Monday, March 1, 2010

Intelligence Squared Debate: Should the U.S. Scale Back Relations with Israel?

Posted by Teresa at 9:20 AM
This debate is weeks old but I think it is interesting enough to post.
I believe it's crucial for the U.S. and Israel to remain allies.

Transcipts of an interesting exchange from the debate:

Roger Cohen: Thank you for that question. It makes any adjustment
in U.S. policy toward Israel such as President Obama is now trying to
accomplish extremely difficult. There is a state called Florida. It's a
vital state in the U.S. presidential election. It has a large Jewish
community. This calculation is not lost on America’s leadership.
President Obama, I understand, has been told by some Jewish
congressman, if you want your health bill, step back on Israel. So
the reality is indeed that it is very hard – [hissing and boos from
audience] I have heard that reliably. The reality of the situation is
that it is extremely difficult to steer a U.S. public opinion in any way
toward any acceptance of an adjustment of policy towards the State
of Israel. I think it should be done in the following terms: The
President should explain that the adjustments he is making are in
pursuit of peace and in pursuit of the long-term peace and
security of the State of Israel. Policies up to now have failed.
Therefore, we should see a change.

John Donvan: Stuart Eizenstat?

Stuart Eizenstat: I was wondering how long it would take and
who would raise the issue of quote unquote, "Untoward Jewish
influence over U.S. formed policies." I am glad you finally
(inaudible) came to it.

Roger Cohen: I didn’t say untoward.

Stuart Eizenstat: Now let me just say I have served in three
administrations. I didn't say all - this is a dangerous canard that
2% of the U.S. population has somehow got its hand around the
neck of American foreign policy. American foreign policy towards
Israel is supported by a bipartisan majority because the American
public recognizes that Israel and the United States share common
interest and common values. And those are always counter balanced
by oil interest, by corporate interest that have major defense interest,
major business interest, that's the way policies is made in the
United States, is just a clash of interest. But the notion that 2%
of the U.S. population is driving a policy against where
the public thinks simply belied by every survey that's
been made.

Roger Cohen: Nobody said that.

John Donvan: Itamar Rabinovich

Itamar Rabinovich: Maybe you should elect a President
from Alaska where there are no Jews.

Rashid Khalidi: You would like that.

I find it unseemly when people make the claim that American foreign
policy is controlled by Israel. It's not true.

What do you think of this debate?
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