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Rand Paul Plays the Israel Card
And Not for the First Time
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The fundamental problem with Senator Rand Paul is that it is difficult to discern what he actually stands for. Or if he stands for anything at all. His defenders, and there are many in that category who rightly hope for a shake-up in American politics, often suggest that he will show his true colors and become a reincarnation of his father if he avoids all the pitfalls and is finally elected president. They claim that to evade all the traps that are being set to snare him Rand must constantly triangulate where he is vis-à-vis the powerbrokers in the GOP and perforce embrace some positions that he would otherwise find philosophically unpalatable. But that is the price of doing business if one wants to succeed in politics.

I would argue instead that Rand Paul should be held accountable for what he says and writes and that the public should assume that he is taking positions that he actually supports. Politics might well be a fool’s game, but that is not the way Rand’s father Ron Paul would have played it. Rand’s vacillations have unfortunately already revealed who he is – someone who does not have the, gravitas, depth of experience or the curiosity about the world that would qualify him to serve as president of the United States. That anyone would expect otherwise from a career ophthalmologist from Kentucky should in itself be astonishing. In his shortcomings, he is like President Barack Obama, a man who was elected in spite of the fact that he was a community organizer who became a do-nothing Senator before being nominated. Obama won because of what he appeared to symbolize and based on his unfulfillable campaign promises. He has since demonstrated that he is completely out of his depth as America’s head of state.

It has been observed that no president is elected on foreign policy but that foreign policy becomes a major distraction when one arrives in office, consuming more time and effort than any but the most pressing domestic agendas. Rand Paul, like his father, claims to find America’s recent military misadventures not to his liking, though with a certain ambiguity. He presents himself as a philosophical non-interventionist though he is always careful to qualify his stance by asserting that he would respond forcefully to genuine threats. Regarding the Iranians, for example, he has been on both sides of the fence, not directly endorsing a US attack while supporting legislation to tighten the screws and falsely describing Iran as a country that is “engaged in the pursuit of nuclear weapons and supports terrorism across the globe.”

Rand Paul’s persistent pandering to Israel and its Lobby illustrates what is lacking in his understanding of America’s foreign relationships as the lopsided relationship with Israel is central to America’s foreign policy malaise. Last week Paul “introduced” the Stand With Israel Act of 2014, Senate Bill 2265. It reads: “Prohibition on Foreign Assistance. (a) In General. Except as provided under subsection (b) and notwithstanding any other provision of law, no amounts may be obligated or expended to provide any direct United States assistance, loan guarantee, or debt relief to the Palestinian Authority, or any affiliated governing entity or leadership organization. (b) Exception. The prohibition under subsection (a) shall have no effect for a fiscal year if the President certifies to Congress during that fiscal year that the Palestinian Authority has (1) Formally recognized the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state; (2) Publicly recognized the state of Israel; (3) Renounced terrorism; (4) Purged all individuals with terrorist ties from security services; (4) Terminated funding of anti-American and anti-Israel incitement; (5) Publicly pledged to not engage in war with Israel; and (6) Honored previous diplomatic agreements.”

Randpac, where the bill is posted, describes it as halting “all U.S. aid to the Palestinian government until they (sic) agree to a ceasefire and recognize the right of Israel to exist.” First of all, the title of the bill suggests that Rand is trying to establish his personal bona fides as “Standing With” Israel whatever that is supposed to mean in the context of an American Senator representing Kentucky. So it is a political document issued by someone who wants to become president very badly and will do whatever is necessary.

And what follows in the bill’s text is far from simple. Recognizing Israel as a Jewish State would delegitimize the Palestinian Christians and Muslims who live there and ask them to accept that the Jews were perfectly right to destroy Palestinian society and put their own state in its place, which would be absurd. And it would legally recognize that Israel is a theocracy. Even the United States government does not recognize Israel as a “Jewish State” which means that Rand is demanding from the Palestinians something that presumably would not pass muster in Washington. Would Rand support a similar bill calling the US a Christian nation since more than 90% of the US population is nominally Christian? Of course not, and someone should tell him that fully twenty per cent of Israeli citizens are not Jews who will wind up with second class rights. Is Rand endorsing the already existing Israeli system of laws that give preference to Jews? Sounds like Jim Crow to me.

