U.S. Congressman and Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul found himself in the eye of a potential controversy on Tuesday, following a brief encounter with a leading member of the anti-Zionist Haredi sect Neturei Karta.
According to the Jewish Chronicle, Paul met Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss, a one-time attendee of conference by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad questioning the Holocaust, in a New Hampshire campaign event.
Approaching Paul, Weiss reportedly told the Republican presidential hopeful that Judaism "is a religion, and it should never be transformed into a nationalism, "to which Paul reportedly said that the suggestion was "good advice."
A photo of the occasion was posted on the American Spectator website.
The reported incident came amid recent controversy concerning Paul's views on Israel, with former aide Eric Dondero claiming last month that the Texas representative was anti-Israel.
“He wishes the Israeli state did not exist at all,” Dondero wrote in his blog on the RightWing News website. “His view is that Israel is more trouble than it is worth, specifically to the America taxpayer.”
Another former Paul aide, Leon Hadar, however, defended Paul, telling Haaretz that the Republican presidential hopeful was "against Israel as I am against January. 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."
"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.
The issue was finally addressed by Paul himself, who in interview to Haaretz denied allegations that he has promoted anti-Semitism, saying that this would be “a betrayal of my own intellectual heritage.”
“Any kind of racism or anti-Semitism is incompatible with my philosophy,” Paul said in an interview with Haaretz, conducted by email.
“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,” Paul said.
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