tv Discussion on Israel CSPAN April 6, 2016 3:23am-4:59am EDT
color was an issue, that was everybody else's issue, that wasn't mine. >> on sunday at 10:00 p.m. eastern, author jillian thomas talks about her book because of sex which examines how title 7 of the 1964 civil rights act which made it illegal to discriminate based on sex effected working women. go to book tv.org for the complete weekend schedule. >> i am a history buff. i do enjoy it. the pab rick of our country and how things, just how they work and how they're made. >> i love american history tv. american artifacts, they're fantastic shows. >> that's probably something that i really enjoy. >> with american history tv it gives you at a perspective. >> i'm a cspan fan.
>> including the conflict with palestinians and the civil war in neighboring syria. this is an hour and a half. >> welcome everybody. to the conversation. i'm the head and i'm here at the wooster center. it's a great pleasure to bring him here. he was the former fellow. he has -- i will show you in a minute he has done a great deal of things but we of course are proud of the fact that he was here. he is the founding president at the moment of the institute and distinguished global professor at new york university and also the senior fellow and he was the president of the university.
he set up the -- heine was also the head of the middleeastern program at the university and people know him as ambassador to washington and also chief negotiator on the syrian peace talks. he is here because he's spending every year, a few months or weeks in new york at new york university so we took advantage of his presence and he just finished a biography that's going to come out in the yale university press and we also managed to have him do a presentation here and then we'll
open it up to the public. >> the middle east is in mayhem. it is nothing new but may be different than all other h mayhems. how do you see it in this context? >> i think it's unprecedented. the middleeast has been proverbial for instability since the end of world war ii. the period that the british and
the french left and the system of state emerged and the conflict developed into the average conflict. there were many in the 1950s military powering several states and so forth and so forth but as you say from 30,000 feet there was a pattern and most of that period was the cold war which was a certain order of stability. it was a system of regional politics. relations. and there was a system of states. if you look at the middle east now, at least six states, six arab states, what you call fake
states. other states that are not fake states face severe problems. even the coherence of what used to be a very strong coherent state turkey is put in question by development in the region. there is an axis. the sunni shite rivalry but this is not a structure for politics and on the international level clearly the united states is a very hesitant participant. russia tries to come in. not quite the full flejed soviet union. most notably recently in the syrian conflict. so it's very different. now from an israeli point of
view this is a period that offers opportunities for israel. the arab israeli conflict are less prominent in the eyes of many arabs. it's not vanished. it remains an important issue but it's less important if you look at the saudi perspective and compare it to 30 years ago. you can see a very marked difference and saudis and others are willing to cooperate under the table more than over the table in ways that have not been there before and the syrian army
and iraqi army. another real threat. so in all of these respects and these opportunities, there are threats. the iranis a formidable enemy. instead of conventional wars we face in the prospect of asymmetrical wars. they're very difficult to wage and very difficult to win and probably close to 200,000 and by the use of rockets that threaten israeli civilian in population. not complete -- i'd say subdued but not complete livanished is the prospect of nuclear iran and most importantly the problem that israel has been coping with
so very important opportunities and very severe challenges but what is primarily missing is that t given the paralysis of israeli politics we have not had the government that's taken the bold initiative to try to take advantage of the opportunities to minimize the risks and improve opposition. >> what kind of bold initiative could have been taken under these circumstances? these changed circumstances? >> it has to do with the palestinian issue because for the sunni arab countries the limited cooperation they're willing to have with us and would be replaced by willingness for much more open and
substantial collaboration but for these there has to be not resolution but has to be movement toward the resolution. clearly this is not a good moment for trying to resolve the conflict and come up with yet another effort for a final solution and probably have to explain why and i would if you wish and between doing nothing or continuing to watch as settlers expand in settlements there's that they can pursue. >> so next year will be the 50th anniversary. so the occupation has been on
for 50 years and you're saying that it is not the moment to look for a comprehensive solution to look for another comprehensive solution. if not now, when? >> i'm not saying it's not the moment to look for a resolution. i think that what we do not want to see is yet another failure. we don't want to see it followed by an outbreak of another but we know from our experience and we have here veterans of the u.s. peace taep miller and others who participate and they know very well since late '73 when the first exploits in peacemaking during the period and through
the efforts in the first decade of this century for an agreement to be reached there have to be three parties. the united states, arab parties. party of parties and israel. you need all three to work more. so you look at the three, right now and four i think until the administration is in place which is about a year from now. it's likely to see that and i'm not sure at the end of the day you can actually sign finality on the bottom line. so trying to force it would be to another failure. so i'm not abandoning.
one of those israelis would believe in a two state solution. it's very important for us to separate on the west bank and let them have their own state. and i'm afraid it's not going to happen right now and i put my sights on something more modest. >> you mention that and you mention the elections and we have seen this relationship has been over the last few years certainly under obama and benjamin netanyahu and it's a relationship that's severely damaged or in need of severe repair.
