Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) certainly picked a chaotic moment to say that the U.S. should end all foreign aid, including to Israel. More pragmatic heads in the Senate – including New Jersey’s own Sen. Robert Menendez – should prevail. (See page 13.)
In a CNN interview Jan. 26, just one day after the Egyptian uprising began, Wolf Blitzer asked Paul if his call for cutting government spending included ending all foreign aid. Paul answered yes, and also yes to Blitzer’s follow-up question as to whether Paul supports ending all foreign aid to Israel.
Given concerns about a ballooning federal budget, it may be tempting to nominate foreign aid for the chopping block. But in an age of global terrorism, drastically cutting foreign aid, especially to stable allies and democracies, is no more pragmatic a prescription for policy than bringing back Prohibition.
The reality is that U.S. aid to Israel does more than ensure the survival of the Jewish state. It also fortifies a stable ally providing vital military cooperation and intelligence in a region that is a breeding ground for violent extremism. Israeli eyes, ears, and boots on the ground in a tough neighborhood means fewer U.S. service members need to be there.
Moreover, much U.S. aid to Israel returns to America in the form of military procurements. In 2005, for instance, Israel’s government signed contracts worth billions of dollars with more than 1,000 companies in 47 states, including New Jersey. That year, Israel spent $71 million in New Jersey alone. This interchange promotes both countries’ technology and helps to give them a military advantage that, as recent events in Egypt have highlighted, is vital in an uncertain world.
Last week, Menendez co-wrote a letter urging top Republicans on House spending panels to reject Paul’s call to end foreign aid to Israel. We commend the senator’s pragmatism.
During his campaign, Paul worked hard to distinguish himself from his father, Sen. Ron Paul, an outspoken opponent of foreign aid, regarding Israel. The younger Paul made a point of saying he appreciates the Jewish state. He should realize that supporting Israel, an ally on the front lines in an age of global terrorism, requires more than just words.