Jill Biden privately expressed concern about Gaza to Joe Biden, the president revealed in meeting with Muslim leaders

Jill Biden privately expressed concern about Gaza to Joe Biden, the president revealed in meeting with Muslim leaders
  • PublishedApril 5, 2024

When President Joe Biden met with a group of Muslim community leaders this week, he recounted a recent conversation he had with first lady Jill Biden relating to the conflict in Gaza.

One of the attendees told the president that the decision to participate in the gathering had been a cause of concern for his wife, given the fierce backlash Joe Biden has drawn for his handling of the Israel-Hamas war, according to two attendees present at the meeting.

Those attendees tell CNN that Biden brought up his own wife and closest confidant.

“It’s got to stop,” he recounted the first lady had said to him recently, according to the recollection of Dr. Nahreen Ahmed, who was in the room.

Another participant, who declined to be named, told CNN they remembered the president saying that the first lady had used these words: “Stop it. Stop it now.”

While that attendee said they believed the suggestion was that the first lady was calling for the war to end, Ahmed said it was unclear to her whether the first lady’s comment was directed at the Israel-Hamas war at large, or the mounting civilian death toll in Gaza.

Asked about the president’s remarks, a White House official said there is “no daylight” between the couple on the issue,with both sharing in outrage over civilian deaths. The official added that Dr. Biden was not calling for Israel to end its efforts against Hamas.

The New York Times first reported on the president’s comments referencing the first lady.

A top adviser to the first lady said she’s been “heartbroken” over the loss of civilian lives, including aid workers, and shares in her husband’s belief Israel needs to take greater care to ensure civilian safety.

“Just like the President, the First Lady is heartbroken over the attacks on aid workers and the on-going loss of innocent lives in Gaza,” said Elizabeth Alexander, communications director for the first lady. “They both want Israel to do more to protect civilians.”

The president’s recounting of his wife’s message came the same evening he expressed outrage over an Israeli strike that killed seven World Central Kitchen aid workers, including one dual US-Canadian citizen, in Gaza.

The aid organization was founded by chef Jose Andres, a personal friend of the Bidens. The president and first lady have both appeared with Andres on trips abroad and highlighted World Central Kitchen’s work.

The first lady has only publicly referenced the conflict between Israel and Hamas on a few occasions.

“When Hamas attacked Israel, Joe knew what to do,” she told donors at event in Atherton, California, in November. The first lady said she “wouldn’t wish the tragic events of this last month on any American president, but I’m so grateful that Joe is our president during these uncertain, unpredictable and tumultuous times.”

She also has heard frustrations from protestors over her husband’s handling of the conflict. The first lady was interrupted at least four times by pro-Palestinian protestors during a speech in Tucson, Arizona, last month, and people advocating for a ceasefire have gathered outside some of her campaign events.


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