[Editor’s note: Below is the transcript — and video — of a distinguished panel discussing the threat that Israel faces at David Horowitz’s Restoration Weekend in Palm Beach, Nov. 18-21.]
Moderator: (Larry Greenfield, a Fellow in American Studies at the Claremont Institute.)
I have the honor of moderating a few panels this weekend. Yesterday’s was “America in Decline?” Tomorrow is on economic recession. So the happier topic today is “The War Against Israel.” And I think what we’ll do is hopefully build on the positive energy of Pastor Hagee last night. That was quite a magnificent expression.
The first words I offer of this important serious panel are simply celebration of Israel — its history, its meaning, its presence, its democracy, its gifts to the world, its humanitarianism, and its moral and military alliance with the United States. Nevertheless, unfortunately, we gather this Sabbath morning to look at the tough spot that Israel is in, just to tick off a few challenges listed under the letter “I” for Israel — intifada, Iran, the Internet, intellectuals, the international community, isolationists, Islamism, and the Indonesian-raised Barack Hussein Obama.
In just the past few weeks, a major Vatican report declared that Israel cannot use the Biblical concepts of “the promised land” or “a chosen people” to justify new settlements in Jerusalem or its territorial claims to its capital city. A major report by the UN body, UNESCO, in charge of preserving historical sites which define West Bank shrines sacred to both Jews and Muslims as Palestinian, was labeled as absurd by the Israeli Foreign Ministry. The President of the United States asserted in the world’s largest Muslim country that Israel had no rights to build second-story apartments in Jerusalem.
Oh. And the President is pushing the largest military arms deal in history — $60 billion worth of fighter jets and attack helicopters to Saudi Arabia, unhampered, for example, by the seven Jewish Democratic congressmen from my neck of the woods, Southern California — Filner, and Davis, and Schiff, and Harman, and Sherman, and Waxman — and worst of all, Howard Berman, who was Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee.
Our first speaker is Bruce Herschensohn, a beloved mentor and conservative leader, who is Senior Fellow at the Pepperdine School of Public Policy in Malibu. Previously, he was Distinguished Fellow at the Claremont Institute and a Fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and a member of the Board of the Center for Individual Freedom. He has taught politics at the University of Maryland, Whittier College and Pepperdine.
Bruce Herschensohn had a fabulous career in the media and Republican politics and is a leading conservative thought leader in the United States, and continues to do so. He worked originally for RKO Pictures. He promoted the American way and American interests at the US Information Agency during the Cold War, with expertise on America’s image abroad. He won an Academy Award for his documentary on Czechoslovakia in 1968.
Bruce served President Nixon and President Reagan. He ran for the United States Senate in California in both ’86 and ’92. He’s written a number of books on foreign policy. And his chapter on the Middle East in his book “Lost Trumpets” remains a classic.
Please welcome Bruce Herschensohn.
Video Part I:
To see Part II of this video, Click Here.
Bruce Herschensohn: Thanks so very much.
In 1979, President Anwar Sadat visited the United States. Magnificent man. And he went on television, on “Meet the Press,” Sunday, September the 9th of 1979. I mention the date because it was a significant date in terms of the reaction of the State Department that was horrified by a question that was asked him. Because it was revealing a secret that the State Department really wanted to keep.
Bill Monroe was the host that morning. And he said, “Mr. President, President Carter tells us that when he visits with Arab leaders privately, they tell him that they do not want an independent Palestinian state. Is that your experience? Do you agree with that?” President Sadat was rather set back by the question, he didn’t expect it. No one expected it. And you could see him trying to think. And he was chewing on his pipe and sort of clearing his throat. And he wanted to be honest, and yet he wanted to be loyal to his Muslim brothers.
And so he said this. He said, “That is a family business. And I choose better to abstain.” By that answer, he was not really abstaining. He was telling the audience, of course it was true. And he was, as I said, showing some loyalty.
Well, that was a long time ago. And since that time, President Sadat was assassinated. And President Mubarak became president; he’s still president. Next year, he should be celebrating his 30th anniversary as president. And during that interval of time, we’ve had five Presidents.
And the most recent, the one that holds the office today, President Obama, was speaking to the United Nations General Assembly. And he said, “What we want is an independent Palestinian state that is contiguous and ends the occupation of 1967.” And he received tremendous applause from the United Nations organization.
