Rand Paul's Israel Trip: Walking the Line Between Noninterventionism and Zionism

His trip to Israel and other Mid-East destinations could have been, as Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) painted it to me in an interview last week, simply some due diligence fact finding on one of America's thorniest areas of foreign policy concerns for this newly minted member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

W. James Antle, who profiled Senate candidate Paul for us here at Reason back in 2010, provided what I think is the most perspicacious overall take on the meaning of the trip for American Conservative. Highlights:

“This trip to meet with Israelis, Arabs and Palestinians is absolutely the first step in his 2016 White House campaign,” evangelical leader David Lane, who organized the visit, obliged in an interview with the Washington Times.....

“There is this perception out there that because I’m in favor of cutting foreign aid I’m not a friend to Israel,” the freshman senator from Kentucky said. “But there is more than one way to be a friend to Israel.”

But to some in the old Ron Paul base, there are more important things than being a friend to Israel:

 Some longtime supporters of Paul’s father were dismayed by his Israel rhetoric and his reported meetings with national security hawks before joining the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Antle thinks such Pauliacs should check Rand's record:

After being sworn into the Senate, Paul introduced a budget that zeroed out all foreign aid, including for Israel. He sought to de-authorize the Iraq War. He opposed the Patriot Act. He proposed amendments to sanctions bills for Iran and Syria emphasizing that these bills did not constitute an authorization of force.

Just in the last three months, Paul sought to expand Fourth Amendment protections under the Bush-era warrantless surveillance program and Sixth Amendment guarantees under the National Defense Authorization Act’s terror-detention provisions. When he failed, he protested loudly and voted against both bills.

Speaking to reporters last week, Paul made clear that he was still ultimately opposed to all foreign aid and skeptical of foreign military adventurism....

And Sen. Paul has to convince a GOP base that he's OK--something his dad largely failed to do--on foreign policy if he's to get national traction for these (mostly good) attitudes of his:

Arguments for foreign-policy restraint have failed to gain traction in the Republican Party because of three perceptions of the conservatives making them: namely, that they are hostile to Israel, indifferent to American national security, and naïve about brutal foreign regimes. Paul is aiming to correct these perceptions while emphasizing his common ground with the GOP and the broader conservative movement.

That’s why Paul has focused on cutting foreign aid to Middle Eastern despots, who also happen to be virulently anti-Israel. It’s why he talks about missile defense to protect American cities from attack. And it’s why he observes that Israelis aren’t burning American flags.

By trying to walk the line between the Ron Paul hardcore and the GOP base, Antle notes in closing, Rand runs the risk of being lukewarm and spewed from all mouths.

Some random observations from hither and yon on Sen. Paul's trip:

*Business Insider's Grace Wyler tagged along, and notes how Paul can sell his Israel positions as both totally pro-America and totally pro-Israel:

On the question of settlements, for example, Paul's non-interventionist positions put him firmly in line with Israel hawks. 

"If somebody asked me where to build in Israel, I would say it's none of my business," Paul told reporters in Israel. "What I think is wrong is for American politicians to come to Jerusalem and say 'You shouldn't be building in this neighborhood'…or for American politicians to come over and tell you that you need to give the Golan Heights back."

Extrapolating this argument to his position on foreign aid, Paul told his audiences in Israel that gradually cutting back assistance would reduce the pressure to fall in line with U.S. policy preferences.

"I don't think Israel should be dictated to," he said in Jerusalem. "But I also think that if [Israel] were less dependent on our aid, it would be less beholden. I don't think Israel needs to come on bended knee to ask if she can defend herself."

Paul avoided calling for an outright end to foreign aid to Israel, however, saying that the U.S. should first cut off funding for countries who "burn the American flag," including Egypt and Palestine.

*She also noted the Senator likes to unironically sing along to Guns n' Roses version of Bob Dylan's "Knockin on Heaven's Door."

