The first thing I noticed as I approached the hotel where Ron Paul's Meredith, New Hampshire, town hall happened yesterday was a line of bearded men, mostly young, wearing what struck these eyes as the traditional regalia of the Hasidim. They were hoisting signs reading things such as "Don't Support 'Israel'" and "Authentic Rabbis Always Opposed Zionism and the State of Israel."
When I chatted with a couple of them, they claimed neither support nor opposition to Paul per se; they just said they like to appear near big political events for press attention for their cause. They had just arrived from that morning's Concord debate, and would be heading to a Romney event in Exeter later. Political stances based on whether or not the Jewish people are properly out of exile in Biblical terms and thus ready to reclaim the Holy Land are usually not apt to catch fire in America, even piggybacking on to the Republican primary. If you are intrigued by their ideas and would like to read their literature, have at it.
Some of the protesters came in to watch Paul's beyond-packed event; and in the Q-and-A Paul was asked (not by one of them) about his position on Israel.
Paul's answer, in part: "I would want to maintain very close relations with Israel, I want to be a good friend of Israel. I also want to respect them…I do not think the U.S. should undermine their sovereignty in any way. The establishment of Israel came about in a movement called Zionism, and Zionism had two basic principles, one was independence and self-reliance, and I agree with those two basic fundamental premises of Zionism.
"I also don't think we should tell them what to do. If they want to have a peace treaty with their neighbor and think they can work it out, they shouldn't have to ask us for permission…they shouldn't have to ask us permission to defend their borders, that should be their business. I also…believe I should not take money from anybody here and send money to Israel….
"The benefit to Israel, first you give money, that implies we own you, and second is if you cut out all foreign aid, Israel comes out ahead because their neighbors get about five times as much assistance than Israel gets….We should be friends, we should trade with them, I would encourage them to become the Hong Kong of the Middle East…have a really affluent society.. to control them…and hold them back, I think that is not necessary….Netanyahu was before Congress this year…he said we do not need American troops to defend our country…Israel can take care of itself and i think we should respect that."
Whether that's an accurate and complete assessment of Zionism's "fundamental principles" is arguable, but this was an interesting laying out of a foreign policy of friendship rather than vassalhood that should be a perfectly acceptable model for our foreign relations with any other nation.