(JNS.org) Republican presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) answered questions about his views on Israel and the Middle East from a group of rabbis and Jewish community leaders at the National Society for Hebrew Day School Headquarters in Brooklyn.
"I think Israel is one of our best allies and best friends around the world," Paul said. "They're the only democracy in the Middle East. And I'm very supportive."
But Paul reiterated his position on ending American foreign aid, including to Israel. He said his stance is "the same as it's always been: one day Israel should be independent." Paul added, "I'm also not saying that [aid to Israel] has to end now."
Paul criticized the U.S. policy of intervening in the Middle East, claiming that doing so only incites more radicalism from Islamists.
"Each time we topple a secular dictator, I think we wind up with chaos and radical Islam seems to rise," he said, arguing that the first principle of American foreign policy should be "do no harm.”
Paul also said that he has been learning about Jewish traditions from one of his prominent Jewish supporters, Dr. Richard Roberts, and that he has watched the film "Schindler's List."
Pinchos Lipschutz—the publisher of the New York-based Jewish newspaper Yated, who participated in the conversation and questioned Paul about past accusations that the senator has negative views about Jews—told The Associated Press after the event that Paul needs to “come up with a soundbite that really convinces Jewish people that he doesn't bear any animus toward them."
"He's going to have to do better," said Lipschutz.