What Protestants Could Learn from Ron Paul

by James M. Wall

When the gavel fell on the Episcopalian convention, July 10, three major U.S. Protestant denominations had formally ended their 2012 discussions on how much religious support they were willing to give Palestinians under occupation.

The most charitable answer for all three gatherings is, not much.

Judging by the degree of hostility stirred up inside the Zionist opposition, the Presbyterians and United Methodists, took the most advanced pro-justice positions in the Sturm und Drang religious political struggles.

The last of the three to meet, the Episcopal Church, ran pretty much in place, sticking with investment over divestment.  According to the Episcopal News Service, the Episcopalian “House of Bishops, concurring with deputies, have overwhelmingly supported a resolution on positive investment in the Palestinian Territories”.

The Episcopalians also “agreed to postpone indefinitely the conversation on corporate engagement,” hardly a prophetic call to arms against injustice.

Indeed, all three denominations have come very close to invoking the divine thunderbolt promised in Revelation 3:16, an action best left in divine hands.

Meanwhile, in Washington, DC, before the church gatherings even began, there had been action on the secular political front. No surprises there, either.

The U.S. House of Representatives, with very little disagreement and virtually no media attention, embraced with great fervor, U.S. House Bill 4133.

When the votes were cast on HR 4133, Texas Congressman Ron Paul (pictured above) voted against it. In fact, Paul cast one of only two negative votes against the bill, blandly entitled, “the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act”.

The second negative vote in the House against the bill, came from Congressman Paul Dingell, who is a Democrat from Michigan.

Ron Paul is a Libertarian and a Republican. As a Libertarian, he is an avid supporter of minimalist government. But on the matter that has recently engaged the churches, Ron Paul is a rare voice of reason in the U.S. House, from which, alas, he is retiring in January, 2013.

In a depressing contrast to Congressman Ron Paul, with their lukewarm response to the Kairos Document, a passionate plea for justice from Palestinian Christian Church leaders, the three major U.S. Protestant churches literally turned their collective backs to Palestinians under occupation.

Ron Paul did not turn his back on the Palestinians. He knows injustice when he sees it. In his speech on the floor of  the House, on May 9, just before the House voted on HR 4133, Congressman Paul said:

The bill calls for the United States to significantly increase our provision of sophisticated weaponry to Israel, and states that it is to be US policy to “help Israel preserve its qualitative military edge” in the region.

While I absolutely believe that Israel – and any other nation — should be free to determine for itself what is necessary for its national security, I do not believe that those decisions should be underwritten by US taxpayers and backed up by the US military.

Concluding his House speech, which he delivered with the passion of a prophet, Paul said:

More than 20 years after the reason for NATO’s existence – the Warsaw Pact – has disappeared, this legislation seeks to find a new mission for that anachronistic alliance: the defense of Israel. Calling for “an expanded role for Israel within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), including an enhanced presence at NATO headquarters and exercises,” it reads like a dream for interventionists and the military industrial complex. As I have said many times, NATO should be disbanded not expanded.

This bill will not help the United States, it will not help Israel, and it will not help the Middle East. It will implicitly authorize much more US interventionism in the region at a time when we cannot afford the foreign commitments we already have. It more likely will lead to war against Syria, Iran, or both. I urge my colleagues to vote against this bill.

Philip Giraldi, (at right) executive Director of the Council for the National Interest (CNI) , wrote an analysis for Anti War on how HR 3311 reached the floor of the U.S. Congress:

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) reportedly helped draft the bill, and its co-sponsors include Republicans Eric Cantor and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Democrats Howard Berman and Steny Hoyer. Hoyer is the Democratic whip in the House of Representatives, where Cantor is majority leader. Ros-Lehtinen heads the Foreign Affairs Committee.

The House bill basically provides Israel with a blank check drawn on the U.S. taxpayer to maintain its “qualitative military edge” over all of its neighbors combined. It requires the White House to prepare an annual report on how that superiority is being maintained.

The resolution passed on May 9 by a vote of 411–2 on a “suspension of the rules,” which is intended for non-controversial legislation requiring little debate and a quick vote.

Giraldi, an authority on international security and counterterrorism issues, and a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer, described the impact of H 3311:

It is interesting to note what exactly the bill pledges the American people to do on behalf of Israel.

It obligates the United States to veto resolutions critical of Israel, to provide such military support “as is necessary,” to pay for the building of an anti-missile system, to provide advanced “defense” equipment (including refueling tankers, which are offensive), to give Israel special munitions (i.e., bunker-busters, which are also offensive), to forward deploy more U.S. military equipment to Israel, to offer the Israeli air force more training and facilities in the U.S., to increase security- and advanced-technology-program cooperation, and to extend loan guarantees and expand intelligence-sharing (including highly sensitive satellite imagery).

The bill gives Israel carte blanche to do its will with Iran, which is, of course, the reason for the bill’s introduction at this point.

