LOS ANGELES, April 12, 2012 — Several months ago Ron Paul was accused of attitudes that bordered on anti-Semitism by his former staffer Eric Dondero. Dr. Paul refused to deny the charges, while Mr. Dondero failed to offer corroborating evidence.
Therefore, to refer to Ron Paul as an anti-Semite at this point would be unfair.
His supporters are another matter. Whenever anyone criticizes Ron Paul supporters, they rush in to defend the candidate himself by countering charges that were not brought up. They claim that it is unfair to blame the candidate for his supporters. Therefore it is necessary to be crystal clear. This is not about the candidate. This is solely about his supporters.
His supporters will then lob the accusation that an attack on his supporters is a thinly veiled method of discrediting the candidate. They have it backwards. One of the reasons so many people reject Ron Paul is the behavior of his supporters. Part of this behavior includes the issue of anti-Semitism.
They then claim that every candidate has some fringe supporters, and to blame the whole lot of them is unfair. Again, clarity is necessary. Anti-Semitism does not represent a majority of Ron Paul supporters. However, it is not as rare as the movement wishes to pretend.
A statistically significant plurality of his supporters do have attitudes toward Jews that cross the line.
Ron Paul supporters may never grasp this, but the purpose of columns like these is not to increase tensions but to reduce them. Many people may have good intentions but simply do not know where the line should be drawn. Those with an axe to grind will insist that any criticism is an attack. For those who are reasonable, it is important to separate legitimate discourse from anti-Semitism.
Ron Paul believes in cutting off aid to Israel. He also believes in cutting off aid to all nations, including enemies of Israel. His supporters argue that this would benefit Israel. His critics sharply disagree. Regardless of how one feels about such a policy proposal, there is absolutely unequivocally nothing in that proposal that rises to the level of anti-Semitism. Dr. Paul has stated that if Israel were attack Iran, the United States should stay out of it. He has also not promised to defend Israel if Iran attacks first. The first part of this equation delights the Jewish community while the second part concerns them.
However, Dr. Paul’s positions are consistent.
Therefore, there is nothing in the Ron Paul foreign policy that is anti-Semitic. The policies may be bad for Israel, but that is a policy dispute. Policy disputes should never be used as an excuse for personal attacks.
The problem is that far too many Ron Paul supporters engage in verbal attacks on Jews. So how does one separate fair criticism from Jew-hatred?
The answer is context. Most overt anti-Semitism is often totally irrelevant to the conversation. A good rule of thumb is if Jews are irrelevant to the discussion, don’t bring them up.
Example 1: The problem with the NFL is that the violence has gotten out of control The league is putting profits above principles.
Example 2: The problem with the NFL is that the violence has gotten out of control. Greedy Jewish owners are exploiting black players because the owners are typical Zionist merchants and businessmen ruling over those they enslave.
Example 2 is obviously anti-Semitic because it relies on unfair stereotypes to stigmatize a group of people. It also happens to be incorrect, since most of the owners are not Jewish. Bigots never let facts get in the way of hatred.
The world of politics is no different.
Criticizing Israel from a policy standpoint is not anti-Semitism. Israel is admirably self-critical. Referring to Israel as an “Apartheid State” is anti-Semitism. The charge is false, and trivializes real Apartheid.
Wanting to abolish the Federal Reserve is a legitimate policy discussion. Demanding the firing of Ben Bernanke is fair game. Blaming his predecessor Alan Greenspan for actions that led to the 2008 financial meltdown is a legitimate discussion.
Blaming the financial crisis on a “Jewish Federal Reserve” or “Zionist Fed Chairman” or “Money People named Goldberg and Greenberg” are absolutely examples of anti-Semitism. The fact that Bernanke and Greenspan are Jewish must be completely irrelevant to the discussion.
Attacking Wall Street is a policy strategy and a campaign tactic. Yet blaming “Jewish Wall Street” or “Zionist Goldman Sachs” is pure Jew-hatred. For those who care, neither Hank Paulson or Jon Corzine are Jewish. The financial crisis had nothing to do with any religious faith, and the number of Jewish loan officers making predatory loans is irrelevant. There was no Jewish Wall Street conspiracy.
The media is another area of attack. Ron Paul supporters claim that the coverage of their candidate ranges from non-existent to deliberately negative. Accusations of a media blackout or a media target to destroy Ron Paul are a conversation piece. Yet claiming a “Jewish media conspiracy” is out of bounds. There are plenty of Jewish people working in the media, but religion has nothing to do with this. The real bias is that many of the Jewish (and non-Jewish) people in the entertainment industry are politically liberal and secular. They have a bias against Republicans in general and religious people in particular. They support President Obama by and large, so any potential opponent of his gets negative coverage. There is no bias based on anything involving Judaism. To insinuate otherwise is bigotry.
