Michigan congressman draws criticism for comparing Gaza to Hiroshima and Nagasaki •

Over the weekend, U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Tipton) was criticized by a number of Michigan lawmakers after a video clip from an event in Dundee was posted to X, in which Walberg voiced opposition to humanitarian aid to Gaza, and compared the war between Israel and Hamas to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The 47-second video clip does not show Walberg, but features audio of Walberg responding to a question about why a U.S. military ship was sent to Gaza to build a port in order to provide humanitarian aid. 

“It’s Joe Biden’s reason, we need to get humanitarian aid into Gaza. I don’t think we should. I don’t think any of our aid that goes to Israel to support our greatest ally, arguably maybe the world, to defeat Hamas, and Iran, and Russia, and probably North Korea’s in there and China too with them in helping Hamas.

“We shouldn’t be spending a dime on humanitarian aid. It should be like Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Get it over quick,” Walberg said, referring to bombing of the two Japanese cities, which contributed to the end of World War II, killing tens of thousands of people and obliterating both cities. 

 

The war began after an Oct. 7 surprise attack by Hamas during which 1,160 people, most of whom were civilians, were killed according to a report from AFP. In the more than five months that have followed more than 32,500 Palestinians have been killed and at least 74,980 people have been injured in retaliation, according to the health ministry in Hamas-controlled Gaza. 

The clip of Walberg was posted to X on Friday by the Michigan lead for DemCast, a nonprofit media organization aimed at promoting Democratic candidates and policy at all levels of government. 

Walberg, who is a member of the House Republican Israel Caucus and the Congressional Israel Allies Caucus, posted a statement to X on Sunday, saying his comments were taken out of context. 

“In a shortened clip, I used a metaphor to convey for both Israel and Ukraine to win their wars as swiftly as possible, without putting American troops in harm’s way,” Walberg said. “My reasoning was the exact opposite of what is being reported: the quicker these wars end, the fewer innocent lives will be caught in the crossfire. The sooner Hamas and Russia Surrender, the easier it will be to move forward.”

While the clip shared to X does not include Walberg’s comments on Ukraine, a video from the event posted to YouTube includes the remainder of Walberg’s statement, which the Advance verified by comparing with audio and transcripts shared by Walberg’s office. 

“The same should be in Ukraine. Defeat Putin quick. Instead of 80% of our funding being used for humanitarian purposes, it should be 80%, 100% to wipe out Russian forces, if that’s what we want to do,” Walberg said.  

The video clips says it was taken Thursday in Dundee, with Walberg’s event calendar listing a community gathering with constituents for that date at the Dundee Village Hall.

Pat Ulanowicz, who filmed the entire gathering, said Walberg’s events are not widely publicized.

While Ulanowicz serves as the 5th Congressional District chair for the Michigan Democratic Party, he said he was attending the meeting as a constituent. 

“All I did was walk in the meeting; hit record; sit down. He did all the rest,” Ulanowicz said. 

Following the meeting, Steven Meyer, a Monroe resident who has been working with other constituents to document Walberg’s events since 2017, said Ulanowicz later sent him a two-and a half-minute clip of Walberg’s comments from the event, which Meyer later posted to Youtube. DemCast later shared a shortened version of the clip to X.

The full clip of Walberg’s comments as well as an edited version Meyer uploaded with captions were posted on March 26. Meyer also posted the full recording of the town hall.

Following the clips spread online, a number of Democratic lawmakers criticized Walberg for the comparison, with many interpreting his statements as a call for nuclear war. 

Rep. Dan Kildee, Oct. 31, 2020 | Andrew Roth

“Congressman Walberg’s comments are horrific and shocking. It is an indefensible position to argue against humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza while calling for the wholesale massacre of the Palestinian people. I could not disagree more with these extreme and dangerous comments,” U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint) said in a statement released Saturday. 

In a post on X, U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Waterford Twp.) said threatening,  suggesting the use of, or using nuclear weapons in tactics of war is unacceptable in the 21st century linking to a New York Times opinion piece about the escalating risk and potential costs of nuclear war. 

U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly) said Walberg should take back his comments and “try to put himself in the shoes of the many Michiganders who see themselves in the casualties in Gaza.”

U.S. Rep. Shri Thanedar (D-Detroit) called for collective condemnation of the comments in the video. 

“These comments from Rep. Walberg are abhorrent, and demonstrate the mindset of MAGA Republicans. A vote for ‘uncommitted’ is a vote for Donald Trump and this world view,” Thanedar said in a post to X, referencing an effort where voters are casting an uncommitted ballot in the Democratic presidential primary election to show disagreement with President Joe Biden’s policies toward Israel and Gaza. 

State Sen. Darrin Camilleri (D-Trenton), who has repeatedly called for a ceasefire, also posted about Walberg’s comments

“Michigan Republican Congressman @RepWalberg is caught on video endorsing and calling for a complete genocide in Gaza. He’s an absolute disgrace and needs to resign,” Camilleri said.

Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield) responded to part of Walberg’s statement calling his comments “reprehensible” and saying Walberg was “totally unfit to serve.”

Justin Amash, a former U.S. representative from Cascade Twp. who is currently seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, also criticized Walberg for his comments  saying they “evince an utter indifference to human suffering.” 

Amash is the first Palestinian American to serve in Congress ahead of U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit). In a previous post, Amash said several of his relatives were killed by an Israeli airstrike while sheltering in a Greek Orthodox church

U.S. Rep. Justin Amash at New Holland Brewing in Grand Rapids | Nick Manes

“The people of Gaza are our fellow human beings—many of them children trapped in horrific circumstances beyond their individual control. For him to suggest that hundreds of thousands of innocent Palestinians should be obliterated, including my own relatives sheltering at an Orthodox Christian church, is reprehensible and indefensible,” Amash said in a post on Saturday

The Michigan Chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI) also issued a statement decrying Walberg’s remarks

“This clear call to genocide by a member of Congress should be condemned by all Americans who value human life and international law. To so casually call for what would result in the killing of every human being in Gaza sends the chilling message that Palestinian lives have no value. It is this dehumanization of the Palestinian people that has resulted in the ongoing slaughter and suffering we see every day in Gaza and the West Bank,” CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid said.

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authored by Kyle Davidson
First published at https%3A%2F%2Fmichiganadvance.com%2F2024%2F04%2F01%2Fmichigan-congressman-draws-criticism-for-comparing-gaza-to-hiroshima-and-nagasaki%2F

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