*Justin Raimondo of Antiwar.com is appalled by Sen. Paul's "none of my business" attitude toward the settlement issue:

Pretending not to grasp the significance of the settlements issue, or of the larger issue of Palestine and the two-state solution, simply will not do – not for an alleged "leader"of the libertarian wing of the GOP, and certainly not for a somewhat over-eager presidential candidate who flaunts his ambitions. Since Israel could not exist – let alone bombinvade and subjugate its Palestinian and Lebanese neighbors – without extensive US military and economic aid, it is viewed as America’s regional proxy. This is what "the people in the region" know and Sen. Paul appears not to want to know.

*The always very, very pro-Israel Commentary is not mollified:

Paul’s visit to the Jewish state was part of an effort to reposition himself as a friend of Israel, and there are some pro-Israel voices that seem inclined to take him at his word. There’s a lot to like about his criticism of President Obama’s attempts to dictate security policy to the Netanyahu government as well as the fact that he seems to be moving in the right direction on ties between the two countries. Yet it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that anyone inclined to buy into the idea that he should be thought of as a reliable friend of Israel is acting like a very cheap date for the presidential wannabe. Rand Paul may not exactly be a chip off the old block when it comes to the expressions of hostility and willingness to demonize Israel. But his positions on aid and, even more importantly, on broader foreign policy concepts are still far away from anything that the pro-Israel community would recognize as acceptable.

Because he isn't calling for pre-emptive war with Iran, perhaps?

*Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post liked the Israel trip, but insists Paul also needs to be anti-Chuck Hagel.

*Paul also spent time in Jordan and met with King Abdullah and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas.

He's still trying to be to-the-right of his Party on spending and debt, and still anti-foreign aid, though now ready to openly prioritize cutting off aid to countries he perceives as hostile to America before Israel. And he's still undoubtedly running for president, and still seems like the best likely guy doing so.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Hyperion||

    "If somebody asked me where to build in Israel, I would say it's none of my business," Paul told reporters in Israel. "What I think is wrong is for American politicians to come to Jerusalem and say 'You shouldn't be building in this neighborhood'…or for American politicians to come over and tell you that you need to give the Golan Heights back."

    Yeah, and he would be absolutely right about that, as well as he is right about cutting off all foreign aid. Oh, and on the non-interventionist topic, right about that also.

  • Walter Labat||

    my neighbor's sister makes $74 an hour on the internet. She has been without work for 5 months but last month her pay check was $20115 just working on the internet for a few hours. Here's the site to read more... www.Snag4.com

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    $20,115 at $74 an hour is nearly 9 hours a day, every day, including Christmas. That's not just a few hours, even if that is gross, not net.

    I was so close to following that link to get in on some of that lucrative action, but the poor math skills have scared me away.

  • The Sego Sago Kid||

    Are we assuming that the $20,115 was pay for a single month, or the cumulative 5 months that Walter's fictional friend was working online?

    Single month = bad math
    Cumulative = reasonable amount

    These bots should work on their communication skills.

  • Hyperion||

    And firstest, you anarchist swine.

  • wakeup||

    The Jewish hand behind Internet - Google, Facebook, Wikipedia, Yahoo!, MySpace, eBay...

  • JeremyR||

    See, make a post using "Zionism" and you get this sort of thing.

  • juris imprudent||

    It is even more reliable than C H E M T R A I L S.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    But more than Lizard People?

  • Bardas Phocas||

    Do the Jews make $74 an hour on the internet -- being dirty jewish cam-whores?

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Further research is indicated. Do ya think we'll see Bar Rafeli?!!

  • SIV||

    Tamara Scott, of Concerned Women for America, who made her mark in the lunatic fringe when she declared that gay marriage will lead to "object marriage," warning that "people will want to marry the Eiffel Tower!"

    The Chrysler building sure looks sexy.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    It's supposed to be the Grand Duchess Anastasia!