Let me just comment on a couple of the words that he used. He said “contiguous.” If there is a contiguous Palestinian state, it means that Israel will be noncontiguous. Because in order to make it contiguous, you would have to build a road, a pathway of some kind, between Gaza and what is called the West Bank — Judea and Samaria. And in the doing of that, you cut Israel into two pieces, which would make it much easier to try and destroy later on, which has always been the objective.
And now let me comment on the word “occupied.” You cannot occupy any territory whose people never had jurisdiction over that territory. They never had it. Ever. So how can you occupy it? Let me just go back. Before Israel had it — and they got it from the ’67 war, after Jordan invaded — Jordan had it for 19 years. And they invaded it, they just took it. That was in 1948, so that was ’48 through ’67, 19 years.
And Egypt had jurisdiction over Gaza, same period of time. Before they had that, Great Britain had it. Before Great Britain had it, the Ottoman Empire of Turkey had it. Before that were the Crusades, and before that was Rome. And now I’m back to biblical days. And in all honesty, I don’t know what was going on there before then.
But they never had the land. And I think that Israel’s greatest mistake was right after the tremendous victory of that Six-Day War. It called it “administered territory.” And of course, that became world-known as “occupied territory.” Israel should’ve called the territory that they won — they should’ve called it Israel.
You’ll notice that when North Vietnam won the war against South Vietnam, the world community didn’t say, Okay, you had your fun, now give it back. They immediately called it the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. We have diplomatic relations under President Clinton. We have diplomatic relations with it, trade with it.
But it is a strange thing that when it comes to a friend winning a war, in effect we do say give it back. When it comes to an enemy, who hates the United States — no democracy at all — winning a war, we say it’s yours. It’s the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
Want to tell you one thing that happened, that I think most people either forgot or simply don’t remember. Prior to the war in June of ’67 — it was the end of May , Assistant Secretary of State Eugene Rostow went to visit King Hussein in Jordan, in Amman.
And he said that he talked with Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Eshkol. And they of course are concerned about the fact that President Nasser of Egypt has already ordered his tanks to go across the Sinai Desert towards Israel to take it over, to invade it. Syria has also said that it’ll join Egypt. So they know that they’ll be fighting a two-front war. It’ll be a two-front war, with Egypt to the west; Syria to the north. They don’t want to fight a three-front war. And the reason that I’ve been sent here, rather than Prime Minister Eshkol, is obvious — the two of you don’t have diplomatic relations, but we do. Israel guarantees that if you do not join this war into a third front, they guarantee they will not touch one bit of Jordanian property and won’t even touch Judea and Samaria to get it back — the West Bank.
And then he added, Not only Israel gives you this guarantee; President Johnson gives you this guarantee. Will you simply sit on your hands and do nothing when Egypt and Syria attack?
King Hussein, at that time of his life — younger guy than what we think of him in previous years before he passed away — at that point of his life was sort of a weak guy. Towards the end of his life, he became very strong and different than he was in his younger life. But he asked all of his — the Arab leaders, including Nasser. And they said, Of course not, you have to join us.
And they did. When Israel attacked the airfields of Egypt and Syria, it didn’t touch Jordan, didn’t touch what was called the West Bank. But then Jordan sent in tanks. And that is when Israel took over Judea and Samaria, called the West Bank.
And it is interesting to note that it’s called the West Bank because Jordan named the West Bank, meaning the west bank of the Jordan River, of Jordan. And it was never called that before.
I want, too, to just state one other thing and then let it go. We have what’s called a two-state solution. That’s been the terminology of the State Department for many years. It’s certainly the terminology of President Obama — two-state solution.
Yet again, in keeping with what we do to friends and the treatment that we give enemies, we have a one-state solution for China and Taiwan. In other words, it’s a one-China policy. That’s what we call it. It’s one China, the People’s Republic of China. And Taiwan is part of China. We don’t have diplomatic relations with Taiwan. I don’t want to go on and on on that. But think of that in contrast to a friendly state — Israel, the democracy — total friend of the United States; Palestinian Authority and Hamas — which isn’t even worth mentioning in terms of the chronology of events there — who despise the United States. And we bend towards the Palestinian Authority.
On the other side of the world, we bend towards a totally authoritarian government, the People’s Republic of China. And our friend and a democracy, Taiwan — treat them like a pariah. These are terrible parts of our foreign-policy. We should always bend towards a democracy and friendliness to the United States. We should never bend to those people who oppose the United States and are non-democracies.
I believe that the solution is not a two-state solution. It’s a one-state solution, called Israel, with the support of the United States in terms of its power and in terms of its will. And then we’ll have the peace and security that we’re advocating today.
