Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an independent presidential candidate, has found himself at the center of a heated debate over his pro-Israel stance, particularly his comments on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. His outspoken views have drawn both criticism and support, highlighting the complexities and sensitivities surrounding this longstanding issue.
At a campaign event in Portland, Maine, Kennedy faced a direct challenge from a pro-Palestine heckler who demanded a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.
The heckler, citing the casualties among Gaza’s civilian population, underscored the devastating impact of Israel’s military operations and the role of U.S. funding in supporting these actions.
“Most of them were women and children,” the heckler asserted, referring to the victims of Israel’s military actions in Gaza. “And make no mistake, Israel’s deliberate use of disproportionate force grossly violates international humanitarian law. It is absolutely indefensible.”
Kennedy responded by asserting that Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 had handed over control to the Palestinians and that Hamas’s charter explicitly advocates for Israel’s destruction.
He further claimed that Gaza receives substantial international aid, which Hamas diverts towards constructing tunnels and rockets instead of using it for economic development or humanitarian needs.
“They removed all Israeli citizens in that time, 9,000 people, they even dug out the Jewish graves,” Kennedy stated, referring to Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005. “Hamas has in its charter that they want the genocide, the destruction of Israel, the genocide of every Jew — not only in Israel, but the entire world — that is their negotiating position.”
While few would rise in defense of Hamas, the group includes only about 40,000 of the 2.4 million Palestinians in Gaza. Half the population there is believed to be children and reports say as many as 5,000 youngsters have perished in the retaliatory fighting.
Independent journalist Jeremy R. Hammond, a previous supporter of Kennedy’s candidacy, expressed his disapproval of Kennedy’s defense of Israel’s actions in Gaza, declaring it “disqualifying.”
Hammond cited his inability to support a candidate who upholds war crimes as the reason for his withdrawal of endorsement.
“I can no longer support his candidacy because of his defense of Israel’s ongoing war crimes in Gaza,” Hammond wrote in a statement. “He and I have different views on a number of different issues, such as economic matters and climate change. But I felt that our differing views in such areas were no obstacle to me supporting him because of his great leadership in defending health freedom, particularly in light of the authoritarianism and medical tyranny we saw in response to COVID-19, and also because of his otherwise very sensible views on matters of US foreign policy, such as the war in Ukraine.”
The extent to which this backlash will affect Kennedy’s candidacy remains uncertain. However, it is evident that his pro-Israel stance has alienated some potential supporters and stirred controversy.
Kennedy’s remarks regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have drawn criticism for their perceived lack of sensitivity and accuracy. Critics argue that Kennedy’s statements overlook the complexities of the conflict and fail to acknowledge the suffering endured by both Israelis and Palestinians.
“Many of my readers have been expecting me to say something and express my stance with respect to RFK Jr’s candidacy, and some have written me to express bewilderment about my silence about it for over a month while Israel’s genocidal assault has been underway,” Hammond wrote. “The truth is I have been maintaining the hope that he might reconsider his views about the conflict and speak out against the violence, including by joining those calling for a ceasefire so that urgently needed humanitarian aid can be delivered — including food, potable water, and fuel that hospitals need to run generators to care for the wounded and the 5,500 pregnant women expecting to give birth in the next two weeks.”
Kennedy has defended his comments, asserting that he is merely presenting the truth about the conflict. He maintains that his views are based on extensive research and conversations with people directly involved in the situation.
“I have gained a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for Mr. Kennedy over the years. While I’ve never met him in person, we have corresponded on many occasions, including numerous phone conversations, and I consider him a friend. I believe if he were to come into an understanding of the true nature of the conflict rather than believing Zionist propaganda narratives, he would change his position,” Hammond stated.