An Update from CUFI Action Fund
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We’re not going to make a habit of it, but this week we’ll once again only be covering two topics in The Update. Why? Because sometimes events are so impactful that they demand fixation over attention, and sometimes events are so head turning as to leave the observer with whiplash.

Sen. Rand Paul is Endangering Israeli Lives (and he knows it)

Sen. Rand Paul likes attention and his primary tactic for generating the same is taking wildly inappropriate positions and using Senate procedures to get headlines. If you have kids, you’ll recognize this pattern of attention-seeking behavior from those pre-school days. Unfortunately, the consequences of Sen. Paul’s self-important and childlike approach to governance are grave.

On Monday, the junior Senator from Kentucky blocked a unanimous consent request from Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey to advance to 2 hours of debate and then a vote on the Iron Dome assistance bill that passed the House of Representatives by an overwhelming vote of 420-9. Ninety-nine Senators, from Ted Cruz to Bernie Sanders, from Mitch McConnel to Chuck Schumer, agreed with Menendez’s request. They agreed to it because denying US support for a purely defensive system is, bluntly, crazy.

In taking this action, Paul is effectively standing alongside the likes of Rep.’s Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. We’re not sure why, but at this point it seems a bit unfair that Rand Paul hasn’t been formally invited to join the foreign policy wing of “The Squad.”

Paul claims to support Iron Dome assistance. He put forth an alternative to Menendez’s request that would’ve taken $6 billion dollars from Afghan aid and allocated $1 billion of it to Israel. Seems reasonable right? Well, let’s dig a little deeper.

First, Sen. Paul has previously tried to block/cut support for Israel. Second, Dr. Paul knows full well that a host of Senators wouldn’t agree to his holding the Senate, House, and Iron Dome assistance hostage to his antics. He knew his tactics were beyond the pale. Finally, Paul also knows that he can work to advance the same policy through its own bill or as an amendment to other legislation that relates to Afghanistan or broader defense policy. So, the simplest explanation is the best: Sen. Paul has long opposed aid to Israel and he’s doing what he can to hold it up.

And here’s where things get really interesting. Why, if he opposes aid to Israel, wouldn’t he just say so? Why wouldn’t he always vote against such aid? Two reasons: first, you can’t be anti-Israel and represent the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Basically, he’d lose his seat. Second, when he does vote for bills that include aid to Israel, he does so when his vote is effectively irrelevant because the aid to Israel enjoys overwhelming support. In a nutshell, Rand Paul lacks the courage to stand up and say what he really thinks, hides his disdain for aid to Israel by concealing it behind efforts he knows will fail, and only votes for aid to Israel when his vote is immaterial so he can further conceal his anti-Israel animus.

At the end of the day, the replenishment of the Iron Dome will eventually advance through Congress and land on the President’s desk. It might take some time, and each day that goes by Rand Paul’s actions imperil Israeli lives and emboldens Hamas to launch another war, but in the end we will win.

Iran Thinks We’re Weak (They’re Wrong)

This past week, we saw two astounding pieces of information come out concerning the Islamic Republic of Iran. First, Israel revealed that Tehran had tried to murder an Israeli businessman who lives in Cypress (just off Israel’s coast). Second, reports are out that Iran wants the US to effectively turn over $10 billion to the Islamic Republic for, as the Wall Street Journal aptly put it, “the privilege of holding nuclear talks.” In both cases, the actions indicate that Iran thinks they are in control. Spoiler alert: they’re not.

Regarding the demand for $10 billion, we have some thoughts:

First, no. While the Biden administration has been rather inept in public when it comes to leveraging the exceptional position of strength it inherited from President Trump’s maximum pressure strategy, we don’t think it’s politically feasible for team Biden to hand out cash to one of the world’s most oppressive and hated regimes to land a few meaningless meetings. In fact, a Biden administration official recently said that “goodwill gestures” (read $$$) are off the table. We hope they stick to that.

Second, no. While the Islamic Republic has been denying inspectors access to nuclear sites and essentially engaging in pre-nuclear weapons blackmail, the US and Israel, according to reports, have been discussing alternatives to negotiations for dealing with Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

And finally, no. The Iranian economy is in a bad place. That (and to kill Jews – see above) is the only reason they want the cash. The Biden administration, Congress, the Europeans, and the Israelis all know that such money would embolden Iran’s rulers and that Iran would just keep demanding more blackmail money to continue a never-ending series of negotiations that go nowhere.

We think the Biden administration has made real mistakes on Iran and that attempts to negotiate ourselves back into the JCPOA have failed – never mind the promise of a “stronger and longer deal.”. They’ve put the wrong people in place in key positions and have said and done things that make Tehran think the US is a paper tiger. The White House needs to realize that strength is the only language mullahs understand.


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