of my life, just as I think of 9/11 every day for the rest of my life. And now, we just want to be clear to the Israeli people during these such difficult times. I just asked four random Israelis, guy driving the car, waiter at the restaurant and two others I've bumped into, every one of them knows somebody who's close to them who has been lost. So it’s such a difficult time.

But we know the difficulty of their tasks, but we also know success. The elimination of the threat of Hamas is vital. Israel has a right to defend itself and eliminate the threat of Hamas to make sure this evil never happens again. Our prayers are with all of those killed and taken hostage, their families, thousands injured. May the memories of the dead be a blessing and a source of strength for all of us as we navigate this challenging future with fortitude of spirit and solidarity of purpose.