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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  December 16, 2012 3:00pm-4:30pm EST

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>> i'm optimistic that we can survive these external threats, the shift of power, globalization, the nuclear threat from iran, globalization, because we're not alone. the united states and the west are in the same battles ourselves. it's the internal threats, the internal cohesion that's at risk, ironically, of success. and that's the thesis of the book, and i'm optimistic that we can do it, but that there are very real challenges. >> ambassador eisenstadt, you were involved in the carter administration. if you could, just recap what you did for the president.
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>> well, i was the president's chief domestic adviser, but it was my recommendation that created the u.s. holocaust memorial museum, the excision that led to that. i -- the commission that led to that. but during the clinton administration, i was ambassador to the european union, and i did as undersecretary all the holocaust negotiations. i negotiated $8 billion of compensation from the swiss, the germans, the austrians for slave labor, forced labor, looted art insurance, property restitution and the like. and here i'm really trying to look at this from the perspective of someone who's been a senior government official but also a leader in the jewish community. and that's why this book has been endorsed by both president perez and president clinton. >> stuart eizenstat, "the future of the jews." this is booktv on c-span2.
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>> you're watching booktv on c-span2. here's our prime time lineup for tonight. beginning at 7 p.m. eastern time, nobel prize-winning author talks about the history of africa and the challenges facing the continent today. then at 8:15, a look at presidential inaugurations throughout history. at 9 p.m. eastern "after words" with cynthia lowen. she talks about her book, "bully," an action plan to combat the bullying crisis. and we conclude tonight's prime time coverage with john meacham. in his biography of thomas jefferson, mr. meacham reports despite mr. jefferson's strong beliefs, he was able to successfully lead the country in a highly partisan political environment. that all happens tonight on c-span2's booktv. >> and now patrick tyler talks
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about the influence that israeli military leaders have had in shaping israeli government policy since the country's founding. this is about an hour, 20 minutes. [background sounds] >> good afternoon. welcome to the new america foundation, i'm peter bergen. it's really my pleasure to introduce patrick tyler, a man who doesn't need introduction. he's author of multiple books on china, the middle east and most recently the excellent new book, "fortress israel," which is a really excellent account of the last several decades of the kind of israeli national security establishment and, obviously, of considerable interest right now given the recent events in gaza. in addition to his work as an
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author, patrick has had a distinguished career at "the new york times" where he was chief correspondent. he was also baghdad bureau chief, london bureau chief, beijing bureau chief, moscow bureau chief, the list goes on and on. and so patrick is going to talk about the big themes of his book for around 20, 25 minutes, and then i'll ask him one or two questions and then open up to you, the audience, for questions. and since c-span is covering, bear in mind that you should wait for a mic and identify yourself and ask a question, not make a statement. thank you. >> thanks, pete. thanks very much for that introduction. i'm very grateful to the new america foundation to, for organizing this event and for all of you coming out on this
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blustery morning. "fortress israel" is my second book on the middle east, and as you know, it's a topic that propels any expert to recite a little prayer before one holds forth. and i like the one that the late mo udall used to use. he would say, lord, give us the wisdom to use words that are gentle and tender, for tomorrow we may have to eat them. probably a pearl of wisdom that susan rice probably thinks today she would like to have taken with her into that hearing a few months ago. a book called "the world of trouble" published in 2009 by farrar, i wrote about american presidents from eisenhower to ford and how each tried to understand the middle east and how each tried to impose a surprisingly discontinuous agenda with often tragic results. and while that book is about
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america's political system, "fortress israel" is a biography of israel's political culture which is an undertaking one has to take -- make with humility as an american. going back to tel aviv over several years driving up the hill to jerusalem and up and down that mediterranean landscape, i became fascinated with how the generals and the intelligence chiefs and the political figures of the ruling elite look out at the world and how strong what i call a martial impulse beats in their chest and how self-assured they are in dealing with us, the superpower, as if they were the superpower in a relationship that would be reversed. and this book is, of course, not about the arabs who comprise the largest culture in the middle east. the arab states are responsible for their own substantial shortcomings on the peace front
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but also for a legacy of hatred and incitement against israel that has to be dealt with in advance. it must be said the arab leaders have shown a deep hostility to the idea of jewish nationhood, and unlike their forebearers, they have shown little empathy for people devastated by annihilation and holocaust in europe. so this book is about israel's political culture. and it's most pointedly a biography of a modern sparta, the story of a military society and a powerful defense establishment, a ruling elite who have found it very difficult over the decades to engage in the processes of peace and who have enter a warrior kind of ethos that overpowers every other institution in national life. the ruling elite in israel is not a large class. there have been only ten prime ministers since david men giewr
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onif you do the double counting, and so it is possible to introduce them as characters in a group biography, and that is what i've tried to do. we must always remind ourselves in looking at any nation's history that all politics is local. and in israel during the first decade of statehood, the pioneer spirit began to flag when israelis were short of water, short of good agricultural base, and when the bright sheen of ben-gurion's leadership began to fade because young people were will hess and less interested in pursuing military service as a career than they were in pursuing what young people everywhere are interested in; career, relationships, etc. men giewr onneeded in the mid
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1950s he realized to remobilize the country, so he began preaching about a sense of new national peril as a voice in the wilderness. most of his peers at the top of what became the leader party opposed his new militarism, especially israel's second prime minister. and he was a man who most americans had not heard of, and he believed passionately that israel's security could only be assured through a strategy of peaceful integration which required compromise and accommodation with the arabs. nasser, the egyptian military dictator who had taken over in 1952, carried on a secret correspondence with him facilitated by our central intelligence agency whose officers believed that israel and egypt could come to terms. yet at the time, the policies based on diplomacy, negotiation,
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integration was anathema to ben-gurion. where ben-gurion said we should get ready for war as a nation, his cabinet, however, said no. its members were listening to sharon who was listening to president eisenhower and to john foster dulles about a new world order of the u.n. charter, about the strategic importance of peace and of conflict resolution by means other than war and conquest. in other words, an end to militarism that had marked the century. and so with the help of a one-eyed general, a young man and others, ben-gurion sought to undermine and destroy his successor's political career. a willful and remarkable visionary, ben-gurion understood that the act seven chase of national peril was good politics. better politics, he wagered, than what sherrod was selling, diplomacy and negotiation.
