Rand Paul’s Confused Effort to Interfere with Congressional Support for Israel

Dec. 10 2018

Currently Rand Paul, the junior senator from Kentucky, is holding up two bills that otherwise enjoy wide bipartisan backing. One authorizes $38 billion in security aid to Israel over the next ten years; the other simply expresses approval of state and local measures denying government contracts to businesses that boycott the Jewish state. The editors of the Weekly Standard dissect the senator’s position:

Rand Paul and other opponents of the [anti-boycott bill] say they’re worried it runs afoul of the First Amendment’s [guarantee of freedom of] speech. But the right to free speech does not entail a right to government contracts. . . .

As [for the other bill]: as usual, Paul is holding up critical legislation in order to make a confused political statement. His explanation for opposing the security-assistance bill was in effect a diatribe against foreign aid. He pointed repeatedly to the assistance given to “enemies of the U.S. and Israel” and named Pakistan and the Palestinian Authority (PA). “Why are we giving twice as much money to nations that surround Israel, which forces Israel to spend more on defense?” Aid to Israel, he said, “should be paid for by cutting aid to people who hate Israel and America.”

But the United States does not give aid to Israel’s chief enemies: Hamas, Hizballah, and Iran. These entities are classified as foreign terrorist organizations or, in Iran’s case, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. We also routinely veto [UN] aid to the Palestine Liberation Organization. As for the PA, the United States can both cut aid to it—which it has in any case done under the Trump administration—and increase assistance to Israel. There’s no reason not to do both.

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More about: BDS, Congress, Israel & Zionism, US-Israel relations

The Riots on the Gaza Border are Carefully Coordinated Attacks on Israel, and Should Be Treated as Such

Jan. 16 2019

On Friday, the weekly riots at the Gaza security fence resumed in full force: 13,000 people participated, and a Palestinian woman was apparently killed by Israeli gunfire. The UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR) had established a commission of inquiry in May, not long after these riots began, “to investigate all alleged violations and abuses of international humanitarian law and international human-rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, . . . particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military assaults on the large-scale civilian protests that began on March 20, 2018.” In a report to the commission, Richard Kemp, a retired senior British officer, concludes, after investigating the situation at the Gaza border, that there is no evidence whatsoever of Israeli wrongdoing, and that the commission is operating under faulty assumptions:

The terms of [the commission’s] mandate are self-evidently biased against the state of Israel and the IDF. The context cited—“the military assaults on the large-scale civilian protests”—make clear that the UNHRC either failed to understand what was happening on the ground or deliberately misrepresented the reality. In addition, the commission’s mandate terms the Gaza Strip “Occupied Palestinian Territories,” which it is not. . . .

[T]he so-called “civilian protests” in reality were, and continue to be, a deliberate military operation, orchestrated and controlled by Hamas, [a] terrorist group that has been waging an armed conflict against Israel for many years. Their intention was and remains to kill and wound IDF soldiers, to break through the border fence, to murder and maim innocent civilians, to destroy property, and to compel the IDF to take defensive action resulting in the death of Gaza civilians for exploitation in the international arena. [Israel’s] “military assaults” were not what was implied by this prejudicial mandate. They were in fact lawful, proportionate, and restrained defensive actions. . . .

Suggestions that these demonstrations are [protests] against Israeli policy toward the Gaza Strip are demonstrably false and easily refuted by cursory viewing of Hamas and other public statements made at the time of the events. . . . Further, it is clear that Hamas intended this violence to continue its long-standing strategy of creating and intensifying international outrage, vilification, isolation, and criminalization of the state of Israel and its officials. . . .

[T]he starkest indication that these events were entirely under Hamas control is the simple fact that, when it suited Hamas’s political interests, the [demonstrations] occurred and were of a violent nature, and when such actions did not serve Hamas’s interests, the border was quiet. As the most recent example of this, in November 2018, Qatar began to make large cash payments to Hamas in Gaza. The most recent payment of $15 million was handed over in December 2018. These payments are reportedly part of an agreement with Hamas to diminish violence along the Gaza border. [After] the first payment, the border violence [was] reduced [and the] demonstrations [became] far more restrained.

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More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, IDF, Israel & Zionism, Laws of war, UNHRC