Ron Paul is the only presidential candidate who doesn’t embrace the idea that the United States has an obligation to provide economic, military and diplomatic support to Israel.
This could be taken as an extension of Paul’s non-interventionist foreign policy, which calls for all nations to be treated neutrally—no foreign aid and no “entangling alliances,” as he frequently argues.
Paul’s critics contend that his approach would expose Israel to a mortal threat from hostile neighbors. And his views have also been invoked by critics to charge that he is anti-Semitic, or, at the very least, that his campaign has become a magnet for people who hate Jews.
I asked him during an interview on Sunday to explain why those who call themselves pro-Israel shouldn’t feel threatened by his candidacy.
“No foreign aid means that we’ve cut off all the aid to all the enemies of Israel,” he said. “And they get three times as much money as Israel gets. And Israel is the powerhouse in the Middle East, so they’re going to stay strong and defend themselves.
“I’m defending the sovereignty of Israel,” Paul continued. “We shouldn’t have a veto over what they want to do with their borders. We shouldn’t have a veto on their peace process. And if we weren’t there interfering and telling them what they can and can’t do, I think they would have more peace overtures.
“I think the Persian Gulf War would have been handled a lot differently. I think Saddam Hussein would have been taken care of early on, with some Muslim countries and Israel getting together, because they have the firepower and nobody wanted him there. Instead, we went in there half-heartedly and war went on since 1990. It’s the same war, and it’s going to go on a lot longer. I think Israel, if they had the responsibility of taking care of themselves—they would have been a lot better off.”
He also said that a healthier debate about the U.S.-Israel relationship takes place in Israel than in the United States.
“I don’t know what percentage in Israel would agree with a lot of what I say—maybe a third, or more,” Paul said. “Sometimes Labor even wins over there, and they take a much different approach. But in this country, if you talk like a Labor Party member, you’re challenged as being anti-Israel. That, I think, is an unfair charge.”