Last weekend, Rep. Dan Webster (R-FL) appeared on “Good Life 45,” a televangelist program based near his central-Florida district. At one point during the discussion, which was centered around ways to reduce government spending, Webster recalled that many of his constituents had asked about cutting foreign aid. Webster explained that the government cannot “get rid of all foreign aid” because that would endanger money for Israel.
Rather than making a policy-based argument to back up his firm belief in giving billions in foreign aid to Israel, Webster said the money is necessary to ensure “God’s hand” stays with America. “I love giving money to Israel,” Webster exclaimed. If we end the assistance to Israel, Webster continued, “we lose God’s hand and we’re in big trouble”:
WEBSTER: I believe God’s hand needs to be on this country.
HOST: That’s right.
WEBSTER: Some people have been talking about, every place I go, they bring up the issue foreign aid. I go, you can’t get rid of all foreign aid. Why? Because you ask them and they go, ‘yea we can’t do that.’ You take away the money from Israel? No. That’s something we can’t do. Do I like foreign aid? Sometimes, but not every time. Don’t like giving money to our enemies, but I love giving money to Israel. And so there’s a picture there that people realize that, we stop helping Israel, we lose God’s hand and we’re in big time trouble.
HOST: That’s right.
Currently, Israel is the top recipient of foreign aid money from the United States ($2.4 billion). It’s not clear which countries Webster was referring to when he said he doesn’t “like giving money to our enemies.”
Webster’s religious argument for assisting Israel echos the belief of Christian Zionists that Israel will play a central role in the apocalyptic end-times. One interpretation of the Bible, held by a large portion of Christian evangelicals, is that the return of Jesus requires that Jews control the “Holy Land.” Over the last two decades, both Israeli lobbyists and right-wing Christians have harnessed this growing belief to build support for Israeli government actions and for unchecked taxpayer assistance to the Israeli military.