How Far Is Too Far, Rand Paul?

John Glaser, April 28, 2014

Rand_Paul_(9907100826)

The key to Rand Paul’s tenure as a Senator and to his latent 2016 presidential campaign has been to maintain the libertarian base that helped propel his father’s presidential bids while remaining somewhat within the mainstream Republican Party. That can be a difficult line to walk and Paul has done it reasonably successfully so far.

Some dislike the strategy for its lack of purity. Personally, I’m fine with a little politicking in the name of small steps in the right direction. But how much placating of GOP tenets is too much?

Rand Paul is set today to introduce an extreme piece of pro-Israel legislation that essentially applaud’s Israel for backing out of peace talks and condemns the Palestinians for seeking political reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas.

The Washington Post:

In a gesture that is sure to win applause from supporters of Israel within the Republican electorate, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Monday will introduce a bill that would stop U.S. aid to the newly formed unity government in Palestine unless certain demands were promptly met, including a cease-fire and a public declaration of Israel’s right to exist.

The move by Paul, a potential 2016 presidential contender, is his latest effort to reassure skittish Republicans that he is a firm supporter of Israel. Last year, he visited with Jewish leaders in Jerusalem and prayed at the Wailing Wall, and he has touted his two votes for sanctions against Iran as evidence that he considers Israel a key ally.

“Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with an entity that does not believe it should exist, and has used terrorist tactics to seek its end,” Paul said in a statement obtained by The Washington Post.

His bill would give Palestinian leaders five weeks, upon the government’s formation, to renounce violence and recognize Israel, something he calls “vital” for encouraging peace talks.

Clearly, this is a 2016 campaign schtick meant to throw red meat at the pro-Israel right-wing. And, granted, the legislation appears more symbolic than anything else (the statement piggybacks off what has already occurred without introducing anything new and there does not appear to be any binding consequences for the Palestinians if they fail to meet Rand’s ultimatum).

But it also emulates one of the worst characteristics of GOP doctrine: the extreme, reflexively pro-Israel disposition that has solidified the intractable nature of the conflict for decades and has kept the Palestinians under brutal occupation without rights or recourse.

More than that, it completely contradicts what has actually happened over the past couple weeks. In the past few days, the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation is what has garnered the most media coverage. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used this fact to propagandize his version of events, going on American cable news and saying the reconciliation is what caused the collapse of the negotiations. This is false.

According to Secretary of State John Kerry, an actual participant in the talks, the negotiations fell apart in early April when Israel abruptly stopped complying with the diplomatic stipulations and refused to fulfill its promise to release Palestinian prisoners and then announced the construction of 700 new settlement units in East Jerusalem as a provocation to the Palestinians. Even then, Palestinians did not call off negotiations, so Netanyahu ordered his entire government to stop all contacts with the Palestinians. Talks fell apart because of Israel (and before the reconciliation announcement). 

Paul also lifts the State Department’s language when he says “Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with an entity that does not believe it should exist, and has used terrorist tactics to seek its end.” This is a level of hypocrisy that is difficult to stomach, considering the whole point of Israel’s position of continued occupation and expanded settlement in the West Bank is to position itself for eventual annexation of what remains of Palestinian land.

Paul calls on the Palestinians to renounce violence, but Israel’s constant violence against Palestinians goes unmentioned. Palestinian terrorism is condemned, but Israel’s is ignored. Indeed, “After the [reconciliation] agreement was announced,” reports the Guardian, Israel “launched an air strike on a site in the north of the Gaza Strip, wounding 12 people including children.” That clearly was an airstrike with a political purpose, not a security purpose. That’s kind of the definition of terrorism.

Israel denies Palestine’s right to exist as a state and has used constant terror against Palestinians. All of that is fine. Palestinians though, who are living under illegal occupation and continue to have their homes bulldozed and Jewish only homes built in their stead…they need to be condemned.

I understand Rand Paul’s motivation. He needs to throw red meat at the pro-Israel wing of the GOP in order to have a chance at the nomination. I guess one might as well do that with a toothless piece of legislation that does nothing beyond issuing a statement of support for Israel and hostility toward Palestinians. But here, he’s not even walking that thin line between libertarianism and right-wing belligerence; he’s all the way in the latter camp. And this is relatively new: if you remember back in 2011, Rand Paul was calling for an end to all foreign aid, including to Israel.

Which makes me wonder: what else is he willing to betray to get into the White House?




  • dougtherug

    What will candidate Paul finally look like by election season?

  • mike

    Seems to.me that if new unity government comes out saying Israel has the right to exist then Israeli government loses its hollow justification for leaving peace talks, and it will confirm unity governments dedication to the peace process… I wish he had come out saying that violence from either side is unacceptable, and that both sides should be operating in good faith. The problem of course is that the Israeli government is increasingly right wing and seems to be moving in a fascist direction, and that in term of military force hold a monopoly, do they have absolutely no internal reason to negotiate. The status quo suits them just fine, and without international pressure the issue cannot be resolved.

    • Rafael

      There's no such thing as a right to exist. No country, officially or otherwise, acknowledges that of another. This non-issue in just something the Israelis have propped up to impose more obstacles on the "peace talks" and to portray themselves as the victims, as the ones that are under assault (while they gobble up more Goy land).

