I should begin by saying that I have great respect for Ryan Sager. He's an energetic, careful, enterprising young reporter and I admire his work a lot. That's why I was dismayed to read his off-the-cuff assertion that Ron Paul was anti-Semitic based on an old, probably ghost-written and pretty anodyne statement of disdain for the Israel lobby in Washington. Paul made the statement in the context of lambasting all such lobbies. And it's perfectly consonant with his general isolationist views. Still, we all make quick judgments in online journalism and Ryan has made an honorable effort to review the issue and report some more. His latest piece exonerates Paul to my mind. And I might add I have and have always had no truck with anti-Semitism of any kind. Longtime readers know very well my admiration for the Jewish state and my revulsion at anti-Semitic smears. Here's Ryan's post. In the first paragraph, he writes:
Over at Reason's Hit & Run blog, David Weigel got Ron Paul to comment on the quote I took note of a little while ago that "By far the most powerful lobby in Washington of the bad sort is the Israeli government." I said that I considered this statement anti-Semitic on its face; I still do.
But at the end of the piece, Ryan writes:
At the end of the day, do I still believe Ron Paul is "an anti-Semite" as I said in my initial post? I think that was an overly harsh assessment, and I apologize for it. Nonetheless, I have emailed his campaign spokesman to ask if he stands by the main quotation in question here: "By far the most powerful lobby in Washington of the bad sort is the Israeli government."
My own vote for such an honor, by the way, is the AARP. Of course, I can't even stand the gay lobby, HRC. But I think it's perfectly possible for a politician to believe it is the Israeli lobby for foreign policy reasons, without being anti-Semitic. No doubt some anti-Semites are among that camp. But it doesn't follow that everyone in that camp is therefore automatically anti-Semitic.