Ron Paul, Zionist

In the New York Sun, Seth Lipsky makes the case that Ron Paul should be included in tomorrow's Republican Jewish Coalition beauty contest:

I've also covered Congressman Paul for years and have come to have a great deal of respect for him, even when we disagree. Which we do in respect of granting foreign aid to Israel. At least we disagree in part. I support giving to our allies, particularly Israel, military aid, which is what we are mainly now giving to Israel. It strikes me as important, especially in a time of war, and I would back Israel to the hilt. Foreign economic aid, however, has long struck me as a dangerous course for recipient countries.

There are good reason to include Ron Paul. He is, in one sense, a true Zionist, a believer in two core values of the Jewish liberation movement: Jewish independence and Jewish self-reliance. Independence is self-explanatory; self-reliance, in the context of national defense, holds that the Jewish state shouldn't seek the help of foreign soldiers to defend it.

I was struck in the foreign policy debate by something Rick Perry said, when asked about a looming confrontation between Iran and Israel: "(I)f we're going to be serious about saving Israel, we better get serious about Syria and Iran, and we better get serious right now."

"Saving Israel" should ideally be Israel's job. This is what Israelis tend to think. And it is also what Ron Paul tends to think. Here is some of what he said in the foreign policy debate on this subject: "Israel has 200, 300 nuclear missiles. And they can take care of themselves. Why should we commit -- we don't even have a treaty with Israel. Why do we have this automatic commitment that we're going to send our kids and send our money endlessly to Israel? So I think they're quite capable of taking care of themselves." (emphasis mine.)

He went on to say that in the event of an attack, "(W)hy does Israel need our help? We need to get out of their way. I mean, we interfere with them. We interfere with them when they deal with their borders. When they want to have peace treaties, we tell them what they can do because we buy their allegiance and they sacrifice their sovereignty to us."

I understand that this does not make Ron Paul a Zionist in the traditional American conception of the word. But in some ways, he understands Zionism in much the same way the original Zionists understood the term.

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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