In one of his strongest statements against Israel’s genocide so far, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) is urging President Joe Biden to back a “humanitarian ceasefire” in Gaza, saying that the U.S. is “complicit in this carnage.”
In a letter sent Tuesday, Sanders asked Biden to reject a proposal from Congress in a supplemental funding package to provide an additional $10 billion in military support to Israel, saying that it is “irresponsible” to send the support to the “[Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu government’s widespread, indiscriminate bombardment” of Gaza.
The senator additionally requested that Biden reverse course on the U.S.’s veto of a UN Security Council resolution calling for a “humanitarian ceasefire” and release of all hostages on Friday — despite Sanders’s seeming reticence toward directly calling for a permanent ceasefire himself.
“Israel has the right to go to war against Hamas. It does not have the right to go to war against innocent men, women, and children in Gaza. Israel’s reliance on widespread and indiscriminate bombardment, including with massive explosive ordinance in densely populated urban areas, is unconscionable,” Sanders wrote. “Israel’s military campaign will be remembered among some of the darkest chapters of our modern history.”
The letter details the numerous atrocities that Israel has committed in Gaza so far, with 85 percent of the population displaced and over 18,000 Palestinians dead. It compares Israel’s bombardment and invasion to the Allied bombing of Dresden, Germany or the “horrific” firebombing of Japan during World War II, both of which left huge swaths of cities destroyed, over a hundred thousand civilians dead, and 30 percent of the population of Japan homeless — destruction similar to what Israel has achieved in just two months, Sanders points out.
“This constitutes not just a humanitarian cataclysm, but a mass atrocity. And it is being done with bombs and equipment produced and provided by the United States and heavily subsidized by American taxpayers. Tragically, we are complicit in this carnage,” Sanders wrote.
Indeed, U.S. aid has enabled a huge swath of Israel’s genocidal assault thus far, and the Biden administration is currently angling to send even more in military support to Israel — on top of the billions of dollars that the U.S. already sends each year. This assistance has had direct and deadly consequences for Palestinians: Recent reporting by The Washington Post found that Israel used over 22,000 U.S.-supplied bombs on Gaza in just the first month and a half of its current massacre.
“Given the munitions provided since October 7th, on top of existing stockpiles, and the $3.8 billion in military aid provided every year, amounting to 15 percent of the Israeli defense budget, we must clearly acknowledge that Israel’s indiscriminate bombing and widespread use of massive explosive ordinance in densely populated urban areas is being done with American bombs and money,” Sanders went on. “The United States government has urged Israel to change its tactics, but we have done little but ask nicely while continuing to enable that campaign.”
Not only have Biden officials been extremely supportive of Israel’s genocide, the administration has been explicitly circumventing congressional oversight in attempts to send further military support to Israel. Over the weekend, the State Department announced that it had created an emergency declaration to bypass Congress to send 14,000 tank ammunition shells to Israel, while, in October, the White House asked in a supplemental defense funding request for its arms deals with Israel to be done in utter secrecy, without oversight from Congress or the public.
Sanders’s letter comes as many of his supporters have expressed frustration over his refusal to call for a permanent ceasefire, rather opting for a “humanitarian pause.” Just as recently as this weekend, Sanders had doubled down on his opposition to a ceasefire, saying that it would only empower Hamas forces — an argument that supporters of Palestinian rights have said is a farce, with the huge number of civilian casualties that Israel has incurred in its supposed quest for Hamas. In fact, Israeli officials have made clear that they don’t care about civilian death in Gaza, and have even suggested that civilians are legitimate targets.
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