GOP Rejects $2.4B for Israel to Prevent Africa from Getting Condoms
The NJDC today was apoplectic at the GOP’s partisan rejection of a foreign aid bill yesterday that would have provided Israel with $2.4 billion in funding.
“After all their rhetoric about supporting Israel, Republicans yesterday placed politics above the U.S.-Israel relationship,” wrote NJDC Executive Director Ira N. Forman in a press release issued this morning. “By claiming to support Israel from one corner of their mouths, while telling Members to vote against billions in aid from the other corner, the Republican leaders have engaged in a sad, cynical act of political hypocrisy. For years, support for the foreign aid bill has been a top priority of the pro-Israel community. This vote was a real blow to the bipartisan consensus that we’ve worked so hard to develop on Israel.”
In toll, 164 out of 195 Republicans voted against the bill, which passed 241-178 in the House.
The JTA reported today on the GOP’s position:
Republicans opposed the overall bill because it restores some funding for contraception aid to overseas groups that provide abortions. Rejecting such funding has been a Republican red line for over two decades.
The Senate has yet to consider its own version of the bill. If the amendment restoring the funding survives the Senate-House conference, President Bush is sworn to vetoing it.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee lobbied hard for the inclusion in the bill of $2.4 billion in defense assistance for Israel and another $40 million in refugee assistance.
In a P.S. attached to a memo to all Republicans instructing them to vote “no,” minority leader Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio.) adds: “Members are advised that the Leadership has drafted a letter to AIPAC affirming Republican support for Israel funding, not withstanding final passage of this bill. This letter will be available for Members to sign at the Leadership Desk on the floor tonight. A copy of that letter is attached.”
The NJDC, as usual, seems to have jumped the gun and made themselves, and Democrats in general, look ridiculous by engaging in the same sort of excessive hyperbole for which most Jewish liberals denounce Republicans. I mean, come on– The GOP “placed politics above the U.S.-Israel relationship?” What an absurd contention. The U.S.-Israel relationship is politics. “G-d forbid our politicians should be playing politics!” What the hell are we paying them for? To play pinochle?
I think the more fascinating issue here is that of the GOP’s hierarchy of priorities, of which the NJDC made no mention.
This incident evidences the fact that pandering to Christian fundamentalists (by denying contraception to AIDS-stricken nations, thus causing millions to die annually — how Christ-like!) is a greater priority than bolstering Israel, America’s most committed ally in the War on Terror™. According to the GOP’s own talking points, without the U.S.’s ardent support of Israel, the fate of Western civilization in-and-of-itself lies at risk. Yet nonetheless, in this case, Christian “sexual ethics” have trumped our national security interests. More fascinating than even this fact, though, is that Christian groups that are likewise committed to Israel’s defense for theological reasons here have put “sexual ethics” before even fulfilling the criteria of the Second Coming.
Now’s a great opportunity for Israel’s Jewish swing-voting supporters to ask themselves some serious questions, like:
Are Republicans really better for Israel if their bizarre need to impose conservative Christian values on third-world nations is allowed to stand in the way of supporting Israel?
And likewise, is getting GOP support for Israel really worth the cost of, in this case, millions of AIDS victims lives? Should we support the GOP’s decision to push for a separate bill just to suit Israel’s needs, while davka, leaving the poor and the sick behind?
And finally, if you’re a God-fearing Christian fundamentalist who believes in the Second Coming and the defense of Israel as an a priori of that event, is the prohibition of sex that’s not intended for procreation really more important than saving lives, both in AIDS-stricken nations and in terror-threatened ones?
It’s something to think on…