how do you think this relationship, this dysfunctional relationship can be improved or are the two countries slowly drifting apart. worked very closely on the bush iran relationship when he was in administration. a few years before he became prime minister he was a figure in washington. he was responsible for the settlements and he would complain that there would be another settlement to stick a finger in his eye so he was not
particul particularly like that. and he underwent a revolution in the sense that when he became prime minister and was in his 70s looking less reelected and more history in it's place in history and underwent a transformation. began to speak differently and took israel out of gaza and would have continued not maybe on the same scale but would have continued in the west bank. he was a very popular figure and had a very good working relationship in the administration. there would be a very different period in his relationship and became a very good period in their relationship. this could repeat itself. we have a prime minister that wants to move on and a president that the prime minister can talk
to. i don't take it lightly. i mentioned that we are governed by a right wing government. there's a surge of right wing opinion and politics in israel and you have eluded to the fact that israel always used to be a bipartisan issue in this country and became less so in recent years and can still be reversed but it can also continue and all of these can be reversed. >> do you think that at the beginning of the obama administration you have first african american president that captured the world's imagination and becomes president you had an
amazingly powerful colby nation and yet they did nothing when it came to the conflict. could they have done something? do you think that moment was the right moment? >> well, the president tried. i think that this is something that i researched. i red carefully obama statements as a candidate and of course his first month in office. he did want to resolve the israeli palestinian conflict and in his view he was supportive of the theory that the palestinian
issue is a major obstacles to the relationship with muslim worlds. it's become almost irrelevant because many of the arabs that used to complain about the palestinian issue now complain about the iran and islamic state and no one would say that the problem, the syrian civil war has anything to do with the palestinian problem so i they today is not a prominent issue. it was a prominent issue in those days and i can remind you of the testimony in congress where he said it's difficult for me to conduct my military operations when there are problems between the israelis and palestinians. obama said so during his campaign that the problem needs
to be resolved for america to improve it's relations with the muz little and arab worlds. now the way he went about it i think there was another problem is that america went to the left with obama and israel went to the right with netanyahu. it occurred at about the same time. in early 2009. and there's always a personal element. these two gentlemen didn't get it from day one in office. they did not trust each other. they suspected each other's intentions generally and with regard to each other. so there was the other issue. the iranian nuclear issue. there's always the two major issues. i think the linkage was not that linkage. the other linkage was not handle
properly. so she was secretary of state but run from the white house. one of the reasons she left up before you and she was tired of being the spokesman rather than a policy maker. >> let me shift you to the current crisis in syria. it's quite remarkable that with a new crisis, they have been remarkably quite about syria. what is the worst possible outcome or the best possible outcome from the perspective in syria. >> the best outcome from israeli perspective is for syria to be put together again and under a liberal -- let's say under a
reasonable regime or government. now this is not going to happen any time soon. and if you're talking about outcomes or solutions you cannot separate lebanon, syria and iraq from one another. they hold together but lebanon is more passive than active. the two countries that need to be addressed first would be syria and iraq and in a number of years there would be federal structures that would enable the two countries together again. i don't see -- i can't see a strong center and soon the local autonomy of ethnic and local groups that have to be formally
recognized and assistance will have to be created in both countries. this will take a long time. so israel is not going to be a participant in reshaping iraq or syria but as you said, does observe the syrian civil war. it's managed to be less involved and less effected than syria's, the four other neighbors that syria is. i was critical of the current government in israel recently earlier in this conversation. this is where i can give you the compliment. it's kept itself well out of the syrian civil war and for reasons that i can elaborate on chose not to try to intervene and stayed on the sidelines. presented red lines. primarily the transfer of sophisticated weapon systems to
terrorist groups and of course offered humanitarian aid to refugees outside of syria and wou wounded syria and compared to lebanon, iraq, turkey and jordan and they have been least effected and involved. >> how do you see the russian involvement? >> what would have happened if russia had not intervened? when it have collapsed and what would have been the consequences? >> rebel groups began to penetrate the resooem's area. the regime in damascus and has the heart lands and the
mountains and the coast and a link to the parts of lebanon. these are the essential areas for the regime and what you begin to see in the northwest was success by opposition groups that began to penetrate. the regime was hard to cooperate with them. others have been put in very successfully and managed to present it as somebody that can make things happen in the region so russia is in the game. there were advantages but first and foremost the intervention was intended to secure the regime and the regime actually moved from being on the verge of
collapse to taking fresh initiatives and united states and others will not play a more active role. the regime may win the war and perhaps reestablish full control over syria but consolidate itself in more than 30 or 40% of the country. until recently. >> well, the united states is gearing up to fight isis. and let's assume that isis is defeated in syria and iraq. then you're left with a set of levels by the united states, by turkey, by saudis, et cetera and
then the regime is supported by iran and russia. how do we get that from now on. >> it's difficult to get the solution because the opposition would insist on asset departure. there's no intention to depart and is supported very firmly by iran. the russians are less interested in us personally but more on the survival of regime but therefore it's not likely and i think he macon troll a larger part of the country than he does now. he will be 30 or 40% of the country and in other groups and
syria lebanon has been doing the same and syria may join this club. >> you talked about being the only solution. can you elaborate a little bit? how you see it? it's obvious. but how do you do damascus and others. how do you do all of that? >> okay, they're very distinct groups and what you do have in
syria is very strong local forces now and actually one of the less advertised but more admirable aspects of the civil war has been the fact that in many areas life is continued because local forces were able to fight and administer and any solid political structure has to take that into account. so it's not something that i tried to do to sit down and prepare an extra structure for federal syria but the notion under a state structure is something that could become realistic several years down the road.
