Smearing Ron and Rand Paul

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 18 2011 9:31 AM

Smearing Ron and Rand Paul

Another day, another vitriolic and personal David Horowitz attack on a conservative who doesn't meet his purity test. Today he amplifies Gary Bauer's call to action against a proposal from Rep. Ron Paul, R-Tex., to cut foreign aid to Israel.

Long ago Bill Buckley drummed the anti-Semites out of the conservative movement, and the movement thrived as a result. But the Jew-haters have returned. For years the Texas crackpot, Ron Paul, has been attacking America and Israel as imperialist powers — the Great Satan and the Little Satan, and calling for America’s retreat from the battle against our totalitarian enemies. 

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Clever switcheroo there, implying that Paul refers to America and Israel in the same term as Islamic terrorists. (He doesn't, hence the lack of a citation.) Paul did propose cutting aid to Israel, as part of legislation cutting aid to all Middle Eastern nations. This is the same thing his son Rand has proposed in the Senate. For some reason, as the younger Paul told me at CPAC, all anyone wants to talk about is the aid to Israel.

"People emphasize too much the cuts to one particular country," said Paul. "We had $500 billion of cuts. The cuts to that one particular country were 3/5 of 1 percent of it. And you know what? Netanyahu has come out in favor of less foreign aid and less dependence on America. There are many right-wing Likud politicians who think that it hampers their sovereignty. But the bottom line is, it has nothing to do with Israel or their allies or anything."

Now: What Paul is referring to here isn't actually so mainstream. The most recent article about Israeli conservatives who oppose American foreign aid was published in The New American, the John Birch Society's magazine, and its sourcing was weak -- the Manhigut Yehudit faction of Likud, the Zionist Freedom Alliance. Netanyahu has talked about getting less foreign aid, but not necessarily in this context. But none of that means the Pauls are anti-Semites because they want to cut foreign aid to everyone including Israel . A fringe position that's bad for Israel is not an anti-Semitic position. Apply the Horowitz/Bauer logic to every other spending cut and a cut to the EPA would make you pro-poison; a cut to Head Start makes you anti-child. This isn't a formulation conservatives accept or should accept.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.