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Senator Rand Paul pens over-the-top pander to pro-Israel crowd

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Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky at the 2013 Liberty Political Action Conference (LPAC) in Chantilly, Virginia. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons)

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky at the 2013 Liberty Political Action Conference (LPAC) in Chantilly, Virginia. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons)

For months, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), the libertarian-minded son of former Representative Ron Paul, has sought to burnish his pro-Israel credentials as he paves a path towards the 2016 presidential election.  His latest attempt is an over-the-top column this week in the National Review calling on the U.S. to stop calling for Israeli “restraint” and to cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Paul’s plan, the centerpiece of which is a bill that would halt U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority in light of its reconciliation agreement with Hamas, won’t get very far.  The American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) strongly opposes it, since the PA is Israel’s biggest ally in the West Bank, notwithstanding the political theater Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been engaging in over the past few weeks.

But Paul has to know his bill has no chance of being passed.  Instead, it’s an attempt to assuage concerns over previous statements on Israel, including a budget plan that would have cut off U.S. aid to Israel and to all other countries.  Paul crossed a sacred red-line in Washington with that 2011 proposal.  His other non-interventionist positions on drones and U.S. war in Iran and Syria have only fueled doubts in the hawkish, neoconservative wing of the Republican Party that Paul is not a man to trust–especially in the White House.

Enter Paul’s column in the National Review:  

How many times must Israel hear this call? Children are murdered — please show restraint. Cafés and buses are bombed — please show restraint…

I think it is clear by now: Israel has shown remarkable restraint. It possesses a military with clear superiority over that of its Palestinian neighbors, yet it does not respond to threat after threat, provocation after provocation, with the type of force that would decisively end their conflict.

But sometimes restraint can work against you. Sometimes you just have to say, enough is enough.

Nearly six weeks ago, I proposed a bill called the “Stand With Israel Act.” Its purpose was to cut off the flow of U.S. taxpayer dollars to the Palestinian Authority if it allied with Hamas — the same Hamas that just murdered these three teenagers.

So let’s be clear: U.S. taxpayer money may soon be going to an entity kidnapping and murdering Israeli and U.S. children.

The article is a call for the army to go wild, and has little grounding in facts. U.S. taxpayer dollars are flowing to a West Bank government that is committed to past agreements with Israel; that has continued security coordination with Israel, including standing by while Israeli soldiers invaded the heart of Ramallah; and that is not about to integrate Hamas’ armed forces into the government.  If the PA took any steps that undermined security coordination with Israel, the West would cut off aid in a heartbeat.

But the column is not about facts.  It’s about ingratiating himself to a crowd that has money–the Sheldon Adelson crowd.  Paul’s bill to cut off aid to the PA has the support of the far-right Zionist Organization of America, a group that Adelson funds, though it is far from clear he will be successful in raising money from right-wing, pro-Israel donors.

Whether Paul can triangulate on the issue of Israel and U.S. policy in the Middle East will be interesting to watch.  He has to try to maintain grassroots support, predicated on his unorthodox views on foreign policy, with the establishment’s pro-Israel and pro-intervention consensus.  But for those hoping Paul would be the vanguard of an unabashed libertarian foreign policy, the run-up to the 2016 election will be disappointing.  He’s running towards the pro-Israel crowd as fast as he can.

Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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20 Responses

  1. just on July 4, 2014, 10:18 am

    “I think it is clear by now: Israel has shown remarkable restraint. It possesses a military with clear superiority over that of its Palestinian neighbors, yet it does not respond to threat after threat, provocation after provocation, with the type of force that would decisively end their conflict.

    But sometimes restraint can work against you. Sometimes you just have to say, enough is enough.”

    Happy 4th, Rand Paul. You’ve just joined the ranks of the rankest– a selected US rep. with allegiance to Israel first!
    Have a dog and a beer.

    I really admire this end times/apocalypse lingo: “the type of force that would decisively end their conflict.” boo-yah!

    • seafoid on July 4, 2014, 10:28 am

      “yet it does not respond to threat after threat, provocation after provocation, with the type of force that would decisively end their conflict.”

      The US tried that in Iraq and it didn’t work either

      Rand prolly doesn’t understand that “Isreal” is in the Middle East and has to get on with the neighbours.

