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.