Rand should also be made aware that the Palestinian Authority recognizes Israel, has cooperated with Tel Aviv to repress terrorism, and has no ex-terrorists in its government (unlike the Israelis past and present). What the authors of Rand’s bill are aiming at is something quite different – using the excuse that the PA is seeking to enter into a unity arrangement with Hamas controlled Gaza as a deal breaker. As long as the PA is cooperating with Hamas, no money from Washington while the Israelis themselves will refuse any negotiations and continue to steal Arab land. It is a perfect excuse to avoid having to make any hard choices, continuing the status quo indefinitely in which Israel is completely dominant.

Rand’s drafters also throw in incitement and the danger of war as sweeteners, the former an unfortunate bit of badinage that both Israel and the Palestinians engage in, and the latter something of a joke as the Palestinians have no army. But it is the last demand, “honoring previous diplomatic agreements,” that is the kicker. It is a requirement that Palestinians not go to the UN or any other international body in an attempt to obtain redress for the Israeli occupation.

Rand Paul introduced the bill and called for it to be unanimously approved, which he did not obtain and subsequently commented how he felt “deeply disappointed and disturbed by the Senate’s inability to stand with me in defense of Israel today.” For Paul defending Israel is punishing the Palestinians big time, with nary a comment about the persistent Israeli non-compliance with UN resolutions and the brutal occupation of the West Bank. Some Rand supporters are claiming that the pro-Israel pivot is actually all a clever move by him, that since AIPAC is supporting continuing aid to the Palestinians so that Israel will not have to pick up the tab Paul will be able to outmaneuver the Lobby by demonstrating his commitment to Israel when they attack him down the road. But that explanation is too clever by a half and Rand, who has demonstrated his fealty to Israel repeatedly in the past several years, is actually revealing that he knows who the power brokers in American politics are and, believe me, they are not the friends of Palestine.

That Rand should come down that way should surprise no one if one recalls his enthusiastic endorsement of Mitt Romney’s foreign policy. A clueless Rand frequently appears to be in thrall to his advisers, including leading neoconservatives and ex-Romneyites Dan Senor and Bill Kristol. It is no surprise that the esteemed senator from Kentucky has swallowed whole the “radical Islam is the enemy” narrative.

Rand has made his obligatory pilgrimage en famille to Israel to see “our Judeo Christian roots.” The trip was paid for by the anti-gay evangelical American Family Association, whose spokesman once asserted that Hitler surrounded himself with homosexual storm troopers because “straights” would have had moral objections to his policies. While in Israel, Rand discovered the meme that he has been beating to death ever since: that the U.S. should stop giving aid to countries that “are burning our flag and chanting ‘Death to America’…No one is accusing Israel of that.”

After returning from his trip Rand called on the Administration to publicly declare that an attack on Israel would be considered the same as an attack on the U.S. At the end of May he spoke before a Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) gathering and picked up the theme yet again, praising the ZOA for its courageous display of support for his demand to end the flow of money and arms to Egypt and Pakistan. But not to Israel. Per Paul, “the U.S. and Israel have a great shared religious and cultural history.”

Rand has also appealed to the evangelical crowd by labeling Muslim demonstrators as “haters of Christianity,” adding that “American taxpayer dollars are being used to enable a war on Christianity in the Middle East, and I believe that must end.” But a recent State Department report on religious persecution notes that it is the Israelis who are frequently hostile to non-Jews. Desecration of churches in 1948 and 1967 was widespread and has also recurred periodically since that time, Christian groups have been attacked by zealots, and missionaries who try to convert Jews to Christianity can be imprisoned for five years. In 2012, the Vatican protested after a Trappist monastery’s doors were burned and “Jesus was a Monkey” was written in orange spray paint on the building’s walls. This year, the State Department annual Country Reports for the first time labeled attacks by extremist Jewish settler groups as “terrorism.”

