Vivek Ramaswamy was an outlier on Israel in the Republican presidential race. After last weekend’s Republican Jewish Coalition Leadership Summit in Las Vegas, he largely remains that way.
Ramaswamy, the upstart, novice candidate, led off Saturday’s cattle call of major GOP presidential candidates, trying to clear the air on his recently voiced hope that America could end military aid to Israel by 2028, along with remarks that new supplemental aid following Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre should not be given unless Israel provides the United States with an end-game strategy for Gaza.
His comments have also flirted with antisemitic tropes, with talk of “financial and corrupting influences that lead [politicians in both parties] to speak the way they do” about certain unnamed conflicts.
He took to the Venetian Hotel stage on Saturday among a few scattered boos, telling those gathered that his vision is the most pro-Israel of any in the party, though in a much different fashion than GOP orthodoxy dictates.
Repeatedly referring to Israeli founding father David Ben-Gurion’s stance that Israel must be prepared to defend itself by itself, Ramaswamy again came out in favor of a US “diplomatic Iron Dome” for Israel, and recommended that Israel not count on American financing going forward.
Ramaswamy said later that he believed he clarified his views on Saturday.
“I think that the philosophical foundation of my view was also clarified. We live in, understandably, a moment of raw emotion based on what happened on Oct. 7. I share that,” he told JNS. “Now when it comes to what we do, the question is, what principle do we apply?”
He referenced Ben-Gurion and Israel’s right to defend itself unrestrained, without “asking anybody else for permission or for forgiveness. That’s the North Star of the response. Everything else follows from that.”
Repeating his statement that he’d like to see a “Munich 2.0,” with Israel hunting down all who participated in the Hamas massacre, just as Israel did following the PLO massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics, Ramaswamy told JNS that, in the end, “my opinion doesn’t matter in this and neither does that of any other American. This is Israel’s decision to make. And I’m rooting for success.”
That includes, according to the candidate, giving Israel a full green light to take out Hamas and Hezbollah.
Separately, Ramaswamy told JNS that the United States should strike back at Iran 10 times harder each time the Islamic Republic hit American assets. All signs have pointed to Iran in recent attacks against American military personnel in the Middle East. If “you mess around with us, you’ll find out what we have in store,” he said.
Ramaswamy also told JNS he believes that the two-state solution is “an artificial myth.”
“The 340 to 350 million descendants of Ishmael have how many countries? The Jewish people are entitled to one,” he said. “On one hand, you have an Arab world that has consistently and continually been attacking and slaughtering Jews in Israel, but turning their backs on the Palestinians. You can’t have it both ways. That’s done.”
But he concluded with a reminder of his overarching policy on the subject: US policy is not beholden to Israel’s needs, and the alliance will be better off when Israel weans itself off American defense aid.
“I’m not running for president of Israel. I’m running for president of the United States,” said Ramasway.
He told JNS that both countries should “go back to our foundational vision, and our founding values. Then each of us is going to be better off and our friendship will be that much stronger for it as well.”