On foreign policy, one charged word often used in a pejorative sense by Ron Paul supporters is “Neocon,” short for “Neoconservatives.” Neocons support the Bush Doctrine of preemptive war and forcibly spreading democracy. They supported the Iraq War and would like to see regime change in Iran through American military action. Ron Paul supporters are Paleocons, also known as non-interventionists. They oppose preemptive war as unconstitutional. This is a very serious policy dispute.
Many Neocons happen to be Jewish. Norman Podhoretz and Bill Kristol are well known columnists and thinkers. Some members of the George W. Bush Administration were Jewish, including Paul Wolfowitz. Yet many of the Neocons were not Jewish. Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and John Bolton are the most well-known. None of them required Jewish support to advance their careers.
So is opposing Neoconservatism by itself anti-Semitism?
No it is not. However, attacking people as “Israel Firsters” or questioning their loyalty to America is anti-Semitism. So is attacking politicians for waging “Jewish wars.” So is screaming that we are not the “United States of Israel.” When Pat Buchanan called Congress “Israeli Occupied Territory,” it was the late William Buckley who correctly declared that remark anti-Semitic.
I happen to be Jewish. I am also a Neocon. I do care about Israel because it is Jewish in the same way many American blacks have an affection for issues involving Africa. Yet my support for the Global War on Terror was not based on Israel or Judaism. My Neocon philosophy is rooted specifically in a desire to defend America. Paul supporters can disagree with that philosophy without bringing Judaism into the equation.
Some people offer phrases in an attempt to deny anti-Semitism. These phrases are tired, meaningless cliches that fool nobody.
“I have nothing against Jews. I just hate Zionists.”
“Some of my best friends are Jews.”
“Not all Semites are Jews. Arabs are Semites.”
“My candidate hires Jews. Therefore, he cannot be bigoted.”
“I am partially Jewish. Therefore, I cannot be against Jews.”
All of these are examples of complete and utter nonsense. The only thing worse than an avowed anti-Semite is one hiding behind weasel words to launch hate speech under the cloak of reasonable discourse. The Jewish community has plenty of self-loathing individuals. Many cultures do.
One thing Ron Paul supporters do is cite organizations or people agreeing with them as evidence against malicious attitudes. This is circular logic.
The site “Jews for Ron Paul” is irrelevant. Of course some Jews support him. Most Jews do not. There were blacks who supported John McCain over Barack Obama in 2008. It did not make them a majority or even a statistically significant plurality.
The group “Jews against Zionism” is often trotted out, and this is destructive. They are about as respected in the Jewish community as NAMBLA is in the public school system. They do not represent anything more than a fraction of a sliver of a tiny spot of the Jewish community.
It would be unfair for those not supporting Ron Paul to tell Paul supporters who their own spokespeople should be. Therefore, in fairness, Paul supporters do not get to decide who best represents the Jewish people. For those who want honest answers about what constitutes anti-Semitism, learn about the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), The Jewish Federation, Chabad, and Hillel among many others. The Republican Jewish Coalition and Democrats for Israel are politically biased, but honest on what separates reasonable discourse from bigotry.
The bottom line is that there has to be a middle ground between condoning real bigotry and allowing false accusations of bigotry to stain the reputations of good people. The goal must be to eradicate bigotry by calling out those who traffic in it.
Many Paul supporters are good, decent people who love Ron Paul because of his platform of liberty and strict adherence to the Constitution. This is noble and positive. Yet engaging in diatribes about Wall Street, the media, and Neocons cannot be used as a fig leaf for Jew-hatred.
Everything should be analyzed on a case by case basis. When enough people point out instances where the line has been crossed, that can reduce the number of times this happens. This makes for a stronger Ron Paul movement for the right reasons and a stronger movement for those disagreeing with Ron Paul for the right reasons. Then the entire discussion can be about policy, which makes for a much better America.
Brooklyn born, Long Island raised, and now living in Los Angeles, Eric Golub is a politically conservative columnist, blogger, author, public speaker, satirist and comedian.
Eric is the author of the book trilogy “Ideological Bigotry, “Ideological Violence,” and “Ideological Idiocy.” Eric is 100% alcohol, tobacco, drug, and liberalism free. After years of dating liberals, he has finally seen the light and now only dates Republican Jewish women. His family is pleased over this. Republican, Jewish women, you may contact Eric above.
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Eric Golub is an independent writer for the Communities. Read more from Eric at his TYGRRRR EXPRESS blog.