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Apr 25 2012

Ron Paul and the Israeli Capital

RPs position on the Israeli CapitalOriginally published as an op-ed in the Muslim Link Paper

By Ramy Osman
April 2012

 

 

 

 

Being an election year, candidates pandering to interest groups is in full swing. One “interest group” that has not been pandered to is the Muslim-American community. We’ve actually been politically quarantined.

But another interest group that has gotten the usual celebrity treatment from the candidates are the supporters of Israel.  From the beginning of the presidential campaign, many Israel supporters have written-off Ron Paul as not being a “friend of Israel”. After all, Paul did say that the Israeli lobby has too much influence on our government, and it has gotten America involved in foreign wars and entanglements that it has no business being involved in. Paul also said he would stop all foreign aid to Israel, and that Iran is not a real existential threat to Israel. He was the only presidential candidate who did not attend the AIPAC conference in March 2012, which was held in DC. But, last week Ron Paul said something that flipped everything on its head.

He was talking to a group of Evangelical leaders, and their first question was about moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Paul responded by saying that if Israel wants its capital in Jerusalem, “then it’s Jerusalem”, and America should move its embassy to the capital just like it does in every other country. Israeli supporters who previously hated Paul for his views, now found themselves loving him. While those critical of Israeli policies and who previously loved Paul for his views, now found themselves calling him a sell-out.

When taken in isolation, I can see the confusion this creates on both sides. But when put into the context of his overall foreign policy, it actually makes perfect “Paulian” sense, and it’s what makes his positions revolutionary. Ron Paul says that America’s foreign policy should be absolutely no intervention. America would not go out of its way to support or oppose Israel. A Ron Paul president wouldn’t authorize any more American financial or military aid to Israel. He also would not be tied into playing the veto game in the UN every time a resolution is proposed that censures Israel or calls it to action (and that’s even if he decides to remain a member of the UN). So his view is an American hands-off policy that would allow Israel to do what it wants, and it would also allow America to no longer use its blood and resources to shield Israel.

Israel already has most of its government functions headquartered in West Jerusalem. But if Israel dared to claim East Jerusalem and parts of occupied West Bank as part of its “united capital”, then it would be challenged again by the international community. The international community has already passed dozens of UN resolutions over the past decades that Israel has never implemented. The withdrawal of America’s overwhelming support, would put the responsibility on Israel to start acting in a civil and respectful manner towards the Palestinians and its neighbors. It would no longer have America’s protection which has emboldened its aggressive and oppressive behaviors. It would lose its privileged status and find itself alone. Israel would actually have to answer directly to its neighbors and the rest of the world. But despite all of this, America under a Ron Paul presidency would say “it’s their right to put their capital wherever they want”.

Paul sees that the role of America in the world, is for it to be a neutral country. America is not the policeman of the world. It doesn’t have the moral compass to do so. Nor should it be the bully of the world by invading, attacking, causing coups, and undermining the sovereignty of countries and people. But this is what America has been doing for the past 100 years. This was the warning of President Eisenhower who, in his 1961 farewell address, warned of the dangerous influence that a “military industrial complex” can have on the domestic and foreign policies of America. This was even warned by President George Washington who, in his 1796 farewell address, warned Americans not to become “entangled” in foreign affairs. President John Quincy Adams, in a speech given in 1821, said that America should not be going around the world “in search of monsters to destroy”.

Fast forward to modern times and you see America supporting dictators and oppressive regimes, invading and attacking countries that never attacked it, and continuously meddling in countries all over the world based on imagined or exaggerated threats. This was never the intention of the founding fathers of this country. This is actually what they fought against. America simply needs to leave other countries alone.

This year, President Obama’s budget request includes $3.1 billion in security assistance to Israel. The Republicans and the Democrats want to fulfill a 10-year $30+ billion commitment to Israel to fund Israel’s security and defense systems. If Ron Paul was president, the commitment would be $0. America under Ron Paul, wouldn’t go out of its way to support or subvert Israel. Instead, Israel, Egypt, Syria, Iran, Pakistan, etc. would all be free to do as they please. America’s foreign policies have proven detrimental to Arab and Muslim countries. But it has mysteriously proven advantageous for Israel. By ending its foreign interventions, America can allow these countries to recover from the imbalance of power that has prevailed for so long. Like the recent revolutions, people would discover a new ability where they can attempt to marginalize the extremists who run the show on all sides.

That would be American foreign policy under a President Ron Paul. But these are just ideas presented by a presidential candidate. If Muslims think these ideas make sense, then they should adopt them and make it part of their platform. They should seek out the millions of Americans who have embraced the Ron Paul message of no foreign intervention, and establish cooperation and coalitions with them. What makes the Ron Paul movement unique, is that its message will continue to spread long after the 2012 election. Ten years from now, there will be no movement that tries to follow the ideas of Romney or Santorum or even Obama. But there will be people still talking about Ron Paul’s ideas and how necessary it is for America. Maybe Muslims can be part of them.

 


I had the following exchange with El Hajj Mauri’ Saalakhan, a DC-based human rights advocate and Director of The Peace and Justice Foundation. I reproduce it here with his permission (My reply is in red):

A point-by-point response:

1). MS: The statement, “We’ve actually been politically quarantined,” is an accurate assessment – and another reason why Muslims should re-think their approach to political involvement in America. What we’ve been doing hasn’t been working.