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ben-gurion understood that to prevail, one had to win elections, and from this period forward -- the period of the mid 1950s -- he never strayed from the narrative of grave threat and peril that kept his core constituency in lockstep with his vision. from that period forward, he also orchestrated the greatest military buildup in the middle east and set out with secret french help to build a nuclear weapons complex, and he laid the foundations for the modern idf, israeli defense forces, and for its doctrine of preemptive warfare within a concept of deterrence that is unique to that military culture. understanding the more fully-revealed context of ben-gurion's tenure as israel's paramount leader or, how he nurtured and employed the warrior class that included -- [inaudible] ariel sharon, itzhak rabin and others allows us to understand
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that israel remains a nation in central to that national impulse, a sense among political elite that is the military option is the best and most certain to get results, that it is the best way to keep the country and its supporters abroad mobilized, that negotiation and diplomacy are a kind of appeasement and surrender. this ethos, the ethos of sparta one could say, always being on the hair trigger for combat, has given rise to succeeding generations of leaders who are stunted in their capacity to wield their sustained diplomacy as a rival to military strategy. one of the first interlocutors i engaged during this period of research was mike hertzog who had spent some time at the washington institute, and he served as chief of staff to ehud barak, and i put this question to him of how the israelis look
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out at the world and the lack of the, the weaknesses of the diplomatic side of their civil institutions. and he looked at me very straightforwardly and said we don't have american culture here. you should start with that. we are still in the process of developing civilian bodies, but for now the whole culture of decision making revolves around the military. it's as simple as that. in israel today the foreign ministry stands as the only bastion of israeli diplomacy. it is the house that sherrod built. yet the person who occupy os the sherrod chair of statesmanship and diplomacy is avision door lieberman who is not that interested in diplomacy, especially with the arabs, and if he had a policy, it is more than likely to abdicate the expulsion of arabs than engaging
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them. so to a great extent in the legacy of ben-gurion's organizational decade has made in israel the army as the country a civilianized army and a militarized civilian culture. and for half a century standing at the center of this martial culture have been those native-born israelis whose parents come as pioneers from all over europe. these young israelis grew up socialized to violence. they didn't bring the intellectual baggage of their parents. they grew up on the land defending farms, standing watch at night. these young israelis fought with the local arabs with whom jousting over land and grazing rights, and when the israelis declared their state in 1948, the arabs attacked them from all states. as arms and volunteers flooded in, the israelis discovered a sering truth; that war delivers
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tangible gains for a victor. a jewish army for the first time in 20 centuries had fought and won, delivering statehood that was immediately recognized by the united states and the soviet union. ben-gurion was not happy with the boundaries seized in the first round of war, and that's what he called it, and he referred to the second round and the third round that was inevitable in his view. but they were boundaries that he had not imagined during all those years prior to '8 when he and -- '48 when he and the leaders of the zionist movement crisscrossed europe in search for support for a homeland. diane, who became ben-gurion's favorite officer, had grown up in poverty, he had fought the arabs in the region of the sea of galilee and the valley where they used stones, clubs and knives in adolescent combat. diane in his lifetime came to read the bible incessantly, especially the old testament. because for him it was a manual
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for war. he loved the stories of david and goliath, samson and of the conquest in book of judges, and he had thought he would become a farmer until the british recruited him as a military scout for their forces, and he found his element there. the british assigned him to the yorkshire rifles battalion that was protecting the british petroleum pipeline that went across palestine up to the ports of the med, and the locals kept blowing up the pipeline, protesting british policies for jewish immigration to the holy lambed. and the british were determined to put an end to it. and the british commander was a heavy drinker and brass-colored whiskers, and he instructed diane to go to the local arab chieftain with an ultimatum. he said, tell that bastard that if there's any further sabotage of these pipelines, i'll blow up his house. and if there continue to be sabotage, i'll blow up every house in his village.
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well, when that didn't put an end to it, diane suggested there might be a more subtle way to deal with, to win arab cooperation, and the british officer wheeled on him and said i didn't come here to teach british soldiers how to crawl in your bloody country, i came here to teach the bloody arabs how the british operate. many years later when the israeli army began blowing up palestinian houses as a means to punish and put down rebellion, people asked where they'd learned such a vile method of collective punishment. i told this story on a bbc interview the other night x there was silence on the other end of the line for a few minutes. [laughter] for westerners israel presents a difficult problem of perception. a broad swath of americans, not just jewish-americans, have admired the pluck and determination of the zionist enterprise. but while we have been encouraged to regard israel as a tiny and embattled democracy in a sea of arab hostility, athens
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with its many shared values, it was not athens as much as sparta that men burr onturned to as the model for his state. zionist revolutionaries had once aspired to be a moral beacon, a light unto nations in a beknights -- beknighted region. and with the pioneer spirit flagging in the malarial swamps of israel's coasts, ben-gurion dramatically shifted his focus in the first decade, building a different kind of polity, a society organized as an army under a concept of self-reliance that called for continuing warfare and military buildup. it was a notion that the struggle with the arabs would be very, very long and that they wouldn't understand that, they could never succeed until they were defeated on a serial basis.
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in less than a decade after its founding, israel had fielded the most agile and powerful armed forces in the middle east and had made secret plans with the help of france to become a nuclear power. by the time the united states -- and this is an interesting and important point -- by the time the united states got deeply involved in arming israel in the late 1960s, israel had already defeated the arabs in two rounds of war; the war of independence and suez. and it was preparing to do so for a third time in this 1967 -- in 1967 and was working urgently to fashion it first two french-supplied atomic explosives to use in case something went wrong in that war. the legacy of those zionist revolutionaries who had enraptured the parlors of europe and america is not the light unto nations that the early romantics envisioned. they instead have bequeathed to the jewish world and to the west a highly-militarized dependency,
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a state that that has failed tog a strong enough institution to balance the military zeitgeist with imaginative and engaging dip diplomacy. this state of affairs, i would argue, represents one of our greatest challenges in the west. why? because here we are a decade after our last big military intervention in the middle east on the knife's edge of making the decision of whether about we go to war with rapp or acquiesce -- with iran or acquiesce in israel's decision to launch such a war with iran. and let me connect this history to the present one more time. diane, who led israel to victory in the '56 suez with crisis believed in what he called the detonator strategy. this was a talk he gave to his general staff after suez. when someone wishes to force on us things which are detrimental to our existence, there will be
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an explosion which will shake up wide areas. and realizing this, such elements in the international system will do their utmost to prevent damage to us. he acknowledged that this was not a very constructive thesis, but it is a thesis, he said, that we should be a kind of biting beast, capable of developing a crisis beyond our borders. if anyone tries to harm us, the explosion will do damage to others. in trying to assess whether israel would launch a preemptive attack on iran's nuclear complex possibly triggering a broad middle eastern war and a new shock to the western economy, western leaders need to take into account israel's plan to play this detonator role which is still intrinsic to the military outlook. and it's a strategy which closely performs to how netanyahu is attempting to posture his government by
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demanding red lines be drawn in the case of iran as a trigger for war. netanyahu and his like-minded departing defense minister ehud barak have been in charge. netanyahu keeps a portrait of churchill in his office, one of the former mossad chiefs likes to remind me. barak sees himself as the ben-gurion of his generation. both are products of the israeli military. barak was the singlemost decorated officer in the idf, and netanyahu served in a commando unit that he headed. and though the israeli military and intelligence chiefs have gone to great lengths to say that much of the officer corps opposes an attack on iran, netanyahu and barak have about -- have half the world convinced that they will launch a military strike as early as perhaps next spring. but the harsh reality is that a prime minister has to obey the law of local politics.
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netanyahu remembers how forcefully the military or hierarchy turned against him in 1999 when more than 100 generals joined political parties to drive him out of the prime minister's officer. they thought he was a reckless prime minister. he is working to prevent a repeat of that by seeking a strong majority, if not unanimity, in his security can cabinet for any war strategy against iran. for my discussions with israeli military and political leaders, i believe that despite the drum beat, the chances of an israeli attack remain remote. every study of the military problem israel faces in mounting airstrikes far from its home territory reveal tremendous risks for the jewish state against palpably insignificant gains in setting back the long-term iranian ambition to develop a nuclear industry by only a year or two.
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netanyahu, in my view, will not risk the catastrophe of war, but the danger of miscalculation is growing. the west can and must oppose a decision by iran's leaders to enter the military realm of nuclear development, but the united states and other nations will have little credibility if the net effect of our actions is to red line the technological development of another state. young iranians who risk their lives for reform and who admire western democracy, in many some cases paying for that advocacy in 2009, are also fiercely nationalistic in defending iran's right to develop technologically. i like to tell the story of the night the ayatollah khomeini died in 1989. i was, by a fluke, the only western correspondent in tehran,
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and we were driving back and forth across the city looking for -- checking at all the hospitals to see which one had a parking lot full of mercedes in them indicating that khomeini was inside. and we came around the corner near one hospital and ran right up against a checkpoint, rooted checkpoint -- road checkpoint. and there comes this heavily-bearded, fierce-looking young man with a kalashnikov and comes to my side of the car, indicating i should roll the window down. he looked at me with those eyes and said what is the best university for electrical engineering in the united states? [laughter] it's a reminder that in our analytical work from which the public sometimes takes a sense of demonization about other cultures that young people
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everywhere want pretty much the same thing. there are, of course, fanatics, there are extremists, but we have lost touch with a great deal of some of the cultures that we find ourself os embattled with. in trying to -- however the iranian crisis turns out this winter, next spring, it's not as important as the profound problem that we face in dealing with the potential detonator strategy emanating over the long run. no country has made a greater commitment to israel's security than the united states. but nearly every president since eisenhower has regretted that he didn't push harder for israel to more fully engage the arabs by developing institutions of diplomacy and compromise. president nixon said he would give israel the hardware of weapons if they would supply the software of dip lo omatic
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flexibility before the yom kippur war. she disappointed him. president ford said this. the philosophical underpinning of u.s. policy toward israel has been our conviction and certainly my own that if we gave israel an ample supply of economic aid and weapons, she would feel strong enough and confident, more flexible and more willing to discuss a lasting peace. but after serial wars, ford lamented, eve -- i've begun to question the rationale for our policy. israel deserves our attention and protection, but 60 years after its founding it remains a nation enthrall, the depth of which has given rise to succeeding generations of leaders who embrace only worse case scenarios, encourages military preemption, covert subversion and undermines any chance for a more engaging
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strategy; diplomacy based on compromise and accommodation. both americans and israelis should build a monument to sherrod, this had doe by figure -- shadowy figure in israeli history whose political career was destroyed by the circle around ben-gurion. sherrod admonished t his countrymen that the question of peace must not be lost sight of for a ing is l moment, and yet israel in the modern era is in danger of losing sight of peace. a new generation of generals sees war planning, covert subversion, covert operations as -- and the acquisition of new weaponry as the only effective national strategy. and the west must face the prospect that israel may not be able to rebuild the strategic consensus for peace like the one that sherrod built very briefly in the 50s and like the one itzhak rabin imposed on the military establishment in 1992,
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an act of courage for which he paid with his life a few years later. as the jewish state and its military establishment become more hardline, more religious, more or prone to problem gate a -- propagate a throne of peril and threat, america will have to lead the world with an act of courage as great as rabin's in rebuilding that strategic consensus for peace. rebuilding it in israel, rebuilding it in the congress here and among the jewish and fundamentalist christian communities who so asingously and often blindly mill trait or applaud it. that will require presidents and presidential candidates to put the security of israel, the issue of israel's security, into a new category of bipartisanship, a very tall order for our society. but the muslim world and israel are pulling away from each other, and can that's the danger. imagine a world in which they were pulling together.
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here's the rub. if israel only develops the institutions for war and continues to neglect the institutions of diplomacy, peace will remain a distant prospect. militarism cannot be a foundation for peace, and americans can millitate for peace. as president eisenhower did, as kennedy did, johnson, nixon, ford and most of the rest. and we can do so without fear of criticism, for it is in our national interest. thank you very much. [applause] >> patrick, thank you very much for that excellent overview of your book. you know, why is it that so much of the pushback on a potential israeli operation against iran has actually come out of the national security establishment? because that would seem to be somewhat at odds with one of the big themes of the book. how do you sort of square that? >> well, the pushback has come
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from the core of the security establishment, but that is an indicator, i would argue, that that very establishment is delaminated and over the past 15 years has been delaminating to the certain extent. you have, now, the hard militarists and believe that what they learned from the suicide bombers in '95 and '96 that peace is a distant prospect, and they've gone over for a very hard view of their adversary whereas others continue to work behind the scenes and in their jobs for -- and believe deeply in engagement with the arabs. i think, also, you've got political elements here. when the mossad chief who who hs basically authored most of the covert action that has set back the iranian military program, it takes a great deal of pride in his accomplishments. it's not that he's a squishy lefty on the peace front, he simply believes as a matter of
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logic that war is more dangerous than the results they're getting from the covert side and that he doesn't trust, he doesn't trust netanyahu to use the war instrument if a neutral way for national interests as ooh posed to a personal political, having a personal political factor in it. so there's a great deal of mistrust for netanyahu as a leader. and in a parallel sense, the same applies to ehud barak who's now probably going to leave this government because he basically has no base if they go to new elections to return to a parliament that would justify him being the defense minister. so there's a great deal of factionallization that has occurred, and the military establishment which has never been monolithic, but it did line up, you know, fairly strongly in the first decade. it is now all over the place, and you have factions within the
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military establishment itself. >> what's your assessment -- we know from david sanger's reporting that to olympic games was a whole set of covert operations against iran. what's your assessment of how successful that was and the extent to which some of these assassinations of people involved in the iranian nuclear program? has that set them back a year or two, or is it hard to tell? is it a game changer or not really? >> it is certainly -- it has certainly set them back a year or two, it is certainly very hard to tell. but it's also certainly a double-edged sword. the extent to which that we go after their industrial base -- excuse me, can i get some water? >> yeah. hey, jennifer? >> thanks. to the extent that we go after their industrial base, it
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incites a certain national reaction that is going to work against our, any kind of efficacious, long-term program to try and take down this nuclear program. thank you very much. take down this nuclear program. in other words, it can backfire. when i refer to the nationalization of the younger generation there, it's a very strong factor. very much recognized by the leadership. even though the elections were such a disaster for the leadership, what they found was there's enormous national pride in the nuclear program. i think the essential problem with the nuclear program is that, is where to set the threshold for nuclear development. and the iranians insist on being
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able to enrich uranium for the national power or grid, for the nuclear reactor they'd like to build to make electricity, medical isotopes and other things while at the same time netanyahu would like to set the threshold bar much lower and prevent them from staying in the uranium enrichment business because it is such a brief sprint from there to military technology. >> some of that showed up in the, in our presidential campaign. there seemed, there was a kind of slightly esoteric discussion of where the red line should be, whether it was capability or having, or being close to having a weapon. can you kind of parse for us a little bit about, um, kind of what netanyahu's red lines appear to be and what our u.s. goth red lines are? -- government red lines are? is there a difference right now
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between the two? >> there certainly is. i'm not sure i can parse it as finely as it certainly exists in some classified form, but basically the technology of enrichment itself once you get to 20% enriched uranium 235, you're then, you then have a very brief period of time to get it up into the 75, 80% range that you can start using it to fabricate a crude, initial nuclear explosive. i think the iranians argue that we've foresworn nuclear weapons and that we want this technology to bring electricity, to produce medical isotopes and to demonstrate that we have the technology, and also to preserve our oil resources by using nuclear power to feed the national grid, to run the national electrical grid and then sell our oil resources for
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a hard currency. i think the obama administration recognizes as you look across the planet, across the globe that you've got so many countries that are at a technological level that you can't go red lining them and saying you can't proceed past, you can't proceed to the point of enrichment. you can't proceed into nuclear development. after all, we were the early promoter ors of nuclear development -- promoters of nuclear development with eisenhower's program for peace and those that followed it. so i think netanyahu wants a hard determination that the iranians can't be trusted, any nuclear work they're doing is an indication that their goal is weaponization, and he would like to set the bar to get their, what uranium resources they have under control and prevent it from being enriched. and also they use this term of
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the impunity, what is the phrase? once the -- it's the impunity factor or something like that. once they bury their centrifuges so deep in a mountain that you can no longer go in with these deep penetrating bombs to destroy it. and once that line is crossed, they can enrich to their hearts' content, they can shut out the iaea inspectors and dash for an enrichment to a high level that they can use to fabricate their first bombs. i think netanyahu's formulation and his red lines are based on a very determined conclusion that iran is after a weapon. >> is there any reason to doubt that, by the way? >> i think that's extremely hard to tell. i think, you know, we've had these relationships with countries and allies that we
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suspect were developing weapons, south korea, taiwan, and -- >> pakistan. >> pakistan and israel. >> right. >> ben-gurion came to the white house more than once and looked into the eyes of american presidents and said, no, that's for -- that's a plant that's going to do some water deal anyization and medical isotopes. you don't have to worry about us. so so it's very hard to say. we have a fatwa from ayatollah khamenei, that's a very important fact that the decision has been made. the revolutionary guard structure which has its own power senders, it's hard to say whether they're in complete ideological alignment on that question. it's hard to understand to what extent they have the authority to push the technology farther as a way of contingency preparation for the day when the ayatollah may change his mind. >> yeah. and i've heard gary sick refer
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to a option where you're six months away, but you're not actually at the point where you have a weapon, that you're very close. >> sure. and i think that obama, be you read what -- if you read what is coming out of the white house over the last two years, would not like to get that far advanced with iran. >> right. >> but would like to acknowledge some way to be able to state publicly that the united states in perhaps developing a new grand bargain with iran is not adverse to the -- avers to the level of technological development that iran ostensibly articulates, and that is developing the national industry of nuclear power for electrical production and other peaceful purposes. >> what did you make of the timing of the kind of gaza events? was there any particular point to the timing, or was it just random happenstance?
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>> usually you mistrust any ran ran -- randomness. israel has an enormous amount of belgium about the new gaza missiles smuggled in since the end of the 2009 invasion of gaza and how complicating that might be in some future contingency in which israel saw itself going after the iranian nuclear complex and worrying about being hit at home from both ends of the country by missiles coming out of gaza and missiles in other, longer-range missiles coming out of the hezbollah-controlled territories of southern lebanon. i you know, i asked myself whether netanyahu wasn't
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clearing the levers, he will replace part of his government with a more right-wing set of characters so that when they do come up for what they have forecast will be their final decision-making process on whether they attack iran, he will have his ducks, his political ducks at home lined up. you have to then ask yourself the question was gaza another piece of that pacifying the southern front, eliminating the missile threat by going in and dropping bombs, taking out the tunnels, putting them back so far that they can't rearm to an extent that the southern part of the country will lie as exposed as presumably the northern part of the country is going to be if hezbollah cuts loose in any israeli assault on iran. so i looked at it in those terms. but there are other undeniable factors in play. they're in the middle of an election campaign, and all of
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the opponents from the labor side, from the more liberal factions, were out campaigning on domestic issues, on economic issues, on jobs and prosperity and quality of life, and it was like a zipper went across the society, and the only image was netanyahu and ehud barak dealing with the very serious issue of -- [inaudible] and if you are a politician in israel, the mantle that you want to be wearing is the one of mr. security, because it lines up and unifies the nation. it mobilizes the country behind your leadership, and people forget, however temporarily, that there are other issues facing the country. because security burns at the center of everything. >> just a point of information, when is the election scheduled now for? >> january 22nd, i believe. >> yeah. and, you know, it seems the peace movement is sort of dead in israel. is that your -- >> no, i don't think that the peace movement is ever dead in israel. it is certainly hard to find and
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certainly below periscope depth. but the polling continues to show that there's a majority in both communities, arab and palestinian and israeli, that is interested in a deal provided that, you know, certain, you know, threshold requirements for each constituency are reached such as security for the israelis and for the palestinians, return of lands and the division of jerusalem and some compromise on the right of return. so i tell people pessimistic about this issue to remember the cold war. we all believed our generation would go to the cemetery still fighting moscow over, you know, the division of the world in the cold war. and one morning we woke up, and it was gone. and if you look at the trajectory of conflict in the middle east from 1948 up until
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camp david when jimmy carter closed the deal on the egyptian front to bill clinton who nearly closed the deal in the last, literally, the last days of his administration, the world is about that close. still some very tough issues and large compromises to make, but the world has come about that close to a settlement in the middle east. it's possible. israel's at peace with jordan, it's at peace we egypt. it is a time when peace, another peace accord, a final status accord could give israel an amazing new set of relationships in a region that has now awoken for a few political -- for a new political era and would, if you take away that sering, core issue that has animated politics for the last 40 years, the arab and the palestinian dispute, everything seems possible in the
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wake of that. >> patrick, you mentioned the arab awakening, and to what extent does that make it more likely that peace might in some way move forward, and to what extent is there a discussion in israel about how israel's position in the world has changed as a result of the arab awakening? >> i think it's a very crucial moment in history. the -- and a very dangerous moment. it is very easy and certainly there is a large class of israelis who look at the arab awakening as extremely threatening as a return to 'em mity, as the growth of the islamic threat in the same way that we look at al-qaeda and fear that they are doomed in some way to endless warfare to protect themselves out into an unlimited future. and then there's, there are other groups that see
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opportunities in this awakening. but you can't move on engagement of the arabs at this crucial period in the way that israel needs to engage the arabs to be helpful, constructive and fruitful in its quest for kind of laying down the foundations for a new set of relationships in the region without getting back to softening the core issue of the palestinian problem. and that's got to come first in a way. i'm not sure benjamin netanyahu doesn't see it that way. a large part of the political majority in israel today doesn't see it that way, but just the emergence this week of tippy livni with her determination and spirit to take on netanyahu again with this as the centerpiece issue, the future of the palestinians, she's going to lose. she's going to lose badly. but it shows that the spirit is alive, and if a constellation comes together again, a
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political constellation -- and who knows who's going to lead it, whether it might be barak coming back or livni if she learned how to be a more clever politician she hasn't been up to now -- that peace majority could emerge the same way it did under itzhak rabin. >> in your previous book, it was really an assessment of every american president's relationship with israel. how would you assess the obama first term, you know, just overall in terms of the issues of peace, relations with israel, and what do you think the second term may bring? >> you can't look at the obama first term and not see that he raised expectations remarkably and then didn't fulfill them, and that that was a great disappointment to him and to most of the people in the middle east and, certainly, americans who are interested in promoting a peace agenda there.
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i think he, you know, like many presidents you come into office with a very steep learning curve and that obama is an intellectual who believes the thing you do as a president is get the policy right and then try and line up the politics. and really it's the inverse. you have to line up the politic before you can start thinking about what policies you can squeeze into those within the brackets of that political formulation. george w. bush recognized instantly as a political man what 9/11 had conferred upon him in terms of political opportunity. you could see it in his face those first two days of 9/11, i mean, certainly it was a national tragedy in terms of the potential he had just been handed to move the country in some direction. we can debate how we moved it, but he was given that great
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opportunity. so obama, obama hasn't had that opportunity. he thought he could create it, and he thought he could take the goodwill that had been generated around the world by those speeches and the interviews he did in the first months to roll, and netanyahu, to overcome his recalls trance and to take the steps that were necessary to return the parties to the table in the middle east. and he got defeated essentially by the israeli government, by net netanyahu and by its supporters here in washington and in congress. one criticism i would make of the first four years is when he realized that he was going to have to put on the shelf, remember, he had set at the outset i'd rather start on it early than wait like clinton did until the last months. when he realized he was going to be forced to do that, he didn't come up with a bridging strategy or a bridging dialogue with the
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region that could maintain the faith, as it were. and instead he started parroting the lines, almost the lines of aipac talking points on the hill and what not in a way that, i think, was extremely frustrating to all those people who had projected their hopes on him in the first term. now, all that being said, i think in the second term, you know, the level of expectations is probably more chastened. but it's still there. it's still very high. i think that obama is an idealist in the same way that jimmy carter was. carter is more derivative of his religious upbringing, his devotion to the notions of peace in the middle east whereas obama, i think, comes at it more intellectually, but more as someone who has lived outside of america and looked back at it and sees it, has seen it the way other people in the world do and, therefore, understands more intensely the importance of this
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issue to the world. and so i think his idealism will compel him forward. but that being said, he is now facing towering domestic issues, economic issues. and every president has to look at the middle east and say do i want to get up on that high wire while i can't afford to lose one senator or ten congressmen on the votes that are coming on the avoiding the fiscal cliff, straightening out the long-term debt, reforming the entitlements programs, all of those domestic issues that we know are crucial to our future as a country. and it's a very, very tough balance to strike. so my suspicion is it's going to get kicked down to the last months of his administration, and if he takes -- he'll make a calculation in his last year about what are the legacy swings i can make like a batter at the plate trying to hit a home run. what are the swings i can make
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in my last months to try and close something, and it will depend on who's the prime minister in israel at that moment and how strong he is and where the congress is on the issue. because he will have to -- no president can undertake this without some kind of base in congress. >> now to the audience. if you'll wait for the microphone, identify yourself, ask a question, and we'll start with some of the ones in the back and then move forward. >> to your last point, doesn't the urgency of the iranian situation and the view from many arab countries that iran represents the greater threat to them as opposed to israel create an earlier opportunity for peace with arab countries previously aligned with palestinian-arabs
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perhaps providing the kind of pressure that was needed at the end of the clinton administration, but applied in the context of the iranian threat early in the second obama administration as a force for peace? >> my impression in watching it over the years is that you can't peel off the arabs from the palestinian issue by arguing that there are more important fish to fry in the middle east. i think we've deluded ourselves in certainly that a neoconservative movement deluded itself in the george w. bush administration by arguing that a realignment of the region, toppling of saddam hussein, a complete makeover of the region, a democratization in iraq perhaps would have spillover effects were simply pushed away all the power of the palestinian issue. but i think it is sometimes
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difficult for americans to understand how radioactive it is at the core of politics in the region. there are many things going on, and you can find any egyptian on any given day is thinking more about what his country's going to be like in the next year and in the next five years than is happening in gaza. but as soon as you bring on, turn onal al-jazeera and he sees what's going on in gaza, it brings it all back. it's not just about the pal stints, it's about the relationship of the region to the great powers also and the demand that has been so profoundedly powerful in the region that the great powers respond on the this, respond to that. so i think that there's a great deal of urgency with the iranian issue. i think america has to, is going to have to work as the middleman , one side relationship, basically, of
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restraint preventing israel from going off half cocked on a mission that will drag us into something that we will all regret and at the same time dealing with the arabs who respect coming to us -- aren't coming to us, looking to us for leadership in solving the iranian crisis. i sense a lack of urgency in the white house more than urgency in the sense of scaling back. we don't know what secret circuits and back channel circuits that are active in communicating to the iranians that the outlines of various kinds of compromises on their nuclear program. and so i don't see it as an issue that can, that can pull the two sides together by somehow shunting the palestinian issue to the side.
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>> right here in the blue. >> my name's katherine -- [inaudible] i was wondering about the op-ed that owe si bay lin published in "the new york times" on monday saying that the united states should support the palestinian bid for recognition at the u.n. as a way of undermining hamas and strengthening the pa, sort of last chance, i think, for the pa. what is your point of view on that? the united states has opposed the bid, basically, because israel opposes it, but would it really be in our interests to support it? i'm a little bit confused. i'm very supportive of the palestinians, but i'm a little bit confused about whether this is really in the palestinians' interests, although i certainly think it would be in their interest if they had the ability to use things like the international courts for human rights purposes. >> yeah. i think that the statehood issue is somewhat of a diversion.
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there are plenty of people in the world who would like to upgrade the palestinian status at the united nations as mainly a way to give them a measure of support, buck them up a little bit, because they're going through a long period of stasis in which they are powerless and divided and unable to control events in any way. it is a diversion anytime you go down a road that can't take you to what the essential equation has to be, and that is two parties at a negotiating table working out a final status agreement that creates the palestinian state. and so i think it is, it is a little bit like a formal infad da. it is the palestinians trying to throw off the strictures that bind them from getting anything else done, from making any progress and from showing their people that they can get any kind of results. if they can promise that they
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might get the result of increased recognition and that that would be an overall good thing, i think the, you know, if you're a political adviser, you'd say, why not? let him go for it. it agitates, it eachs the issue -- it keeps the issue alive, it agitates people. if they don't work on the important front, that we have our own detonator strategy, that we'll blow something up politically at the u.n. that'll take months for you to clean up. so it's a diversionary symptom, the lack of progress on the main event. >> person here. we're coming, we're moving forward. you'll get your turn. ..
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>> the ironnians, and the missiles out of the water to blow up oil tankers to try to shut down the oil commerce through the state of hormuz. they worked on ballistic missiles, and they very recently had a series of test launches to
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demonstrate that there will be a serious contender to launch long range ballistic missiles, the threshold in which you demonstrate to the world that you can carry a military warhead in such a vehicle. they also have aircraft. the systems today, in our modern world, it's hard to -- it's hard to think through what all of them might be, but they are asmet -- a-se met try call. in the persian gulf u -- you know the distance between the oil terminals across the persian gulf, and how that gulf is full of maritime commerce. i mean, low tech maritime commerce like the wooden doughs they used to sail up and down. you could pack a lot of explosives into one of those and get it close enough to
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industrial facilities on the saudi side that you could terrorize the region just by setting one off so iranian enrichment important for weaponnization, military systems, and they are in pace for that on parallel tracks. >> east africa, the operation culture. first, thank you for your great presentation. it was historical overview in a couple minutes. learn a lot about the history of israel. my question is related to the evidence that triggered the evidence with the killing of the head of hamas security, which,
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by the way, was behind the release of the israeli soldier, and he was working closely why israeli security to solve other problems. i wonder why kill someone that twill was able to achieve a lot -- actually able to achieve a lot in the interest of israel. as your title set it, they cannot make peace or do not want to. some people in the middle east say that the state of israel cannot stean without the state of war. thank you very much. >> well, there's a long history of targeted killings in the israeli security establishment, and each one is debated internally around the table with the prime minister, someone from the legal jurisdiction, attorney
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general, but also the heads of the intelligent services and the military and military intelligence services, and they debate, and in the case of al-jabari, the mill at that particular time chief of hamas, he was running those operations for a long time. he may have been involved in the holding and hiding of the young corporal held for more than five years. he may have been involved in a number of attacks, smuggling, missiles, missile technology into hamas, and he may have also evolved as a political figure, reports in that week, interested in discussing truths between hamas and the israelis, and, of course, it reflects back to earlier assassinations that occurred in the middle of discussions about whether a truth was about to emerge or
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hamas was interested in accepted it. when the preacher, founder of hamas, assassinated in 2004, he sent a message, made a statement that he was interested. he had a friendship with an israeli rabbi in which they were working on a religious formula to solve the conflict, and even though he was remarkably violent man. i mean, he drove hamas to a state where it was, a terrorist organization. he was also a moderate in -- of the hamas leadership and that he believed a long term truce with israel would -- china, both sides of the taiwan straits. the taiwans and chinese agreed to put the war issue on hold and
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just remain doing business the next 30 years with the chinese believing tie -- taiwan would be absorbed, deferring the war issue that way and the people knit the two societies back together. they had that kind of vision about the future, and others have in hamas, and there are intelligence chiefs who understand that and believe, therefore, israel ought to be talking to hamas, the deputy head, and was another cheer arguing forcefully that as was said, you only make peace with your enemies. you got to talk to your eenmies. that said, when the security establishment spends months preparing an assassination package, the momentum to carry out that assassination becomes a
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political issue within the cabinet, and sometimes momentum of the constituencies and the chiefs that go for their budget every year to justify the weapons they buy, hell fire missiles, the helicopters they use in the targeted killings, they have to justify themselves. sometimes that military method can overpower any competing political argument that, wait, we have to talk to this guy. he seems moderate or he seems interested in a truth. it's hard to say what happened in this case. he had blood on his hands. they are in a war. somebody said let's kill him, and benjamin netanyahu said, okay. it is the prime minister that makes the final decision. it will be a long time before we know what the other factors were on the table. >> this lady here.
