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Israel a Hot Topic at Presidential Debate

Created opportunity for unscripted dialogue between candidates

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Mitt Romney and Rick Perry at the Republican presidential debate October 18, 2011. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

For those of you not keeping track at home during last night’s Republican presidential candidates’ debate in Las Vegas, Israel came up a dozen times—and, thanks to some newsy questions from host Anderson Cooper, provoked some unscripted back-and-forth on a subject that in previous forums hasn’t gone much beyond standard AIPAC-friendly boilerplate.

First there was Herman Cain, fresh from his tête-à-tête with Mitt Romney about apples and oranges and income taxes, saying that he could see himself agreeing to the kind of prisoner swap that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted to free Gilad Shalit, but nevertheless insisting that he would never agree to a similar deal on Guantanamo Bay prisoners to rescue an American hostage. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann promptly agreed, saying, “We don’t negotiate.”

But then Rep. Ron Paul, Republican of Texas and self-appointed bullshit-caller, chimed in. “I want to ask a question,” he started, his shoulders disappearing into a suit jacket that looked a size too big. “Are you all willing to condemn Ronald Reagan for exchanging weapons for hostages out of Iran?”

Crickets. Iran-Contra? Really? seemed to be the collective thought bubble from the group. Finally, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum took the bait. “Iran was a sovereign country,” he began. Paul fired back, “So they were our good friends?” Santorum stammered back a reply that seemed to suggest he thinks the Palestinian Authority has sovereign status, and accordingly, is, like Iran, OK to negotiate with.

But at that point, Texas Gov. Rick Perry had just finished saying that the Palestinians had committed a “travesty” by circumventing the peace process and going to the United Nations with their statehood bid last month. This, he said, was an argument for de-funding the U.N. Paul hopped in there, too: “I would cut all foreign aid,” he said—including Israel. “I don’t think aid to Israel actually helps them,” he went on. “That foreign aid makes Israel dependent on us, it softens them for their own economy.” Then, the kicker: “They should have their sovereignty back. They should be able to deal with their neighbors at their own will.”

There was applause from the audience, some of whose more Tea Party-inclined members clearly agreed with Paul’s overriding insistence that American tax dollars stay in American hands. (Never mind that a large chunk of aid to Israel comes back to U.S. defense contractors.) Then Bachmann quickly, smoothly, stepped in to get everyone back on message. “We should not be cutting aid to Israel,” she said, smiling. “Israel is our greatest ally.” Again, the audience burst into applause.

Republicans Take Off Gloves in Vegas Debate [LAT]
Full Transcript CNN Western Republican Presidential Debate [CNN]

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Frayed Knot says:

FWIW, the Tea Partiers who cheered Paul’s stance on foreign aid probably see defense contractors as recipients of government largess, so I don’t think they’d much care that much of the aid to Israel comes back to the US defense industry.

Jean Deaux says:

The myth that Israel is our greatest friend and ally needs to be corrected. Friendly nations do not attack other friends but that is what happened with the USS Liberty. Israel made a concerted attack for several hours against a ship that had an enormous American flag flying from her stern. Friends don’t spy on each other but Israel had no trouble employing Jonathan Pollard to spy against us. He stole over a million classified documents, many of which were subsequently sold, by the Israeli’s, to China. Cut any and all aid to Israel now! It’s pouring money down a rat-hole and serves no good purpose. We have already fought Israel’s battle against Iraq and they are planning on getting us into another of their wars; this time against Iran. Enough of spending our military lives and our treasure for Israel’s benefit. Let that rat nest fester and get out now!!!

The truth is that aid to Israel actually does help them and it actually does help the United States as well.

Of course, Michelle Bachmannn is a joke.
With friends like that ….

There are plenty of nations who are not loyal to us where we could cut aid. But Israel is a true ally. Besides that, and more importantly, God said He would bless those who bless Israel, and those who curse Israel He would curse.

The Israel is all good for us myth is in need of much modern revising.

Of course, if we solve some of our own fiscal problems by cutting our defense budget it will result in massive cuts to aid to Israel.
Something to think about.

Israel can get on quite well without being on the US dole. I think the American people deserve a deeper consideration.

Per Netanyahu: “My friends, you don’t have to — you don’t need to do nation- building in Israel. We’re already built. You don’t need to export democracy to Israel. We’ve already got it. And you don’t need to send American troops to Israel. We defend ourselves.”
That would seem to say it all, Israel is a big girl now and doesn’t need our permission to do anything, which is exactly Ron Paul’s point.

But Bibi didn’t say anything about money or jet fighters, or aircraft carriers in the Indian Ocean.

SA, those words of Netanyahu’s don’t carry with them much surprise for me. He and Avigdor Lieberman are awful men. Me and many of my friends who are most aware of his ugly ambitions which do not include any ideas or semblance of anything resembling peace just refer to his high and mighty repulsiveness as the bullying Blitzkrieg Bibi.

LaloGarcia says:

I agree 100% with David Tiffany! @ S. A., Israel would be a “big boy” not a “big girl” seeing that the nation of Israel was named after Jacob–a man. But not just any man, but the father to the twelve tribes of Israel! God’s nation! You mess with Israel, you’re messing with God Almighty Himself, missy!

Yeah, Bible aside, as I said Blitzkrieg Bibi.

Jules denies Israel is good for “us” (US)?
I didn’t realize Jules wasn’t Jewish or is a self-loathing Jew. I’ll keep this in mind in future discussions with him.

Jean Deaux is still fighting the 1967 US Liberty battle, I see.

Someone let Jean know the wind was listless that day, Israel couldn’t see whose flag it was. Let Jean know the US assured Israel there were no US ships within 100 miles of the Israeli coast at the time. Let Jules know there’ve been 13 combined Israel and US investigations which none have accused Israel of wrong doing. It was a tragic accident.

So I advise Jean to find another argument. Perhaps next he can come up with the Jews being responsible for slave trading bringing Blacks here.

Israel’s not our “friend?”
She votes with us in the UN 90% of the time, largest percentage of any country in the world. Offers us unlimited air space and provides us with crack Middle East Intelligence helping us get the terrorist whi threw quadraplegic Leon Klinghoffer overboard in the Mediterranean cause he was a Jew.

JCarpenter says:

Israel aside, are these the best the Republicans can offer? What an insult to the people and the history of the U.S.

Beatrix says:

Jules has never said he’s a Jew. And his stilted language indicates he’s not American. A 5th columnist? Maybe. There’s a ponderousness to his posts that makes me suspicious.

Pollard sold his info to Israel, not China. All nations spy on each other. Even allies. Do you think America calls Bibi or Cameron to find out what goes on in their countries? Of course not. We rely on our own agents.

Israel is an ally. Nevertheless, Pollard gave them info, we didn’t want them to know. I guess the question is, if we’re allies, why didn’t we want them to know the information he imparted? And why is he still in prison when Americans who’ve committed treason with China and Russia have gotten shorter sentences?

Beatrix says:

We give money to so many allies who give us nothing in return, and Americans don’t say a word. But Israel, the one country that by law spends ¾ of her foreign aid in America is the country these no nothings complain about.

Israel does stand on her own two feet the same as Canada, England , Mexico, France and other small countries do, by allying themselves with America, the most powerful nation on earth, who luckily shares their democratic values.

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Israel a Hot Topic at Presidential Debate

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