Moderator: Our second speaker is Caroline Glick, also an admired friend. I’d like to read some of the bio in her own words.
“I grew up in Chicago’s ultraliberal, anti-American and anti-Israel stronghold of Hyde Park. Hyde Park’s newest famous resident is Barack Obama. He fits right into a neighborhood I couldn’t wait to leave.
“I made aliyah to Israel in 1991, two weeks after receiving my BA in Political Science from Beir Zeit on the Hudson — otherwise known as Columbia University. I joined the Israel Defense Forces that summer and served as an officer for five and a half years.
“As an IDF captain, I served as Coordinator of Negotiations with the PLO in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. I was a core member of Israel’s negotiating team with the Palestinians.
“I returned to geo-politics serving as Assistant Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in ‘97-‘98.
“I went back to get my Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard. Although I spent most of my free time hiking in New England, it did not escape my attention that the vast majority of the faculty at the Kennedy School were not particularly fond of America — or of Israel.
“I began my journalism career. I accepted the position of Deputy Managing Editor of The Jerusalem Post. I write two weekly columns, which are regularly syndicated.
“During Operation Iraqi Freedom, I covered the US-led war in Iraq as an embedded journalist.
“I’m senior fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C. I routinely brief senior administration officials and members of Congress on issues of joint Israeli-American concern.
“Ma’ariv named me the most prominent woman in Israel. I was awarded the Abramowitz Prize for Media Criticism.
“In 2008, my first solo book, ‘Shackled Warrior — Israel and the Global Jihad,’ was published by Gefen Publishers. You can purchase it. Click here.
“I live in Jerusalem.”
Caroline Glick: Thanks, Larry. It’s great being back here at the Restoration Weekend.
Just building on what Bruce was talking about, and also what Congresswoman Michele Bachmann was talking about this morning — I want to say that, you know, from an Israeli perspective, looking at the success of the Tea Party movement in the United States has actually — I mean, it’s been exhilarating, but it’s been extremely frustrating.
And it’s been frustrating for two reasons. And I think this goes to the heart of how Israelis are feeling about the war that’s being waged against us. It frustrates me because since the onset of the imaginary or fake peace process between Israel and the Palestinian — and the PLO 17 years ago, over two million Israelis have actively participated in demonstrations against these policies of appeasement by our government. Over two million in a nation of seven million, where one million are Arab. So out of six million Jews, a third of the population has actively participated in demonstrations much like the Tea Party demonstrations and at much greater risk.
And yet, you know, whereas here, after essentially a year and a half of these demonstrations, you guys have unbelievably managed to really reshape Congress and hopefully are on the way to getting Barack Hussein Obama out of office in two years. In Israel, government after government after government keeps implementing the same policies that the Israeli people have overwhelmingly rejected time after time after time after time.
We go, we try to find a politician who’s going to represent us, who’s going to stop this slow death march. And every single time, we end up getting the exact same policy implemented by yet another person. And it is extremely, extremely frustrating.
Israel is a right-wing country. It is a conservative country, it is a religious country. People like to say that because most Israelis aren’t openly observant means that we’re all secular — that is not true. I would say that it’s possible that in general, the population of the United States is more religiously observant than Israel. But if it is, it’s not by much.
And I think that it’s very important for people to recognize that the Israeli people are God-fearing people. And that means that we’re also extremely patriotic. Because we know where we live, and we know why. And we know the impact and the implications of the policies of the Left that have been implemented in our country for the past 17 years against the wishes of our people.
On an impact level — the impact of these policies has, of course, been the murder of over 1,500 Israelis in terrorist attacks and in wars since 1993, and the maiming and wounding of thousands and thousands more — broken families — there’s nobody in the country that doesn’t know somebody who wasn’t killed or wounded in a terrorist attack since Arafat was ushered into the outskirts of Jerusalem in 1994.
We today are facing a threat environment unlike any we’ve ever faced before. We have Iran building nuclear weapons, unopposed by anyone. And if anybody wants to tell you that the sanctions are going to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, you know, tell them that you have some bridges in Florida that you’d like to sell them. It’s not going to happen. The only way to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons is to destroy their nuclear installations. And it’s important to make that clear.
And Iran, of course, is not only attacking Israel by developing — very quickly, and unopposed by anyone — the means to carry out a second Holocaust — or, well, not the second, but second in recent history — they are also, of course, the primary sponsors of Hezbollah — Hezbollah is in Iranian organization — Hamas, and Syria.