>RO: And I agree that what we’re doing is not working. I propose a reassessment of our political role in this country. I’m working on another op-ed that would address this topic and pose some questions.

 

2). MS: The position statements attributed to Paul in the second paragraph of this commentary are some of the reasons why I (and others) wanted Paul to do well in the primaries – even as many of us believed he didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning.

 >RO: Isn’t the fact that you “wanted” him to do well, be considered “wishful thinking”? Simply because he has no chance of winning doesnt give us an excuse to not actually support him and the movement. I think that this idea that we have to support someone who “has a chance of winning” is part of the problem. It’s one of the things we need to address.

 

3). MS: Paul’s position on Israel having its capitol in Jerusalem (if it wants), is morally problematic on its face. I fully understand why it illicited such a favorable response from the Zionist bloc – it is enormously symbolic. And while it may make perfect “Paulian” sense – and may be considered “revolutionary” in some quarters – that doesn’t make it right!

 >RO: Of course its not right. But we have to remember why it makes “Paulian” sense. It makes sense because it’s completely consistent with his overall foreign policy of American non-intervention. This would totally upset the balance of power (or more accurately the “imbalance”).

 

4). MS: The truth of the matter is that support for Israel is institutionalized in America. If Congressman Ron Paul did, against all odds, ascend the office of the U.S. presidency, he (personally) would have less of a chance of being able to undo that reality than President Obama’s feeble attempt to close Guantanamo in the opening days of his presidency. That’s a FACT!

 >RO: Obama’s attempt was exactly what you called it, “feeble”. Obama is a coward who was pro-war, pro-patriot act, etc before he got into office. His Senate voting record proves it. He was never sincere about closing Guantanamo. He loves his job and friends too much.
But Ron Paul would undoubtedly gut the pentagon and end ALL foreign aid (not just to Israel). The Israeli lobby and their supporters can cry all they want.  I’m sure they would even get violent with Paul and his supporters once he starts following through on his principles and promises. And it would be my pleasure to defend Paul and his supporters if things reach that point.

 

5). MS: The opinion on the international community’s potential response toward Israel, following a U.S. governmental withdrawal of support (should that ever happen), constitutes some wishful thinking in my humble view.  Israel’s support in America is not merely confined to the halls of government (and politicians for sale). It’s also tied to influential lobbies within the private sector – i.e. evangelicals, industries such as Catepillar, and the military-industrial and security industry complex.

 >RO: Ron Paul would end the Patriot Act, end the NDAA,  gut the pentagon, and effectively end the “war on terror”. Yes, this would make a lot of people unhappy, but that’s why we need to support him and his movement. This would be a huge blow to the military industrial complex.
But of course this is only one facet of taking on Israels supporters. There would still be plenty of struggle. The BDS and other movements would gain momentum when the US government support of Israel is withdrawn.

 

6). MS: As Muslims we cannot argue for neutrality, we are commanded to always stand for justiceI believe this to be the requirement of all people of true faith (irrespective of race, creed, or political ideology).

 >RO: I’m not arguing for Muslim neutrality. I’m arguing for American neutrality. I’m sure you can see the benefit in that. There are millions of Americans who support the ideas of Ron Paul and who want America to stop supporting and protecting Israel. We need to build alliances with those people.

 

7). MS: I also believe that it is difficult, almost impossible at best, to opine on the intent of the “founding fathers,” given the enormous contradictions that many of them were known for. As Thomas Jefferson stated way back then, “I tremble for my country when I reflect God is just; His justice cannot sleep forever.”

>RO: I’m well aware of their contradictions and hypocrisy. But remember that they were not Muslim, and do not have proper aqeeda nor do they have the baseera that Muslims are blessed with. But within their contradictions and hypocrisy, there are gems of wisdom that we can identify with and use advantageously for America and for Muslims.

 

8). MS: Where Br. Osman opined, “But these are just ideas presented by a presidential candidate,” I couldn’t agree more; and this is why it’s so important for Muslims in America to have a truly independent, Islamically-based stand on the major issues of the day! This also why for years now I have spoken out against Muslims hiding behind the coattails of non-Muslims (no matter how well meaning those non-Muslims may be).

>RO: BarakAllah feek. I’m honored that you found my op-ed worthy of your comments. I consider you a teacher and mentor. May Allah protect you and keep you within our ranks.

 

MS: There is a reason why Almighty ALLAH has commanded us in The Noble Qur’an not to accept anyone outside our ranks as our wali (as someone responsible for protecting our most intimate and sacred interests).

>RO: If we can support and ally ourselves with Archbishop Tutu, then we can support and ally ourselves with Ron Paul and the liberty movement.

MS: Until we learn how to confidently STAND UP for ourselves and protect our own interests we will not be respected, and we will invite more fitnah (confusion and strife) upon ourselves.

With that said, please reflect upon the message below, courtesy of South African Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.

>RO: This is a huge endorsement of the BDS movement. Now lets support those Americans who want to divest their tax-money and blood from Israel.

MS: In the struggle for peace thru justice,

El-Hajj Mauri’ Saalakhan

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