One of the interesting ironies of the current Republican presidential race is that anytime a website publishes articles discussing Ron Paul’s extremist connections, they are bombarded by a flood of e-mails from his supporters denouncing the premise of the piece while often expressing the same kind of rhetoric that the article mentioned. Paul’s surge in the polls has brought with it the kind of scrutiny that has brought his ties to hate groups such as the John Birch Society and 9/11 “truthers” out into the open. But for those wanting to learn a little bit more about the man’s own views, a former staffer has now written a piece that makes it clear that while he claims to abhor prejudice, Paul is not, as some of his backers absurdly claim, a friend of Israel:

He is however, most certainly Anti-Israel, and Anti-Israeli in general. He wishes the Israeli state did not exist at all. He expressed this to me numerous times in our private conversations. His view is that Israel is more trouble than it is worth, specifically to the America taxpayer. He sides with the Palestinians, and supports their calls for the abolishment of the Jewish state, and the return of Israel, all of it, to the Arabs.

It should be specified that the congressman has described the writer, Eric Dondero, as a “disgruntled ex-employee” who was fired. So perhaps we can take his words with a grain of salt. But Dondero, a Navy veteran who worked for Paul off and on from 1987 to 2003, does know a thing or two about the candidate. He turned on Paul because of his opposition to the war in Iraq and has become a virulent foe. Nonetheless, Dondero’s comments about Paul’s feelings about Israel ring true for two reasons.

One is that Dondero has not penned an all-out hit piece. He acquits Paul of racist sentiments as well as of anti-Semitism and homophobia. Though he admits the racist newsletters are troubling, he says the “liberal media” that is attacking Paul has it all wrong, because he thinks those are insignificant charges that don’t say much about the man.

Dondero believes the real problem with Paul is his isolationist foreign policy that led him to think the United States should not have fought in World War II.

He expressed to me countless times, that “saving the Jews,” was absolutely none of our business. When pressed, he often times brings up conspiracy theories like FDR knew about the attacks of Pearl Harbor weeks before hand, or that WWII was just “blowback,” for Woodrow Wilson’s foreign policy errors, and such.

As for 9/11:

He engaged in conspiracy theories including perhaps the attacks were coordinated with the CIA, and that the Bush administration might have known about the attacks ahead of time. He expressed no sympathies whatsoever for those who died on 9/11, and pretty much forbade us staffers from engaging in any sort of memorial expressions, or openly asserting pro-military statements in support of the Bush administration.

The problem with Paul is not just that he refuses to disavow the support of hate groups and other extremists, but that he is one himself. The fact that a liberal provocateur like Andrew Sullivan who despises Israel would endorse him speaks volumes about his appeal. As I have noted previously, Paul’s views about Israel seem very much of a piece with the anti-Semitic “America First” movement that tried to prevent U.S. involvement in the war against Nazism. His isolationism isn’t merely an expression of distaste for war but is part of a belief system that is ready to rationalize Islamist regimes and movements at war with America and American ideals. His extremism places him beyond the pale and renders him unfit for high office.