Rand Paul is certainly free to believe whatever he wants but the argument that he must say and do various things, particularly vis-à-vis Israel, if he wants to become president has worn out its welcome. It is fundamentally dishonest, even in a politician, to say one thing while believing something else. If Paul is an honest man, which may or may not be the case, one should take him at his word. Unfortunately his word on foreign policy in general and on the Middle East in particular does not deviate much from the standard Republican cant on Israel. Rand Paul might well be the best of a bad bunch in the GOP, but that still makes him a poor choice for those who are longing for a genuine change of direction in US foreign policy.

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Israel/Palestine, Rand Paul 
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  1. Don Nash says:

    Rand Paul is the guy that bailed on his father back in 2012 and endorsed Mitt Rmoney. Rand Paul is an insufferable hack.

  2. While at a gathering of foreign policy types in DC the other night I noticed an assemblage of Secretary of State portraits. They were arranged so that the most recent were foremost. It struck me as a sort of darwinian regression, in which superior creatures beget lesser creatures. Comparison with the 19th and early 20th century oil portraits on the wall was an invitation to despair.

    My point is that our political culture and the class of people who make up that class, are incapable of producing the sort of people we want. If the climb to the summit of power in the US eliminates any class of people, it the principled. As the saying goes, to go high you must travel light. Weighty objects like consistency, truthfulness, loyalty and principle have no place in the backpacks of such climbers. Only lightweights get to the top.

  3. You’d think an ophthalmologist could see straight.

  4. Rod1963 says:

    For all intents it doesn’t matter who we elect as president, they are beholden to a elite within and without the U.S. Look at Obama, he quickly morphed from a long legged, populist tub thumper to a Bush clone when it came to foreign and domestic policy – he listened to a handful of Neo-Cons and corporate cronies like Robert Rubin(who was his mentor when he was a senator) just like his predecessors did, replete with bubble blowing from the Fed and Wall Street. Clinton who was probably one of the most intelligent men to hold that office in sometime but ushered some of the most disastrous economic policies in the last 70 years(NAFTA, PNTR with China, killing Glass-Stegal, Commodity Futures Modernization Act) and who sat atop a giant Dot Com stock bubble blown by his masters on Wall Street and which soon detonated on his befuddled successor.

    The fact is there really isn’t a republican or democratic foreign policy anymore – that’s just nonsense promulgated by paid political hacks and dirt stirrers. There merely is a foreign policy put forth by a bunch of career insiders ranging from the Neo-Con group FPI, NSC staffers, CFR and a host of business and banking interests, and the president is merely a front man for public consumption.

    It doesn’t matter who we run, the elites will not tolerate a outlier who doesn’t answer to them. There will be no more Ross Perot’s, no 3rd party challenge to the two nationwide organized crime syndicates we call political parties.

    Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

    All we can do is sit back and watch the train wreck as these insiders screw things up.

  5. NB says: • Website

    Giraldi appears to imply that it is not predominantly Muslim countries who persecute Christians but rather Israel:
    Rand has also appealed to the evangelical crowd by labeling Muslim demonstrators as “haters of Christianity,” adding that “American taxpayer dollars are being used to enable a war on Christianity in the Middle East, and I believe that must end.” But a recent State Department report on religious persecution notes that it is the Israelis who are frequently hostile to non-Jews.
    Open Doors is a Christian organization that documents persecution of Christians around the world. Curiously [well, actually entirely unsurprising if you’re vaguely informed about foreign affairs], Israel doesn’t even make its top 50 countries for most severe persecution of Christians:
    Iran, ever-defended by Giraldi, is in the top 10, and the Palestinian territories are rated #34.

    Rand should also be made aware that the Palestinian Authority recognizes Israel, has cooperated with Tel Aviv to repress terrorism, and has no ex-terrorists in its government (unlike the Israelis past and present).
    This is risible, in light of the recent PA-Hamas unity agreement. And who are the ex-terrorists in Israel’s current government? not to mention the ex-terrorists, or rather active terrorists formerly in charge of the PA…

    fyi, Obama already recognized Israel as a Jewish state:
    and that doesn’t make Israel a theocracy.

