Recently Rand Paul released a statement outlining his position re. Israel. The statement is generating some controversy on the non-interventionist right.
If nothing else, the statement is clever. Read superficially it could easily be interpreted to mean that Rand Paul is “pro-Israel” and supports policies vis-à-vis Israel that are similar to those supported by “mainstream” movement conservatives. However, parsed more closely, he arguably says nothing that runs gravely afoul of non-interventionist dogma. He denounces foreign aid to Israel’s enemies. (But doesn’t denounce explicitly foreign aid to Israel. Meaning what?) He denounces American pressure on Israel regarding what actions they can take concerning Iran. He states he would never denounce Israel. He denounces subsidies to Israel’s enemies. Etc. This is all consistent with non-interventionism and differs not at all from the positions of his father. The only part that may run afoul of non-interventionism is his calls for greater “pressure” on Iran, although non-interventionists don’t denounce normal diplomacy so even that could be consistent. The tone and language regarding Iran are troubling to me, however, even if we give him the benefit of the doubt that “pressure” does not mean more saber-rattling and chest-thumping. Also his approving use of the term “special relationship” is troubling.
But here is my biggest problem with the statement even if we give Rand the benefit of the doubt policy wise. The Good Book tells us that we are to “avoid the appearance of evil.” Well this statement does not “avoid the appearance of pandering.” In fact, it reeks of pandering. If an Israel Firster like the author of the post, Philip Klein, thinks it may concede enough, then it concedes too much. Perhaps I should appreciate the political acumen of Paul for being clever enough to make people think he is saying something he really is not, but in the current political climate, where everybody panders to Israel supporters, what is desperately needed is someone who will visibly stand up to and buck that trend. Here, I believe Paul concedes too much rhetorically if not actually.
As I have stated before, paleos and other non-interventionists have become so upset with the influence of the Israel Lobby that some have allowed themselves to become openly hostile to Israel and supportive of the Palestinians. This has not served us well. I am not arguing that Rand Paul should be openly hostile to Israel. I would not even argue that Paul not indicate his own personal support for Israel if he in fact feels that way. What I am arguing is that we need to foster an environment wherein what one thinks personally about Israel is of no more consequence than what one thinks about Cameroon. An environment in which Israel is just one of many other countries. (This is what I was getting at with my snide remark in the thread that I wonder when Paul is going to be releasing his statement on what he thinks regarding our policy toward Cameroon.) Paul’s statement does not foster that environment. It actually perpetuates the status quo. For this reason primarily I find the statement highly unfortunate.