Here’s Rand Paul’s Response to That Whole Israel Funding Kerfuffle

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Aug. 5 2014 3:54 PM

Here’s Rand Paul’s Response to That Whole Israel Funding Kerfuffle

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Let me explain...

Photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images

A bit less than a day after I wrote about Rand Paul's insistence that he never had a "legislative position" in favor of cutting aid to Israel (as part of cutting all foreign aid), Paul's office sent me a two-part explainer. Part one: a long quote from Doug Stafford, Paul's former chief of staff and now key PAC adviser.

Senator Rand Paul has never proposed any legislation that targeted Israel's aid and just last week voted to continue and increase funding to the State of Israel. Sen. Paul is a strong supporter of the Jewish state of Israel. In 2011, Sen. Paul proposed a budget resolution that did not include certain foreign assistance programs in an effort to balance the budget in five years.  
Subsequent budget proposals made by Sen. Paul have included up to $5 billion for foreign assistance to account for U.S.-Israel security interests.
Sen. Paul's position was exactly what Prime Minister Netanyahu said to Congress on July 10, 1996 and May 24, 2011 - Israel will be better off when it does not have to count on anyone else for its protection.
Sen. Paul has attempted several times this year to pass the Stand with Israel Act. The bill would cut off the flow of U.S. taxpayer dollars to the Palestinian Authority if it were allied with Hamas.  Last month, he issued a letter to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee requesting committee action on the Stand with Israel Act.
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In the first graf, the words "targeted" and "certain" do the heavy lifting. Paul never targeted foreign aid to Israel, because he proposed cutting certain foreign aid that happened to include military funds to American allies. The aid to Israel simply fell under the umbrella. The hair-splitting's fine, as hair-splitting goes, but it's not enough to alter yesterday's stories.

The final two grafs are are just confusing—they reiterate the argument Paul used to make, when critics were shocked that he would ax aid to Israel. And the second part of the new Paul explainer corroborates the Netanyahu quote and the Stand With Israel facts, which no one disputes, and which have generally been included in the relevant stories. Paul's office is reiterating the logic behind that position while arguing that Paul never held it.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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