  2. CloakAndDagger on July 4, 2014, 10:20 am

    It is very possible that Rand is mouthing the words that he needs to, in order to stand a snowball’s chance of getting elected, given the political reality of DC, but it makes me gag.

    His father, Ron Paul, has my complete admiration and support, but he was not able to get anywhere because of his frankness about Israel. His son may be learning from this.

    Will this strategy work? It may, but the lobby is very suspicious of him. It may also backfire in that the very people who supported his father may recoil at his insincerity, or worse, actually believe that he is no different from the other pols.

    I may be convinced to give him the benefit of the doubt given his anti-interventionist foreign policy, but most days I find myself scratching my head about him.

  3. Kay24 on July 4, 2014, 10:29 am

    Poor Israel constantly showing “restraint” Rand Paul? How delusional can you be, and
    so ignorant? It shows you are selling your soul to the devil, all for getting the support of anti American lobbies. You are ignoring your father, and losing self respect, by demonizing occupied and abused civilians, and pretending the occupier and abuser is showing restraint, and the victim.
    Yet another cheap American politician, who is swearing loyalty to a devious and alien nation. Disgusting lot.

  4. Justpassingby on July 4, 2014, 10:34 am

    So Israel attack WB and Gaza but Israel are the threatened one? Nice logic!

    • traintosiberia on July 5, 2014, 11:53 am

      Yes . It is an interesting logic. Thanks for pointing out the fallacy,the stupid inconsistency . This is also an article of faith embraced for one or another reasons in various degrees by the visible public figures who can shape and carry out the missions based on this variety of faith.

      In another vein, belief has to be in Sky God or fairy tale of resurrection or in flying on horseback to time – travel for inclusion in Hall of Shame, ,Museum of Stupidity ,and for bashing on prime time TV by the liberals like that of Harris ,Maher,and Dawkins variety .

      Sure their arguments have always been that these kinds of beliefs underly and underpin behaviors to other groups ,women,children,no religious and non conformist and so must be confronted.
      Here is Paul whose views on other matters are evisecrated by liberals ,will get extra point and go up on opinion poll for picking up wrong facts,wrong statistics,dismissing things that are happening in front of him ,dismissing the links among those events and jumping like a Jihadist with both conclusion and action plan.
      Jihadist ,at least can claim that his belief is his and not bought or forced.
      What can Paul say or what can those liberals ,anti islamophobe,pro Zionist say for the collective silence on the status of the wisdom and the prescribed solution by Paul and by people of his pro Zionist class
      Including Perry,,McCain,Graham,Romney,Huckabee,Santorum,Clinton,?
      Sometimes it seem that , its not only the emperor who have no clothes but those applauding him for being fully clothed seem to have none on them as well.

  5. HarryLaw on July 4, 2014, 10:43 am

    This is despicable from Senator Paul, according to Media Lens “The missing, ugly reality is that over the last 13 years, on average, one Palestinian child has been killed by Israel every 3 days. Since the outbreak of the second Intifada in September 2000, 1,523 Palestinian children have been killed by Israel’s occupation forces. Over the same time period, 129 Israeli children have been killed. Thus, the ratio of Palestinian children to Israeli children killed is more than ten to one.” What will these political whores not say to advance their careers.

    • Kay24 on July 4, 2014, 12:36 pm

      You know they have absolutely no shame. If they bothered to do the right thing, and found out exactly who is breaking international laws, stealing land and building illegal settlements, condemned by the entire world including the US, and using deadly weapons supplied by us, on unarmed civilians.

  6. Citizen on July 4, 2014, 10:44 am

    Rand Paul is looking at political history lessons. His Daddy goofed, as did Bush Sr. Nothing new about US domestic politics: if you defy Israeli ambitions, you lose in America. It’s a matter of donation $ and media slanted coverage.

    • Exchequer on July 5, 2014, 3:14 am

      Ron Paul, love him or hate him, was a man of clear conviction. “Is” I mean–he’s still alive and kicking, despite being sidelined.

      Rand Paul is a pusillanimous panderer and opportunist, and very much a run-of-the mill Republican. There’s no reason to like him, and since Hillary seems to be the shoo-in among Dems, we have to hope against hope that the Reps can come up with someone better than Rand Paul.

      I’m not holding my breath.