  • Sernylan||

    "I don't think Israel needs to come on bended knee to ask if she can defend herself."

    Perish the thought.

  • JeremyR||

    It's very hard to take articles and people who use the phrase "Zionism" seriously. That's a very loaded word. And why are people so obsessed with that, as opposed to all the other conflicts in the world? Like Turkey and the Kurds?

  • JeremyR||

    I mean, why is Kurdistan not a country, instead of being split up between Iraq, Turkey and Syria? And why does no one complain when Turkey bombs the Kurds?

    Yet the minute Israel does something, it's huge news and people are hyperventilating about it.

  • Calidissident||

    "Yet the minute Israel does something, it's huge news and people are hyperventilating about it."

    It goes both ways. Why is there such a huge voting block that care so much about a politician's fealty to Israel?

  • RightNut||

    Because alot of Jews have made their home in the US and because evangelicals feel they are kindred spirits. This isn't historically unprecedented. Their used to be a fairly powerful "greek lobby" in Washington, and I'm sure if you go further back you'd find other immigrant groups that heavily influenced foreign policy towards their respective homelands.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    They used to swing big dick around my area - despite being nothing near Greek, I am a lifetime member of the United Hellenic Voters.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    The GOP fundie nut base is obsessed with Israel so that Armageddon will soon commence.

    If Rand Paul loses the GOP base his 2016 POTUS bid will be stillborn.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Correct. Damn I hate agreeing with you.

  • juris imprudent||

    Stopped clock, etc.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Reading about foreign policy shit is so tedious that I usually ignore it. Shit can knock you out with a Nuvigil high.

    There's something about Rand Paul that sends bullshitter signals. The way he says some shit is like a weasely political damage control tone.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    He's trying to be a competent politician, unlike his dad.

  • ||

    So fucking true! I swear that Ron Paul was playing the Heel so that his son could turn face. He never did want to win the championship belt, he just jobbed to build up his son's reputation.

  • Calidissident||

    I usually don't agree with Tulpa, but I will here. Rand isn't perfect, but I don't really care (in fact I think it's ultimately necessary) if he tries to make his philosophy appeal to non-libertarian voters as long as his voting record remains solid. And while it isn't perfect, it's still far superior to almost anyone else who has been in Congress in recent decades.

  • RightNut||

    If even half, no a quarter, of what Rand Paul says is true, he'd still be the most liberty friendly President since Calvin Coolidge.

  • juris imprudent||

    Speaking of Coolidge, Steyn I think it was referenced his inauguration in contrast to the current Imperial Court folderol.

    Sad to think there is no chance of deconstructing the spectacle.

  • Drake||

    I think Rand tries to use common sense and plain language - which most Americans aren't used to hearing from a politician.

    Ron lost them when he went off on libertarian purity tangents.

  • RyanXXX||

    By "competent politician" Tulpa of course means a liar. Rand may be the lesser of two evils in 2016, but he isn't trustworthy. He has said he DOESN'T support weed legalization, only wants to cut off aid gradually, has voted for Iran sanctions, etc.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    In case you were wondering, Eric Dondero seems to be lukewarm to positive about this development.

  • jester||

    Who is Eric Dondero and why should I be mindful of him?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Who is Eric Dondero and why should I be mindful of him?

    Oh hai! You must be new here.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    He's known as DONDEROOOOOOOOOOO!

    And worry ye' not, he'll probably show up in one of his paranoid delusional comment screeds in the near future.

  • SugarFree||

    Rabid anti-Ron Paul, pro-war "libertarian" who used to troll the board. A weak-mustached, angry little man with delusions of grandeur who demands that everyone posts under their real name.

  • Rasilio||

    lol This is every bit as much my real name as the one on my birth certificate as I have been using it online for 20 years now and literally some of my oldest friends have only ever known me by this name.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Given he was rabidly pro-Ron Paul up until he got fired from the campaign, I think of him more as Ron Paul's jilted stalker.

