March 12th, 2012
03:07 PM ET

GPS Panel: Iran, Israel and a Palestinian state

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave President Obama a gift in Washington this week. It was a copy of the book of Esther, which tells the tale of a benevolent king who saved the Jewish people from an enemy who wished to destroy them - a Persian enemy (not very subtle).

So where does the Israel-Iran conflict end? On Sunday, I had an excellent panel to talk about that and much more.

Daniel Levy is co-director of the Middle East Task Force of the New America Foundation.

Bret Stephens is the foreign affairs columnist for the Wall Street Journal.

Rula Jebreal is an Israeli-Arab journalist who has worked as an anchorwoman in Italy and Egypt.

Elliott Abrams was deputy national security advisor in George W. Bush's administration.

Here's a transcript of our conversation (video above):

Fareed Zakaria: So Elliott, tell us what you think Netanyahu took back from his visit to Washington? What do you think - how did he read the mood and what did he tell his cabinet when he went back?

Elliot Abrams: I think he would have read the desire on the part of the president that he not bomb Iran, but I don't think things changed much during the visit.

He knew that it was the president's view. Certainly in the public discourse, the president did not offer him much more than he had previously done in terms of what the United States would do about Iran.

A slight toughening of the American rhetoric, but not enough, I would think, to change the fundamental Israeli view that they're probably going to need to take care of themselves.

Fareed Zakaria: But you don't think that by saying containment is not our policy. That was a big shift. That was a kind of unequivocal explanation that, you know, we are going to try to prevent this from happening. I thought that was further than either your administration or Obama had gone.

Elliott Abrams: Obama in 2009 used the p-word, prevent, and even in the state of the union message he was pretty tough. To say now, yes, it's good that he said containment is not an option. But when you say things like it's unacceptable or it is my policy to prevent, that still falls short of saying this will not happen, and saying it to the ayatollahs as well. This will never happen.

Bret Stephens: Well, there are some subtleties here. First of all, there's an issue of timing. I think what the president really wanted from the prime minister was don't bomb between now and the first Tuesday in November. I think there was an aspect of the political calculation. There's also a strategic nuance that's very important between Israel and the United States. For Israel an Iranian nuclear break-out capability is tantamount to a nuclear capability.

That's to say if the Iranians have part of their nuclear program here and another part here and another part there and can rapidly assemble it, that gives them a de facto nuclear capability. The United States is saying that break-out capability isn't quite the same thing as being a nuclear power, and that's a distinction that I don't think a lot of people got except at fairly high levels of policy making.

But it's the distinction that matters most of all for Israeli decision makers pondering whether to strike Iran. Can they allow Iran to get to that break-out point, not the point where they can actually test a bomb?

Fareed Zakaria: Interestingly, the Israelis are, shall we say, a little less eager, as far as I can tell, to bomb than the Americans on this table. What do you think the people in Israel will take from this trip?

Rula Jebreal: Well, the newspaper in Israel said yesterday that 58 percent of the Israelis today are against any decision or actually against any attack towards Iran without the U.S. backing it and without the U.S. actually starting it.

Israelis today are actually very worried about the economy in their country. Especially after the last summer we had huge protests in the streets for the high cost of living, and Netanyahu, you know, tried to calm down the things. But the prices of living are becoming very high. Iranian issue is not the first concerns of the Israelis today.

Fareed Zakaria: Would you agree that most Israelis - do you think - I think what you are saying is that in a way Netanyahu is trying to change the subject from a topic where Israelis are really concerned, which is social unrest?

Daniel Levy: This is a fantastic distraction issue - both in terms of domestic, social, and economic issues and, of course, in terms of internationally the Palestinian issue.

For an Israeli leader to come to the United States, make a load of speeches, not mention the Palestinians, a dramatic success in his terms for his right wing coalition. This is top-down driven. Not bottom-up inside Israel.

The kind of speech that the prime minister gave in Washington - Holocaust analogies everywhere - he hasn't made that speech in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. He was criticized for doing that. The opposition leader said it was scaremongering, it was hysteria, it was shameful use of the Holocaust.

But I think the most important outcome of the visit this week is that the Israeli security establishment folks who are not enthusiastic about an Israeli solo mission, vis-a-vis Iran, I think they got the kind of assurances that they wanted to hear from the American president or enough of them because the Israeli and American positions are actually rather close - ruling out of containment, ruling in at some stage of a military option. In fact, the critique that should be heard perhaps of President Obama's position is not that it's not hawkish enough. But perhaps that given everything going on in the region, given that the Iranian regime is actually weakened now, we're not right sizing the Iranian threat. We're not looking at how do you shift the balance by not focusing nuclear, by focusing on other issues?

Elliott Abrams: The view of the Arabs with whom I speak in the Middle East and particularly the Gulf Arabs - and if you look at opinion polls, you know that opinion polls in those countries are very grim when it comes to their views of Iran.

Daniel Levy: No, sorry. Opinion polls put the Palestinian issue first. America is a greater threat than Iran.

Elliott Abrams: These countries have people that are responsible for their security, and those people are extremely worried about the Iranian threat as is the president of the United States. Put yourself nicely to his left. That's fine. Our leadership is convinced that Iran cannot be allowed to have a nuclear weapon.