    • Replies: @Philip Giraldi
  6. Just another hustler.

  7. @NB

    NB – What does “appears to imply” mean? I was writing about Rand Paul’s hypocrisy and I think my point was very clear. The US government does not officially recognize Israel as a Jewish state, presidential comments notwithstanding. A number of former terrorists have headed the Israeli government, notably Shamir and Begin. How one might describe some of the extreme right wingers currently in the government, supporting as they do settler “terorism,” is a matter of interpretation. Nice to have you back NB.

  8. KA says: • Website

    Sharon was a terrorist.
    Netanhoooooooo stole nuclear devices from US and worked with that terrorist.
    Some of the current terrorists ( IDF ) and permanent fixed terrorists( settlers) would join government one day .
    Christian persecution in ME is an aftermath,a result,an after effect of the west invasion and toppling of the secular parties,dictators,and suppression of the secular anti colonial movements from Morocco to Pakistan including Afghanistan stretching over last 60 yrs in the US hand and 100 yrs or more in the Anglo -French joint hands.
    Was any Chritian killed in Libya before Ghaddafi,in Syria before Basher , in Iraq before 2003?

    But what is the point to enumerate and emphasize these points when you and the rest of the Israel promoters only are allowed to populate the podiums scattered across the landscape and sit on the table to debate the different sides of the same views enforced by the terrorists in Israel ..

  9. KA says: • Website


    This is the dominant world view in the Zionist camp both the secular and the religious of different stripes-. World view against the non Jews

    Why the Jews? Caroline Glick explains the roots of … – YouTube
    ► 14:52► 14:52
    Jan 19, 2014 – Uploaded by Caroline Glick

  10. NB says: • Website

    Well, I don’t know if this counts as official but here’s what the State Dept says:
    “The United States is committed to realizing the vision of a two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: an independent, viable and contiguous Palestinian state as the homeland of the Palestinian people, alongside the Jewish State of Israel.

    I am not aware that any of the extreme right-wingers in Bibi’s govt support the price-tag attacks that the US has now classified as terrorism. I’m aware of Shamir’s and Begin’s past activities, but funny how you omitted any mention of the late long-time President of the PA…

    KA tries to blame the persecution of Christians in the Middle East on Western colonialism. Arguably the most severe persecution of Christians in the Middle East was the Armenian Genocide (not to mention the genocide of other Christian minorities living as dhimmis in the Ottoman Empire like the Assyrians). You want to blame that on Western imperialism too?

  11. I think Israel is an “ethnic democracy.” Also the jig is up, the peace process failed, and people like Elliot Abrams want Americans to keep paying Palestinians to subjugate themselves and be their own prison guards:

    Rand is juvenile in his reasoning but should the US continue to pay for that after the failure of the peace process? Some of Rand’s detractors automatically turned into doe-eyed self-conceited supporters in the last year. They are like Obamanites. If you are powerful and you through a bone their way ever so often they will worship you. I am waiting for them to explain themselves. I don’t think their ideology is going to win through Rand. It probably would be discredited if he does win the presidency. He calls himself a “Libertarian Republican.” Have those people ever looked at what site comes up when that is searched on Google? It isn’t a Ron Paul fan site. I think Rand is civil liberties minded and is a hawk in the pre-9/11 sense, but believes that congress should declare war. I find myself in agreement with this piece by Robert Kagan, and it shows a nuanced understanding that I haven’t seen in Rand:

  12. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    @ NB,

    Concerning the genocide of Armenians, I read the book by McMeekin (The Russian Origins of the World War) where he discusses this question and I believe that nowhere he talks about it as a persecutions of Christians by Muslims. Britain’s rule of India also wasn’t a persecution of Hindus by Christians. NB should read the book before talking about the subject and using this episode as a slogan.

    Second, the US shouldn’t endorse unilaterally Israeli demands and punish the Palestinians for not complying with them if at the same time it’s not ready to adopt demands which are generally recognized as fair like the end of the occupation. Why should the US punish the Palestinians because of a symbolic measure (not recognizing Israel as a Jewish country) and at the same time not punish Israel because of the occupation and many other human rights abuses?

