Bernie Sanders to propose $10 billion cut in Biden’s Israel military funding package
Sen. Bernie Sanders wants to chop off a major slice of the Israeli military aid package proposed by Pres. Joe Biden. | AP

WASHINGTON—Saying the right-wing nationalist Israeli government, and specifically Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “is waging war in a deeply reckless and immoral way,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, Ind.-Vt., will propose cutting planned U.S. military aid to Israel by $10 billion.

Sanders announced his proposal, which he will present as a privileged resolution on Jan. 10, in a major speech just before senators broke for the holiday recess. He also again denounced Hamas, which launched an invasion of Israel on Oct. 7, “as a brutal and corrupt terrorist organization” whose goal is the utter destruction of the Jewish state.

But that does not excuse the disproportionate Israeli response, he said, which has caused “a humanitarian disaster” of almost 20,000 Palestinian dead and—to use Old Testament comparisons, which Sanders did—converted “a just war” of defense into an “unjust war.”

“In Gaza, millions of people will end the year under constant bombardment, exposed to the winter or living in tents, wondering where they will find their next meal, or clean drinking water, or the medical supplies they need,” as a result.

And since that war is offensive, driving more than half of Gaza’s two million residents out of their homes into “safe havens,” which Israeli forces now attack, invade house by house, and bomb, Sanders wants to cut off all offensive weapons aid to Netanyahu, leaving only $4.5 billion of Democratic President Joe Biden’s latest aid request.

That money would be earmarked for Israel’s anti-missile “Iron Dome” system and other measures labeled as being defensive, with the U.S. constantly checking to ensure the funds are spent that way, Sanders said.

“A just cause for war does not excuse atrocities in the conduct of that war,” Sanders said.

Sanders’ proposal responds to rising national and international campaigning for a ceasefire in the war, allowing humanitarian aid to flow in, and pressure for negotiations to start between Israel and Hamas.

Sanders, the sole senator who has actually lived in Israel—on a kibbutz in the 1960s—did not mention how Netanyahu’s government has also turned right-wing nationalist settlers loose to kill Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, which the Israeli government calls Judea and Samaria.

“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.” Sanders said an estimated 70% of the dead are women and children, and another 52,000 Gazans have been wounded.

That figure, he noted, may be low, since there are uncounted bodies under the rubble of the cities of northern Gaza. Some 60% of all homes in Gaza, northern and southern, have been damaged or destroyed, he said.

That’s the same percentage of homes and casualties whom the Allies wiped out in the infamous bombing of Dresden in World War II.

“Israel’s reliance on widespread and indiscriminate bombardment, including with massive explosive ordinance in densely-populated urban areas, is unconscionable. Israel’s military campaign will be remembered among some of the darkest chapters of our modern history.”

Sanders’ measure will also demand an accounting of U.S. military aid so far and its uses on the ground in Gaza. Our Revolution, formed by Sanders supporters after he ended his 2016 Democratic presidential primary campaign, flatly calls this a demand for a State Department report on Israeli “war crimes.”

“This is not just a humanitarian cataclysm, but a mass atrocity,” Sanders said.

“And it is being done with bombs and equipment provided by the United States and heavily subsidized by American taxpayers. Tragically, we are complicit in this carnage.”

Sanders, or at least Our Revolution, anticipates strong opposition to his demand for cuts in aid to Israel and for accountability. The opposition, that group says, will especially come from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

AIPAC notoriously supports Israeli right-wingers in and out of government, and two years ago, it set up a campaign finance committee which waded into U.S. politics in a big way, targeting lawmakers who back a two-state solution.

In Democratic primaries, it defeated one of them, Rep. Andy Levin, D-Mich., and its money funded foes for two others who barely won: Reps. Cori Bush, D-Mo., and Ilhan Omar, DFL-Minn.

Opposition, though less public and more muted, may come from U.S. military contractors, whose weapons Israel is buying and who are profiting from the war.

“Israel has the right to defend themselves after the horrific terrorist attacks on October 7th, but killing innocent kids (and their own hostages) does nothing to achieve peace,” Our Revolution says. “All that Israel’s indiscriminate bombing campaign is doing is creating the conditions for more terrorism.

We hope you appreciated this article. At People’s World, we believe news and information should be free and accessible to all, but we need your help. Our journalism is free of corporate influence and paywalls because we are totally reader-supported. Only you, our readers and supporters, make this possible. If you enjoy reading People’s World and the stories we bring you, please support our work by donating or becoming a monthly sustainer today. Thank you!


Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.