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A Far Right Exodus on Israel

Lauren Boebert matt gaetz marjorie taylor greene
The group of 21 Republicans largely characterized their decision as a protest against Speaker Mike Johnson for also allowing a vote to send $61 billion to Ukraine, especially without tacking on a border bill. Photo: Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images
Tina Nguyen
May 1, 2024

While far-left campus protests over Israel’s war in Gaza have been dominating media coverage this week, filling primetime A-blocks and the Times op-ed page, a stranger, slower revolution has been working its way through Republican politics, too. Sure, the G.O.P.—like the Democratic Party—remains a nominally pro-Israel institution, and the recent aid package for Israel was approved by Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support. But in certain far-right pockets of the party, sentiment surrounding Israel is clearly beginning to shift in perceptible ways. Indeed, when the House bill came to the floor on April 20, nearly two dozen Republicans—including Matt Gaetz, Lauren Boebert, Anna Paulina Luna, and Marjorie Taylor Greene—voted against it. 

None of the members who opposed the bill went so far as to criticize U.S. support of Israel. Instead, the group of 21 largely characterized their decision as a protest against Speaker Mike Johnson for also allowing a vote to send $61 billion to Ukraine, especially without tacking on a border bill. But, of course, until recently, the notion of even one or two Republican members voting against Israel aid would have been unthinkable. The traditional Reagan– and Bush-inflected establishment views Israel as a crucial ally in the Middle East, while evangelical voters consider protecting Israel a religious duty. “It’s a matter of biblical morality that defending the Jews and blessing Israel is part of being a good Christian,” said Ralph Reed, the founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and a prominent Christian activist.