    Mentioning Begin and Shamir is not enough (why not Sharon?). And what ministers say or don’t say isn’t enough, but what they do. Just a few days you could read on ABC: “Ex-Security Head: Israel Soft on Anti-Arab Crimes”. Besides, a serie of actions also count, like the war against Gaza which was a massacre according to Finkelstein, the indiscriminated killing of a large number of Palestinian civilians near the border to Syria and Lebanon some years ago and several other episodes.

  13. If there’s one thing all 5th column movements have in common, it’s an ability to infiltrate and convert members of potential opposition movements (like the Tea Party) into doing their bidding. Which is what occurred when the Bolsheviks infiltrated he first social revolution in Russia and converted it into a 75 year, reign of terror on the Russian people. And, in my opinion, is undoubtedly what has occurred in Rand Paul’s case.

  14. I have some questions about Israel that are based upon irrefutable facts.

    1. If Israel is a nation State, why does it not have defined borders and if they do, what are they?

    2. Israel claims the city of Jerusalem is its capital but the city of Tel-Aviv is recognized internationally as Israel’s capital. How can Israel be right and the rest of the world be wrong?

    3. If Israel claims to be a constitutional government, why does it not have a unified written constitutional document?

    4. If Israel claims their people enjoy equal rights, why can’t an Arab-Israeli marry a Jew in Israel?

    5. How can Israel claim to be a ‘Jewish State’ if 20 percent of the citizens of Israel are Arab and they practice the faith of Islam?

    6. Why does the Knesset have only 10 percent Arab representation when the Arab population is over 20 percent?

    7. Why does Israel claim a policy of ‘nuclear ambiguity’ when the world knows it engages in nuclear weapons research at the Negev Nuclear Research Center outside the city of Dimona and have built a stockpile of nuclear weapons?

    8. Why doesn’t the Israeli flag include symbology that reflects its Arab population and culture?

    9. If Israel’s economy is so prosperous, why do they need 3 billion dollars of American taxpayer money every year?

    10. By what legal authority does Israel have to occupy any Palestinian land?

  15. schmenz says:

    Mr Giraldi is always worth reading and this article is no exception but I had to stop reading when he expressed his shock about the anti-homosexual (I will, of course, not use the word “gay” to describe such things) stance of an organization that supports Paul. I am really, really getting tired of hearing about these unfortunate souls as if they are some sort of oppressed people. And if the American Family Association is disgusted with them and their behavior and their agenda of shoving it down our throats then good for them.

    So in this case let us keep our eye on the ball and discuss Senator Paul’s equally disgusting pandering to the Israeli lobby. That is the story here, and that is what Mr Giraldi exposes so well. And I thank him for doing so.

    • Replies: @Philip Giraldi
  16. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:


    The Armenian Genocide occurred in the fog of the First World War, and in the greater context of the struggle between the declining Ottoman Empire and the expansionist Russian Empire. The Christian Armenians were depicted as a sort of Russian Fifth column by the Turks. Incidentally, the Armenian genocide is reminiscent of the much less known earlier, 19th century, genocide/ethnic cleanings of the Circassians, a Muslim people indigenous to the Caucasus, that was perpetrated by the Russians.

    Iraqi Assyrians were used as military auxiliaries by British Imperialists to control Iraq’s majority Arab population, i.e. basically who had converted to Islam over the centuries. This created resentment among the Iraqi Arabs, which, alas, lead to persecution and ethnic-cleansing of Iraqi Assyrians. The First World war also played a role in the persecution of Assyrians.

    So, yes Western Christian imperialism did have a factor with regard to the above persecutions. It certainly was not the only factor, but it was there.

    And KA was referring to recent persecution.

  17. @schmenz

    Dan – I was not in any way implying that there is something peculiar in a religious group having an anti-homosexual agenda. I would expect that from most traditional Christian denominations. What I did find ridiculous was the assertion about gay Nazi storm troopers, which suggests to me that Rand was not too terribly particular about whose money he was willing to take to finance his trip to Israel.

