Call to Treat Gaza ‘Like Nagasaki and Hiroshima’ Wasn’t About Nuking Innocents, Congressman Says

Call to Treat Gaza ‘Like Nagasaki and Hiroshima’ Wasn’t About Nuking Innocents, Congressman Says
Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) sits in his seat ahead of President Joe Biden's the State of the Union address in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington on March 7, 2024. (Andrew Cabellero/AFP via Getty Images)

Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) has said his recent comments about treating the ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip “like Nagasaki and Hiroshima” were not meant to convey support for nuclear strikes on the embattled territory, but were taken out of context and distorted.

Mr. Walberg was speaking with constituents at a town hall in Dundee, Michigan, last week when the discussion turned to the topic of U.S. deliveries of humanitarian aid to the civilian population in the Gaza Strip. A segment of the exchange was captured on video and shared on social media.

“We shouldn’t be spending a dime on humanitarian aid,” Mr. Walberg said. “It should be like Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Get it over quick.”

Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the two Japanese cities U.S. forces struck with atomic bombs in the final days of World War II, killing as many as 226,000 people, many of whom were civilians. It was shortly after these atomic strikes that the Imperial Japanese government accepted the U.S. demand for their unconditional surrender, ending the war.

The Michigan Republican’s comments were characterized by many on social media as a call for Israeli forces to indiscriminately kill Gazans, including with nuclear weapons.

“This clear call to genocide by a member of Congress should be condemned by all Americans who value human life and international law,” said Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “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.”

The fighting in the Gaza Strip between Israel and the Hamas terrorist group has already resulted in widespread destruction and civilian casualties.

According to the Hamas-affiliated Gaza Health Ministry, around 33,000 Gazans have been killed, around 75,000 have been injured, and thousands more remain missing as thousands of buildings in the Gaza Strip have been reduced to rubble. It’s difficult to independently verify the Gaza Health Ministry’s casualty assessments, and the organization does not clearly distinguish between combatants and noncombatants.

Hiroshima, Nagasaki References were Metaphorical: Congressman

In a statement shared on social media on Sunday morning, Mr. Walberg insisted he was not actually calling for the use of nuclear weapons in the ongoing Gaza conflict and said the references to Hiroshima and Nagasaki were figurative speech.

“As a child who grew up in the Cold War Era, the last thing I’d advocate for would be the use of nuclear weapons. In a shortened clip, I used a metaphor to convey the need for both Israel and Ukraine to win their wars as swiftly as possible, without putting American troops in harm’s way,” Mr. Walberg’s statement read. “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. The use of this metaphor, along with the removal of context, distorted my message, but I fully stand by these beliefs and stand by our allies.”

In recent weeks, President Joe Biden ordered U.S. forces to construct a temporary pier along Gaza’s Mediterranean coastline, to allow for humanitarian aid deliveries by sea.

Mr. Walberg had been discussing the Gaza aid pier prior during his town hall appearance moments before he referred to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Michigan congressman raised concern about U.S. troops being attacked during the pier construction effort.

“I don’t see how you possibly could say that that isn’t putting our troops in harm’s way in Gaza, where we shouldn’t be,” Mr. Walberg told the town hall audience. “We should be resourcing Israel just like they want to, to kill Hamas on their own.”

Moments later during the town hall event, Mr. Walberg claimed about 80 percent of U.S. aid for the war in Ukraine was also going toward humanitarian efforts rather than directly for combat capabilities to repel Russian forces.

“Instead of 80 percent of our funding for Ukraine being used for humanitarian purposes, it should be 80 percent, 100 percent, to wipe out Russian forces,” he said.

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