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GOP presidential hopefuls converged on Washington today to voice their staunch support for Israel and curry favour with powerful conservatives at a forum hosted by the Republican Jewish Coalition.All the candidates were there — except one. Texas Rep. Ron Paul wasn’t invited.
RCJ organisers dismissed Paul and his foreign policy views as “misguided and extreme,” and barred him from attending the forum — despite the fact that Paul consistently ranks among the top three 2012 candidates. To add insult to injury, Paul only found out about the event when reporters asked why he wasn’t attending.
Paul’s supporters were predictably outraged. But the candidate took the snub in stride.
In an online interview with senior campaign advisor Doug Wead, Paul defended his support for Israel, arguing that it is unfair to dismiss his categorically isolationist foreign policy as anti-Israel. He elaborated that while Israel is a friend and trading partner, it should not be beholden to U.S. interests — including economic and military aid.
“I think that some not only misunderstand the American constitution and the role we should have in the world, they also misunderstand Zionism,” Paul told Weade. “Part of the original idea of Zionism, as I understand it, was that there should be Jewish independence and Jewish self-reliance.”
He added later:
We should share intelligence for mutually agreed goals. We should honour our pledge to refuse any arms sales that would undermine Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region.
But we should stop interfering with them. We should not announce bargaining positions even before she begins her negotiations. We should not dictate what she can and cannot do. We should stop trying to buy her allegiance. And Israel should stop sacrificing their sovereignty as an independent state to us or anybody else, no matter how well intentioned.
Paul’s Israel positions are in stark contrast to the rest of the 2012 Republican candidates, who talked all day Wednesday about the need for the U.S. to bolster its special ties to Israel.
“He was excluded precisely because a lot of the policy positions that he espouses and the views that he holds are not only as you’re hearing from the speakers here today, but so far outside the mainstream of where Republicans are,” RCJ spokesman Matthew Brooks told the Daily Caller. “Having him speak to our group is similar to inviting Barack Obama.”
But Paul may not be as much of an outlier as most people believe him to be. The Tea Party godfather has gradually built support for his 2012 bid, expanding beyond his fanatical libertarian base. Given the turbulence of the GOP field, there is now a distinct possibility that Paul could actually win the Iowa caucuses.
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