President Biden on Thursday used an Oval Office address to condemn Islamophobia and antisemitism in the aftermath of the killing of a Palestinian-American boy and amid broader concerns about rising violence after terrorist attacks in Israel.
Biden spoke in primetime about the Israel-Hamas conflict and Ukraine’s ongoing war against Russia, making the argument that supporting both the Israelis and Ukrainians is in America’s interest. But he also spoke about the fear that has seeped into Muslim and Jewish communities in the wake of Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel.
“Today, Jewish families worried about being targeted in school, wearing symbols of their faith walking down the street or going out about their daily lives,” Biden said.
“And I know many of you in the Muslim-American community, the Arab-American community, the Palestinian-American community, and so many others, are outraged, saying to yourself, here we go again with Islamophobia and distrust we saw after 9/11,” he added.
The president spoke specifically to the killing of Wadea Al-Fayoume, a 6-year-old in Illinois who was stabbed to death over the weekend. Prosecutors have said the landlord of the boy’s parents killed Wadea in an attack motivated by hatred of Muslims amid the fighting in Israel and Gaza.
“We must without equivocation denounce antisemitism. We must also without equivocation denounce Islamophobia,” Biden said. “And to all of you hurting… I want you to know I see you. You belong. And I want to say this to you. You’re all America.”
Following his address, the White House said in a statement the president and the first lady spoke with Al-Fayoume’s father and uncle.
“The President and First Lady expressed their deepest condolences to the Alfayoumi family as they mourn; their prayers that Wadea’s mother, Hannan Shahin, makes a full recovery; and their commitment to keep speaking out against anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab, and anti-Muslim hate and violence,” the statement read.
Biden’s primetime address came one day after a whirlwind trip to Israel, during which he met with Israeli government officials and survivors of the Hamas attacks and delivered remarks announcing humanitarian aid to Gaza while offering steadfast U.S. support for the Jewish state as it prepares an offensive.
More than 1,400 Israelis died in terrorist attacks carried out by Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, and thousands of Palestinians have died in ensuing Israeli strikes targeting Hamas in the Strip.
Updated 9:26 p.m.