  7. a blah chick on July 4, 2014, 12:54 pm

    “So let’s be clear: U.S. taxpayer money may soon be going to an entity kidnapping and murdering Israeli and U.S. children.” Will no one think of the children! Oldest tactic in politics.

    As for cutting aid to the PA that threat is so idle it practically takes root.

  8. Scott on July 4, 2014, 2:21 pm

    This is pretty disappointing, especially if the Dems nominate the neoconnish Hillary.
    I think the aim is not to get Sheldon Adelson dollars, which Paul won’t get in any event–as he surely knows–but to immunize him from attacks that might influence Christian Zionist voters. These are statements he can point to.

    Also, isn’t there a strong case to be made that dismantlement of the PA would be good for the Palestinian cause, forcing Israel to do its own occupation duty. I’m not sure about this. But though Paul’s rhetoric is dishonest and pandering, it doesn’t make him one of Sheldon’s boys. My guess is that neocons and Sheldon know this too, and Jennifer Rubin will shortly pen a “don’t be fooled” column.

  9. seafoid on July 4, 2014, 2:56 pm

    On the one hand this shows the power of the lobby but on the other its weakness- dependence on 1% money. No popular constituency for zionism. Once they lose the younger Jewish cohorts it will be curtains stateside.

  10. piotr on July 4, 2014, 5:55 pm

    At last, Hillary may gaze into her magic window and boldly ask THE QUESTION: Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the least evil of them all? THE ANSWER: Your tongue is forked, your hands are stained, but you sometimes can make a good friend.

    Clearly, it requires more than 5 minutes to invent something appropriate for the “but” part.

  11. James Canning on July 4, 2014, 7:43 pm

    Rand Paul is a fool if he thinks the Unity government of Hamas/Fatah is a bad thing.

  12. traintosiberia on July 5, 2014, 1:27 am

    He is the living example of what has happened to other politicians in the past. He is a quick learner. Truman and Lyndon Jphnson , Obama and Bush 2 all were forced to learn the realities of the money machine or the threat of severe undermining of any agenda including safety to personal lives( Truman presidential mail room received letter bombs ) .
    The somersaults have been labelled as the pious value based interest free support for the cause of the Zionism from the gentile by the Zionists – from there the repeated assertions that Zionism as a cause is supported by every Americans- have confused the logic ,blinded the vision and force people to reconcile to passive acceptance of Israeli criminal activities as normal ,noble,necessarry ,and beyond any criticism.

  13. piotr on July 5, 2014, 9:12 am

    A bit strange aspect of Rand’s article. The comments seem to be against him, and hard to see any “moderate” comments. I only check the latest screenful. A person “Aristotelian1” seem doing most in attacking anti-Rand commenters. I started to wonder what standards are applied by National Review for deleting comments:

    • Reply•Share ›
    Aristotelian1 • a day ago
    Strangle the last Jihadi with the entrails of the last Prog.
    3 • Reply•Share ›
    This comment was deleted.

  14. traintosiberia on July 5, 2014, 12:14 pm

    Even an antiwar, a non interventionist will sleep walk into supporting,enabling ,and justifying the positions and the planning of the pro war,pro interventionist,pro preemptive action ,despite their repeated assertions of not doing so or claims of opposing the actions . They genuinely might believe that what’s they are doing is the best course of action and dont need to analyze the interconnected nature or the motives or the interests of different groups invlved, they think that they are denouncing any preemptive wars or unnecessary life threatening sanctions,or illegal blockade by talking against those pieces of foreign policies or military plans and this should be enough all they can or should do.
    As long as they believe in the lies and don’t challenge them,as long as they allow the pro war,pro blockade,pro sanction,pro clampdown,pro occupation groups to use these lies and false manufactured statistics,or created documents,or as long as they validate false intelligence derived from overtly partisan or dubious sources, they would end up teaming up with them ,bolstering them,enabling them,and destroying any effective corrective actions against preemptive wars or sanctions.
    They would cower as they have before 2003 war when confronted with neocon’s challenge- ” do you have any other solution, has anything else worked,haven’t we tried” .
    Before one challenges behavior ,one has to challenge the underlying assumptions.
    Liberals and antiwars have always drank the kool aid and smoked the same weed but have expected a different effect.

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