>> it would be much easier to do it. not easy but to do it on your own. >> >> so you were at one point the negotiator in the syrian peace talks and had you succeeded you would go being the syrian control. a it would have had an impact in syria and b if it didn't would they have regretted it? >> thank you. i'm smiling because that's a question i'm asked often when i'm interviewed in israel, primarily by right wing interviews but i thought about it myself and it's a natural
thing and my answer to that is the civil war would not have broken out and as he remembers well what the syrians didn't mind is that was the less appetizing part of the entire deal. they wanted the relationship with the united states that would have meant opening up so had we made that deal, syria would have been modelled on the deal and they were liberalized domestically as well as make peace with israel and disengage
from the soviet union at the time. that was the model. it was very expressive. in my first informal conversation with my syrian counter part he said to me i hope your government realizes that assad cannot settle on it. it was the model and when he made the deposit to a secretary which he offered this willingness to with draw conditionally in return for security he very much presented something similar to the egyptian team. so if that were to be consummated in the 1990s or in the early 2000s, syria would have opened up the pressure cooker that burst out in 2011 would have been released in more peaceful ways and the civil war may not have broken out and the question would not have presented itself.
seco secondly we have groups linked with isis and is okay. they are very peaceful because they know what the consequences would be. so again let's say isis overlooking but then said i think it would not have occurred. >> you mention the iranian nuclear threat and you mentioned also hezbollah. do you think that the syrian
crisis has helped hezbollah or has been helpful to these cit s cities. >> it's a mixed picture in the sense that something unusual happened in the weeks ago. there was a time when it was difficult to do that. so i would say that the political standing there legitimacy in the region has been undermined. their military prow wes has been enforced. they have a lot of experience from syria. it's a better military force than it was. there's a lot of criticism in lebanon living in the shite community for having shed so much lebanese blood in somebody else's war and on the whole they
benefitted more than lost. >> before i open it up to the audience, let me ask you a final question on leadership you just finished a book that seems that leaders in the middle east, i don't know if it's that so why is it that the middle east has so few. what does it take to be a leader and what have we learned? that's the lessons we can derive from the experience that you have not had in the book and she
is in trouble. it's a global program. so i looked at them and always going on and study some of them. it's the chair at george washington university here and i think we have all in our ways dealt with the question of a statesman and a real leader. so i think a leader needs to have a vision. needs to have convictions and ability to identify the currents of history.
and to be able to carry your people with you. and we have a few examples. 1942. air very difficult year during the course of world war ii. he knows that the focus on the weight and leverage points is shifted from london to washington. he goes to america for a few months and does it and then of course his state building and so
forth. and second and the leader of the israeli rite and when he saw the opportunity to make piece we egypt, giving it back and signing the greemtd with the palestinians he does it. and actually from an earlier phase he was what we call a security hawk and policy dove. he did believe in a need to come to a political settlement. he wanted to resolve the problem. he believed it should be done in agreement with jordan as long as it was considered feasible and
during the lebanon war but he always was very -- he knows that he was not given a second chance just to spend another four years enjoying the power in israel but he's to do something meaningful and something meaningful is to try to resolve his fundamental problem and his relationship with the palestinians and syria and the other neighbors. he begins modestly and he realizes that.