Daniel Levy: It's also convinced that Iran has not made a decision to cross the threshold to get a nuclear weapon. That's what Dempsey said, the chief of staff.

Eliott Abrams: Whether they've made the decision yet, as long as they have the opportunity to make it next week, then the question is what does the United States going to do about it?

Rula Jebreal: Let's listen - we've already made this mistake, and I'm sorry, and I understand your position working with the ex administration, we made this mistake ten years ago. We didn't listen to the secret service. We had confused information from the intelligence about Iraq. We went to Iraq. We spent trillions of dollars killing thousands of soldiers, American soldiers, and thousands of Iraqis, and in the end the outcome, they didn't have any weapons of mass destruction.

Plus, you are talking about Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Honestly, if you go to the real Arab mainstream, the streets, and you ask the people shall we attack Iran, do you think today they don't have any sympathy for Iran after the Arab spring, but do you think really they would support that attack? I'm not sure.

Bret Stephens: Part of the problem that you have here, if I may say so, is you are making this out to be an argument against shady intelligence sources, vis-a-vis Iraq. That dog won't bark because the argument you have is with the International Atomic Energy Agency and I'm sure you read the report –

Rula Jebreal: It was ambiguous.

Fareed Zakaria: They claim it's ambiguous. They say we can't certify because they're not cooperating. They do not say there's any kind of smoking gun.

Elliot, I was struck a piece in the New York Times this week pointing out that with all this talk about Iran - and the way in which the subject has been, as Dan was saying, redefined by Bibi - the Palestinian issue has just fallen by the wayside and the article described how the Palestinian leadership was almost kind of so marginalized they didn't know what to do.

Elliott Abrams: Well, it's true. If you look at the Obama-Netanyahu White House appearance together in the oval office, the word Palestine did not escape the lips of either man. Nor did it get mentioned by Netanyahu in his big APAIC speech.

I think this is partly because they're expecting not only the American election this year and a possible Israeli election this year. Nothing will happen until 2013. So I think there is a certain satisfaction that they're off the front page because if they were on it, they would not know what to do.

Fareed Zakaria: Dan, isn't it fair to say that Obama kind of miscalculated, whatever your position on the issue, he got out maneuvered by the Israeli government.

Daniel Levy: Of course, opposing settlements which I think is what you are referring to is a position that every administration has taken. I think it wasn't that he made settlements an issue. The settle in numbers in the West Bank alone have trebled since the beginning of the Oslo Process.

This is an extremely serious obstacle to any potential of a future two-state solution. I think he didn't back it up by being able to win that argument with the Israeli prime minister.

I think that what you are seeing at the moment and the president said quite clearly in his AIPAC speech, this isn't about me being a supporter of Israel. I have given the military support. The Israeli president said there's been unprecedented assistance under this presidency. He said if you are going against me, either it's pure politics, or it's because you don't like the fact that I'm pursuing a two-state solution, and we have to recognize that this is a changing Israel and an Israel in which the majority of members of parliament of the ruling party don't support a two-state solution.

And you increasingly have a shrill debate inside the Jewish community where you have people who represent the majority of American Jews, who have a liberal predisposition. The Tom Friedmans, the J Streets, the new Israel fund trying to walk a tight rope that says 'we're trying to save Israel as a democracy. We're trying to prevent what Israeli prime ministers have called a South Africa apartheid reality.'

We need the help of the American president to do that because there are those of us who won't support apartheid, and imagine there are other people who will.

Bret Stephens: That was a beautiful five-minute speech, and thanks for brooking no interruption, but I wish, Daniel - I wish, and I say this as a guy who is on the other side of the debate. that it could be solved as easily by removing settlements because I think any serious person understands that if that were the only obstacle to peace, the settlements would have been gone long ago.

In fact, they never would have been put there in the first place. It would have been lovely to see Gaza turn into a showcase of what the Palestinians with their talents are capable of. They turn into a group of terrorism and a source for war. That is why Israelis no longer believe, much as they would like to, that settlements are the primary issue here. This is a nice idea because it makes it easy, but the reality is not as easy as you would suggest.

Rula Jebreal: I'm not even sure that you ever have seen a settlement or how it works unless you have seen the facts on the ground. This prime minister, we remember, the heads of Israel is the one that actually destroyed any chance of two-state solutions. And, you know what, Palestinians have to hold back and thank him because there would be only one solution, and that's one state for everybody. I'm not sure that one state would be a Jewish state in the future.

That state will be demographically impossible to hold together, everybody, and it will be not be a Jewish state. One other thing, the Oslo Agreement was signed in 1993. Since then, there are 200 settlements. There were 60.

He is right in saying that most of the steps that were made on the ground, look at even the wall - the wall - the borders between Israel and Palestine are 380 kilometers. The length of that wall is 680 kilometers. What does that mean? It's just about annexing more land. These are the facts on the ground. You don't like them. You like them. The problem is not only with settlements. With Gaza, you can't say, 'OK, I left Gaza, but then you left it so close that it became –

Elliott Abrams: He says the word terror. Terror built the wall. It was a wall for years and years and years after 1967, and Sharon built it when the second intifada was killing Israelis in buses week of week after week. We are not talking terrorists.

