Jewish Policy Center event in Chicago tackles “The Arab Upheaval: Spring or Winter for America and Israel?”

November 3, 2011


The Jewish Policy Center — a nonprofit 501(C)(3) think tank, providing scholarly perspectives on foreign and domestic policies that impact the Jewish community and the broader American public — sponsored a special interactive panel discussion at Beth Hillel Congregation Bnai Emunah, 3220 Big Tree Lane, Wilmette, IL, on Sunday October 30th. 

Moderator was Michael Medved, Syndicated radio talk show host and best-selling author.  Panelists were Richard Baehr, co-founder and Chief Political Correspondent for the “American Thinker”; Caroline Glick, Deputy Managing Editor of “The Jerusalem Post and Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at the Center for Security Policy; and Cliff May, noted author and commentator and President of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. 

Although the Jewish Policy Center event was free to the public, registration was required prior to or when arriving at the event.  Once registered, a flag sticker was given to each individual to be displayed as a requisite for entry into the site of the event. 

The enthusiasm generated by the title of the event was obvious — “The Arab Upheaval:  Spring or Winter for America and Israel?” —  in that 1,000 or so individuals turned out to hear well-known experts expound on Middle Eastern policy. 

In front of a mostly Jewish audience, President’s Obama’s optimism over his polices in the Middle East was time and again excoriated as nothing more than unrealistic hope that the dangerous realities found in the Middle East will change without tougher U.S. policies. 

Michael Medved, as moderator, asked a series of questions pertinent to the present-day Middle East policies of the Obama administration, after which each panel member responded in turn. 

Following the interchange of thoughts between moderator Michael Medved and panel members Caroline Glick, Cliff May, and Richard Baehr, questions were directed to the panel by those in attendance.

Due to the number of questions asked of the panelists by Michael Medved, followed by the complexity of their responses, I have chosen to note the responses of the panel members that I felt best illustrated the consensus of the panel in concluding whether the Arab upheaval was really Spring or Winter for America and Israel.

With this in mind, I have chosen to note comments made by all three of the panelists and the moderator, Michael Medved, that impacted me the most and which seemed to best describe the attitude of the panelists by the end of the evening.

Michael Medved:  In Washington, D.C. the Arab Spring is being viewed as hopeful Democratic reform, equated with the fall of the Iron Curtain, where one nation after another would embrace freedom and hope.  

  • One of Medved’s question to the panelists referenced Presidents Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush as denouncing the so-called settlement in Israel — communities over the green line — as obstacles to peace, and that for peace to happen settlements must be dismantled and stopped in their tracks from growing. 
  • The Obama’s policies are inconsistent and dangerous.  The affects of his decisions will be felt for decades to come as the Arab Spring has turned into an approaching winter. 

Cliff May:   Prefers to call the Arab Spring “the great Arab revolt.” 

  •  Described jihadists as wanting to change things through violence, while Islamists are willing to consider other paths toward the same goal, establishing Sharia law throughout the world. 
  • Obama’s greatest triumph is his using of drones to kill people.  But as May stated:  “Using drones is not a strategy, at best it is a tactic.”  Obama does not realize that there is both an Islamic and a jihadist threat to America. 
  • “Iran is the swamp from which all the mosquitoes and crocodiles have been emerging since 1979.
  • “It would be prudent to cut off aid to both the Palestine Authority and the $2 billion-a-year support to Egypt, as a prelude to using aid as a way to change behavior.
  • Every time the Palestine Authority says “no” to a deal offered, it must realize that the next deal will be worse. 
  • There is the erroneous belief that should the Palestinians put down their arms peace would be the outcome.  If, however, the Israelians followed suit, there would be genocide. 

Carolyn Glick:  Called a modern day Islamist an Oxymoron, and how the administration is in complete denial of any threats posed, as it empowers those who are critical of the U.S., while it stamps down those who support the U.S. 

  •  Obama deserves credit for his stalwart stand, yet it’s incredulous that the Obama administration is calling for a Palestinian state within a year’s time and is moving forward on this track. 
  • Congress did threaten (on the House side) to take away the $600 million to the Palestine Authority if it continue to push forward for U.S. membership.   
  • The notion that Israel is an illegal occupier of settlement territory is false and is based on a pack of lies that stand in complete opposition to historical truth. This right has existed since 1922, first issued by the League of Nations.  
  • The idea that no peace can be had until the formation of a Palestinian state cannot be the basis for this nation’s foreign policy.  
  • It is entirely Obama’s idea that a settlement freeze must be a pre-condition before talks can begin.

Richard Baehr: The Obama administration views as acceptable anything that is not al Queda related.

  •  Our view of Turkey, as a fellow member of NATO, is that there were free elections that represented the views of the people.  Accordingly, we can still work with Turkey despite the shift to a more radical Islam-based government. 
  • Questioned why the U.S. is giving aid to the tune of $600 million to the Palestine Authority instead of Saudi Arabia?

All of the panelists gave a thumbs down to Obama’s recent announcement to bring troops home from Iraq.  The Iraq war was called a “war of civilization.”  Noted was that all who have given their lives in the fight might have done so in naught. 

We still have troops in Korea and in Europe.  Whenever this nation wishes to both win a war and keep the peace, it keeps troops stationed in the area.  This nation is risking the peace process by pulling out of Iraq. 

A comparison was made between the cost of the Iraq war since 2003 and the amount of the first stimulus package.  The Iraq war at a cost of $806 billion changed history; the $864 billion of the first stimulus package was basically a flop. 

Our nation is presently fighting a war of ideals whether or not it is recognized as such by the Obama administration.  In the Middle East both religious and ethnic cleansing are taking place with the sole purpose of eliminating the Jewish state  Yet this nation refuses to call a spade a spade in acknowledging who the terrorists are.  It is not only hard-core jihadists that need to be feared.  Also worrisome is that this nation is breeding its own home-grown terrorists. 

Obama’s handling of Islamic terrorists precludes that it’s all right for harm to be done for the sake of diversity. 

At a time when the Jewish people are endangered by terrorists, this nation continues to be in denial of the truth about who should be defined in the first place as terrorists. 

This nation further seems unaware of the consequences of its short-sighted policies both here at home and for Israel, who needs America’s support as it struggles to maintain security and its very existence as a democratic state.


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