Ignoring a recent call by the Anti-Defamation League and American Jewish Committee for American Jewish organizations to avoid using Israel as a political wedge issue, Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz is taking a firm hold of the Israel political football, and using it against the Republican presidential candidates.
In an email that is, according to Politico, about to be sent out to the Obama campaign and DNC email lists, Wasserman Schultz slams Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry for saying at Saturday’s Republican debate that they’d start “everything at zero” when it comes to foreign aid—including foreign aid to Israel.
So much for “unity” on Israel.
(Update: As Arie Lipnick of the Republican Jewish Coalition pointed out to me in an email this evening, Wasserman Schultz’s decision to use Israel as a partisan issue appears to fly in the face of her comments to this year’s JFNA General Assembly earlier this month, where she said, according to JTA, “Israel should never be used as a political football.”)
The text of the email is below.
“Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Perry raced each other to the extremes of Tea Party isolationism, saying they’d “start everything at zero” in the foreign aid budget and force Israel and every other ally to make their case for receiving American assistance.
It’s outrageous and dangerous—and it shows a critical ignorance of how a president needs to act. It is never responsible to raise doubts about our commitment to the security of a key ally like Israel.
Mitt Romney and other Republican candidates have spent a lot of time lately saying how much they support Israel—and openly questioning President Obama’s commitment to the Jewish state.
But a stance like this tells us two really important things:
1) These guys are so eager to please the most extreme elements of their Tea Party base that they’d forget about one of the most loyal allies our country has.
2) They fundamentally don’t understand our current foreign policy agreements, like the commitments we’ve made to Israel that establish certain levels of aid for years to come.
At the end of the day, foreign aid is a tiny fraction of the federal budget—less than one percent—that goes a long way to support our national security and economic goals abroad. The cuts these candidates propose wouldn’t make a dent in the deficit, but they would wreak absolute havoc on our foreign policy and America’s standing in the world.
In typical fashion, the Romney campaign tried to say two different things to two different audiences, releasing a statement to try to walk back his words—saying he was referring only to Pakistan. But one look at the transcript shows otherwise: “One of the things we have to do with our foreign aid commitments, the ongoing foreign aid commitments, I agree with Governor Perry. You start everything at zero.”