he was a bit ambivalent. his real choice was to make syria be first and i spoke earlier about the deposit. the deposit in august of 1993. now we have to remember the moment. the agreement is more or less in place. knows what it is and yet he makes the deposit to secretary christopher and gives him a golden opportunity to make it. why? because he preferred it. he thought it would be better to start the syrian peace courses with syria and come to the palestinian issue later with syria out of the conflict and he did carry the israeli public with it. the men that put it was rabin
and think of a very dramatic moment, the assassination, the killer is sitting in waiting. they come down the stairs from the peace rally and he says, you know, we haven't said properly thank you to the organizer of the rally. so let's go back and thank them properly. and he says i think i'll go home. so one goes up the stairs and one goes down the stairs and he passes by the assassin and somebody had the whole thing on video and that video was available and you could see that he is thinking. should i or should i not? if he kills him he doesn't get to kill rabin. the key is not paris. and he decides to wait and gets to kill him a few minutes later
so that makes him a leader. >> on that note, let me open the conversation to our audience. please wait for the microphone and identify yourself before asking the question. >> i'm an executive and i worked in israel and palestine for five years. thank you. very refreshing. different from what we usually hear. wasn't only petraus that said it's hard to get things done if the israeli palestinian conflict that continues. many military leaders and your colleagues, mr. ambassador are saying it has to be taken care
of or we will continue to be in trouble. is there any movement in the political structures as right wing as they are? and in the larger military and therefore the people to take that to heart and any accommodation and building immunity around it? >> yes, you know, it is the governing issue in israeli politics and if you look at the last election, he won by a slim majority. i mention in 2009 israel went to the right and america went to the left but in 2012, he was
elected prime minister on a platform of continuing the policy. if you ask do you believe in signing a peace accord with a palestinian based on the proposal represented in 2008 and with draw from the west bank and petitioning jerusalem and so on and so forth, 60% would vote no. if you presen the same public, 70% would vote to approve it. so that's your answer. if you discuss it hypothetically they would be dubious and look at what goes on in the region and say why do i have to
another. maybe a few minutes away. very strong emotional arguments but if a deal is done it would pass the election. >> thank you. i'm robert from the council on foreign relations. thank you for really the presentation and the kind shout out. i would note that i served both democratic and republican administrations. i wanted to ask you about israel's perception of itself and it's strategic power today. he started us at 30,000 feet. i'd like to take us to 50,000 for a minute. when israel started out it was relatively weak. it faced arab adversaries and pursued a doctrine to mitigate
against the dangers on its boarders. as you identified rabin pursued a strategy. he saw the looming dangers in iran and potentially iraq. what have you. we now have a situation today where you have israel's environment of influx. israel's relative power has never been stronger and yet israel's orientation toward the region seems to be more status quo oriented than ever and it's willingness and desire to play an activist role in anyway limited at best. the question is is this a strategic oversight. is there a debate in strategic circles about this or is it such that one could imagine a debate in which an israeli strategy
says well, we're strong. the arabs are coming to us. without us needing to do much. and so therefore the price that they demand to take this alliance from under the table to over the table is not worth it, one and two they're so unstable anyway so why invest in it? can you address that and is there a serious debate taking place and is israel missing an opportunity by adopting such a massive if not status quo oriented approach? >> he's very careful with the use of military power and he is risk averse.
and tends to be more passive. the debate is there. it's a country that is always in a state of debate and the military and the professionals are bolder than the politician in thinking about the region and prospects and scenarios. i would say before we go to that the two most important states from a national security perspective are egypt and jordan. peace with them is a killer of national security and their relationship with us is key. there's not much that we can do avertly in both places. both places are not interested in support and being and israel
is still haunted by memories of 1982. the one effort we made to engineer the politics of neighboring arab state ended and there's no appetite to do that. so now what is the price that is required for moving forward or upgrading relations with the gulf states and others? it's not a resolution for palestinian problem. it's palpable progress toward it and i think there's quite a few options of doing that without exposing ourselves to
unjustified risk. so that's my argument with my government. >> focussing on the issue given that you described that the leadership was weak given that netanyahu is considered a right wing government and palestinians are throwing themselves against army and civilians, there's really no solution. that's one view. there's no solution except a democratic solution that eventually as palestinian produce more they will become an increasing force that will be almost impossible to maintain a jewish state. i have your comments on that?
>> i wouldn't refer to it as a solution. of course in the debate, this is the main argument that the population uses. namely the demographic argument that if things continue as they are, and the palestinians will become a majority west of the jordan and will get to a point of one man, one vote and so far and forth. incidentally you find that discussion is among the palestinians and i do speak to many west bank palestinians and israeli arabs. some of them say, you know, we are not in a hurry. we are a nation people. we have seen many conqueres and
outciders come and go. this is the way things are going to develop. so you have a -- it's also among palestinians also. particularly among the young ones. i went to meeting with palestinian groups and we saw some of the youngers criticizing the olders and said you know we should just wait. it's going to fall into our hands. so definitely that's an issue and very much on the minds of many israelis and palestinians. >> i would have said that this series, your speaking is sponsored by those wonderfully
supported by our programs here. >> thank you. how promising is the better relationship with the saudis and other sunni countries? and i'll throw in turkey. where is this going to lead to? >> thank you. i should mention in addition to what you said, we're very close friends and when they were ambassad ambassador. my wife and i were here and so the -- of course it's very important for israel to have a better relationship with saudi
arabia in other gulf countries. the relationship is primarily under the table intelligence and other forms that you do under the table and not over the table. there are some indications of that relationship over the table. you had saudi when they meet israeli officials shake hands openly. had been in the munich security conference between the israeli defense minister and of course much of the dispute has to do with the issue of legitimacy. they have denied us legitimacy since then. a better relationship with a prominent arab country like saudi arabia. remember meeting with roosevelt at the end of world war ii.