Daniel Levy: There's a difference between building a wall on an internationally recognized armistice line and building a wall deep inside of the territory.

Elliott Abrams: It's the only country in the world that is under daily attack, rockets and missiles.

Daniel Levy: It is not under daily attack, Elliott. It's not under daily attack. I'm delighted. The Israeli security establishment acknowledges it is not under attack.

Elliott Abrams: It's because of the wall you denounce and because of the wars you denounce. It's –

Fareed Zakaria: I want to ask one question to Rula because I was struck by one other piece in the newspapers, which was a controversy in Israel that the one Arab on the Supreme Court did not sing the Israeli national anthem. Do you think this caused a huge controversy. Now, you are an Israel-Arab. Do you think it was OK for him? Do you think that his basic - I think the basic view is that Israeli-Arabs are actually second class citizens in Israel, and so they have reasons to dissent. What do you think?

Rula Jebreal: I think the man was standing there respectfully holding his hand. He was listening to everybody else. He didn't attack anyone. He didn't feel like singing it. It didn't represent his really deep value what the state should be and what it stands for, and he was attacked honestly because today in Israel you have to be - like on this table, polarized either with or against. You know what, there's one side. We are all losers there today, all losers.

Brett Stephens: Can I surprise you by agreeing with Rula. There's no question that Israel needs a new deal, a new compact between its Arab citizens and the majority. It needs a new deal also with its ultra orthodox communities. Israel is a democracy that has to do a lot of work to perfect its democracy like every other democracy.

That's a perfectly normal and healthy conversation for Israelis to have. They need to have more of it. That being said, my basic contention is that if the character of the Palestinian state that comes into being is liberal and democratic, Israel is not going to have a problem.

If the green line is the 49th parallel, that is the line that divides the United States from Canada, there is not a problem. The issue that you have now among the Palestinians is not territorial. It is a state in which a party like Hamas with the charter that it has calling on the things that it has –

Daniel Levy: It's a state that these people - I'm delighted to use Barack Obama in suggesting that the 1967 lines should be the future line. I'm happy with the 1967 lines if the state on the other side of those lines, the Palestinian state, is a liberal democracy. That has offered its minorities the same opportunities that Israel offers theirs.

Rula Jebreal: It's what people elect. Whatever people elect, that should be a democracy. Not what we suggest for them to elect. You know what, today we have to accept what Egypt is and what Syria is.

 

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Topics: GPS Show • Iran • Israel • Palestinian Authority

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soundoff (78 Responses)
  1. Janson

    The hyping of the non-existing Iran threat is part of an Israeli policy of keeping the occupied territory and waiting for an appropriate opportunity to push the rest of the Palestinians out of the West bank. There is a cooperation here between AIPAC, Israelis and militay-industries in the US. These also exert huge control over the US political system.

    March 12, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Reply
    • concerned citizen.

      Couldn't have said it better.

      Tho I should add that many Jews have a healthy hate of the aparteid nation.

      March 12, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Reply
      • Rob

        I know a lot of jews in New York. I don't know if I'd say many – a few, at best.

        March 14, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • yossi

      when did israel push palestinians out of the west bank? don't make things up. the west bank's palestinian arab population has more than tripled itself in the past 45 years.

      March 12, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Reply
      • Janson

        I was talking about the Palestinians who were pushed from various parts of today's Israel to West bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Jordan, etc. Israel is waiting for an opportune moment to push the remaining Palestinians who are mostly residing in West bank and East Jerusalem out to neighboring countries. That is their big plan. I hope the English is clear to you now !

        March 12, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
      • Mac Qurashi

        They may not be pushing them in the real meaning of the word,but by buldozing villages and homes to build settlements the Palestinians are being cornered. Although the actual settlements occupy only 5-7% of the land, 35% of the West Bank is appropriated under the guise of security. The settlements are scattered and the roads connecting them occasionally pass through the Palestinian villages thereby dividing them. Palestinians are not allowed on these roads and there are checkpoints on these roads through which the locals must pass. Israel has not put the Palestinians on a boat (like the European did to the Jews after the WWII), but the dehumanizing environment is created with the itention to make them leave.

        March 13, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
      • impartial_oberver

        This needs to be said and understood: The only real reason for the Israeli occupation of the West Bank has nothing to do with the local inhabitants (the so-called Palestinians) but rather has everything to do with strategic defense from being attacked all along the high elevations along the Jordan Valley. I think few people commenting here are aware of the military history, geographic characteristics and geopoliical situation of Isreal vis-a-vis it's neighbors. You all should really read-up about these issues as they are less "political" than they are military. The Arabs themselves politicize the subject because it conveniently distracts from the fact that they (Arab countries such as Syria, Egypt, Jordan and proxies Saudi Arabia and Iran) have had a constant state-of-war with Israel since that country's creation. To "un-occupy" the West Bank would be an act of suicide for Israel since it would make their territory impossible to defend from attack (and it's been atatcked SEVERAL times...so this is not "hypothetical").

