Senator Kaine’s Minimal, Judgmental Support For Israel – OpEd


VA senator’s lukewarm support is coupled with misplaced criticism and a poor grasp of reality

Several friends and I recently wrote to Virginia Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, urging them to support Israel’s war against Hamas terrorists. We appreciated their detailed responses but were appalled by their minimal, judgmental support for Israel, poor grasp of reality and focus on Palestinian suffering.

Senator Warner is Chairman of the Intelligence Committee and “monitors the situation closely.” Senator Kaine serves on the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees. Both should understand the situation better than their very similar comments suggest, especially Sen. Kaine’s much longer letter.

* Both acknowledged that Gaza-based Hamas terrorists inflicted “horrific” attacks on Israel last October 7. Senator Warner noted that Hamas’s goal is “the complete annihilation of Israel.” Both mentioned the 240 hostages but said nothing about Hamas kidnapping babies, children, women and sick elderly people, starving, sexually abusing or murdering many of them, and making absurd demands for their release.

Neither mentioned Hamas’s decades of suicide bombings, rocket attacks and other murders – nor the scope of the barbaric October 7 atrocities: 1,200 butchered, 5,400 maimed, babies beheaded, children and adults burned alive, limbs chopped off so that children and parents would bleed to death in agony, women sexually mutilated before being murdered, and much more. Every act was a brutal pre-planned war crime that the terrorists proudly recorded on GoPros and cell phones.

* Mr. Kaine co-sponsored Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s resolution “condemning the use of sexual violence and rape as a weapon of war.”

We applaud this. But the resolution sanitizes what happened on October 7. It wasn’t “just” rape. It was rampant, systematic, strongly encouraged gang-rape of hundreds of women and pre-teens. These butchers cut some victims’ breasts off and murdered some mid-rape. Why gloss that over?  

* The senators briefly acknowledged that Israel has “the right to defend itself” – but then criticized the Israel Defense Forces at length, saying the IDF has “an obligation” to “follow the laws of conflict, minimize harm to civilians,” restrict the use of airstrikes that have “killed thousands,” and stop blocking food, water, fuel and electricity aid, thereby triggering a “tragic humanitarian crisis.”

The Israel Defense Forces do more to minimize civilian casualties than any other army. They use leaflets, phone calls, texts and loudspeakers to warn people days and hours ahead of attacks, so they can get out of harm’s way – even though that gives Hamas advance warning and puts IDF soldiers at much greater risk.

But Gaza is urban warfare at its worst. Hamas has 370 miles of military tunnels directly beneath homes, hospitals, schools, mosques, apartment buildings and UNRWA offices, with thousands of access shafts in the same buildings. Its terrorists stash arms and weapons in all these places, hide among, under and behind women and children, and mostly wear civilian clothing. They launch rockets and ambushes from civilian locations, then disappear into the tunnels. More war crimes.

Hamas built its tunnels and weapons stocks by diverting and stealing decades of aid money, concrete and supplies. It spent little on water or electric infrastructure, leaving Gaza heavily reliant on what Israel provides. Even amid the current “humanitarian crisis,” Hamas hoards food and fuel and tells Gazans they must meet Hamas needs first. It hides kidnapped Israelis in apartments and hospitals. Also war crimes.

Hamas casualty figures deliberately mix terrorists and civilians; they count as “children” 15–18-year-old males who often work with Hamas. They blame their own mortar and rocket accidents on Israel and wildly inflate the death tolls. They wantcivilian deaths – for propaganda campaigns that politicians and news media gullibly parrot. They often prevent families from leaving battle zones and even shoot those who try to leave. The IDF has tried to enforce escape corridors to prevent this. Hamas also murders people who try to get water and food aid – and then counts them among the war dead.

Airstrikes are essential and civilian casualties are inevitable under these circumstances. But the civilian tolls in Gaza are far below the hundreds of thousands to millions in SyriaIraqYemen and other conflicts; far below what US, UN and allied forces have inflicted in recent wars. It is prejudicial and hypocritical for the senators, United Nations and multiple “humanitarian organizations” to condemn Israel so bitterly and so often – while saying little or nothing about the far worse slaughters.

Hamas could end the deaths by surrendering and repudiating its goal of eradicating Israel and Israelis.

* The senators claim violence and economic instability have increased in the West Bank since October 7, as “extremist” Israelis attack and try to forcibly displace the area’s Palestinians.

The West Bank is home to Hezbollah, Hamas’s kindred ally, which continues to launch rockets, missiles and anti-tank weapons at Israeli homes, farmers and cars, killing and wounding civilians. Israeli residents are understandably angry, and a few have taken the law into their own hands – and are being prosecuted for it. Meanwhile, Palestinians who murder Israelis get lifetime pay-for-slay payments as rewards.

* Senator Warner says Hamas terrorists “do not represent the interests of innocent Palestinians” or the views of US Muslims.

Gaza Palestinians voted Hamas into power in 2007 and still support the terrorist group. Many civilians have assisted in rocket and other terror attacks. Hundreds participated in the October 7 murders and looting and helped kidnap and hide hostages. Many have gladly served as human shields and martyrs. 57% of Gazans and 82% of West Bank Palestinians say Hamas was right to massacre Israelis October 7.

Thousands of American Muslims (and non-Muslims) have joined intimidating and sometimes violent protests in US streets and schools, condemning only Israel and supporting Hamas, the eradication of Jews from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea, and even the October 7 barbarism.

* Senator Kaine continues to seek “long-term solutions that allow Palestinians and Israelis to live alongside each other in peace.” (The Biden Administration wants to compel a “two-state solution.”)

October 7 was the worst, most barbarous butchery in eight decades. Palestinians who were welcomed into these now-devastated communities to work and support a “new Gaza” – even to have dinner with Israeli families – carefully mapped their homes and communities, where each family lived, where their safe rooms were, where weapons were stored. Some of them even joined in the massacres and looting.

Just as ominous, Hamas leaders say October 7 was a “dress rehearsal” for worse massacres to come, until Israel is destroyed from the River to the Sea. Hamas wants no peace, no long-term or two-state solution. It wants Israel gone – and rewrites history and reality to serve its goals..

On October 7 Hamas went too far: back to Holocaust savagery. Israel cannot leave Hamas as a barbaric military threat, and Israelis no longer trust Palestinians or a “two-state” international “peace process.”  

Senators Kaine and Warner, and their staffs and congressional colleagues, cannot remain so ill-informed on these crucial Israel and Middle East issues. They should not take Jewish voters for granted, while seeming to court Muslim and woke, Israel-hating young voters.

Regarding the war, what would they do, if their children were in the IDF or Israeli towns? We and the Israeli leadership would welcome their geo-political, strategic and tactical insights.

Paul Driessen

Paul Driessen is a senior fellow with the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow and Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, nonprofit public policy institutes that focus on energy, the environment, economic development and international affairs. During a 25-year career that included staff tenures with the United States Senate, Department of the Interior and an energy trade association, he has spoken and written frequently on energy and environmental policy, global climate change, corporate social responsibility and other topics. He’s also written articles and professional papers on marine life associated with oil platforms off the coasts of California and Louisiana – and produced a video documentary on the subject.

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