Jonathan S. Tobin: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Wrong Argument About Cutting U.S. Aid to Israel

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) proved again this week that while she’s gotten some competition lately from her friend Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), the Queens congresswoman is still the country’s most unavoidable political personality.

AOC’s latest headline concerns her reaction to Israel’s election. When asked on a Yahoo News podcast whether Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s re-election should affect U.S. policy toward the Jewish state, she gladly took the bait. She said that these were the sorts of conversations Democrats were now having about Israel, and that she thought aid cuts should be part of a conversation she wanted to lead.

This is one more sign of an impending partisan clash between older mainstream pro-Israel Democrats and the increasingly vocal radical left intent on hijacking their party. AOC and her BDS-supporting allies like Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) aren’t yet running the Democratic caucus. But the discussion about the Middle East emanating from their party’s presidential candidates indicates that, at the very least, the 2020 presidential race will feature a divisive debate about Trump’s pro-Israel policies that will fracture, perhaps fatally, what’s left of the bipartisan consensus backing the Jewish state.

But instead of just dismissing AOC’s comments, it’s worth examining how the issue of fiscal aid works to the Jewish state’s disadvantage.

For the moment, aid to Israel isn’t in any danger. Indeed, as some Jewish Democrats pointed out in the wake of her statement, the House leadership remains firmly opposed to any effort to tie it to disagreements about Netanyahu’s policies. More importantly, the current level of military assistance was set in place by the 10-year agreement signed in 2016 by the Obama administration that guaranteed $38 billion in aid to Israel.

That was a milestone in the relationship, but it was not crafted entirely to Israel’s advantage. Though the total and the scope of the commitment was generous, President Barack Obama’s purpose seemed to be aimed at hamstringing Israel’s ability to say “no” to U.S. demands about peace-process negotiations and to impede measures of self-defense against its Palestinian terrorist or Iranian foes. Netanyahu was also forced to agree that Israel would not go to its friends in Congress for increases in assistance over and above the amounts in the agreement. Equally important, it phased out Israel’s right to use some of the aid on buying weapons made by its own arms industry rather than on American-made armaments.

What AOC and her friends don’t understand about U.S. military aid is that it is as much a jobs program for Americans as it is a boost to Israeli security. Almost all of it is spent on U.S. munitions and armaments manufactured here.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Jonathan S. Tobin