Thursday, May 2, 2013

Rand Paul & Israel

Eliana Johnson has an interesting piece on Rand Paul and his feelings towards Israel in the National Review:

Rand Paul is describing an episode from his trip to Israel in January: "I went to a Shabbat," he tells me, "it was the first time I've ever done that, and I had a wonderful time. I went to the yeshiva, and all the young men were singing and dancing, they had me dancing around the table. I hope I was singing something that was fine — it was all in Hebrew, so I had no idea what I was singing."

If there's any doubt that Rand Paul isn't his father's son on the issue of Israel, that trip and his posture afterwards should have ended it. He returned to the U.S. to tell Breitbart News, "Absolutely we stand with Israel. What I think we should do is announce to the world — and I think it is pretty well known — that any attack on Israel will be treated as an attack on the United States."


At the same time, Paul has courted influential conservative Jews, including Nate Segal, a Staten Island rabbi who serves as an intermediary between Republican activists and politicians and the Orthodox Jewish community. "Our paths seem to cross, so that's either fortune or planned," Paul says. "I tell Rabbi Segal that not only do I like him as a person, I consider myself safer when I'm around him because he's the biggest rabbi I've ever met."

A lumbering six foot four, Segal has the ability both to take center stage and to recede into the background. At last year's Republican national convention in Tampa, he arranged a meeting between Paul and several black-hatted Orthodox Jews. In a sweltering conference room off the main convention floor, according to a source in attendance, Paul reassured the group that he is a staunch supporter of the Jewish state.

The latest jaunt seems to have had its intended effect. Paul says the experience had an impact on him. "The spirituality of it, the historical relationship with Christianity and Judaism, just the linkage to all the stories of the Bible and just being there, being on the Sea of Galilee, those things are sort of beyond words." Being in Israel also developed in him "a sense of kinship" with the people. "The one thing I've said over and over again is that we should quit sending money to countries that are burning our flag, and that, you know, that's the one thing I think you'll never see in Israel is anyone burning our flag."

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