Ron Paul on Israel: ‘Hong Kong of the Middle East’

Israel, in its current incarnation, can be seen in its post-war generations; warriors like Moshe Dayan, old-world kibbutzniks like Golda Meir, Carter, Clinton and Bush allies, and these are characterizations shared by American sympathizers and Jewish Israelis alike. But in 2012 it is safe to say that these generations are passing into history and when former New York Mayor Ed Koch slanders Ron Paul in classic ’60s hyperbole it simply registers as rude and confusing. Gary Bauer, a Christian evangelical leader, with support from Weekly Standard founder William Kristol and the Emergency Committee for Israel, also warns that Paul is an enemy of Israel. But with what legitimacy do these speak for Israel today? The idea of Israel as an American pseudo-state becomes preposterous as more immigrants arrive from Russia and elsewhere, and as more children are born in Israel to first- and second-generation Americans and Europeans who have made aliyah or sacred passage. Moshe Feiglin, who challenges Netanyahu for leadership in the Likud this month, says there are more Jews today in Israel than there are outside: The exile is over. In this new situation, America’s demands and expectations on Israel can seem as ill-advised and illegitimate as China’s over Tibet.

Ron Paul has been called an anti-Semite because he opposed George W. Bush’s war on Iraq. I was as well when I appeared on the same pages as Paul in that period. So was Gen. Wesley Clark and Jimmy Carter. The Washington Post’s Election 2012 blog reports on Paul defended his Israeli policy this week in New Hampshire. In response to a question from an undecided voter, he suggested that Israel “should be the Hong Kong of the Middle East.”

Felicia Sonmez reports:

“I would want to maintain very close relations with Israel,” Paul said. “I’d want to be a good friend of Israel. And I also want to respect them in many ways that I do not think the United States should undermine their sovereignty in any way.”

He went on to defend his position that the United States should not provide foreign aid to Israel and should not “tell them what to do.”

“If they want to have a peace treaty with their neighbors and they think they can work it out, they shouldn’t have to ask us for permission,” Paul said. “They shouldn’t have to ask us permission to defend their borders. That should be their business. But also, I do not believe that I should take money from anybody here and send money to Israel.”

“We should be friends,” he said. “We should trade with them. I would encourage them to become the Hong Kong of the Middle East, or something like that. You know, have a really affluent society.”

More in International

Israel's momentous election decision

Read more »