update deskU.S.-Israel Relations

Lindsey Graham: It’d be ‘biggest mistake in history’ to let Hamas endure

The South Caroline senator visited Israel on March 26 and 27—his fifth trip to the Jewish state since Oct. 7.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks during a press conference in Jerusalem, July 2, 2019. Credit: Flash90.
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks during a press conference in Jerusalem, July 2, 2019. Credit: Flash90.

Standing alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) used an expletive to dismiss the accusation that Israel uses “starvation as a weapon of war,” which he called a “blood libel.”

“I will tomorrow walk through the food that’s coming into Gaza,” he added, turning to Netanyahu, “and what you’re doing to make sure that people in Gaza do not starve. So Israel has got its back against the wall. We have got your back.”

The senator’s post on social media earned a note of “context” that readers “thought people might want to know.” 

The note stated that “blood libel” is “the myth that Jews sacrifice Christian kids to use their blood at Passover, not ‘everything Israel doesn’t like.’” It linked to a post from Human Rights Watch, a longtime Israel critic, accusing Israel of using “starvation as a weapon of war,” and added that “Lindsey Graham has taken over $1 million from the Israel lobby.”

Graham responded to the “context” on Wednesday. “It’s one thing to be antisemitic. It’s another thing to be dumb and antisemitic,” he wrote. “Criticizing my comments in support of Israel by saying I’m in the pocket of the Jewish lobby proves my point better than I could.”

The South Carolina senator was in Israel on Tuesday and Wednesday, Taylor Reidy, his communications director, told JNS. It was his fifth visit since Oct. 7.

“I think I speak for a lot of people in the United States Senate,” Graham told Netanyahu in Jerusalem. “It’s OK to have disagreements among friends and allies, and that happens on occasion. But the destruction of Hamas militarily is non-negotiable for you and me and the civilized world.”

The Israeli prime minister thanked Graham for his “consistent support at all times, and especially, these trying times.”

“I’m here for a reason,” Graham said, turning to Netanyahu and pointing with both index fingers, “to show support to you, my good friend, the elected leader of the State of Israel. I have known you for almost 30 years now. I met you through our good friend John McCain,” the late Arizona senator, “and I’m here to tell you that I have your back and your country’s back.”

Graham also addressed comments about Hamas “to the civilized world.”

“If these battalions are still standing when this is over, it would be the biggest mistake, maybe in history,” the senator said. “I’ll say it again. If these battalions are still standing after the murder of the Jewish people, it would be the biggest mistake in history. Iran would celebrate.”

“It is non-negotiable,” Graham said, turning back to Netanyahu. “Here’s my advice to you and your country: Get on with it. Destroy these battalions. Take care of civilians the best you can.”

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