‘War Criminal’: Protesters confront Blinken with ‘Secretary of Genocide,’ ‘Butcher of Gaza’ remarks over Israel policy - Hindustan Times
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‘War Criminal’: Protesters confront Blinken with ‘Secretary of Genocide,’ ‘Butcher of Gaza’ remarks over Israel policy

May 27, 2024 05:08 PM IST

US Secretary of the State Antony Blinken faces the wrath of both the left and right during and after the Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on May 21.

Nearly a week ago, on May 21, the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was verbally thrashed by either side advocating for the Palestine or Israel cause in the ongoing war on Gaza. Furious demonstrators heckled him as he kicked off his testimony before two committees in the Senate,

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken testifies before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 21, 2024. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo(REUTERS)
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken testifies before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 21, 2024. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo(REUTERS)

Anti-war protestors called him a “war criminal" and replaced his original post as the Secretary of the State by declaring him the “Secretary of Genocide," accusing him of endorsing one of the worst humanitarian crises wreaking havoc on the Gaza Strip.

Despite Blinken reiterating the Biden administration's support for Israel, he equally felt the wrath of the right as much as the left. Additionally, he also insisted that the sitting president opposed Israel's war on the Palestinian city of Rafah, where over a million displaced civilians had taken shelter.

Countering Republican accusations that Biden's administration had weakened its support of Israel by holding back a weapons shipment in its war against the militant group Hamas, Blinken said: “When it comes to making sure that Israel has everything it needs to defend itself, no one has, no one will do more than President Biden.”

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However, simultaneously, he addressed the violent onslaught on Rafah: “We've been very clear in many conversations with Israeli leadership over the past months about our deep concerns about a major military operation in Rafah and the impact that would have on civilians.”

The proceedings also foregrounded the previous International Criminal Court announcement that prosecutor Karim Khan sought arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his defence minister (and key players of Hamas, including Yahya Sinwar - the prime leader in Gaza) for alleged war crimes in Gaza.

Just as Republicans wanted the Biden administration to respond to this call against Israel, Blinken condemned the “profoundly wrong-headed decision.” Democratic Senator Ben Cardin, who heads the foreign relations panel, also agreed with Blinken and said, “I see it as a step in the wrong direction.”

Anti-war protestors confront Antony Blinken

At the Tuesday hearing, several demonstrators displayed their wrath toward the US Secretary of State through banners expressing their disdain for him. One protestor even approached him from behind with a sign that read “criminal." She was eventually escorted out of the room.

The Senate Foreign Relations and Senate Appropriations Committees hearing had to be paused on several occasions during Blinken's opening statement as protestors spoke up against him for fuelling the “genocide” against Palestinians.

Some silent protestors held up their red-painted hands, symbolising blood during the hearing. This vision of protests against Blinken aligned with demonstrations put on display by the anti-war group CODEPINK in November 2023, calling for a ceasefire. Multiple protestors staging a demonstration and calling for a ceasefire in Gaza during Blinken's testimony were arrested on Tuesday.

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In addition to the confrontations Blinken faced at the hearing, protestors also called him out for being responsible for “genocide” in the hallways after he departed from the morning hearing. Videos of these scenes were shared on the CODEPINK social media feeds.

One of these posts was captioned: “This is how we greeted Secretary Blinken as he left this morning’s hearing. He will always be remembered as the Secretary of Genocide, Butcher of Gaza!”

Another post from the anti-war group shared visuals of their “member Nicole” being taken by authorities after confronting Blinken at Capitol Hill. The post caption reads: "BLINKEN CONTINUES TO BE CONFRONTED

Our member Nicole just confronted Secretary of State Antony Blinken as he testifies to the House Appropriations Committee over his support of the genocide in Gaza. We should be arresting war criminals like Blinken, not people who just want peace, justice, and freedom for the Palestinian people!"

Another viral TikTok video filmed (possibly from a different angle) at the same location after his hearing is also making the rounds on X/Twitter. This video also captures Blinken being heckled by demonstrators. As he walks towards the elevators, someone says, “If you were a decent man, you would walk yourself to The Hague.”

During the Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Tuesday afternoon, the US Secretary of the State claimed that he wants to work with Sen. Lindsey Graham to penalise the International Criminal Court for seeking arrest warrants against Israeli leaders on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Meanwhile, a day before the hearing, Biden denounced the ICC's move. Commemorating the Jewish American Heritage Month on Monday at the White House, he said, "It’s clear Israel wants to do all it can to ensure civilian protection… Let me be clear: What’s happening is not genocide.”

Standing by the President's words, Blinken eventually asserted that the “ICC has no jurisdiction over this matter” while suggesting that this development would hamper their attempts at negotiating a ceasefire deal.

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