It was a political phenomenon of sorts, it seemed, the likes of which has never been seen in Israel: A Republican senator arrives for a visit and shamelessly tells us that the U.S. will have no other option but to slash defense-related financial aid it provides Israel, despite the yearly aid package of $3 billion essentially amounting to marbles in comparison to the U.S. national debt.
"He must be an Israel hater," some will say in regard to Senator Rand Paul's comments in Jerusalem. The senator, on more than one occasion, hasn't hesitated to preach the need to decrease financial aid. He expressed as much during discussions with us — even if he did so in a tone befitting a first-time visitor. He threw his proposal into the Israeli wind, even surviving publicly without someone tagging him as an Israel hater.
The senator, it appears, is first and foremost tending to his country's financial crisis. He explained himself to us in a logical manner that was easy to understand: In his words, every second that passes the U.S. takes out a loan of $50,000 to deal with the deficit. And in regards to foreign aid: It's an expenditure that has never been popular among the American public, and yet the vast majority of lawmakers in both houses of Congress approve the Israeli aid package without batting an eyelash.
Senator Paul wonders why the United States continues to pour financial aid to countries where the American flag is burned in city squares, "Indeed, this phenomenon of burning American flags is an expression of hate toward America that I haven't seen in Israel," Paul told us. The cut to the Israeli aid package, he emphasized, would be done gradually, but first the flow of financial aid to Pakistan must be stopped, for example, as well as to other countries in the region.
Senator Paul doesn't hate Israel. His speeches point to clear support for us. In general, American analysts saw his visit here as the opening salvo of his 2016 presidency campaign. He's a rising star in his party. The call to cut aid to Israel, and foreign aid in general, doesn't exclusively affect Israel."To me it has always been about whether it makes sense for me to borrow money from China to give to Pakistan,” he said.
There was even a pretty supportive letter to the editor of the Jerusalem Post:
Listen to Sen. Paul
Sir, – At last a voice of reason in a world that has gone mad (“Rand Paul: Construction in Jerusalem ‘none of US’s business,’ January 13). The Republican senator from Kentucky said it was “none of our business” whether Israel “builds new neighborhoods in east Jerusalem or withdraws from the Golan Heights, and the US should not tell Israel how to defend itself.”
How good it is to hear the truth. Why could our government not have thought of this? We would not be having Arabs threatening our existence and setting up tents on Jewish land, claiming it as their own, as they do our holy sites, to which they deny us any connection.
Paul also puts us straight on foreign aid, stating that the US gives more to Israel’s neighbors than to Israel. If the US gives 20 F-16 fighter planes to Egypt, Israel feels it needs to buy 25. If the US gives Egypt 200 tanks, Israel feels the need to purchase 300 to keep ahead of the game, all the time having to spend more and more money on armaments that should be spent in Israel for Israelis.
While Paul advocates cutting foreign aid due to America’s massive debt, he is talking first of all about aid to countries that are not so friendly to the US, such as those that are burning the American flag and chanting “Death to America,” which Israel can never be accused of.
He also cites Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his 1996 speech to Congress, in which he advocated that Israel gradually wean itself off American aid dollars. This would benefit Israel and its defense industry because it would not have to buy all its weaponry from the US. A curtailment of American foreign aid would also mean less money for arms for Israel’s neighbors.
Rand Paul talks a lot of sense and we would be fools not to listen and learn.