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OPINION

Time to Put America First

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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Brian Pfail

On Monday morning, New York’s Mayor Eric Adams proudly announced on X, formerly known as Twitter, “Boarding our flight to Israel.” In the hours following his video post, his government account racked up a few more posts touting his affair with Israeli leaders. 

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For a mayor who allegedly values the Jewish people so much, his city falls short. Democrat “soft-on-crime” policies have led to a significant rise in antisemitic incidents—a 39% increase in 2022.

Regardless, what is a local official tripping to Israel on the taxpayers’ dime for anyway? 

Florida Gov. and GOP presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis toured Israel in April, touting his “pro-Israel credentials.” 

A few months later, US congressional reps met with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), notoriously known as the “Israel Lobby.” Some of these representatives were from the areas of Long Island, tormented by the flow of migrants and associated violent crimes

Rep. Andrew Garbarino, R-NY, met with the NGO, putting aside the plentiful constituent issues, including the plaguing MS-13 who operate within his district, essentially controlling Carleton Avenue of Central Islip.

So, what is going on here that our elected officials must venture to Israel or meet with its lobbying groups on demand and defend the policies mercilessly of “our greatest ally”?

Let’s rewind the clocks to 2007. Still relatively unknown, Barack Obama was invited to AIPAC’s Policy Forum in Chicago, where he spoke about his prior year's trip to the Holy Land and pro-Israel policy. 

Many believe this moment pushed Obama into the realm of presidential candidacy. Through it, he garnered the support of arguably the most influential NGO in the United States, AIPAC.

After he assumed office, though, Obama became conflicted with Israeli policies and his core liberal values. In his presidential memoir, A Promised Land, he wrote about the difficulties he and any US lawmaker faced with policies opposed by Israel or its lobbying groups:

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Members of both parties worried about crossing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a powerful bipartisan lobbying organization dedicated to ensuring unwavering US support for Israel. … Those who criticized Israeli policy too loud risked being tagged as ‘anti-Israel’ (and possibly anti-Semitic) and confronted with a well-funded opponent in the next election.

In 2016, the Obama Administration initiated a $38 billion long-term commitment to Israel, almost entirely of military aid. Was this out of Obama’s liberal virtue or by the pressure from the Lobby that he noted in his memoir?

Is America really acting on its own accord, protecting its national sovereignty? Was former President Donald Trump even America First in his first term? 

Recall Trump had a well-established relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The press has touted Trump as the “most pro-Israel US president ever,” too—but that may have relied on his solid rapport with Netanyahu. 

That relationship between the two may have soured after Netanyahu congratulated Joe Biden on his 2020 victory, prompting Trump, fiercely driven by loyalty, to cuss him out.

With that, 2024 became a real opportunity for an America First agenda, as Trump never forgets.

Going against the Conservative Inc. grain, pro-Israel arguments do not amount to a purist’s America First policy, which is fundamentally based on isolationism, sovereignty, and nationalism.

This policy agenda was originally mainstreamed by former presidential candidate and paleoconservative Patrick J. Buchanan. He warned of the Lobby’s power, stressing, “We need a foreign policy that puts our own country first.”

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Buchanan says for the Zionists it is impossible to reconcile American Nationalism—they already embrace nationalism, but to another country, putting them at odds with America First policy.

Israel receives an abundant $3.3 billion in aid annually, which to some, is an investment that requires doubling to maintain regional peace. The same goes for saying that our reliance on Israel for tech is a huge advantage and contributor to “thousands of jobs in America.”

As per the argument of aid being spent on American defense contractors, America First does not encourage foreign wars and never-ending engagements in the Middle East. The empowerment of the so-called “military-industrial complex” is again not America First.

This election is the time when the Lobby and its appendages need to be checked. They obstruct American policies and force government officials against their own values and against the absolute basis of the America First foreign policy. 

That is not to say that complete isolationism is a must. Still, the absolute wealth of funding for the nation-state of Israel is questionable, regardless of it being the “only democracy in the Middle East.” That kind of talk should be reserved for the 21st-century neoconservatives who supported the unpopular endless involvement in the Middle East.

And so far,  it stands that Vivek Ramaswamy is cautiously on board. On Monday, he tore into neocon Nikki Haley saying, “Israel should not receive preferential treatment from the United States … There’s no North Star commitment to any one country other than the United States of America.” 

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He even suggested slashing US military aid to Israel but backpedaled, saying he would honor the Obama commitment until its expiration in 2028.

Similar to Haley, Ron DeSantis prides himself on his unabashed support for Israel. Former Vice President Mike Pence, Senator Tim Scott, and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie also align with this “establishment” thinking.

Hopes for the most accurate form of America First remains thin but not improbable, especially with wildcard Trump. 

America First is in the hearts and minds of MAGA more than ever, especially with the recent dolling of $76.8 billion US aid to Ukraine and a contingency of boots on the ground.

Buchanan predicted it all, outlining the America First agenda to a “T.” And as he said in the last line of his book Day of Reckoning, [it’s] “Time to put America First.”

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