Some conservatives see hostility toward Israel in Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul’s advocacy of a non-interventionist foreign policy. But in an interview published online Wednesday afternoon, the Texas congressman explained that his positions may in fact be considered very pro-Israel.
“We should be their friend and their trading partner,” Paul explained. “They are a democracy and we share many values with them. But we should not be their master. We should not dictate where their borders will be nor should we have veto power over their foreign policy.”
Paul, an outspoken opponent of foreign aid, said his position would ultimately benefit Israel by enhancing the nation’s ability to defend itself.
“Stop and consider America’s policy: We give $3 billion a year to Israel in loans; and we give $12 billion or more in assistance to Israel’s self-declared enemies,” he said. “Some of these are countries that say they will drive Israel into the sea.”
“Foreign aid does not help Israel,” he argued. “It is a net disadvantage. I say to them that ‘the borrower is servant to the lender’ and America should never be the master of Israel and its fate. We should be her friend.”
Supporters of foreign aid to Israel also “misunderstand Zionism” — the political and philosophical movement guiding the return of Jews to Palestine and the creation of Israel — he said.
“Part of the original idea of Zionism, as I understand it, was that there should be Jewish independence and Jewish self-reliance,” he said. “Today, America doesn’t want anyone to be self-reliant. We want to rule the world and be the saviors of the world and we are going broke in the process.”
Paul said all U.S. foreign aid should be discontinued, repeating his dictum that foreign aid was “taking money from poor people in rich countries and giving it to rich people in poor countries.” (SEE ALSO: Paul’s 19 percent in Iowa may indicate a path to the nomination)
The longtime libertarian favorite said he has a track record of supporting Israel’s right to act in its own national interest.
“In October, 1981, most of the world and most of the Congress voiced outrage over Israel’s attack on Iraq and their nuclear development. I was one of the few who defended her right to make her own decisions on foreign policy and to act in her own self-interest,” he recalled.
If elected president, Paul said that he would continue sharing intelligence with Israel and would refuse to sell weapons that would “undermine Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region.”
“But we should stop interfering with them,” he continued. “We should not announce bargaining positions even before she begins her negotiations,” Paul said in a transparent swipe at President Obama’s statements that Israel’s 1967 borders should be a starting point for negotiations with Palestinians.
“We should not dictate what she can and cannot do. We should stop trying to buy her allegiance. And Israel should stop sacrificing their sovereignty as an independent state to us or anybody else, no matter how well-intentioned,” he said.
The Republican Jewish Coalition banned Paul from taking part in a presidential forum held on Wednesday. A statement on the group’s website declared Paul’s positions remarkably similar to those expressed by an earlier generation of Americans “whose admiration of Nazi Germany and indifference to the fate of the Jews restrained the country’s initial response to both Hitler and the Holocaust.”