roosevelt was treated to a very strong statement on the importance of the palestinian problem and at that time jewish presidents were not allowed famously. we accept you here as a human being and he responded some of my best friends are human beings. and have a semiopen relationship with saudi arabia and very important with his legitimacy in either region.
and could be a key to many important developments in the region and turkey, turkey and israel had ups and downs. have had ups and downs in their relationship since the founding of israel and now it was a down period. he is known because of his own domestic and down problems key of normalizing the relationship. it's not going to be a close relationship that we had in the 90s and into power but if turkey and israel were to collaborate this would be a formidable partnership. >> thank you.
the first one we talked about has gri on power in lebanon that's strong after the involvement in syria. we hear so many statements from israeli officials talking about possibility of another war in lebanon. do you think this is a possibility with the israeli war in south golan? my second question is concerning the story in politico about a letter from ten senators to the state department about human rights abuses with the israeli military and egyptian military. what do you think this is turning point in congress? how do you read they? thank you. >> thank you. okay. on the first question, the prospect of another war between hezbollah and israel on the lines of the 2006 war is a nightmare. would be a nightmare for everyone. hezbollah has well over 100,000
rockets and missiles. several thousands of them long-range with large warheads and precision guided. in 2006 it, israel had very good intelligence about the location of the long-range missiles and destroyed them in the first minutes of the war. so tel aviv was not affected. the north of the country was affected but strategic targets were not hit. it was a very you can ward unfortunate war but damage was limited. if there is another war, it would take some time before israel can neutralize these rockets and israel will sustain significant damage. and it will inflict or would inflict significant damage, not just on hezbollah but on lebanon and lebanese infrastructure. it's to me a nightmare that should it be avoided. i think to all israelis. best scenario for that war is
for that war not to happen. if it does happen, you know, israel would try to end it as quickly as it can. but i think hezbollah itself has no appetite for such a war right now. iran has no appetite for such a war right now. certainly not at this point of implementing its agreement. but going to the into the second part of your question, yes, they do want to deploy hezbollah not just along the israeli-lebanese border but also in the goalen heights. they have made several attempts to establish themselves there. if you will remember, about a year ago or so, an iranian general was actually killed by an israeli plane or drone while being there trying to build that kind you have instruct. so that is a threat and i would
use there opportunity to point to the changing israeli outlook on the outcome or potential outcome of the war in syria. early on, had you two schools in israel arguing what's better for israel, for us to stay or for us to go. and now, i think a majority of israeli informed opinion will tell you that it's better for israel to go because a victory in syria of the moscow, tehran, damascus, hezbollah axis is most dangerous to israel than the alternative. on the second question, i believe it was senator leahy. senator leahy was always -- i remember as ambassador going to talk to senator leahy about the vote and other issues. always pleasant, always challenging.
but he was always critical. so he raised the issue. the issues, by the way, are in the press. i mean, there is a famous case now in israel where a soldier who shot a palestinian assailant in hebron is being put to trial. so you know, these are not secrets. almost everything that happens in the conflict between israelis and palestinians now is filmed by television, is on social media. so one u.s. senator raised the issue. it's one issue among many. >> yes. >> and mr. ambassador, i wanted to thank you for a great presentation. sometime ago, oh mert made a presentation and he mentioned the fact that he had met with
mr. abbas to try to conclude a peace treaty. and it was a very generous offer on mr. oh mert's part. there was no counter offer by abbas and nothing came of it. are the israelis just wasting their time trying to achieve peace with people that don't seem to want to make a peace treaty with a jewish state? >> thank you. firstly, if i may, i personally don't use the term general. i try to persuade my israeli colleagues or policymakers not to use it because it sounds patronizing. you know, i'm giving you a generous offer. you can say a far-reaching offer. it doesn't sound -- and far-reaching it s. yes, prime minister olmert was
like former foreign minister, made a long journey from the extreme right wing. he was born in the likud or the harud movement and made the journey into a position of lavishness and accommodation. so in 2008, when in his last weeks at prime minister, what was known as the annapolis process, culminated in him presenting that far-reaching offer to abbas. as i said, more than 90% of the west bank. rest to be swapped. and partitioning jerusalem insisting that all of this would only happen if abbas would sign on the dotted line finality and end of conflict. and there was no response. secretary rice, condoleezza rice
if you read her memoirs writes about it that she was stunned by how far olmert was willing to go and even more stunned by the lack of response by abbas. so this is used by israelis particularly those object to a compromise saying that there is no partner on the other side. i don't think this is reason top abandon hope. and we should continue to try and you know, if there is no response, then we know that there is no response. but the fact that in 2008 abbas did not respond to olmert does not mean that in 2016, we should abandon all efforts to move on in the palestinian issue. >> thank you very much. could you speak to israeli-russian relations?
