Joining Netanyahu in his denunciation of those pushy Americans was none other than “libertarian” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Gooberville). Fresh from a recent trip to Israel paid for by the American Family Association, a Christian fundamentalist activist group, the “libertarian” Senator and wannabe presidential candidate declared:
“’That’s an arrogant and presumptuous point of view and doesn’t further progress on anything,’ the senator said, and he returned to that view throughout the call as he discussed the location of Israel’s capital and Israeli settlements. Paul decried U.S. politicians who display ‘this flippant and arrogant’ attitude about internal Israeli affairs, saying that ‘no one can really know as much as people in the region’ about such matters. ‘It is not up to the U.S. to dictate’ to mayors and West Bank officials where housing goes, Paul added. Paul said he considers himself more pro-Israel than some pro-Israel audiences because ‘I’m for an independent, strong Israel that is not a dependent state, not a client state.’”
Siding with a foreign leader against an American President is always problematic for any US politician, but lest one think this is an example of political courage on Sen. Paul’s part, consider the context of his remarks. US military aid to Israel now exceeds $3.5 billion a year – not counting the value of special projects like the “Iron Dome” missile defense system the Senator is so enthralled by. Those billions pay for a program of systematic ethnic cleansing: Arabs are being forced off their lands, and “settlements” are being erected on the ruins of their former homes.
Surely the Senator – who, despite appearances, is no dope – knows this. And if he didn’t know it, surely he was educated on the subject in his meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas – although, oddly, in all the news reports of Paul’s trip to Israel, where hear nothing about this scheduled encounter.
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Pretending not to grasp the significance of the settlements issue, or of the larger issue of Palestine and the two-state solution, simply will not do – not for an alleged “leader” of the libertarian wing of the GOP, and certainly not for a somewhat over-eager presidential candidate who flaunts his ambitions. Since Israel could not exist – let alone bomb, invade and subjugate its Palestinian and Lebanese neighbors – without extensive US military and economic aid, it is viewed as America’s regional proxy. This is what “the people in the region” know and Sen. Paul appears not to want to know.
Paul has long since backed off his stance of wanting to end aid to Israel: he now says he would do it gradually, and would start cutting the aid budget by immediately ending it for countries “where they burn our flag,” singling out Egypt and Pakistan and specifically exempting Israel.
Previously under attack by the Israel lobby for saying US aid to Israel ought to be ended – and just because he is, after all, his father‘s son – the Israel trip was meant to make amends, and Paul earned plaudits from the Lobby in this country for his efforts.
The Washington Post‘s Jennifer Rubin took a breather from her frantic campaign to impugn the character of Chuck Hagel to give the lesser Paul a thumbs up, having earlier contrasted him favorably with his father.
Phil Klein exulted in the birth of “Zionist non-interventionism,” which apparently means we pay the bills and don’t bother the Israelis as they ethnically cleanse Palestine of the Palestinians. Seth Lipsky, writing in the New York Post, hailed Paul’s comments as “the most supportive of Israel since Sarah Palin.”
Dave Weigel reveals more of the tortured rationalization for Paul’s conversion on the road to Jerusalem:
“I asked Paul to revisit the settlement question. Had his trip taught him anything that was being incorporated into his new thinking?
“’One question is: If I’m the mayor of Jerusalem, or if I’m looking at places in the West Bank and settlements in the West Bank, obviously there’s either advisability or inadvisability with regard to ultimately finding places to build, whether it’s antagonistic or provacative,’ said Paul. ‘Where I distinguish myself, though, is while there might be right or wrong answers to these questions, it’s not American politicians’ business to be dictating the answers. The answers need to come from the participants who live on the ground in these areas. I think it’s just presumptuous and arrogant of us to think, well, we’re going to go down to a roadmap of Jerusalem and decide where the neighborhoods can be expanded? It did influence me some that I did see the map of the neighborhoods, and I did see that there are neighborhoods being expanded in the Arab areas as well as the Jewish areas of Jerusalem, but the comments I heard from officials were: What does America want? Do they want there to be a religion test on who’s going to buy land? How would we feel in America if land that was designated for development, we said you have to prove what religion you are before you can build on the land? You can see how it’s a funny sort of bias we’re asking for, how we want them to develop the land.’”
Shorter Sen. Paul: Who cares about “right” and “wrong”? Let the Israelis go wild with our tax dollars.
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Having been granted observer status by an overwhelming vote of the General Assembly – with even America’s European allies deserting Washington – why shouldn’t the Palestinians participate in the UN? Sen. Paul and his flock of “born again” Israel Firsters don’t want that to happen because it recognizes the legitimacy of Palestinian statehood – and delegitimizes the occupation. There are many humanitarian services the deprived and long-suffering people of Palestine might enjoy as a result, but the petty cruelty of “born again” Rand would deny them even that.
So the Senator did go see Abbas, and took the opportunity to threaten him with sanctions – and to demand that he drop the “no more settlements” precondition for resuming the peace process. Of course, not even that kind of servility to the Greater Israel lobby will satisfy the Jonathan Tobins of this world, but no one can say Sen. Paul didn’t try. (Read more)