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Anti-Israel Paul Wins Conservative Contest

Will CPAC victory harm GOP with Jews?

by
Marc Tracy
February 24, 2010
Paul last October.(Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
Paul last October.(Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

In last week’s Jewish Week, James Besser expressed concern that the rise of the right-wing Tea Party movement within the Republican Party could cause the GOP real problems with minority voters—including, and maybe especially, Jews—once the Tea Partiers moved beyond taxes and health care and into social issues. A number of political scientists agreed. One argued:

This is bad news for Jewish Republicans. The Tea Party movement hearkens back to the old anti-immigration movement, to the Ku Klux Klan, to the George Wallace movement in the 1960s. Lurking behind all of these was the idea of 100 percent “pure” Americanism—and of taking America back from the “outsiders.”

The Anti-Defamation League’s Abraham Foxman told Besser, “It’s not a danger at the moment, but it bears watching.”

Well, those watching last weekend’s Conservative Political Action Conference will have noticed, as Besser did, that the potential presidential candidate favored by attendees in a straw poll was … Texas Rep. Ron Paul (Mitt Romney won second; Sarah Palin came in a distant third).

Forget the cultural cues that infamously makes Jews “hate” Palin. Paul opposes sanctions on Iran and aid to Israel, and has compared Gaza to a “concentration camp.”

“Yes I know,” Besser concludes,

the tea party movement is a big, churning and somewhat diverse collection of people, including some conservatives who think Israel is cool.



But as almost all the political scientists I talked to said, the insurgent movement also includes elements that are likely to scare the heck out of Jewish voters.

At least regarding his extreme-isolationist foreign policy views, Paul is probably not exactly whom Besser was talking about. He represents a totally different type of knot.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.

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