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Posts Tagged ‘debate’

Dani Dayan, Caroline Glick Debate the Yesha Communities Issue

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

I mentioned the debate here.

Here’s Dayan speaking:

Caroline Glick’s words can be found here at the 49th minute or so.

Here’s what she wrote about the experience:

…in one particularly ugly segment, Levy made the scurrilous accusation that Israel systematically steals land from the Palestinians. Both Dayan and I demanded that he provide just one example of his charge. And the audience raged against us for our temerity at insisting that he provide substantiation for his baseless allegation. In the event, he failed to substantiate his allegation.

At another point, I was asked how I defend the Nazi state of Israel. When I responded by among other things giving the Nazi pedigree of the Palestinian nationalist movement founded by Nazi agent Haj Amin el Husseini and currently led by Holocaust denier Mahmoud Abbas, the crowd angrily shouted me down.

I want to note that the audience was made up of upper crust, wealthy British people, not unwashed rabble rousers. And yet they behaved in many respects like a mob when presented with pro-Israel positions…

I was prepared to conduct a civilized debate based on facts and reasoned argumentation. I expected it to be a difficult experience. I was not expecting to be greeted by a well-dressed mob. My pessimism about Europeans’ capacity to avail themselves to reasoned, fact-based argumentation about Israel has only deepened from the experience.

Visit My Right Word.

Yisrael Medad

After Obama’s Victory, Jews Focus On U.S.-Israel Relations

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Capping a race that on a national level was largely defined by the economy but in the Jewish community turned into an extended debate over which candidate would steer the best course for U.S.-Israel relations, President Barack Obama defeated Republican challenger Mitt Romney on Tuesday to earn a second term.

Obama, who as of Wednesday morning had garnered 303 electoral votes to Romney’s 206 and was ahead in the popular vote 50-48 percent, took 69 percent of the Jewish vote, according to a CNN exit poll, representing a nine-point drop from the 78 percent he won in 2008.

National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) President and CEO David A. Harris, speaking exclusively with JNS after major television networks called the race for Obama on Tuesday night, said he “and the clear majority of American Jews” are “reassured by having President Obama in office for another four years.”

“The president has a stellar pro-Israel record,” Harris said. “The facts speak for themselves. Whether it’s missile defense or some of the closest [U.S.-Israel] security cooperation ever, or heralding an era of isolating Iran like never before, I see…the close cooperation between the United States and Israel continuing into and through the next four years during what’s a crucial period for Israel’s security.”

The recent course of the U.S.-Israel relationship, however, has also included disagreements between Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on how to deal with the Iranian nuclear threat, with Obama refusing to set the “red lines” for U.S. military action that Netanyahu has requested; in one television interview he called those demands “noise.”

Just a day before the election, the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot reported that senior Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett has been leading secret talks with Iran for several months. That story followed a New York Times story last month that said the U.S. had agreed to direct negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program for the time – a report denied first by the White House, then by Obama himself in the third presidential debate.

Jonathan Tobin, senior online editor of Commentary magazine, told JNS that Obama’s win will mean “probably four years of ongoing tension with the government of Israel, which is likely to be led by the same person [Netanyahu] with whom Obama is engaged in a long-term feud” – including tension on Iran, especially if Obama approves an Iranian deal brokered by Jarrett.

However, Tobin acknowledged that the “infrastructure of the [U.S.-Israel] alliance isn’t going anywhere.”

Netanyahu congratulated Obama on his victory by saying in a statement, “The strategic alliance between Israel and the U.S. is stronger than ever. I will continue to work with President Obama in order to assure the interests that are vital to the security of the citizens of Israel.”

While Israel was a widely debated election issue in the Jewish community, “American Jews are first and foremost Americans, and like other Americans they are concerned very much about the economy and jobs,” Harris said, calling that “the president’s number one priority today and immediately.”

The battle for the Jewish vote was hotly contested in the swing states of Florida, Ohio, Nevada and Pennsylvania, with the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) running a $5 million “Buyer’s Remorse” television advertising campaign in those states that featured Jews who supported Obama in 2008 but regretted that decision. RJC’s advertising in swing states – which also included “Obama…Oy Vey!!” billboards in South Florida – totaled $6.5 million.

Rabbi David Steinhardt of B’nai Torah Congregation in Boca Raton, Fla., said election season was “a very, very challenging period of time and a very difficult campaign.” In his congregation, however, Steinhardt said “people were really respectful of each other in the conversation, surprisingly so, looking at how things began.” Steinhardt said much of the pro-Obama sentiment in his community was “quiet support,” as opposed to the more aggressive approach of Romney supporters during the race.

