Lindsey Graham’s Nuclear Bombs ‘Tantrum’ Sparks Backlash

Senator Lindsey Graham got heated on Sunday during an interview with NBC News’ Meet the Press host Kristen Welker—with snippets of the conversation circulating on social media that included some mischaracterizations of his statements and context that said the senator had a “tantrum.”

In the interview, Graham, a South Carolina Republican, and Welker discussed the United States’ role in the ongoing conflict in the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. Israel is preparing to launch a ground invasion into the densely-populated southern Gazan city of Rafah where more than 1.3 million displaced Palestinians are sheltering, according to the Associated Press.

On October 7, 2023, Hamas, a Palestinian militant group, launched an attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people and saw more than 200 hostages taken. Over the past seven months, Israel’s military incursion into Gaza has killed over 34,500 people and destroyed essential infrastructure, according to the AP.

Graham said to Welker on Sunday, “When we were faced with destruction as a nation after Pearl Harbor, fighting the Germans and the Japanese, we decided to end the war by bombing Hiroshima, Nagasaki with nuclear weapons. That was the right decision.”

Graham was referencing the only time nuclear bombs have been used in war when the U.S. dropped them on Japan in 1945 at the end of World War II.

The senator added: “Give Israel the bombs they need to end the war they can’t afford to lose and work with them to minimize causalities.”

Last week, President Joe Biden halted a weapons shipment to Israel and warned that he might continue to pause future shipments. “If they [Israel] go into Rafah, I’m not supplying the weapons that have been used historically to deal with Rafah,” he said.

Lindsey Graham
Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, is seen during a news conference on January 17 in Washington, D.C. Graham got heated on Sunday during an interview with NBC News’ Meet the Press host Kristen…

Kent Nishimura/Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed Biden’s decision to halt the bombs shipment to his country during a recent interview with “Dr. Phil” McGraw.

“We are doing everything we can to let the people leave, with amazing efforts. But, I think also that this is precision—precision weapons. So, in fact, if you want to avoid civilian casualties, you need these weapons, rather than imprecise weaponry,” he said.

Newsweek has reached out to Graham’s communications director and the Israeli consulate in Washington, D.C., for comment via email.

Later in the conversation, Graham passionately interrupted Welker and said, “Why is it OK for America to drop two nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end their existential threat war. Why was it OK to do that? I thought it was okay?”

Speaking over Welker he said, “To Israel, do whatever you have to do to survive as a Jewish state. Whatever you have to do!”

The senator’s comments were widely shared on X, formerly Twitter, on Sunday, often in short video segments lasting about 30 seconds. Several users captioned the videos, with criticism of Graham, and some mischaracterized his statements.

Senior digital editor of MeidasTouch and X user @Acyn posted a segment of Graham talking about the U.S. dropping nuclear bombs on Japan and a call to Israel to “do whatever you have to do to survive as a Jewish state.”

Acyn posted the video with the caption: “Lindsey Graham is throwing a tantrum.” The post has received almost 1 million views and nearly 1,000 retweets as of early Sunday afternoon.

Lawyer George Conway retweeted the video and wrote: “@LindseyGrahamSC is an embarrassing disgrace.”

Journalist and political analyst Matt Couch posted to X and added: “Good Lord…Did Lindsey Graham just suggest Israel should Nuke Palestine…”


Graham, however, did not specifically propose to nuke any country or group of people. Instead the senator recommended that the Biden administration continue to supply Israel with weapons and remove the potential pause on future arms shipments.

The senator has a history of inflammatory statements about the ongoing conflict and the region. In December, Graham urged the Biden administration to blow parts of Iran “off the map” during an interview on Fox News.

“I have been saying for six months now…hit Iran. They have oil fields out in the open, they have the Revolutionary Guard headquarters you can see from space. Blow it off the map,” he said.