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Hamas, Iran’s Regime, and U.S. Leftists Praise Airman’s Self-Immolation at Israeli Embassy

Members of the U.S. Secret Service uniformed division block access to a street leading to the Embassy of Israel in Washington on Feb. 25, 2024. AFP
Members of the U.S. Secret Service uniformed division block access to a street leading to the Embassy of Israel in Washington on Feb. 25, 2024. AFP

Following the death of 25-year-old Aaron Bushnell, a senior Airman in the United States Air Force and a specialist in cyber defense operations with the 531st Intelligence Support Squadron, who set himself on fire in protest of Israel's military actions in the Gaza Strip, various Leftists and supporters of Hamas and Iran’s regime have taken to social media and other platforms to support his action.

A day after Bushnell's self-immolation, Independent U.S. Presidential Candidate Cornel West took to social media to state that the Airman's actions in protest against Israel's military operation in Gaza formed a "moral" message directed at the U.S.

On X, West stated the following with an image of Bushnell: "Let us never forget the extraordinary courage and commitment of brother Aaron Bushnell, who died for truth and justice! I pray for his precious loved ones! Let us rededicate ourselves to genuine solidarity with Palestinians undergoing genocidal attacks in real time!" The independent U.S. Presidential candidate concluded his post with the hashtags #AaronBushnell and #FreePalestine.

"Advanced and healthy Western societies do not celebrate suicides for a cause, or at least they shouldn’t,” said Matthew RJ Brodsky, senior fellow at the Gold Institute for International Strategy. “So naturally, the pro-Hamas crowd in the West calls this behavior brave as their moral compasses have been long broken," he told The Foreign Desk.

Brodsky added that some Palestinians, particularly those who have lived under Hamas in the Gaza Strip and in the West Bank, are raised to "lionize their suicide bombers."

He notes that suicide bombers have squares and streets named after them, and according to several polls, they "overwhelmingly supported the actions of Hamas on Oct. 7, which included lighting Jewish families on fire."

"So naturally, they'd support a mentally unhealthy individual lighting themselves ablaze because it furthers the death cult of Palestinianism," Brodsky added.

Trita Parsi, co-founder and executive vice president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft and founder and former president of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), also took to social media to sound off on Bushnell's actions. On X, Parsi posted a video of MSNBC Journalist Andrea Mitchell discussing the airman’s self-immolation stating: “So insulting of MSNBC to list the suicide hotline in the segment on Bushnell's self-immolation IN PROTEST of Israel's Gaza slaughter.”

Parsi went on to say that MSNBC treats Bushnell "as if he was troubled by inner demons rather than by the massacre of innocents."

"If one cannot empathize with Palestinians, I guess it becomes very hard to grasp that others can," Parsi said in bold letters.

Wajahat Ali, a columnist at the Daily Beast, echoed similar sentiments on the matter, explaining that there was "no evidence Aaron Bushnell was suffering from mental illness."

"He was very clear about his reasoning for self-immolation, the most extreme form of protest against what he believes is an ongoing genocide against Palestinians by Israel. His last words were 'Free Palestine," he added.

Belén Fernández, an opinion columnist at the Qatari-funded Al Jazeera media outlet, wrote an Op-Ed titled "Suicide vs genocide: Rest in power, Aaron Bushnell." In her piece, Fernández described Bushnell's actions as a "one-airman revolt against the U.S.-backed slaughter currently being perpetrated by the Israeli military in the Gaza Strip."

On X, the Islamic Republic of Iran's Press TV, a news network that broadcasts in the English and French languages, put out an image of Bushnell with a caption stating: "Aaron Bushnell, an active-duty member of the U.S. Air Force, set himself on fire outside the embassy of the Israeli regime in protest against the campaign of death and destruction in Gaza. He died Saturday night, U.S. officials say."

The Iran-controlled media outlet subsequently included a hashtag bearing his name. Press TV additionally produced an image of the airman, referencing his intention to partake in an "extreme act of protest."

“The Islamic Republic’s propaganda machine has seized on the U.S. servicemember’s death to cynically portray itself as the champion of the Palestinian cause, which it equates with violence against Israel,” said Jerry Canto, analyst at United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI). “Iran not only incites violence against Israel; it also arms Hamas, Hezbollah, and other terrorist groups in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen,” Canto added.

“Moreover, Iran has both a large ballistic missile arsenal, which is capable of targeting Israel and delivering nuclear warheads, along with the technical capability to produce a nuclear weapon. Therefore, the U.S. must continue to provision the weapons and financing Israel needs to defend itself on multiple fronts,” Canto told The Foreign Desk.

