LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Southland Jewish leaders on Wednesday called on a potential contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 to clarify his position on Israel’s right to exist.
Officials at the Simon Wiesenthal Center want Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) “to immediately and directly address charges by his former longtime congressional aide, Eric Dondero,” that Paul “wishes that `Israel didn’t exist at all’.”
“While the presidential campaign is not focused on Israel, these are serious charges,” Rabbis Marvin Hier, the center’s founder and dean, and Abraham Cooper, its associate dean, said in a statement.
“We must be fair to Ron Paul and give him the opportunity to clarify his position and he must be honest with the American people before they are asked to cast their vote for the most powerful office in the world.”
There was no immediate response to a telephone message and an email sent to the Paul campaign seeking comment.
After months of polling in the low double digits, Paul has garnered more attention as a succession of leading GOP front-runners including Texas Governor Rick Perry and most recently former House Speaker Newt Gingrich have seen their poll numbers rise and fall.
And according to one national poll, Paul may have a serious chance at winning the Iowa caucus.
“In Iowa, it’s anybody’s guess,” said Frank Newport, the editor in chief of Gallup. “You’ve got Romney, you’ve got Gingrich, you’ve got Ron Paul all circulating around.”
The rabbis from the Weisenthal Center said “anyone who holds” the views attributed to Paul by Dondero “does not deserve to occupy the Oval Office.”
“On the eve of 2012, Israel continues to be the Middle East’s only true democracy and America’s only consistent friend and ally,” the statement said. “It is also home to the world’s largest Jewish community, some six million Jews. Is Ron Paul the first presidential candidate prepared to turn his back on the Jewish state? The American people have a right to know.”
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