tv Fmr. Israeli Diplomat Discusses Countrys Challenges in Middle East CSPAN October 5, 2021 11:47pm-12:42am EDT
former israeli diplomats discuss the country's challenges in the middle east. he touched on iran, the funding and withdrawal from afghanistan. this runs about one hour. >> i'm very happy today to welcome you to a discussion with the ambassador and our distinguished fellow most of you will know from his work on the middle east and the state department and national security council. let me introduce the ambassador and then i will turn it over to
lead this discussion. at the university in jerusalem and participating in a special semester at georgetown university here in washington where he also worked as an aide to gebhardt in missouri where we first met. in 2003 he received the rank of ambassador and then foreign minister and became the youngest diplomat in the foreign ministry. three years later he was assigned to be the ambassador of israel to australia, new guinea and fiji. the ambassador was appointed the
senior deputy director general heading the foreign ministry's public diplomacy directorate. in october he was appointed by the prime minister benjamin netanyahu as the israel he foreign ministry's acting director general where he became permanent director later that year. he served in 2020 when he returned to private life. it's a pleasure for me to introduce my friend, ambassador. >> thank you so much for inviting me. >> it's great to have you. let's start by getting your general information of the feeling in israel and among the other allies in the united
states in the middle east and elsewhere in the wake of the u.s. withdrawal from afghanistan. there is a debate about whether the credibility has been seriously harmed among the allies. [inaudible] in the last few days talking very openly about the strategic issue and the afghanistan withdraw. we have concerns about the degree of commitment and engagement of the united states in the middle east.
[inaudible] it's not a question of having the voice to manage all those difficulties that you see. i see the withdrawal from afghanistan is the way that it was done but partners and friends and allies, it's questioning to what extent for the security and stability and to some extent [inaudible] they are not friends of america.
say if you don't visit the middle east, the middle east will visit you. there are so many issues that involve and relate to the middle east issues. >> to move the discussion to iran, but before we do that, let me ask you i know you've been out of government service for some time now, but i'm sure you still talk to people that are in it. >> can you tell us where you think the debate is at the highest level about the relationship with the united states.
our israel is thinking about hedging to other actors or strategies to shore up american support, what is the discussion like in the halls of power? israel, from both sides of the aisle i haven't seen to try to advocate [inaudible] for us america is the pillar and it's a main issue if they are going to see this for them like to be who tries to undermine but i don't think there's any debate in
change of the concept. >> what about the debate about managing the relations? the former ambassador to the united states and distinguished historian wrote an article with me i'm sure you saw responding to the temporary harms and funding for the decision not to include it in the funding bill on capitol hill. that decision by the democrats was prompted by the objections of the progressive wing and hard left of the party.
responding to that, he suggested time torethink the basic structf the alliance. do you think that the ambassador is reflecting a widespread opinion on the elite? >> as someone that served in the bureaucracy for so long, i didn't detect any kind of sentiment. i think that america's support to israel has more than just sympathy. it's the core that the religion is based. it's almost unrelated to a president, but it's important to know that we have more a role to
play realizing the change beyond demography -- we have to do more in the public diplomacy and realize the difficulty that we see in the middle east and the majority strongly believe in that. when we talked about one conflict and that if we fix just one problem in the middle east, this is going to prevail, i think that 40 years after the resolution, and ten years after the arab spring, it's far more complete in the middle east.
they are firing rockets to kill as many as possible saudis on the ground. when they get disintegrated has nothing to do with control over the west bank. so it is far more complex that we need to explain too much of the american society that whether it's churches, trade unions, all the elements are relevant.
[inaudible] with respect to using all the tools we have in a more modern way to convince people that we are not as bad as people try to portray us. >> let's move to the iranian question. let me start by asking about the attitudes of the israeli elite. i was teaching, before the pandemic, a group of israeli students. late 20s, early 30s, some of whom worked in government. i went around the table and asked what is the number one a strategic threat that israel
faces. i personally believe that it's air on -- iran. in three political parties, there were just about as many concepts around the table as there were people. but those who said it on were in the state minority actually. a lot said more than i expected, the palestinian question, others said the society. i have two questions that i want to test and i would be curious your reaction. one question at the time is the israeli security elite at the time was totally focused on iran, and i wouldn't have had that kind of disagreement around the table if i had been talking
to the top levels of the israeli government. my other question is that perhaps attitudes in society have kind of moved along in the direction of the elite. do i have that right, or do we have the top members of the israeli around the table telling the truth -- where they all saying air on, or would there be a strong disagreement among them? >> the majority of israel from all sides will show [inaudible] i don't think there's any debate. that's the reason why by the way, we are not the only ones. many more countries strongly
to see that they opposed it but the majority supported this idea for president trump. [inaudible] this description and reality that you are describing including the israelis and the saudi's and others in an uncomfortable position because the biden administration is engaging iran and expecting that its allies will facilitate to find an agreement.
