Ron Rosenbaum, Writer

July 14, 2007

Ron Paul May Not be An Anti Semite, but…

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 1:40 pm

…some of his followers exhibit some disturbing tendencies.

Recently I was talking to someone about the way Paul supporters persist in thrusting themselves to the top of the heap in a certain on-line straw polls, making him seem to be the people’s choice when he’s in last place in most conventional polls. Reference was made to something I hadn’t read then, but now have: Ryan Sager ‘s story In The New York Sun which focusses mainly on some dubious comments on race that appeared in a news letter he used to publish. The Paul alibi: the words were written by an aide who was since fired and do not reflect Paul’s views. (and I guess he must have kept them hidden from Paul until springing them in the newsletter).

Giving him the benefit of the doubt on this leaves the anti semitic question. Sager cites one quote also apparently from the news letter

I found Andrew Sullivan’s judicious discussion of the question–which reprints Ron Paul’s views on the malign influence of the Israeli embassy in Washington–worth reprinting (old fashioned term for cutting and pasting not linking):

Here it is:

Ryan Sager, Ron Paul And Anti-Semitism
22 May 2007 09:38 pm
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.”

…[Sager continues] 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.

Now I think it’s true that “it’s perfectly possible for a politician to believe the Israeli lobby is the worst” of a “bad sort” for foreign policy reasons. And I’d give Ron Paul the benefit of the doubt in believing that’s the reason–pure foreign policy considerations–if that’s what he believed.

But I think a lot depends on the reasons you think the Israeli lobby is a particularly “bad sort”, the worst in fact. if the reasons betray a double standard where Israel’s right to exist and to seek to protect itself from genocidal opponents is somehow something sinister and Israel is held to impossibly self destructive standards where lobbying is somehow equivalent to Protocols of the Elders of Zion insidious secret control–that another thing.

It’s often a real but subtle matter distinguishing non anti-semitic anti-Israel sentiment and the anti-semitic kind, and to my mind I think Ron Paul is a likable eccentric, not a hater. Yet he 9and many of his followers) have credulous views that verge on black helicopter conspiracy tendencies about the New World Order, Giant Secret Trilateral Commission, New World Order, Skull and Bones, secret ruling council of Globalists, a world view that has a template in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and often an anti-semitic dog whistle appeal.

Listen for instance, to the spittle-flecked venom of some of the the Ron Paul supporters’ commenters on the Ryan Sager’s essay.

And now let’s look at some of the of the titles of the comments:

Dump The Israeli Parasites [158 words]

Sick of neo-con artists. [20 words]

Criticism of Israel does NOT = Anti-semitism [29 words

Anyone against giving $Billions to Israel hates jews? Ridiculous! [159 words]

Paul is right Jews have too much power in America [49 words]

Now let’s look at the langauge and tone of one of them, the “dump the Israeli parasites” commenter;

Dump The Israeli Parasites
Reader comment on : Ron Paul’s Race Problem
Submitted May 22, 2007 19:35

Paul wrote that lobbying groups who seek special favors are evil, and that “by far the most powerful lobby in Washington of the bad sort is the Israeli government.”

That pretty much sums up the biggest problem in Washington — there couldn’t be a better reason to vote for Ron Paul as President in 2008. The Israeli lobby, the IRS and the Federal Reserve should be purged from America ASAP. And as for being anti-semetic — HA — that’s a laugh. Jews are not a race; they belong to a political agenda that masquerades as religion.

It’s time to take back our country from the criminals and join in America’s defense with Ron Paul.

So yes, it’s true that not all criticism of Israel is anti-semitic (or “semetic” as the illiterate writer of the “parasite ” post has it). But on the other hand some are. (another tip-off of those who are actually anti-semitic is that they are compulsively drawn to make the tiresomely obvious point about Semites referring to all people in the region, as if this were something immensely clever no one remarked on. As if then, what has come to be called> anti-semitism, however imprecisely, can’t be real because there’s a problem with the wording. Something they disprove with their own sad midget minded display of self-satisfaction, as if they’re fooling anyone.

