The Loneliest Ron Paul Supporter

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There are often
times I feel like the loneliest Ron Paul supporter on earth. We’re
already a forsaken lot, castigated as we are, called kooks, conspiracy
mongers, racists, bigots, and (worst of all), delusional dreamers
living in a fantasy world. Plus, we’re mean-spirited and greedy!

Yet, here I
am, an Orthodox Jew, living in Israel, in the dread “occupied territories”
no less, and I feel even lonelier than most. Just what am I doing
casting my lot with this motley group?!

I have a problem.
I tend to call things as I see them. I fondly remember mocking in
disgust, along with my then fellow conservatives, at the way then-President
Clinton’s supporters blindly and fawningly followed and supported
him. We aren’t like that, we thought smugly. We think for
ourselves.

I proudly voted
for George W. Bush in 2000. I will never forget as I watched the
election returns live, and it became clear that victory hinged on
Florida. No problem, I thought to myself. Bush’s lead in Florida
was increasing throughout the night, with a 50,000-vote spread.
Suddenly, within a span of less than an hour, that lead shriveled
to…well, you all know the rest.

I can’t say
I wasn’t warned about Bush prior to the election. I started reading
LRC and WND many months before. Both web sites called him on his
bipartisan liberalism. Bush himself did indeed promote a very liberal
agenda. At the time, I thought he was just making empty promises
to appear “moderate.” In fact, Bush probably has the greatest record
of keeping his promises of any president in American history. There
are only two promises I can actually think of that he broke: campaign
finance reform, which he promised to veto; and a “humble foreign
policy,” which supposedly 9/11 changed.

Although the
events of 9/11 were outrageous and inhuman, I knew exactly what
the consequences would be vis–vis the government response, and
I was concerned, if not a little frightened. When the USA PATRIOT
act surfaced scant weeks after the event, my break came with my
fellow conservatives, who would have gone ballistic had Clinton
pushed for passage of such a heinous piece of legislation during
his administration, a 9/11-style event or not. Those same people,
who joined me in mocking Clinton’s followers, now became
those followers and blindly and fawningly supported Bush’s efforts
to get the act passed. There was no turning back after that.

Fast-forward
to the build-up to the war in Iraq. We who lived in Israel were
not clamoring for war, despite what many people in America think.
It is very sobering to receive instructions to unpack and prepare
your (and your children’s) government-issued gas masks just in case
the unthinkable might happen. Those who support American intervention
in Iran (to “protect” Israel or otherwise) should consider that.

Even though
I would consider myself a political junkie I largely sat out the
2004 election. I honestly couldn’t care less whether Bush or Kerry
won, and people were quite surprised by my attitude. I was shocked
when Joseph Farah of WND, after pointedly not endorsing anyone in
the 2000 campaign, actually endorsed Bush. Nonetheless, I succeeded
in basically ignoring the campaign.

Being a long-time
reader of LRC, I was somewhat familiar with Ron Paul. I occasionally
read his regular articles on the site, and my own beliefs were often
in sync with his. I knew he was “Dr. No,” the “most honest man in
Congress” (as John McCain once said). When he declared his candidacy
early last year, I didn’t think much of it. I actually thought it
was a waste of time. His ideas, which were largely my ideas too,
were just too extreme to get any traction. Other than reading about
the occasional straw poll victory I ignored him. I’m not sure what
changed my mind. I think it might have been the third-quarter fundraising
results, but I suddenly got very interested in Paul’s campaign last
October. With the November 5th money bomb, everything changed.

Since then,
I have engaged several close friends and family members in discussion
about Dr. Paul and his candidacy. All are conservative or libertarian,
and all continue to oppose him and believe he’s a racist crank who
would be bad for Israel. It is those two charges I would like to
address.

The issue of
the published newsletters bearing Dr. Paul’s name are neither here
nor there. I’ve been accused by one of my friends of what I detest
exceedingly, that is, blindly following someone and ignoring fatal
flaws in that person. I think the newsletter issue gives people
who already dislike Paul a reason to continue their hostility.

I’ve seen a
number of broadcasts and read a number of quotes. Let’s look at
this in perspective. Not one person has accused Dr. Paul of actually
writing the inflammatory material. At worst, he exercised poor judgment
in allowing his name to be attached to these newsletters without
any oversight. He has apologized for this. What more can we ask?
It is unfortunate that it happened, and it is an albatross, but
after a lot consideration, I don’t think it is a fatal flaw. To
have someone so strenuously reject the PC blame game is actually
refreshing. If Dr. Paul loses, at least he’ll lose with dignity
and keep the movement alive. The writing itself is very inflammatory,
but only sometimes descends to the level of outright offensiveness.
Even then, the intent seems to be provocative, that is, to arouse
controversy and attract attention. That is besides the point because
with thirty years of material to back him up, it is so obviously
not written in Dr. Paul’s hand.