in the media he says i want a successful iran. part of a washington man monument strategy. they are having an engaged and t no surprise to the policy not taking any hostile steps toward iran without further getting the approval or at least informing the americans. but it's under pressure not to carry out the acts of sabotage the activities and actions against the iranians in iraq and
syria and elsewhere. i want to get your impression about how you expect the government to handle this pressure. i can't imagine the administration as i understand it to be supportive of the israeli actions to sabotage the program. >> america has very strong views about it. it is an upgrade and promotion in this administration. there is no doubt that they have tried to some extent on the philosophies and i don't think -- this is a strong belief that this is the way to prevent iran
against nuclear. we have a stated view [inaudible] so we don't have anyone there that can be described as moderate. the distinction between moderate and more radical is the regime. so now they've been on the sideline and we have a new president. he has a very strong view and i don't see them rushing to help
because for them talking about a stronger [inaudible] how this is going to be reached by the american team but i just want to remind you some credibility in the public eye in "the new york times" they wrote an article and said if there will ever be a real estate issue, you will never advise [inaudible] when
you project to the other side that you are almost willing to do so many things just to have a deal and the other side isn't willing to knock on your door, the question, i thought the sequence should be different but your lawn is going to knock on the door of washington. i think even the bill in the moments of truth would help to spell out their concerns if and when a deal is going to be done.
>> i think the question i'm driving at here is let's just assume that the biden administration's engagement with iran is going to continue and they are not going to have a sudden conversion and decide they need to go through the program. that is a difficult position because the nuclear program is moving forward and it might not get to the point the nuclear weapons are being tested.
>> america what have completely different issues and they will be introducing a change into the region and i don't think that as you know because you are a scholar of this if they are going to go in this direction, they will not stay the only country in the region looking to have this weapon. there would be more sunni countries because they will never let the shieh countries have this kind of weapons.
for the substance negotiations if that isn't going to take place, if iran is going to move forward and edge towards these nuclear weapons, we all -- many more in the region with egypt and others, this is going to be a new era in the region if iran is going to continue edging. i'm not stating something new here but our approach is not to
[inaudible] >> let's move on past air on and talk a little bit about china. as the former israeli ambassador i know that something you know well. what is your general perception of the u.s. china competition but then specifically how you see israel within that competition so we can start whichever way you are more comfortable. as you look at this now in the wake of the afghan withdraw how do you assess this competition.
what are your concerns of who is winning and who is losing and what is the nature of the fight? >> i've seen and read a lot about china because this is the most fascinating story at least in the next few years and i think president trump and president biden both identified this is something that needs to be addressed and may have a different view but that's something we all understand either by superpowers but from
it's all that we have identified so we can see other countries pushing back even the european union and that other countries were rushing to agree upon. in some places they realize that when it comes to china it has to be done with care and in such a way that on the one hand many other countries say what you see in australia at this moment
and looking at from jerusalem and eastward do you think they regard india as the more strategic relationship at this point than china and how is it understanding its relationship against the background of china? >> i think india is key. the more we and power countries like egypt, i think we create in many places during my time as the director general to look at those to some extent the
opportunity for the well-being of this club of nations that we all associate with. those moderate in terms of expression of the regime or the government. let's talk about these. 300 million people in about five to six years have a different economy than australia. there will be a medium sized power in the region. who is going to wait for them, to coach them? they don't have the experience
yet. is it going to be a request to do this kind of job forgive others the options to do this? i think at the end of the day we need to be a bit more proactive to engage those that can be relevant five or ten years from now from far more stability that you are always looking for cooperation and consultation and to some extent from this kind of dialogue of cooperation and
sophisticated way. they need to know -- >> given the experience if you were going to advise president biden on this particular -- let's imagine he calls you in and says what do you advise, use a knock on the door of india and indonesia and so on and after the door is open what is it that the united states should be doing specifically that it's not doing now.
is the key. >> i think it is a weakness that we have and unlike the chinese of his instruments a state. is not completely unknown to us but so are technology should not be part of business and of those new parameters because if you're not going to have good command of intelligence you will lose. >> so to reconsider the
is going to send a message to the world of the uncertainty of the purpose in place in the world. and then to take some initiative. >> so then you can see some ideas. that the other day you are the champion. you need someone who will see that as the main story and then realizing and moving within the different
parameters. so does not just about america and israel. those do three or four or five ways. one business but other guys do that. but it is a competition so let's compete. >> if i sum up everything you said, i think there is a theme running through it the united states is the indispensable power. >> i have no doubt that is the