Why Pro-Israel Groups Are Targeting An Indiana Republican | EUROtoday

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On Tuesday, a passionate opponent of American involvement in abroad wars squares off towards pro-Israel teams who accuse him of antisemitism and have closely outspent him in a contentious main race.

The catch? While nearly all the large spending on U.S.-Israel coverage lately has been in Democratic primaries, this time the candidate in query, former Rep. John Hostettler, is a Republican.

Hostettler is vying for the GOP nomination in Indiana’s eighth Congressional District, a stable Republican seat within the Hoosier State’s southwestern nook which he beforehand represented from 1995 to 2007. Some pro-Israel donors additionally backed the conservative Democrat who unseated him in 2006.

His chief opponent is state Sen. Mark Messmer, who has attracted the help of deep-pocketed outdoors teams involved about Hostettler’s report on Israel and feedback in regards to the Jewish identities of policymakers concerned in planning the Iraq War.

Hostettler is defiant. In an April Facebook put up that employed antisemitic tropes, the previous congressman joked that the pro-Israel teams spending towards him are “DEFINITELY NOT a cabal.”

The Republican Jewish Coalition’s tremendous PAC has spent practically $1 million boosting Messmer on the airwaves.

Matt Brooks, govt director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, stated that Hostettler’s out-of-print 2008 e-book, “Nothing for the Nation: Who Got What Out of Iraq,” promoted “centuries-old antisemitic tropes about the influence of Jews in politics.”

“He was consistently one of the most anti-Israel votes in Congress,” Brooks added. “There’s not a lot of ambiguity there.”

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s tremendous PAC, United Democracy Project, has additionally spent practically $1.3 million attacking Hostettler. Hostettler is the primary Republican candidate to be on the receiving finish of UDP’s cash cannon since AIPAC created the group in 2021.

Patrick Dorton, a spokesperson for UDP, likened Hostettler to Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), one other libertarian-minded paleoconservative whose opposition to overseas support, together with to Israel, has earned him AIPAC and UDP’s ire.

“Our focus is not letting detractors of the U.S.-Israel relationship of either party be elected to Congress.”

– Patrick Dorton, United Democracy Project

“Hostettler was the Tom Massie of his era when he was in Congress, virulently anti-Israel,” Dorton stated in a press release. “Our focus is not letting detractors of the U.S.-Israel relationship of either party be elected to Congress. Hostettler has a terrible record on Israel and doesn’t reflect the views of his constituents on the issue.”

Although United Democracy Project’s purpose is to elect candidates aligned with its pro-Israel mission, it has typically averted mentioning Israel coverage in its advertisements in Democratic primaries. That’s possible as a result of Democratic main voters in most districts wouldn’t base their vote on a candidate’s Israel report, and are typically extra essential of Israeli coverage than AIPAC or UDP.

But in a Republican main, the place voters are staunchly pro-Israel and extra more likely to see it as a salient challenge this 12 months, the calculus is completely different. One of UDP’s TV advertisements focuses solely on Hostettler’s Israel report. “What kind of Republican votes against supporting Israel?” the narrator asks as ominous music performs. “John Hostettler did.”

In the 30-second spot, UDP highlights not solely Hostettler’s annual votes towards overseas support spending, together with to Israel, but additionally his standing as one in every of 9 House Republicans to vote towards an October 2000 decision condemning Palestinian terrorism and expressing help for Israel initially of the Second Palestinian Intifada.

Of course, the race has attracted outdoors cash from different sources as properly. Messmer, the popular candidate of the pro-Israel teams, additionally has the help of the tremendous PAC America Leads Action, a gaggle funded by Walmart inheritor Rob Walton that has spent over $1.5 million attacking Hostettler.

Hostettler has not been solely with out outdoors assist both, although his funding pales compared to Messmer’s. The American Leadership PAC, whose prime funder is Tom Klingenstein, chair of the Claremont Institute, an “America First” assume tank, has spent over $230,000 on ads for Hostettler. And the Protect Freedom PAC, which is backed by pro-Israel personal fairness billionaire Jeffrey Yass, has spent practically $500,000 on Hostettler’s behalf.