Most of Dr.
Paul’s supporters who accept the above now ask him to name names.
He says he doesn’t know who wrote the actual content. Okay, they’ll
say, but he does know who edited the newsletter. The easy thing
for him to do would be to name the names he could and move on. Except
that those who expect him to name names will ever actually be satisfied
with just that.

This is an
opportune time to inject a little of my background into the conversation.
Jewish law considers gossip-mongering to be a grievous sin. Gossip-mongering
is spreading true statements with malicious intent or even
without intent but that might cause even slight embarrassment. The
Talmud says that causing a person public embarrassment is akin to
shedding blood. Remaining silent in spite of the immense pressure
to give in is thus the courageous and correct thing to do.

Related to
the above is the insinuation that because Dr. Paul has attracted
a following that includes strange and even loathsome characters,
he must himself share those traits with these people. Because of
his strong beliefs in freedom of expression he limits his criticism
to the beliefs of these people, and not the people themselves. He
does acknowledge that they don’t help his campaign, but obviously
that is never good enough for those who purport to have the authority
to declare what is acceptable for the delicate ears of the American
people to hear.

This condemnation
by association (of these people with Ron Paul, not vice versa)
is reprehensible. Especially by Orthodox Jews who know a thing or
two about our history. At the very start of our nationhood, the
Exodus from Egypt, the Torah records (Exodus 12:38) that a “mixed
multitude” (“erev rav” in Hebrew) left with the Jews. This was no
small group. It probably numbered over one million people
(most commentaries place the total number of Jews at about three
million). The Talmud is replete with references to this group of
hangers-on and opportunists, who knew a good thing when they saw
it. They were a disparate lot of quacks and undesirable elements
who have been the bane of Jewish history to this very day.

The book of
Esther (8:17) records that after the Jewish people’s victory over
Haman and his followers, many gentiles saw the ascendancy of the
Jews and once again, cleaved to them, falsely claiming to be Jews.

Finally, when
King David was on the run from King Saul, a persecuted fugitive,
he attracted, but did not seek out a following. “They gathered to
him – every man in distress, every man with a creditor, and every
man embittered of spirit – and he became their leader.” (I Samuel
22:2) Does this not sound like the riff-raff of society? Imagine
what respectable people said when they saw the famous David, slayer
of Goliath, son-in-law of the King, with these kooks! He didn’t
distance himself from them, he became their leader!

Are we really
going to condemn a man because of people he has no control or influence
over, a few of whose very values are antithetical to his
own? For shame.

The second
complaint is that a Paul administration would be bad for Israel.
The number of statements Dr. Paul has made in support of Israel,
way before he even considered his current candidacy really strains
the credibility of the claim. There are a number of issues here.

First, aid
to Israel. It has been obvious for a long time that Israel does
not need this aid. Israel’s GDP per capita is at European levels
and rising. The aid itself is a form of corporate welfare in that
it must be spent in America. It comes with many strings attached.

It allows the
government to avoid sorely needed economic reforms.

Along with
the aid Israel receives, potential or actual enemies receive several
times more. That aid doesn’t just allow the recipient nations to
avoid reforms, it actually props them up and allows them to continue
to maintain a bellicose stance against Israel (this certainly includes
Egypt, with whom Israel has a peace treaty in place).

When the entire
world condemned Israel, including President Reagan on down in America,
Dr. Paul supported Israel’s right to act in its own self-interest
(and preemptively, I might add) in its bombing of the Osirak reactor
in Iraq. He had absolutely nothing to gain by taking this position,
and nothing to lose by following the herd in its condemnation of
Israel.

America has
imposed its will on Israel for decades. President Eisenhower forced
Israel to withdraw from the Sinai after the 1956 war turning a military
victory into a political defeat. According to Wikipedia, in 1973,
the American Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger directly ordered
Golda Meir, the Prime Minister of Israel to not strike Egypt and
Syria preemptively, despite growing evidence that they planned an
attack. Had Israel struck first, it would not have received “so
much as a nail” in arms, a serious threat. The first President Bush
famously, and insultingly, through his proxy, Secretary of State
James Baker, told Premier Shamir to call the public White House
phone line when he was serious about peace. In the aftermath of
the first Gulf War, America most decidedly imposed its will on Israel
by forcing it to participate in the Madrid conference. It influenced
the outcome of the Israeli elections by turning down the request
for loan guarantees (in principle the loan guarantees are unconstitutional,
but Bush declined to reject the request on such lofty terms; it
was rank interference in Israel’s internal affairs that drove the
decision). In the run-up to the 1996 election between Shimon Peres
and Binyamin Netanyahu, President Clinton overtly favored Peres.
Clinton also imposed heavily on Netanyahu during the Wye Plantation
negotiations. When the government fell as a result, he overtly favored
Ehud Barak and even sent in his campaign team, including James Carville,
to help. After the second Intifada started in 2000, first Bush,
and then Clinton, imposed heavily on Israel to restrain its response
until the casualties became so overwhelming that the Israeli government
finally had no choice but to respond. Even then, America prevented
Israel from achieving an overwhelming victory.

