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Ben Swann: The latest poll out of Iowa shows the former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, and Texas Congressman Ron Paul are tied for first place. Mitt Romney is now a clear third. And while the media is still not covering Congressman Paul fairly, the Republican establishment seems to run from the man. One of the most commonly stated reasons is that many on the right say they are uncomfortable with what they call Congressman Paul’s clear anti-Israel stance. But is Ron Paul really anti-Israel? Tonight, the facts and reality check you won’t see anywhere else.
So how real is the concern over Congressman Ron Paul’s position on Israel? Real enough that the Republican Jewish coalition last week told the congressman that he was not invited to speak at a candidates’ forum, even though every other Republican candidate was invited. The same group also banned the congressman from speaking in 2007 as well. Now let me just say that a private organization, The Republican Jewish Coalition, doesn’t have to invite anyone. But what reason did the RJC give for excluding Paul? Well, they cited his “Misguided and extreme views “on Israel. Tonight, we’re going to take a look at three of those views. Now there is plenty on the internet about Ron Paul’s beliefs, but most of that has been debunked. Instead of using conjecture, tonight I’m looking at actual statements the Congressman has made. Let’s begin with the criticism of, “It’s all Israel’s fault”, the idea that Ron Paul blames Israel for terror waged against it. Here’s a video clip that reportedly proves it.
Ron Paul: Hamas was encouraged and really started by Israel, because they wanted Hamas to counteract Yasser Arafat. You say, “Yea, that was better then and served his purpose, but we didn’t want Hamas to do this”. So then, we as Americans say, “Well, we have such a good system, we’re going to impose this on the world, we’re going to invade Iraq and teach people how to be democrats. We want free elections”. So we encourage the Palestinians to have a free election, they do, and they elect Hamas.
Ben Swann: The author of the blog where this was posted says that this is proof that the Congressman Paul is anti-Israel. After all, he blames Israel for attacks from Hamas, he blames the United States for Hamas. But what does the Congressman say? He says, “blowback”, the military and intelligence term for consequence of foreign policy and interventions, is something the United States doesn’t want to deal with, and yet is very real. But let’s go further. Is he factually correct of what he said about Hamas? Yes. According to Avner, who worked for the Israeli government in religious affairs in Gaza for decades, it was 30 years ago when Israel tolerated and, in some cases, encouraged Hamas as a counterweight to the secular nationalist of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, the PLO. So it would be incorrect to say that Congressman Paul is blaming Israel for bombings by Hamas. Rather, his position appears to be warning about the consequence of blowback in both, American and Israeli foreign policy.
Which brings us to the second issue. “Clearly, Ron Paul is anti-Israel”, detractors say, “After all, he wants to deny Israel foreign aid”.
Ron Paul: To me, foreign aid is taking money from poor people in this country, and giving it to rich people in poor countries. And it becomes weapons of war, essentially, no matter how well motivated it is.
Host: Congressman Paul, would you cut aid to Israel?
Ron Paul: I would cut all foreign aid, I would treat everybody equally and fairly.
Ben Swann: Well, despite the headlines, is that an anti-Israel stance? It is an anti-foreign aid stance, combined with consistency in foreign policy. Okay, but Israel has had a special relationship with the United States for many years. Shouldn’t an exception be made, isn’t Congressman Paul turning his back on this nation that needs the United States?
Ron Paul: I’m the one that defends the sovereignty of Israel, I don’t want Israel to be beholding to us. And even Netanyahu this year before the U.S. Congress said, “We don’t need American troops to defend us, we can take care of ourselves”. So I’m just sort of talking in a language that some people in this country don’t want to hear, and yet, there’s a full discussion of these views in Israel itself.
Ben Swann: Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic recently wrote that Ron Paul’s position is actually the closest to a Zionist, of all the Republican candidates. He says because, “In one sense, a true Zionist is a believer in two core values of the Jewish Liberation Movement: Jewish independence and Jewish self-reliance”. So here’s what you need to know, is Ron Paul anti-Israel? Well, consider history. In 1981, Israel bombed an Iraqi nuclear plant. Texas Congressman Ron Paul went against both, the UN and President Ronald Reagan, when he defended Israel’s right to defend itself. Today, that position hasn’t changed. Paul seems to believe that the strongest stance with Israel is for the United States to no longer try to control that nation’s every move.
Let me end with a question. If today, Israel decided that it must launch an attack on Iran to protect its own people, which Republican candidate, aside from Ron Paul, would support that move without Israel, who is a sovereign nation, forced to receive any U.S. approval? And that is reality check.
I have no doubt you have thoughts on this story. If you’d like to make your voice heard, you can do so right now, get in on the conversation. Just search Facebook.com for “Ben Swann Reality Check“. We’re going to post a story on there, I’d love to hear your comments, even follow up of a couple of Reality Checks next week.