there are a number of components there. i understand that there's a hot line between a russian base in syria and israelis who are fluent in russian and to advance aerial deaconfliction issues and so on. and also, could you talk about the role or potential role, actual role of the very large russian speaking israeli population that could play in developing greater relationship or moving towards some kind of regional solution? >> uh-huh. okay. thank you. very important issue indeed. the israeli-russian relationship is good. what you spoke about it one specific issue and once the russians arrived with the air force in syria they would need
to coordinate to avoid incidents like the one that happened with the turkish air force where russian planes were shot down. that's a technical issue. the there is a dialogue between netanyahu and putin. it's limited. what we want from russia is to abstain from selling sophisticated weapon systems, game-changers to iran or to syria because syria such as it is may end up in hezbollah's hands. russia, of course, would like to drive an even deeper wedge between israel and the united states. the individuals primarily on the israeli right who believe that israel should detach itself to some extent from the united states and run a more diverse
international foreign policy working with russia, china, india and other countries while the united states is happy to see israel less dependent on itself and working with other countries, i don't think the united states was happy to see israel abstain from voting on ukraine in the united nations and i believe that there is no substitute for israel for the relationship with the united states, with all due to respect to russia and other countries. they are not there with the kind of political military support that we need or with the community of interests and values that we have with the united states. but it's good to diversify. now, the russian jewish community in israel, from putin's point of view, israel is an important middle eastern country. it's a powerful middle eastern country and it has a russian-jewish-american people of 1 million people being well
absorbed in the country but keeps its cultural identity and a strong, say, sentimental and cultural connection to russia. and it cultivates this unit. cultivates the jewish in germany and this country. it sees them as strategic assets to be cultivated. the first generation of russian immigrants to israel tend to vote for the right. they come from a very large country. they don't like living in a small country and to see it shrink even further. there is sort of a general anti-muslim sentiment that they brought with them from russia. and to be more hawkish. the second and third generation become very rapidly and successfully full-fledged israelis and they vote according to the normal pattern of voting in israel.
>> let me, one question about turkey. yesterday, the president of turkey was at brookings and he gave a long speech in which he seemed to indicate that turkish-israeli relations are about to improve significantly. but what was very interesting in his speech and if you follow him is he for him was very, very important is that turkey has to get back into gaza bug. so he's looking, part of the deal has to -- for him, for the deal to take place is that israel has to allow turkey to bring energy. he talked about the turkish ship would go to gaza to bring energy. turkish companies, turkish cement is, et cetera. but it seems as if for erdogan having lost so much influence in the region becoming the patron
saint of gazan palestinians which is a formidable emotional issue for arabs in general, that that's what he wants to do. so is it, do you think in his advantage to give him that kind of stature and essentially allow him to assume this importance back again? >> thank you. a very interesting question. in fact, when after the incident, erdogan was bellicose and threatened to sent a whole flotilla to gaza, and he was the party not interested in normalizing relations. he now is because he has that many domestic and external problems that making up with israel would be to his advantage. now, one element is that he needs to climb down the tree. i mean, having made far reaching demands with regard to gaza, he needs i guess he needs to have
something on gaza to as a face-saving formula. it's interesting that as israel is negotiating with turkey, we are reminded, we are cautioused by two other countries against it. one is russia that is now in conflict with turkey. the second is egypt because egypt is the last country on earth that wants to see turkey in gaza. between egypt and turkey. so the last thing on earth is turkish influence in gaza. we are not particularly interested in that either. but the task of diplomats is to find a creative solution that would provide turkey with a face-saving without any real influence in gaza. israel is betting -- you know, if humanitarian aid is going to come to gaza, if money and so
forth are going to flowinging into gaza and create more housing and employment in gaza, there's nothing negative from an israeli point of view. but to add to the politics of gaza with hamas and groups to the right of hamas it, turkish -- turkey has not proven itself in the last decade as a very skuconstructive element. >> for you the face saving approach would be allow turkish humanitarian aid? >> possibly. you know, there is a negotiation going on in unlike so many other things in israel, the minister keep it confidential. so i'm not familiar with all the details. i don't want to speak out of turn but i would say let it be more symbolic than substantive. >> yes, sir.
>> steven stern, friends of the movement. at the beginning of your remarks, i either misheard or misunderstood something in terms of the 30,000 regional view in which i heard you state that the sunni-shia split or the saudi-iran rivalry were either not the basis or the analytical starting point. >> no. the axis of regional politics, i mean not all regional politics in the middle east are arranged along that axis. but if you are looking for some coherence or structure, order, in the region of politics or middle east, the saudi-iranian rivalry which is almost -- with the shiite sunni rivalry is maybe the most important organizing principle right now the in regional politics. >> got you. thank you.