And just today, I read a report saying that Iran has equipped Syria’s SCUD missile arsenal, as well as Hezbollah’s arsenal, with GPS devices that have made them all precision weapons, which is a revolution in military affairs. Essentially, it means that the 13,000 rockets that Hezbollah now fields are far more effective than the 40,000 that they used against Israel four years ago in the second Lebanon war, because they can actually hit Israel’s military, industrial and economic centers with a precision of 200 meters, apparently.
And Syria, of course, has SCUD-D and C ballistic missiles that are capable of reaching every target in Israel. And now, with the GPS systems, they can do it pretty precisely.
So then, as for the Palestinians, we had one of the heads of military intelligence last week testifying before the Knesset that they as well are fielding massive, precise missiles that are capable of reaching Tel Aviv.
So, you know, we have to recognize that in absolute numbers there are more missiles facing — pointing towards Israel than are pointing towards any other country in the entire world. And just put your minds around that little piece of information — the missiles are all pointed at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. And, you know, it makes life there a little bit more edgy, a little bit cooler. But you know, whatever.
Again, our people — I have to explain, our people are not intimidated by this. But our governments apparently are. Our people are not intimidated by this.
But that is the impact of these policies. As for the implications of these policies, as Bruce was talking about — the implication of saying that you accept as legitimate, as a negotiating partner, a terrorist organization whose sole purpose in existing is your own annihilation makes it very difficult for you to make your case in international forums. Because if the PLO is legitimate, then how is Israel legitimate?
And you know, one of the things that the Tea Party movement thankfully in this country has been railing against is this whole multiculturalism, post-nationalism ideology that essentially means that nations like the American people and like the Jewish people have no reason to exist and have no inherent rationale for fighting to defend their way of life. Because if there is no relative benefit to being an American or being a Jew, then you have no right to stand up and oppose the people who are telling you that your way of life is inherently evil.
And so, you know, we have these elements inside of Israel that have been pushing forward this agenda, which is multiculturalism, which is post-nationalist; without any recognition that these — as Jews, the first nation to come into existence by self-consciously defining ourselves at Mount Sinai, when we accepted the Ten Commandments from Moses and God — that when we say, Okay, there’s nothing in particular special about Jewish nationalism and Jewish homeland, this is an inherently anti-Jewish position. Post-nationalism at its core, that rejects the notion of nation states and nations, is anti-Semitic.
And we haven’t internalized this ideology that makes it impossible for us to have a coherent discussion about who we are, what we want, why it is that the things that we are and the things that we want are worth fighting and living for, and dying for. And it’s been extraordinarily debilitating.
I’m certain that many of you have heard speeches by official Israelis who come here and wrap themselves into pretzels trying to figure out a way to be explaining why people should support Israel while also lauding the PLO, which is our sworn enemy. It’s very, very difficult to do. And until we excise this notion that we can make peace with people who want to kill us all, we have to — by appeasing them, we’re going to be seeing, over and over and over again, these kinds of official Israelis coming abroad and saying silly things that they themselves know are incorrect.
And you know, this all has led us to a situation where today, the government of Benjamin Netanyahu, for crying out loud, is sitting with the Obama Administration and having discussions about Israeli relinquishment of our capital city of Jerusalem, our defensible borders, and particularly the Jordan Valley, without which we cannot defend ourselves, period — in exchange for maybe or maybe not receiving an additional 20 F-35 fighter jets, perhaps, if we sign an agreement with the PLO, in which we effectively commit national suicide.
So, you know, we have gotten to a point where the discourse relating to the Middle East, relating to Israel, is completely irrelevant to the challenges facing Israel; to the threat environment in which Israel operates. And it is counterproductive because it prevents us — we waste so much time talking about how many Jews have to be expelled from our homes in exchange for war that we never stop to think about what we actually have to do to defend ourselves, and survive and prosper and win.
And this is extremely frustrating, which brings me to the second frustration that I’ve had with the Tea Party. The second frustration that I’ve had with the Tea Party is that it has been completely devoted to domestic issues. And I think that it’s important to bear in mind that the domestic policies that the Obama Administration has been advancing our part and parcel of an overall policy that is reflected as well in US foreign policy, which the President of the United States, the leader of the free world, goes around bowing and scraping before anti-American potentates and makes effective rhetorical war against the United States’ primary allies.
