Kinzinger Rounds on Israel Over Its Policy on Ukraine
Today, Kinzinger’s Twitter fingers were itching again in a thread that feigned a bold position, acting as a brave man swimming against the wrong-headed tide.
A Republican House member, Adam Kinzinger, thinks he’s found the real bad guy in the Ukraine crisis. Is it Russia? President Putin? Could it be President Zelensky? Or Communist China? According to the congressman from Illinois, it’s — wait for it — Israel.
Mr. Kinzinger’s discovery came shortly after Mr. Zelensky completed a speech to the Knesset during which the democratically elected leader of Ukraine challenged Jerusalem to increase support, including by sending Iron Dome rocket interception batteries to Ukraine.
“Israel’s reaction to #Ukraine will have bearing on future aid from the US to #Israel. Pay it forward,” Mr. Kinzinger wrote on Twitter. The tweet became viral, with supporters and detractors of Israel spreading it far and wide.
Today, Mr. Kinzinger’s Twitter fingers were itching again in a thread that feigned a bold position, acting as a brave man swimming against the wrong-headed tide. “So I grabbed the third rail of foreign policy today, as I said Israel needs to pick a side, and that future aid could be at stake,” he wrote. “I want to double down on this.”
Yesterday’s tweet may have been influenced by the Ukrainian leader’s speech from Kiev that included a passionate plea to Israelis for help, and what sounded like strong criticism of Jerusalem’s supposed fence-seating on Ukraine. Today’s thread ignored a later about-face from Mr. Zelensky.
Shortly after admonishing the Knesset that Israel’s “indifference kills,” Mr. Zelensky last night posted a new statement on his Telegram account. “I appreciate the efforts of [Prime Minister] Bennett,” he wrote. “Of course Israel has its interest to defend its citizens. We understand this. Bennett is trying to find a way to hold talks in Jerusalem and we are grateful for it.”
Jerusalem, added Mr. Zelensky, “is the right place to make peace, and it’s possible.” Additionally, according to Israeli press reports this morning, Mr. Bennett asked his security detail to prepare for a possible risky trip to Kiev, for a meeting with Mr. Zelensky, if such a meeting can advance Israel’s peace mediation efforts.
Mr. Kinzinger, apparently, missed the memo. Professing to be a supporter of Israel, he wrote, “But at the moment there is a battle between Good and Evil.”
Explaining his threat to cut aid, Mr. Kinzinger drove home his argument: “If we don’t want to directly attack Russia, then our leverage is in the world uniting in sanctions and assistance for the people of Ukraine. This includes everyone, and Israel doesn’t have a special exemption.”
Yet does the “no exemption” rule apply to everyone? Does it even apply to America? And is the “world” really united?
Today in Brussels the European Union failed to agree on imposing oil sanctions on Russia. “Germany is importing a lot” of Russian oil, said its foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, adding, “but there are also other member states who can’t stop the oil imports from one day to the other.”
Mr. Kinzinger, who serves on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, might have missed a crucial request Mr. Zelensky made as he memorably addressed Congress last week. As in his Knesset speech, the Ukrainian leader challenged America to increase arms deliveries — a call so far rebuffed by President Biden and Congress.
Further, Mr. Zelensky asked America to lead an imposition of a no-fly zone over Ukraine’s skies. That request was also quickly rebuffed by the White House and most members of Congress.
Critics of the Biden administration’s policies say that announcing in advance that “we don’t want to attack Russia,” as well as taking off the table military actions like no-fly zones, allows President Putin to seize the initiative and erodes America’s deterrence.
“In a world of diminished deterrence, the desire for peace could make conflict more certain,” the Hoover Institution’s Nadia Schadlow writes in the Wall Street Journal.
Mr. Kinzinger has become a darling of Washington Democrats and a frequent guest on television shows after becoming, following the January 6, 2021, riot on Capitol Hill, one of the few Republicans to vote to impeach President Trump. He was one of two Republicans to join the House investigation into the event, and later wrote that he regretted voting against Mr. Trump’s first House impeachment.
By tying Jerusalem’s stance on Ukraine to America’s support for Israel, Mr. Kinzinger joins the left flank of the Democratic Party, which frequently uses any global event to snipe at the Jewish state.
As a favorite progressive columnist, Matthew Yglesias, wrote on Twitter, “The fact that none of America’s middle eastern client states will do anything we want in the middle of a major crisis seems relevant to considering the amount of assistance we should give them with their Iran problems.”
Last fall Mr. Kinzinger announced he would not seek re-election after his Chicago suburban voting district was redrawn by the Democratic-dominated Illinois legislature. By now he seems ready to join the Squad, a group of six progressive House members that finds ways to attach all world evils to Israel.
Benny Avni is a columnist who has published in the New York Post, WSJOpinion, The Daily Beast, Newsweek, Israel Radio, Ha’Aretz, and others. Once New York Sun, always New York Sun.