  • ||

    Well, atleast he plays the game. Unlike his father.

    I hope that he can avoid another "Civil Rights Act of 1964" advanced discussion again.

    It looks like he is sowing an obtainable path to the nomination in 2016, and I for one really hope that he can get there. Because I'll be sad if another centrist gets the nod and goes down in flames again.

    (let's be honest it will be Christie)

  • Calidissident||

    "I hope that he can avoid another "Civil Rights Act of 1964" advanced discussion again."

    I guarantee you that if he runs for president, that interview gets brought up the instant he gains the slightest bit of momentum

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Christie's brand is toast after he gave Obama a verbal blowjob three days before the election.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Given the general TEAM RED consensus that Romney lost because he wasn't alienating enough, I'm still betting the 2016 nominee is going to be Rick Santorum.

  • sloopyinca||

    Here we go, Epi. Tsonga!

  • Ted S.||

    On the bright side, Federer won and Serena Williams lost.

  • John C. Randolph||

    The only thing I have against Rand Paul is his ill-advised decision to endorse that douchenozzle, Willard Romney. If he apologizes for that, I'd support him again.

    -jcr

  • Drake||

    It is a requirement for being in a political party. If a miracle were to occur and Rand wins the Republican nomination, he will be expecting the same douchenozzles to return the favor.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    It's douchenozzles all the way down.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    That's a lot of douchenozzles!

  • An0nB0t||

    Who are the legitimate candidates aside from Rand and Rubio? I'm sure the usual suspects will show up for the debates and primaries, but Paul seems intent on making himself Obama's foremost critic and chief pain in the ass.

    If the economy does what we all expect it to do, namely implode, how is Paul not the forerunner for the 2016 nomination?

  • juris imprudent||

    Were you within reach, I would smite you for starting to dally with the next presidential campaign already.

  • ||

    Essays are used in both secondary and tertiary education for evaluating students' excellence and comprehension of written material. The universities ask their students to define, explain, comment on, or judge a topic of study in the form of essay. Academic essays are the most common form of formal, literary essay where the students are asked to critically analyze the topic given to them in their own words. Essay are of various types, such as cause and effect essay, compare and contrast, dialectic essay, classification and division essay, descriptive essay, exemplification, history (thesis) essay, critical essay, narrative essay, and employment essays, etc.
    Our organization has a qualified and talent team of essay writing professionals. The experienced and skilled professionals of our organization provide a specialized information and knowledge related to various subjects. The experts of our organization applies their specialized knowledge in developing rich content in concern to various field like social sciences, history, science, etc. for enriching the knowledge of our clients. Our expertise provides adequate assistance to learners in increasing their knowledge in various disciplines, so that they can write an excellent essay. If you need help with custom term paper, visit http://www.customtermpaperwritingservice.co.uk.

  • ||

    It would help if your spam ads were written with proper grammar and word use.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    "Rand runs the risk of being lukewarm and spewed from all mouths."

    Ewwwww!

    /Teenage girl

  • jester||

    The second picture depicts Paul as though he is wearing a yarmulke but clearly it is a feature of the wall behind him.

    As for his POTUS posturing, why not. I think it is ingenious to do one thing and vote another. Most people I meet that have strong political opinions have them based more on the said than the done or in other words a voting record. Honestly it takes a lot of effort to see what your elected officials are doing after a hard day of posting shit on Facebook that no one cares about.

    Disclosure: I am not advocating that this comment is anything better or worse than the shit people post on Facebook.

  • Ska||

    At least you didn't talk about your kid's wonderful performance in the winter spectacle.

  • jester||

    It was tempting.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Needz moar pet picturez!

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Pet pictures, I don't mind. Pictures of food? That's why I don't participate in any social media.

