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Senator Rand Paul Takes Surprising Pro-Israel Stance

An attack on Israel should be treated as an attack on the United States, says Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 1/28/2013, 5:45 AM

Senator Rand Paul
Senator Rand Paul
Reuters

Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul has taken what very well could be considered his most pro-Israel stance yet, saying in an interview that an attack on Israel should be treated as an attack on the United States, the Daily Caller reports.

Paul, who was asked in an interview with Breitbart News whether the United States would stand with Israel and provide it foreign aid if the Jewish State were attacked by its enemies, went a step further.

“Well, absolutely we stand with Israel,” he said, “but what I think we should do is announce to the world – and I think it is pretty well known — that any attack on Israel will be treated as an attack on the United States.”

The comments by Paul, who recently returned from a trip to Israel, are surprising. During his trip to Israel, Paul called on the U.S. to reduce its foreign aid to Israel, which amounts to around $3 billion per year for military purposes. 

Paul told the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies that "borrowing from one country to give to another,” only serves to put more pressure on the US and to burden it with more debt, adding, “It will be harder to be a friend of Israel if we are out of money. It will be harder to defend Israel if we destroy our country in the process...I think there will be significant repercussions of running massive deficits . . . you destroy your currency by spending money you don’t have.”

Israel is one of America’s top foreign aid recipients, receiving about one-fifth of the U.S. foreign aid budget.

Paul added that cutting aid forces Israel to become more sovereign and less reliant on the U.S., citing a 1996 speech by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in which he laid out plans to wean the country off American aid. 

Paul is also one of only two GOP senators who recently withheld their signatures from a letter by 11 GOP senators who have vowed continued financial support for Israel.

Many believe Paul’s trip to Israel was meant to bolster his credentials for a 2016 presidential run, the Daily Caller reported. The libertarian Kentucky senator is seen as having a bigger burden than other candidates in demonstrating his pro-Israel bona fides because of his opposition to foreign aid and his connection to his father’s ideology.

Paul’s father, former Texas congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul, was widely seen as unfriendly to Israel. For instance, the elder Paul once went on Iranian state-sponsored television and likened Gaza to a concentration camp.

The elder Paul also claimed that the recent escalation of violence between Hamas and Israel can be blamed on U.S. foreign policy, which, he maintains, favors Israel.

He further stated that President Barack Obama has made the same mistake as former President George W. Bush by justifying Israeli defensive measures against Hamas.

The younger Paul, however, is trying to demonstrate that he is pro-Israel, even if he opposes foreign aid to the Jewish State, noted the Daily Caller.

He reiterated in his interview with Breitbart News his opposition to foreign aid, but again noted that he favors cutting aid off first to anti-American countries before ultimately cutting it off to American allies like Israel.

Several months ago, Paul wrote fellow senators that they should consider “cutting all foreign aid to any country that fails to secure our embassies.”

Paul threatened a filibuster to suspend aid to Egypt and other countries where Americans have been attacked.