Jewish Conservatives Push Back Against Paul Surge

Effort to spread awareness of Texas rep’s extreme views on Israel, history of rhetoric before Iowa primary.

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Ron Paul’s unlikely rise in the Republican presidential race has Jewish conservatives on edge.

The Texas congressman had been regarded as a fringe figure whose views, especially on foreign policy -- including his opposition to the U.S.-Israel alliance -- put him far outside the Republican mainstream.

But new polls show Paul in a dead heat in Iowa with Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, and Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

In response to Paul’s surge, Jewish conservatives have launched a counteroffensive, trying to spread the word among the Iowa grassroots about his views on Israel and Iran, as well as about his past associations with race-baiting rhetoric. Dan Lederman, a state senator in South Dakota who is active in the  RJC and remains influential in the Republican Party in neighboring Iowa,  his native state, described a typical outreach effort over lunch with  Iowa Republican voters.

“I brought up a lot of subjects,” Lederman, who backs Gingrich, said in an interview. “His views on national security, the white supremacy  thing, foreign policy, the stance that having a nuclear Iran is okay.”

The Republican Jewish Coalition has made much of its refusal to invite Paul to its Dec. 7  candidate’s forum, attended by all the other main candidates. "He's just  so far outside of the mainstream of the Republican party and this  organization," RJC Executive Director Matthew Brooks said at the time, explaining that inviting Paul to  attend would be like inviting Barack Obama to speak.

It's not just the RJC that's pushing back against  Paul; the Republican candidates are too, Brooks noted. “Almost all the major candidates have been articulating their  own views that demonstrate how out of touch Paul is with the Republican  Party,” Brooks said.

After Paul said in a Dec. 15 Iowa debate that he did not believe that the evidence necessarily supported the contention that Iran was seeking a  nuclear weapon, other candidates pushed back.

“This truly makes me nervous when I hear that type of rhetoric out of Dr. Paul,” Texas Gov. Rick Perry told ABC News the next day.

It is not only Paul’s foreign policy views that have stirred  disquiet. As Paul has risen to near the top of the Republican pack, a  years-old controversy over newsletters published under his name in the  1980s and 1990s have resurfaced. The newsletters featured  conspiracy-mongering language assailing blacks, gays and Israel in often lurid terms.

While Paul has said he did not write or even read the newsletters, a  recent revelation seemed to tie him more closely to them. A 1993  subscription solicitation letter appearing above Ron Paul's signature  and written in the first person leveled the accusation that the "Israeli lobby plays Congress like a cheap harmonica," warned of a "race war"  and said there was a gay-led cover up of AIDS.

Paul’s campaign has also repudiated the solicitation letter and said  that Paul did not write it. The campaign did not respond to requests for  comment.

Over the weekend, a former longtime congressional and campaign aide  to Paul emerged with new revelations. Eric Dondero, who says his mother  is Jewish, and who considered challenging Paul for his congressional  seat in 2008 -- five years after he left Paul’s employ under disputed  circumstances -- wrote an article insisting that Paul is not a racist or anti-Semite, but that he is anti-Israel.

“I can categorically say that I never heard anything out of his  mouth, in hundreds of speeches I listened too over the years, or in my  personal presence that could be called, ‘anti-Semite’,” Eric Dondero,  wrote on the Right Wing News website.

“He is however, most certainly anti-Israel, and anti-Israeli in  general,” Dondero continued. “He wishes the Israeli state did not exist  at all. He expressed this to me numerous times in our private  conversations. His view is that Israel is more trouble than it is worth, specifically to the America taxpayer. He sides with the Palestinians,  and supports their calls for the abolishment of the Jewish state, and  the return of Israel, all of it, to the Arabs.”

Dondero also wrote that Paul repeatedly said that saving Jews was not reason enough for the United States to have entered World War II.

Paul’s campaign dismissed the claims, telling media Dondero was a “disgruntled” fired staffer who had “zero credibility.”

But Dondero’s claim about Paul’s hands-off view toward the Nazis and  the Holocaust was backed up by Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, a blogger at the  conservative BigGovernment website, who recounted an exchange he had  with Paul in 2009.