As far as the U.S.-Israel relationship is concerned, Steinhardt believes “the policies will remain pretty consistent as to what they have been.” He said Israel “can depend on the United States as an ally in what takes place moving forward.”

Rabbi Misha Zinkow of Temple Israel in Columbus, Ohio, recalled the intense campaign in his state.

Jacob Kamaras and Alina Dain Sharon

UK Columnist Admits: ‘Anti-Semitism Plays a Some Role in Hostility Towards Israel’

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

There are two things Glenn Greenwald and I have in common – which is two more than I realized only an hour ago.

He has the flu, according to his latest ‘Comment is Free’ post, and I have flu-like symptoms due to a recent ill-advised flu shot.

The other more substantive commonality pertains to one acknowledgement in his post – one of seven miscellaneous observations by the Guardian’s new U.S. blogger.

In the context of complaining about the alleged recent smearing of Matt Stoller (former Democratic staffer and MSNBC producer) as a racist, Greenwald pivoted to make a broader point:

“There are few things more reckless and disgusting than publicly smearing someone as a racist – easily one of the worst things you can say about someone in America, for very good reason – purely for partisan gain. That’s especially true when you are well aware that you have no basis for the accusation.

For years, neocons did the same thing with “anti-Semitism” charges. They seized on a real and serious problem – anti-Semitism – and converted it into an exploitative, opportunistic weapon to punish those who deviated from their political views, particularly on Israel. The worst part of that behavior – aside from ruining people’s reputations by casting them as bigots without any cause – is that it dilutes the power of that term and makes it no longer effective to use when it actually appears.

That is precisely what spouting knowingly baseless accusations of racism achieves. Obviously, racism plays a substantial role in motivating some of the hostility toward the first African-American president, just as anti-Semitism plays a role in some hostility toward Israel. That’s precisely why it’s so vital to avoid casually exploiting those terms for gross partisan opportunism: because people will stop taking the terms seriously when they genuinely arise.

Few things are lowlier than tossing around those accusations purely to discredit someone for partisan gain. It happens often, but this case is particularly egregious given the accuser’s admissions in the comment section combined with the total lack of retraction or correction by that blog.

While I was shocked to read Greenwald acknowledge that “anti-Semitism plays a role in some hostility toward Israel”, I gather from his additional complaint about those who “exploit” the term “anti-Semitism” to “discredit” people that he may have been stung by criticism about his own record of advancing Judeophobic narratives concerning ‘dual loyalty’ and the danger of ‘Jewish power’.

I’ll leave you with a brief selection of quotes by Greenwald and you can judge for yourself if he has been unfairly smeared as a commentator who subscribes to anti-Semitic calumnies. (These quotes were documented in a report I wrote about antisemitism on progressive blogs for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs in 2010.)

* “So absolute has the Israel-centric stranglehold on American policy been that the US Government has made it illegal to broadcast Hezbollah television stations.”
* “Not even our Constitution’s First Amendment has been a match for the endless exploitation of American policy, law and resources [by the Israel lobby] to target and punish Israel’s enemies.”
* “The real goal [of the Israel lobby], as always, was to ensure that there is no debate over America’s indescribably self-destructive, blind support for Israeli actions. [Charles] Freeman’s critics may have scored a short-term victory in that regard, but the more obvious it becomes what is really driving these scandals, the more difficult it will be to maintain this suffocating control over American debates and American policy.”
* “The point is that the power the [Israel lobby] exercises [is] harmful in the extreme. They use it to squelch debate, destroy the careers and reputations of those who deviate from their orthodoxies, and compel both political parties to maintain strict adherence to an agenda that is held by a minority of Americans; that is principally concerned with the interests of a foreign country; and that results in serious cost and harm to the United States. In doing so, they insure not only that our policies towards Israel remain firmly in place no matter the outcome of our elections, but also that those policies remain beyond the realm of what can be questioned or debated by those who want to have a political future.”
* “Anyone who has argued that a desire to protect Israeli interests plays too large of a role in our foreign policy has been subjected to some of the most vicious and relentless smears. Ask Juan Cole about that, or John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt. Those tactics have, as intended, prevented a substantive debate on this question, as most people have feared even approaching the topic.”
* “If you don’t…pledge your loyalty to our policies toward Israel and to Israel, what will happen to you is what just happened to Charles Freeman. You’ll be demonized and have your career ended.”
* “It is simply true that large and extremely influential Jewish donor groups are the ones agitating for a US war against Iran, and that is the case because those groups are devoted to promoting Israel’s interests.”
* “The dominant narrative among neocons and the media is that, deep down in his heart, [Obama] may be insufficiently devoted to Israel to be president of the United States. Has there ever been another country to which American politicians were required to pledge their uncritical, absolute loyalty the way they are, now, with Israel?”
* “[Charles] Freeman is being dragged through the mud by the standard cast of accusatory Israel-centric neocons (Marty Peretz, Jon Chait, Jeffrey Goldberg, Commentary, The Weekly Standard’s Michael Goldfarb, etc. etc., etc.).”