  • Don Mynack||

    Raimondo went completely over the deep end in that piece. Apparently we should both be ending foreign aid to Israel, and telling them what to do, because if we do or if we don't then we somehow aid the Zionist project, and we should end religious testing for housing, and stop settlements, and WAAHHH! MY PEEPEE HURTS!

  • jester||

    I had gonorrhea once. Same symptoms.

  • Brian from Texas||

    I'm as pro-Israel as the next American but I'm sick and tired of neo-cons, AIPAC and the Anti Defamation League calling me and any other American who refuses to pledge alliegience the the Israeli flag a Nazi.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    but I'm sick and tired of neo-cons, AIPAC and the Anti Defamation League calling me and any other American who refuses to pledge alliegience the the Israeli flag a Nazi

    Considering that doesn't happen, you should seek treatment for your paranoid schizophrenia.

  • Brian from Texas||

    The ADL website has a list of what it calls ant-Israel organizations and individuals. Some of them are hate groups but many others are on that list because they dared to have an opinion that the Chief of the PC Thought Police, Abraham Foxman, didn't agree with.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    And guess what, you don't have to pay him any mind, do you?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    See, that's true. Foxman is very quick to play the anti-Semite card on folks who just disagree with him. And when you state that fact calmly and rationally, without the hyperbole of your previous post, then your argument is much stronger.

  • Brandybuck||

    I get the impression that with some Paulistas it's not about the non-aggression principle, it's just about hating Israel. Rand doesn't hate Israel, therefore he's a sellout and statist and will never enter into Rothbard Paradise.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    It is the old John Birch Society legacy in the LP.

  • Rasilio||

    Yeah but those guys were never gonna vote in the Republican Primary anyway so it's not really like Rand needs to spend any time worrying about them

  • An0nB0t||

    I'm in the minority, particularly among the ancaps, but I believe that, ever since he set foot in the Senate, Paul has been pulling an Obama: Say one thing that's perfectly acceptable to the sheep of the general public ("of course I support the RKBA" or "of course we won't destroy socialist federal programs") then do the exact opposite as soon as you're able and just ignore the whimpers of protest.

    Paul grew up surrounded by truly hardcore ancaps like Rockwell and learned his values from a man who lives and breathes Hayek and Mises. He established an anti-tax organization when he was 31, long before he set foot into the political arena.

    The idea that Rand would be just another Republican is very, very difficult for me to believe. Even if he doesn't ever win the crown, just having him pulling the party in a direction that we all know the nation needs to go is invaluable. In his own way, he could be as much a boon to the growth of popular libertarianism as his father has been.

  • SaltySeaCaptain(LAOL)||

    Yep, THIS^^

  • Cytotoxic||

    YUP.

  • RyanXXX||

    What about the other things he's sold out on?

  • waaminn||

    Those guys clearly know what they are talking about over there.

    www.Anon-123.tk

  • ||

    Brian, two words. Alt, Text
    Learn it
    Know it
    Live it

  • Cytotoxic||

    And yet again Anti-War.com betrays itself as Anti-Israel/America.com.

  • RyanXXX||

    The big problem with Rand is that his heart is in the right place, but he is a pussy. He never just flat out makes a statement of principle - it's always "maybes" and "well I think" etc. etc.

  • ChrisO||

    Over the next few years, I think Rand Paul is going to be a big test of whether libertarians are able to avoid making the perfect the enemy of the good.

    I'm not optimistic about that.

  • Gladstone||

    Raimondo seems to be saying that since the US funds Israel then the US should be interfering in Israeli affairs. Doesn't this completely contradict his supposed anti-interventionist bonafides? Wouldn't this justify the US remaining in Afghanistan and interfering with the affairs of say Egypt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, etc.? Once you accept the TOP MEN principle when it comes to foreign affairs then you can't really be anti-war or non-interventionist. Hell you are not really all that different from the Anti-War Left that finds Obama Wars okay since a supposedly anti-corporate, multilateral Democrat is in the White House.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement