Friday, January 28, 2011

Rand Paul and Israel

If there is one thing that Rand Paul has done as a senator, it is uniting Jewish Democrats and Republicans when it comes to the subject of Israel.

First the RJC has rejected Rand Paul's plan to end foreign aid to Israel. Here is the main statement from Matt Brooks, the executive director of he RJC:
"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.

"Moreover, based on his comments in an interview with CNN, we are concerned that Senator Paul may not grasp the fundamentals of our alliance with Israel. In 2007, the U.S. and Israel signed a ten-year 'Memorandum of Understanding' (MoU) to govern U.S. assistance going forward. A critical aim of the MoU was to preserve Israel's qualitative military advantage. Accordingly, any concern that U.S. assistance might undermine Israel's security is groundless.

"We are heartened to know that, with very few exceptions, congressional Republicans understand and appreciate the importance of this alliance to America's national security. And we are confident that few - if any - of Senator Paul's Republican colleagues will cosponsor a plan that reneges on an agreement with a critical ally."
CNN's own Wolf Blitzer went after Randy:
BLITZER: What about the $2 billion or $3 billion that goes every year to Israel? Do you want to eliminate that as well?
PAUL: Well, I think what you have to do is you have to look. When you send foreign aid, you actually quite a bit to Israel's enemies, Islamic nations around Israel get quite a bit of foreign aid, too.

BLITZER: Egypt gets almost the same amount?
PAUL: Almost the same amount so really 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, you know, a fountain of piece and a fountain of democracy within the Middle East.

But at the same time, I don't think funding both sides of the arm race, particularly when we have to borrow the money from China to send it to someone else. We just can't do it anymore. The debt is all consuming and it threatens our well being as a country.

BLITZER: All right, so just to be precise, end all foreign aid including the foreign aid to Israel as well. Is that right?
PAUL: Yes.
As for the NJDC? David Harris went after Rahm:
The National Jewish Democratic Council stands in strong opposition to Senator Paul’s call to end foreign assistance to Israel. Paul’s suggestion is negligent, shortsighted, and just plain wrong. Foreign aid in general, and aid to Israel in particular, is crucial to Israel’s security and its pursuit of peace.

Between Senator Paul’s stated goal of ending aid to Israel and moves by top GOP leaders like House Majority Leader Eric Cantor to engage in risky schemes that threaten the future of assistance to Israel, advocates who care about supporting Israel in this essential way—as a nation, putting our money where our mouth is—have a great deal to fear from the ever-more-conservative Senate and House GOP.

Senator Paul’s statement is yet another illustration of how the Republican Party continues to grow increasingly out of touch with the values of the vast majority of the American Jewish community.
Congrats Rand on finding a way to unite Jews of both parties.

UPDATE: Even J Street is in on slamming Rand Paul.
J Street is alarmed by Senator Rand Paul’s suggestion that the United States should end all foreign aid, including to Israel.

The foreign operations bill is a pillar of the US-Israel relationship and advances American diplomatic objectives by providing aid not just to Israel but to key partners in the Middle East and elsewhere across the globe.

Senator Paul’s proposal would undermine the decades-long bipartisan consensus on U.S. support for Israel. Any erosion of support should concern Israel’s friends on both sides of the political aisle, and we call in particular on leaders and donors in Senator Paul’s party to repudiate his comments and ensure that American leadership around the world is not threatened by this irresponsible proposal.

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