>> barry with george washington university, elliott school. could you comment on what seems to be a deteriorating relationship between western europe and israel? >> yeah, it's -- you know, it obviously has to do with the palestinian issue and the ongoing failure to end it. israel has good relations with leaders in britain, with cameron, germany with merkel. a little less so with hollande, less so in italy and spain but on the whole in western europe, public opinion, intellectuals, a young generation of students and so forth are critical of israel
policy. there's been eu resolutions for boycotting products from the settlements. there is i would say anger in not just in the israeli right wing but in the israeli public about what they see european double standards in that regard. you know, some average israelis i'm not of that attitude. like i said, it's not the position i present. but many israelis that you talk to said, you know, there is a terrible civil war going on in europe. half a million people is probably been killed. in syria. and -- in syria. and why are these europeans preoccupied with the palestinian problem and not with what's going on in syria. you find that mood among israelis but on the whole, there's a wedge. now, israel also has some new friends in europe, quote
unquote, because there is a right wing backlash to terrorism and to the ways of immigration in countries like denmark, holland and so forth. some of these right wing movements not critical of israel and willing to hug us in ways that sometimes are embarrassing. so it's a bit more complex than just tension. >> thank you. irv chapman with there's some right wingers in this country that are hugging israel also. you mentioned mistakes of the early obama period with regard to negotiations promoting negotiations, mistakes unspecified and the later obama period holding back from participation in the middle eastern mess to the extent possible. there's been some writing in this country suggesting that the
president's decision to settle for the withdrawal of chemical weapons from syria and not to go further in support of the rebellion gave a green light to putin, even to the chinese to do their number and to all the bad guys of the world to take advantage of american reticence. what is your take on that allegation? >> yes, you know, there is no vacuum in politics or international politics and the u.s. is not willing to take the lead. somebody else does. so the chinese are not that active. at this point, active economically and diplomatically, they together with the russians prevented have prevented all along a security council resolution on syria that have would have sanctioned perhaps extended military action. but the russians do the heavy lifting. and, of course, you know, you
mentioned the chemical weapons deal. that was actually a russian idea. this is how putin helped obama out of that embarrassing moment and achieved something that was useful and good within itself but also presented as the dealmaker or the arbiter in the syrian context. so yes, when he felt that it was in his interests to act, he knew that he would not meet with stronger effective american opposition and he did definitely, yes. >> recently in northern iraq i heard one of our diplomats say we hate what putin is doing. but we love the way he's doing it. yes. >> thank you, my name's warren clark. you mentioned saudi arabia and the issue of legitimacy. and there, of course, is the
arab peace plan way back in 2002 which is i guess still on table. and that doesn't seem to have gotten much in resonance, much interest. nobody talks about it very much. can you explain why that seems to be so unimportant? >> no, it's actually not unimportant. and there are quite a few israelis including on the right who argue that they believe you know, in regional peace. said it's easier to negotiate with the arab states and help them then -- i wouldn't want to use the term deliver but help the person than come to the table and walk away successfully from the table. and the saudi peace plan has been mentioned even by right wing israeli. mr. lieberman foreign minister and his right wing politician, he's a major advocate of this
approach. now, it's interesting you're right that even the israeli politicians who or leaders who accepted the bakes of this plan have not formally responded like olmert. olmert did all of that in 2008 without reference to the saudi plan. so yes, if i look at some ways of reviving a peace process in the middle east, step one could be saying yes, we looked at the -- now it's called the arab peace plan, not the saudi peace plan. not everything in it is acceptable. it's actually not a plan. it's sort of a very short dictate. but we see some very positive elements that we're willing to start a discussion about it. that would be -- that will be a good start. and it would also help bring israeli public opinion because for many israelis there is a sense that the israeli-palestinian conflict is a zero sum game.
the israeli conflict is not. so approaching it regionally rather than directly is much more appealing. >> isabel la from the cannon institute here at the wilson center. i was wondering to what extent does the israeli government right now strew a serious issue to what extent is there policy to fight it or does it leave it to other organizations? >> the answer is absolutely yes. there is a minister in the government who has been given the responsibility to fight given a budget to do this. there is governmental activity. there are quite a few private initiatives or ng oo initiatives in israel and out of israel to
do that. and given that demilitarization is a major national security threat for israel, fighting bds is definitely recognizable and high on the agenda. >>. >> thank you for visiting the center. welcome back from your fellowship in 1986. i remember your tenure in the castle which was a different experience than being here in the ronald reagan building. i want to pull the optic back and ask you a very general question that relates to your profession. you're a historian. they argue, debate endlessly about the role of agency in history. and the respective role of internal agency which is sort of organic and indij news versus externally imposed. and i think if one looks at the obama foreign policy in the middle east and the interview you did with jeff goldberg as well as tom friedman, it
reflects a position on that question ef agency and essentially what the restraint that one sees in his policy is born of a view that external agency intervention is neither legitimate nor durable in the eyes of local people. in america, we had the unsatisfactory experience in social engineering in iraq. israel had an experience in 1982 in lebanon trying to remake the order there. and so there's something more fundamental going on with respect to the role of external powers involving themselves in the middle east region. and as brent scowcroft said, problemses have solutions. dilemm leemmas have horns. this is a dilemma. i would ask as a historian who works on the middle east and lives there, any general observations about the role of external powers whether it's putin or obama involving themselves in local affairs, given that as you've discussed, the intractable problems in iraq
and syria which are connected vessels have to do the with the the nature of political order in those societies which does not seem to be very susceptibleable to influence from the outside. >>. >> yeah, it's difficult to think of it the modern middle east without external agency or great politics. i mean, it's been a long time since forces coming out of the middle east have dominant dominated the middle itself and projected into europe, north africa and other places. so it was the colonial order until 1945 or early '50s and then the two primarily the cold war and the two superpowers competition. and that's a fact of life. i think middle easterns first of
all accept it and secondly, feel a bit helpless without it. and the absence of the absence of major external beneficial agency has been now part of the problem. so if people are looking for that kind of leadership and help from the outside, of course, you know, ideally everybody would like to have the support or the help without too much influence or intervention like you know, help me do what i want and walk away, please. we know that it doesn't work like -- it doesn't work like that. for instance, for israeli peace making as i mentioned before, israelis have always said just let us deal with the arabs directly.
