Ron Paul tries to "prove" he's Israel's friend at America's expense
Newsmax: What should our relationship be with Israel?Well of course Zionism - which is synonymous with patriotism - can symbolize self-reliance too. The thing is, not only shouldn't Israel be overly reliant upon foreign aid, it hasn't really been for a while now. It's whether America should provide help on the defense front. If we ended up in the same situation as the Yom Kippur war, would Paul want us to be short on weapons to defend ourselves? Thus, if needed, would he be willing to provide shipments as the otherwise dreadful Nixon fortunately did, or, would he balk?
Ron Paul: We should be their friend and their trading partner. They are a democracy and we share many values with them. But we should not be their master. We should not dictate where their borders will be nor should we have veto power over their foreign policy.
This is not just about Israel, by the way, this is about how we should conduct ourselves with other countries around the world.
Newsmax: But Israel is not like other countries. We have a large Jewish population in America. What do you say to those who criticize your policy toward Israel?
Ron Paul: I think that some not only misunderstand the American Constitution and the role we should have in the world, they also misunderstand Zionism. Part of the original idea of Zionism, as I understand it, was that there should be Jewish independence and Jewish self-reliance. Today, America doesn’t want anyone to be self-reliant. We want to rule the world and be the saviors of the world and we are going broke in the process.
That aside, his claim that America wants to be some sort of a dictatorial force sweeping the globe is insulting and nigh offensive. The claim could probably be made about some liberals, but Paul's problem is that he's not willing to make an unambiguous critique of the Dems for doing what he supposedly abhors.
Newsmax: Some object to your policy of cutting foreign aid to Israel.That doesn't excuse his blame-America tactics, something that even an Israeli can find objectionable, nor his naive viewpoint of Iran's own nuclear arms development. In fact, what this NY Times article tells is insulting too:
Ron Paul: I have objected to all foreign aid. I define foreign aid as taking money from poor people in rich countries and giving it to rich people in poor countries. We just can’t keep doing this. We don’t have the money anymore.
Stop and consider America’s policy: We give $3 billion a year to Israel in loans; and we give $12 billion or more in assistance to Israel’s self-declared enemies. Some of these are countries that say they will drive Israel into the sea.
Newsmax: What do you say to evangelical Christians who want that aid to continue?
Ron Paul: I say to them that our aid in the region is out of balance and it is wrong. Foreign aid does not help Israel. It is a net disadvantage. I say to them that “the borrower is servant to the lender” and America should never be the master of Israel and its fate. We should be her friend.
In October, 1981, most of the world and most of the Congress voiced outrage over Israel’s attack on Iraq and their nuclear development. I was one of the few who defended her right to make her own decisions on foreign policy and to act in her own self-interest.
The question is whether the old ideologies being resurrected are neglected wisdom or discredited nonsense. In the 1996 general election, Paul’s Democratic opponent Lefty Morris held a press conference to air several shocking quotes from a newsletter that Paul published during his decade away from Washington. Passages described the black male population of Washington as “semi-criminal or entirely criminal” and stated that “by far the most powerful lobby in Washington of the bad sort is the Israeli government.” Morris noted that a Canadian neo-Nazi Web site had listed Paul’s newsletter as a laudably “racialist” publication.If he wasn't willing to clear things up, how are we supposed to believe him - and reporter Christopher Caldwell - when he claimed he didn't write the newsletter himself? Or that he doesn't approve of it? Or that he made sure to fire the cretin who did write that junk? Besides, he trashed his defense of Israel in 1981 (which might've just been opportunism for all we know) after he started really going downhill in the years that followed by blaming America, opposing the termination of bin Laden and al-Awlaki, and even called for stopping the battle on illegal drugs. He's really no different from Jean-Marie Le Pen, who's pulled similar acts of moral equivalence to cover his muddy tracks. What's really offensive about Paul is how he's not willing to make a distinction between who's good or bad. The RJC was right to ban him from their recent conference. Jonathan Tobin has one of the best arguments why they did the right thing to keep him out:
Paul survived these revelations. He later explained that he had not written the passages himself — quite believably, since the style diverges widely from his own. But his response to the accusations was not transparent. When Morris called on him to release the rest of his newsletters, he would not. He remains touchy about it. “Even the fact that you’re asking this question infers, ‘Oh, you’re an anti-Semite,’ ” he told me in June. Actually, it doesn’t. Paul was in Congress when Israel bombed Iraq’s Osirak nuclear plant in 1981 and — unlike the United Nations and the Reagan administration — defended its right to do so. He says Saudi Arabia has an influence on Washington equal to Israel’s. His votes against support for Israel follow quite naturally from his opposition to all foreign aid. There is no sign that they reflect any special animus against the Jewish state.
