With the governments of Israel and the United States both in a state of flux, a leading observer of Israeli political life came to Pittsburgh Monday to speak on how the changes will affect relations between the two countries.
David Horovitz, editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post since 2004, spoke to a largely Jewish audience at the Jewish Community Center in Squirrel Hill, as Barack Obama prepares to become the 44th President of the United States in January and Israel gears up for a February election to determine which political party forms the next government there.
Winner of the B’nai B’rith World Center award for journalism in 1995, Horovitz wrote for many newspapers around the world, including The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times before joining the Post.
Chief among Horovitz’s concerns is Iran, which he said both the United States and Israel view as a major threat to the Middle East. But he said the threat goes further than that.
“I hope that America recognizes that if Iran goes nuclear — it is a threat to the free world,” Horovitz told The Chronicle in an exclusive interview. “Israel is not reconciled to the notion of a nuclear Iran and cannot be.”
Horovitz also addressed the possible approach of each of the three main political parties in Israel — the center-right Likud Party, Kadima, the centrist party of caretaker Prime Minister Ehud Olmert; and the center-left Labor Party — if elected the majority leader in the Knesset.
“A Likud-led government under [Benjamin] Netanyahu would be much more wary of territorial compromise with the Palestinians than a government led by either [Ehud] Barak (Labor) or [Tzipi] Livni (Kadima),” he said.
All three parties share the same position on Iran — a no-tolerance approach, he said.
Unlike in the states, where the political debate has become a mainstay of elections, Hoffman isn’t confident the three major parties in Israel will debate each other prior to the February election.
“We are two months away from elections; I don’t know if there is going to be a debate,” he said. “The campaigns there [Israel] seem to be very superficial.”
“I just hope we would have a real debate as to what the relevant parties would actually do when they came to power,” he added.
With terrorism one of the main threats to democracy, a solid Israeli-American relationship should continue even with the change of guard in the governments of both countries.
“I think America gets Israel better than any country,” he said. “The battles we’re fighting are the battles of the free world against the Islamic extremism which stem from Iran and Gaza and South Lebanon, and which just hit Mumbai.”
(Alon Melamed can be reached at email@example.com.)