In the last Republican debate – political pundits have made much about a comment made by Presidential candidate Rick Perry with respect to zeroing out foreign aid – even to Israel. His idea is to basically to stop all foreign aid to all countries now receiving it and have them all start over – reapplying for it with a requirement to justify every dollar it requests to congress.
This kind of talk usually sends shivers down the spines of my coreligionists. Understandably so. Foreign aid to Israel is absolutely vital to its very existence. Most of it goes to its defense establishment. It enables Israel to buy the latest arms and take advantage of the latest arms technology - all for use in protecting its citizens.
But frankly I kind of like the idea. Here’s why. I do not have the slightest doubt in my mind that the US congress will continue to fund Israel’s security needs at the same level it does now. Israel need not spend a moment’s time justifying the foreign aid it gets. Congress on both sides of the political aisle is very pro Israel. Much more so than the current administration.
Not that the President is anti Israel. He is not. But he has certainly not been acting like a good friend. The recently caught off the record conversation between French President Sarkozy and the President demonstrates at the very least great antipathy toward Israel’s Prime Minister. Sarkozy calling Netanyahu a liar and the President not objecting - even adding his own negative comment in response - is no way to talk about the leader of your strongest ally in the Middle East. Like I said this does not mean he is anti Israel. But it certainly does not show any warmth towards her either.
Nonetheless even under an Obama administration foreign aid would probably continue at present levels. And under a Republican administration it wouldn’t surprise me if foreign aid would even increase. With the exception of that buffoon, Ron Paul - whose candidacy is a joke - every single candidate has expressed support for Israel in far warmer and stronger tones than the current administration. They have all been highly critical of the President and have accused him of letting our closest ally Israel down.
Based on that I see nothing to worry about in a zeroed out foreign aid policy. The benefit of zeroing out is that many of the other countries that now receive aid will have to explain why they continue to deserve receiving it. It will not be so simple for many of them. Some foreign countries now receiving aid are mortal enemies of the Jewish State and given the opportunity would wipe it off the face of the earth.
With the ‘Arab Spring’ in full bloom there is no telling where the chips may fall with respect to their approach to Israel. Egypt has been getting millions in foreign aid. And even though they have promised to maintain their peace treaty with Israel the future is far from certain. Witness the attack on the Israeli embassy in Egypt not long ago. Even though the current power base there disapproved of that attack and helped the Israeli diplomats leave the country - it is indicative of where the popular sentiment really lies.
Democracy in the Middle East does not mean that relations with Israel will improve. It was democracy that brought Hamas into power. Although it is possible in theory that relations between Israel and her neighbors could improve because of new realities on the ground, it is just as likely that they will deteriorate.
The hatred of Israel is in the lifeblood of the vast majority of Arab Musilms. That’s because of their culture of a virulently anti Israel and anti Jewish attitude. One which is taught in their homes, their schools, and their universities; one that is promoted in their mosques; and one that is promoted in their news and entertainment media. I firmly believe that the anti Israel rhetoric is alive and well in the new Arab spring.
I don’t think Egypt or any other Middle Eastern country that would show the slightest inclination to destroy the Jewish state will have such an easy time justifying foreign aid under current economic and political conditions. Especially in a pro Israel congress and a no-nonsense Republican administration that has no patience for the pandering policies of the current administration.
So I say, ‘Bring it on!’ Let us have a zero based foreign aid policy. It will be good for the country, good for Israel and really bad for the enemies of both!
As for the Democrats who are trying to paint this as some sort of abandonment of Israel… here is my message to them:
Please! Your pandering to the Jewish people for political advantage is so transparent that even a blind person can see right through you. It really makes you look bad. So stop trying to appeal to the emotions and fears of the Jewish people and their supporters (which include the majority of the American people.) It does not become you.