        March 15, 2012 at 3:32 am |
    • rick

      whoee! you need some cheese with that whine! lots and lots which you can wash down with your tears from chanting the palestinian mantra: "woe is me, woe is me, everyone but us is the cause of our misery"

      March 13, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Reply
    • rick

      the only "pushing going on" is the arabs' sworn goal to "push the jews into the sea". So far, they've tried with 3 major wars and daily suicide/homicide bombers and rockets. the only people who can ultimately conclude that the settlements are on land other than land belonging to Israel, are the israeli and palestinian negotiators in the final peace conference.

      March 13, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Reply
    • JPW

      Watch out!, we are eeeeverywhere. keep the lights on at night. ;-)

      March 13, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Reply
    • Neil

      This is nothing but anti-Semitic ranting. You know nothing of the situation in the middle east and are in total denial to the reality of Hamas and Hezbollah.

      March 13, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Reply
      • Aziz

        No Neil, they know, they just lie. They think they are such good liars that the stupid Americans will not notice. They are not very bright.

        March 13, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • habib.k.seraj

      please do not play with fire!
      IRAN IS NOT AFGHANISTAN,OR IRAQ!
      don't be fooled by those statements from Israeli state
      there is a proverb in Russian ,which your humble is going to put it into simple English:"what is truth,it is not in the news!"
      "what is news,it is not the truth!"THERE IS NO PRAVDA IN THE IZVESTYA!!!!!!!!

      March 14, 2012 at 11:36 am | Reply
    • Ron

      Jason You are just another low intellect liberal talking.

      History repeats itself yet again, the meek and stupid; the sheep go to slaughter. Like Chamberlain to Hitler.

      Nobody could care less about Israel pushing Palistinians back to who knows what turf. Anyone with a brain knows Iran is a threat to the world if they get nukes. Camon, don't pretend, no one can be as stupid as you with your comment, even with the low brain power of a Liberal. (sorry of you are insulted but 1/3 of the people are just born dumb and lazy and need handouts).

      March 14, 2012 at 8:35 pm | Reply
    • Louise

      Good to see some Americans are awake to what is happening. In Australia we are not easily fooled – see the story below. It is clear that Iran is not interested in obtaining nuclear weapons and this is known by both the US government and its intelligence people.

      http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/3859518.html

      If Israel bombs Irans nuclear energy sites, especially after saying it wants to have a war with Iran, then Iran is likely to strike back and we will all have a war on our hands. As long as Israel is not expecting any of us to come to its rescue when Iran and some of its other neighbours retaliate.

      Does CNN ever comment on the way Israel constantly kills its neighbours and steals their land?

      Americans needs to read media that is NOT produced in the US.

      March 19, 2012 at 8:06 am | Reply
  2. jal

    This is a good group. Bring them back again sometime. Just remember, all the ore looks the same, when you are close to the fire. It is all about team work. This is a group that would benefit from a good 2-day long team building excercize, then go back to the discussion table. I purpose a hiking or river rafting expedition.

    March 12, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      With Elliot Abrahms again?. He's a fossil!

      March 12, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Reply
      • Neko

        Because you say so, all Americans are going to get rid of our Corporate Memories.

        March 13, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
      • Neko

        You very funny habibi.

        March 13, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
  3. KG

    I think the American part of the panel, especially Brett Stephens should not make statements about another part of the world without informing himself thoroughly and comprehensively (about that part of the world). He comes across as an ill-informed neophite who makes dangerous over-arching statements about a group of people that he does not completely understand. I mean, does he even know any Palestinian???

    March 12, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Reply
    • Janson

      Yes, he calls Israel a democracy while Israel is an Aparthaid state. Israel is as much democracy as Aparthaid South Africa was.

      March 12, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Reply
      • JPW

        Be careful not to bite your tongue, the venom may kill you.

        March 13, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
      • janson is an idiot

        apartheid state? thats a vicious lie. arab israeli's have more rights in israel than they do in most of their own countries. israel only wants to be left alone you retarded monkey.if hamas would stop firing katyusha and qassam rockets at israel there would be no problem

        March 14, 2012 at 12:06 am |
    • windsorontariowithnooil

      KG:
      It would be more accurate to say that "Abrams" is the one most in need of a classroom setting and good sound advise. I mean, it was Abrams who was addvising The Office of the US President on Foriegn Affairs " during the Bush admisitration. I mean seriously, it was his direct influance, coupled with a bias ideology and topped off with a sprinkle of stupity that played a significant role in the invasion of Iraq.

      March 13, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Reply
  4. par

    Are you people so secure in the assumption that the american people are ignorant??? Ester married a Persian king who saved the Jews once again, after the Persians recued them from slavery in Babylon, you use the people that give you protection, turn on the when its convenient for you and find another to take their place, that is what you are doing to us in the US now, you dont care for the Gentiles you want to subjucated them, the muslims even accept Jesus at least as a Prophet if not the Son of God, you claim him a heretic. but my hat is off to you not since Goeble has there been a Propaganga machine as efficient and ruthless as yours.

