Dmitri Shufutinsky

AIPAC: Support the Ukraine-Israel Aid Package

Our world sits on a precipice — over the edge lies a surrender to barbarism that is best left to previous centuries.

The US Senate has, thankfully, passed a $95 billion aid package, which includes military equipment, for Taiwan, Israel, and Ukraine. Unfortunately, politicking amongst House Republicans caused them to leave for a recess before casting a vote. For years, as an American-Israeli, I have watched with dismay at the increasing dysfunction in both Congress and the Knesset. Petty rivalries, allegiances to one man over the well-being of a country or society, and blatant hypocrisy are hollowing out the democratic institutions that both Israel and America were founded on. It’s shameful and embarrassing, dangerous, and bad timing. After the horrific October 7th, 2023 pogrom launched by Gaza terrorists, Israel is fighting its longest war since the 1948-49 War of Independence. Ukraine just withdrew from the city of Avdiivka after a lackluster counteroffensive–despite having wrought catastrophic losses upon the Russian military. China has continued its violations of Taiwanese airspace and aggressive rhetoric towards the democratic island. The message that House Republicans are sending out to the world’s tyrants and terrorists is clear–we will allow you to win after causing you only a tiny bit of damage.

AIPAC has come out with a wonderful campaign–as usual–to support Israel and combat antisemitism since October 7th of last year. It is pushing for Congress to pass a bill that will include several million dollars’ worth of US military equipment to be shipped to Israel in order to sustain the Gaza war effort. However, President Biden and his partners have made clear that any such military aid package must also include military aid to Ukraine, Taiwan, and other US allies in the Indo-Pacific region of Asia. While some lament that Israel aid is being withheld, to some degree, and tied down by other conflicts (or potential conflicts), in any case, it’s not realistic to expect a single Israel aid package bill to come forward. This was already tried and lost by House Speaker Mike Johnson. The reality is that any aid that goes to Israel will go through a multinational aid bill that also assists other democratic US allies. And this is something that AIPAC must openly support.

It’s great that House Republicans, including Mike Johnson, have been supporting Israel and pushing to get aid to the Jewish state after the horrific massacres of October 7th. However, his stalling on allowing a passage of a combined aid bill that would also help Israel is harmful. While some may disagree with including Israeli aid alongside arms shipments to Taiwan and Ukraine, President Biden did wisely see the connections between all of these conflicts–it’s high time that AIPAC, pro-Israel campaigners, and the wider Jewish community also awakens to this fact. China has been openly supporting Iran and its proxies, including Hamas. Hamas, the Houthis, and Hezbollah have been found using Chinese and North Korean weapons. Pyongyang has long supported the Syrian regime and these proxies with military training, much as Iran has. Of course, North Korea has been sending weapons to Tehran for decades, and is arming Russia for its onslaught against the Ukrainians as well.

The Islamic Republic is trying to help Russia circumvent Western sanctions–Moscow has returned the favor for years–and is sending Iranian rockets, drones, and potentially ballistic missiles to the Kremlin for its war. Both China and Russia are also trying to harm Israel in the international arena through institutions like the United Nations, African Union, and BRICS. Israel has spent decades trying to forgive Moscow and Beijing for their backing of anti-Zionist armed groups, expand cultural and economic ties, and even move past Russia’s historic antisemitism. Israel, for months, refrained from condemning Russia too harshly after it invaded Ukraine, blaming past Ukrainian antisemitism, Russia’s military position in nearby Syria, and the desire to avoid placing all eggs in one basket. Unfortunately and unsurprisingly, this hasn’t been reciprocated with goodwill since October 7th. This has made the battle lines even starker. Ukraine, meanwhile, has expressed its support on a huge level for the Jewish state, despite knowing that with the media focused on Gaza, their cause is receiving less attention (and all the military support that entails) at a critical juncture in that war.

Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan all stand, respectively, on the edge of democratic, Western-style civilization. Israel is surrounded by failed states, terrorist organizations, and corrupt dictatorships, remaining the only Middle Eastern democracy. Ukraine is lucky to have a border with NATO member, Poland, a troubled-yet-democratic nation, but is otherwise bordering its historic tormentor, Russia, and Moscow’s accomplice, Belarus. Taiwan faces the menacing Chinese Communist Party to its West, threatening its very survival and the status of the United States as the world’s guarantor of prosperity and freedom. There can be no more delaying any military aid package due to petty politics and conspiracy theories. While some conservative Jews might question the value of an alliance with Ukraine and feel tempted to vote for Donald Trump and Republicans, Trump’s own commitment to Israel’s security has come under question–and with it, large parts of the GOP committed to The Donald.

It is clear that many Republicans value the policies promoted by AIPAC and listen to its advice and hefty political weight. AIPAC coming out in favor of the joint military aid bill could finally tip the scales towards heavily arming vital American allies at an important time. The defeat of Hamas (and by extension, its Iranian patron) and Russia, alongside the strengthening of Taiwan’s defense forces, will persuade China not to invade the island nation and help avert a devastating Third World War. The image of a strong America standing up for its allies against brutal dictators and horrifying terror organizations will stabilize the world at a time when order and peace have been so thoroughly disrupted. And wiping out violent antisemites and their enablers abroad will diminish support for them in other countries–something seen when, after the crushing of European fascism in World War II, led to a dissipation of pro-Nazi organizations in Britain, Canada, and the US. It would also send a message to China and Russia that their disrespect for Israel–and belittling of Jews–will not come without a heavy price. It sends the important message that support for Israel from other countries and peoples, such as from Ukraine, can come with rewards and deepening partnerships.

This is extremely important, as already some pro-Palestinian “activists” on the far-left are using the simplistic images of flattened buildings in an attempt to link Gaza to Ukraine. AIPAC, and other major Jewish and/or Zionist organizations, must now come out loudly in favor of passing this multinational military aid bill. We must lobby politicians to pass it, and warn them that a failure to do so for narrow political interests will not just lead to a catastrophe for the US and democracy–but also for their political careers as well.

About the Author
Dmitri Shufutinsky is a freelance reporter with the Jewish News Syndicate, and a Junior Research Fellow with ISGAP. He made aliyah to Kibbutz Erez through Garin Tzabar in 2019, and served as a Lone Soldier in the IDF. Dmitri is an ardent Zionist and a supporter of indigenous rights, autonomy, solidarity, and sovereignty. He currently lives in Hadera, and a graduate of Arcadia University's Masters program in International Peace & Conflict Resolution.