A Jewish youth holds an Israeli flag during a rally march outside the West Bank settlement of Itamar, near Nablus
A Jewish youth holds an Israeli flag during a rally march outside the West Bank settlement of Itamar, near Nablus Reuters

Ron Paul, Republican presidential hopeful, recently met with a prominent anti-Zionist rabbi while campaigning in New Hampshire during the primaries, according to the Jewish Chronicle newspaper.

Paul had a chance encounter with Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss, a member of the anti-Zionist Neturei Karta group, and told the Texas Congressman that Judaism is a religion, and it should never be transformed into a [nationality].”

Paul reportedly responded to Weiss: “Good advice.”

Neturei Karta, which was formed in 1938, is opposed to Zionism and believes the State of Israel should not exist until the return of the Messiah.

Weiss has apparently once attended a conference held by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad which questioned the Nazi Holocaust.

Paul’s views on Israel have been controversial to say the least.

A former aide of Paul, Eric Dondero, wrote in his blog on the RightWing News website: “[Paul] wishes the Israeli state did not exist at all. His view is that Israel is more trouble than it is worth, specifically to the America taxpayer.”

However, another former aide to Paul, Leon Hadar, told the Haaretz newspaper of Israel that the congressman is being unfairly characterized as being against the Jewish state.

“He is just against foreign aid, and does not see any reason to grant an aid to the country that is a member of OECD, Hadar said.

We should remember it's the primaries, and the Republican party establishment is not happy about his popularity, because on many issues his positions run contrary to the traditional party's agenda.”

Hadar added that Paul is in favor of economic cooperation with Israel, he was interested in the economic reforms in Israel.
Regarding Iran’s nuclear threat to Israel, Hadar said: [Paul] will be glad to see the conflict resolved and he said it's the right of Israel to attack Iran if it thinks that is necessary - but it shouldn't expect the U.S. to clean the mess.”

Moreover, Hadar noted that Paul is very familiar with Israel's history. I didn't hear his conversations with his former aide, but I personally have never heard him say anything against Israel or the Jews.

Hadar also declared that it is absurd to say [Paul] is more supportive of Arabs or Iran than Israel -- he just thinks the U.S. shouldn't meddle in other countries issues. I think it's quite pro-Israeli, because the U.S. won't stay in the Middle East forever, and Israel should figure out how to deal with its challenges. [There] is little doubt the current campaign against [Paul] and the attempts to paint him as anti-Israeli might cause him harm among the Evangelicals, whose support is more significant during the primaries than the Republican Jewish support.

Hadar is himself Jewish and a citizen of Israel.

Moreover, Dondero has been dismissed by Paul’s organization.

Jesse Benton, a Paul spokesman told CBS News: [Dondero] has zero credibility and should not be taken seriously.”

Paul addressed the topic Israel directly with Haaretz by email, according to the paper.

“Any kind of racism or anti-Semitism is incompatible with my philosophy,” Paul wrote to Haaretz.

“I do not believe we should be Israel’s master but, rather, her friend. We should not be dictating her policies and announcing her negotiating positions before talks with her neighbors have even begun.”

However, Paul reiterated his belief that US support for Israel was partially to blame for the 9-11 terrorist attacks.

“I think most people in the Middle East and probably in Israel would agree that this was a major factor,” he wrote. “That in itself does not make our policies right or wrong. Our policies need to be discussed on their own merits, but as a matter of course, yes, our support of Israel has made us enemies. Other U.S. policies, such as our stationing of troops in Saudi Arabia and our support for repressive regimes in the region, also play a role in hostilities to the U.S. Those in the Arab world who object to the U.S.’ support for dictatorships and to our military presence there often see Israel as the agent of the U.S. Thus, not only do Israel’s relations with the U.S. cause some negative feelings toward America, but they further Arab hostility toward Israel, which is one reason why Israel would be better off without U.S. aid.”

Paul also explained his basis for wanting to eliminate all foreign aid, including money for Israel.

“I am personally against all foreign aid,” Paul replied.

“We give $3 billion to Israel and $12 billion to her avowed enemies. How does that help Israel? And in return, we act like her master and demand veto power over her foreign policy. If I were President, such aid would not end until the Congress agreed and voted for it to end, because I would be President as the U.S. Constitution defines it. I am not running for dictator.”

He further explained: “I believe that federal foreign aid is absurd. We’re broke!... It is ridiculous for us to be borrowing money from China and giving it to Pakistan. I have described foreign aid as taking money from poor people in rich countries and giving it to rich people in poor countries. I know that many in other nations are hurting, but I also know that the American people are a generous people. While we should end the unconstitutional federal foreign aid program, I would encourage Americans to continue to voluntarily contribute to the needs of other nations.”