Mondoweiss / March 9, 2022
The additional money comes on top of $3.8 billion for Israel that’s already included in the bill.
On March 7 Biden White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that Ukrainians have the right to resist Russian occupation by any means necessary. Days later it was announced that Congress will include additional Iron Dome funding for Israel in its must-pass spending bill.
At Monday’s White House press briefing NPR correspondent Asma Khalid pointed out that Russia had shifted from a military takeover to an occupation in parts of southern Ukraine.
“Does the White House support the Ukrainian people’s right to resist the occupation and, essentially, through any means necessary?” Khalid asked Psaki.
“Well, we certainly support the rights of the Ukrainian people to fight back,” Psaki replied. “I would note that we have seen many Ukrainians; many, many members of the Ukrainian military; and certainly President Zelenskyy in leadership fight bravely, courageously over the course of the last 12 days.”
“I think it’s also true that the world needs to be prepared for a very long, difficult road ahead,” Psaki continued. “While they are fighting bravely and we are standing with them and supporting them, the Russians are still intending to grind out military advances in the short term just by sheer manpower and firepower.”
While the Biden administration openly voiced its support for Ukrainian resistance, the U.S. government moved to fund Israel’s occupation of Palestine.
The bipartisan Omnibus Appropriations Agreement being considered by Congress this week will include $1 billion for Iron Dome batteries Israel lost in last year’s conflict with Gaza. A standalone bill for the additional Iron Dome funding easily passed in the House, but has been held up in the Senate by Rand Paul (R-KY). Congress could face a government shutdown if it fails to pass the spending bill.
The additional billion comes on top of $3.8 billion for Israel that’s already included in the bill as a result of the ten-year military package finalized by the Obama administration in 2016.
Amid Israel’s brutal attacks on Gaza last May, State Department spokesperson Ned Price condemned Hamas’ rocket attacks on Israel. At that time, Al-Quds Washington Bureau Chief Said Arikat asked Price whether Palestinians had any right to self-defense.
“Broadly speaking Said, we believe in the concept of self-defense. We believe it applies to any state,” responded Price.
Later in that press conference the AP’s Matt Lee asked whether Price’s assertion meant that the administration views Palestine as a state. If they don’t, do they still believe Palestinians have the right to defend themselves? . “I’m not in the position to debate the legalities from up here,” said Price. “Our message is one of de-escalation.”
On Twitter many drew attention to the contrast. “The US supports Ukrainians’ right to resist military occupation, and will supply them with all they need to fight back,” said political analyst Omar Baddar. “In Palestine, the US supports Israel’s brutal military occupation, & will ensure the occupiers get the weapons they need to maintain it.”
“While the US supports Israel’s military occupation and ensures it gets the weapons they need to maintain it, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki says her county ‘supports Ukrainians’ right to resist military occupation and will supply them with all they need to fight back,” tweeted the Quds News Network.
MSNBC’s Ayman Mohyeldin tweeted, “Just to be clear so there is no confusion here… the US supports the right of the Ukrainian people to resist Russia’s occupation and to fight back in no uncertain terms.”
“She did a great job getting this on record,” said FairVote Senior Policy Advisor Ryan Suto. “This administration *supports* resistance of occupation. Good to know. #FreePalestine.”
IPAC celebrated the funding package on Twitter. “The historic level of funding for Israel’s security demonstrates solid bipartisan congressional support for our democratic ally,” the pro-Israel lobbying group tweeted. “This historic funding level shows that Democrats and Republicans stand together for Israel’s security which is in our national interest.”
Michael Arria is the U.S. correspondent for Mondoweiss