WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Republican Jewish Coalition rejected a proposal by Sen. Rand Paul to end foreign aid, including aid to Israel, as "misguided."
"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," the RJC said in a statement. "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."
Paul, a Republican newly elected in Kentucky, was on CNN Wednesday outlining where he would cut the $500 billion in government spending he says is critical to sustaining the U.S. economy. His focus was on the departments of energy, education and housing.
Interviewer Wolf Blitzer then asked about foreign assistance, asking if he wanted to end "all foreign aid."
Paul said yes, and Blitzer asked him about aid to Israel. "Well, I think what you have to do is you have to look," Paul said. "When you send foreign aid, you actually [send] quite a bit to Israel’s enemies. Islamic nations around Israel get quite a bit of foreign aid, too.
"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 peace and a fountain of democracy within the Middle East."
Blitzer pressed, "End all foreign aid including the foreign aid to Israel as well. Is that right?" he asked.
Paul answered, "Yes."
Democrats, including Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), the ranking member of the foreign operations subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee, pounced on Paul’s proposal.
"It is shocking that Senator Paul wants our nation to renege on our commitment to a vital ally, which is necessary to assure Israel’s continued qualitative military advantage in a dangerous region," she said in a statement calling on Republicans to make clear if Paul is speaking on the party’s behalf.