By Dave Sorter
Israel in 2012 looks very similar to Israel before the Six-Day War in 1967, with one big exception, according to Bret Stephens, deputy editor of The Wall Street Journal, who spoke at the American Jewish Committee Dallas Chapter’s annual meeting last Thursday night.
Gary Eisenstat was installed as AJC president during the meeting, which took place at the Communities Foundation of Texas building in Dallas. Eisenstat succeeds Scott Miller, who handed over the gavel after two years as president.
Stephens, who writes the WSJ’s Global View column, said the United States is a key supporter of Israel.
“There’s no state in the region better deserving of the support of someone who describes one’s self as liberal,” said Stephens, who implied several times during his talk that he has conservative views. “There are no gay rights in Palestine…There are no women’s rights in Saudi Arabia…Journalists are being jailed in Turkey.
“You hear people like (MSNBC commentator) Pat Buchanan that say why do we send our troops to die in the service of the Likud Party. Not a single U.S. soldier died in the defense of Israel. Americans died in defense of Bosnia, a Muslim country; in Kosovo; in Kuwait, which would have been Iraq’s 17th province if we hadn’t been there.”
But, he said, he couldn’t say the same thing about U.S. support of Israel in May 1967.
“We had a U.S. president (Lyndon B. Johnson) who said he was the best friend Israel ever had,” Stephens said. “He sent the prime minister of Israel a letter warning Israel not to be the one who began hostilities.”
At that time, Stephens said, Egyptian President Gamal Nasser expelled all Israelis from the Sinai Peninsula and established a unilateral arms embargo on Israel. “Now is the time to undo the shame of 1948,” Stephens quoted Nasser as saying.
Today, Iran is “planning Israel’s destruction,” Stephens said. “Israel has asked for help, but the international community hasn’t responded.”
Stephens decried the results of meetings between the United States, other counties and Iran last Wednesday and Thursday, during which they simply decided to meet again in June in Moscow.
“What Iran wants is delay,” Stephens said. “When it comes to negotiation, it will continue to stall and delay until it can build a nuclear program. They’re going inch by inch, yard by yard.
“It leaves Israel in the same position as 1967. The international community isn’t doing anything, so Israel may decide again to act in its own interest.”
Stephens also mentioned threats such as the Islamist takeover of Tunisia and the possibility of the Muslim Brotherhood taking the Egyptian presidency.
“I call this an Islamist tidal wave,” he said. “This is a moment of unprecedented weakness in the west — not just the continued economic weakness in the United States, but also in Europe. Fifty percent of the world’s gross domestic product is on the verge of collapse.”
Before Stephens’ talk, Eisenstat began his presidency by complimenting his predecessor.
“Scott (Miller) laid such a great foundation,” he said. “We will continue our advocacy, especially in energy security and energy independence, and in terms of the Iranian weapons situation. We will advocate for a two-state solution that is directly negotiated, and we will continue our international perspectives series.
Miller will serve as immediate past president. Other officers are Ladd Hirsch, vice president of domestic affairs; Margot Lebenberg Carter and Ray Termini, co-vice presidents for international affairs; Doug Baer, vice president of leadership development; Seth Kaplan and Mimi Johnson, co-vice presidents of development; and Jolie Newman, vice president of communications.
New board members are Ken Bendalin, Bill Davidoff, Cynthia Feldman, Adam Lampert Leslie Lucks, Benton Middleman, Jon Morgan and Janice Sweet.
Returning board members are Sandy Donsky, Jeff Genecov, Joanna Greenstone, Lizzy Greif, Monte Hurst, Susan Kramer, Matthew Ladin, Randy Lieberman, Fraser Marcus, Michael Meyers, Bryan Rigg, Brett Stanley, Michael Weinman, Harriet Whiting and Harrison Yoss.