You can catch me on TV through Saturday night, May 22. At the end of April, I was recorded on cable television’s Shalom TV network, debating Jerusalem Post columnist and former World Jewish Congress bigwig Isi Liebler about “whether President Obama has done damage to the U.S.-Israel relationship, and what realistic expectations for peace exist with the Palestinians today.” Often against both Mr. Liebler and the moderator, I defended a more assertive US stance toward peacemaking.
But more photogenic talking heads have nothing to fear from me. If nothing else should inspire me to lose weight, seeing my double chin and expansive midriff on the small screen ought to. Also, seeing an errant lone hair emanating from the front of my bald pate was maddening.
As for the discussion, I held up reasonably well for a novice TV performer against Mr. Liebler’s practiced arguments and despite being double-teamed by moderator Mark Golub, who leans in Liebler’s direction but not quite as far. Rabbi Golub regards himself as a liberal, but like many moderate and liberal-minded American Jews, the intifada and the elevation of Hamas in recent years has completely turned him off to the Palestinian side and to seeing prospects for peace. Still, at a certain point he pivoted to put Liebler on the hot seat regarding the need for the Palestinians to have a measure of sovereignty in East Jerusalem, should a peace agreement–which Golub’s dubious about ever happening–come to fruition.
It came as something of a surprise to them that I see a Palestinian “right of return” to Israel as a non-starter incompatible with a realistic peace agreement. Both came away with respect for me as a pro-Israel voice, albeit to their left.
If I had not been filibustered, or if I were less polite, I might have interjected to correct a couple of Mr. Liebler’s more egregious assertions: one smearing J Street as being anti-Israel (I failed to make him aware that I support J Street) and another lauding the Netanyahu government as moderate, with the extremes of both right and left allegedly marginalized by the electorate (I wish I had said something on the shenanigans of Avigdor Lieberman and Yisrael Beitenu).
If you’re in New York and have Time-Warner cable service, you can find this program on channel 1012, where you’d select Shalom TV, the category “News and Israel,” and the program title, “Obama and Israel.” Otherwise, you go online to www.shalomtv.com and click “Find Us” on the menu to learn how to access it with your cable provider.