Palestinian American doctor explains why he walked out of meeting with Biden and Harris

A Palestinian-American doctor who left a meeting with President Biden and other Arab and Muslim leaders and activists said Wednesday he left “out of respect for my community.”

Dr. Thaer Ahmad, a Chicago emergency room doctor who visited Gaza earlier this year, told “Face the Nation” moderator Margaret Brennan that the White House meeting was the first time Mr. Biden was hearing directly from people who were on the ground. Gaza since October 7. He said the president asked him to speak first and that he detailed his experiences in Khan Younis and Rafah, telling Mr. Biden that there was no way Israel could do that. invade safely the southern Gaza city where more than a million Palestinians have fled since the start of the war.

“And then I asked to be excused, out of respect for my community who are grieving, who are grieving, who really wanted to be heard and who felt silenced and excluded all this time,” said Ahmad.

Before leaving, Ahmad said he gave Mr. Biden a letter from an 8-year-old orphan in Rafah, asking the president not to authorize an invasion.

Ahmad said he accepted the invitation because “I think many of us right now feel a serious sense of urgency and panic about what is happening in Gaza, and particularly about the imminent invasion of Rafah which could take place”.

“It seems to me that there is one person who can maybe make a difference and put a stop to this, and that is President Biden.

Ahmad said he felt Mr. Biden was not doing enough to stop Israel from moving forward with its planned invasion, and he said he is not alone.

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Ahmad said he spoke with members of state delegations to the UN Security Council, “and they all felt that if the White House decided to make Rafah a red line, the war would end.” would stop tomorrow. whatever the circumstances, can this happen.'”

Ahmad said he felt comfortable leaving because he knew the other participants would also be able to make Mr. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris understand the dire situation in Gaza.

He said he was initially unsure about leaving the meeting, but that “when the president didn’t even really mention Gaza or Palestine in his first comments, I felt like I had to get out and I had to at least express the suffering and pain felt by the entire Palestinian American community. »

“I’m not speaking on their behalf, I’m just a Palestinian-American,” Ahmad continued. “But since there were no other Palestinian-Americans in the room and so many people are suffering right now, it was important for me to at least communicate that suffering and distance myself from the president as we had. impression that he was moving away from us.”

Ahmad told CBS News he planned to return to Gaza, despite the enormous risks involved. He said that the last time he was in Gaza, he saw the Israeli army attack a hospital where families had taken refuge.

“It is important to note that the Israeli army has done this in several hospitals. This is not just an isolated incident,” Ahmad said. “So what I saw was that there were families in these hospitals. Children playing at the roundabout. I saw children who were affected by this war, who had been injured by it , who had been traumatized… I can list hospital after hospital. And that’s really what makes me want to go back there, is to realize that these people in the Gaza Strip are under a lot of pressure and of pain, including health workers, including aid workers. And if it’s not people like us who are going to support them because the whole world has turned its back on them, then who else is going to ? »

Ahmad also said he had never seen any signs of Hamas operations in hospitals.

“We saw the opposite,” he said.

“I’ve been sharing these details since I came back. I’ve shared these details with anyone who will listen. Senators, members of Congress, I told the president and the vice president before I left,” he said. -he declares. “There are real people there, innocent people, families, and they’ve been displaced multiple times. They’ve lost so much, including their homes, that they’ve lost everything… their livelihood.

“The idea of ​​an invasion of Rafah by the Israeli army could be disastrous,” he said. “In a place that has seen so much disaster and humanitarian suffering.”


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