The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Cantor: Take Israel out of foreign aid

Before you get too excited by that headline:

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- A Republican Congress would seek to remove funding for Israel from the foreign operations budget, a GOP leader said.

U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor, the Republican whip and the only Jewish Republican in the House of Representatives, told JTA that a GOP-led House would seek to defund nations that do not share U.S. interests, even if it meant rejecting the president's foreign operations budget.

Cantor, of Virginia, said he wants to protect funding for Israel should that situation arise.

"Part of the dilemma is that Israel has been put in the overall foreign aid looping," he said when asked about the increasing tendency of Republicans in recent years to vote against foreign operations appropriations. "I'm hoping we can see some kind of separation in terms of tax dollars going to Israel."

Cantor's statement was a sign that the Republican leadership was ready to defer to the party's right wing on this matter. Some on the GOP right have suggested including Israel aid in the defense budget, and a number of Tea Party-backed candidates have said they would vote against what is known in Congress as "foreign ops."

The bottom line: Eric Cantor wants Israel to be treated as something else than what it is, i.e. a foreign state. And he's concerned that wacky Republican views on foreign policy should not affect the endless supply of money and weapons to the single state that has contributed more problems to US foreign policy than any other. But I think Cantor, and a worryingly high number of US congresspeople, would put Israeli aid of pretty much anything else in the budget, including American children going to school, never mind some poor African state receiving foreign aid.