    March 12, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Reply
    • amir

      It was our biggest mistake to save them from slavery, I wish Cyrus just let Babylon to do what ever they want with these people

      March 12, 2012 at 11:00 pm | Reply
      • ZakAttack

        YOU didn't save anybody

        March 13, 2012 at 1:57 am |
      • amir

        How saved Jews from Babylon? How let back to Israel? I bet you will behave the same way with American after you finish your job with them

        March 13, 2012 at 10:20 am |
      • ZakAttack

        Ummmmnnn its the year 2012 my friend Amir. I'm a born and raised Canadian.

        Politics and power are at the root of mans evils (including manipulating people through religion) Been that way for centuries. With the internet we are on the way to people taking that power and using it for good. Were not there yet, but on the way.

        March 13, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  5. concerned citizen.

    It's time to take a stand against Israeli aggression, and zionist influence within the financial sphere.

    Jewsagainstzionism.com

    We have to stop Israel, before they pull the world with them into the abyss...

    March 12, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Reply
    • Neko

      Please make up your mind, you have previously stated that all Jews are Zionists and, now, you say some of those Jews are no longer Zionists because they are fighting the Zionists. You have a complicated mind habibi.

      March 13, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Reply
  6. SHIIAZIM = EVIL= terrorists= russia=666

    it is time to take stand aganist Iran terrorizim and aggression, and aganist syrian shiia thugs aggression and Iraqi shiia thugs killers those are helping hizboallah and all terror group with money and russia send the weapons to those shiia thugs from iran, iraq and syria to destroy lebanon, bahrain hamas iraqi sunni and syrian sunni today along those shiia thugs killed 150 women and children just because they are sunni , this is what shiia islam all about, and make no mistake when those shiia evil gets the nic weapoins they will use it, YOU HAVE TO UNDESTAND WHY,,,THE SHIIA WANT TO SEE WAR, CAIOUS , ADULTERY AND KILLING BECAUSE THEY BELIVE THAT AL MAHDI AL MONTADHAR WHAT SO CALLED SHIIA MASAIA WILL APPEAR WHEN THAT HAPPEN...THEY ARE PURE EVIL BEILEVE IN THIS EVIL MAN CALLED THE INVIBLE MASSAIA...

    March 12, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Reply
    • the wise

      While Iran is guilty of crimes, your ignoring the Israeli terrorism responsible for Irans instabillity.

      It's not our right to directly intervene in the internal affairs of any nation.

      March 12, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Reply
      • rick

        you said "Israeli terrorism responsible for Irans instabillity."? I always knew that Israel was behind the instability in Iran. I need some articles to quote when presenting my theory next thursday night at my club. got any ideas?

        March 13, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
      • True Jew

        The Wise, You are correct, Iran never harm any body, until Terrorist state Israel created on 1948 by group of Jew moving from Europe to Palestine. A Prime Minister Arthur James Balfour supported Israel by Balfour Declaration of 1917, supporting the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, “read in wikipedia".

        March 14, 2012 at 10:02 am |
      • Mohammad A Dar

        hindu Jew's, self centered have nothEgyptians hindu's criminals have nothing to do with true Israelit by enslaved true Israelite and moved them to Egypt as slaves and robed them of truth absolute, corrupted the true knowledge and by subordinated it to hindu, criminal fundamentals and called it Greek Torah,

        March 14, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
      • Ron

        The "Wise"? Lol, that's a joke – should be called the "sheep". Go and be the pacifist and get run over. People like eyqou are a danger, the enemy within. Probably a "Liberal"?

        You do know that these new words liberal and "progressive" is just translation to the old words Communist, socialism, you do know that right?

        Yep, it will never change, Chamberlain to Hitler, the fools keep rolling out. History repeats itself again.

        And it will continue, fact: 1/3 of all populations are the dumb people by birth, need handouts, hope for redistribution. Lazy needs a handout. Big government.

        Stings to hear, don't it.

        March 14, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
  7. Mo

    What a scene!! Two israeli citizens (Mr. Levy and Ms. Jebreal) being outdone by two US citizens (Mr.. Abrams and Mr. Stephens)!
    The people who live here and far from the "war zone" being more zealous than people who actually know the situation much better. This is excatly why most people who know the middle east "problem" well, say and believe that the biggest obstacle to peace in the middle east has been and still is the US. ( more specifically, the US "hawks" and extremist ideologues)! The problem is that they are the ones with the loudest "mouths"!!
    Thanks to Mr. Fareed Zakaria for exposing it clearly to the American people!!! Kudos!

    March 12, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Reply
    • KG

      Did we watch the same show?

      March 13, 2012 at 6:15 am | Reply
      • impartial_oberver

        Mo is absolutely correct. Maybe you should view the discussion again and pay attention this time. The two Israelis explained that the "bottom-up" narrative down not consider Iran a pressing issue. It's the "establishment" that seeks political and financial gain over the Iran nuke issue that keeps pressing this issue on in the media.

        The panel discussion illustrated very clearly that those who have their ears on the Israeli street and live there/travel there have a much less hawkish/interventionist position than the American panelists (one ignorant and the other ignorant and arrogant).

        March 15, 2012 at 3:45 am |
    • j. von hettlingen

      Netanyahu seems to hijack the nuclear brawl with Iran to distract public discontent at home. What a nefarious game!

