‘History Will Judge’: Sanders Says US Must Stand With Gaza Children, Not Netanyahu

By: Jake Johnson; Common Dreams

“Our new position must be simple and straightforward: Not another nickel for the Netanyahu government if its present policies continue,” wrote Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Sen. Bernie Sanders wrote Thursday that the Biden administration must fundamentally alter the United States’ relationship with the Israeli government as it continues to bomb and starve children in the Gaza Strip, often with the help of American weaponry and diplomatic support on the world stage.

“The United States has offered Israel unconditional financial support for many years,” Sanders (I-Vt.) wrote in an op-ed for The Boston Globe. “That relationship must now change. Instead of begging [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s extremist government to protect innocent lives and obey U.S. and international law, our new position must be simple and straightforward: Not another nickel for the Netanyahu government if its present policies continue.”

The senator noted that the U.S. public opposition to Israel’s catastrophic war on Gaza has surged in recent months, with a majority of American voters saying in response to one survey that they want the Biden administration to halt weapons shipments to Israel.

“Let’s be clear: This is a monumental tragedy for the Palestinian people,” Sanders wrote. “But from a moral perspective, it is also a defining moment for Americans, because the United States is directly complicit in this horrific war. No, the U.S. military is not dropping 2,000-pound bombs on civilian apartment buildings, but the United States is supplying those bombs. No, the United States is not blocking the borders and preventing food, water, and medical supplies from getting to desperate people, but we have supplied billions of dollars to the Netanyahu government, which is doing just that.”

“History will judge what we do right now,” the senator continued. “History will judge whether we stand with starving children, whether we uphold America’s professed values, or whether we continue to blindly finance Netanyahu’s war machine.”

Sanders’ op-ed came days after President Joe Biden said in a phone call with Netanyahu that the U.S. could move to condition military aid to Israel if it doesn’t do more to protect Gaza civilians and allow aid to flow to malnourished and increasingly desperate Palestinians. At least 28 children have died of starvation in Gaza in recent weeks due to Israel’s restrictions on food aid.

While Israel agreed in response to pressure from Biden and the international community to open a new land crossing for aid deliveries, humanitarian groups said the move was woefully inadequate in the face of famine conditions, rapidly spreading disease, and other crises.

“Above all, what the people of Gaza need is a permanent cease-fire to end the death and destruction,” Sally Abi Khalil, Oxfam International’s Middle East and North Africa director, said in response to Israel’s announcement last week.

But Biden’s rhetoric on conditioning U.S. aid to Israel has not translated to concrete policy change: The Biden administration is currently pressing Congress to approve a proposed sale of $18 billion worth of F-15 fighter jets to Israel, and the White House last month quietly greenlighted the transfer of more than 1,800 2,000-pound bombs.

For months, United Nations experts and humanitarian groups have been calling on the U.S. and other nations to cut off weapons shipments to the Israeli military, pointing to well-documented evidence of war crimes.

More than 250 human rights organizations have now signed a statement demanding that all countries “immediately halt the transfer of weapons, parts, and ammunition to Israel and Palestinian armed groups.” The statement had just 16 signatories when it was originally released in January.

“All states have the obligation to prevent atrocity crimes and promote adherence to norms that protect civilians,” the statement reads. “The international community is long overdue to live up to these commitments.”