Glenn, the floor is yours.

Visit Cifwatch.com.

Adam Levick

Romney Stumbles on Foreign Policy

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

The final presidential debate focused disproportionately on the Middle East. Four of the six segments were on the Middle East, just two on other topics (one about the U.S. role in the world, the other about China). Egypt was mentioned 11 times, Libya 12 times, Iraq 22 times, Pakistan 25 times, Syria 28 times, Afghanistan 30 times, Israel 34 times, and Iran 47 times. In contrast, the European crisis got no mention, nor did India, Germany, Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, or Australia.

Barack Obama has a weak record in the Middle East, but one would not learn this from the debate, where Mitt Romney praised Obama’s achievements (“It’s wonderful that Libya seems to be making some progress”), agreed with Obama more than he disagreed, and rarely pointed out his failings. Presumably, Romney took this mild approach to establish his likability, competence, and suitability to serve as commander-in-chief.

When asked about Egypt, Romney digressed to the need for a strong U.S. economy. When asked about American’s role in the world, he touted the achievements of 4th graders in Massachusetts during his governorship. Perhaps his recurring emphasis on the economy will win over the elusive undecideds, but it left this viewer frustrated.

The Libya topic was Romney’s great surprise and his missed opportunity. Asked a softball question about the mistakes made in the aftermath of the attack on Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, he talked about better education, gender equality and other worthy goals – but ignored the opportunity to establish that the Obama administration is not only inept but engaged in fabrications. Most agonizingly, Romney congratulated Obama for taking out Osama bin Laden without noting that this did limited good, for Al-Qaeda still had the ability to attack and kill Americans in Benghazi.

In terms of policy, Obama made statements about Iran worthy of note: “As long as I’m president of the United States Iran will not get a nuclear weapon. … A nuclear Iran is a threat to our national security, and it is a threat to Israel’s national security. … We are going to take all options necessary to make sure [the Iranians] don’t have a nuclear weapon.” Oddly, Romney replied with a detailed program of actions (such as indicting Ahmedinejad under the Genocide Convention) but did not make parallel statements of intent.

Like senators who vote leftwards for six years but then campaign as moderates during election season, Obama presented himself in this and the other debates as profoundly different from the president he has been. Someone not versed in his ideology and his record would not realize his distaste for a powerful United States. He sounded like a nationalist, making punchy patriotic statements (“I said if I got bin Laden in our sights I would take that shot”), speaking with a smooth eloquence, and showing himself at ease and in control. The question is, how many people will be fooled by this performance? (October 22, 2012)

Oct. 23, 2012 update: Having been criticized by some for my response to the 2nd debate, it might be useful to explain what I am and am not doing in these analyses.

* Although sympathetic to Romney, I am not flacking for his campaign. I write to express my sincere opinion and assume that readers want that from me.

* My opinions focus on the Middle East dimension of the debate, rather than its possible impact on the presidential race. Perhaps this debate stopped Romney’s momentum, perhaps it did not; that is not my topic.

Originally published at DanielPipes.org and the National Review Online, The Corner October 22, 2012 and updated on October 23. 

Daniel Pipes

Romney’s Plan to Lose the Little Contest and Win the Big One

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

As I was watching the battle proceed before my astonished eyes, with Mitt Romney touting so many of the President’s policies and actually confirming what so many of us know are half truths mixed with wishful thinking, if not outright lies, it occurred to me that someone back on the Romney bus decided not to win last night, but to shoot for a different target. The more the conversation unfolded, the more I understood how such a strategy could have been conceived.