      March 13, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Reply
      • Neko

        So your story is that there is discontent within Israel, soooooooooooooooo they decide to pick a fight with Iran's over their WMDs and Nuclear program. WOW!!!!! a little farfetched don't you think?

        March 13, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
      • Neko

        ne·far·i·ous (n -fâr – s). adj. Infamous by way of being extremely wicked.
        Pick another word.

        March 13, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
  8. Betty Lee

    It is said that friends don't let friends drive drunk. Will Israel bring war and destruction to Middle East in their refusal to end the occupation and make peace with Arab nations? Will they drive Islamic world to hate US more? Preemptive war should not be legal .. May the USA government not participate in Israel attacking Iran or any nation who has not physically attacked Israel first. President Obama, please withhold any money or any aid to be given to Israel until they come to a written signed agreement in 2012 on a two state solution to their occupation of West Bank. Forty years is enough. .Israel has and is dominating US interests in their own drive to extend their territory. They also have nuclear weapons. Is USA a puppet of Israel?

    March 13, 2012 at 3:04 am | Reply
    • rick

      hey "betty", you want israel to move out of its own land, at least until the palestinians sit down and work out a peace agreement, and not respond to daily rocket attacks which appear to be the palestinians" first choice in negotiating tools

      March 13, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Reply
    • Neko

      So, Fahtma, you are insulting the American so that they will not help the Jews.
      Is that really the best plan your imam could come up with?

      March 13, 2012 at 7:15 pm | Reply
  9. Altee11

    "Rula Jebreal: It's what people elect. Whatever people elect, that should be a democracy. Not what we suggest for them to elect. You know what, today we have to accept what Egypt is and what Syria is."

    Jabreal suggests that honoring democracy is more important than having peace. Well, that's interesting, but then the negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis would not be about peace, rather about establishing the nation of Palestine, regardless of the prospect for peace.
    Well, where does that leave Israel and the Palestinians? What about the rest of the world?

    March 13, 2012 at 4:10 am | Reply
  10. There's no such thing as "Palestine"

    Did you know that there was never any country called Palestine? Did you know that there is no such thing as a Palestinian people?

    March 13, 2012 at 11:06 am | Reply
    • jim ward

      Did you know the word is derived from "philistine" or "peleste" which translates "foreigner" excavations in Gath (modern day tel elsafi showed these people worshiped Heracles. Suggests they were greek not arab.

      None the less they lived their for generation and need to be treated like human beings just like whites in Canada or the US. Don't confuse all Palestinians with terrorists in Gaza. Much of the remaining people are peaceful and kind.

      I say the next time an Arab neighbor invades (and they will) all land seized when they lose (and they will) should be handed over to Fatah and made into a Palestinian settlement.

      March 13, 2012 at 7:32 pm | Reply
      • Neko

        You keep playing the "discrimination" card Abdul. Educate yourself about Canadian and American laws and you would discover that they have all bent over double and tripple to make sure that Arabs or any other minority emigrants are not discriminated against. But then, if you knew better, you might not be able to make such inane statements.

        March 13, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
      • Mohammad A Dar

        learn the meanings of the words you speak, language was Hebrew, not hindu Yiddish, corrupted Sanskrit before spewing your hindu Judaism, criminal self center ism.

        March 14, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
      • jelousfoes

        did you know their is no such thing as a jew that jews long ago was killed by the babylions lolol and that 1000 something was left the way the expanded was to adopt one kid so if ur jewish your not jewish by blood actually a plaestinian is more jewish than u or can say an arab is more jewish than u because after all they are the true ibrahamss ...

        March 29, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
  11. U B U

    Dear I S R A E L,
    we are done fighting your wars. Unfortunately, we're still funding your escapades though. I don't want any more American blood shed for your sake. Quit labeling people as anti-semitic when they point out the obvious faults in your foreign and internal policies. When Mr. Netanyahu suggests social policies in order to R E D U C E the birth rate of the Arabs.....man alive! How can you guys do such a thing? Don't you remember that mustachioed Austrian idiot who did the same thing to you? Now, you're doing it to the Palestinians? Shame on you.

    March 14, 2012 at 12:15 am | Reply
  12. sunday

    i wonder what it's to be a jew?! because to me they are a bunch of shameless faceless morons! Goshhhhhhhhsssss!!

    March 14, 2012 at 3:05 am | Reply
    • monday

      The last thing any Jew is or has ever been is faceless. As far as the moron business, stop looking in the mirror.

      March 14, 2012 at 6:27 am | Reply
      • Mohammad A Dar

        Moran means self centered and hindu Jew's, criminal self centered are proud to be , hindu Moran, self centered. Moran belong in a pen with their own kind, not with human in Philistine.

        March 14, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
  13. Betab

    http://www.zcommunications.org/what-are-iran-s-intentions-by-noam-chomsky

    March 14, 2012 at 6:17 am | Reply
  14. Onikami

    when does it end? when one blows the other to their respective(but the same)god. you ever wonder if heaven and hell are the same? judas and osama sitting by a fire. satan walks up and says?:

    March 14, 2012 at 9:48 am | Reply
  15. Bluehouse

    Ms. Jebreal summed up the Palestinian/Arab/Lefty argument entire: "Whatever people elect, that should be a democracy. Not what we suggest for them to elect. You know what, today we have to accept what Egypt is and what Syria is."

