February 9, 2007

Two conference calls

Last week and this week I was invited by the good people of One Jerusalem to join blogging conference calls. Last week's call was with Dr. Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassador to the UN and author of the new book The Fight for Jerusalem.

Among the other bloggers participating were Atlas Shrugs, Boker Tov Boulder, Tel Chai Nation, Daled Amos, The American Thinker, Meryl Yourish and the Muqata.

Dr. Gold's presentation was to argue the thesis of his book that right now the central conflict between Israel and the Islamic world is over Jerusalem. Ceding any ground on the matter of Jerusalem will not bring peace but rather embolden the forces of extremism, especially Iran.

The transcript is here. Check out Atlas Shrugs, Tel Chai Nation, Boker Tov Boulder and Daled Amos for synopses of the call.

What I found frustrating but unfortunately couldn't quite verbalize was that despite the fact that little of what Dr. Gold presented was new, the Arab/Muslim narrative permeates much of what passes for conventional wisdom these days. Certainly the idea of Israel's compromising on Jerusalem is considered a good thing - not a folly as Dr. Gold presented it. With these ideas so entrenched how can anyone hope to fight it?

Dr. Gold responded to the question I asked - what difference can we make - that we need to argue from facts and make those argument time and again.
For example, when I had the opportunity to sneak in a second quesiton at the end, if Jerusalem was really the third holiest city in Islam, Dr. Gold responded that it was, but, unlike other important cities in Islam it never served as a capital like Cairo or Baghdad did. (More on this in this article by Daniel Pipes, including that no foreign Arab leader visited Jerusalem between 1948 and 1967.) Further Dr. Gold noted that his research showed that Jerusalem became a Jewish majority city in ... 1863!

I find his arguments convincing, I just don't know how many minds they will change.

Yesterday, I was invited to participate in a conference call with former PM Netanyahu. His basic thesis was that the greatest threat, not just to Israel, but to the West, is Iran under its current government. The current controversy over Jerusalem is just a way of uniting the Muslim world behind Iran. Information on the call is here.

Other bloggers participating included Jewish Current Issues, Treppenwitz, The Hedgehog Blog, Blog-o-Fascists, the American Thinker, Regime Change Iran, Atlas Shrugs, Mere Rhetoric, Tel Chai Nation and the IRIS blog. (I didn't realize so many bloggers were on the call as only a handful of them were able to ask questions due to time constraints).

I went in hoping to ask a two part question, which would have been Given the orchestrated violence that has been used against Israel regarding the Temple Mount in October 1990, September 1996 and September 2000, do you expect the violence to intensify as a way of distracting from Iran's nuclear ambitions? How closely is the agitation about Jerusalem being co-ordinated between Iran and the Palestinians?

I don't know if former PM Netanyahu would have answered the first question. (He might have said that the possibility of greater violence existed, but probably wouldn't have committed himself to anything more.) He observed that Haniyeh had visited Iran before touching off the recent controversy. So the second question would have been revised to how closely is Hamas co-ordinating its moves with Iran.

The two points that Netanyahu made that I found most fascinating were that he's campaigning for divestment for Iran. Not just on moral grounds - though he appeals to others using a moral argument - but because he views the government's standing to be a bit shaky and that further blows to Iran's economy might turn the people against the regime. The other important bit was his observation that 1/4 of Iranians support the regime, 1/4 are opposed to it and the remaining half are vulnerable to change their minds if things get worse. (The breakdown of the Iranian population was in response to a question by Treppenwitz about using a "wedge" against Iran.) Hopefully Israel's using its Farsi language broadcasts effectively to build support against the current regime.

Overall both calls were enlightening and it was honor to be included in both. I'd recomment that One Jerusalem do what Rick Richman did before another conference call and set up an order for those to ask questions. That way there will be less hesitation and make for a smoother program. Still thanks for arranging these calls with such distinguished guests.

UPDATE: Bloggers writing about the Netanyahu conversation were Treppenwitz, Jewish Current Issues, Ocean Guy, Atlas Shrugs, Mere Rhetoric, and the Hedgehog Blog.

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Posted by SoccerDad at February 9, 2007 1:44 AM
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