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Tea Party Senator Endorses End of Israeli Aid

Is Rand Paul about to start a GOP civil war?

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Sen. Paul, yesterday, at the inaugural meeting of the Tea Party Caucus.(Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Sen. Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky and among the most prominent elected officials clearly associated with the Tea Party, yesterday argued for ending U.S. foreign aid to all countries, including Israel. “When you send foreign aid, you actually [send] quite a bit to Israel’s enemies. Islamic nations around Israel get quite a bit of foreign aid, too,” Paul, a renowned deficit and spending hawk (and son of renowned deficit hawk and isolationist Ron), told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “You have to ask yourself, are we funding an arms race on both sides? I have a lot of sympathy and respect for Israel as a democratic nation, as a a fountain of peace and a fountain of democracy within the Middle East.” But, Blitzer confirmed, Paul does believe U.S. aid should cease to Israel.

J Street and the National Jewish Democratic Council of course pounced, but more interesting was the Republican Jewish Coalition’s response: “We share Senator Paul’s commitment to restraining the growth of federal spending, but we reject his misguided proposal to end U.S. assistance to our ally, Israel.” Trouble in paradise! (No but they’re totally right about the proposal.)

We’ve been here before. Right before the 2010 midterms, Rep. Eric Cantor—a Jewish Republican who is the Majority Leader—floated the notion of separating Israeli foreign aid from the rest of aid in order that Congress could more easily squash the other aid. Many pro-Israel groups, including AIPAC, condemned the proposal for encouraging isolationist sentiment, which is bad for Israel, and Cantor quickly backtracked. In both instances, a Republican concerned about a base revved up to worry about federal spending and focused, in a down economy, on their own backyards, attempted to frame a policy that is opposed by pro-Israel experts as being, in a roundabout way, good for Israel.

Paul’s stance could also prove the spark that lights the foreign policy powderkeg in the Republican Party, in which the isolationist, anti-spending Tea Party could end up at odds with the party’s traditionally’s pro-Israel establishment.

Final thought: Much U.S. aid to Israel—specifically, the roughly $3 billion annually in military aid—finds its origins in the 1979 Camp David Accords, which led to Egypt being the first Arab country to recognize Israel; under them, Egypt’s government gets roughly $1.3 billion per year in U.S. military aid. Now that Egypt’s dictator, Hosni Mubarak, is more in the public spotight with the recent popular protests against his regime, Americans are likely to become more aware and more condemnatory of that aid; and I wonder if that will rub off on Israeli aid at all?

Sen. Rand Paul: End Foreign Aid—Including Israel Aid [Forward/JTA]
U.S. Democrats and Pro-Israel Lobbies Slam Republican Senator’s Call to Halt Israel Aid [Haaretz]
Earlier: Cantor’s Foreign Aid ‘Trial Balloon’ Is Popped

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A.L. Bell says:

Seriously: Israeli politicians have to start thinking more about how their actions play in the United States. I truly love Israel. I think of myself as an Israeli who happens to live in the United States because I’m lazy. But the United States does some things that look terrible, and so does Israel.

Maybe Israel is actually right about everything she does, but, more and more, especially with respect to issues such as “Who’s a Jew?” and settlements, she just plain looks terrible.

What Israel has going for her is that the Palestinians tend to be exceptionally idiotic, but, what if the Palestinians get a clue? What if the Israelis someday have to confront a bunch of opponents who trim their beards and find something more constructive to do with their free time than marching around with old rifles? What then?

I believe “triangulate” is the word of the week in relation to the President dealing with a GOP majority in the House.

Seems difficult to see how one can triangulate our national “unquestioning” support of those sitting in Sheikh Badr with a slashing of foreign aid to Israel.

It seems like Cantor learned very quickly that there are those in the GOP who are truly friends of Israel – and those whose support is merely a convenience that is dropped in favor of a domestic audience

Marc will surely revisit this topic when we begin to consider the consequences of instability in the middle east.

Shabbat Shalom

tillkan says:

What an ignorant comment: “What if the Israelis someday have to confront a bunch of opponents who trim their beards and find something more constructive to do with their free time than marching around with old rifles? What then?”

You think this describes the people conducting civil disobedience against the wall? I guess you do. Dream on.

Gli Franco says:

Globes, the Israeli business daily, just published an op/ed recommending the same thing. The logic is that the US cannot afford the military aid indefinitely and Israel would be better off getting ahead of the curve and suggesting a phased withdrawal like it did with the economic component several years ago. There are some other real benefits to doing so including getting to spend more of its military budge on domestic procurement and less leverage by the US over arm sales to other countries. The events in Egypt may require a huge shift in Israel’s military strategy so this might not be the time, but I think in the longer run it could be better for both countries.

It would be interesting to see an analysis of whether Israel could maintain such strong US diplomatic support with out the aid that Israel uses to buy US arms.

I’ve said that least 2734827 times. The problem this like that is they are just too compilcated for the average bird, if you know what I mean

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Tea Party Senator Endorses End of Israeli Aid

Is Rand Paul about to start a GOP civil war?

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