Republican Jewish leaders pushed back on Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy's proposal to cut off military aid to Israel within five years, arguing that "such a move would very decidedly not be in America's best interest."
Matthew Brooks, the CEO of the Republican Jewish Coalition, in a letter on Monday praised Ramaswamy as a "strong and passionate supporter of Israel" but urged him to rethink his stance against U.S. military aid to the Jewish state.
"In light of your overall support for a strong U.S.-Israel alliance, I believe that a closer look at the issue of U.S. aid will convince you that now is not the time to end an aid program that provides so much benefit to our nation, strengthens our key strategic ally Israel, and contributes to the stability of the Middle East," Brooks wrote.
The letter comes as Ramaswamy has climbed in the polls, prompting new scrutiny on his foreign policy positions. The 38-year-old Republican last week told podcast host Russell Brand that he supports cutting the U.S. military funding to Israel—which accounts for about $3 billion a year—by 2028. Ramaswamy reiterated his position to the Washington Free Beacon, arguing that the aid will be unnecessary after he successfully negotiates new peace treaties between Israel and its Arab neighbors during the first year of his presidency.
"If we're successful, the true mark of success for the U.S., and for Israel, will be to get to a 2028 where Israel is so strongly standing on its own two feet, integrated into the economic and security infrastructure of the rest of the Middle East, that it will not require and be dependent on that same level of historical aid or commitment from the U.S.," Ramaswamy said.
Brooks, in his letter to the candidate, argued that Israel is "our most valuable ally against Iran, which is the chief threat to U.S. interests in that part of the globe," and said pulling military funding from Israel would be "universally perceived by Israel's enemies as a weakening of the U.S.-Israel relationship."
"Iran already controls Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and the Gaza Strip," wrote Brooks. "The appearance of abandoning Israel would seriously harm Israel in military, diplomatic, and economic terms. In this dangerous time, such a move would very decidedly not be in America's best interest."
Brooks also noted that Israel spends 85 percent of its aid on American-manufactured arms, is a partner with U.S. Central Command, cooperates closely with the U.S. defense industry, and has "battle-tested a number of important systems, testing that has benefited U.S. forces."
Ramaswamy's position on Israel aid has shifted during the campaign. In June, he told the Free Beacon that he supported continuing aid. But earlier in June, he told a gathering in New Hampshire that he would draw back the foreign aid as "part of a broader disengagement with the Middle East," according to video of the event obtained by the Free Beacon.