NJDC and RJC Denounce Sen. Rand Paul Calling for End to Aid for Israel

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) Interviewed by Wolf Blitzer on CNN

BLITZER: You want to end all foreign aid as well, is that right?

PAUL: Yes and in fact, the other day Reuters did a poll, 71 percent of American people agree with me that when we’re short of money, where we can’t do the things we need to do in our country, we certainly shouldn’t be shipping the money overseas. […]

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.

Response from National Jewish Democratic Council President David A. Harris

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.

Response from Republican Jewish Coaliton Executive Director Matthew Brooks:

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.

Joe Lieberman Will Retire From Senate Next Year

Sen. Joe Lieberman with his 2004 running mate Sen. John Kerry (D-MA)

Sen. Joe Lieberman endorsing 2008 Presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)

The National Jewish Democratic Council, and the Republican Jewish Committee both issued statements saluting the Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) who recently announced that he would not be seeking relection next year.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Sen. Kent Concrad (D-ND) have also announced that they will be retiring. According to the betting site InTrade, the Republicans have a 70% chance of taking control of the Senate in 2012.

David A. Harris, National Jewish Democratic Council

“The National Jewish Democratic Council thanks Senator Joe Lieberman for his years of dedicated and loyal service to our country. He has stood out as a leader who always did what he believed was right, regardless of whether or not it was politically popular. We will always remember the important steps he took to break the glass ceiling for the Jewish community in public service, from his appearance in Washington as the first Orthodox Jewish Senator to his acceptance of our party’s Vice Presidential nomination in 2000. Lieberman has also been a vocal advocate for issues of importance to American Jews, including support for Israel and — especially in recent months — the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ We have appreciated his friendship and partnership on these and other key issues over the years. NJDC wishes Lieberman the best of luck in his future endeavors – his presence and voice in the Senate will be missed.”

Matthew Brooks, Republican Jewish Committee

“Senator Lieberman is a true mensch and a great American.  He showed that it’s possible to have a successful political career while doing what you feel is right – even when what’s right is not what’s in your political best interests.  Time and again, Senator Lieberman put principle over politics.  He was a role model and a shining example of all that’s good and decent about public service.”

“He’s been called the last of the Scoop Jackson Democrats, but he is one of a kind and irreplaceable.  We’ll dearly miss his friendship  – and the leadership he showed through more than two decades in the Senate.”