    In other words, if a "Palestinian State" wants to throw rockets and suicide bombers at their "neighbor" every day because they have decided their neighbor deserves to be destroyed, it is OK because that is "democracy in action." Since Israel and the US are "democratic", then that should be acceptable.

    Well, it is not acceptable. This talent for sophistry is on par with the Palestinian talent for self-administration which is on display in Gaza and the West Bank every day.

    March 14, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Reply
  16. Pro-Peace

    Netanyahu's gift to president Obama on his last visit was a book called The Book of Esther, he stated the the Persian king had a plot to rid of Jews (Zakaria also said the same thing in his opening speech, shame on you!).. In reality, Esther was wife of Xerxes (Persian King in Hakhamanshian dynasty). One of Xerxes advisor, Haman, had a plot to kill some jews and Esther found out about the plot and informed the Xerxes and the king ordered his advisor to be killed & also, Jews killed 75,000 Persians during that conflict... Jews celebrate, Purim, for that conflict. Instead of celebrating the their freedom from Babylonian by the first Persian king Cypress the great who freed them from slavary and they received gold by the Cyruss to rebuild their temples in Juruslem..

    March 14, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Reply
  17. Bruce Bahmani

    Several errors. The book of Esther is a hilariously inept and inappropriate gift from Israel because Esther was a Persian Queen and a Jew. Not from Israel, but from Persia. She was Persian. The attack on the Jews she stopped, was a jealous act by a zealous adviser in the Persian court trying to destroy the name and reputation of another Adviser, also a Jew. The king had been lied to, and given misleading justification for the attack on Jews by the evil adviser, and not knowing the truth, gave his permission. When Esther told the Persian King about the plot, he tried to stop the attack, but was only able to partially do this, enough so that a minimal number of Jews were killed, but it was enough for the Jews to kill tens of thousands of the Persian army. The Persian King sacrificed his own army and men to stop a mistaken war. The Persian King then hanged the corrupt adviser.

    As you can see, it was not a bad Persian king gone mad against the Jews. It was not a Persian attack on Jews. It was the manipulative actions of one greedy, evil, person constructing a false conspiracy in order to justify a war with the Jews. Not an entire nation. Hopefully this is starting to sound familiar, and hopefully you can also see, the tragic consequences of an unjust and malice-conceived war. In the case of Esther tens of thousands of Persians died, and a few Jews as well. This is also telling as we all march like lemmings to another ill-conceived war, foisted on us by sneaky evil persons. You figure out who that might be. One hint; they are working at it on both sides.

    You cannot EVER convincingly argue that Iran should not get a nuke, so long as you turn a blind eye and arrogantly allow for Pakestan, North Korea, India, and yes, in fact Israel has to be included on this list too, to have them. If you want to disarm Iran's obvious intentions, you have to demand and work towards the effective dismantling of them everywhere.

    Until you do that, Iran wins the moral justification argument for getting them. As ill-advised and as ill conceived as the war Esther was unable to fully prevent. And just as Esther, so too will we be condemned to an evil act by a few self serving jealous and zealous men, to stop another unnecessary and malice-intentioned war.

    Unfortunately in this case it isn't going to be a quaint religio-ethnic footnote or some historically romantic book. This time it comes with the seriousness of mutually assured destruction.

    March 14, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Reply
  18. Hahahahahaha

    It will be Doilie Heads vs. Towel Heads until the Earth is no more! Hahahahahahahaha.

    March 14, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Reply
  19. bos1hxl

    Enough of this drama, this should be a very sample analysis! Good Jews which the arab jews including arab christians know all the truth about the promise land where they lived in till today not the ones they were imported from Europe which are the zionist and racist. Because of these new immigrants to palestine land was never ligit and was a creation of British criminals and US on the expense of innocent and powerless people which turned into a bad cancer cell! These new occupiers are very anti-semitic and they carry a lot hate toward arab muslims and christians in general and use US tax payers to survive and suck on other people's blood and punishing the region for what Germans and other european have done to them not the arabs! Isn't this unfair? A democracy in that region will be a threaten Zionist existence which will lead to a new palestine state free from these murderers under one roof like it was before the occupation. time has come to witness Evil self destruction..

    March 14, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Reply
  20. bos1hxl

    Wondering why US keeps milking the Evil?
    http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/jewpop.html

    March 14, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Reply
  21. Tahir

    All Jews should go back to Europe and should take revenge, if they want, from Europeans and not from Muslims of that region.This is the best solution for Jews if the Jews want to finally live in peace.The way Jewish state came into being will keep them always in trouble.

    March 14, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Reply
    • Mohammad A Dar

      Moran means self centered and hindu Jew's, criminal self centered are proud to be , hindu Moran, self centered. Moran belong in a pen with their own kind, not with human in Philistine, or send them to pen of hind, filth, a Moran is happy to be with.

      March 14, 2012 at 8:27 pm | Reply
  22. light

    The problem is and always will be the fact that the arab nations surrounding the " Palestinians" didnt assist with the refugees after the 1949 war and the yom kippur war. EveryonThe arabs attacked israel a nation that was recognized by the UN and then they lost..GET OVER IT. YOU LOST LAND..that happens when you start a war sometimes.