What is interesting is Paul’s idea that the identity of the person who did write those lines is “of no importance.” Paul never deals in disavowals or renunciations or distancings, as other politicians do. In his office one afternoon in June, I asked about his connections to the John Birch Society. “Oh, my goodness, the John Birch Society!” he said in mock horror. “Is that bad? I have a lot of friends in the John Birch Society. They’re generally well educated, and they understand the Constitution. I don’t know how many positions they would have that I don’t agree with. Because they’re real strict constitutionalists, they don’t like the war, they’re hard-money people. . . . ”
Paul claims his opposition to aid to Israel ought not to disqualify him for pro-Israel voters. He says aid is bad for the Jewish state and that he respects its sovereignty more than many of its friends who seek to impose American solutions to the peace process that it rejects. But this is not a serious argument.The problem with Paul, simply put, is that he's willing to turn his back not just on Israel, but on practically everyone in danger of evil around the world. I don't think I've ever even heard him voicing concern for the Copts in Egypt, nor for the blacks in Africa who've been victimized by Islamofascism. Come to think of it, has he ever voiced concern for Americans who're in danger of these same problems? If not, then even there, he's setting a very poor example.
As for the aid, when Israel was receiving massive amounts of economic aid, one could have argued that U.S. funds merely subsidized the country’s dysfunctional socialist system and did as much harm as good. But that aid has long been phased out, and now the assistance the U.S. provides Israel is to its military. The idea that Israel would be better off without that assistance — and the security cooperation that goes with it — is absurd, especially at a time when the threat from Iran and the Arab world is growing. It should also be noted that almost all of that aid is spent here in the United States on American-made weapons. For Paul to assert that it isn’t needed is a clear indication of his attitude toward Israel’s fate.
But Paul’s extremism goes farther than his opting out of the bipartisan pro-Israel consensus on aid. His view of America’s place in the world and of its Islamist adversaries — who also desire Israel’s destruction — is so skewed as to make his views indistinguishable from those voiced on the extreme left.
Paul’s isolationism is so hard-core that he sees America as a force for evil in the world and its adversaries, such as al-Qaeda, as being justified in their determination to fight us. Paul’s perspective is that of someone who has no quarrel with Islamists who are waging war against both the U.S. and Israel. Even in the GOP’s presidential debates, Paul has rationalized the Islamist regime in Iran and voiced opposition to any effort to stop their drive for nuclear weapons that pose an existential threat to Israel.
People like Ron Paul have taken the valuable libertarian creed of opposition to intrusive government and support for individual freedom and twisted it into a belief system that doesn’t view U.S. security abroad or the life of a besieged democratic Jewish state as something Americans should care about. Far from respecting Israel’s sovereignty, Paul is willing to watch with complacence as its very existence is called into question without the U.S. feeling obligated to lift a finger. His “respect” for Israel is little different from the sentiments voiced by an earlier generation of isolationists — the “America First” group — whose admiration of Nazi Germany and indifference to the fate of the Jews restrained the country’s initial response to both Hitler and the Holocaust.
And even if the problem were just his blame-America tactics, the RJC would still be quite justified in barring him from their debate. The notion that Paul would go so far as to make statements offensive to many decent Americans is something that no true supporter of Israel should have to overlook either.