Nasser Kanaani, an Islamic Republic diplomat and the 13th spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran, took to X to sound off on Bushnell's actions as well.

“The self-immolation of Aaron Bushnell, an officer of the U.S. Air Force, in protest against the continued crimes of the Zionists in Gaza, showed how much the awakened consciences in the U.S. are ashamed of their government's support for the genocide of Palestinians," Kanaani stated.

"Bushnell's cries are the loud voice of the awakened consciences in the U.S. against the government's complicity in the Palestinian genocide," he added."

Outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., Pro-Hamas activists praised Bushnell's actions, repeating his last statements and cheering his last words: "Free Palestine."

Hamas, for its part, offered its "heartfelt condolences" to the family and friends of Bushnell, asserting that the U.S. bore responsibility for his demise. Through a statement published on Telegram on Monday, Hamas stood in solidarity with the airman's family, lauding him as a "defender of human values and the oppression of the suffering Palestinian people because of the American administration and its unjust policies. The statement emphasized that Bushnell had paid with his life to draw attention to what they described as "massacres and Zionist genocide" against Palestinians.

When questioned by the Associated Press about whether the airman's actions reflect broader sentiments within the military during a recent Department of Defense press briefing, U.S. Air Force Major General Pat Ryder avoided directly addressing the inquiry multiple times. General Ryder said Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was "following this situation." He further mentioned that the Air Force has verified the death and is furnishing further details to the airman's family members. "It certainly is a tragic event," Ryder told reporters. "We do extend our condolences to the airman's family."

Ryder then shifted to the Pentagon's support for the Jewish state of Israel, stating that since Hamas’s brutal attack on Oct. 7, the department has put much of its focus on several areas of the conflict from the very beginning. "That's protecting U.S. forces and citizens in the region, supporting Israel's inherent right to defend itself from terrorist attacks, working closely with Israel to support and secure the release of hostages from Hamas, and ensuring that the crisis—the conflict between Hamas and Israel doesn't escalate into a broader regional conflict," Ryder said.

Investigative journalist Andy Ngô shared an image on X showing an email allegedly sent by Aaron Bushnell to CrimethInc., a website associated with Antifa violent extremism, just before he set himself on fire outside the Israeli embassy. According to the post, the left-wing radical organization encouraged comrades not to despair and instead join a group to execute 'collective' plans. The organization mentioned Bushnell's preferred pronouns in the email.

Ngô additionally shared images of Aaron Bushnell's Reddit account, affirming his participation in Antifa social circles. According to Ngô's posts, Bushnell ridiculed deceased U.S. military personnel and endorsed the intimidation of elected officials.

He also voiced support for the "Stop Cop City" movement in Atlanta, which has seen 61 members indicted on charges including RICO, terrorism, and money laundering.

Ngô also shared images of a far-left extremist group in Ohio, identifying themselves as "queer revolutionaries," asserting Aaron Bushnell as one of their members.

The left-wing group Code Pink also commented on Bushnell's self-immolation. On X, the group put out a flyer for an upcoming Wednesday citywide vigil on the Northside and Southside of Chicago to "honor Aaron Bushnell, the 25-year-old U.S. soldier who self-immolated in protest of Israel's genocide in Gaza."

"Only sick societies would promote self-immolation to burn down Israel," Brodsky said. "But here we are. These are official Palestinian heroes and martyrs--the Shahid. Naturally, the terrorist media mouthpieces such as Al-Jazeera and the progressive Left support it even more stridently than Palestinians themselves because they long ago fused political Islamism with cultural Marxism," he added.

Brodsky explained that these individuals and groups would support "Palestinianism rather than Palestinians."

"A sane human would tell Palestinians they need to compromise with Israel to end the conflict. A sane human worried about Palestinians in Gaza would demand they release all of the hostages and surrender the Hamas leadership so the war could end."

According to Brodsky, the "boosters of Palestinianism on the Western Left don't actually care about the Palestinians. They care about having a cause that comports with their other grievances and matches the words they've redefined for the purpose of attacking Jews, such as 'genocide' and 'colonialism.' In essence, these elites care about how they feel about themselves as they pretend to care for Palestinians. They'll sacrifice as many Palestinians as necessary for the cause of Palestinianism and congratulate themselves as they do so," he said to The Foreign Desk.

Related Story: U.S. Airman Sets Self on Fire Outside of Israel’s Washington Embassy While Shouting ‘Free Palestine’

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