Written by Bill Berkowitz
The Republican Jewish Coalition is hosting a presidential-candidates forum on Wednesday, December 7 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C.
Guess which candidate isn’t being invited to participate.
Michelle Bachmann and her apocalyptic religious views that leaves Jews stranded in a desert wasteland? Wrong, she’ll be there. Mitt Romney and John Huntsman of the Mormon crew that has fancied converting to Mormonism Jews that were killed in the Holocaust in order to swell their numbers in Heaven? Wrong, they’ll be there. The uninhibited-unexpurgated Herman Cain? He was invited and he accepted, but since he has suspended his campaign it is unlikely he will appear. Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum? Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
The only GOP presidential candidate not being invited to participate in the daylong festivities is Texas Congressman Ron Paul.
Why Ron Paul? He won’t stop noshing? He’ll kibbitz (joke) inappropriately? He brings too much mishegas (insanity/craziness)? He’ll make the audience plotz (explode with aggravation)? He’s not schmaltzy (sentimental) enough? He’s too big a schmuck (self-made fool) for mainstream conservative Jewish Republicans.?
Paul was not invited because of his “misguided and extreme views,” said RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks. “He’s just so far outside of the mainstream of the Republican party and this organization,” Brooks said. Inviting Paul to attend would be “like inviting Barack Obama to speak.”
As Reason.com’s Matt Welch recently pointed out, “Brooks gave a more detailed critique of Ron Paul back in May”:
“As Americans who are committed to a strong and vigorous foreign policy, we are deeply concerned about the prospective presidential campaign of Congressman Ron Paul. While Rep. Paul plans to run as a Republican, his views and past record place him far outside of the Republican mainstream. His candidacy, as we’ve seen in his past presidential campaigns, will appeal to a very narrow constituency in the U.S. electorate. Throughout his public service, Paul has espoused a dangerous isolationist vision for the U.S. and our role in the world. He has been a virulent and harsh critic of Israel during his tenure in Congress. Most recently Paul gave an interview in which he voiced his objection to the recent killing of Osama Bin Laden.
Brooks added, “We certainly respect Congressman Paul’s right to run, but we strongly reject his misguided and extreme views, which are not representative of the Republican Party.”
The Huffington Post reported that “At a recent debate, Paul suggested that Israel could take care of itself in the event that it attacked Iran, claiming its undeclared nuclear arsenal made it self-sufficient. ‘Why does Israel need our help? We need to get out of their way,’ he said when asked whether he would support an Israeli attack against Iran. If it did happen, ‘that’s their business, but they should suffer the consequences,’ he added.”
In addition, the Huffington Post piece pointed out that “Paul supported an amendment that would have ended all U.S. aid to Israel, along with Egypt, Jordan and Pakistan. The U.S. sends about $3 billion per year to Israel in military aid alone.
“Paul criticized U.S. military aid to Israel in an Oct. 18 debate. “That foreign aid makes Israel dependent on us,” he said. ‘It softens them for their own economy. And they should have their sovereignty back, they should be able to deal with their neighbors at their own will.'”
For more on Congressman Paul and the Jews, see Steve Rabin’s report in The Philadelphia Jewish Voice entitled “Congressman Ron Paul and the Jews.”
According to the JTA News Service, Paul supporters “deluged the Republican Jewish Coalition’s phone lines with complaints ” about Paul’s exclusion.
Even if we were to stipulate that Ron Paul is no friend of Israel, no friend of the Jews, no friend to anyone in need (remember his answer about a dying man in need of health care at one of the early debates?) those aren’t reasons to exclude him from the RJC forum. He is, after all, a legitimate voice in Republican Party politics and he’s still outpolling much of the remaining field.
One doesn’t need to like Paul’s foreign policy perspective to have him invited to a debate. After all, this is a democracy.
About the author
Bill Berkowitz is a longtime observer of the conservative movement. His WorkingForChange column Conservative Watch documents the strategies, players, institutions, victories and defeats of the American Right.