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Ron Paul: Believe it or not, like you mentioned, there’s a bit of discussion in Israel on some of these issues than there is here in America, because it’s sort of dictated by one group. Maybe it’s because groups like that won’t invite me to their forums to debate some of these issues.
Jack Hunter: Hi, my name is Jack Hunter, I’m here with Republican presidential contender, Ron Paul. It’s good to be with you today, Ron.
Ron Paul: Thanks, Jack, it’s good to be with you.
Jack Hunter: One of the reasons for sitting here today, a group, “The Republicans Jewish Coalition”, has decided they’re having a forum this evening with all of the presidential candidates, except you. Now, why would that be?
Ron Paul: Well, I guess I can’t really totally answer that since they made the decision, but it does raise some questions. I was disappointed I couldn’t go because I’m on the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Congress and I’m very interested in foreign policy. I’ve spoken out about the policies in the Middle East and the wars going on and the military-industrial complex. So I have views, but they are different than the other candidates, so my guess is that my views weren’t welcome. But what about this whole idea of having a discussion? Why shouldn’t a view that is different not be permissible, why shouldn’t it be welcomed? So I was disappointed, so I welcome this opportunity to further explain my position on foreign policy.
Jack Hunter: There was a time in the 1980s when you strongly disagreed with President Reagan and your party; it was when Israel attacked a nuclear reactor in 1981. Almost the entire U.S. Congress voted to condemn that act, and you were one of the few Republicans who stood up and said, “Israel should not have to answer to America for how she defends herself, why shouldn’t defend be allowed to defend herself in any way she sees fit without listening to the dictates of the United States?”
Ron Paul: I remember that vote very clearly, because I was criticized. The spirit of the moment was, we have to condemn them for doing this because it was a violation of the sovereignty of Iraq and this sort of thing. So to me it was Israel’s business, so I was voting for their independence. And I think this is a big difference in the way I look at Israel. I think Israel should be treated as an independent nation and not a puppet of our state, because right now what they have is they depend on us for military and they depend on us for money; and if they want to have a peace treaty, they have to ask us; if they want to defend their borders, they have to get permission. But I think what some people fail to understand is, Zionism is based on two basic principles: independence and self-reliance. So those are two very important issues. I think it was interesting just a few months ago when Netanyahu was speaking before the Congress, he said, very boldly that Israel can defend themselve and Israel does not need American troops to defend their country. He did not expect American troops. Does that mean we shouldn’t be friends with Israel? No, we should treat them as our best friend, we should be trading with them and going back and forth and facilitate friendship, which we do. But that doesn’t mean that we should take over their country. I think they sacrifice too much, and besides, just think of all the money that we have spent trying to buy friendship. The best example would be Egypt. We’ve given Egypt over the years 40 billion dollars so they won’t attack Israel. And I guess some people say, “Well, that was a good investment”, but how did it end up? It ended up with the people turning against Mubarak, and now they have a government in power that is more Islamic radical and they’re less friendly to Israel.
Jack Hunter: President Obama has talked about Resolution 242 and Israel pretty much telling them they have to go back to their 1967 borders. Your thoughts on President Obama’s dictate?
Ron Paul: Well, being a non-interventionist, I believe that we shouldn’t tell Israel what to do, they should decide where the borders are. And I think it’s wrong, I certainly wouldn’t dictate to Israel where their borders should be, and they should work it out with their neighbors.
Jack Hunter: You supported Israel in 1981 when they attacked an Iraqi nuclear reactor, do you support today the right of Israel to attack Iran, Iraq or any other nation in its defense?
Ron Paul: Yea, I think if conditions are very similar and if they believe it’s in their national security interests, that should be their decision, and not ours.
Jack Hunter: You point out that that the 3 billion dollars we give to Israel annually makes no sense, when we give 6 billion to Israel’s enemies that surround them. The billions, as you pointed out earlier, that we sent to Egypt obviously didn’t help Israel much, much less the United States. And many Israeli leaders really resent having to take dictates from the United States that’s attached to this money.
Ron Paul: It is true. One time I made the statement that their Arab neighbors got twice as much as Israel got. But somebody did a fact check on me, and they said I was wrong, it was 7 times as much. But it depends on how you measure it, I guess. So we do a lot. So if we cut out all the aid to everybody, actually Israel does better than the rest, they actually have more strength because we weaken the others because we send less weapons to the other countries.
Jack Hunter: Let us finish with something that is of the utmost importance to Republicans right now: beating Barack Obama. Now, a lot of Republicans love Ron Paul’s economic message and they have questions about your foreign policy. When it comes to beating Barack Obama – which we all want to do, we need to get that guy out of the White House – poll after poll, the majority of Americans agreed with you on foreign policy more than any of the other presidential candidates. If you’ll permit me, this is Corner Friedersdorf writing for The Atlantic: “Remember when Paul belonged to the minority in Congress that opposed to Iraq war. Now 62% of Americans say fighting the Iraq war was a mistake. The Republicans who criticized Obama for presiding over the end of America’s military presence in Iraq, well, like Paul, and unlike Obama, 78% of Americans support full withdrawal. And in Afghanistan and other countries that Paul wants to leave, two-thirds of Americans want to see troop levels reduced. No other Republican presidential candidate does well with independent voters …” (this is about 20% of the electorate, the people who decide any election) … other than you. And you are the only Republican running for President that agrees with the American majority, apparently, on foreign policy. Does this make you the best Republican presidential contender to beat President Obama in the general election, the fact that you are the most in sync with Americans on foreign policy.
Ron Paul: Well, it looks like that sums up the election, I better go out and look for my cabinet.
Jack Hunter: Good to be with you today, Congressman Paul.
Ron Paul: Thank you, good to see you.