Several pro-Israel web blogs, including Israpundit, shared this analysis which embraces HR 4311:

Nine members did not vote for the bill, but simply voted ‘PRESENT,” including Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), André Carson (D-IN), Donna Edwards (D-MD), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Walter Jones (R-NC), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Pete Stark (D-CA) and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA).

Israpundit added this description of  the House member who did not vote to embrace the bill:

All but one of the eleven representatives who made a point of not voting for the bill are aligned with the extremist, far-left, pro-Arab ‘J-Street.’ ZOA [Zionists of America] is distressed and disappointed that according to Adam Kredo of the Washington Free Beacon, J-Street itself remained “neutral” on the bill, and declined an opportunity to comment further on this matter.

Philip Giraldi concludes his examination of the passage of HR 4311, with this ominous warning:

If historians 100 years from now seek to explain how a great power committed seemingly intentional national suicide, they will have to look no further than the voting record of the U.S. Congress.

The same historians may also wonder, where were the churches while the United States government was financing and thereby, embracing, the Zionist ideology of a foreign power?

About James Wall

James M. Wall is currently a Contributing Editor of The Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, Illinois. From 1972 through 1999, he was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine. Jim launched this new personal blog April 24, 2008. If you would like to receive Wall Writings alerts when new postings are added to this site, send a note, saying, Please Add Me, to jameswall8@gmail.com Biography: Journalism was Jim's undergraduate college major at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. He has earned two MA degrees, one from Emory, and one from the University of Chicago, both in religion. He is an ordained United Methodist clergy person. He served for two years in the US Air Force, and three additional years in the USAF reserve. While serving on active duty with the Alaskan Command, he reached the rank of first lieutenant. He has worked as a sports writer for both the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, was editor of the United Methodist magazine, Christian Advocate for ten years, and editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine for 27 years.
This entry was posted in Episcopal Church, Middle East, Middle East Politics, Politics in Religion, Presbyterian Church USA, Religion and politics, Religious Faith, United Methodist Church. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to What Protestants Could Learn from Ron Paul

  1. Quinn Carol says:

    This is an analysis of the congress that many, if not most, would agree with. It is very distressing to watch my country buckle under AIPAC pressure. Are there really so few people of courage, knowledge, and conviction? Do we not have some responsibility to our Israeli brothers to help them avoid self destruction?

  2. John Remington Graham says:

    AIPAC does not speak for American Jews. It speaks for a foreign power, and, in light of the Israeli attack on the U. S. S. Liberty, an enemy power. Isreal is not a friend of the United States. I fervently dissent against this legislation. All American aid to Israel should be conditioned on her immediate and unqualified cooperation in implementation of the Saudi peace plan, or the Geneva accord, or the Roadmap. Ron Paul is absolutely right. — John Remington Graham of the Minnesota Bar (#3664X)

  3. Patricia Pynchon says:

    This is bad to worse, a complete lack of moral responsibility and shows a willingness to be paid off, which is a betrayal of the America people.
    I remember hearing that the Jews wanted to take over the world, I never believed it, thought it was antisemitism, now I don’t know, they have certainly taken over the USA.

  4. AWAD PAUL SIFRI says:

    As a Palestinian-American Presbyterian, I find it distressing that the few mainstream US Christian churches who have had the courage to make some humble strides over the past few years, have refrained, so far, from taking one meek “step-with-teeth” against 3 US companies aiding Israeli occupation.

    The excuse is often blamed on maintaining friendly relations with “Jewish” dialogue groups and inter-faith relations. However, they miss the entire point. It is not “Jewish”, but rather, radical-political Zionist views that are being stealthily embedded in many of these dialogues, under the guise of religious bridging.
    Yet, Zionists continue to condemn, ’till today, religious and political authorities for not speaking out during World War II.

    On the secular front, our Israeli-controlled US Congress makes me wonder if the US has any chance of maintaining any long-term friendships in the Arab World, including Christian Arabs.

    Israel sees this US Congress and global political-economic conditions as ripe for them to take the next step of making their occupation “final” and “permanent”.

    Meantime, it becomes absolutely clear that, as a result of Israeli strategy to take-all, there is no longer a 2-state solution. It is now out of the question with existing and expanding Israeli settlements. There is only a “one-state solution” that is now possible, thanks to Israel, to US Zionists, and spineless successive US Administrations.

    Who knows what the future will bring? But you may consider that such a tragic US path so far, and lack of courage in church-and-state, we are surely setting up conditions for a devastatingly more violent future for the Middle East and particularly the part of the world associated with it.

  5. Andrea Whitmore says:

    I should be shocked that our nation has come to this, and that our churches are so cowardly, but having worked on this issue for a number of years, I am no longer surprised at the lack of courage in our leadership. Our congressional representatives likely don’t even read the bills they vote on, but instead are told by AIPAC via their staffers what to vote; they are terrified to disobey. Our churches are afraid too, and of course have been carefully taught through all sorts of media that Israel is the victim rather than the perpetrator of such outrageous and long-lasting injustice. How sad that the U.S. has sunk so low. We’ve crossed the Rubicon of empire and are sliding downhill rapidly.

