Rand Paul In Israel: End The Gravy Train Of U.S. Foreign Aid

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By Maya Shwayder | January 10, 2013 8:37 AM EST

Hear that countries who depend on U.S. foreign aid to bolster their economies? The gravy train is over! Or at least it will be if Rand Paul has his way.

The U.S. Senator (R-Ky.), who is already being touted as a 2016 Republican presidential candidate (notwithstanding the fact that Obama hasn’t even been re-inaugurated yet), was recently appointed to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and is showing some strong Woodrow Wilson-style isolationist tendencies.

The role of the Committee, according to its own website, is to “develop and influence United States foreign policy,” and in the past has “helped shape foreign policy of broad significance.” In other words, the actions of the Committee matter just a bit, and the membership of a Senator like Rand Paul, who’s primary policy goal seems to be deficit reduction and budget balancing to the exclusion and possible detriment of all other policies, is a worrying prospect to many, particularly in the pro-Israel community.

Upon his appointment to the Committee, the National Jewish Democratic Committee released a statement condemning Paul’s new membership, particularly as it pertains to U.S.-Israel relations. NJDC President David Harris said that the existence of Paul on the Committee “should be raising red flags and provoking severe concern across the pro-Israel community.”

During the 2012 presidential campaign, Paul broke party ranks to criticize Republican Nominee Mitt Romney’s foreign policy plan as being too costly, and called for a “less aggressive foreign policy” in a CNN column.

“A less aggressive foreign policy along with an audit of the Pentagon could save tens of billions of dollars each year without sacrificing our defense,” Paul wrote.

“To dismiss either idea is to miss the very compromise that will enable us to balance our budget. That compromise would be for conservatives to admit that not every dollar spent on the military is sacred or well-spent, and for liberals to admit that not every dollar spent on domestic entitlements and welfare is necessary.”

Not even America’s allies abroad are spared from Paul’s austere vision of the future. On his first-ever visit to Israel this week, Paul made comments to a Jerusalem think-tank that have ruffled the feathers of some pro-Israel activists back home.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Paul as saying, “It will be harder to defend Israel if we destroy our country [the U.S.] in the process. I think there will be significant repercussions to running massive deficits.

“I’m all for gradualism. I would start a little more quickly with those who are enemies of Israel, and enemies of the U.S. I would like to see their aid end more quickly. With regards to Israel, it could be a gradual phenomenon.”

Paul went on to assert that the presence of U.S. dollars in Israel’s defense budget precludes Israel from making its own decisions, and questioned whether “our money sometimes clouds the sovereignty of Israel.”

His remarks, while not overtly anti-Semitic, have raised eyebrows and ire back home.

The NJDC released a statement on Tuesday condemning Paul’s proposed cuts to U.S. aid to Israel.

“Senator Paul’s misguided views on aid to Israel are plain wrong and do not reflect the myriad benefits that come from American assistance to Israel,” NJDC President David Harris said in the statement. “…Paul’s appointment to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee would give him a bigger platform from which to spout his radical views.”

Paul’s father, Congressman Ron Paul, has also been accused of holding anti-Israel views. In a speech last month in Texas, Paul the elder proposed that America’s “blind support” of Israel was hurting the U.S., and indeed, the very idea of democracy in general. During the Republican debates before Romney won the nomination, Paul asserted that America was too much “Israel’s master,” who was dictating Israel’s borders and vetoing foreign policy decisions.  

Rand Paul is scheduled to meet with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders during his visit.

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