It comes down to keeping your eyes on the prize. You’re the come-from-behind candidate, you’ve won a decisive opener and either won the second debate by points or lost by points, depending on who’s writing the review. You’re tied in the national polls, but still behind in most swing states. Now comes the third debate, and it’s about foreign policy, which means the president has all the best cards, because he understands foreign policy, because his record is mixed—not a complete disaster—and because he killed Bin Laden after you said it wasn’t worth the effort (it really wasn’t, but who’s listening).

The only way to win this debate would have been by attacking the president brutally, confronting him on every fact, cutting into every statement he makes, causing him to lose his footing and to look like a fool. It could be done, and I’m sure many of you watching at home were heckling the living daylights out of Romney for not grabbing all those golden opportunities – but I think he was smart not to. I think the guys on the bus were right. Because Romney could easily have come across as a mean spirited Nixon-like figure, beating on the poor president.

By staying away from the rough and tumble of the first debate, Candidate Romney reached a status equal to that of the man next to him on the split-screens: they both looked ready for office. And that was huge.

Remember, both candidates were really playing for the relatively narrow sliver of independents in swing states. Romney is pushing hard there, gaining on Obama in Pennsylvania, which used to be considered a sure Democratic state only in August and even September. He is ahead in Florida, but he’s still behind in Ohio. Romney has to take Ohio – and he won’t take it by winning on points in a foreign policy debate. He can win Ohio by looking so presidential, you could imagine him on a U.S. postage stamp.

That’s what the guys on the bus told their boss to go for tonight, and, with some hesitation, he followed their orders. It makes no difference now whether or not the pundits will say (as they have done already) that this was a win for Obama. Because there’s one thing Obama couldn’t deny his opponent tonight – respectability. No matter how Obama tried, he couldn’t push Romney so far out to the right he would lose his appeal to the independents.

Bob Schieffer of CBS News started with Libya, and Romney described the troubles associated with the Arab spring. We’ll have to develop a new, comprehensive strategy to combat the negative changes in the Middle East, he suggested.

You would have expected him to start right off the bat with a tirade about how both the president and Ms. Crowley have lied in the last debate about the spirit of what Obama had said regarding Benghazi. But, in retrospect, Romney’s taking the high road was a good strategic step.

Obama recounted his record as president, keeping Americans safe, decimating Al Qaeda, ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He compared the liberation of Libya without boots on the ground to the costly other two wars, saying Libyans now support America. He accused Romney’s strategy of being “all over the map.”

Romney attacked some of Obama’s delusions, but never even got close to a body blow.

Schieffer asked Obama about Syria. Can we influence events there?

Obama mentioned that the U.S. has organized the international community in saying Assad has to go. The U.S. has mobilized sanctions, isolated the government, mobilized humanitarian aid and supported the moderate forces within Syria.

Seriously? We are supporting the Syrian moderates? Those moderates who are taking out whole city blocks with their car bombs? Is the president actually suggesting there are good guys and bad guys in Syria?

Then Obama said that, ultimately, Syria will have to determine its own future. The U.S. is cooperating with Israel and Turkey, its two friends who are next door to Syria. And he opposed giving heavy weapons to the opposition, as he claimed Romney had suggested.

Yori Yanover

Er, No, Obama Didn’t Win the Debate

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

We’ve reached a watershed here, where we either live in our own heads affirming reality, regardless of spurious inputs from demagoguery or sentiment, or we give up on reality and let demagoguery and sentiment take over at the decision table.  Did the president pull off a performance last night, in terms of sounding passionate and full of conviction?  To some extent, yes.  Does that mean he won the debate, or even achieved a draw with Romney?  No.

The mainstream media immediately launched a volley of positive soundbites about the president’s performance, but frankly, they were going to do that anyway.  As long as Obama didn’t collapse on the stage, they were going to say he had his mojo back.

The problem is that in order to sound passionate and full of conviction,Obama had to belt out a remarkable string of untruths.  Besides repeating the same tired lies about Romney’s policies that his campaign has been flogging for the last two months, the president simply lied – there’s nothing else to call it – about the trend of drilling permits under his administration (Romney is right; permits have been slashed).

Obama insisted to Romney that he had called the Benghazi attack terrorism on day one, when in fact, he had not.  He lied about the Arizona immigration-enforcement law, repeating a lie the Democrats have persisted in since the law was being debated in the Arizona statehouse.  The law is carefully and explicitly written to prohibit ethnic profiling stops by law-enforcement officers.  Immigration-status checks can only be done in connection with a stop on another, unrelated basis, such as a traffic stop.

