Graham, Welker clash on Biden response in Israel

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) clashed with NBC News anchor Kristen Welker after he maintained Israel should do “whatever it takes” to defeat Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza, while comparing Israel’s wartime conduct to the U.S. dropping atomic bombs in World War II.

“Here’s what I would say about fighting an enemy who wants to kill you and your family: Why did we drop two bombs, nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end a war that we couldn’t afford to lose? You don’t understand, apparently, what Israel is facing,” Graham said Sunday on NBC News’s “Meet the Press.”

“So, when we were faced with destruction as a nation after Pearl Habor, fighting the Germans and the Japanese, we decided to end the war by bombing Hiroshima, Nagasaki with nuclear weapons. That was the right decision,” he added. “Give Israel the bombs they need to end the war they can’t afford to lose, and work with them to minimize causalities.”

Welker interjected and noted military officials have argued technology has since been developed since the bombs were dropped in World War II to increase their precision and prevent civilian deaths.

“As you know, former President Ronald Reagan, on multiple occasions, withheld weapons to impact Israel’s military actions,” Welker said. “Did President Reagan show that using U.S. military aid, as leverage, can actually be an effective way to rein in and impact Israel’s policy?”

Graham responded, “When you’re telling the world you’re gonna restrict weapons delivery to the Jewish state who is fighting a three-front war for their survival?”

“It emboldened Iran, it emboldened Hamas, [Yahya Sinwar, the Hamas leader in Gaza] is probably juiced up on the idea there’s daylight between the United States and Israel,” he continued. “This is the worst decision in the history of the U.S.-Israel relationship to deny weapons at a time the Jewish state could be destroyed.”

President Biden last week warned he would stop supplying Israel with offensive weapons, including bombs and artillery shells, if Israeli forces launch a full-scale invasion of Rafah in southern Gaza. The White House has repeatedly urged against sending forces into the city, where more than 1 million Palestinians have sought shelter amid the ongoing war.

When Welker further pressed Graham over why it was “OK” for Reagan to withhold weapons and not Biden, he said, “Well, can I say this? Why is it OK for America to drop two nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end their existential threat war?”

“Why was it OK for us to do that? I thought it was OK for Israel [to] to do whatever you have to do to survive as a Jewish state,” Graham said.

Welker then noted again military officials say technology has changed, prompting Graham to say, “Yeah, these military officials that you’re talking about are full of crap.”

Biden’s threat to withhold offensive weapons from Israel prompted criticism from several Republicans in recent days, including Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), who called the threat “disgusting” and accused Biden of being a part of the “pro-Hamas” group of the Democratic party.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (La.) said he hopes Biden was having a “senior moment” when he made the threat.

“I hope — I believe he’s off-script,” Johnson said. “I don’t think that’s something that staff told him to say. I hope it’s a senior moment, because that would be a great deviation in what is said to be the policy there.”

In a statement to The Hill last week, a senior Biden administration official said the president “shares Israel’s goal of dismantling Hamas and he has done more than any world leader to support Israel as it has defended itself since October 7.”

“The President was very clear last [week], as he has always been: While the United States will continue ensure that Israel has all of the military means it needs to defend itself against all of its enemies, including Hamas, he does not want to provide material support to an operation we oppose – especially since we believe there are alternate ways that Israel can accomplish its objectives,” the official added.

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