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VIDEO Debate: Rashid Khalidi VS Jonathan Tobin: Attacking Iran, AIPAC, Israel-Palestine & Obama

by on Monday, March 5, 2012 at 3:44 pm EDT in Iran, Middle East, Politics, World

Yesterday, President Barack Obama addressed the annual policy conference of the powerful pro-Israel lobby group, AIPAC.

In his speech, he attempted to walk a fine line between reassuring the group of his ‘sacrosanct’ commitment to both Israel’s security and ethnic identity as a ‘Jewish state,’ and yet tamp down on its insistence that the United States bomb Iran.

In making the case that he has been one of the most pro-Israel Presidents to date, he outlined the many ways he has bolstered the country’s security apparatus over the last three years, and then boasted about some of the more controversial diplomatic efforts he has made on Israel’s behalf:

And just as we’ve been there with our security assistance, we’ve been there through our diplomacy. When the Goldstone report unfairly singled out Israel for criticism, we challenged it. (Applause.) When Israel was isolated in the aftermath of the flotilla incident, we supported them. (Applause.) When the Durban conference was commemorated, we boycotted it, and we will always reject the notion that Zionism is racism. (Applause.) 

When one-sided resolutions are brought up at the Human Rights Council, we oppose them. When Israeli diplomats feared for their lives in Cairo, we intervened to save them. (Applause.) When there are efforts to boycott or divest from Israel, we will stand against them. (Applause.) And whenever an effort is made to de-legitimize the state of Israel, my administration has opposed them. (Applause.) So there should not be a shred of doubt by now — when the chips are down, I have Israel’s back. (Applause.)

This morning, President Obama received Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House, and it is being reported that much of their discussion was focused on Iran, and that the two continued to buck heads on the ‘red lines’ necessary for war:

Even though Obama has offered assurances of stiffened U.S. resolve against Iran before the White House meeting, the two allies are still far apart on explicit nuclear “red lines” that Tehran must not be allowed to cross, and they have yet to agree on a time frame for when military action may be necessary. 

While the two leaders hashed it out at the Oval Office, Amy Goodman moderated an excellent debate between Rashid Khalidi of Columbia University and Commentary Magazine’s Senior Online Editor, Jonathan Tobin.

Tobin’s latest article, entitled, “What’s Missing From Obama’s AIPAC Speech? Red Lines on Iran and Palestinians,” offers a right-leaning critique of Obama’s AIPAC speech, in which he accuses Obama of refusing to make the necessary move from mere rhetoric to military action:

But even more significant was the fact that despite his repeated vows to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, there was little indication that Obama is prepared to make the leap from talking about the danger to actually doing something.

Khalidi does a fine job, here, of injecting some reality into the now-all-too-familiar AIPAC-propagandized discourse on the Iranian “threat,” propagated here by Tobin.

WATCH:

Part 1 of 2:

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Part 2 of 2:

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Transcript