    March 14, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Reply
  23. David F Pawlowski

    Where it ends; a nuclear exchange between Israel and Iran, North Korea and the US. Mr. GPS should check his assumptions and ask a fundamental question; Iran already has nuclear warheads, missiles, advanced enrichment techniques and balotechnics courtesy of the North Koreans. As Mr. GPS knows, Iran the "rational actor" has been making direct flights to North Korea since 2003 when NK left the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Iran has its Qud's and nuclear scientist boots on the ground at NK facilities learning how to make, mount and deliver nuclear tipped missiles to all Israel cities except Jerusalem. Given Iran's dealings with NK with massive swap of oil, food and hard currency it begs the question what else besides missiles are now pre-positioned in Quds controlled weapons complex and military bases. It would not be a surprise if it included a khaemeni approved transfer of two subterranian floors of such a complex to NK control to allow prepositioned nukes in Iran on North Korean embassy like soil. Hence the parsing of words and dissimulation by all of Khaemeni's cronies. When Israel attacks assuming it is only making a strike like it did against Saddam's french built Iraqi nuclear station, it will receive a terrible rude awakening when Iran suddenly pulls out its "rainy day" surprise and returns nukes on those 18 solid fuel MRBM's MiRV capable missiles. Sad, but very plausible scenario.

    March 14, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Reply
    • Mohammad A Dar

      Out rage of a hindu Jew, absurd secular, self centered.

      March 14, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Reply
  24. CHEMICAL WEAPONS TO HIZBOALLAH

    SHIIAZIM = EVIL= terrorists= russia=666

    it is time to take stand aganist Iran terrorizim and aggression, and aganist syrian shiia thugs aggression and Iraqi shiia thugs killers those are helping hizboallah and all terror group with money and russia send the weapons to those shiia thugs from iran, iraq and syria to destroy lebanon, bahrain hamas iraqi sunni and syrian sunni today along those shiia thugs killed 150 women and children just because they are sunni , this is what shiia islam all about, and make no mistake when those shiia evil gets the nic weapoins they will use it, YOU HAVE TO UNDESTAND WHY,,,THE SHIIA WANT TO SEE WAR, CAIOUS , ADULTERY AND KILLING BECAUSE THEY BELIVE THAT AL MAHDI AL MONTADHAR WHAT SO CALLED SHIIA MASAIA WILL APPEAR WHEN THAT HAPPEN...THEY ARE PURE EVIL BEILEVE IN THIS EVIL MAN CALLED THE INVIBLE MASSAIA...

    March 14, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Reply
    • Mohammad A Dar

      hinduism, absurdity of a hinduu Jew, absurd self centered.

      March 14, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Reply
  25. deniz boro

    I realy was tempted into answering to this. I never ment to...But this conflict can only end wnen one of the many parties reach the end of the FLAT WORLD they seek and falll off to the realm they so invisige that they already live in. And only than can the world enjoy a true brouthership.

    March 14, 2012 at 10:18 pm | Reply
  26. M Houston

    Man!!! Reading the comments on Fareed's Public Square is completely mind boggling. It is no longer a mystery to me
    why the Mideast is such a mess: with inhabitants and allegiances like these how could the place be anything else?
    Sounds to me like none of you want a peaceful world to live in; you only want to stew in centuries-old hatreds – and
    you all ENJOY your hate...you wear your hatred like badges of honor. What a sad lot you all are.

    March 15, 2012 at 2:38 am | Reply
  27. James Elvert

    Some people think that by repeating that there was no Palestine ever, Palestinians disappear. It doesn't matter whether there was a state called Palestine or not. What matters is that there were people living in villages and working on olive gardens and they were pushed out of their villages. Now one idiot may come up with the story that all the villages were sold by a Feudal Egyptian in Cairo, and similar humbug stories, and those hundreds of thousands that were pushed out were legally pushed out from their cities and villages of thousands of years. Well, that reminds me of the white settlers pushing Indian Americans out of their land by establishing legal offices and selling the land to each other. Whatever way you turn it and twist it, it was ethnic cleansing then and it is Aparthaid now.

    March 19, 2012 at 8:39 am | Reply
  28. ghzskr

    Bret Stephens is pathetic. He can't debate opposing views. His own views are just too simplistic. That's why he gets so irritated whenever somebody disagrees with him.

    March 27, 2012 at 12:04 am | Reply
  29. Quran#1

    TOO bad the Quran was proven by sciience how the Book of esther written when arabs were the first to create writting.. notice i said arabs created writing not hebrewss.. which derived from arabs so salem to u my cous.. how sholemo created from salema haha Torah which is well respeected by muslims which is muslims believe in the three books but respect a book that has been changed through society wants and needs...

    March 29, 2012 at 8:24 pm | Reply
  30. Quran#1

    TOO bad the Quran was proven by sciience how the Book of esther written when arabs were the first to create writting.. notice i said arabs created writing not hebrewss.. which derived from arabs so salem to u my cous.. how sholemo created from salema haha

    March 29, 2012 at 8:24 pm | Reply

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