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i'm maryann stein, a long time member of americans for peace now, trying to persuade both sides to move towards peace, not very successfully, obviously, but curious to know there's been a number of articles and pieces written recently that this aftermath of the gaza -- the latest gaza action, may actually provide opportunities, some unique opportunities for moving forward, and in your comments, you said that you thought that it's very likely that obama will not pick this up, which i rather agree with. i wonder if he were so inclinedded, what you think the -- inclined, what you think the opportunities would be and how
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he might go forward, and i'll throw in there's an awful lot of people saying now he should send bill clinton over. i can't imagine he would take it up, but if he were to, incredibly popular in the region, and there's many people who believe he would use that in the political savvy to interest. opinion on those two points? >> it's hypothetical. i won't spend too much time on it. if now were the time to do something, what would you do? well, i don't know. call them to camp david? call hamas leader and benjamin netanyahu? if hamas joined the government, plenty of ministers would say it's a terrorist government, can't do business with it and overcoming preconditions is what the work is of getting people to
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the table. carter spent his first year banging his head how to do it, and a peace conference in geneva thinking the soviets could pull the party together and failed and everybody came out of retirement and slashing at carter across the water. he had to walk away from that, and got the thought to call them to camp david and talk to them any way he could and thought until the last minute he failed. start by looking at what are the greatest points of resistance with each party now and how to overcome them. congress would be up in arms, letters every day from 95 senators or 33 # 3 house members
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insisting the president stand up for his rights. it would be hard. you can imagine where the fiscal cliff negotiations would go in that atmosphere. bill clinton is an -- i've heard the same reports with interest. the problem, and bill clinton is extremely popular with certain israelis. he didn't like ben berne -- he didn't like ben benjamin netanyahu, and benjamin netanyahu didn't like him. the question is how? he's no longer the president of the united states. even if he was the high profile negotiator for this president, it's only the president and his administration that are pushing for some resolution, and i think it would be hard for bill clinton to go into that process
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as effectively as we remember him in he was president undertaking the same efforts in the last days of his administration. it would certainly help him a lot. it might be more i efficacious f they brought in bush, who is still missing a legacy in his life, and have that bipartisan cast to it, might be an interesting way to approach it, but hard to go against benjamin netanyahu, if he comes out of the election with a lant -- landslide mandate and tougher, harder cabinet, but that's what makes me think it'll be pushed back to this -- to the end of the second term. >> tat trick, -- patrick, any sense of israel if they hit obama too much, that this is his second tab?
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>> doesn't seem to be any penalty for jamming the president. his popularity keeps going up. you know, he may be into a re-election cycle, but the economy is good in israel, always an important fark tore. the state of security, although they had missiles coming in from gaza, is pretty strong. tel-aviv is a great mediterranean city that lives in isolation to the squaller and oppression that exists within 50 miles of it in occupied territories. young israelis, startled by the fact that young israelis are ignorant of what goes on over the hills and long cease to care what goes on in palestinian villages and towns and along the fence and whatnot.