It’s also true that other candidates have anti-Israel and anti-semitic followers who post comments that reflect varying degrees of venom and the candidates shouldn’t be held responsible.

But it can’t be denied that a number of Ron Paul’s followers have heard a dog whistle. Maybe it’s just rabid dogs, that hear that whistle, ones already infected with the disease, so to speak, of anti-semitism. One can’t blame Ron Paul for the dog whistle. (I think of squeaky miniature breeds, whistling to themselves.) But one is tempted to ask, “Who let the dogs out?”



  1. I married a Jewish gal.

    I volunteer at a Temple.

    My best employee is Jewish.

    I’m against Federal support for Israel or any other country.

    Am I an anti-semite?

    Only you know.

    Comment by A.B. Dada — July 16, 2007 @ 2:08 pm | Reply

  2. Of course not all critics of Israel are antisemitic and no one I know says that is. Hence it is a red herring antisemitic critics of Israel bring up in order to avoid criticism of their views.

    Don’t ask me if your views are antisemitic A. B. DADA tell me what your views are and why you hold them.

    One can be a sincere non-antisemitic critic of Israel and still be wrong.

    Yes, good point about the red herring nature of such comments–a preemptive way of avoiding criticism–and a sign of what they’re trying to conceal.

    Comment by Shriber — July 16, 2007 @ 8:06 pm | Reply

  3. Oh Ron… I came here because I *LOVE* The Shakespeare Wars and was thrilled to find out you have a blog.

    That book was a profound affirmation of everything I love about Shakes and I learned a lot more… I recommend it to everybody and even re-established contact with an old flame I haven’t spoken to in a long time to tell her she *must* buy that book (and I should thank you, a friendly conversation ensued I wouldn’t have had otherwise).

    But now I get here and you are baggin on Ron Paul 😦

    His belief is simple: The US harms itself when it becomes involved in the political affairs of other nations. Ask him about sending money or weapons to Saudi Arabia or anywhere else and you will get the same answer about Israel. Nobody will dispute that the US and Israel are enmeshed in a multitude of ways, more than the US and almost any other country on the planet.

    Just as the NRA and tobacco and pro-life and pro-choice and any other type of group that wants something from our government has a lobby that it hopes to be effective in procuring our government’s favor, so does Israel (as well as many other nations/political figures – Fred Thompson was a lobbyist for Jean-Bertrand Aristide! as a contemporary example).

    Paul is critical of the influence that foreign lobbies have on the well-being of the United States. Israel has an effective one (as they should, it is of course in their interest – Paul would say it is not in ours), and draws commensurate heat from him as a result.

    Just watch interviews of the man, he is the furthest thing from an anti-Semite you can find. The charge is tossed casually at anybody who favors political disengagement with Israel (chiefly the cessation of sending billions of dollars of aid and equipment), and as the author of “Explaining Hitler” I would hope that you would take offense at those who diminish the true, visceral anti-Semitism by “crying wolf” so to speak. And especially to a guy like this, it would be funny if it wasn’t tragic.

    If he has idiotic followers, well, so does everybody. I know that you are smart enough to understand that, and won’t ask me to find bizarre quotes on the internet from followers of every candidate (I will if you ask me to!).

    I’ll have to wait until you post about Shakespeare so I can pester you about that – my original intention of coming here (thank you again for your book, it gave me such a sense of “here-and-not-here” at one point I literally walked into my sliding glass door after putting it down).

    But please, please, be careful and deliberate with the anti-Semite charge, don’t devalue it, save it for those who truly deserve it (and our righteous ire as a result), and refrain from unwittingly joining in on despicable, political smear campaigns.

    Thanks for your praise for The Shakespeare Wars, and goood luck withthe old flame. I believe I was being careful in not callling Ron Paul an anti-semite, but it’s hard to deny the author of the “Israel parasites” and similar pro-Paul commenters find support for R.P. and anti-semitism congenial. Why is that?

    Comment by Josh — July 17, 2007 @ 1:34 am | Reply

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