Is Rand Paul trying to change his Israel spots? Perhaps. In recent weeks, despite the fact that Paul has long positioned himself as a skeptic of the US-Israel alliance and opposes neoconservative-style interventionism abroad, he has been making at least a feint in the direction of Israel, various hardliners, and—as we learned this week from a funny but revealing piece in The New York Times—Rupert Murdoch, too.
According to the Times, Paul spent Derby Day in Kentucky last Saturday squiring the Wall Street Journal/Fox News magnate around Churchill Downs. As the Times noted right up front:
The libertarian brand of politics championed by Mr. Paul and his deep reservations about American intervention overseas have prompted more than a bit of wariness in The Wall Street Journal’s editorial pages, on Fox News and in other influential media outlets owned by Mr. Murdoch.
Of course, for Paul, who has recently been courting the GOP establishment’s money men, a pleasant day with Murdoch isn’t likely to solve all of Paul’s problems with the pro-military, hardline faction of the GOP and its Israel lobby allies. (You’ll recall that when Chris Christie, Jeb Bush and other centrist contenders, who also style themselves as believers in the traditional GOP version of a “strong” foreign policy, attended the “Sheldon Primary” dog-and-pony show in Las Vegas organized by billionaire Sheldon Adelson and the Republican Jewish Coalition, Rand Paul was not on the guest list.) But Paul is making gesture after gesture in their direction. Whether or not such gestures will alienate the fervent anti-intervention Paul contingent in the GOP isn’t clear yet, but he seems intent on testing it out.
As M.J. Rosenberg points out, weirdly enough Paul recently introduced a bill in the Senate that would have cut off American aid to the Palestinian Authority because of the recent unity agreement between Fatah and Hamas, a piece of legislation that Paul called the “Stand with Israel Act of 2014.” It was, we suppose, an effort to show his solidarity with Israel and his disdain for Hamas, and so on—but if so, it didn’t quite work, since Paul’s initiative was denounced by the likes of Elliott Abrams and opposed even by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. (It didn’t pass. You can read about Paul’s complaint that the Senate rejected his bill, and view a video of his whining remarks, at Baltimore Jewish Life’s site.)