More than 100 retired generals sign open letter to Biden and Congress to support Israel
A group of more than 100 retired United States military leaders signed an open letter on Thursday from the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs calling on President Joe Biden and Congress to support Israel with aid and weaponry as it defends itself against attacks from Hamas, a terrorist group.
The letter specifically calls on Biden to support Israel’s Operation Iron Swords after Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel on Oct. 7 that has escalated into a war in the Middle East. The conflict between Israel and Hamas has led to more than 1,400 Israelis killed and more than 3,785 Palestinians killed.
Among the signees are General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani Jr., former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. James Amos, the 35th commandant of the Marine Corps, and Gen. James Conway, the 34th commandant of the Marine Corps.
“As retired American military leaders who devoted our lives to defending the nation, and many of whom served in the Middle East, we stand beside Israel and recognize its right to defend itself against the Iran-backed terrorist threats that surround it on all sides,” the letter states. “To borrow from Winston Churchill, Israel might be fighting by itself alone but it is not fighting for itself alone. We have seen firsthand how Israel shares and helps protect American interests and values; we should not hesitate to come to Israel’s aid in its hour of need.”
Biden has repeatedly stated America’s support of Israel during a whirlwind tour he made to the nation on Wednesday and is reportedly aiming to ask for $100 billion in aid to Israel and Ukraine, but the military leaders are calling for bipartisan legislation in support of Israel which may prove difficult among Democrats, some of whom have slammed Israel’s retaliatory airstrikes in the Gaza Strip.
“We call upon the Biden administration and Congress to work together in a bipartisan manner to continue giving Israel the support it needs—militarily, diplomatically, logistically and with intelligence— for as long as it needs to defend itself and eliminate this threat,” the letter continues. “This should include immediate resupply to Israel of American-produced munitions that are critical to protecting Israeli civilians from the terrorists’ indiscriminate rocket attacks.”
Some progressive House members known as the “Squad” have severely criticized Israel for the killing of Gaza civilians and have pushed for a ceasefire between the two groups. The Biden administration, however, on Wednesday announced $100 million in humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza and the West Bank.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-MI, the only Palestinian American member of Congress, has faced heavy blowback over a Tweet in which she accused Israel of bombing a Gaza hospital that killed 500 Palestinians. “Israel just bombed the Baptist Hospital killing 500 Palestinians (doctors, children, patients) just like that,” Tlaib wrote. “@POTUS this is what happens when you refuse to facilitate a ceasefire & help de-escalate. Your war and destruction only approach has opened my eyes and many Palestinian Americans and Muslims Americans like me. We will remember where you stood.”
U.S. Defense Department intelligence showed that the bombing likely came from a Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket. But Tlaib has not apologized or walked back her comments.
The military generals alluded to the criticism of innocent civilian deaths in their letter by stating they “appreciate the great efforts of the Israel Defense Forces to follow international law in their operations against enemies that intentionally abuse those same laws to endanger civilians and portray Israel as the aggressor.”
Michael Makovsky, president and CEO of the Jewish Institute for National Security of America, told the Washington Examiner that the open letter from the military leaders is not a usual form of communication, but the generals felt strongly about showing support for Israel.
“All of these guys are very senior. They served the country for 35 to 40 years. Their primary concern is U.S. national security,” said Makovsky. “At a time when Americans generally don’t have a lot of confidence in U.S. national institutions, one of the institutions that they’re most favorable to is the U.S. military. So I think for people like that who are so eminent, and they’ve dedicated their lives at such a senior level to U.S. national security, I think it’s a very important thing.”
But Makovsky also warned that a prolonged war between Israel and Hamas could pressure Biden to weaken his support of Israel.
“I do think Biden has done a very good job,” he said. “This war is likely to get more bloody, and he’s going to face more calls. There’s going to be a lot more, I expect, not justifiably, but I expect more criticism of Israel. So I think the generals are trying to send a signal to stand by Israel, even when things get a little tougher.”
Biden will give a prime-time speech to the American public Thursday night where he will reportedly make the case for Israel and Ukraine funding amid their ongoing wars with Hamas and Russia, respectively.
“Israel is strong enough to defend itself, by itself,” the military leaders conclude. “It will prevail, regardless the cost. With American assistance, that can, and should, be reduced. Steadfast American support will not only help Israel defend itself today but also signal to the world — U.S. friends and foes alike— that American remains a force to be counted on.”
Originally Published in Washington Examiner.