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the separation is intense, and it is politically debilitating for the peace process. where it's going -- where the initiative comes from is hard to say. >> gentleman in the front who has been patient. >> very patient. >> thank you. >> from the arab league. thank you, patrick. for how long do you think that this military mentality will continue? you'd think the only way to peace is to counter attack, by, really, there's no way for peace. should they wait for another generation, one or two generations, are they really ready to make peace? the gaza incident, difficult as
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it was, proves that still, no matter how weak you are, the party is strong. you still -- other outside powers can limit power by intervention of united states or egypt, although i feel united states is the one who did moist of that. what do you think? >> i think history tells us that those times when progress has been made most dramatically. that's been some intervention from the arab street that energized it, and the most poignant of those, a compleal spoon tanout event that shocked both sides and had a profound effect on one growing up in the military system, who just built the army that won in 18967, and he was just about a tough a guy in the israeli military you
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could meet, looked out across the smoking tires rising, you know, smoke coming out of gaza and the west bank saying there's no military solution to this. we need a different approach. he crossed the rubicon. it was the first time since a time that an israeli prime minister crossed the rubicon like that. i don't think you can count vagan, what he did was important, but didn't come to a sense there was no military solution with the pal palestinis wanting to take the west bank and gaza because he believed they were part of the historic lands of israel, and he coveted them and really made the peace in e just a minute clearing the way to go after the plo and he thought he'd get a compliant community to impose, but, now, today, you ask to ask yourself the question what is benjamin netanyahu waiting for? at some point in the not too distant future, the demographics
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put m israel in -- demographics put israel in the position ever -- of what the leaders refer to as a partide states, you rule and occupy territories and that are even israeli citizens, and, therefore, they are subject, and how can you rest a jewish state for future generations. there's not an answer for that, and when you try to infer that answer from, you know, the statement, it seems like he's still playing a strategy of time in that something his grandfather said if you wait long enough, you only have to give 2% rather than 22%, and, somehow, it's still vile in his
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mind to have a palestinian entity that's so truncated and obscure and invisible with israel ram participant in the -- pam -- rampant in the securities, and in the air spaces, and those who have rights and name only, that somehow that's still possible in his mind, and that that -- his part of the right wing from his father and those who his father woked for, believed in that kind of formulation, that if you wait long enough, you win and get the thing you want which is almost all of the land. >> gentleman here. >> a write mostly on --
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[inaudible] why hasn't the united states and europe done more to make the muslim countries, only a few countries recognize, why hasn't the u.s -- recognized israel, and the other is you see the way they look upon nuclear arms of iron, why suspect it concerned about the nuclear arms of pakistan? >> well, there was a time in the city when it was extremely concerned with the nuclear arm of pakistan. i remember when i came to town in the carter years, the books written at the time about the islamic bomb and the words, a senator from california, allen cranston who had hearings about the threat from a pakistani bomb, and there was a sense that it was to be opposed,
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interventions, and -- >> asking why isn't israel concerned about the pakistani bomb? >> well, i was giving the american answer, but i think that the same parallel existed in israel at the time. why today? very good question. i think it believes that the united states, the u.s. relationship with pakistan and the effective american over the region as the preimminent military power is a prof lactic against the dangers of the bomb, and if they had their, you know, they would be happy if it disappeared, but they are pragmatic about the fact that it exists, and that there's nothing they can do about it, but they
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have energized, i think, their friends and supporters here to make sure there's a very active american policy, and probably, a lot of intelligence sharing to make sure that program doesn't become a threat to israel. first question -- >> american pressure to get countries to recognize israel. >> yeah. i think that that's kind of regarded of a counterproductive exercise begin that the most arab states believe that the only leverage they can hold having begin up the leverage of war is to withhold their recognition of israel until the palestinian issue is addressed and resolved, and in some manner that is satisfied the region, and so i think any arab leader
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that was call for recognition would have to calculate carefully what the reaction of the domestic constituencies, and even in egypt, you know, holding on to the treaty that existed is quite a difficult and laborious exercise for the new egyptian president because there's so much sympathy for the palestinian cause in egypt so i think that's just a question of leverage. long term, the arabs want to trade recognition for the establishment of the palestinian state, and that's the core of king abdullah's offer of the arab initiative in 2002 was to trade recognition for a return to the 67 voters or so much so.
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>> thank you for the brilliant presentation. his books outside. i'm sure he's willing to sign one if you buy one. [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> this book, in particular deals, i think, at its heart with several deserts, but, ultimately, the subtitle is "boom and bust in the new old west" so i'm looking at the way the economy affects our lives,
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the way the economy gets into our very bodies. it's a book that i wrote because i, my body, arrived in the desert under very particular circumstances in the winter of 1997 when i was broke, broken, and on drugs. i was in mexico city where i had been lucky enough to go under a book contract from new york. i got an advance from a new york publisher to write a book. it was a dream come true, and in mexico city, by november of 1997, i crossed the deadline, and i didn't have a word written, and i was broke. i called the only friend that i could count on at that point because my lifestyle had led me
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to destroy my personal relationships. i called a performance artist from costa rica who lived in the united states for years, met through the solidarity networks, arts and politics back in the 1980s, and i said, she happened to be leaving in the village of joshua tree, california, at that particular time. there's a set of circumstances that led her to, you know, who's from -- from the tropics of central america, you know, how did she wind up in the desert? everybody has a story out in the desert of how they got there. she said, we'll take care of you, give you a place to live, and shortly this afternoon, i arrive in the desert, and one of the first things that i saw when i rented any little shack out in the sand next to a sign that said "next service 100 miles,"
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the town of 29 palms, east of joshua tree, i felt the need to go further out. they were on the edge of a beautiful national park. you know joshua tree; right? you know the u2's album; right? a joshua tree looks like crazy arms going this way and that. [laughter] well, i wanted to go further out. there was something existential drives me further and further out into the nothing, the big empty as they say about the desert. the further out you went, rents got cheaper and cheaper and cheaper. i paid $275 a month for a two bedroom house on five acres of land on the edge of 29 palms where the sign said "next service is 100 miles," and that's where the book begins. it begins with a personal crisis and arriving -- it was no
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accident that i arrived on this particular land scape, ultimately, the desert has been the site of restorative pill -- pilgrimage for the my len ya. at that point moment, i don't think i was aware of what i was doing. i didn't say to myself i'm in big trouble with my life, i must go heal in the desert, but, ultimately, that's the space sighs entering, and, later op, i realized that that all the symbolism was there to receive me and began the process of healing and getting to know this place, including, almost immediately, dealing with the fact that i was arriving on a land scape that had as many problems as mexico city with drugs. i was coming from a place of addiction and all the pain and the struggle that goes with
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that, and arriving in a place where meth was devastating the landscape or labs were exploding, and where young marines were training and doing drugs to escape the terrible reality in their heads and in their bodies, so if i was going to site that carried ancient symbolism of healing pilgrimage, i was also entering a place that was the opposite of that, a fan tas gore call place. many years after i missed to joshua tree and 29 palms, actually, just a few years later, i met my partner, angela garcia, in the audience tonight, teaches in stanford and wrote a wonderful book about the desert called "the pastoral clinic" about addiction. i met her far away from the
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desert, but she's from the desert. that's one of the things i fell for immediately about her, the fact she was a desert girl, a western girl with a capital "w," from nebraska, the south value -- new mexico, from the south valley. we lived in new mexico together while she did research on addiction for her research paper. we have stapp ford people remitting here -- we have stanford people representing here tonight. [laughter] i followed her on to another land scape, northern new mexico, which i'd already seen. i had been there a couple times as a tourist when i was younger, but we've seen new mexico remitted arian tis -- artistically whether it's a


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