  • Christian

    Rand Paul deserves no support from any honest NAP libertarians. There is no room for "politicking" in an ideological movement. The populace must be swayed by the morality and justice of the NAP before there will be any meaningful progress toward a free and peaceful society.

    Pandering politicians, regardless of their parentage, do nothing to move the ball forward, and actually detract from the movement by diluting the message with their inconsistencies.

    • outsider

      Ron Paul was pretty much ideologically pure and his constituency was limited to less than 10%. Politics, unfortunately, is fought in the so-called center, which is where Rand is heading. Of course, he has no chance at the GOP nomination. I hope he is able to run for his Senate seat at the same time, as he is still the best we've got going (again unfortunately).

      But hasn't Israel become more and more unpopular with middle America? There must be a huge opening for a third party candidate who will challenge the two pandering parties. Unfortunately (again) any such party will be labeled as anti-Semitic by the msm and the PC thought police.

      • Christian

        Ron Paul took the libertarian constituency from 2% to 10%. That is an enormous victory and entirely resultant from his ideological purity.

        The populace is not going to change overnight, but that sort of growth rate through consistent, principled libertarian leaders almost makes the dream of a free society achievable in a generation or two.

        Supporting the likes of Rand Paul will never, ever move the world toward freedom.

  • http://www.jimbovard.com Jim Bovard

    John, what is your sense as to how well that Rand Paul actually understands this issue? Has he said or done anything that indicates he has actually thought about the Israelis & Palestinians, as opposed to taking positions suggested by pollsters?

  • Curious

    It is easy for him to attack the Palestinians. I don't think it will work. Hunter-gate is going to bury his Presidential aspirations. His crime is not supporting perpetual war wherever the Neocons set their gaze. He voted for sanctions on Iran in the past but in the last round he came out (he sure took his time) against further sanctions (for now) and for diplomacy. I think we would be fortunate to have Rand Paul as President compared to who we will get. I think Rand will be comparable to Obama except he will demand Congress to take responsibility for going to war and will be more civil liberties conscious (concerning Americans). I doubt he will stop the propaganda on Iran. Also Libertarianism will be blamed for his failed policies, any mishaps, and the continued deterioration of the US economy. I doubt he will boldly alter America's course to save the country like his father would have done.

  • roulade

    Even if this were a pro-Palestinian piece of legislation, it would be bad. Foreign meddling makes all Americans poorer, economically and morally.

    • Paleo Conservative

      The bill doesn't meddle in foreign affairs. There is no foreign intervention in this bill. It does the exact opposite, cutting foreign aid, saving taxpayers money, and promoting the cause of non interventionism overseas. There's a big difference between true non interventionists and those who simply have an anti Israel foreign policy. The author of this article seems to be in the latter camp.

      • ktula

        By cutting the pitiful foreign aid to the Palestinians instead of the more than $3 billion a year of aid to Israel, Rand Paul is meddling in foreign affairs. There's a big difference between true non-interventionalists and non-interventionalists except Israel. You appear to be in the latter camp.

        • Paleo Conservative

          That's a complete straw man argument and completely false. I'm in favor of ending all foreign aid, and so is Rand. But Rand understands that it's more politically realistic to cut off foreign aid to our "enemies" than to a country like Israel. I'm sorry that you can't understand that.

  • https://www.anarchocapitalism.us/ thorax232

    Rand has said time again that he is NOT a libetarian. I don't know why people still pay attention to this idiot.
    ———————–
    Anarcho-Capitalism

  • scatterwisdom

    You may be interested in my post King Solomon's Wisdom on Foreign Aid for an added perspective of US foreign aid.
    http://rudymartinka.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/king

    Regards and good will blogging.

  • Ben_C

    There are several problems with this Glaser…too many to discuss…

    What's probably most interesting and important to note here though is that Randy said the following almost a year and a half ago:

    "Well absolutely, we stand with Israel, but what I think we should do is announce to the world, and i think it is well-known, that any attack on Israel will be treated as an attack on the United States."

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2013/01/25

    Shock and Awe…Shock and Awe!!!

    'Officially' giving Israel de-facto NATO status?!?!?!?!? Not even George W. Bush nor Barack Obama took such an asinine step (as of today, that is)…

  • cindy

    maybe he will just tell them what they want to hear until after he is elected. then he has the freedom to do the right thing (end all foreign aid, recognize Palestine)

    • Paleo Conservative

      What does "recognizing Palestine" have to do with non intervention?" The non interventionist position would just be to stay out of the situation, such as recognizing that it's none of our business where Israel builds settlements.

  • Pingback: How Far Is Too Far, Rand Paul? | Isupon()

  • Anti_Govt_Rebel

    Actions like this by Rand Paul make me a more confirmed non-voter.
    As other commenters have pointed out, he has repeatedly gone out of his way to support Israel, vote for sanctions on iran, and many other mealy-mouthed positions. If he does these things as a candidate, just think of what he'd do if actually elected!

    • Paleo Conservative

      The fact that Rand has been criticized so heavily by the neocons despite taking the positions you described just shows how extreme they are. It's just all or nothing for them. If you're not just a foaming at the mouth warmonger, you're the enemy.

  • Paleo Conservative

    AIPAC opposes Rand's bill. I guess antiwar.com and AIPAC have something in common after all.
    http://freebeacon.com/national-security/aipac-opp

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