Obama did try to assume the moral high ground on Libya with a riff on Americans’ safety and his responsibility, but it was a cringe-worthy performance from the man who waited until after the Benghazi attack to bring diplomatic-mission security up to a normal standard, and who professes, 36 days after the attack, to still be waiting to find out what happened.  If he really doesn’t know, he’s the only one who doesn’t.  His position that we’re still waiting to assess the attack isn’t judicious; it’s absurd.  Mentally substitute George W. Bush for Obama in this scenario, and try to imagine the MSM giving Bush the benefit of the doubt for 36 days and counting.

I had my concerns about Romney’s performance last night, if only a couple.  Probably the biggest was that he tended to put his most powerful material at the end of each statement, and got cut off just as he was articulating it.  The response to the woman who asked about keeping jobs in the US was a case in point: Romney made a rather convoluted case about China as a currency manipulator, and only after dealing with that arcane topic mentioned that if we want to keep America job-friendly, we have to stop regulating ourselves into an economic coma.  He got cut off saying it; that should have been his opening point.  The American people can dosomething about that.  And whether or not the point about regulation resonated with that particular questioner, it would resonate far and wide among other Americans.

Romney is typically succinct and direct on the economy, and he should apply that style to everything he says in a debate.  He would have made the point about Obama’s own passive investment in China much better by simply stating it outright, rather than repeating the same question to the president – “Have you looked at your pension lately?” – until it began sounding like a second-grader’s taunt.  Just make the assertion, already.  “Mr. President,your pension is invested in China.”  That simple – and, without the weird build-up, slyly devastating.

But rhetorical glitches aside, Romney had substance last night.  He whaled it out of the park on energy and immigration, and came off as genial and presidential.  Interestingly, the Frank Luntz panel saw the same thing.  The MSM’s assessment this morning that the president staged a comeback in this debate is information about the MSM, not about the candidates or the debate.  It’s like they’re narrating some invisible drama that no one else can see.

I don’t think Romney dominated last night’s debate as he did the first one.  But neither did I see the debate as a draw.  Only if it counts as successful communication to use demagoguery to create itch-scratching images for your own base did Obama’s performance equal Romney’s.  Obama’s statements would have had little appeal outside his own base.  And indeed, so many of them were simply false that, to my mind, it requires assuming that your fellow Americans are fools, to think that his communications were probably more effective with them than they were with you.

J. E. Dyer

So What Did Obama Call the Benghazi Attack?

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Since the debate there’s been a lot of analysis as to whether the President designated the attack on the U.S. embassy in Bengahzi, Libya, an act of terrorism.

Throughout most of his speech on September 12th, Obama did call it an “attack” and then later in the speech after discussing the attacks of September 11th, 2001, he said:

Of course, yesterday was already a painful day for our nation as we marked the solemn memory of the 9/11 attacks. We mourned…. As Americans, let us never, ever forget that our freedom is only sustained because there are people who are willing to fight for it…  No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.

So it wasn’t clear that he was referring to the Benghazi attack as a terror attack or whether he was speaking about the 9-11 attacks or both. The New York Times reported this morning that on Sept. 13th, at a campaign speech, Obama had said:

And we want to send a message all around the world — anybody who would do us harm: No act of terror will dim the light of the values that we proudly shine on the rest of the world….

As they didn’t give the context of the statement, we are left to trust them that he was talking about Benghazi.

Then for about a week, administration officials described the attacks as part of a protest-riot against the the U.S. over the “Innocence of Muslims” video which got out of hand. As Romney attempted to point out during the debate, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice called it “a spontaneous, not premeditated attack response” which was attended by “some individual clusters of extremists who came with heavier weapons.” (Here’s a link to a catalogue of quotes from the administration about the attack from the Times).

CNN points out that when he was on “the View,” Obama was asked about how Hillary Clinton had called the attack an act of “terrorism” and whether that was the case. Obama responded saying, “we’re still doing an investigation….”

This looks like a case of semantics overshadowing the main point. Obama did not believe the attack was an act of terrorism. He and his administration’s initial reaction was to play down its significance of the attack. Remember, this is a President who banned the use of the term “War on Terror” in his administration. That’s the point Romney is making and that’s what the discussion should be about.

***

Here’s a good explanation of what the President was referring to when he said “act of terror” in the Rose Garden:

And here’s the debate’s moderator Candy Crowly explaining what she said:

Daniel Tauber

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