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GOP Mostly Undivided on Israel

But maybe a little divided on Egypt?

Marc Tracy
February 03, 2011
Pastor John Hagee last year.(Gali Tibbon/AFP/Getty Images)
Pastor John Hagee last year.(Gali Tibbon/AFP/Getty Images)

When I wondered whether Sen. Rand Paul’s call for ending U.S. aid to Israel would trigger a GOP civil war between the Tea Party and the establishment, I neglected to consider a crucial element in the Republican coalition: The Christian right. Sure enough, it has weighed in, and sure enough, it is, as ever, a strong supporter of American support for Israel. Pastor John Hagee of Christians United for Israel—which Mideast columnist Lee Smith has profiledargued that most elements of the Tea Party do not stand with Paul. I’m not convinced that is true. I am, however, convinced that, more importantly, the Paul faction is vastly outnumbered in the GOP overall.

The far more interesting fissure on that side of the aisle right now is between neoconservatives like Elliott Abrams—also profiled by Smith—and Bill Kristol who are more or less supportive of the anti-Mubarak, pro-democracy protesters—they see the nascent revolution as the fulfillment of George W. Bush’s “Freedom Agenda” (though you could argue, as Matt Duss does, that that misrepresents what the Freedom Agenda actually was)—and Israel’s current right-wing government as well as other Israel supporters, who fear the form that Egyptian democracy will take. (Ben Smith and Josh Gerstein note that a few U.S. neocons, like John Bolton, take the Israeli position.) Reality: It’s messy!

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.