Ben Carson, the former neurosurgeon-turned-political pundit who has not yet officially announced his expected candidacy for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, appeared puzzled by the Israeli governmental system, and unsure what role the Israeli parliament, known as the Knesset, plays in governing that country, according to an incident reported in a new magazine profile of Carson.
Carson has been known for his bizarre and sometimes inflammatory statements in the past, for example comparing the United States to Nazi Germany, declaring the new health care law known as Obamacare to be worse than the 9/11 attacks, and his belief that the 2016 presidential elections may be canceled due to “widespread anarchy.”
While Carson has generally shrugged off reactions to his statements by saying that his words are continually taken out of context by his political adversaries, some of his critics say that Carson’s history of outlandish remarks displays a lack of understanding when it comes to important policy issues.
That perception will likely be furthered by a new GQ article, which depicts Carson on his first-ever trip to Israel late last year, during which Carson asked his Israeli tour guide to explain how her country’s government works, asking, “In the United States, we have Republicans, Democrats, and independents. What do you have?”
“The woman answered Carson’s question about political parties, telling him that there were Labor and Likud and a host of other factions in the Knesset,” GQ writer Jason Zengerle reported.
“‘And what is the role of the Knesset?’ he interjected. This prompted a tutorial on Israel’s legislature. Carson is a tall, dignified-looking man with a placid, almost sleepy face. As he tried to concentrate on his Hebrew Schoolhouse Rock primer, he seemed even more fatigued. ‘It sounds complex,’ he finally said. ‘Why don’t they just adopt the system we have?'”
In fact, the Israeli system of government is very similar to, and largely modeled on, the parliamentary system that exists in most European democracies. The Knesset is Israel’s legislative body, responsible for passing the country’s laws.
The publication of the GQ Ben Carson profile comes just a week after a piece in the influential online Washington D.C. publication Politico, in which Carson is quoted stating that the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania must be convinced to “get involved in NATO and strengthen NATO.”
But all three of those countries have been members of NATO since 2004.
Ben Carson admitted that “there’s a lot of material to learn,” when it comes to foreign affairs issues, but also dismissed his flubs, saying, “we spend too much time trying to get into these little details.”
[Image: Richard Ellis/Getty Images]