2024 Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis has taken his pursuit of the pro-Israel vote to a new extreme by facilitating the shipment of weapons, ammunition and military gear.
In an ongoing spectacle that would repel Washington and Jefferson, DeSantis and fellow presidential hopeful Nikki Haley have been locked in a contest over who can demonstrate the most intense loyalty to a foreign country - Israel.
While Haley is limited to warmongering, interventionist rhetoric, DeSantis' status as a standing governor gives him opportunities for executive action.
“This isn’t just an attack on Israel. This is an attack on America”— HOT SPOT (@HotSpotHotSpot) October 9, 2023
- Nikki Haley pic.twitter.com/eNeicI6Ai0
Having already arranged flights to evacuate 700 Americans from war- and terrorism-shaken Israel, DeSantis on Thursday announced that the state of Florida has used cargo planes to send drones, body armor and helmets to Israel -- and that he's also facilitated the shipment of guns and ammunition that were privately purchased.
Right out of the gate, details of DeSantis's announcement were challenged by an Israeli official. The governor's office claimed that DeSantis had acted in accordance with a request from Israel's Miami consulate. However, Major Elbaz-Starinsky, the consul general in Miami, said that was false.
“Nothing went through me,” Elbaz-Starinsky told Associated Press. “We were never in communication on any shipments of arms or ammunition. The only thing that I have dealt with sending is medical supplies.” Confronted with Elbaz-Starinsky's questioning of the narrative, Florida governor spokesman Jeremy Redfern only reiterated that DeSantis's office was contacted by the consul-general.
The governor's office hasn't said if DeSantis had coordinated his action with the White House. The export of ammunition and various types of military gear -- including body armor -- are subject to federal export controls.
“There are laws and regulations which govern how the export process is handled and that’s all done through Commerce," said National Security Council spokesman John Kirby.
"I couldn’t speak with authority today about whether the governor has checked all those boxes or not.”
The DeSantis announcement comes on the eve of the Republican Jewish Coalition's Annual Leadership Summit in Las Vegas, which DeSantis and all other notable GOP primary candidates are expected to attend.