Joe Biden was confronted on Wednesday be a bearded female rabbi, who demanded to know why he had not called for a ceasefire in Gaza – leading the president to insist he wanted a ‘pause’ so the ‘prisoners’ could leave.
It was not clear whether Biden was referring to the 230 hostages Hamas has been holding in Gaza since the October 7 terror attack, or the people living in the enclave who are unable to get out.
Rabbi Jessica Rosenberg, a Minneapolis-based Reconstructionist rabbi and progressive activist, who has urged people to boycott Israel, interrupted Biden while he was speaking to a crowd of 200 donors at a private Minneapolis fundraiser.
‘As a rabbi I need you to call for a ceasefire right now,’ she shouted, while Biden was referencing ‘antisemitic bile’ at a right wing march in Charlottesville.
Biden replied: ‘I think we need a pause. A pause means give time to get the prisoners out.’
The protester identified herself to DailyMail.com as Jessica Rosenberg
President Joe Biden, pictured in Minnesota on Wednesday, was heckled by a rabbi demanding a ceasefire in Gaza
The White House initially resisted calling for any reduction in Israel’s onslaught, but on October 24 Antony Blinken, the Secretary of State, called for the first time for a ‘humanitarian pause’.
Blinken said ‘humanitarian pauses must be considered’ so that food, water, medicine and other essential humanitarian assistance can flow into Gaza.
The White House is now backing the idea of a ‘pause’ of indeterminate duration to allow for more aid to get to Gaza and to help those trying to gain safe passage out of the enclave.
But it does not back a ceasefire – a total cessation of hostilities – although in practical terms, the difference between a ‘pause’ and a ‘ceasefire’ is academic.
Biden then took credit for tempering the instincts of Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu – insisting that he has been telling Netanyahu to reduce the onslaught on Gaza.
‘I’m the guy that convinced Bibi to call for a ceasefire to let the prisoners out,’ said Biden.
‘I’m the guy that talked to [Egyptian President] Sisi to convince him to open the door.’
Netanyahu has rejected all demands for a ceasefire.
He has, however, allowed in ambulances on Wednesday to remove injured people from Gaza, and paused the bombing campaign while the casualties are taken out.
Benjamin Netanyahu is seen on October 14 speaking to soldiers preparing to invade Gaza
Israeli soldiers with armored fighting vehicles assemble along the Israeli border with Gaza as the IDF prepares for a massive ground invasion of its hostile neighbor
A view of the remains of a mosque and houses destroyed by Israeli strikes in the central Gaza Strip
As Rosenberg was removed, she chanted: ‘Ceasefire now.’
The audience cheered Biden’s answer and booed the protester.
‘I understand the emotion,’ Biden told his supporters.
The drama came hours after Biden spoke to the ‘devastating’ images he has seen of children crying for their parents in Gaza on Wednesday, in one of his most powerful appeals yet to Israel, amid its assault on the territory.
He made the comment after the Israel Defense Forces struck a refugee camp for the second day in a row, in a bombing the government said took out a leading Hamas terror target.
The Biden administration has repeatedly spoken publicly about the importance of following the ‘rules of war’ – while refusing to respond to individual incidents, or tell Israel how to conduct the war.
The tightrope walk comes as the United States is preparing to send billions in new military aid to Israel.
‘We’re going to continue to affirm that Israel has right to – and responsibility – to defend citizens from terror and needs to do so in a manner consistent with international and humanitarian law, but that prioritizes the protection of citizens,’ Biden said.
He described the wrenching scenes coming out of Gaza, just weeks after 1,400 Israelis were killed during the October 7 Hamas attack.
Hamas, which controls Gaza, claims that 8,000 Gazans have been killed in the last three weeks by the bombing.
‘We’ve seen the devastating images from Gaza,’ said Biden.
‘Palestinian children crying out for lost parents and parents reasoning and writing their children’s names on their hands and legs to be identified.’
A child in the crowd inside a barn at the Dutch Creek Farms in Northfield, Minnesota then let out cry of her own.
‘It’s okay. Kids are allowed to do that. Don’t worry about it,’ Biden joked.
He asked if it was a boy or a girl who issued the cry.
‘I don’t blame her,’ he joked, getting a laugh even amid the dark news.
Biden also spoke about the breakthrough in negotiations to finally get some dual citizens out of Gaza, after the White House said a ‘handful’ of Americans were among those who got out on Wednesday as part of a broader deal.
‘This is a result of intense and urgent American diplomacy with our partners in the region,’ Biden said.
‘I personally spent a lot of time speaking with the Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel and President Sisi of Egypt and others to make sure that we could open this access for people to get out.’