“I wouldn’t risk American lives to do that,” Shapiro quoted Paul as  saying when asked if it would have been worth entering the war “purely  as a moral imperative” to save Jews. “If someone wants to do that on  their own because they want to do that, well, that’s fine, but I  wouldn’t do that,” Paul allegedly said.

Given Paul's views, some are predicting a backlash against Iowa's first-in-the-nation contest if Paul should manage to pull out a win in the Iowa caucuses. The idea that someone with those views could win Iowa have led a  number of conservatives to wonder preemptively whether the state  caucuses are truly representative of the national party. Lending credibility to its image as a promoter of outliers, Iowa's  Republican caucuses admit voters who have registered as late as the day  of the caucuses.

Paul, first elected to Congress in 1974, left the party in 1988 to run for president on the Libertarian ticket. He practiced medicine from 1989 until 1996, when he returned to Congress as a Republican -- but only after besting a massive Republican establishment effort to defeat him led by Karl Rove, the adviser to then Texas Gov. George W. Bush.

Meanwhile, the website of Pat Buchanan, another cold-on-Israel conservative who upended the party when he won the New Hampshire primary in 1992, has taken up Paul’s defense.

“The principled, antiwar, Constitution-obeying, Fed-hating, libertarian Republican congressman from Texas stands firmly outside the bounds of permissible dissent as drawn by either the Republican establishment or the mainstream media,” said Timothy Carney, a contributor to Buchanan’s website.

Carney said things would get “ugly” for Paul should he win Iowa.

Paul’s campaign website returns the favor, quoting liberally from Buchanan’s writings. It is not clear if Buchanan -- who himself bolted the Republican Party in 2000 for a Reform Party presidential run -- is endorsing Paul.

Paul’s staying power is allowing Democrats to depict Republicans as unwilling to forcefully repudiate the congressman for his foreign policy views.

“The Republican National Committee and Jewish Republicans need to pivot quickly from rhetoric to an education campaign in Iowa to ensure that Republican voters who care about the U.S.-Israel relationship understand where Paul stands on Israel,” David Harris, the National Jewish Democratic Council president, wrote on The Huffington Post.

In fact, the RJC and others have aggressively pushed back against Paul in recent weeks.

While Paul has led the pack among young voters in Iowa, some expect that the state’s large number of evangelicals could prove to be a stumbling block for him.

“They are very upset with his position on Israel,” said Harlan “Bud” Hockenberg, an RJC activist who for decades has been a leader in the state’s Republican politics.


Last Update:

12/29/2011 - 10:39

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To put this in context Jews aren't going to vote for any Republican, as Michael Medved noted,, no matter how pro-Isreal: "The most outspokenly Christian candidate, Michele Bachmann, drew only 19% of prospective Jewish voters, despite her lifelong commitment to Israel and her volunteer work on a kibbutz during the summer after she graduated high school."

Dondero fell out with Ron Paul because Paul is anti-war, Dondero is hardly conservative as he supported Guilani, McCain, & Trump. Libertarians who worked with Dondero in the past suspect he was the author of the "offensive" newsletter articles. See comments at

JWeek's linking of the Holocaust to Paul is crossing the line, no responsible news organization would do this. This is slander from Paul's enemies. The reality is the US did not go to war to save Jews, could not have prevented the Holocaust, but once at war the US could have prevented many Jewish deaths, but under Roosevelt did not:

Ron Paul's statements and votes are supportive of Israel as an independent state, see his interview with Haaretz:

US intervention in the middle east hasn't been in the interest of Israel or the US, Iran will dominate Iraq, and Islamists will dominate Egypt and all North Africa.

American Jews, and all Americans who support sound money, limited Constitutional government, freedom, and who realize that American cannot be the "world police" should support Paul.

"In response to Paul’s surge, Jewish conservatives have launched a counteroffensive, trying to spread the word among the Iowa grassroots about his views on Israel and Iran..."

I think he's getting so much support BECAUSE of his views on Iran and Israel. He's the only candidate who has actually been in the military, and it is not hard to see how these unneeded wars are overstressing our economy, our country, and most importantly, our servicemen.

So, I implore Jewish conservatives - PLEASE continue to PUSH your "issues". The more you spread the message, the more people will see there truly is an alternative to these war-happy, Neocons.

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