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Ron Paul’s Jewish Problem

Ron Paul has a Jewish problem.

Last month, the dark horse Republican candidate was barred from the Republican Jewish Coalition’s Candidate’s Forum due to his stance against providing further foreign aid to Israel.

Typical of his view, at an event on September 11 of this year at Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies, Paul argued for withdrawing from the Middle East, telling his audience that “Israel is quite capable of taking care of itself” — though interestingly adding that US policy has “hurt Israel tremendously.” Paul also downplayed the threat Iran poses to Israel, saying that even if Iran does develop nuclear arms, that it would not be a serious danger to Israel, which, he added, possesses roughly 300 nuclear weapons of its own.

Paul’s position towards Israel is not innately anti-Jewish, nor is it necessarily even anti-Israel — particularly with such a caveat about America impeding Israel’s interests. Such a statement lends weight, for example, to Zionist extremists who wish to terminate Israel’s Herodian dependence on the US, such as the members of Zionists for Ron Paul, a group run by American expatriates now living as religious settlers in the West Bank.

Nor is it a particularly uncommon position, especially within paleoconservative circles. Pat Buchanan led the charge in March of 2003, writing in The American Conservative that neoconservatives participating in and advising the Bush administration were steering the United States into wars that were not in America’s interests, but rather Israel’s.

Now fed up with the neocon’s wars abroad and the diminishing of civil liberties at home, many conservatives are rallying behind Paul, whom they view as the only Republican candidate who isn’t in the pocket of the Israel lobby. They have helped him become an Internet sensation — the Republican Howard Dean, if you will — who in the last quarter raised over $5 million, outpacing more mainstream candidates like John McCain.

Even with his hardline protectionist stance, Paul has managed to garner the support of Jewish Republicans and Libertarians alike, some of whom have banded together to form an ad hoc coalition called Jews for Ron Paul, which condemned the RJC’s decision to bar the Congressman from their Candidate’s Forum.

Yet, much to his Jewish supporters’ chagrin, Congressman Paul’s willingness to stand up to the neocons has also had the effect of making Paul a popular candidate among those from whom Presidential candidates would typically not desire support: Bona fide antisemites.

Indeed, Ron Paul has become the most popular candidate among right-wing extremists, including white separatists, neo-Nazis, and conspiracy theorists who believe that “the Zionists” were behind 9/11. This group includes Frank Weltner, creator of the antisemitic website, who in a YouTube video, accuses the “Zionist-controlled media” of attacking Paul’s candidacy. Paul has also received favorable coverage from the Vanguard News Network, a White Nationalist news organ, members of Stormfront, an online neo-Nazi community, as well as the National Alliance, the “mainstream” White Nationalist group featured prominently in Marc Levin’s 2005 film Protocols of Zion.

Of course, Congressman Paul cannot be held accountable for the views of his extremist supporters, unless he publicly acquiesces to those views. Yet, when his extremist supporters begin providing a substantial amount of campaign funds, things get a bit dicier. And that’s Paul’s biggest problem.

According to the Lone Star Times, White Nationalists have become a noticeable source of financial contributions to the Paul campaign. Indeed, even Don Black, the founder of Stormfront, and one of the most notorious neo-Nazis in America, has personally contributed $500 to Paul’s campaign.

Though it’s true that Paul’s campaign has no control over who sends them money in advance, once it becomes apparent that a neo-Nazi leader is sending money, any sensible politician who does not wish to be identified with neo-Nazism should send the money back. Not so for Ron Paul, however, whose campaign is still making up its mind as to whether or not to return Black’s money.

Paul’s spokesman Jesse Benton told the Lone Star Times:

At this time, I cannot say that we will be rejecting Mr. Black’s contribution, but I will bring the matter to the attention of our campaign director again, and expect some sort of decision to be made in coming days.

Frankly, this is a no-brainer. Any other candidate would unequivocally reject that money as soon as its donor’s identity was known. That Paul’s campaign needs time to think about it is shocking.

Also of concern is the fact that Paul’s campaign has ignored my repeated attempts to interview the Congressman for JTA, the Jewish newswire service by which I am employed. I had intended to write a story about the Congressman, and to provide him with the opportunity to distance himself from his extremist supporters, to clarify his position on Israel, and to state his case to the Jewish community. Yet, after three weeks of repeated telephone calls, two chats with his Deputy Communications Director, and several left voicemail messages, I have yet to receive a callback to schedule an interview.

Which leads me to conclude the following about the Congressman from Texas: Ron Paul will take money from Nazis. But he won’t take telephone calls from Jews.

[This essay was cross-posted at Orthodox Anarchist. Daniel Sieradski responds to comments here and explains his own Libertarian take on Paul here.]

[UPDATE: The Ron Paul campaign finally contacted the JTA. Also, a timeline for this story.]


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