He made the comment after the Israel Defense Forces struck a refugee camp for the second day in a row, in a bombing the government said took out a leading Hamas terror target
He thanked partners in the region and singled out Qatar for working ‘closely with us’ in the talks.
Qatar has provided financial support to Hamas and hosts former Hamas leaders, but has also worked as a mediator for hostage negotiations. Hamas has freed four hostages so far.
‘At the same time, we’re continuing to work to significantly step up the flow of critical humanitarian assistance in Gaza,’ said Biden.
Israel has cut water and energy amid the start of its incursions into the territory, where Israeli troops are vulnerable to Hamas fighters above ground, and a network of miles of underground tunnels.
En route to Minnesota, national security spokesman John Kirby called the deal an ‘important first step’ and a ‘significant breakthrough’ to start getting the estimated 1,000 U.S. citizens who remain in Gaza out amid the fighting.
Biden had a mostly uneventful flight to Minnesota, although the same can’t be said of the reporters who followed him there.
A Nighthawk helicopter ferrying reporters to the farm experienced four loud pops while taking off, and had to make an unscheduled landing at a public airport after smoke filled the cabin.
The reporters and photographers, including DailyMail.com, who follow Biden switched to a separate Osprey helicopter and quickly caught up with the president.
The White House said an ‘electrical issue’ had triggered some preventative alarms, including an automatic fire suppressant.
Biden flew by helicopter to a Minnesota farm, where he spoke about his rural agenda and the situation in Gazas
The remarks came on a trip where Biden touted rural investments at an event that his White House team insists has nothing to do with his new primary challenger – who just happens to hail from the state.
Biden’s visit puts him back on the road amid a brewing international crisis overseas and an unexpected bump in his road to the Democratic presidential nomination.
White House Deputy Press Secretary Emilie Simons told reporters on Air Force One the event had been planned months in advance, after she was asked about a statement by Phillips welcoming Biden to the state for what Phillips called a ‘last-minute trip.’
Biden, with more than $71 million in his campaign war-chest, ordinarily might not have to sweat a challenge from a third-term Democrat who has backed much of his policy agenda.
But Biden helped rearrange the Democratic primary schedule this year, and as a consequence of New Hampshire jumping the gun on Democratic Party calendar rules, his name won’t appear on the ballot.
That forces his party to organize a write-in campaign to avoid the potential humiliation of a loss to Phillips.
The state’s primary is expected to buck a party-sanctioned calendar that lets South Carolina break tradition and go first.
U.S. President Joe Biden is welcomed by Minnesota Governor Tim Walz and Gwen Walz, first lady of Minnesota, as he arrives in Northfield, Minnesota, U.S., November 1, 2023
Down on the farm: President Biden heads to rural Minnesota Wednesday. His trip comes after Minnesota Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips announced he is running against Biden in New Hampshire
Asked Tuesday if the visit had anything to do with Phillips, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre once again invoked the Hatch Act as a shield.
‘I said this last week, and I’ll say this again: We are very proud of – or very thrilled and thankful to – to the Congressman for voting with the President almost 100 percent of the time in the last two years, and I’ll leave it there,’ she said.
The Hatch Act limits politicking on government property or on government time.
Instead, Jean-Pierre said the trip was about pushing Biden’s rural agenda – while failing to mention Biden also has a fundraiser scheduled with a Democratic hedge funder set for Minneapolis before his return trip.
‘The President says this all the time. He’s the president for everyone. Again, I just said this at the top earlier when I was answering this question to one of your colleagues. It doesn’t matter if it’s a red state, blue state — it doesn’t matter. He is a president for everyone,’ she said.
The trip comes days after Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) announced he was challenging Biden in New Hampshire
U.S. President Joe Biden visits a family farm in Kankakee, Illinois, U.S., May 11, 2022. He is set to be back on the farm in Minnesota Wednesday
‘So, it is important. It’s not the first time he’s going to a rural area to talk to Americans there. And so, he’s going to do that tomorrow and talk about what he’s done on behalf of this community, but on behalf of Americans across the country,’ said Jean-Pierre.
She called Biden a ‘president for everyone.’
‘You know, just as he goes to urban parts of the country, suburban parts of the country, to also visit rural areas of the country too,’ she said.
Phillips is experiencing his own problems.
Democrats from his state have been lining up behind Biden.
And Rep. James C. Clyburn (D-South Carolina) accused him of not ‘respecting’ the head of the party by going against the new calendar.
Biden allies aren’t waiting to pile on Phillips.
Former Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) told Politico: ‘The reality is [Phillips’] bizarre effort running for president in the only state without delegates and with virtually zero support appears to be floundering less than a week after its launch — and throwing insults at one of the most revered and accomplished members of our party certainly isn’t going to revive it.’