let the arabs come to the table and we'll manage. but it turned out that even when you have that direct contact israeli and egypt, israel and the palestinians you don't conclude it without in this case bringing the united states in. camp david would not have been done. '78, '79 without the united states. and the oslo accord had to be concluded here. it was signed in oslo but it was given its full volume and significance on white house lawn. of course, you don't bring in the united states just to give passive advice. you bring the elephant into the room and you know that the elephant is going to throw its weight about. from my perspective, let's say an arab-israeli peace making, i'd like the united states to become involved late in the game. israelis and arabs should begin
by themselves and cover long part of the distance and then have the united states come in, say the final lap to help close it underwrite it and help it work. why late rather than erl? i because if the united states comes early, it becomes a mediator. it becomes involved in personal and bureaucratic interests begin to play and that compounds the issue. so i'd like these relations to begin early on the give and take. there's another element. sometimes israeli and arab politicians say let this idea come from the united states. it will be easier for me, quote unquote, to sell it to my people saying that it's not i who
agreed to the concession or thought of the concession. it came from washington and what could we do? we he had to accept it. i witnessed quite a few of these instances myself on both sides. it came from washington, what could we do. that's another form of agency that is beneficial. >> all right. last question. >> i'm a senior fellow at the foundation for defense of democracies, former member of the turkish parliament. in your opinion, what would be israel's top three gains from reproachment with israel, with turkey? and also in your opinion, what would be top three risks for israel in making a deal with erdogan? >> okay. first of all, it's to reduce
hostility and delithization. i think some of his own fierce criticisms of israel, some of the, i can say anti-semitic manifestations in media close to him in turkey against israelis and jews, that can be eliminated, would be a very good thing in itself. secondly collaboration in the region and thirdly, the bilateral relationship. even during very tense days, very helpful economic commercial relationship continued. and it could continue. i say ideally go back to the strategic collaboration of the 1990s. you know that the israeli air force used to train in turkey because we don't have the space anymore. we're now training in greece. the greece are watching all of there have with some anxiety.
so this i think will be three advantages. the disadvantage is that you know, we may end up giving him the benefit of an apparent reconciliation without actual implementation on the turkish side that we may be overly lenient on gaza and another factor in gaza to our detriment. and i guess by the middle of the day, i'll find the third. >> on that note, i would liking to thank ambassador rabinovich for his patience and for his wonderful -- and again i would like to thank alma and joe for making this possible for us. and i hope to see you again at another woodrow wilson event. thank you.
the fact that the manuscript, this national treasure isn't what we thought while also trying to chronologically think about what would madison encountering at the time. and keeping those two narratives straight was quite tricky for a while. >> sunday night on q & a, boston college law school professor mary sarah builder discusses her book "madison's hand," which takes a critical notes at the notes james madison wrote during and after the constitutional convention of 1787. >> madison took the notes on sheets of paper. he folded those sheets in half. so he writes on front, across the middle on the two pages and on the backside. at some point he sewed all these little pieces of paper together into a manuscript. one of the really wonderful things we noticed when down there was that the last quarter of the manuscript, the holes' that he had sen didn't match
with the earlier one. this confirmed my suspicion that the very end of the manuscript had been written later. but you can't see that on the microfilm. it was a wonderful thing to get to see that in person. >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern on q & a. >> every election cycle we're reminded how important it is for citizens to be informed, c-span is a vehicle for empowering people to make good choices. it really is like you're getting a seven-course gourmet five-star meal of policy and boy, do i just sound like a nerd right there, but it's true. >> to me c-span is a home for political junkies and a way to track the government as it happens whether it's on capitol hill or in the agencies. >> most staffers seem to have a television on their desk and c-span is on. i think it's a great way for us to stay informed. >> i urge my colleagues to vote
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