Recently, Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul was asked a hypothetical question concerning Israel's security. Would he, as president, provide Israel with military assistance if they were attacked with nuclear weapons from Iran?
He said he would not. Many viewed this answer as proof that he is anti-Semitic. Are they correct?
I was particularly surprised at the response of his supposedly conservative critics.
On several occasions over the past 40 years, I have questioned friends of mine on the left as to where in our Constitution they find the right for a woman to have an abortion. I remind them that I want a specific location. No one has ever given me an answer to that question other than to explain that the Constitution is a living document that doesn't necessarily mean what the words say...or don't say.
After all, our forefathers were all white males. Nearly all were Christians with European roots. Several even owned slaves. A document written by such men must not be taken literally in our diverse, multicultural nation. Its words must be interpreted in light of today's situations, not in light of the mostly agrarian, European, man-centered, Christian society that birthed it. So much for the left's view of the Constitution.
Now I find trouble on the right. How sad.
Paul's entire congressional career has been guided by one overwhelming precept: His desire to implement his numerous duties in accordance with constitutional principles. He neither reads things into the Constitution that are not there, nor discards things he may disagree with. His oath of office calls for him to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. That he does.
Let me return to the question about coming to Israel's defense.
Our republic is filled with private corporations and businesses that sell Israel vital military supplies and equipment. Private Americans also have the right to financially support the Jewish state (or any other nation) in whatever way they see fit. Bravo, so be it.
But let it be abundantly clear: Our Constitution gives the federal government no power to raise an army for the defense of other country. If you disagree, I now ask you what I have asked my many friends from the left: Where in our Constitution is the federal government given the power to place your son or your daughter in harm's way for the defense of a foreign nation? I want you to show me the specific location.
Was Paul's answer to that hypothetical question a red flag that he's anti-Semitic? I think not.
Paul was being true to the Constitution. That venerable document does not allow for American forces defending other nations. The answer is as simple as that.
Walt Osterman is the author of Not Home Yet: A Tale Concerning Israel's Rebirth. He served in Vietnam and is a Bronze Star recipient. He lives in Wyoming.