Amid Israel’s invasion of Gaza, which has killed greater than 34,000 Palestinians, debate has raged over when Israel criticism veers into antisemitism.

Although Israel supporters have primarily skilled their fireplace at critics on the left, Hostettler is a part of a protracted historical past of paleoconservatives whose statements in regards to the U.S.-Israel relationship have gotten them in scorching water.

Like Massie, Hostettler has questioned Israel supporters’ loyalty to the United States. And like distinguished paleoconservative Pat Buchanan, he believed that proponents of the Iraq War have been selling Israel’s pursuits over these of the United States.

Hostettler’s 2008 e-book, “Nothing for the Nation,” is out of print, and never out there for order at main on-line e-book retailers. Hostettler’s critics principally reference excerpts of the e-book cited in a scathing 2008 column within the Jewish Standard about it by Abe Foxman, then-national director of the Anti-Defamation League.

Hostettler zeroed in on Jewish Bush administration Pentagon official Douglas Feith’s founding of a regulation agency with “Marc Zell, who was a resident of Israel,” italicizing the phrases for emphasis, in keeping with Foxman.

State Sen. Mark Messmer, center, shares Hostettler's loyalty to Donald Trump and opposition to illegal immigration, but does not have a record of anti-interventionism.
State Sen. Mark Messmer, heart, shares Hostettler’s loyalty to Donald Trump and opposition to unlawful immigration, however doesn’t have a report of anti-interventionism.

Darron Cummings/Associated Press

Foxman additionally quotes Hostettler as recounting a time when he requested, “Why did Messrs. [Paul] Wolfowitz, Feith, [David] Wurmser, [Abram] Shulsky, and [Lawrence] Franklin fashion intelligence in support of the spurious claim of the presence of a WMD program in Iraq to draw the United States into a conflict that would lead to the demise of the regime of Saddam Hussein?” The reply he obtained was, “‘In the defense of the nation Israel.’”

Many neoconservative proponents of the Iraq War have been Jewish, however the prime policymakers in cost on the time ― President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld ― weren’t Jewish.

Rather than search to make clear his intentions, Hostettler doubled down on questionable innuendo in a Facebook put up in early April. He was responding to an article in Jewish Insider about AIPAC’s tremendous PAC launching an advert blitz towards him.

Hostettler repeatedly describes Foxman as a rabbi though he isn’t, and mocks the ADL because the ADLF — “Anti-Defamation of Leo Frank.” Leo Frank, the only Jewish individual to be lynched within the United States, was kidnapped from his jail cell by a mob that murdered him in Georgia in 1915. The historic consensus is that Frank, a pencil manufacturing unit superintendent in Atlanta, was wrongfully convicted of the homicide of a younger lady, however Hostettler is seemingly sympathetic to revisionist histories of what occurred. (Frank’s trial was one of many causes for the ADL’s founding in 1913.)

Then Hostettler quotes part of the Jewish Insider article recounting {that a} “loose network” of donors with “strong ties to AIPAC” supported the Democratic challenger who unseated Hostettler in 2006.

“Friends, help me out here. I’m thinking of a word. That word is often used to describe the work of ‘a loose network’ of persons with ‘strong ties’ to an organization who ‘organize against’ one person to defeat that person’s goal,” Hostettler wrote sarcastically. “It’s on the tip of my tongue. I mean, it’s right there. Oh! Don’t worry. It’ll come to me, I’m sure.”

“Who knows? Maybe they’ll be successful again,” he added. “And by ‘they’ I mean that ‘loose network’ — that doesn’t seem quite as ‘loose’ today as in 2006 — DEFINITELY NOT some ‘cabal.’”

But the first in Indiana’s eighth isn’t just about costs of antisemitism. The rival advert campaigns additionally replicate a Republican proxy warfare over overseas coverage that extends past Israel.