However, the
American relationship with Israel is more dangerous than most people
even understand. It wasn’t Clinton, however, who initiated or imposed
the Oslo process or Camp David negotiations on Israel. And the current
Bush president, despite his many faults, has maintained a relatively
hands-off stance regarding Israeli action. What should be a concern
is not what a President Paul might do, but what an Israeli
government does do now. Since Oslo, governments of Israel,
left and right, have adopted dangerous and even suicidal policies
detrimental to the security and survival of the state. The government
then drafts America, often reluctantly, into supporting these policies,
and imposes them on an unwilling public, claiming that if something
goes wrong, America will protect Israel.

America basically
gave Israel a free hand to wage the war against Hezbollah in Lebanon
in 2006. Only when it became clear that victory, which should have
been Israel’s, was not going to be quick or decisive, did it step
in with an imposed cease-fire. I want to add parenthetically here
that when all of Israel rallied around Olmert in support of the
war in Lebanon, one lone dissenter had the courage to say that he
was against the war, that the entire goal of the war was
not victory, but to give legitimacy to Olmert’s “convergence” plan
(as Olmert referred to withdrawal from the rest of the disputed
territories). His name is Moshe Feiglin. That lone voice was the
subject of universal condemnation. Several days later, Olmert confirmed
everything Mr. Feiglin said. I mention him here because he is the
Israeli equivalent of Ron Paul.

When the war
ended in a stalemate (that is, a loss for Israel) a month later,
people were astounded that the mighty Israeli army couldn’t defeat
a bunch of pipsqueak terrorists.

Everyone
saw that America “imposed” a settlement, but few saw the big picture:
that the government of Israel did as it did, knowing that America
would step in and save the day. In economic terms, this is called
“moral hazard.” It means making bad decisions assuming someone will
protect you from the consequences of those decisions. The people
of Israel need to understand that they can’t assume America will
be there always when needed, and with that due consideration, need
to elect leaders they think will properly lead the country in its
best interests. This is a point made over and over again by Congressman
Ron Paul.

Ron Paul would
treat the state of Israel with the respect and honor it deserves.
It is up to the people of Israel to choose leaders who act honorably
and respectfully. If the people of Israel instead elect craven and
corrupt leaders who sell out the country’s interests, do they then
have the right to expect America to save Israel from its own mistakes?
As a practising Jew, I know better than to rely on flesh and blood.
As it says in the Book of Psalms (121:4), “The Guardian of Israel
neither slumbers nor sleeps.”

To Ron Paul
supporters in general:

Mishna Avot
2:6 says, “In a place where there are no men, rise up and be a man.”
If there is someone better qualified to accept the mantle of leadership,
stand aside and let him do so. But if not, if you are qualified,
it is not just permissible, but obligatory for you to do so. Dr.
Paul didn’t seek this race. He was reluctant. He was skeptical.
He knew it would get ugly. He knew about his skeletons. Yet when
his supporters drafted him, he assessed the situation and saw there
was no one else, and rose up and accepted the challenge. Is he the
ideal candidate for the job? Maybe not. Is he too old? Possibly.
Is there anyone better prepared to run? No.

After the stinging
fifth (but not last) place finish in New Hampshire, and the wide
dissemination of the embarrassing old newsletters, I thought it
was time to call it quits. Dr. Paul has decided to continue the
fight. He has learned from his mistakes and grown from them. His
performance in the South Carolina debate shows that. No longer will
he let the media steer him off to irrelevant and mocking lines of
questioning. I’m sure next time he’ll be prepared when they pull
a stunt like turning off his earpiece to make him look foolish.
As he said, not at all amused, “make fun buddy.”

What should
we do now? Stop the infighting and the blame for transgressions
decades in the past. Don’t let the mainstream media dictate the
terms of debate and discussion. Don’t get sidetracked by irrelevant
issues.

Now is not
the time to get wobbly in the knees. Pray for success. Be grateful
for the candidate we have, a decent and honest, and yes, flawed
man. Rally behind him. Support him in this endeavor.

Dr. Paul, “Champion
of the Constitution,” I support you.

January
15, 2008

Shimshon
Weisman [send him mail]
lives in the province of Judah, Israel.

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