WASHINGTON, D.C. (Monday, October 16, 2023) – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding support for Israel:
"Since the Senate last convened, terrorists have sent shockwaves through the civilized world with savage, cold-blooded violence.
"On October 7, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad desecrated Israeli soil and tore apart Israeli families with utterly medieval brutality.
"Like ISIS, terrorists from Gaza turned peaceful homes and neighborhoods in Israel into blood-soaked warzones.
"It was the deadliest attack on Israelis – and on American citizens overseas – in decades.
"By now, reports and images of these horrific scenes have spread widely.
"Accounts of Israeli women tortured and raped, of elders kidnapped, of charred corpses and beheadings, and of children shot dead in their homes have shaken peaceful people to their cores.
"In one kibbutz, a paramedic named Amit was working to save the lives of victims pouring into a local clinic when she documented what would be the last moments of her own life in messages to her sister.
"Here's what she said, 'They're here. I don't think I'll get out of here alive. Be strong, if something happens to me.'
"A few minutes later, in a call from Amit's phone, all her sister could hear were gunshots and screams. One in ten residents of her community were slaughtered by the terrorists.
"Here's how one retired senior IDF commander put it after he ran to rejoin Israel's defense efforts.
"'I have heard during my childhood about the pogroms in Europe, the Holocaust, of course. All my family came from Europe, they are survivors. But I never thought I would see...things like that.'
"Madam President, the people of Israel are grieving unimaginable horrors. And we have a responsibility not to look away.
"Not least because the same news that has shaken the civilized world to its core has emboldened anti-Semites and terrorist sympathizers across the globe.
"We've seen thousands of demonstrators cheer on terrorist violence from the streets of Western cities.
"In London, many Jewish children were kept home from school on Friday out of fears for their safety.
"In Chicago, a bomb threat forced a local synagogue to evacuate.
"In Sydney, Australia, a supposedly pro-Palestinian gathering devolved into a sickening flashback to the worst stain on the last century of human history as demonstrators chanted 'gas the Jews'.
"And on college campuses across America, leftist student groups cloaked vile anti-Semitism in a thin veneer of performative woke jargon.
"So Madam President, friends of Israel simply cannot afford to be silent. And as Israel's closest ally, the United States must lead by our example in supporting its efforts to defend itself for as long as it takes.
"As I outlined over the state work period, this means loudly and clearly distinguishing between the aggressor and the victim in this war. No matter how many voices in the media attempt to 'both-sides' a terrorist attack, there is simply no moral equivalence here.
"Responsibility for the murder of Israelis lies with the terrorists who pulled the trigger and the regime that arms and trains them.
"And responsibility for the suffering of the Palestinian people lies with the Hamas terrorists who consolidated power by flinging rival civilian officials off of rooftops, who use scarce building supplies to dig terror tunnels, who turn drinking water pipes into rocket launchers, and who use residents of Gaza as human shields.
"Make no mistake: the surest way to stop violence against Israelis and oppression of Palestinians is to wipe terrorists like Hamas from the face of the Earth.
"To that end, the United States must continue to provide maximum support to Israel's counter-terrorist operation, as long as it takes. And just as importantly, we have to re-establish deterrence against the Iranian regime that not only directly threatens America's interest in a peaceful and stable Middle East, but also bears the blood of hundreds of Americans and plots to kill even more.
"America's disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, the desperate pursuit of a new nuclear deal, and the failure to respond decisively to attacks on U.S. forces in Syria have weakened our deterrence against the world's largest state sponsor of terror.
"America's weakness has left our allies and partners with serious questions about the credibility of our commitments.
"And if we fail to present clear and devastating consequences of further violence against America as well as our friends in Israel, we will make deterring an even bigger strategic adversary in Asia even more difficult.
"Re-establishing effective deterrence means investing in American military strength. It means investing in an industrial base that's capable of equipping both U.S. forces and our allies and partners to meet authoritarian aggression – in Europe, in Asia, and in the Middle East. And it means responding to challenges with credible and unflinching resolve.
"This is a fundamental responsibility of governing. Full stop.
"I'll have more to say in the coming days. But for right now, this is not merely a terrorist war against Israel.
"It's part of a clear and present danger to the United States and the entire civilized world.
"This, Madam President, is a time for choosing.
"As Israel works to eliminate the terrorists who threaten its existence, the United States must reaffirm our commitment to Israel's security.
"And we must continue to demonstrate by our leadership that no country should offer safe haven to those who aid and abet terror."