And I think that when we wonder why it is that President Obama couldn’t get South Korea to sign a free trade agreement with United States, it probably had something to do with the position that he is reflecting, that he has taken on, and saying that the United States is nothing special. And by treating Israel so badly, there’s no reason for the United States to ever be seen as a credible ally by anybody. Because of the United States is abandoning Israel, who can trust it? Who can trust it?
You know, I think one of the things that’s most inspired me about the Tea Party movement, and the reason why I’m frustrated with something, is because I really believe that it has inside of it inherently the seeds of an extraordinary renaissance in the United States.
I mean, I’m sure many of you read Angelo Codevilla’s extraordinary essay about the American ruling class. And he talked a lot about how entrenched elites who went to schools like the ones that I went to sit around and put together economic policies that destroy the US economy. But, you know, those entrenched elites are even stronger in the US foreign-policy establishment. Somebody like me would probably never even get a foot into the door of the foreign — of the State Department. And if somebody like me did — for instance, John Bolton — get a foot into the State Department, then you would have a Secretary of State actively working against his confirmation in the US Senate to remain the UN Ambassador.
And so I think, you know, one of the things that has to change is this notion that has really been the light of US foreign-policy for generations, which is that you’re supposed to be bad to your friends and good to your enemies. Because somehow or another, by kissing up to the Saudis and attacking the Jews, everybody’s going to want to be your friend. Does this make any sense? None, it makes no sense.
And I think that, you know, the implications of American citizens standing up and demanding to be listened to by their leaders has inspired so many Israelis. And it’s inspired so many American representatives, so many elected officials, to really take it on with the entrenched interests in Washington. And I think that this movement can also do a lot in foreign policy.
And I think that it’s important to recognize that the power of the people that spoke here in the United States over the past 18 months or so is the same power of the Israeli people that has been screaming and has not been listened to for the past 17 years, which is why I began by mentioning that a third of the Jewish citizens of Israel have actively opposed — this is something that has happened in no other country ever — that such an enormous percentage of the population has actively participated in demonstrations against the governmental policy of appeasement. It has never happened anywhere. They are the Israeli people in toto, and they have been ignored.
And I think that the most amazing thing would be, from my perspective as an Israeli — is if the American people were to listen to the Israeli people and say, We stand with you because we know you’re strong. Not because we feel sorry for you, but because we respect you. Because you are strong, and we can depend on you. And we listen to you, and we know that you really and truly are the most dependable ally we have. You’ll never shirk from your responsibility to protect Jerusalem, ever. And we want to empower you to continue doing that. Because we know that this country is of vital importance to the United States and to every freedom-loving person in the world.
So thank you very much. I appreciate your attention. Thank you.
Moderator: Building on our attention to the Middle East, I now bring you Robert Pollock, who is the Editorial Features Editor of the Wall Street Journal. His pieces about Turkey and Lebanon and perceptions of Israel have been masterpieces.
Born in Buffalo, New York, he studied at Yale and was a member of the Party of the Right. He received a Bachelor’s degree in philosophy and began an impressive career in journalism. Mr. Pollock was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for his editorials on the American Food and Drug Administration and it’s delaying of cancer drug approvals. Mr. Pollock makes frequent appearances in the media and is a highly admired journalist.
Please welcome Robert Pollock.
Robert Pollock: I just really want to make some quick journalistic observations. I was lucky enough to be in Lebanon this August for the second time in 18 months. And what was — there really couldn’t have been a more profound shift in mood. And do I mean by that?
The first time I was there, in the winter of ’09, you still had a very strong sense of the Cedar Revolution and [the Arab] prospects for democracy. Now there’s very much a sense of doom. That’s not too strong a word. I mean, Hezbollah is growing stronger. They’re considerably stronger, I think, now them they were before the start of the 2006 war.
If you talk to people in the government in Lebanon, they say — and I don’t think this is an excuse — they’ll basically tell you quietly, off the record, Look, you know, Hezbollah is stronger than our army, and we don’t have very good control over our army, anyway.
One of the other dangerous factors with regard to Hezbollah actually is the passing of the Ayatollah Fadlallah, who was the Shiite religious leader in Lebanon. Ayatollah Fadlallah, who I interviewed in February of ’09, was certainly no friend of Israel or America. But he was also not an Iranian agent. His allegiance was to the [housen] in Najaf, Iraq, a much more moderate strain of [Shiaism].
There’s now sort of a power vacuum in terms of leadership of the Shiites, which is, you know, obviously mainly being filled by agents of Iranian influence. And that’s not a good thing at all, even though, like I said, this guy was no friend of Israel or America.