The U.S. Should Step Back From Its Special Relationship With Israel

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U.S. - Israel Relations

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Israel believes America’s special relationship is vital. It is, certainly, to Israel. But what about for the US? Israel has no oil, enemies in many places, and a tendency to defy Washington when it perceives its own interests to be threatened, which is not infrequently. In a zero sum Middle East, does America’s coziness with Israel cost us in good will with Muslim world, including those oil-rich Arab states whose dollar holdings come back to the US in the form of investments and loans, which the US economy needs – especially now? But there’s an important connection between the US and Israel – that goes deeper than finance or energy convenience. It’s a foundation of mutual loyalty and shared values – democracy being only the most obvious. There has also been a history of shared intelligence, military cooperation, and significant cross-fertilization of scientific knowledge. To sacrifice these connections to improve relations with the Arab world would be an act of betrayal — of an ally — and of what we say we stand for. Should the US consider putting some distance between itself and Israel? Would such a change in policy serve American interests, or is it a move we would come to regret?

  • For the motion

    For

    Roger Cohen

    Columnist for The New York Times

  • For the motion

    For

    Rashid Khalidi

    Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University

  • Against the motion

    Against

    Stuart Eizenstat

    Deputy Secretary of the Treasury in the Clinton Administration

  • Against the Motion

    Against

    Itamar Rabinovich

    Former Chief Negotiator with Syria

  • Moderator Image

    Moderator

    John Donvan

    Author and correspondent for ABC News.

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Cohen

For The Motion

Roger Cohen

Columnist for The New York Times

joined the New York Times in 1990. He was a foreign correspondent for more than a decade before becoming acting foreign editor on September 11, 2001, and foreign editor six months later. In 2009 he was named a columnist of the New York Times.

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Rashid Khalidi

For The Motion

Rashid Khalidi

Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University

is the Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University. He was president of the Middle East Studies Association, and was an advisor to the Palestinian delegation to the 1991-1993 Arab-Israeli peace negotiations.

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Eizenstat

Against The Motion

Stuart Eizenstat

Deputy Secretary of the Treasury in the Clinton Administration

has held a number of key senior positions in three US administrations, including chief White House domestic policy adviser to President Jimmy Carter; U.S. ambassador to the European Union, under secretary of commerce for International Trade, under secretary of state for Economic, Business and Agricultural Affairs, and deputy secretary of the Treasury in the Clinton Administration.

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Rabinovich

Against The Motion

Itamar Rabinovich

Former Chief Negotiator with Syria

is Israel's former ambassador to the United States and former chief negotiator with Syria in the mid 1990s. He is the incumbent of the Ettinger Chair of Contemporary Middle Eastern History of Tel Aviv University and recently completed an eight year term as the president of the University.

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Declared Winner: For The Motion

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    3 comments

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    • Comment Link Nora Sunday, 20 July 2014 09:43 posted by Nora

      " a foundation of mutual loyalty and shared values– democracy being only the most obvious" ??? Really??? Does anyone really buy that Israel is a true democracy (that is if you belong to the wrong religion)?
      Christians and Muslims are systematically discriminated against whether they are Israeli citizens or not. The Methodist Bishop from Soweto, S. Africa who travelled with our group to the Holy Land concluded that what he witnessed in Israel/Palestine was WORSE than the Apartheid that his country formerly practiced.

      Israel has been systematically annexing the West Bank (as opposed to occupying it) with US taxpayer subsidy to the tune of $3.1+ billion dollars per year . There has never been any intention of returning any of the land stolen since 1967 to the Palestinians. Visit Hebron to see segregated roads, segregated settlements, segregated sidewalks with dividers down the middle. Then view the Palestinian cemetery in Hebron that Israel has declared a closed "security zone" denying Palestinians the right to visit their family graves.

      They have complete control of Jerusalem, denying the indigenous Christians and Muslims control of their holy sites and access for the Palestinians who live just outside Jerusalem in Bethlehem is regulated by the israeli government and restricted to 2X per year (Christmas & Easter for Christians) with an arbitrarily granted permit issued by (drum roll please) ...Israel!!!

      I would find it offensive if any of my Jewish friends and neighbors had to endure anything close to the indignities meted out by the "only Democracy in the Middle East".

      US subsidy of this 60 + year-old fledgling theocracy should stop NOW and put to more pressing domestic & humanitarian needs. It is kind of like the 66-year-old "kid" still living with his parents--time to stop enabling the insatiable hunger for more and more land and power.

      Congress need to pull it's head out of the sand (or some other dark cavern) and enter a 12 step program for AA (AIPAC Anonymous) . 1st step: "I am powerless over AIPAC--my life has become unmanageable".

      As we used to say in the addiction profession: "Denial is not just a river in Egypt".

    • Comment Link David Friday, 01 February 2013 16:11 posted by David

      Mr. Rabinovich mentioned Al-Qaeda's first reason for attacking the World Trade Center was the United States's troop presence in Saudi Arabia, which is true. What he forgot to mention is that the second reason Al-Qadea gave for 9/11 was United States's support for Israel. (The third was the sanctions against Iraq).

    • Comment Link Loretta Saturday, 20 October 2012 21:09 posted by Loretta

      IIRC it was only in 1974 that the Arab states dcdieed that Arafat and the PLO were the sole, legitimate representatives of the Palestinian people and so came out in favor of a Palestinian Arab state. Before 1967 of course there was no sentiment among those Arab governments for such a state. What they had grabbed in 1948 they would keep. The change came in order to punish Jordan for not participating in any significant way in the 1973 War. Until then one might suppose that Judea and Samaria would eventually be returned to Jordanian rule, once a peace treaty had been signed. So in advocating such a state this Rabbi Wolf was being more pro-Palestinian Arab than their Arab Brothers were. Since the Palis have never made any real moves to actually set up a viable state in the territories they rule, but only terrorist bases and mob concessions, we might well wonder if the Palestinian Arabs themselves want a Palestinian state. I suspect the answer is no.

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