JERUSALEM, ISRAEL – No American or Israeli leader has spoken so bluntly about the prospect of Israel’s current war with Hamas escalating into a full-blown war with the Iranian regime until today.
U.S. President Joe Biden has certainly cautioned the terror masters in Tehran to stand down.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has done the same.
But U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham’s remarks on Sunday were different.
Fresh from visiting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, Graham vowed the war would come directly to the territory of Iran if the Grand Ayatollah and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei authorizes the Hezbollah terror force in Lebanon to launch a full-blown attack on Israel.
The South Carolina Republican said that Iran has unleashed “holy hell” on Israel through its terror proxy, Hamas.
But Graham made it clear that he would do everything in his power to rally the American government and people to make sure the Iranian regime fails in its mission of obliterating Israel and blowing up the prospects of an Israeli-Saudi peace deal.
And he was unequivocal: That means unleashing military force – “holy hell” – on the Iranian regime.
It was not an idle threat.
Graham was not freelancing.
Standing together on stage at the U.S. Consulate in Tel Aviv Sunday afternoon was a bipartisan delegation of 10 U.S. Senators.
Five Republicans and five Democrats.
And they were speaking as one.
“We’re here today to give Israel what they need to do the job of destroying the modern day version of Nazis – Hamas,” Graham vowed.
“We’re here today to tell Iran, ‘We’re watching you. If this war grows, it’s coming to your backyard. There won’t be two fronts. There will be three.’”
“If there is an effort to unleash Hezbollah on the Jewish state to destroy it, my attention will be to Tehran,” Graham added.
“If innocent hostages get slaughtered, I hold you, Iran, accountable because you could stop it if you chose to. The idea that this happened without Iranian involvement is laughable. Ninety-three percent of their budget – over decades – and the training, the equipment, are all coming from the Ayatollah.”
I’ve known Graham for years.
We’ve discussed the Iranian regime and the threat of radical and apocalyptic Islam at length.
But I’ve never heard him speak so bluntly about the U.S. and Israel going to war together against the mullahs in Iran as I did today.
Fueling his ire was the fact that Graham and his colleagues had just received a detailed briefing on the worst of the atrocities that Hamas terrorists had committed against innocent Jewish Israeli babies, children, families, and Holocaust survivors.
“I’ve seen grown men – who have been fighting wars all of their lives – stunned by what they saw,” Graham said.
“The level of barbaric behavior here is beyond my ability to explain it.”
Last Friday, I wrote a column for ALL ISRAEL NEWS speculating that in light of Tehran funding, arming, training and directing Hamas’ terrorism – and Hezbollah’s, plus Iran’s own nuclear bomb and missile development programs – Netanyahu and his war cabinet are actively considering launching a massive military attack against Iran to “cut off the head of the snake.”
Today, Graham not only seemed to confirm that this is true, but may very well have been authorized to say publicly what Netanyahu and his colleagues are saying privately.
Joining Graham on their visits to Saudi Arabia and Israel were:
Richard Blumenthal, the Connecticut Democrat
Cory Booker, the New Jersey Democrat
Katie Britt, the Alabama Republican
Ben Cardin, the Maryland Democrat
Susan Collins, the Maine Republican
Chris Coons, the Delaware Democrat
Jack Reed, the Rhode Island Democrat
Dan Sullivan, the Alaska Republican
John Thune, the South Dakota Republican
The following is a full transcript of Senator Graham’s brief but powerful remarks at the U.S. Consulate in Tel Aviv on Sunday:
REMARKS BY SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-South Carolina)
Ten percent of the United States Senate is in Israel.
Because we care.
Five Republicans and five Democrats.
If I’d had a bigger plane, we’d have probably brought the entire Senate.
Here’s our message.
To our friends in Israel, we stand with you without apology – unequivocal.
I come here because I love Israel.
I do not hate the Palestinians.
I hate Hamas.
I know the difference.
The goal going forward is to take from this horror and try to make this a better world.
I saw things today that I didn’t think was possible in 2023.
I’ve seen grown men – who have been fighting wars all of their lives – stunned by what they saw.
The level of barbaric behavior here is beyond my ability to explain it.
What does Hamas mean in English?
I’ve seen a lot, traveling the world with my friends, and my late friend, John McCain.
I have never seen anything like this in my lifetime.
How does this end?
Israel thrives, they survive, Hamas is destroyed, the Palestinian people have a better life.
That’s how this has to end.
So, we’re here today to give Israel what they need to do the job of destroying the modern day version of Nazis.
We’re here today to tell Iran: “We’re watching you. If this war grows, it’s coming to your backyard. There won’t be two fronts. There will be three.”
If there is an effort to unleash Hezbollah on the Jewish state to destroy it, my attention will be to Tehran.
If innocent hostages get slaughtered, I hold you, Iran, accountable because you could stop it if you chose to.
The idea that this happened without Iranian involvement is laughable.
Ninety-three percent of their budget – over decades – and the training, the equipment, are all coming from the Ayatollah.
I come here to let Israel know that America will be with you.
I come here to let the Arab world know: Let’s make peace, if we can.
Destroying Hamas is non-negotiable.
How we do it? Let’s talk.
What is winning?
For the terrorist organization to be destroyed.
For the people of Israel to have a sense of peace they lost.
For the Palestinian people to have hope they don’t have.
For the Arabs and the Israelis to end a conflict – that would make the world better.
You’ll never convince me that this not about reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and Israel.
The Iranian – through their proxy, Hamas – unleashed holy hell on Israel to stop the march towards a better Middle East and a better world.
My goal is for them to fail.
For Iran to fail, the Palestinians must have a better life.
For Iran to fail, the Mideast must come together towards the light, away from the darkness.
Joel C. Rosenberg is the editor-in-chief of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and the President and CEO of Near East Media. A New York Times best-selling author, Middle East analyst, and Evangelical leader, he lives in Jerusalem with his wife and sons.