While each candidates emphasize their dedication to ending unlawful immigration, and finishing Trump’s border wall, the American Leadership PAC spot additionally notes Hostettler’s help for “ending billions in foreign aid to corrupt countries like Ukraine.”

“America First conservative John Hostettler will partner with President Trump to defeat the radical left and the weak RINOs in D.C.,” the spot additionally says.

“He was taking very unpopular views on foreign policy long before candidate Trump came along and made it OK to question the Iraq War.”

– Kelley Vlahos, the Quincy Institute

A Protect Freedom PAC advert is narrated solely by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a fellow anti-interventionist whose father, former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), labored alongside Hostettler within the House. Hostettler and the elder Paul have been two of the six House Republicans who voted towards authorizing the Iraq War in 2002.

As footage of Biden assembly with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy seems on-screen, Paul says he “trusts” Hostettler to “stop sending our taxpayer dollars overseas.”

It’s unclear how a lot both Messmer or Hostettler have themselves introduced up overseas coverage on the marketing campaign path. Both candidates’ campaigns have restricted social media presences and didn’t reply to HuffPost’s requests for remark about their positions. The one TV advert out there on Messmer’s YouTube web page highlights his background as a businessman and engineer, in addition to his “plan” to finish birthright citizenship and “stop Biden’s inflation.”

Still, it’s clear from Hostettler’s report he represents the smaller, however rising wing of the Republican Party that sees anti-interventionism as an inextricable element of what it means to be a Trump-aligned, “America First” Republican.

There is a protracted custom of opposition to U.S. entanglements in overseas wars on the American proper. The college of thought, dubbed “isolationism” by its critics, has its mental roots within the well-known John Quincy Adams speech that the U.S. “goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy,” in keeping with Kelley Vlahos, a senior adviser for the restraint-oriented Quincy Institute, and editorial director for Responsible Statecraft.

“He warned that going out and trying to create little Americas everywhere would actually come back and boomerang against our own liberty at home,” Vlahos stated.

But the U.S.’s entry into World War II and the next Cold War with the Soviet Union turned dovish conservatives right into a minority faction throughout the Republican Party. The rise of the militant — and deeply pro-Israel — neoconservatives within the Eighties, and their prominence through the world warfare on terror within the 2000s, made figures like Hostettler dissenters — paleoconservatives hearkening to an older and fewer modern custom.

If Hostettler and Ron Paul saved the paleoconservative overseas coverage flame alive in Congress, figures like Buchanan, a former Republican White House aide and presidential candidate, shepherded the motion’s mental arm. Buchanan was a bitter skeptic of the U.S.’s unconditional help for Israel, and a uncommon and outspoken conservative voice towards the Iraq War.

Trump’s nomination and election introduced the overseas coverage views of Buchanan and Hostettler again to the fore of the Republican Party. Once in workplace, the truth star-turned-populist commander in chief’s dedication to anti-interventionism was iffy at greatest, granting Ukraine deadly support that former President Barack Obama had denied the nation, tearing up the Iran nuclear deal, and backing Saudi Arabia’s brutal invasion of Yemen. But Trump’s broadsides towards the Iraq War, his skepticism of NATO, his ambivalence about taking sides within the Russia-Ukraine warfare, and his basic insistence on the primacy of slim U.S. pursuits when contemplating motion overseas have no less than created the house for extra Republicans in Hostettler’s mildew.

“Hostettler was a bit ahead of his time, so to speak,” Vlahos stated. “He was taking very unpopular views on foreign policy long before candidate Trump came along and made it OK to question the Iraq War.”

“Hostettler may be paying for it now,” she added. “But he has more company in the conservative base than he had before.”

The mental pressure that Hostettler represents is sufficient for a few of at this time’s self-described “America First” conservatives to treat the present barrage of assault advertisements towards him as a purely ideological vendetta.

“It doesn’t happen often that anyone in Congress takes a really, really hard vote against their party,” stated Ryan Girdusky, a populist Republican guide, who thinks the opposition to Hostettler is because of his Iraq War vote. “He did. He was right when it was important to be right. And he never backed down from that.”