Sen. Lindsey Graham

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) talks to members of the media at the U.S. Capitol on April 23, 2024 in Washington, D.C.

(Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Republicans Funded by Arms Industry Fume Over Biden Threat to Withhold Bombs From Israel

"What did we do after we were attacked in Pearl Harbor?" asked Sen. Lindsey Graham. "We dropped two nuclear weapons on two Japanese cities."

Congressional Republicans funded by the arms industry lashed out Wednesday over U.S. President Joe Biden's belated threat to withhold American weaponry from Israel if it launches a full-scale ground invasion of the Gaza city of Rafah, which is currently facing a humanitarian nightmare.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who received hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from pro-Israel interests and the weapons industry during his 2020 reelection campaign, declared that Biden's threat "put our friends in Israel in a box."

"What did we do after we were attacked in Pearl Harbor?" Graham, who previously encouraged Israel to "level" Gaza, said in a Fox News appearance late Wednesday. "We dropped two nuclear weapons on two Japanese cities... What is Joe Biden doing? He's making it impossible for allies throughout the world to trust us, he's making it hard on Israel to win."

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) echoed Graham, falsely claiming that Biden has "imposed an arms embargo on Israel" and endorsed "a Hamas victory against Israel." Lockheed Martin, one of the world's biggest weapons manufacturers and a major beneficiary of Israel's war on Gaza, was the fourth-largest contributor to Cotton's campaign committee in 2020, the last time the senator ran for reelection.

The notion that Biden's threat to withhold future weapons deliveries to Israel undercuts the country's ability to assail Gaza was contradicted by a U.S. official who toldThe Washington Post that "the Israeli military has enough weapons supplied by the U.S. and other partners to conduct the Rafah operation if it chooses to cast aside U.S. objections."

Earlier this week, numerous media outlets reported that the Biden administration opted to delay a shipment of thousands of Boeing-made bombs over concerns about Israel's impending assault on Rafah. On Tuesday, Israeli ground forces entered Rafah and seized control of the city's border crossing with Egypt, imperiling humanitarian aid operations there.

Biden, who has approved more than 100 weapons sales to Israel and billions of dollars in additional aid since the October 7 Hamas-led attack, falsely said Wednesday that Israeli forces "haven't gone in Rafah yet," raising questions over the practical implications of his threat to withhold U.S. weapons in the case of a ground invasion.

But Republicans nevertheless fumed over Biden's approach, showing no concern for the humanitarian catastrophe that Israel's military—armed to the teeth with American weapons—has inflicted on Gaza.

In a letter to the president on Wednesday, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)—both major recipients of arms industry cash throughout their careers—wrote that delaying weapons deliveries "risks emboldening Israel's enemies and undermining the trust that other allies and partners have in the United States."

Johnson and McConnell, along with most congressional Democrats, supported a sprawling foreign aid package last month that authorized around $17 billion in military assistance for Israel. Reutersreported that Lockheed Martin and RTX—formerly Raytheon—both "stand to profit" from the measure.

Raytheon's PAC donated $18,500 to McConnell's 2020 reelection campaign.

Contrary to the position of congressional Republicans, progressive foreign policy analysts and anti-war organizations said Biden would be adhering to U.S. law if he halts weapons deliveries to Israel. Section 620I of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 prohibits U.S. military assistance to any country that is impeding the provision of American humanitarian aid—something Israel has done repeatedly.

"Enforcing our laws and making clear that the U.S. will not transfer offensive weapons to support a disastrous military operation that endangers millions of Palestinians throughout Gaza is vital," Sara Haghdoosti, executive director of Win Without War, said in a statement Wednesday.

"U.S. law gives the president ample power to ensure that no more U.S. arms go to [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu's brutal war in Gaza," said Haghdoosti. "With a crucial cease-fire deal within reach, added pressure from the Biden administration can help end this war and create a path to a sustainable peace for people in Israel and Palestine. We once again urge the president to use every tool available to him to secure a cease-fire in Gaza and the release of all hostages."

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