Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has taken a bold stance, urging President Joe Biden to significantly cut the proposed $10.1 billion aid package to Israel. This call for action stems from Sanders’ strong condemnation of the Israeli military’s actions in Gaza, which he describes as a “mass atrocity.” In his compelling letter, Sanders highlights the United States’ complicity, given its role in subsidizing the military equipment used by Israel. This move by Sanders comes amidst a period of heightened tension and a reassessment of the U.S.-Israel relationship.
While President Biden has expressed criticism towards Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli military’s operations, his administration simultaneously proposes substantial aid to Israel. Over $14 billion is earmarked to support Israel’s military campaign, a decision that has sparked debate within Congress, particularly among liberals who argue for a reconsideration of unconditional support. This juxtaposition of criticism and financial support raises questions about the underlying principles guiding U.S. foreign policy towards Israel.
The aftermath of the October 7 Hamas attack in Israel has been devastating. According to the Gaza Health Ministry, over 18,608 Palestinians, predominantly women and children, have lost their lives. The United Nations reports that the majority of Gaza’s Palestinian population has been internally displaced, leading to widespread disease, hunger, and a deepening humanitarian crisis. These numbers starkly illustrate the dire situation in Gaza, calling for urgent international attention and response.
In his critique, Sanders not only condemns the ongoing violence but also proposes a significant reduction in funding to Israel. He suggests limiting the aid to $4 billion, focusing on Israel’s defensive needs like the Iron Dome. Sanders argues that the U.S. should not fund a right-wing, extremist government intent on continuing warfare. His stance represents a broader call for accountability and ethical considerations in U.S. foreign aid allocations.
The debate over U.S. aid to Israel has led to a legislative impasse in Congress. Republican members demand a comprehensive immigration overhaul in exchange for supporting the funding package. This political stalemate reflects deeper divisions within U.S. politics regarding foreign aid, Israel, and broader national security priorities. Sanders acknowledges the uncertainty of when this crucial debate will occur, given the current political climate.
Sanders draws a harrowing comparison between the destruction in Gaza and the Allied bombing of Dresden post-World War II. This historical parallel underscores the scale of devastation in Gaza, prompting Sanders to label it a “mass atrocity.” His letter stresses the gravity of the situation, holding the U.S. accountable for its role in subsidizing the weapons used in these attacks.
The U.S. veto of a UN Security Council resolution calling for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza has been a point of contention. Sanders implores President Biden to reverse this decision, advocating for the resolution he believes would facilitate temporary relief and humanitarian aid, despite not being a permanent solution. His support for the UN resolution reflects a nuanced approach to a complex and ongoing conflict.
The U.S.’s substantial military support for Israel has been a critical factor in the ongoing conflict. Sanders points out that the U.S. aid has enabled much of Israel’s military actions in Gaza. He calls for a reevaluation of this support, especially in light of the civilian casualties and widespread destruction. Sanders emphasizes the ethical dilemma of continued U.S. involvement and support in light of these atrocities.
As Sanders states, “We have to convert concern into reality,” a sentiment that encapsulates the urgent need for meaningful change in U.S. foreign policy.