  18. “What I did find ridiculous was the assertion about gay Nazi storm troopers,” Without touching the main point in the least, I just had to laugh when remembering that the leadership of the actual Storm Troopers (SA) were in fact, homosexual!

    Paul, like all politicians will take money from just about anyone.

  19. It is a historical fact that a high percentage of Hitler’s Brown Shirts were homosexuals, and not the closet variety at that. Which could go a long way in explaining why the Jewish intelligentsia in Germany did not particularly object to their politics or activities.

  20. Don’t see a problem with Rand being a career ophthalmologist. I believe in the idea that the government should be by the people. And there’s more to the people than just lawyers. We’d be better off if there were more true diversity in Congress–that is different kinds of people with different mindsets–business people, physicians, lawyers, artists, teachers, what have you. Filling government with Harvard/Yale lawyers and MBAs has gotten as exactly were we today.

    And I don’t think his career accounts for his ignorance and lack of leadership in foreign affairs either. That’s a consequence of being an American who probably has never traveled anywhere but…israel, and probably doesn’t read much aside from US political biographies. It seems to characterize all Republicans with presidential ambitions–an easy targets for the neocon intelligentsia to present themselves as the wisemen who’ll save them from having to learn about foreign affairs.

    Whether his strategy to fight Republicans from within while playing the standard game works will remain to be seen. We know were outsider strategy took his father–not very far. I guess I’ll reserve my criticism of the strategy till it’s all said and done. Of course he does deserve to be criticized for his cheap pandering to israel no matter what.

  21. Edward says:

    Little Rand Paul, a wanker who really is small in every way. To be ignored.

  22. She’s baaaack… and always playing the “anti-Semitism” card that smears anyone and everyone questioning the Israeli government’s untoward and illegal acts against the United States.

    The recent Newsweek revelations about Israeli aggression against America make Phil Giraldi look like an Israeli apologist, they are so shocking. Really, it is now apparent that these people have neither any shame, or care at all for the interests of Americans. The expose reveals a completely untoward influence on our elected officials that completely subverts American law. It is hard to argue now that this phenomenon does represent anything other than a primary loyalty to a foreign state, as great as any malfeasance at the beginning of the Cold War.

    No doubt the Israeli government believes its own interests justify anything and everything it does, no matter how much lying and lawbreaking is involved. That is their prerogative, but there is absolutely no reason other than the wholesale purchase of politicians why 300 million Americans should tolerate such hostile actions against us in our own nation to our own detriment.

  23. geokat62 says:

    The other big news from this past week was the primary win by Walter Jones (R-N.C.). The Emergency Committee for Israel spent millions to defeat him for his stance against foreign aid and his reluctance to fight more wars for Israel. This is a huge precedent. It shows others in Congress and the White House that the Lobby is not omnipotent and that the American people are prepared to vote for someone who puts America’s interests first. The individuals who played a large part in this win are Profs Mearsheimer and Walt. They were the first who had the right credentials to shine the spotlight on the 500 lb gorilla in the room – ie the Israel Lobby. The big challenge, however, still lies ahead, the presidential election in 2016. It looks as though it will either be Hillary or Sheldon Adelson’s hand-picked man. Things are going to get a lot worse before they get better… but better they will get!

  24. Friedolin says:

    Rand Paul has one thing going for him, and that is, Sheldon Adelson did not invite him to Las Vegas! So what would you rather have, Rand or one of the other four who were quick to submit to Adelson’s personal scrutiny? :-)))

    • Replies: @Philip Giraldi
  25. @Friedolin

    Friedolin – So even in spite of all Rand’s pandering they still don’t trust him. I would rather have none of the politicians you describe and would much prefer someone who is willing to act like a leader and express the view that what is good for Israel is not necessarily good for the United States

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  28. Anonymous • Disclaimer says: • Website

    I’ve been to Gaza several times years ago in the 70s and 80s when I lived
    in southern Israel in the border. Egypt and Gaza are much more alike tha you assume
    the individuals of Gaza lifestyle culture etc are very similaqr to Egypt following
    all until 67 Gaza was part of Egypt thier culture is very various
    than In Judea and Samaria which is far more similar to Jordan

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