  6. Pingback: What Protestants Could Learn from Ron Paul | My Catbird Seat

  7. Walter Christmas says:

    I also applaud Ron Paul’s “no” vote on H.R. 4122, but I suspect that was more a result of his isolationist tendencies than of this sense of the injustice
    being inflicted against the Palestineans. However as an Episcopalian, I was disappointed in a more forceful resoluation not being approved during last week’s convention.

  8. Eugene Fitzpatrick says:

    Of the Representatives who voted Yea for HR 4133, I counted 18 of them who have through many years revealed themselves by their Congressional votes to be friends of Palestinian rights. I took the liberty to list these 18 names hoping that if the Wallwritings reader sees his/her Rep’s name on it he/she will fax that Rep and express regret and dismay at the Rep’s out of character behavior.

    McDermott, Kaptur, Hinchey, Rahall, George Miller (CA), Grijalva, Waters, Farr, Capps, Olver, Tierney, DeFazio, Doggett, Moran, Welch, Baldwin, Moore, Conyers.

    Fax numbers can be obtained by going to the specific Congressperson’s web site obtained thru house.gov. Be careful to distinguish the fax number from the regular phone number.

  9. james j melton says:

    Moran is my representative from the 8th distgrict here in northern virginia. he continues to win every election for his seat but this vote may do him damage. most of the time for the years he has been in the house, he sits on the fence on most issues and gets off at the last minlute. now is an election year so he is pussy footing to the zionist. jim melton alexandria, va. 22314

  10. Joan Coslow says:

    As a Presbyterian of some 40 years, I am thoroughly saddened. with the vote against divestment Why do we not have the fortitude to right a wrong against the Palestinian People? I have read all the excuses, and continue to be ashamed of those who represent us. Joan Coslow., First Presbyterian Church, Fort Wayne , In.

  11. Fred says:

    Our media misinforms or censors the news they bring to the American people of the crimes that both israel and the US are committing in the world. The mains stream media is heavily influenced by those who are zionist themselves, so censoring is not so difficult.

    That there were only two votes against this bill, brings dishonor and shame on our nation. And yes, AIPAC often writes the bills and recently in conjunction with an Israeli legislator.

    Our Congress is full of cowards and Israel Firsters, which is actually treasoness to put another nations interest first.

  12. Sam Jennings says:

    It is time to declare statehood for Palestine on the 1967 borders.

  13. William Gepford says:

    Well done, Jim. But, some one please tell me what we are afraid of, in acting for justice and peace for Palestinians, as well as Israelis? If we end up having to support Israel in another war, where will the money come from?

  14. The Rev. Daphne Grimes says:

    I agree with the outrage epressed in most of the above, at our Congressional coniving with the injustice towards the Palestinians, and our enhancing at our taxpayers expense the already superior military forces of Isdrael. I have been in the occupied territories many times and seen for myself the injustices of the occupation. The Rev. Daphne Grimes

  15. Dan Hall says:

    It is shocking that our politicians are so craven for money they will give Israel anything on its wish list. Currently bombing Iran is on that list.

    Sec. Gates said before his retirement that anyone who gets the US involved in another war in Asia ought to have his head examined. Indeed.

    We shouldn’t do Israel’s dirty work for it. It is Israel’s cruel and inhumane actions on the West Bank and Gaza that are inflaming the Arab world. To require US citizens to subsidize those actions of Israel’s occupation (that’s $22 dollars off every single tax return) gives me apoplexy. Another $2 billion of 501(c)3 subsidy goes to every “charitable” contribution to Israel. When are US legislators going to stop giving foreign aid to the rich nation of Israel?

  16. liljenstolpe@clearwire.net says:

    Dan Hall writes, ” When are US legislators going to stop giving foreign aid to the rich nation of Israel?”

    Dan, you do realize don’t you that the 75% of this aid requires that Israel use it to purchase products of the U.S. defense industry.

  17. Roy Hayes says:

    Jim, you’re saying all the things that need to be said. Keep it up. Peace, Roy

  18. Jim!!! What yer doing is fantastic. How can we get some attention for the recent OXFAM report? Did you see Burg’s recent piece on Israel? Wow!! Wayne Cowan

  19. Sam Jennings says:

    The Protestant denominations need to give full backing for statehood for Palestine, including the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. This will then give legitisimy to the state of Israel and security.

  20. Mary Myers says:

    I suspect, that if it looks like Obama is going to win in November, shortly before the election, Netanyahu will have to make a strike on Iran and force Obama to come to Israel’s side, Netanyahu threw Obama under the bus two years ago, and Obama is not likely to forget that if he is re-elected. Netanyahu knows this. Of course if Romney is elected, Netanyahu will be in the catbird seat for sure.

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