GOP Jewish coalition excludes Paul from forum in Washington

The Republican Jewish Coalition will host the entire Republican presidential field – minus one – at a forum on Wednesday.

The coalition decided not to invite Texas Representative Ron Paul because the group disagrees with his views on Israel, a decision that has angered Paul’s supporters.

“His views are what we feel are way outside the mainstream of the Republican Party,’’ said Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Director Matt Brooks. “He has consistently articulated positions that are antithetical to those in the organization.’’

The Paul campaign found out about the event from phone calls from reporters asking why Paul was not attending, said Paul campaign spokeswoman Kate Schackai. Schackai said, “Dr. Paul is the only candidate with a pro-American foreign policy that would also benefit Israel tremendously by cutting off support to countries that would do her harm. Dr. Paul will continue to make this case through his many Jewish friends and supporters.’’

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The day-long $500-a-head event will give the Republican candidates a chance to make their case to 800 influential Jewish voters and donors from around the country. The group does not endorse in GOP primaries.

Paul opposes sanctions and the use of force to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon – an issue important to Israel, which would be the nation most threatened by a nuclear Iran. Paul has advocated eliminating foreign aid to all countries, including Israel. He has said he believes Israel is hurt by its dependence on money from the United States, and the United States should not interfere with Israel’s domestic affairs, including its peace treaties. He has compared Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza to a concentration camp.

“Why do we have this automatic commitment that we’re going to send our kids and send our money endlessly to Israel?’’ Paul said in a Nov. 22 Republican presidential debate, sponsored by CNN. “I think they’re quite capable of taking care of themselves.’’

Paul’s stance is diametrically opposed to the positions of virtually all the other Republican candidates, who have strongly emphasized the need to stand with Israel and continue sending foreign aid. Israel has long been seen as America’s strongest democratic ally in the Middle East, and as a strategic ally in areas from trade to fighting terrorism. Aid to Israel is an important issue for many Jewish voters of both parties.

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On blogs and on the comments section of news websites, Paul’s supporters have expressed outrage at Paul’s exclusion. Merav Yaakov, a 43-year-old New Hampshire voter who grew up in Israel, is now a volunteer with Paul’s campaign. Yaakov believes Paul’s policies would help Israel, by denying aid to both Israel and its Arab neighbors, allowing Israel to confront its neighbors on its own terms and ultimately end the conflict. “I’m disappointed the American Jews would not entertain a possibility for a peaceful solution to the area,’’ Yaakov said. “I’m disappointed they want Israel to be dependent on the US. They don’t see the benefit of Israel becoming more independent and controlling its own destiny. I think they’re making a big mistake.’’

The Republican Jewish Coalition has held presidential candidate forums since 1987. Paul, who was also not invited during his 2008 run, is only the second major candidate not to be invited. The other was Pat Buchanan, who ran for the Republican nomination in 1992 and 1996 and who was accused of anti-Semitism after defending several people accused of Nazi war crimes.

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