Rand Paul Draws Fire From Debbie Wasserman Schultz on Israel
Around the State
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., one of the leading Republican presidential possibilities, is drawing fire this week from a Democratic congresswoman from Florida over his changed positions on American support for Israel.
Paul was asked by Yahoo News this week about his past proposal to cut off all federal foreign aid, including to Israel.
“I haven’t really proposed that in the past,” Paul told Yahoo News. “We’ve never had a legislative proposal to do that. You can mistake my position, but then I’ll answer the question. That has not been a position – a legislative position – we have introduced to phase out or get rid of Israel’s aid. That’s the answer to that question. Israel has always been a strong ally of ours and I appreciate that. I voted just this week to give money – more money – to the Iron Dome, so don’t mischaracterize my position on Israel.”
But, back in 2011, Paul told ABC News that his proposal to end all foreign aid would impact Israel.
"I'm not singling out Israel. I support Israel. I want to be known as a friend of Israel," Paul told ABC News in 2011. "But not with money you don't have. We can't just borrow from our kids' future and give it to countries even if they are our friends."
"I think they're an important ally, but I also think that their per capita income is greater than probably three-fourths of the rest of the world," Paul continued. "Should we be giving free money or welfare to a wealthy nation? I don't think so."
Paul insisted that Israel was “probably 10 years ahead of any neighboring country” when it came to defense. "I think that their defense is very significant and probably well in advance of any of their particular enemies,” Paul said.
Paul’s comments drew the fire of U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). On Monday evening, Wasserman Schultz teamed up with Rabbi Jack Moline, the executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council, to push back.
“Rand Paul can’t pretend that he never proposed ending the United States’ financial support for Israel,” Wasserman Schultz and Moline said in a statement. “In 2011, Paul introduced a budget that would have eliminated all foreign aid for Israel; he even bragged about his position in multiple interviews and called such aid ‘welfare’ to a wealthy nation. He has also expressed a belief that a nuclear Iran would not pose a real threat to Israel or the United States. Sen. Paul can claim that he wants to be a friend of Israel, but the consequences of his actions would threaten the security of Israel and its ability to defend itself.
“This is part of a troubling pattern with Sen. Paul – from civil rights to foreign policy, Paul has said one disturbing thing after another for years and now that he’s running for president, he’s trying to rewrite history,” the Democrats added. “Voters are smarter than that and can see right through his deceit.”
Paul has been increasingly vocal in his support for Israel in recent months. Earlier this year, he launched the “Stand With Israel Act” which cuts off American funds to the Hamas-aligned Palestinian Authority. Paul has also been critical of Obama’s handling of Middle Eastern relations, insisting the administration has been too hard on Israel and too lenient on the Palestinian Authority.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.