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Republican congressman responds to criticism after calling for Gaza to be ‘like Hiroshima and Nagasaki’

Republican congressman responds to criticism after calling for Gaza to be ‘like Hiroshima and Nagasaki’

Republican Michigan Representative Tim Walberg has clarified his comments after saying that Gaza should be “like Hiroshima and Nagasaki” in comments many interpreted as endorsing the use of nuclear weapons on an area where more than 30,000 people have already been killed.

Mr Walberg made the comments while speaking to constituents last week, prompting a video of the event to go viral.

Walberg spokesperson Mike Rorke shared a transcript of the interaction with The Independent.

“Why are we spending our money to build a port for them?” Mr Walberg was asked.

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

“We shouldn’t be spending a dime on humanitarian aid. It should be like Nagasaki and Hiroshima,” he added. “Get it over quick. The same should be in Ukraine. Defeat Putin quick. Instead [of] 80 per cent in Ukraine being used for humanitarian purposes, it should be 80-100 per cent to wipe out Russia, if that’s what we want to do.”

“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,” Mr Walberg said in a clarifying statement on Sunday. “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.”

“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,” he added. “The use of this metaphor, along with the removal of context, distorted my message, but I fully stand by our allies.”

The video emerged from an event on 25 March in Dundee, Michigan.

A Democratic member of the Michigan State Senate, Darrin Camilleri, called for Mr Walberg’s resignation, calling him an “absolute disgrace”.

Former Republican US House Michigan representative Justin Amash, who left the party in 2019, wrote on X that Mr Walberg’s comments “evince an utter indifference to human suffering”.

“The people of Gaza are our fellow human beings – many of them children trapped in horrific circumstances beyond their individual control,” he added. “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.”

The war in Gaza began after the 7 October 2023 attack by Hamas in which an estimated 1,200 Israelis were killed and 240 were taken hostage.

Mr Rorke told The Detroit News on Saturday: “Congressman Walberg vehemently disagrees with putting our troops in harm’s way. He has great empathy for the innocent people in Gaza who have been thrust into this situation due to the attack carried out by Hamas leaving 1,163 innocent civilians dead.”

“To this day, Hamas still is holding hostages, including Americans. Hamas should surrender and return the hostages,” he added. “During his community gathering, he clearly uses a metaphor to support Israel’s swift elimination of Hamas, which is the best chance to save lives long-term and the only hope at achieving a permanent peace in the region.”